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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. bostontola

    I hope the "nones" stick to their convictions.

    They have an important awareness that belief in God isn't the harmful element per se, it's the religious creed, doctrine, and dogma. The creeds, doctrines, and dogmas are clearly all man made. They vary widely through the various sects of the same religions. They all are self preserving, up to and including violence (not all use violence, but threatening eternal burning is a form of violence to me).

    Religion is often the villain. "Nones" have made a great step away from the worst part of belief.

    April 9, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
  2. dave32264

    Religion (and its inherent bigotry and ultra conservatism) is killing itself, the internet is just helping along.

    April 9, 2014 at 6:12 pm |
  3. LinCA

    Religion relies on childhood indoctrination and control of information. It is the only way to shield the inherent nonsense of religion from critical examination.

    This is why all religions insist on religious instruction for children. It's also why you can tell how extreme a religion is by the measures they take to shield children, or even adult members from outside influence. It's a safe bet that if a "church" isolates its members, their teachings won't hold up against even cursory examination.

    Internet breaks down those barriers. Those that are courageous enough to question their indoctrination will find a whole new world when they venture out.

    April 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
    • believerfred

      LinCA
      "Religion relies on childhood indoctrination and control of information"
      =>Did you not indoctrinate your children into a skeptic mindset? Did you control their information or let them attend Bible summer camp? OR how about play in the Christian Soccer league?

      "This is why all religions insist on religious instruction for children"
      =>No, the reason is that God said it will be well for you and your family. You are held accountable and if your children reject God because of your actions there will be hell to pay.

      "you can tell how extreme a religion is by the measures they take to shield children, or even adult members"
      =>Ha, you are the one that claims divorce rates, abortion rates etc. prove there is no god. Now you claim religion shields them. Get it together Lin.

      "It's a safe bet that if a "church" isolates its members, their teachings won't hold up against even cursory examination."
      =>Do you have anything to back that up because the same teachings have consistent content in isolated cases as well as say California where 75% of college kids don't return to church. It's not the teachings except in a few rare cases.

      Internet breaks down those barriers. Those that are courageous enough to question their indoctrination will find a whole new world when they venture out.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
      • believerfred

        Lin
        "Those that are courageous enough to question their indoctrination will find a whole new world when they venture out."
        =>I hope your children can see the wonder even Einstein would not deny others children. The experience of God is seldom harmful unless the heart was already predisposed to evil.

        April 9, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
        • observer

          believerfred,

          I'm surprised you'd mention an agnostic like Einstein.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
        • believerfred

          observer
          Einstein was not indoctrinated into atheism (extreme skepticism as to God) and is a great example of children brought up in the Lords way still having the ability to determine their own belief. Einstein never stopped seeking God as seen by his various letters. You say he was agnostic yet he did not claim he did not know because that is not a valid expression because everyone knows what they believe. I doubt Einstein was to lazy to not resolve his belief.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
        • observer

          believerfred,

          You really should do some research before commenting.

          Here's what Einstein thought of the Bible and your God:

          “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. … For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish supersti-tions.”
          - Albert Einstein, letter 1/3/1954

          April 9, 2014 at 8:57 pm |
        • believerfred

          observer
          Follow my post: "Einstein was not indoctrinated into atheism (extreme skepticism as to God) and is a great example of children brought up in the Lords way still having the ability to determine their own belief.. .
          Now here is the direct quote from Einstein: " I came—though the child of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents—to a deep religiousness, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of twelve."
          =>That supports my statement.

          April 9, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
        • observer

          believerfred,

          He WASN'T talking about the God in the Bible. Do some research. He was an AGNOSTIC.

          “I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him.”
          - Albert Einstein, letter to Edgar Meyer, 1/02/1915.

          April 9, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
        • LinCA

          @believerfred

          You said, "I hope your children can see the wonder even Einstein would not deny others children."
          What wonder do you mean?

          You said, "The experience of God is seldom harmful unless the heart was already predisposed to evil."
          It is harmful. The delusion causes untold harm to society and specific members in particular. Lying to your children and forcing the complete and utter bullshit on them is child abuse.

          April 9, 2014 at 9:18 pm |
        • believerfred

          observer
          The second part of my post is also correct " Einstein never stopped seeking God as seen by his various letters. You say he was agnostic yet he did not claim he did not know because that is not a valid expression because everyone knows what they believe. I doubt Einstein was to lazy to not resolve his belief
          =>Einstein made it perfectly clear he did not believe in a personal God and liked much of what Spinoza had to say.
          =>Pantheism of Spinoza is not agnostic as it claims God in unity with creation.
          =>He said " he believed in the "pantheistic" God of Baruch Spinoza,"
          =>I stand correct as far as I can see.

          April 9, 2014 at 9:27 pm |
        • observer

          believerfred

          "I stand correct as far as I can see."

          Check your glasses, but it's good to see you opening your mind to an agnostic's views.

          “My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment.”
          - Albert Einstein, letter to M. Berkowitz, 10/25/1950

          April 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm |
        • believerfred

          Observer
          Exactly how do you reconcile Einstein being agnostic with his specific quotes that have the ring of a deistic concept of God? Actually, I think I will throw in the towel here. I have had the same thoughts concerning the Bible, Jewish applications, apologetics and sometimes even end up in Spinoza's corner. Even my letters were pantheist, agnostic, deistic and full blown fundamentalist Evangelical Christian none of which represent my current beliefs. One thing I can hang my hat on is that Einstein did not believe in personal God the rest looks like as you like to say "pick and choose" what we want.

          April 9, 2014 at 11:21 pm |
        • believerfred

          LinCA

          You said, "I hope your children can see the wonder even Einstein would not deny others children."
          What wonder do you mean?
          =>Einstein was religious up to age 12 and experienced to some degree hope represented in the promised land. Experiencing the phoniness of the religious types and their works he rejected the notion of a personal God. Better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all is a wonder that one must experience. That experience caused him to seek truth and logic which brought him to Spinoza opening up the wonder of the monist philosophical system. As he searched the possibilities of the universe he saw it in living color as his boundaries were not limited by self imposed philosophical naturalism.
          It allowed for great thoughts such as this quote: "The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the att,itude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's Pantheism. I admire even more his contributions to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers, because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body as one, not as two separate things"-Viereck, George Sylvester. "Glimpses of the Great". Duckworth, 1930. p. 372-373.

          April 10, 2014 at 12:08 am |
        • observer

          believerfred,

          Good job. Quote a book written TWENTY-FIVE YEARS before Einstein died and try to PRETEND in accurately reflects his whole life and beliefs about religion.

          “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.'
          – Albert Einstein, TWENTY-FOUR YEARS after your quote.

          April 10, 2014 at 12:18 am |
        • believerfred

          LinCA
          " It is harmful. The delusion causes untold harm to society and specific members in particular."
          =>People cause harm to others and religion is most often simply an extension of the ugly side of man. I doubt we need to run down atheist deaths by man vs deaths from the religious types. Even Jesus blasted the religious ways and lies. Jesus was very different.

          " Lying to your children and forcing the complete and utter bullshit on them is child abuse."
          =>this attitude of yours more than any thing Jesus ever said or did is child abuse. Your child will reflect this anger inside of you. Deal with it for their sake and let them experience endless possibilities. Go watch miracle on 34th street and ask yourself what damage the mom brought to the child with her denial of Santa Clause.

          April 10, 2014 at 12:23 am |
        • believerfred

          observer
          I wonder if you are aware you just extracted one sentence out of Einstein's letter to Gutkind. Gutkind was using the Old Testament to support a scientific principle in an attempt to convince Einstein about the veracity of the Bible. This was in reply to Gutkind unfounded support based on the Bible.
          Now, Einstein had a problem with the Jewish presentation and ways and you can find better quotes than this one. But, you cannot use this one to support your cause.

          April 10, 2014 at 12:44 am |
        • observer

          believerfred,

          Here's what the AGNOSTIC Albert Einstein said:

          "It was, of course, a LIE what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
          - Albert Einstein, letter to an atheist, 2/24/1954

          Give up, fred. You LOST.

          April 10, 2014 at 12:50 am |
        • believerfred

          observer
          So you want to claim Spinoza was agnostic as well? You want to claim a belief in unity of body and soul is agnostic?
          " I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws" (1954)" =>Does that sound like an agnostic?

          April 10, 2014 at 1:15 am |
        • observer

          believerfred,

          As much as you want to change the subject here to what Spinoza thought, this is about ALBERT EINSTEIN who said "My position concerning God is that of an AGNOSTIC" and "It was, of course, a LIE what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated" and:

          “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. … For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish supersti-tions.”

          If you want to continue to embarrass yourself by being DELUSIONAL enough to claim he was religious and NOT an agnostic, go right ahead.

          April 10, 2014 at 1:24 am |
        • LinCA

          @believerfred

          You said, "Einstein was religious up to age 12"
          Not of his own volition, I'm sure. Childhood indoctrination affects even great minds like his.

          You said, "and experienced to some degree hope represented in the promised land."
          I don't deny that the fairy tale is a powerful one. That doesn't make it true, just hard to shake.

          You said, "Better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all is a wonder that one must experience."
          There are plenty of real things to love. And that the human mind is poorly equipped to comprehend nature in all of its splendor also doesn't mean there are gods, just that we don't know everything. I doubt we'll ever know everything, but that doesn't mean we need to make shit up, or cling to the ignorant ramblings and superstitions of ancient goat herders.

          April 10, 2014 at 11:49 am |
        • believerfred

          observer
          Talk about delusion. You actually think you know Einstein was agnostic when in fact he accepted the "God" of Spinoza. One cannot be agnostic and accept "God" as existent. This is your problem with your reading of the Bible as well. You fail to look at the entirety of the Word of God then draw out verses to support a conclusion that does not fit the complete model as presented.
          I agree with Einstein's view regarding religion and as I mentioned on occasion only see the "God" Einstein embraced. Personally when I get put into a corner by atheists, trapped in philosophical naturalism, attempting to scientifically discount the existence of God I point to their self contradiction of non existence in Euclidian space. It is not that one cannot prove a negative (i.e. prove there is no God) but rather that the substance of God cannot NOT exist in Euclidian space. This is a simply causality as far as Einstein was concerned and why he embraced the "God" of Spinoza.
          That is about as far from Agnostic as one can get. Now, when Einstein referred to being agnostic it was relative only to his friends belief in the God of theology. He could not know such a god because of his beliefs concerning the religious works establishing such god ended in silly superstitions from childish thoughts.
          I am certain experts will continue to argue the faith of Einstein and I am not one of those experts.

          April 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • believerfred

          LinCa
          Einstein's "indoctrination" as a child left its mark. I suspect he may not have embraced the "God" of Spinoza (some obvious flaws in his arguments for the existence of God which Einstein certainly would have noted) if he was never indoctrinated with misguided religious works. He also may not have indulged in as much seeking after God if not indoctrinated. If nothing else he had to resolve the conflict of causation and the first verse in the Bible "In the beginning God". For all we know it is what may have lead him to seek the origin of matter itself.

          April 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • gulliblenomore

          Fred....The entire argument is moot. I understand Einstein was a lousy cook. Just because a person is intellectually superior in one sense does not make that same person knowledgable about everything. But, if the argument were to be made, the simple fact that Einstein proclaimed to be agnostic should speak for itself. You are just trying to take that very word and make it mean something else to fit your argument. It means what it means, regardless of the context.

          April 10, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
        • believerfred

          gulliblenomore
          No, it is not. You missed the tread. The argument was that religious indoctrination handicaps a child to think logically. Einstein was simply one example of an indoctrinated Jewish child who at the age of 12 rejected the Bible and actually experienced wonder as a result. At a minimum there is no evidence religious indoctrination had a negative impact.
          As to Agnostic he said his position as to the God of his friend was agnostic as to a low-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment. He was not agnostic as to the "God" embraced by Spinoza but fascinated by it.
          Being agnostic actually supports my position.

          April 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
        • LinCA

          @believerfred

          You said, "People cause harm to others and religion is most often simply an extension of the ugly side of man. I doubt we need to run down atheist deaths by man vs deaths from the religious types."
          The difference that you ignore, of course, is that I was talking about atrocities committed because of religious beliefs, and not simply by religious people. It's not the inherently evil people that I was talking about, but the ones that claim to be good and moral because of their religion yet commit these heinous acts and justify them with their religion.

          That I have an issue with inherently evil people goes without saying.

          You said, "Even Jesus blasted the religious ways and lies. Jesus was very different."
          What makes you think that I care what your fairy tales says about its protagonist? It's the actions of its followers that matter.

          You said, "this attitude of yours more than any thing Jesus ever said or did is child abuse."
          I don't tell my kids fairy tales and expect them to believe them, or lie to them about some bogeyman watching their every move.

          You said, "Your child will reflect this anger inside of you."
          No, my children will just laugh at the boundless ignorance of adults who still cling to their infantile beliefs well into the 21st century. The anger and frustration is only directed at the cancer on society that religion is and the damage that it does.

          April 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
      • LinCA

        @believerfred

        You said, "Did you not indoctrinate your children into a skeptic mindset? Did you control their information or let them attend Bible summer camp? OR how about play in the Christian Soccer league?"
        Why would I knowingly expose any children to contagious diseases? I would encourage anyone, not just my own children, to evaluate what they are taught.

        You said, "No, the reason is that God said it will be well for you and your family."
        Bullshit. Your god is just as real as the Tooth Fairy. It has said nothing. All you rely on is your nonsense fairy tale.

        You said, "You are held accountable and if your children reject God because of your actions there will be hell to pay."
        ROTFLOL. You are thoroughly deluded, aren't you? Anyone who rejects the abject nonsense of religion and instead lives in reality will be better for it. Other than control of the gullible masses, there is nothing that religion adds to society.

        You said, "Ha, you are the one that claims divorce rates, abortion rates etc. prove there is no god."
        No I don't. The fact that there isn't a single shred of evidence for any god should cause anyone to stop believing they exist. Just like virtually everyone stops believing in the Tooth Fairy and other imaginary creatures.

        You said, "Now you claim religion shields them."
        Their religious organization, their cult leadership, shields them from rational and factual information.

        You said, "Do you have anything to back that up because the same teachings have consistent content in isolated cases as well as say California where 75% of college kids don't return to church."
        Look at any cult and how they control access to the outside. look at FLDS in Nevada and Arizona. Look at Branch Davidians. Look at the Amish. Even look at almost mainstream christians homeschooling their kids, sending them to bible camps, bible classes at church, etc.

        Those that are raised with access to other influences such as public school are far more likely to be able to escape. Once/if kids are allowed to college there is still hope as they may still be young enough to shake the indoctrination. Unfortunately for some it it too late even then.

        You said, "It's not the teachings except in a few rare cases."
        Anyone who teaches their kids that the earth is less than 10,000 year old, or that civilization was wiped out by a worldwide flood, is setting them up with a disadvantage in a world that has long since passed the stage where adults believing in fairy tales are considered an asset. Last I check that number was close to 40% of the US, which I consider far more than "a few rare cases".

        April 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
        • believerfred

          "Anyone who teaches their kids that the earth is less than 10,000 year old"
          =>Bible does not say that and many religions or sects that do are in the minority in the U.S. Now, I am not sure if the Quran teaches a given time period for creation. However, since they based their revelations on the AD 600 encounter with rabbis such dates would be something added onto the Word much like LDS does.

          "that civilization was wiped out by a worldwide flood"
          =>It is the perspective from God concerning the cleansing of all that is incompatible with the Kingdom of God. This is the continuation of the revelation concerning the separation of good and evil. If you want to argue it was impossible for Eve to eat an apple then you are arguing a story you made up not one expressed in the Bible. Likewise with your scientific false presentation of Gods plan of redemption through Noah and the Arc.

          "setting them up with a disadvantage"
          =>Please tell me the disadvantage in hope that there is something greater, more loving and everlasting.
          =>Please tell me how bad this world would be if everyone loved their enemy and loved others as they loved themselves.
          =>Please tell me the disadvantage of feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and those imprisoned, providing for orphans, widows and giving all you have to the least in our society.

          April 9, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
  4. jaydavid666

    Religion is and will always be the opiate of the masses.
    When the Good Shepherd held up the lowly sheep to His flock as His model for righteous *human behavior*, He knew His prey species well.

    April 9, 2014 at 6:03 pm |
  5. bostontola

    "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

    Mark Twain, scratch that, Religion

    Religion is one tough bird. The internet won't kill it, but it will likely diminish it's stranglehold on the human mind.

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

      Note that Twain was not an atheist.

      April 9, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
      • Akira

        Is that some unwritten rule that atheists may only use quotes by atheists?

        April 9, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Not at all. Just that Twain is often claimed by atheists, when he clearly was not.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
    • jaydavid666

      Unfortunately like its companions alcohol, crystal meth, heroin, money and nicotine, religion will probably NEVER go awayl

      April 9, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
  6. noahsdadtopher

    "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

    "Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

    "Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

    "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

    April 9, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
    • alanread1

      So what? Clever humans who have set themselves up as priests of every religion have condemned human failings, blasphemy, fornication, lying, stealing, etc etc etc etc for the LAST TEN THOUSAND YEARS and likewise claimed that the last earthquake, flood, tornado, fire, etc etc etc etc has been caused by these sins. So your point is? That Hurricane Katrina was punishment for too much partying in New Orleans???

      April 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
      • noahsdadtopher

        The point is that the Bible is quite specific on what the culture would look like in the end times. And wouldn't you know? It's right on.

        April 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
        • whippstippler7

          The point is that the bible was written by people for people. There are no magical predictions in the bible. And people have been yipping and yapping about the "end times" for 2000 years. Still no end times.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          You clearly don't know your Biblical theology. We're in the end times now. We just haven't reached the end of the church age and begun the Tribulation.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
        • whippstippler7

          Well, Noah, it's nice that you "know" that we are in the end times. So, how do you know? Did god tell you? Did Jesus tweet you?

          April 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Scripture. The end times are the period after Jesus came and died (and defeated death.) We know that happened 2000 years ago, thus ... the end times.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
        • whippstippler7

          Oh, I get it. So the "end times" is just the time after Jesus supposedly died/rose form the dead. And that timeframe isn't defined or limited. Could be 2000 years; could be 200,000 years.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Could be that long. I doubt it, but it could be. Doesn't really matter, though, as the Bible describes the era to a "T".

          April 9, 2014 at 6:32 pm |
        • midwest rail

          So all of the hundreds of end times predictions in the last 2,000 years have been correct ?

          April 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
        • whippstippler7

          Actually, Noah, the bible doesn't describe our current situation "to a t". You've simply taken something that is extremely general, and claimed that it describes today. Unfortunately, you could take timeframes throughout history and make the same claim. The human brain has evolved to recognize patterns, even when those patterns don't actually exist.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Depends. The Biblical ones? Yes. But those made by man, clearly not. See Harold Camping.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:38 pm |
        • Akira

          People just like you have been saying the same thing for two millennia, and saying that it Scripurally-based. Just as you are.

          Any reason you should be taken more seriously than any of them, Topher?

          April 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
        • ccfarris

          Yes, the Bible showed us the "end of times" – I really appreciated those scriptures about man-made-global warming; although, as I think about it, I don't believe there are any passages that showed the writers knew Earth was a globe. Oh well, just another oversight.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Akira

          Read it for yourself. It IS Scripturally based. Hence the Scripture quote.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
    • leocatz

      Well, that certainly describes the current Republican 'leadership' IMHO. So, I guess we should prepare.

      April 9, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
  7. abigchocoholic

    Is the Internet killing religion?
    -----
    Yes it is. It's called education derived from basic information. It doesn't take a science degree to debunk religion. All it takes is a willingness to look into your religion and the internet is perfect for that type of information and resulting education. Once you look into your religion and find out how absolutely absurd it is, you become embarrassed to have been suckered into it in the first place.

    April 9, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
    • engineersguidetogod

      It can also be used to debunk atheism. Same sword cuts both ways.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
      • commonsensed01

        Are you an engineer that actually still believes in God? Some of the most inept engineers I've met were religious. Science and religion don't mix. It requires double think. Double think is bad.

        And how can you debunk a lack of belief in something? I don't believe in a God just as much as I don't believe in the Tooth Fairy. Their is no material evidence for either. So can you debunk my non belief in the Tooth Fairy?

        April 9, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
  8. mitchrandall

    Maybe its because the internet offers a choice rather than how communities of the past never did.
    When offered a choice between the religion your parents teach you, and a more reasonable alternative, how is it a surprise that many people would opt-out of religion?

    April 9, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
  9. idiotusmaximus

    Is the Internet killing religion?

    I would hope to hell it would.....religion is one of the sickest concepts ever invented by humankind.

    April 9, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
  10. ugetthefacts

    as the bible states 'spare the rod, spoil the child,, again it is dead wrong. Hitting your child clearly shows you aren't a good parent. Good parenting takes lots of time and lots of patience. Hitting a child is both cruel and lazy.

    April 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
  11. speediejoe

    "The Internet: where religions come to die" Thundf00t

    April 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
  12. engineersguidetogod

    The Internet, like the printing press mentioned in the article, is only killing off religion that is dead and irrelevant. Information technology is great for religion that works - the printing press was first used to get the Bible to all the people, rather than a select few. After that, the church changed dramatically, and for the better.

    The problem in America is that we've had a brand of religion for several generations that is now dead, barren, and irrelevant. Churches could get away with that back when we had a culture in which just about everyone went to church each week. But, our culture has changed, and everybody doesn't automatically do that anymore. So, now, for people to go to church, the church has to offer something that makes a difference in their lives. As old, traditional churches that refuse to change are closing all over America, new churches are beginning and rapidly growing because they are able to relate with people. Those old, dead wood churches are stuck in their old ways of doing things still appeal to the 70+ crowd, but they have lost touch with younger generations. Typically, it is not about moral principals - these are still held high in the newer churches. Part of the difference is style - newer churches are playing newer music and they are less formal and more spontaneous. But, mostly, it is about being genuine and loving people right where they are at. Newer churches are better at relating with people.

    The Internet is a huge positive tool for those churches that are willing to leave behind some of their old traditions and embrace new methods of communication and service. FaceBook is a huge tool for the church and is widely used. The Internet is a great source for research of religion. Now, instead of a huge religious library, all one needs is Internet access.

    The Internet will be a great tool for churches that are willing to change and grow. But, modern society will let those older, "stuck in their ways" churches die of neglect. They are no longer relevant.

    So, it's true, churches are closing every week in America. But, new churches are starting and thriving as well.

    Jesus, and the good news of God's love will always be relevant.

    Have a great day!

    April 9, 2014 at 5:33 pm |
    • ugetthefacts

      I see,, add some fabrications. By the time you have finished, you have nothing but man made vapor. Stop trying to justify your fears and start living in the real world as a caring person. That's what most atheist do.

      April 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
    • dave32264

      First, define "Church". Are you talking about brick and mortar or the ties of a specific domination? The two are not the same. Next, what we are seeing is the rejection of texts (which we don't even have originals of) that are at best problematic in their authenticity and and their "message, in favor of a common sense approach to life. Christians are a strange group. They pick and choose which part of the bible to obey and which parts to ignore, yet they claim it (the bible) is the unerring word of their god.

      April 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
    • Vic

      Amen.

      God bless.

      April 9, 2014 at 7:12 pm |
  13. ugetthefacts

    probably one of the most ridiculous religious belief is that a father sent down his son to be crucified, for OTHER peoples sins!!! Clearly, that is as silly as it gets. Back in a time when they feared volcanoes and earthquakes, because they knew so little, as if a god were punishing them. Disasters were punishments from god. No wonder they created a punishment story with a jesus suffering. That clear sets up superst!tion.

    Yep superst!tion that people still follow. All because they say, god loves them.

    What a way to show love? Showing love is by loving and caring, not crucifying. Then again, people are superst!tious and believe in their religion out of fear. That clearly is not healthy.

    April 9, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
  14. magicpanties

    My invisible pink unicorn killed religion.
    She admitted it, and she's not even sorry.
    Not even a little bit.

    April 9, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
  15. kelly

    good. kill it. the world is better off with out it.

    April 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
  16. bluebyyou666

    The newer generations will likely be more interested in Practical Spiritual Applications, rather that the usual blather... Organized is getting a tad old and dull, I don't see any leadership there... none at all... I mean 'living' leadership.

    To yourself be true first, then see.

    April 9, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
  17. ccfarris

    With all the scientific method has added to our knowledge, it difficult to fathom how people can still believe there is a supernatural realm, and, considering the vastness of space, to believe that it's all about us. However, if they do, they should study their Bible, or the sacred texts of any religion, with the same skepticism they apply in their daily lives, and all of the Biblical contradictions and absurd statements should close the book on any belief in a supernatural; i.e., in religion.

    April 9, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
  18. totot57

    Paraphrasing Christopher Hitchens RIP:
    Humans have been around for 100,000 years.
    For about 97,000 years god let them do whatever... (ooops here they go again, another murder, ooops..)
    Then suddenly he/ she / it decides to intervene and reveal its deity...

    to the smallest most miserable flee infested little tribe in Palestine
    a tribe that can't read or write (99.99% couldn't)
    mind you, all the while there are advanced cultures around already in India and China
    a tribe living in a miserable dessert
    in the only area of Palestine where there is NO Oil....

    and we are to believe that that "deity" is omniscient and omnipotent???

    don't think so... nahhh

    April 9, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
  19. thefinisher1

    The more people are informed about the falseness of atheism, the more atheism will be buried and forgotten.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
    • totot57

      How do you prove the "falseness of atheism"? By proving that there is a god?

      Ok, I am waiting... waiting... waiting.... waiting.... yawn... it's getting late

      April 9, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        How can atheists state they have proof when you don't? I'll wait...now it's getting late...now it's really getting late....zzzz.

        April 9, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
        • markinfla

          Who needs to prove there is no god? Does anyone need to prove there are no magical Unicorns? If that is the basis of your belief then you better get busy as there are a near infinite number of supernatural beings that cannot be proved to not exist.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          So in other words, people should stop believing on YOUR so say? How is that "logical"? You think you're 100% correct yet believe you don't need proof. What does that sound like?

          April 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
        • anjisan63

          I love that. We (Atheists) make no extraordinary claims. We merely say, "There is no physical, discernible scientific evidence to suggest that a God existed in the past, current exists, or has ever existed". Our claim is quite ordinary, and our whole point is NOT that there is "No God", but rather it is this: "There is NO EVIDENCE of there being God".

          Our stance is SOOOOO easy to defeat. We say, there is NO EVIDENCE. You can instantly defeat us, and send us packing by providing actual, scientifically validated evidence proving the existence of a God. That's all you have to do.

          Don't you feel foolish now for crossing your arms over your chest and huffing, "You've got to give us your evidence of 'No God'". Evidence of "No God". If something doesn't exist (which we believe), then it's not our job to prove the non-existence of a thing. It is up to the person making the extraordinary claim (and Gods with their Omipotence and Magical Powers are quite extraordinary and outside of nature) to prove their wildly suggestive claims are true.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
      • tab9472

        by showing a logical, systematic mind behind life and bodily systems. It takes a greater leap of faith to think a horse and a monkey came from the same single cell organism (especially when there is no proof of cross species mutation) than to reason that there had to be a plan behind the design of life.

        April 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
        • observer

          tab9472,

          Even if there was some kind of intelligence used in the design, that still doesn't PROVE that God did it and came from nothing to create everything from nothing.

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

          Atheism has nothing to do with the origins of life. Origins of life isn't evolution.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
        • tab9472

          you're right, it doesn't, but it does dispel the notion of chance in regards to consciousness coming from meteors colliding in a gaseous vacuum.

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

          given that the education system failed you, maybe this will help:
          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_EIaHDlL6k&w=640&h=390]

          April 9, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
        • tab9472

          I disagree AKIRA-atheism has everything to do with the origins of life. Because if we can show reasonable proof of a conscious intelligent mind behind life, we then have to give regard to that mind and explore who and where that mind came from, is and where its going. Our parents are responsible for teaching us how to live and grow and exist in our life, our creator would cosmically play that role as well.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
        • Akira

          Shrug.
          I guess whatever makes the most sense to each person is the correct answer for hizzer.
          It takes an equally large leap of faith to belief some celestial finger was snapped and there is life.
          Guess that's why it's called faith.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
        • Akira

          tab,

          Atheism is no belief in gods. Attributing anything other than that is speculation, and varies from atheist to atheist.
          There is no official doctrine or dogma in atheism as there is with, say, Christianity.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • tab9472

          I listened for a few minutes, but the education system did not fail me, because it taught me to think for myself, logically and with reason. If i leave a glass in my bedroom empty and come back 8 hours later and the glass if full of water, yet nothing else in the room is wet, I can reason that someone must have come in to my room and filled the cup. I would not reason that a rain cloud broke off from the sky, entered my house down the hall to my bedroom till it found my cup and emptied itself into my empty cup before escaping out the vent. It is the same with consciousness, I can not reasonably accept that consciousness came from rocks and gases exploding. To our reasonable knowledge and understanding neither rocks nor gas has consciousness, so consciousness had to come from somewhere. My faith explains where that somewhere is...

          April 9, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
        • anjisan63

          Let's look at a skin cell between a monkey and a horse: The monkey's and horse's skin cell both have cellular walls, both are filled with cytoplasm, both have a nucleus, both contain mitochonrion, lysomes, and golgi bodies. They both have DNA in the cells. Both are carbon based.

          You really need to watch an episode or two of the new "Cosmos". You'll learn some basic science which describes the differences between the question of "The Origin of Life" and the questions surrounding "Evolution". Got a dog? look at it. I have a small little American Eskimo dog. It's cute, fuzzy, and all white. I know that this type of dog never existed 3,000 years ago. I know that most breeds of dog didn't exist 10,000 years ago. Dogs have evolved from wolves brought about by their environment and their association with another species (Man).

          Get some education. Proudly proclaiming your ignorance and desire to have a cosmic Daddy who does your thinking for you does you no favors.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
        • dave32264

          Ok, so because you cannot explain something, you assign a deity to it. People have been doing that since humans have come onto the scene.

          April 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
        • Vic

          [
          "Today we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, the wonder of God's most define and sacred gift."

          President Bill Clinton

          June 26, 2000

          President Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair Deliver Remarks on Human Genome Milestone
          http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0006/26/bn.01.html
          ]

          April 9, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
        • Akira

          Vic, I'm sure glad that all knowledge stopped in the year 2000. Thanks for telling us.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
        • dave32264

          @Vic And this proves the existence of a deity how?

          April 9, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
        • Vic

          The Fossil Record Proves Creation – Lee Strobel

          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi5ETZducpU&w=640&h=390]

          April 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
        • Vic

          The point is that God is evident to the vast majority of people.

          April 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
        • dave32264

          @Vic LMAO He PROVED nothing of the kind.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
        • Akira

          Have any vids fro Ken Ham?

          April 9, 2014 at 7:01 pm |
        • Vic

          [
          "The absence of the ancestral fossils prior to the emergence of the first forms of animal lives" is the main clue that Charles Darwin missed in his master piece "The Origin Of Species." Charles Darwin doubted the Cambrian Explosion and what has become of it.

          Dr. Stephen C. Meyer
          ]

          Darwin's Doubt by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer
          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CwL7xXUriE&w=640&h=390]

          April 9, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
        • dave32264

          @Vic another crackpot that the entire legit scientific community has shot down in earnest. Keep trying!

          April 9, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
    • bluelemonzz

      Atheism is simply a rejection of religion. It's basically saying religion is man made. I reject everyone of them on the claim that it's created by a superpower.

      Science is separate from that discussion. It's the trying to understand why and how things work. We're currently on a computer talking through servers, which bridges gaps of thousands of miles. Science works. Religion simply gives faith.. False faith since you can't prove any of it's claims are true.

      April 9, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Atheism is man made so....you must also reject atheism! Heheheh 😃😄😊😄😊😄

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

          atheism is a natural instinct which demands proof with common sense. You are wrong about 'man-made'

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

        He knows all of this, blue.

        This is his gimmick.

        April 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
    • dave32264

      One can neither prove or disprove the existence of a deity so your claim "the falseness of atheism" doesn't hold water. Prove this deity's existence then talk about this falseness.

      April 9, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
  20. magicpanties

    Knowledge is "killing" religion.
    If people are informed, the ancient fairy tales are tough to take seriously.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:57 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.