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Is the Internet killing religion?
A new study suggests that the Internet may play a role in the demise of organized religion.
April 9th, 2014
12:17 PM ET

Is the Internet killing religion?

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) We can blame the Internet for plenty: the proliferation of porn, our obsession with cat videos, the alleged rise of teen trends like - brace yourself - eyeball licking.

But is it also a culprit in helping us lose our religion? A new study suggests it might be.

Allen Downey, a computer scientist at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, set out to understand the national uptick in those who claim no religious affiliation. These are the “nones,” which the Pew Research Center considers the fastest-growing “religious” group in America.

Since 1985, Downey says, the number of first-year college students who say they're religiously unaffiliated has grown from 8% to 25%, according to the CIRP Freshman Survey.

And, he adds, stats from the General Social Survey, which has been tracking American opinions and social change since 1972, show unaffiliated Americans in the general population ballooned from 8% to 18% between 1990 and 2010.

These trends jibe with what the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project reported in 2012. It said one in five American adults, and a third of those under 30, are unaffiliated.

Downey says he stepped into the ongoing debate about the rise of the "nones" not because he has a vested interest one way or the other, but because the topic fascinates him. He says it’s good fodder for study and appeals to students who are learning to crunch real data.

In his paper “Religious affiliation, education and Internet use,” which published in March on arXiv – an electronic collection of scientific papers – Downey analyzed data from GSS and discovered a correlation between increased Internet use and religious disaffiliation.

Internet use among adults was essentially at zero in 1990; 20 years later, it jumped to 80%, he said. In that same two-decade period, we saw a 25 million-person spike in those who are religiously unaffiliated.

People who use the Internet a few hours a week, GSS numbers showed Downey, were less likely to have a religious affiliation by about 2%. Those online more than seven hours a week were even more likely – an additional 3% more likely – to disaffiliate, he said.

Now, Downey is the first to point out that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation.

But he was able to control for other factors including education, religious upbringing, rural/urban environments and income, to find a link that allowed him to “conclude, tentatively, that Internet use causes disaffiliation,” he said.

“But a reasonable person could disagree.”

The Internet, he posited, opens up new ways of thinking to those living in homogeneous environments. It also allows those with doubts to find like-minded individuals around the world.

He believes decreases in religious upbringing have had the largest effect, accounting for 25% of reduced affiliation; college education covers about 5% and Internet use may account for another 20%.

That leaves 50% which he attributes to “generational replacement,” meaning those born more recently are less likely to be religiously affiliated – though he doesn’t attempt to explain why that is.

The Pew Research Center has offered its own theories.

One explanation Pew gives is that our nation is experiencing political backlash – "that young adults, in particular, have turned away from organized religion because they perceive it as deeply entangled with conservative politics and do not want to have any association with it."

More specifically, Pew explains, this brand of religion and politics is out of step with young adult views on same-sex rights and abortion.

Postponement of marriage and parenthood, broader social disengagement and general secularization of society may also play a part, according to Pew.

But to be religiously unaffiliated doesn’t require a lack of faith or spirituality, researchers say.

Yes, the "nones" group includes those who might call themselves atheists or agnostics. But it also accounts for many – 46 million people – who don't belong to a particular group but are, in some way, religious or spiritual, according to Pew.

This is all part of the changing face of society and faith, and where the Internet fits in is just part of a complicated puzzle.

The evolving landscape includes plenty of people who go online in search of spiritual and religious sustenance, said Cheryl Casey, who delved into the issue for her 2006 dissertation.

Casey, now a professor of media, society and ethics at Champlain College in Vermont, wrote about the “revirtualization of religious ritual in cyberspace” and the morphing relationship between technology and religion.

That Downey would find a correlation, that the Internet is increasing disaffiliation, makes perfect sense to her.

"The institutional control over the conversation is lifted, so it's not just a matter of more churches to choose from but more ways to have that conversation and more people to have that conversation with," she said Wednesday.

People move away from formal affiliation and toward what she calls "grass-roots religious exploration," where "the nature of the medium allows for those conversations to grow organically."

Innovations have long played a part in influencing religion, she said, and will continue to.

Something she wrote back in 2006 said it best.

“When a new technology, such as the printing press or the Internet, unleashes massive cultural change, the challenge to religion is immense. Cultural developments change how God, or the ultimate, is thought of and spoken about,” she wrote.

“The dynamics of this transformation, however, await continued investigation.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Internet • Technology

soundoff (1,632 Responses)
  1. dman6015

    Both of my high school seniors, in the last six or so months, have given up on religion. No explanation. No reasons. Just don't want it anymore.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
    • colin31714

      Good for them.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Congrats! They finally looked to the heavens and spoke in a loud voice, "Hasa Diga Eebowai"!

      April 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Awesome...kudos for raising open-minded children.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
    • noahsdadtopher

      Does that make you happy or sad?

      April 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
      • ausphor

        Topher
        In the morning make sure you change the diaper before you have a big breakfast there can be a gag reflex you can't control. All the best with Noah.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
  2. frankbeattys

    "An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the
    existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places
    and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that
    no such God exists." - Carl Sagan

    April 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Spoken like the excellent scientist that he was.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
    • edhensley

      Most people who call themselves atheists do not use this definition. Almost all atheists I know claim an atheist is simply someone who rejects the claims of theist, not someone who claims there is no god. Carl Sagan would be an atheist under this definition. Most atheists claim to be an atheist (not believing) and agnostic (not knowing). The two terms are not mutually exclusive.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
      • meledir

        That doesn't make for a very strong claim though... many of the atheists writing here are pretty much proselytizing.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • LinCA

          @meledir

          You said, "That doesn't make for a very strong claim though... many of the atheists writing here are pretty much proselytizing."
          It depends on the subject of the discussion.

          Non-specific gods, just like other fictional characters, can't be completely ruled out. Given the complete lack of even the slightest shred of evidence in support for such creatures, the reasonable position is to not believe they exist (without claiming that they can't).

          The more specific a god is portrayed as, the less likely it is to be real. The moment believers in such a god make specific claims pertaining to their imaginary friend, they undermine the case for its existence. An example would be a god who is claimed to be omniscient and at any time disappointed in the result of its creation. Since disappointment is caused by reality not aligning with expectations, an omnipotent being can never be disappointed as it will know exactly what will happen. Such a creature is impossible to exist.

          In other words, it is possible and completely reasonable to be both strongly atheistic toward specific gods, while being weakly atheistic to gods in general.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
      • joey3467

        I would say I am an atheist when it comes to certain gods but agnostic as to the concept of god as a whole.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
    • sirhuxley

      Well then!

      How do we define what a Christian is?

      Because there are 37,000 varieties of Christianity.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
    • yeetisboppin

      I'm sure, since you posted a quote by Carl Sagan, that you also know that he thought every religion on earth is BS and that he didn't believe in a god. He made this abundantly clear over and over again in his writings, on the radio, and on his TV show.

      April 9, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
  3. noahsdadtopher

    I'm thinking the internet may be contributing, but since we are seeing exactly what the Bible predicts, I'm not concerned.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
    • Alias

      Right.
      The bible is so specific and all.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
      • noahsdadtopher

        It's very specific on what the culture would look like in the last days. So it's not surprising.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • igaftr

          If by specific you mean open to a wide variety of interpretations, then yes it is specific.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
        • lewcypher

          and your Jesus man said it would be back within a generation. So those "end days" were a couple thousand years ago.

          Go ahead and get out your trusty christian alternative dictionary and tell us that "generation" isn't interpreted correctly

          April 9, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Topher: How's baber today?

      April 9, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
      • noahsdadtopher

        He's good. We got a long nap in.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
  4. meledir

    Of course the Internet has an effect on that portion of people who use religion as a crutch, in that it allows people to more easily foster their *own* special closed fantasy universes.

    But it's not much different objectively than putting religious texts into the vernacular or fire into a settlement of Neanderthals: you get some useful things out of it, but potentially some pretty bad stuff too.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
  5. mbutler91c

    No, it's not the Internet, it the "Do anything that feels good and to Hell with what anyone thinks" mentality out there. It's been going on for quite a while and is only getting great daily as politicians, celebrities, movies, TV, etc. is all showing that it is perfectly fine to ridicule and demean people of faith and to revel in the "Me" generation.

    As a point to my comment, from an earlier comment from an atheist "Easy to be dumb too (see Christians)." I guess it's just as easy to be a dumb atheist.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
    • Akira

      Every previous generation says the same thing about the current one. Same as it ever was.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
    • lewcypher

      "it is perfectly fine to ridicule and demean people of faith"

      Why should religious people be off limits? Ever heard of Freedom of Speech?

      I have to respect your right to practice your religion but I don't have to respect the ideology behind it.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
    • meledir

      I think if we looked back at the eighteenth century, we'd see a lot of the same stuff. The big lie that seems to be going around now is that history is linear, and on this particular topic that has a tendency to reinforce itself.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
    • sirhuxley

      "Do anything that feels good and to Hell with what anyone thinks"

      What is wrong with this? As an "Atheist" I simply reject the Bible in its entirety.

      Throughout my life I have had xtians and even US presidents tell me how "Un-American" I am, when, I am actually a Native American.

      So, get used to it, theres more coming tomorrow, as they say, payback is a moth_rf__ker!!

      April 9, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
    • sirhuxley

      Also, how in the hell else are we going to get Christians to stop peddling their crap outside of Church?

      How are we going to get Christians to stop commissioning Psuedo-Science?

      How are we going to get Christians to stop attacking and distorting Science?

      Ridicule is a great way to stop it, it works.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
  6. lewcypher

    Religion requires ignorance to perpetuate. The internet provides people with information and knowledge on an unprecedented level, something religionists hate

    April 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
    • nyslegend

      My thinking exactly – the more people learn about religion, the more they will learn that it is nothing more than fairy tales.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
    • frankbeattys

      76% of Medical doctors believe in God. You must have a great sense of superiority because you know better than them.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • Akira

        You have a link to that, along with the breakdown on the denomination? Is be very interested in seeing that.

        Thanks.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
        • jmonster555

          Do this world a favor and crawl back under your rock

          April 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
        • Akira

          And I'm no liberal, you decrepit asshat.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
      • colin31714

        76% of Islamic doctors believe in Allah; 76% of Buddhist doctors believe in reincarnation; 76% of Hindu doctors believe in Brahma and Shiva.

        It must be great that you are smarter than all of them

        April 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
        • Akira

          That was kind of what I was thinking...

          April 9, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
      • lewcypher

        Thanks for the fallacy

        A medical doctor can be an expert in oncology but ignorant of astrophysics............ and the evidence that doesn't support whatever religion

        April 9, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • Vic

          Science finds that our DNA is the most massive data storage device in the universe, and all the supercomputers on the globe combined can not match that capacity. So, medical doctors see more evidence of intelligent source/agent in our physiology than astrophysicists.

          DNA has information coded in it, information can only come from an intelligent source/agent.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • outtatrue610

          Vic- I see your point and once thought like that. However, one day it dawned on me how flawed this intelligently designed data store of DNA is. Think of all the life forms that died out. Think of how susceptible it is to external influences like radiation from our sun, pollution in our water, poisons in our food, etc. Learn how many times a day cells replicate that DNA with errors. Would an all powerful, all knowing, uber intelligent creator make something so flawed? Why would the creator even need DNA at all to create us? He is capable of anything, correct? I know you didn't posit that belief, but hopefully others who do will see where I am coming from. All those people who argue for intelligent design simply don't realize how flawed instruction set of DNA is (physically and logically). I have created SQL databases that have thrown up no error codes and retrieve data reliably 100% of the time (so far.... stressing so far). And the creator of the universe can't do better?

          June 25, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Fifty-five percent of physicians say their religious beliefs influence their practice of medicine. Compared with the general population, physicians are more likely to be affiliated with religions that are underrepresented in the United States, less likely to say they try to carry their religious beliefs over into all other dealings in life (58% vs 73%), twice as likely to consider themselves spiritual but not religious (20% vs 9%), and twice as likely to cope with major problems in life without relying on God (61% vs 29%).

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490160/#__sec17t.itle

        April 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
      • anjisan63

        Yeah... I'm going to have to ask for that particular link as well. Did God tell you to lie? Thought that sort of behavior was a sin or something in that crazy book you read. You do read it, don't you? Or have you gotten the core messages of the book by watching old Charleton Heston movies?

        April 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
    • meledir

      The Internet ain't real good at promoting real knowledge, unless one is hanging out on archive.org. Give it time, this new way of thinking will be demonstrated to be a religion, just as was done with Randians.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
      • butterflirae

        Evidently the internet "ain't" real good at teaching english either

        August 7, 2014 at 3:55 am |
  7. kingliberal

    Thank god for the internet!

    April 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
    • observer

      It was easy for him to set up. He just went above the flat circle of the earth and put up an antenna which could see all the "realms"..

      April 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
      • Vic

        On the go:

        The difference between "theory" and "tangible reality regarding 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional

        You can depict 2-dimensional objects ONLY in theory. In tangible reality, all objects are 3-dimensional.

        For example: a circle has two dimensions, xy, in theory; however, to create an object in tangible reality in the form of a circle, e.g. ring, disc, etc., it actually has three dimensions, xyz.

        A sphere is 3-dimensional, in theory and in tangible reality. Touching a sphere at one point translates to touching an instance of "the circle" form of that sphere. By concept, and in theory, the form of that circle is 2-dimensional, xy, while in tangible reality, it has a depth, z, which makes it a 3-dimensional object, that is a circle with a depth.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
        • kingliberal

          An electron has depth. All things are 3 dimensional.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        One of the first religions to really feel the bite of how effective the internet is at propagating information was Scientology.
        When the particulars of high level Scientology training were made available in the old newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, the Church tried mightily to censor the docu/ments by any means necessary, but to no avail. (the Southpark episode about Xenu draws heavily from docs leaked on that newsgroup).
        They sued ISPs, Usenet, individual posters from all over the world, and even The Washington Post!
        Too little too late for the Hubbardites, though. The Xenu was let out of the bag and now everybody who cares to look it up knows the absolute hogwash they preach.

        If you want to have a bit of fun, head down to your local Scientology Centre and ask them about L. Ron Hubbard illustrious biography – then haul out a downloaded copy of his actual military records and ask them to reconcile the glaring differences.
        (note: they very quickly shoved my ass out the door)

        April 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • Akira

          Oh, he was very deceitful, that one.
          The more I read about Scientology and the folks who were able to finally escape, the sorrier I feel for the people still ensnared by this awful belief system...

          April 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
    • jmonster555

      K-Liberal, You r a d bag just like all of your d bag liberal monkey friends

      April 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
      • Akira

        How nice. The Conservative Christian speaks.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
        • jmonster555

          I'm no christian, u liberal monkey...

          April 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
        • Akira

          Is spelling out "you" too taxing for you?

          April 9, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
      • kingliberal

        ;^D

        April 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
      • observer

        jmonster555,

        Grow up.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
    • sirhuxley

      He did use a little G

      April 9, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
      • kingliberal

        Because an uppercase g might have been misinterpreted as a sign of respect.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
  8. chiz3914

    If this is true, the internet needs to be more accessible

    April 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • bostontola

      and higher speed.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
  9. Sanderson

    This study means nothing as it relates to religion. Why do these pollists use the term "none"?? Use of the word none is va.gue and ambiguous. Use specific terms to identify a person's faith or lack thereof such as,

    Mormon
    Muslim
    Jewish
    Christian
    Atheist
    Agnostic

    For a study to be indicative of any trend, it has to be specific; ask specific questions and not be whimsical and arbitrary, to make it valid.

    If atheism is on the rise so be it. North Korea and former USSR are great examples of how the godless flourish intellectually and economically.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
    • Sanderson

      Add "Cuba" to that list of flourishing nations!

      April 9, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
      • G to the T

        Ah – you seem to be equating atheisim and dictatorships (i.e. cults of personality). I don't believe that is the case.

        April 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • Alias

        Remind me again how the christian parts of Africa are doing?

        April 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
    • G to the T

      My understanding as that "nones" do not idetinfy as agnostic or atheist. Rather they are (usually) deists, who don't follow the tenants of a particular religion.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
      • Vic

        There is a large number of "non-denominational" Christians who identify as "nones."

        April 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • G to the T

          Really? That seems odd to me but I suppose they could be of the "it's not a religion it's a relationship" stripe. Personally, I think if you use the bible as your primary source of religious instruction, you're a christian and you follow a religion. Too often I hear the relationship concept used soley as a way to distance oneself from other christians they don't agree with.

          April 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
      • Sanderson

        Deists are not nones, deists are deists. Add that to that list. If you religion is not in that list, ask the interviewee to identify their religion, add it to the list at the time of polling and modify the list. Having a category "none" is va.gue and meaningless and does not help form any kind of informed opinion on "religion".

        April 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • G to the T

          No offence intended. Perhaps "Deist", which these days has many connotations isn't the best term. "Theist"?

          I was only asserting that they most likely have a belief in god(s) but do not ascribe to a specific religion.

          April 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
    • seedenbetter

      The mostly atheist countries of Denmark, Finland and Sweden are among the top countries in the world for happiness and education.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
    • colin31714

      Yes, clearly belief in Bronze Age Judeo-Christian mythology is a prerequisite for good government, right?

      April 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • lewcypher

      You don't have to follow a religion to worship a god

      April 9, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      he Journal of Religion & Society published a study on religious belief and social well-being, comparing 18 prosperous democracies from the U.S. to New Zealand.
      #1 on the list in both atheism and good behaviour is Ja.pan. It is one of the least crime-prone countries in the world. It also has the lowest rates of teenage pregnancy of any developed nation. Over eighty percent of the population accept evolution.
      Last on the list is the U.S. It has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and homicide rates are at least five times greater than in Europe and ten times higher than in Ja.pan.
      Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on earth. When nations are ranked according to a human-development index, which measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates, and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries - Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands - all have high degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countires at the bottom of the index, all are intensly religious. The nations with the highest homicide rates tend to be more religious; those with the greatest levels of gender equality are the least religious.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
    • yeetisboppin

      Yes, secular nations with high rates of atheism are the worst. Like Sweden and Norway – such third-world, dysfunctional hellholes!

      April 9, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Oh prey tell.where can this info be found?? If you're going to make silly claims at least try to back them up.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
  10. bostontola

    What's Killing Religion?

    I don't know, but this can't be helping:

    A new "docu.mentary" is coming out this year by Christian apologist Robert Sungenis called The Principle. Dr. Sungenis has a website called Galileo was wrong (also has a book by that t.itle). The movie is pseudo-science with the entire focus on Geo-centrism. Yup, you got that right, Geo-centrism.

    What's worse, is that Dr. Sungenis has taken clips of physicists Michio Kaku, Lawrence Krauss, and Max Tegmark edited to make his case. They of course have denounced the film and the underhanded techniques.

    This kind of desperate, immoral behavior can't enhance the image of religion with young people (you know, our future).

    April 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Lawrence Krauss has a spot in this apparently...http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/04/08/lawrence_krauss_on_ending_up_in_the_geocentricism_documentary_the_principle.html

      April 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
    • Alias

      This can be dangerous. How many parents are convinced immunizations are dangerous?
      Any source that sounds official or well educated that tells them what they want to hear will leave a lasting impression. Remember that park in Kentucky that is bible themed?

      April 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
    • Akira

      Sungenis was asked by his own Bishop to stop his nonsense...he is a huge Holocaust denier, too. He sounds dreadful.

      How very deceitful of him to do this to Krause, et all.

      April 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
  11. Jason Young Guy

    In my 40 years of not only being a Christian, Concert Pianist and a very sociable person in real tangible friendships, I've seen the internet kill a lot of humanistic things. The worse being affected are the children, and the ones being born into a online world that has no real substance when it comes to relationships, building friendships, trusting and giving trust to others, and of course experiencing Faith.

    We as a society are loosing the integrity to turn to a real friend or human before turning to a online world of jumbled information, false relationships and violations of inner security and personal information that in turn gets exploited for the mere purpose of money.

    Though the online world does offer a lot of good intentions with vital information and services, but we will have to eventually step back as human society, and distinguish what is the real balance of what is perceived through a computer screen and our real eyes away from it. Then we will have to make crucial and physical decisions that will allow us to function with both and not risk becoming so isolated and dependent on the internet that we loose a realistic and tangible grasp on life and the real meaning of living, as well as, em-bettering all of humanity. Especially for the sake of this young and up coming generation. They are the true ones at risk, and no Faith can prevent their deterioration without a form of real interaction to explain it, be an example of it, and nurture it as they grow to either accept it or not based on that real relationship and not a computer.

    In my opinion.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      My kid has no problems seeing the distinction between cyber and meat space and the different ways people present themselves in each, not to mention that online manners bear little relation to proper real life behaviour.
      She knows not to share personal information with strangers, whether digital or fleshly.

      It may help that I'm an old nerd, having been online since the days of ANSI BBSs and worked for the DND in IT security – plus her mom works in fraud detection.
      We've both got finely honed BS detectors and are trying to impart that....

      April 9, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
      • Jason Young Guy

        Doc, you are exactly the reason she is doing well, and will be able to separate the two now and in her future. Unfortunately, there are many, if not the majority, of kids that have parents who are not involved with their lives, and thus they turn to the online world, as well as, video games and music. Those two today are not the good old pac-man games and Chubby Checker music before online interactions became almost a standard of living with most. (that's my old school reference)

        Hopefully, more and more people that have kids can experience the exact type of real relationships that I explained earlier and not a online junkie for everything they do and every consumption of time. Religion, among other things, offers real, social interactions and integrity building even if the person doesn't believe in the Faith. So it's important to keep the future generation from becoming educated and drawing conclusions on things that are strictly from other people's inexperienced mouths, that hide behind the screens, instead of learning from a real person in front of them or in a social environment where they can actuary touch another human being.

        You've found the balance, and apparently doing well in seeing she gets it and utilizes too. If only we had more like you in both full family homes and single parent homes. In my opinion.

        April 9, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        She's like this due to good parenting, more kids need that.

        April 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      I think location makes a difference also. I had my daughter at the beginning of this generation (1994). City life gave her a tremendous amount more access to things, including the exploration of many religions-I was Christian (now Atheist), her Dad Pagan....this is opposed to my niece who is a year older and raised in a small town, no thought in her mind that there isn't a god. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to our history regardless of how you look at it. I think the up and coming generation will provide some interesting insight.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
    • sirhuxley

      Well, of course!

      As an xtian you would say that!

      But you neglect to say what "Humanistic" things have been lost? Why?

      Name some. But before you do, remember that your words will be scrutinized, we will not give you a pass.

      BTW, Humanism is not Christianity, and it may be that these "Humanistic" things weren't killed by the internet, but instead were killed by GOP budget cuts to The Arts, Public Education, and to State and Local governments.

      These Humanistic things were killed so the GOP could BUY VOTES with the so-called "Faith Based Initiative" which amounts to $20 BILLION dollars a year.

      Finally, the Internet has actually UNLEASHED human creativity and afforded access to Education to more people than anything before, so I disagree!

      April 9, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
  12. chrisviolence

    We don't live in the dark anymore and we don't need religion any more. It was a nice tool that aided in mans EVOLUTION to this point. Religion, Greed and Oil are the top three problems facing humanity today and we can control 2 of them. Start by simply not passing this archaic nonsense down to our children. Then switch from the soon to be gone fossil fuels (gonna have to do it at some point). Lastly pound the greedy corporations out of existence and imprison the people who run them!

    April 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
    • sirhuxley

      What can I say but...Amen!

      April 9, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
    • Vic

      The US NAVY is working on seawater as an alternative fuel source for the ships.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
    • mangog7117

      Excellent synopsis

      April 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
    • frankbeattys

      It is always interesting what people replace God with. God is usually replaced with government, which then systematically starts killing off one section of the population in mass genocide. Each time saying, that won't happen here.

      "The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God" – John F Kennedy

      "I just want to do God's will." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

      "With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds." - Abraham Lincoln

      April 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
  13. nakedamerica

    The internet isn't 'killing' religion, common sense, and education are. I am surprised it is taking so long. The longer a civilization is around, the 'smarter' it gets, religion has nowhere to go, but away. Its nonsense.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
    • Vic

      According to the article, education accounts to only 5% of the reasons behind religious disaffiliation.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • Alias

        I think he was referring to fromal education.
        You shouldn't get that confused with a general increase in knowledge.

        April 9, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Vic

          I am referring to college education, it accounts to only 5% of the reasons behind religious disaffiliation, as per the article.

          April 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • Alias

          But I think nakedamerica was using a more general concept when he used the term.

          April 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
  14. etiendelamothecassel

    Churches are the sole cause of the decline in Religion. I stopped going to church after my parents died, and only went out of respect for them.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  15. jamesfeagin

    It may seem strange to say this, but as a a believing Christian, I have always enjoyed my interactions with atheists and agnostics. Many of them seem to be more concerned regarding their spiritual welfare than other purported believers. With that said, I think both sides of the equation should treat each other with a greater measure of respect. Reasonable minds can, and often do, disagree.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  16. Vic

    There is a big social factor to the Church that people seek that they can find on the Internet anymore. A similar thing happened to movie theaters, that is Internet convenience.

    While the Internet may account for 20% of the reasons behind religious disaffiliation, as per the article, the following seems the most of all—from the article:

    [
    One explanation Pew gives is that our nation is experiencing political backlash – "that young adults, in particular, have turned away from organized religion because they perceive it as deeply entangled with conservative politics and do not want to have any association with it."

    "The institutional control over the conversation is lifted, so it's not just a matter of more churches to choose from but more ways to have that conversation and more people to have that conversation with," she said Wednesday.

    People move away from formal affiliation and toward what she calls "grass-roots religious exploration," where "the nature of the medium allows for those conversations to grow organically."
    ]

    It all has to do with "Free Will," I believe. Belief in God or lack thereof is per capita, ergo every individual has an individual opinion about it.

    For fun:

    While (not EndOfLife) & (ReligiouslyUnaffiliated)
    ..........{
    ..........keep on believing;
    ..........keep on surfing the Internet;
    ..........pass it on;
    ..........}

    April 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  17. dirksterdude

    I would say the Internet has done nothing except provide other ways to obtain information people wouldn't have available to them. If a particular faith doesn't have the strength to keep up with the Internet I would say the problem is with the faith and not the Internet itself.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
    • sirhuxley

      Yep, information in the form of views that previously were kept in the closet.

      See, we humans know that when we play the fool we get taken for a ride by the greedy.

      When they encounter the views of others that mirror their own they find that they have an outlet that reinforces their Enlightenment.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
  18. MarylandBill

    If someone is going to stop believing in the tenants of religion, please let it be because they were reading Spinoza, Russell and other philosophers, not because of internet prompted hedonism.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
    • Alias

      The internet discredits religion. It has become very easy to see what teh bile says that defies reason.
      Once we discredit them all, the world will be a better place.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
  19. colin31714

    Dalahast:

    As an atheist, I fully I accept that you and other Christians have personal experiences with God. Hindus also have personal experiences with Brahma, Vishnu or Krishna, Muslims with Allah, and Buddhists tend to have reincarnation experiences.

    However, if I were to accept these personal experiences as evidence of the existence of these beings, I would believe in a lot of gods. I would also believe in the various spirits of Native Americans, the Dreamtime deities of the Australian Aboriginals, the gods of the Aztecs and Incas along with a couple of hundred others.

    Every culture has its gods and a small proportion of its population will always claim personal experiences. It might be evidence of a particular god if we all had the same experience across faiths. If Buddhists, Hindus and Jains regularly experienced Jesus or Mary. But they don’t. Only young Christian women ever seem to experience Mary, especially during the awakening of their se.xuality in puberty. The other faiths are busy experiencing reincarnation or their own deity(ies). Christianity does not have a monopoly on religious experiences.

    It might also be evidence if a bystander ever heard or witnessed the “experience,” but they tend to always be purely internal.

    David Koresh and Charles Manson had innumerable personal experiences of voices telling them they were the messiah, while Mark Chapman had experiences telling him he was Salinger's Holden Caulfield. Thousands of people also believe they have had personal experiences with angels, spirits, “presences” or ghosts, with aliens who abduct them or with devils that torment them.

    Quite simply, the internal, subjective experiences people honestly believe they have and the voices they believe they hear are not at all suggestive of any external reality. They just caution us to accept the limits of our own perception.

    April 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The alien comment reminds me of an old Kids in the Hall Sketch where a weary alien is discussion his mission with a co-worker...

      " We've been coming here for 50 years and performing anal probes, and all that we have learned is that one in ten doesn't really seem to mind. "

      April 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Yea, I'm quite familiar with the philosophical musing. It comes up a lot from some atheists. Nothing new.

      As an atheist who seems to treat atheism like a religion, you prove to me that there is something lacking in your life. Why the bigotry? Why the infantile insults? Why the hypocrisy?

      Without God I fail to live up to my own ideals. I see others do this, too. I see you do it.

      You talk about religion, God and belief more than most typical atheists. But you refer to God as though it is some idol that you want control over.

      But it doesn't work that way. You don't have to be another example of atheistic hypocrisy.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
  20. Hasa Diga Eebowai

    My personal opinion is that the internet will lead to the end of Christianity as we know it today. My children are atheists. Ask them anything and they can just look it up. Easy to be smart these days. Easy to be dumb too (see Christians). The Christian indoctrination tactics will still work on the young, but families will struggle with more mature kids questioning why Christianity is so silly and impossible to believe or follow. Children around the world will raise their voice to the heavens and shout in loud voices, “Hasa Diga Eebowai"

    April 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Ignorance can be cured with information.
      Stupidity cannot.

      April 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
      • believerfred

        I hope you're comment was back handed slap to Hasa

        April 9, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
    • Akira

      Not getting your name...

      April 9, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
      • believerfred

        From the Broadway play The Book of Mormon it jokingly means "fuck you god" at the end of the theme song.

        April 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
        • Akira

          I got it. Thanks.

          Haven't seen it yet.

          April 9, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • Hasa Diga Eebowai

          It is also a parody of the Lion King.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • Hasa Diga Eebowai

        Even if you haven't seen the Book of Mormon yet, get the soundtrack. It is hysterical.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
    • believerfred

      Your Children are atheists. Sorry to hear that. Were they so indoctrinated by their parents?

      April 9, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
      • sirhuxley

        Actually, you can think of Atheism as the "Lack of Indoctrination"

        April 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • Hasa Diga Eebowai

        No, that does not make sense. Unless not forcing religion on them in atheist indoctrination. Turns out they are smart kids.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • believerfred

          I cannot imagine a kid not asking parents about God and the atheist parent not responding in the same manner they would regarding God on this site. You believe their is no evidence for God so you would teach your children about lack of evidence.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
        • mk

          How would kids know about the concept of a god unless someone told them? Same with the easter bunny, santa, etc.

          April 10, 2014 at 9:23 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.