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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. janesauric

    Religion managed to survive the Dark Ages, the Back Death, wars, famines and pogroms for thousands of years. But religious zealotry comes and goes in popularity and power. No faith which is based in truth has anything to worry about, so everybody calm down.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
    • LinCA

      @janesauric

      You said, "No faith which is based in truth has anything to worry about, so everybody calm down."
      It's called "faith" for a reason, and it isn't because it is based in truth.

      April 9, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
      • tab9472

        Evolution is not based in truth either, there is no proof of cross-species mutation. As Darwin said: `As by this theory, innumerable transitional forms must have existed. Why do we not find them embedded in the crust of the earth? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of being, as we see them, well defined species?"

        April 9, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
        • colin31714

          every species is, by definition, a transition species between whatever it evolved from and whatever it will evolve into. There is no such thing as a static species.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
        • LinCA

          @tab9472

          You said, "Evolution is not based in truth either, there is no proof of cross-species mutation."
          Ignorance is truly bliss, isn't it. May i suggest you take an elementary science class? there must be something available at your local community college.

          And no, your willful ignorance of science doesn't prove your imaginary friend is real.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • Alias

          So no one has ever been born with an extra chromosome?

          April 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @tab9472,
          Do yourself a favor and keep reading beyond that quote. In your qoute Darwin is presenting some likely objections to his theory which he then addresses.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
      • meledir

        Easily edited to "every faith not proven false."

        April 9, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
        • LinCA

          @meledir

          You said, "Easily edited to "every faith not proven false.""
          That's a pretty low standard. I know of nobody that consistently applies it. If someone believed everything that wasn't proven false, a belief in any god ever worshiped, or even the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny, would deserve equal treatment.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
    • colin31714

      Or, put another way, "every faith has something to worry about."

      April 9, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
  2. rbarnett100

    Hmm... Ironically, the Major piece of the Internet, the World Wide Web was developed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who was an Unitarian Universalist, ironically which is probably the religion these group of individuals, who have no-affiliation to a religion, would most likely identify with.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
  3. totot57

    I always wonder how believers in one monotheistic god figure that only they can be correct when the believers of the other monotheistic religions claim the same?
    Mutually exclusive One-God-Beings. Omnipotent, but only in their own universe?

    April 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
    • Alias

      Why limit that to montheistic religions?
      I don't know of any that are compatable.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      Atheists claim to be right but hate it when believers state their right. Your point?

      April 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
      • igaftr

        Their right to what?

        April 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
      • LinCA

        @thefinisher1

        You said, "Atheists claim to be right but hate it when believers state their right."
        You have the right to remain blissfully ignorant. I can't recommend it, but I have no problem with you electing to exercise that right.

        April 9, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
    • tab9472

      Well, not every one can be right. Someone has to be wrong, right? If you say all paths lead to the same place, you are putting yourself in the place of God, because only God can see if all paths lead to the same point. And if one worldview contradicts another, then how could both be correct?

      April 9, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
      • joey3467

        They could certainly both be wrong.

        April 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
  4. barcs2k

    The internet is only killing religion because facts and scientific data are more readily available. As a result more people in general are informed of how the world works and virtually anything can be studied online. Since religion is a bunch of unverifiable myths, people are learning to trust science and reality over a guess.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
    • tab9472

      Science and reason prove God, and actually decimates evolutionary theory. Evolution is built on the premise that one animal changed in to another. However, even Darwin admitted: "...`As by this theory, innumerable transitional forms must have existed. Why do we not find them embedded in the crust of the earth? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of being, as we see them, well defined species?" Because Chuck, God made them after their KIND.

      April 9, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
      • whippstippler7

        Of course!

        Not.

        April 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
  5. frankfortune

    nah...I'd say information and rational thinking are killing religion.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm |
    • barcs2k

      Exactly. The internet just makes it more readily available.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
  6. Vic

    It's a double-edged sword.

    The Internet is a blessing from God and fulfills Scripture in spreading the "Good News" of the Lord Jesus Christ to all the nations and ends of the world.

    Matthew 24:14
    "14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." (NASB)

    Romans 10:18
    "18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;
    “Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
    And their words to the ends of the world.”" (NASB)

    Following the drift of the theme picture, I would like a "Carriage Return" with "Jesus Christ's Reuturn"

    Oh, and:

    ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰♰♰

    Early on:
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/09/is-the-internet-killing-religion/comment-page-2/#comment-2984576

    April 9, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
    • Vic

      "Following the drift of the theme picture, I would like a "Carriage Return" with "Jesus Christ's Return" on it."

      April 9, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
    • Doris

      Of course no one really know who authored Matthew. But now Paul (Romans) – we know quite a bit about Paul and Peter even gave his stamp of approval for Paul's works as divinely-inspired scripture in Peter 2. oops! There seems to be a problem – it seem most NT scholars think that Peter didn't author Peter 2. My goodness....

      April 9, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
    • timetravelerfrom2121

      Of course!
      Those sneaky bible writers....I always suspected Matthew knew the globalization of information would occur in the early 21st century with the dawn of the Internet Age and spread the message that a sky Gods are real (Zeus and Hercules could give God and Jesus a run for their money), and you will live eternal after death. I think there's a little thrown in about giving priests money$$ and private access to your male sons, but my good people...we are saved! All you have to do is believe and then die!

      April 9, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
    • totot57

      Frankly, I am absolutely NOT sure what Vic is talking about...

      April 9, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
      • Vic

        LOL!

        April 9, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
    • new-man

      Vic,
      you are correct.
      For some, the internet will serve as a medium with information that will either affirm their beliefs (in whatever capacity) or lead them away from their beliefs (in whatever capacity), or convert others (to whatever beliefs).

      For the believer, we've already been warned that if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived – Thank God, that's not possible; but it shows how strong the power of deception is right now and will continue to be.

      I choose to see the positive side of the internet for the believer, because it gives access to information and most importantly, access to REVELATION, that would not be possible otherwise. The body of Christ is not threatened by what is happening. While it may seem that it's business as usual, and while the media focuses on those who provide them with headlines and captions, there are many saints who are honing their kingdom authority, power and dominion and are doing great exploits- most or all of which you will never see mentioned on your tv or even here on a news site.

      There are even greater things to come, so hang in there saints!
      Blessings!

      April 9, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
    • bluelemonzz

      does anyone else get annoyed when people decide to throw scripture quotes at you? Like, who cares. Might as well just quote Nostradamus.

      April 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
      • commonsensed01

        Hey Blue, cheer up! We should start posting quotes from Harry Potter just to balance out the equation. We'll get them believing in wizards in no time. Might make a buck or two out of it too.

        April 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
    • hotairace

      No,

      ♰♰♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰♰♰ Is Pure Bullshit!!

      April 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
  7. gauge2

    Some consider god a fact. I wonder if he/she/it likes being taken for granted. Maybe that accounts for the hissy fits.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
  8. sirhuxley

    Well, Christianity thrives in ISOLATION, where it can serve as the Town Square and the Social Network, such that if you wanted to have any friends at all you had to play along.

    So, the Internet is just the new Town Square, what the Romans called "The Agora"

    Christianity and Suburban neighborhoods combine to provide the ISOLATION that is necessary to break or bend the knees of the poor souls who live there.

    Well, that is all over now....

    April 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
  9. agentxyz

    Grandparents can't figure out the internet and they also are really religious.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Grandson! Come help me at the computer.
      I'm going to paint the garage and I want to know if latex will bond to stucco, so show me how to do a googling for "latex bondage"...

      April 9, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
      • Doris

        LOL

        April 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
      • Alias

        Grandson! Retirement is boring, help me find 'jobs' on the internet.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
  10. genesis1revelation

    There's devil in the details...

    April 9, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
  11. agentxyz

    The devil is in the wires. If you use wireless, you are safe.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      Do most religious persons believe their wireless transmissions are traveling through the spirit realm to reach their cell phones?

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

        No, in biblical times when they used those huge bulky phones, they were fine.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:23 pm |
        • observer

          agentxyz,

          Sorry, but I think you are wrong.

          The Bible specifically states that Moses used a tablet.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @observer
          That is both a terrible and brilliant pun.
          Bravo.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
        • observer

          Doc Vestibule,

          Thanks. I'll go along with you on the "terrible" part.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
  12. Alias

    The article has the wrong title. Information is killing religion. The internet is just making it easier to get to the facts.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      And you atheists are killing your own atheism!

      April 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
      • Alias

        Atheism is what's left when you realize that each and every religion has it wrong.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          That's your opinion and belief. Grow up.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
        • Alias

          SO in your opinion, after you run out of god stories to believe, what is left?

          April 9, 2014 at 4:23 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          It's pretty funny when the one making playground style retorts tells you to "grow up"...

          April 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Do you have to keep telling yourself that God doesn't exist over and over again in order to be an atheist? You wanna know what that means? You already do ^_^

          April 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
        • jsharp2014

          Beautiful

          April 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
        • doobzz

          "Do you have to keep telling yourself that God doesn't exist over and over again in order to be an atheist?"

          No. Just like I don't have to keep telling myself that Santa Claus doesn't exist over and over.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
      • jayharland

        Thefinisher1, please refrain from commenting if you're just going to say something stupid.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
  13. thephinisher1

    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 4:05 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      Lol I have an admirer! I would like to thank my gold fish Jake, my mom for letting me live down in the basement, and my pastor.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
  14. eqgold

    This is great news! Education is the death of religion for obvious reasons.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
    • jasonhunt007

      but it is bad news for new customers.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
      • neverbeenhappieratheist

        Much like Fox News wants to claim the right to tell the "other side" of the story, religion does the same trying to sue for the right to teach intelligent design in school or ban the teaching of evolution as if they have to "teach the controversy". The internet is just waking up their members to the fact that there is no real controversy, and that is hurting sales.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
  15. thefinisher1

    Atheism sits on a throne of lies.

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

      No, the ruler of Westeros sits on a throne forged from swords.

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

      science != lies

      You don't understand the world around you

      April 9, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      go and find the nurse now please...with every post you make the delusions are getting worse

      April 9, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
    • mythless

      Atheism aspires to no throne. Just proof. Got any?

      April 9, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
  16. kylere

    This is merely a side effect of the oppressed people who do not follow any mythology being able to speak out. Mythology and cults can only exist until they are questioned. Once people with rational minds examine the myths of the world it allows them to move forward from the voodoo of past eras.

    Religion is not being killed, merely the self-decided impression of christians that they are somehow magically right and that the US is somehow a "christian nation. This is a holdover from Europe wisely dumping all their crazies on North America.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
  17. totalrecall9

    STUPID study!!! The problem is that the Supreme Court kicked prayer and the Bible out of schools in the 1960s. They, in essence, replaced Christianity with atheism in the schools by trying to teach evolution and the big bang as fact when there is no supporting evidence for it. Now, we have a lot more crime, a lot more violent crimes, a lot more broken homes, and a lot more people on the dole, including prisoners.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
    • colin31714

      That's right. I was a god fearing christian until I saw an archaeopteryx fossil. I immediately went out and burned down a church and drowned a litter of kittens.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
    • robertb367

      Yes that's why prisons are just overrun with Atheists. Percentage of U.S. prison population that identifies as Atheist .01%
      Gigantic fail try again.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        If we are all born atheists and that's our natural state, jails are filled with atheists. Heheheh😃☺️😄😊😊

        April 9, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
        • igaftr

          That makes even less sense than your usual drivel. Are you suggesting that our jails are filled with babies?
          The stats show there are very few atheists in jail per capita.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Stupid troll. If we are born atheists, that means your precious atheism is the source of all the problems. Of course your false logic won't let you see the truth but it's true.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
      • totalrecall9

        You're either ignorant or don't care to know. Criminals usually find religion while in prison. In fact, it's part of their "time off for good behavior".

        April 9, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
        • robertb367

          So all criminals are Atheist and fake their religion to get out of jail?

          April 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Most do. Most will commit the same crime over and over. Why do atheists believe criminals in the first place? Logic and reason is dead in atheism.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          I'm very curious to see your evidence of this...might be interesting for some humor.

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

      There is plenty of evidence for evolution.
      Fossils tiktaalik etc
      Biochem cytochrome c
      Biogeography
      Genetics human chromosome 2 eyc

      April 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
      • totalrecall9

        Nope. You will NEVER find any proof of macroevolution that atheists believe.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Micro / Macro evolution are obfuscatory terms made up by Creationists.
          It is akin to calling a rain drop "micro-moisture" and an ocean "macro moisture".
          Matters of degree, nor principle.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @totalrecall9,
          "Nope"

          That's it? The sum total of your argument? Wow

          April 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Totalrecall....
          Nope. You will NEVER find any proof of the existence of an invisible sky wizard. There....I fixed it for you.

          April 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
    • observer

      totalrecall9,

      Yes. The Supreme Court removed the Ten Commandments so we can no longer read that we should not "covet thy neighbor's a$$".

      April 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
    • faithfulwatcher

      "But know this, that in the last days, critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having NO natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, with out love of goodness, betrayers, head-strong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power, and from these turn away." 2nd Timothy 3:1-5 in the Bible. THESE are the last days; people had better seek God, Himself, by means of respectful and sincere prayer, asking Him for His wisdom. James 1:5.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
      • observer

        faithfulwatcher

        "THESE are the last days". Yep, pretty much what Timothy said. So far, he's been WRONG for OVER 2,000 years.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
    • mythless

      Religion has no place in school, except as a private belief. The Supreme court did exactly the right thing.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
    • commonsensed01

      So are you saying since we don't prayer in school, that is the reason for more crime, more violent crime, – (actually lower now than it was before) more people on welfare and more broken homes? Care to show one scientific study taht shows any correlation with your "facts"?

      April 9, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
  18. colin31714

    I wonder if the Utopian dream below will ever be realized.

    LAST CHURCH IN THE USA CLOSES ITS DOORS.

    Reuters AAP – The last place of worship the USA officially closed its doors yesterday. The Church of Christ Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama held its last service at 10:00 on Sunday morning and was promptly shuttered by its pastor. “While I will be sorry to see a tradition pas.s, I guess it was time to move on,” declared Pastor Kevin Smith, “It saddens me a little, but I can no longer preach things I no longer believe in myself. Also, given that my congregation is elderly and poor, donations are down to a spasmodic trickle.”

    The closure marks the culmination of a dramatic surge in secularism in the USA following the Catholic Church scandals of the early 21st Century. After phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Network revealed that the Pope and virtually all Archbishops were acutely aware of the depth of the pedophilia problem since the 1950s, sweeping new policies were implemented under President Gibbs’ administration (2040-2048).

    Under his “No Mind Left Behind” policy, children were taught science, history, psychology and critical thinking from their first year of school. It was not until they were in their early teens and had a grounding in healthy skepticism and independent thought, that any supernatural belief, such as astrology or Christianiity was allowed to be presented to them. Such beliefs were, of course, almost universally rejected by them.

    As interest in the supernatural has dwindled, the vacated churches, synagogues and mosques in the USA were sold off and the proceeds invested in a fund which, under the XXV Amendment to the US Const.itution, could only be used to further scientific education and environmental awareness and protection. Already the fund has been responsible for returning vast swaths of land to their natural state, in the USA and elsewhere and has largely been credited for ensuring the survival of the tiger, cheetah and mountain gorilla.

    Bibles and The Book of Mormon, which once graced virtually every hotel room in the USA, were replaced with Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion.”

    As people have increasingly realized there is no sky-being looking out for us, donations to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Red Heart (f/k/a “Red Cross”) and Doctors Without Borders are at an all time high. “Looking back, it’s weird to think of some of the nonsense people believed as late as the early 21st Century,” commented Pastor Smith, as he locked the doors and walked nonchalantly from his church. “I guess you can’t judge them too harshly, though. When you’re taught it from such an early age and then told it’s immoral to even question it, I guess you are easy prey.”

    April 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
    • cielo62

      LOVED IT!! WOULD that it would happen! But alas, people are BORN STUPID each and every generation. There will ALWAYS be fodder for the mentally challenged.

      April 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
    • jasonhunt007

      We can dream, and dreams come true. I agree with the timeline.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      We can hope but as Penn said "“If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.”

      Sadly I doubt we'll see it in our lifetimes.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
      • colin31714

        That's a great quote.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
      • meledir

        There are some severe epistemological problems with that proposition. How do we really know? The underpinnings of all the major religions are really quite similar.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          We don't know and that's what makes life interesting, a never ending cycle of questions and new discoveries.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
        • mythless

          Simple. The same charismatics that ushered in of the religions in the past would not be the same as those in the future. Each religion that was created in the past had specific people determining it's initial structure. Just look at the creators of Mormonism or Scientology.

          April 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • colin31714

          Not really, Hinduism believes in a plurality of gods, Judaism and Islam are monotheistic, Christianity is somewhere in between. Theravada Buddhists reject a god outright and Mahayana Buddhists don't really seem to be sure. New Guinea highlanders worship ancestors and many traditional religions still have totem beliefs

          April 9, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
    • new-man

      the church is not a physical building, it's people.
      The Most High Himself established Zion. The foundation stone was laid in time 2000 years ago. That was the first stone of Zion laid and many stones have been added since. Yet, many stones remain and are not ready, for Zion is a city whose stones are alive; they are the sons and daughters of God who are carefully prepared at the quarry. No stone will be left out of place, ever stone in its own place and all cemented together by love.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
      • igaftr

        The most high himself? You must mean Ja, god of the Rastafarians.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
        • new-man

          many rastas claim Haile Selassie as their messiah, though if you were to ask the ordinary rasta-man on the street, he'd probably tell you he believes in Jah-Ras Tahfari (which is just his name for Yahweh).

          April 9, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • igaftr

          newman
          yahweh? You don't even know the name of your own god.

          April 10, 2014 at 8:06 am |
      • mythless

        You're welcome to that belief. Me, I prefer a more logical assumption, that men created it to explain the mysteries of ancient times. Remember, science is a much newer invention than religion. And it will eventually supersede it.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
      • commonsensed01

        So what about all the souls from before 2000 years ago? Did they go to hell? Did they get a free pass to heaven since they didn't get the God "email"?

        April 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
    • meledir

      You are aware that there have been skeptics before, right? Look up Falstaff and follow the links to the guy he was based on.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
    • faithfulwatcher

      This pastor never actually knew God to begin with or he would know the truth. Please notice the main reason he closed his "church" is because his congregation is elderly and broke and the pastor can't live or make a huge profit on their meager and ill-guided donations. This so-called pastor did his congregants a favor; now they can have a direct relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. And colin31714, one cannot justifiably place judgment against God because of the behavior of His betrayers. God is very much alive, and He is good, through and through. Only those who search for Him in sincerity and respect will be allowed to find Him.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm |
      • colin31714

        In fairness to Pastor Smith, I made the whole thing up.

        April 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
        • mythless

          I see you've reposted this quote. Are you the same Colin who posted it in 2012?

          http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/28/astronomers-billions-of-super-earths-in-habitable-zone-of-red-dwarf-stars/comment-page-2/

          April 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
        • colin31714

          yes

          April 9, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
        • mythless

          Cool!

          April 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
  19. abcontador

    This article made my day.

    Not a suprise and not new news though - organized religion is seeing a rapid decline in ALL western nations. The ones with the best education system are seeing it drop the fastest.

    Even with all the misinformation and trolling, the truth eventually bubbles to the top, and this is a big reason organised religion is in trouble. The hypocrisy, hate and absurdity of religion cannot hide in the information age. People can also be more honest, without fear of repercussion from religious people.

    It is also apparent that millennials are just not as gullible as previous generations–say what you will about them, this is an area where they deserve a lot of admiration and respect - they don't buy the BS and they aren't as easily brainwashed (sunday school) because they have access to so much alternative information.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
    • jkflipflop

      It's not that "millennials are just not as gullible". LOL that's a good one, by the way. It's that their parents aren't forcing this stuff down their throat from an early age. Being programmed your entire life starting when you can very first make complex thoughts is a very powerful force.

      April 9, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
  20. robertb367

    The bible is 100% accurate. But only when thrown at close range.

    April 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
    • mythless

      LOL!

      April 9, 2014 at 4:59 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.