Big data is literally data on a scale (volume, velocity & variety) that requires highly sophisticated computing power to process it. Beyond the scale, it has become a buzz word in the last couple of years because of the awareness that makes it possible to tease insights from large volumes of data to make critical decisions, understand complex human interactions and behaviours plus the ability to use the same to build sophisticated algorithms for machine learning, artificial intelligence and so on.
Interestingly, the industry I’ve worked in for almost a decade (oil & gas) only fairly recently started harnessing the value of big data. For many years we sat down on huge volumes of data without fully realising the scale of things that could be achieved with it. The industry has since learned, and nowadays data is considered to be an asset because we fully appreciate that inside it lies the potential to unlock insights that go beyond mere human intuition, opinion or experience to solve problems, but value based solely and objectively on data – New Intelligence.
Now here’s the twist…the holy Book (Bible) we carry around in our mobile phones / tablet devices, or indeed as a hardcopy; for some this can go unused for days, except on Sundays perhaps when asked by the preacher to recall the lesson from the previous sermon…or could be relegated to the bottom of the list of priorities, like after dutifully consuming a flurry of social media content! For some the Book sits on the dusty recess of the living room shelf never to be opened until the next special occasion. For another group, it is well read and used, but with very limited applications in the real world. For yet another group, it is considered a book of tales and fables, and not to be taken too seriously. The truth is, the Book is actually a collection of factual and interesting data ready to be mined…yes, and huge volumes of it too! If only the pages of data could be analysed with the same rigour big companies in the corporate world use in harnessing value from their big data, we’ll be on track to unlock the mysteries and secrets of the universe and get into the mind of the Author. Like my industry, many have sat down on the data for long not fully realising what can be done with it.
…give attention to my words, incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes, but keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their flesh. Proverbs 4:22
Analysing data on this scale to find something of value is a science that requires a great level of mastery. In fact some universities now have degree courses solely dedicated to the study of Data Science, Analytics etc. In the context of the Book, analysing the data does not require that much of formal training because the Author has kindly provided an Assistant, Enabler and Teacher who makes it easy to understand the data, decipher trends, see patterns and glean insights from the data with simplicity. The value gained from the insights make it possible to predict / forecast the future with a high degree of precision (like in predictive analytics) as well as to investigate and understand causation and correlation from the personal experience of the characters in the Book. This inevitably creates an environment for creative and dynamic problem-solving with positive ramifications for the world! Witty inventions have been birthed through this data, and the possibilities of what can be achieved are boundless!
To put things in context, it is possible for example, for the keen “Word Analyst” to correlate all the morbid events broadcasted all over the news and social media – agitations for war, extreme weather disasters, devastating earthquakes, staggering death tolls due to these events, terrorism etc. – with the data in the Book, specifically in 24th chapter of St Matthew’s gospel, and use this to understand where the world is on the timeline of the age, and also use the data to forecast things to come. Another example is to identify “outliers” in the Book; those with an exceptionally compelling success story e.g. Joseph (Son of Jacob), David, Paul, Jesus etc., to look for common factors that were responsible for their great feats e.g. God, selflessness, being sold out to their assignment etc., then establish the factors that had the most significant impact on their success (regressors), and then use that information to build a model to predict how anyone today could achieve exceptional success should they apply the same rules in their lives!
I recall being sent on a training course organised by a company which specialises in the psychology of human performance. The course was aimed at transforming human potential into top quartile performance. One of the things emphasised during the course was the use of affirmations in creating a desired outcome. An affirmation is a future statement written (and spoken) in present tense. For example if you desire to be a great public speaker, you may write an affirmation that reads something like this, “I am a great public speaker, and my speaking abilities attract invitations from the high and mighty from all around the world”. These words create vivid pictures in the mind and energy to move towards that new reality. When repeated several times, this exercise causes great things to happen. Then it dawned on me that this concept was lifted directly from the Book…
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he….” Proverbs 23:7
“…and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” Romans 4:17
A typical example of a well researched technique that produces results for a non-religious company based on data from the Book!
Science is about discovery through observation and experimentation and actively requires the use of time and resources dedicatedly. Data on the other hand in whatever format is only “potential” in its raw form, until the science of discovery brings enlightenment and transforms the data, or the Word in this context into information or revelation that can be applied. The Bible is indeed a lake of data…Big Data that wields a lot of transformational and revelatory information that is just waiting to be mined.
If after reading all of this, you come across a Bible – app or hardcover, and you start to look at it differently…with value, and treasure it as an asset. If it spurs within you a desire to voraciously divide the Word of truth more than ever before, to seek to understand the unknown and to apply the same for the benefit of oneself and mankind, then my work here is done!