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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. Theo Phileo

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m846oKiYQCY&w=640&h=390]

    April 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      This guy must not have been listening because his attempted point of atheists not being able to justify morality is laughable. If as I believe morality has evolved in human social groups over our very long history then it has every justification already borne in the fact that those who would not accept what was good for the whole group were weeded out and their way proved fatal for their genetic line. Those who adapted to the socially evolving and subjective morality thrived in the new communities, those who did not died out. We still have remnants of the more solitary selfish genes but we attempt to repress them from an early age in our children so that they will thrive in the socially evolved community the parent grew up in. This is why morality and social norms vary from one regional area to another, but the primary premise of a society being a protection for a group instead of the individual means many subjective laws would be the same across all groups such as bans on murder, theft and physical assault. It wasn't until religion was introduced that allowed humans to make exceptions to the subjective moral laws as they needed to justify murdering their neighbors as they competed for resources. It was religion that was used as the excuse to claim other humans weren't really human and not deserving of the same moral laws reserved for members of a specific tribe, group or society. This is why the religious argue so fervently for the rights of their God to command the killing of anyone they want at anytime, it's their Gods prerogative so when the "faithful" go commit atrocious acts that should be condemned by all they claim the rules don't apply to them or their God.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
      • meledir

        Interesting lack of perspective on the source of social problems. Religion evolved to solve them; it didn't cause them (and this was in fact the point of almost all early religious or mythological texts).

        Atheism CAN produce a workable morality. But it's harder... on a society-wide basis it hasn't succeeded in doing that yet, because it is difficult not to glorify either the individual (producing chaos and/or demographic oblivion) or the government (producing repression).

        April 9, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
    • abcontador

      all of this arguments have holes – faith will never be a convincing argument

      April 9, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        It's not intended to be convincing, it's intended just to be.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
    • totalrecall9

      That video was sweet!

      April 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      I bet one of those badges is a declaration of being "logical".

      April 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
  2. neverbeenhappieratheist

    From the headline I believe you can draw but one conclusion, religion is dying and now some are trying to place the blame. Is it the internet? Is it the organized religions themselves? Is it the new wave of nones? Is it the trend of humans using the technology now available to them to get educated and thus are rejecting religion at an ever increasing pace? I don't really care how its being done as long as its being done. Good riddance organized religion.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
    • mikkj1

      There has also always been the issue of the "phantom" religious. I have known many, many "Christians" who never go to church, would get an abortion if need be, are for gay marriage, drink smoke, etc. They don't do anything that a "Christian" would supposedly do, but due to social pressure and upbringing, they are adamant that they ARE "Christian", and will state that on any questionnaire. I have always thought that the estimates of the number of Christians was at least 15-20% too high due to this "phantom" influence..

      April 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
  3. meledir

    Regarding the paeans about how education and information are the enemies of religion: how much more educated are we really getting at this point? In some places, anonymity gives nonbelievers more ability to speak their minds. But those places are not the entire world.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      The fundamental concepts taught by Jesus Christ fully embrace education and the sharing of information. It is not the enemy of the follower of Christ.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
      • colin31714

        You said, "The fundamental concepts taught by Jesus Christ fully embrace education and the sharing of information." Show me any and all quotes from Jesus along these lines.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
        • meledir

          The exchange with the Samaritan woman at the well sufficiently illustrates the point... however, why should we indulge the notion that Jesus, etc. needs to be quoted on a topic in order for the Bible, the Gospels, etc. to have something to say about that topic? Ancient people were not dolts and any philosophically oriented text worth reading is a serious of highlights, not a complete list. The numerous occasions on which Jesus or John the Baptist or Cicero stated that which was contemporarily or permanently obvious were not going to be recorded.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
      • meledir

        There is some credence to the criticism when one is talking about ignorant-but-religious groups of people. If some people are not legitimately afraid of knowledge or of something new, they do a great impression of that same state. I just don't think they're significant in an evidentiary sense. They exemplify political behavior much better than they exemplify religious belief.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
      • tavuka2

        then why didn't jesus teach science instead of supernatural garbage?

        June 10, 2014 at 9:54 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Jesus was teaching how to love. He speaks to our hearts.

          June 10, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
  4. Kris

    Cosmos (the show) and science may also have something to do with this trend (assuming it's a real trend).

    April 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Most religious people fully embrace science. And Cosmos.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
      • colin31714

        Oh nonsense. They pay it lip service until it starts to undermine their childish superst.itions, then they dismiss it. Science and religion are about as compatible as disease and medicine.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No.

          It really isn't as simplistic as that.

          I'll trust Mr deGrasse Tyson's opinion over yours on this subject.

          Or the actual scientists or people who demonstrate they can contribute to society who have shared opinions that suggest your opinions are nonsense.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Dala: I wouldn't be so quick to say that.
        "Creationists are accusing astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson's reboot of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" of being scientifically unbalanced because it doesn't represent their beliefs."
        (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/creationists-neil-degrasse-tyson-cosmos-unbalanced)

        I know it doesn't represent all Christians but it does show a certain side of it...the extremists.

        I personally think it should be shown to every child. Neil had big shoes to fill and he's doing rather well...Carl would be proud.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Right.

          And there are extremist atheists that imagine religion inherently opposes science.

          But thankfully a great mind like Tyson can clear up that misunderstanding – or myth – that some are intent on spreading.

          It is not true.

          “A scientific discovery is also a religious discovery. There is no conflict between science and religion. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make about the world.”

          –Joseph H. Taylor, Jr.,

          April 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
        • tavuka2

          Tyson is an atheist... just like Sagan was...

          June 10, 2014 at 9:56 pm |
      • abcontador

        they pick and choose the parts they feel back up their myths

        April 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Who? The atheist extremists? Or the religious extremists?

          Or both. I would say both. I've seen evidence of both doing it.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • fintronics

          And what myths do atheists propose? a lack of belief in gods?........ the religious are the ones making a claim of "god"

          Are we next going to hear about evidence for no god?.....

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

          Some atheists proselytize that all religion is anti-science. Or that science and logic are exclusively on their side. Or that all Christians support stoning others 'because it is written in their book'.

          Lots of myths I hear about. Oh, they sky fairy myth is another.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
        • yeetisboppin

          @Dalahäst:

          "Some" atheists, you say. Atheism is nothing more than a single position on a single issue. One can be an atheist and still believe in all sorts of supernatural things – it does not guarantee that the person is a rationalist or a skeptic.

          Because atheism has no central rulebook or code or dogma, saying that atheists "pick and choose" which parts of atheism to believe in the same way that many Christians pick and choose from the Bible is completely nonsensical.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
      • yeetisboppin

        It may be that way in Sweden, where I'm guessing you're from based on your name (I've been to Dalarna btw – it's a really nice place). But In America the culture is very different – 46% of adults believe in young earth creationism. It is true that, outside of the US, religious people more often embrace science, but we have fundamentalists here who reject evolution, claim that the earth is less than 10,000 years old, and try to get these ideas into science textbooks that would be distributed across schools in the entire nation.

        April 9, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Our very secular, public education is a joke in some areas. Especially in regards to science.

          A lot choose to go to a Catholic school in my area to gain better credentials. There is also a private school that does well, but you have to be quite wealthy to afford that.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:25 pm |
  5. robertb367

    There is no more potent force for Atheism than picking up the bible and actually reading it.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
    • meledir

      The snap answer to that is, read any secular texts contemporary to the Bible? And apart from that, what's the significance to present-day religious thought of what amounts to a couple books of Hebrew proto-history?

      April 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
  6. thefinisher1

    Atheism is killing itself because it's too weak to stand! Hehehee😄☺️☺️😊😄😊😄😊😄😍

    April 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      At least it has legs to stand on, religion has nothing but the ever elusive "faith" to stand on. All the feelings they experience from their immaterial legs of faith are phantom pains which they interpret as their God trying to communicate with them.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        You atheists do have faith but you're too egoistic to admit it. Such a shame. I thought "logic" and "reason" existed in atheism.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          all I have faith in is that there is a logical answer to the origins of the universe. I don't have faith that I hold the answer since I do not have enough evidence to draw a firm conclusion. At best I can merely accept that we do not know for a fact what the universal origins are. You and your ilk on the other hand, have no problem leaving the firm ground of reality to float around in the realm of "faith" in things that you have no evidence of.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Wrong. You have faith you're right and not wrong. So..I don't see how atheism is any different from any religion. Grow up.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
        • Alias

          Reason and logic do not lead directly to the atheist point of view.
          Reason and logic lead away from the bible and the lies the preachers tell.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • fintronics

          You shouldn't embarrass yourself by posting that garbage without first knowing what atheism means.

          Atheism = lack of belief in god....... nothing else, no hidden meanings, no religion, just lack of belief in god. Very simple, try and keep up.

          April 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "You have faith you're right and not wrong."

          I don't have to have faith to know i'm right when I say "So far there is no empirical evidence proving a God or gods created the universe."

          If I was wrong and had to rely on faith to believe that then you would no doubt quickly prove me wrong by showing me the empirical evidence you have to prove your God theory.

          You say "There is a God"

          I say "You have no proof of that God"

          You say "See! You have are just using faith to believe I have no proof!" Ha Ha!"

          I say "No faith is necessary, I am patiently waiting for your proof and yet none has arrived, therefore the only conclusion that can be drawn is that you have no proof."

          April 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      oh dear, run a long and find your nurse, it seems the meds are wearing off

      April 9, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
    • fintronics

      Wow... just too funny. What are you like 13 years old?

      April 9, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
      • gulliblenomore

        Based on his posts, 13 is a conservative estimate at best.....

        April 10, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
  7. neverbeenhappieratheist

    Is the internet eliminating the need some have for witch doctors? No, there will always be stupid people who want to believe in the mumbo jumbo even if science has shown no evidence of their supposed healing powers. Same goes for any religion.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
  8. qsmurf

    In the information age, religion is dwindling....as it should.

    The insti.tution of religion has long been averse to knowledge and facts about life and the world simply because the more we discover of our world, the more useless religion becomes.

    We are long overdue for another "Age of Enlightenment". The internet ushering in the information age has had the most potential for accomplishing this than anything that has previously come along since the original, including the printing press.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
  9. Sanderson

    It's probably the scientologists that are identifying themselves as "nones". People are assuming religion is dying out, actually since the poll was formulated inefficiently it resulted in a faulty conclusion.

    All along it was probably the "scientologists" posing as "nones" that were silently increasing in number...

    April 9, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
    • colin31714

      It was. I saw Tom Cruise dressed up as secular humanist stuffing ballot boxes with "none" votes.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
    • Sanderson

      For that matter, you can replace "scientologist" with any other cult that is silently on the rise and is masquerading itself as "nones".

      April 9, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
      • neverbeenhappieratheist

        But it could never be those who actually have rejected religion because that would have a negative impact on your perception of the world, right?

        April 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
  10. colin31714

    A quick 10 question quiz might help explain why the young are deserting religion in droves. The core problem the priests, ministers and rabbis face is that they no longer have a monopoly on what they tell these kids while they are too young to know any better. The kids can fact check themselves and, of course, any religion is soon exposed as having a lot to explain.

    Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in an “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Bad science fiction;

    (b) Children’s fairytales;

    (c) Hallucinogenic psychology; or

    (d) Christianity

    Q. 2 What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country utterly stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:

    (a) a horrid mental disease

    (b) a failed education system

    (c) a successful Al Qaeda plot to undermine the future of the country; or

    (d) Christianity?

    Q. 3 Please complete the following sentence. It is not uncommon in many parts of the World for a young man to strap a suicide vest to himself and blow himself up and members of a rival __________

    (i) corporation

    (ii) university

    (iii) research insti.tute; or

    (iv) church?

    Q. 4 It is only acceptable as an adult to believe childish Bronze Age mythology like talking snakes, the Red Sea splitting, water turning into wine by magic, mana falling from the sky, a man living in a whale's belly, a talking donkey, superhuman strength, a man rising from the dead and angels, ghosts, gods and demons in the field of:

    (a) history

    (b) literature

    (c) anthropology; or

    (d) religion

    Q.5 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am being obstinate and closed minded due to my:

    (a) hetero$exuality

    (b) genetics

    (c) nationality; or

    (d) religion.

    Q6. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian, Muslim or Jew who believes that prayers are answered

    Q7. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    Q.8 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q.9 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas all religion is regional and a person’s religion, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than a matter of upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.10 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Q.11 Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am

    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker

    (b) the mafia

    (c) A drug pusher; or

    (d) any given religious organization

    Q. 12 I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" (like protect myself from disease with a condom, for example). I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions; or

    (d) A regular Christian, Jew or Muslim following my religious belief

    In short, nothing in history of human endeavor can make otherwise smart, functioning people believe the most implausible of childish, supernatural absurdities the way religion can.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
  11. thephinnisher01

    The internet is the Dr Kevorkian of religion. Theists won't admit it, but their collective wish is for it to all go away as soon as possible including their crazy beliefs. The internet is helping them reach that goal by providing more anonymity.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
  12. Bill

    To be fixed by the Universal Theology of the New Jerusalem by Emanuel Swedenborg and your introduction to the New Church!

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

      How is having a new church going to do anything that the old churches haven't done. They are all based on speculation.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
  13. Salero21

    God willing I'll be back!! Tomorrow around the same time. Because atheism it Absolutely, Completely and Totally Stupidity of the worst type.

    Now, just a though to be clear. Gods Grace IS NOT religion or a Religion.

    Religion however is one of those things that differentiate/separates humans from all other animals. See.. animals have customs, rituals and routines, however they can't and don't have religion. Having, practicing or belonging to a "Religion" is something uniquely HUMAN. Is Granted by God the Creator to mankind but after the Fall into Sin. So when atheists in the irrational rants/harangues argue against religions in general or in particular to Christianity, what they do brings THEM below the level of animals.

    Though the Gospel IS NOT "religion", there're still some "religious" elements within it. However these few elements of religious disciplines DOES NOT make the Gospel or Christianity a mere Religion. So atheists waste their hot air babbling against something they have absolutely no clue. That's why atheism is Total Stupidity. The Bible says so!!

    April 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
    • jmonster555

      agreed, unfortunate they even breath my oxygen

      April 9, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
      • karlaporter

        Or perhaps you breathe my oxygen.

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

      Definition: False accusation is very closely related to slander. Slander is a false report maliciously uttered, with the intention of injuring the reputation of another.

      1. Accusing others falsely, or "bearing false witness," as it is usually referred to in the Bible, is specifically condemned and forbidden by the Lord.

      * Exodus 20:16 [The Ninth Commandment says:] Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

      * Exodus 23:1,7a Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. 7a Keep thee far from a false matter.

      2. Accusing falsely is a form of lying.

      * Proverbs 6:16,19a [The Lord hates] a false witness that speaketh lies.

      * Proverbs 10:18 He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

      * Proverbs 12:17 He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.

      * Proverbs 14:5 A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.

      3. At the root of false accusations there are very often the serious sins of pride, selfishness, bitterness, jealousy or envy, as illustrated in the Bible:

      * Numbers 16:3 [Korah and his cohorts jealously accused Moses and Aaron:] And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?

      * Esther 3:2,5,8 [His pride wounded, Haman maliciously accused all the Jews to King Ahasuerus:] And all the king's servants, that were in the king's gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. 5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. 8 And Haman said unto King Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
  14. joey3467

    Here's an example. I have a morality that says that I should never hurt another person. Then I become a doctor, and I have to administer vaccines, which will hurt the patient in the short term, but help them in the long run. Am I just stuck there? Can't do my job, so I have to quit and find a new one I guess.

    No you can practice relative morality. If morals aren't relative then you would be stuck because giving a shot would cause pain.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
    • meledir

      That's not a very productive example because the pain of the shot is insignificant compared to the pain of the illness.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
      • Alias

        Actually that is the morality of the christian god – not that I believe in it.
        We suffer for a while here so we can earn our eternity of bliss.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
        • meledir

          Objectively, that's going to be the "morality" of just about anything, without or with eternity being involved. Groups develop morality to identify a purpose for sacrifice or self-denial for the good of the group.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
  15. moiraesfate

    The internet? No. Well maybe. You see, the world is becoming more connected and more educated than it ever has been in history. And the great enemy of religion is knowledge. So maybe in a way, but not the way that these religious leaders are trying to make it seem.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
  16. stevepatt46

    Shedding a little light on the machinations of bronze age goat herders will do that to a person.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
  17. sftommy

    Religions are revealed as unnecessary to have a spiritual relationship with God or one's fellow travelers in this world. Coercive fears that serve other men versus Personal faith.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
  18. alkihawksfan

    It's inside you. We aren't soul-less walking mounds of flesh until we say the sinner's prayer and give our lives to Jesus. We are spiritual beings that have been assigned to our very own vehicle to have a human experience.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    • stevepatt46

      Pure unadulterated bronze age goat herder mentality.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
  19. hobbezz

    Yes people are becoming more educated. Thousands of years ago there were many gods, now there is "one" we're getting closer to the real number.

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

      Why can't there be more than one god? If there were such a thing as gods, it seems likely there would be a whole community of them.

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

      Don't the Hindu's have many gods?

      April 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
      • igaftr

        So do the christians, otherwise their god would not have to tell them not to worship the other gods.

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

        Yes.
        So do the christians, but they won't admit it.
        There's Big Daddy, Little Daddy, The Spook, and Satan.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
        • fintronics

          That "holy spirit" garbage just cracks me up..... ... used to be the "holy ghost" but I guess that wasn't PC for the new Christian crowd.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
  20. colin31714

    The committed religious mind always fears their adherents’ access to knowledge and differing opinions. This is why the following are fundamental concepts of Judeo-Christianity:

    1. Faith and blind acceptance are “good” and questioning or doubting the existence of God is “bad” or a “sin.”

    2. All people with a message that contradicts the view of the church leaders are “false prophets” inspired by the devil or otherwise to be view with suspi.cion and/or vilified.

    3. People who are highly educated and question God’s existence are “elitist” or “think they know more than God.”

    4. Other religions are flat wrong. Not in the sense that others don’t have the right to believe other than Christianity, it’s just that, when they do so, they have “got it all wrong” or are actually worshipping the Judeo-Christian God but just don’t realize it.

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

      Nope. Your committed mind to arrogance display the fundamental concepts of Colin's imagination:

      1. People who believe in God simply believe in a "sky fairy".

      2. People who don't hold the same biases and preconceived notions as Colin? He has a test for that!

      3. People who demonstrate superior knowledge of science, logic and mathematics than Colin. (Let's just ignore that harsh reality – scary!)

      4. Everyone other than an atheist like Colin is wrong and deserves his immature and infantile understandings lazily forced upon them.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
      • colin31714

        1. The analogy is not far from the truth. Most people's idea of god is some all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-watching being that rewards or punishes individuals based on their behavior. The sky-fairy analogy pretty much fits this. Harsh, I'll admit, but pretty accurate.

        2. Huh?

        3. I can assure you that many, many are smarter than me in math and science. That does not make anything I say invalid. In fact, it is irrelevant.

        4. Not everybody, but most simply accept the religion of their parents and never seriously question it. This tends to include childish things like people rising from the dead etc. that would be dismissed as simple minded foolery in any field other than religion.

        April 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          1. Not really. But I'm not surprised you insist it is pretty accurate. I only hear you cling to this childish understanding of God.

          2. People who don't hold the same biases and preconceived notions as Colin? He has a test for that!

          You write tests that just reinforce your preconceived notions. They are loaded questions that would be categorized as a "logical fallacy" by any respected scholar. But, it is just message board fodder. Nobody is mistaking it as anything else. Hence the reason you post it over and over like a

          3. These childish people can actually demonstrate things you can't. You just talk about it, though. Any idiot can do that. And nobody is willing to pay you for your ideas, so you are stuck posting on message boards pretending like you are a voice of reason. Nope.

          4. Yet you hold on to such simple minded concepts like hypocrisy and double standards you fail to hold yourself up to?

          How are you not a bigot like Einstein describes?

          A. You are one.

          B. You are not one, because....

          April 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Actually, Dala....I have read both yours and Colins posts, and his are demonstrably more intelligent than yours. He, like all atheists just want one thing, and one thing only....proof! If you have it, then by all means present it. If you don't, well then, you have no leg to stand on and are in no way capable of countering any conclusions drawn by non-believers.

          April 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
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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.