Three things big data tells us about how people use the Bible

We’re in the age of big data. Twitter, apps, Facebook–they’re each giving science new ways to look at what people do and why. This includes religion. Big data is a social scientist’s dream come true. We are now able to track how millions of people practice their religion.

YouVersion, a popular Bible app, released its summary of its Bible usage data from 2013. With over 120 million installs since 2008 and a billion opens or uses in 2013, YouVersion provides a unique window into how many Christians read the Bible.

The YouVersion data tells us how people use their apps to read and share the Bible, but it’s not clear how representative these people are. I once heard an evangelical pastor explain: in his “traditional” worship service, he hears the rustle of thin paper but in his “contemporary” service he sees the lights from iphones. YouVersion Bible reading may or may not be typical, but it’s still an interesting look into how millions of people use new technology to read the Bible.

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