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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 (1,596 Responses)
  1. janetmermaid

    One can only hope.

    April 9, 2014 at 9:31 pm |
  2. ardvrk

    I knew I loved the internet for some reason.

    April 9, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
  3. petezoria

    I believe the internet is killing religion only because the internet provides fast communication to anyone on the planet who is on line. That allows a sharing of ideas and issues and can be a very influential tool to stir thinking about the negativity of organized religion. Since history has shown that all of the misery of human history is directly tied to all organized religions.
    Political differences are bad enough but religious differences are far worse. Organized religion builds boundaries around different people and prevents the necessary harmony among people to just get along with each other.
    IMO, organized religion has caused more harm than good.

    April 9, 2014 at 9:06 pm |
  4. dunestrider

    Karl Marx famously wrote that "religion is the opiate of the masses". But if he were alive today, he would write that "the internet is the opiate of the masses". You cannot go anywhere in public without seeing practically everyone's face staring at their so-called "smart" phone.

    April 9, 2014 at 9:05 pm |
    • Hecate

      That is true. I know a guy who wears his tablet at a bunch of phones around his neck, for goodness sake. And no, he's not a businessman. He's been diagnosed with an internet addiction.

      April 9, 2014 at 9:10 pm |
      • ardvrk

        I know several people addicted to religion. They go to church every day and yet are the most vile, hypocritically mean-spirited people around. They spout their nonsense nonstop, and can't go five minutes without judging someone even though commanded NOT to do so by their precious Jeebus.

        So, what's your point? Internet addicts don't go around slaughtering people, but religious nutwhacks sure do.

        April 9, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
  5. commonsensed01

    A religious community in Massachusetts sentenced people for being witches in the 17th century. Because a majority of any population group "believes" in something, that in no way means it is correct.
    In the past, most doctors believed that bleeding via a leech could cure disease.
    In the 1800's many people thought that people would go crazy if man traveled at the unGodly speed of 17mph offered by the first trains.

    A majority of people from the early 1900's would tell you women should not vote.
    The same people would tell you that biracial marriage was an affront to nature.

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

    I think the internet helps the extremists. Religion is being killed before people login. People are starting to put 2 and 2 together when they hear Christians bable against things yet everyone can see either god doesn't care or exist because he does nothing about the things christians says he's against.

    April 9, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
  7. engineersguidetogod

    History has proven over and over that any advance in information technology and communication is far more likely to advance religion than to kill it.

    April 9, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
    • noahsdadtopher

      Exactly.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:52 pm |
    • observer

      engineersguidetogod,

      This story shows that those days may be over.

      With the Internet, it's pretty hard to censor information like in the old days when churches tried to control everything that people heard.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
    • commonsensed01

      Engineers: What history are you referring to? Religion is losing ground in almost all technological savvy countries in the world.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
    • arthurpaliden

      I suggest you get out into the real wold. You will see that your statement is false.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
    • kenmargo

      If the internet "helps" religion, how come in the middle east the internet is restricted?

      April 9, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
    • noahsdadtopher

      I can't speak to the middle east. But as far as the internet ... it is a blessing to Christianity.

      You have public forums like this one where we can debate the issues. There's Facebook where I can more easily witness long-distance to family members. There's YouTube where you can watch the free film "Noah and the Last Days." And webcasts where you can see things like the Ken Ham, Bill Nye debate.

      April 9, 2014 at 9:22 pm |
      • kenmargo

        You can also push hate (wesboro baptist church) Deny gays and lesbians rights (Catholic Church) Con people into thinking the world is going to end (Harold Camping) confess sin (Rev. coy and Swaggart just to name two) I could go on but I don't want to make you feel bad.

        April 9, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
    • mickmastergeneral

      Engineersguidetogod, the internet isn't just any "advance in information technology". You can't compare it to something like the printing press (whose first product was the Bible). Aside from the occasional book by Dawkins or other top seller, what medium ever exposed anyone to the atheist point of view? With the internet, all of the sudden the flaws of religion are being held up to the light for all to see. It's unprecedented. The internet will continue to be terribly damaging to religion.

      April 9, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
  8. arthurpaliden

    Not really, religion needs no real help in its own destruction it is managing quite nicely all on its own.

    April 9, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
  9. asianintx

    I think NO, the internet helps spread NONES by speading knowledge. The none would grew anyway but internet help speeding up the process. Just like Paper helped to spread Islam (Muslim captured Chinese prisoners who transfer the paper makiing technology to Muslim in 750) , Movable block printing technology helped spread Bible and Martin Luther's revolusion within Christian in 1400s.

    April 9, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
    • jb109

      Sorry – that's confusing. No like no the truck running him over didn't kill him because he was going to die when his heart stopped beating any way? Or is it yes because internet helps spread knowledge?

      April 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
  10. ddeevviinn

    " Is the internet killing religion?"

    Let's see, it's 2014 and 89% of the worlds's population ( that's 623 billion individuals) are theists and consider themselves religious. Unless there exists some "new math" of which I'm unaware, the claim may be just a little, well, fallacious.

    April 9, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
    • jb109

      Yes, headlines grab attention are often misleading, but pretty clear from reading the article that they are talking about the US.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
    • robertb367

      Does this new math you speak of also include how you came up with the 623 billion? Or have you not learned how to use decimals yet?

      April 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
      • Akira

        Good catch. There's only a little more than 7 billion on the entire planet...

        April 9, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
    • colin31714

      89% of the World's population is 623 billion. ROFLMAO Did you do fifth grade maths? How did you put it, "Unless there exists some "new math" of which I'm unaware, the claim may be just a little, well, fallacious."

      April 9, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
    • ddeevviinn

      Yeah, I stepped into that one.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
      • Hecate

        Lol. Thanks for your honesty.

        April 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm |
    • engineersguidetogod

      Really? You folks are going to pick on him because he missed a decimal point? I think maybe you nitpickers are the ones who missed the point ...

      April 9, 2014 at 8:52 pm |
      • ddeevviinn

        Thanks for the defense.

        In all fairness, had it been a non theist using numbers to support their position and then insert a " new math" quip, I probably would have pounced on the opportunity to highlight their inadvertent mistake.

        April 9, 2014 at 9:02 pm |
    • commonsensed01

      Well,the one data point of 89% in 2014 is meaningless unless we knew h'ow many were religious in previous years. Also, where did you get this "data" from?
      If in 1960, 95% of the world were "religious" then it does point to a downturn in religion in the world.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
    • gauge2

      Now if your 89% could just agree on which god is correct and stop killing each other as a method of persuasion, then the world is definitely a quite religions place.

      April 9, 2014 at 9:22 pm |
    • ardvrk

      Why is it that Christurds have to LIE to try and get people to believe in the horse crap they believe in?

      If what they were believing in were actually true – why would they feel the need to lie?

      April 9, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
    • enderspeakerforthedead

      Please cite your source for this figure of 89%.

      June 2, 2014 at 1:19 am |
  11. kudlak

    So, not only is the internet making it way too difficult to get away with misrepresenting science and outsiders, it also takes the place of church as social gathering place.

    Why do I have that old tune "Video Killed the Radio Star" playing in my head?

    April 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
    • Akira

      I was thinking about that song earlier when I saw the headline...

      April 9, 2014 at 7:47 pm |
    • noahsdadtopher

      Yeah, but "video channels" don't show videos ... too busy promoting teen pregnancy. And radio stations are still going strong.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm |
      • Akira

        True. Although those teens aren't getting abortions, so that's a good thing, right?

        April 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          True. Love your children, don't kill them.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:37 pm |
    • ardvrk

      Losing My Religion was a better tune.

      April 9, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
  12. Peaceadvocate2014

    Internet is not killing religion, the urge to sin does. In fact, the internet could be used to spread the teachings of God.

    April 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
    • sam stone

      More likely it is that people do not accept the bible's definition of "sin"

      April 9, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
      • guidedans

        Sam, the Bible is the authority on what sin is. Outside of the Bible, you just have people behaving badly. The Bible explains how those bad behaviors are actually transgressions against God, therefore sins.

        You can't define sin outside of a biblical context.

        April 9, 2014 at 8:13 pm |
        • observer

          guidedans,

          So child molesting is NOT a sin. We already know that slavery is not a sin and the same for discriminations.

          So much for the "morality" of sins.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          How do you figure that?

          April 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
        • bryantlister1972

          It's 2014, what a book of fairy tales says about something being a 'sin' is irrelevant.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
        • noahsdadtopher

          Good thing it's not a book of fairy tales.

          And are you saying just because it's old means it's irrelevant?

          April 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Sam,

        Some people may not accept necessary the bible testimonies and/ or the teachings of God due to a lot of reasons. One is it is hard to do or not sin. Another is they are not introduced to a belief in God at birth or at an early age.

        April 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
        • snuffleupagus

          Indoctrinating children in biblical myth is child abuse. Pleas show where you god is relvant. Has he stopped wars? Has he stopped the xtians in Northern Ireland from STILL killing each other? Why must there be an orange or green? Who is the better xtian, Baptist, Anabaptist, Methodist, Evangelical Baptist, Southern Baptist? Lutherans, Catholics,Prysbeterians? All founded on Judaism. Even Judaism can't agree, nor Islam. Discriminantion and bias abounds in all the religions of the world.

          April 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Depends on what you are teaching your child. If you are teaching a child to love, to be tolerant, compasionate which are teachings of God, is that abuse? I do not think so.

          April 10, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
    • hotairace

      To spread the alleged teachings of an alleged but never proven god.

      April 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Hot,

        Belief in a teaching should not focus on where the teschings came from but the content of the teachings.

        April 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
        • snuffleupagus

          Aaron son comes to mind. Imagine a kid thinking that his god might order HIS daddy to kill him. And we wonder why some kids a screwwd in the head? I wonder if some "religious" teaching triggers some of these assaults that the teens go on. Mad at the world but don't know why? Where was the 'comfort of god for these kids? No god anywhere. If you tell me god was there for them, I'll call you a liar, as... you. don't know. that. Peace.

          April 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Snuff,

          As i mentioned before because early believers want to impress God they thought sacrificing a son, an animal, offerings is Gods teaching. The sacrifice is for the sake of others as shown by the examples by Jesus. We cant buy our way to heaven and too much of anything is bad for anyone. Even religion, a belief or love.

          Why kids are screwed in the head is because they are lost, misguided and the teachings of God will guide them in the right path. Considering it is the true teachings of God.

          April 10, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
    • kudlak

      And whose version of the "correct" word of God? You can ask 20 Christians what they mean by this on any particular issue and get 20 different answers.

      April 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
      • noahsdadtopher

        Different answers are OK, provided they are on minor issues and don't put the person outside of orthodoxy.

        April 9, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
        • G to the T

          "orthodoxy" = Right way. And who get's to decide what's orthodoxy?

          April 10, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Excellent question. That is for humans to find out. What is correct. What is right. What is moral. What God wishes for us to do. Think for ourselves. Determine what is moral.

        April 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
        • snuffleupagus

          I notced you did the Hokey Pokey, and turned yourself around, but did not give a direct answer. If you know what god wants, and you say you do, alll the time, tells us. Stop doing the "monkey" an screech with deflection.Morals do not come from your book of myths, or your god. Hammurabi has better laws with moral implications than did the babble, and prcluded the xtian faith and jeebus to boot. Peace.

          April 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Snuff,

          Hokey pokey? Dont know why you said that. We have different interPretations of what is moral. We decide. I am not saying mine is the right one but i am confident it is.

          Hammanabi may be the same God i believe in.

          April 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
    • commonsensed01

      So are you saying that may lack of "faith" in a very unlikely sky fairy is a sin? You use your religion to call science a sin?

      April 9, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Common,

        Lack of faith or humans evil tendencies. Both i think is related but humans evil tendecies is more than likely the reason.

        Science is good. The product of science may not and its findings because it could be used to promote our moral decay.

        April 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
    • observer

      Peaceadvocate2014,

      The internet IS spreading what the Bible says and that could be contributing to the increase in non-believers.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Observe,

        Increase of non-believers may be caused by some believers with an interpretation not consistent with the teachings of God.

        April 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • arthurpaliden

      NO the internet is not a good venue for spreading hate. Too many good people on line.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Art,

        True statement. Why spread hate ? Spread love, tolerance, compassion, etc, teachings of God.

        April 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
    • bryantlister1972

      Fairy tale characters don't have teachings...they aren't real people.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
    • ardvrk

      Ah, so opening a science book and learning the Earth ISN'T just 5,000 years old, isn't flat, and doesn't have the sun, planets and stars revolving around it is SINFUL, eh?

      April 9, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
      • noahsdadtopher

        "Ah, so opening a science book and learning the Earth ISN'T just 5,000 years old, isn't flat, and doesn't have the sun, planets and stars revolving around it is SINFUL, eh?"

        Those aren't claims made in the Bible, so ...

        April 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
      • Peaceadvocate2014

        Ard,

        Science findings belief that the earth is more than 5000 years old is not a sin. It is a differing opinion but not a sin.

        April 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
  13. jsketcham

    The utility of religion is to gather like-minded people together to accomplish certain objectives. The question of God's existence is unimportant in that context.Ideally God would appear tomorrow in a manner that is indisputable, He/She/It would make it clear to all the religions that are wrong that they are indeed wrong, and get humanity back to worshiping the Lord as He/She/It intended. That won't be happening real soon. Ask yourself why that is.

    April 9, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
    • kudlak

      "The utility of religion is to gather like-minded people together to accomplish certain objectives."
      That's also the unity of political parties, sports teams, and sic-fi conventions, although religion sometimes resembles all of these at once.

      April 9, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
      • snuffleupagus

        Yes, kudlak. From the root regulirere, (sp) to bind together.

        April 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • jb109

      I love the idea that asking ourselves what the answer is is going to result in us guessing the right answer! Isn't believing that we can figure out the right answer based on the pitiably incomplete information that we have how we got into this in the first place? I doubt that aspect of human "intelligence" is going to change soon, from either side of the religious question.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
    • jb109

      Rereading, you convinced me of your point by claiming that your assumption about what's going to happen in the future is true. (God will not appear in the near future.) That's irrefutable evidence! (to a human)

      April 9, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
  14. mickinmd

    "Downey analyzed data from GSS and discovered a correlation between increased Internet use and religious disaffiliation."

    The foolishness here is that Internet use has increased with time. You can cause almost anything that increases with time with the increase in religious disaffiliation. The % of people who are college graduates might be a better place to look, but that would point out that the more people are educated, the more they see through the b.s. of organized religion.
    You could also tie it to the rate at which people use salsa, cable TV, cellphones, % Hispanic population, average income in China, the decrease in the average amount of polar ice, the decrease in the number of Monarch Bufferflys – and ALL of those have about as much credibility as tieing it to the Internet.

    April 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
    • commonsensed01

      mickinmd: There is more to this than a simple correlation between the two. Real statistics looks beyond correlation and looks for a true relationship between the two. Maybe I'm missing a finer point but you seem to be saying something like Just because gas prices have increased while at the same time people are less religious that does not mean that people believe in God less as the price of gas goes up. Besides seeing a positive or negative relationship in changes of two things, you have to point to some reason that the two may be connected, and then also remove as many other factors to show that the identified correlation has merit.
      Having said that, I have doubts about whether the Internet really has had that big of an impact on religious leanings.

      April 9, 2014 at 7:52 pm |
  15. transframer

    What exactly is wrong with Christianity?

    April 9, 2014 at 7:11 pm |
    • Doris

      I believe an answer here would be inappropriately long.

      April 9, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
    • bostontola

      Which sect?

      April 9, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
      • ccfarris

        Luke 19:27 for one thing.

        April 9, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
        • bostontola

          That's not a sect.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
        • ccfarris

          Luke 19:27 is not a sect? Right, but the question was what is wrong with Christianity. Go read Luke 19:27, and think about how "God is love."

          April 9, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
        • Akira

          Which sect of Christianity?
          That's Boston's question.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
        • Doris

          But isn't Luke 19:27 part of a parable?

          April 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
        • ccfarris

          Nope, Luke 19:27 is not part of a parable. Jesus, assuming he lived and the Bible it historically accurate, told his disciples "but those my enemies, who did not wish me to reign over them, bring hither and slay before me."

          April 9, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
        • transframer

          ccfarris
          Hey, even Doris knows that is a parable. Jesus didn't tell these words, it was the character in the parable who said those words

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

          Luke 19:27 certainly is part of a parable, it's the last line in the parable of the ten minas.

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

          Sorry ccfarris, but that is at the end of what's called the parable of the stewards. I do have problems with it, because by the interpretation of some it bolsters the claim that the God of Abraham will deal swiftly with those who refuse to believe in him. But this parable starts at Luke 19:11 and goes through 19:27.

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

          Of course Luke was a disciple of Paul and supposedly the stamp of approval for Paul's ministry as divine scripture comes from Peter 2, except that -oops – most NT scholars say that Peter did not author Peter 2.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm |
    • dave32264

      First and foremost is the bible itself. The earliest texts we have is 3rd century and those are only fragments. The first full copies (and I emphasize COPIES) are 4th century. So we don't even have reliable texts to go by to start with. Next is so called Christians themselves. Pick and choose seem to be their method of madness (so to speak). They tend to choose what they want to obey in the bible and ignore the rest, all the while claiming it (the bible) is the inerrant word of their god. If the bible is so flawless and inerrant, then it should be all or nothing. Lastly, just look at the history of the church itself from the beginning. That should be a huge clue as to what's wrong with Christianity.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
      • transframer

        Bible is not the same as Christianity. It was given to us to understand it, not to prove it. The fact that you think it's not reliable it's not relevant to Christianity.
        Also, while many so called Christians are indeed horrible human beings doesn't prove anything. They do this against Christian teaching not according to it. And still, they don't come even close to the really bad guys who are/were atheists or other religions.
        The same for the church

        April 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
        • dave32264

          Actually, the bible (especially the NT) has a LOT (almost everything) to do with Christianity as it is a very "bookish" religion as it wouldn't have made it out of the first century simply as oral tradition.. In fact, if it weren't for the new testament, we wouldn't even know who Jesus was as he was only mentioned in very brief passing by Tacitus and possibly Josephus (some of his writings are thought not to be his at all but added in later by scribes).

          April 10, 2014 at 2:49 am |
    • arthurpaliden

      The hate it spreads and yes, the ignorance it glorifies.

      April 9, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
    • engineersguidetogod

      Primarily, the way its principles are ignored by too many of its adherents ...

      April 9, 2014 at 9:02 pm |
      • observer

        engineersguidetogod,

        Nope. In many cases it's good that adherents ignore it or else we'd still have slavery.

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

        Yes, engineer. There is that, isn't there? What is that called?

        April 9, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
      • transframer

        You forgot to add "so called" adherents. Just going to the church every Sunday doesn't make one a real Christian

        April 9, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
  16. moxbroker

    "When a new technology, such as the printing press or the Internet, unleashes massive cultural change, the challenge to religion is immense."

    Right, so the spread of knowledge threatens religions control on the masses and they have to come up with a way to reassert it. Maybe people have started to wake up to that and that knowledge is what's killing religion.

    April 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
    • guidedans

      You ever think that maybe, religion doesn't die out when new technology comes about because it speaks to a part of people that technology cannot reach?

      Ecclesiastes 3:11
      He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

      Maybe religion is still around because it fills a void that science cannot.

      April 9, 2014 at 7:10 pm |
      • bostontola

        Religion/spirituality does satisfy part of the human experience unsatisfied by science. The question is, as science grows and religions stay static, which religions will dwindle and which forms of spirituality will grow.

        April 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
        • guidedans

          That will indeed be interesting. I feel like Science is a never-ending pursuit though. With each discovery we make, it seems as though we open a pandora's box of new questions.

          I like Ecclesiates, so here's another good one from it:

          Ecclesiastes 1:13-14
          And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.

          Knowledge is like chasing after the wind. You can feel like you are making progress, but there is always an endless journey ahead of you.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
        • bostontola

          guidedans,
          It is endless (in a practical sense) because we are creating new things as we go. I don't see that as a bad thing or even a draw back.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:31 pm |
        • guidedans

          I don't know man. Maybe you are right. It just sounds like a video game with an infinite number of levels. I want to beat the game eventually and move on to the next one.

          Heaven might be like that too (i.e., Video game with infinite levels), but in Heaven, I bet you don't have the worldly angst and drives to complete things like we do on Earth.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
        • bostontola

          I don't believe in an afterlife.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
        • engineersguidetogod

          Static? Religion has never been static. The religion of the God of Abraham has changed dramatically over the centuries. Even Christianity, which is relatively young, has undergone major changes and upheavals. Right now, in America, we are in the midst of a major culture change in churches.
          Religion changes more slowly than science, but still quite dramatically. That's why we're not sacrificing lambs at the temple these days.
          But I will say this for your point - any religion that truly is static is doomed to die. In fact, it is already dead.

          April 9, 2014 at 9:31 pm |
  17. Harvey

    Anything that brings knowledge and insight to the masses will, eventually, kill religion.

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

      Just like the Printing Press and Radio and TV did. Just give it a little more time. It will eventually kill religion. Just a little more time.

      April 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
      • sam stone

        Still a breakneck speed compared to the return of jesus, guidedans

        April 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
        • guidedans

          He'll come back when He's ready, Sam.

          Maybe He wants you to repent. Maybe you are the last one He is waiting for.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:58 pm |
        • ccfarris

          Evidently, Jesus was lying when he said he would return during the lifetime of those listening to him, or, perhaps, he just needs a watch.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
  18. guidedans

    I wonder what the atheist's perfect world looks like.

    No religion. People just working together every day toward the goals of humanity. Building newer and newer technology that will eventually allow us to live forever. Making robots to replace human labor. Building spaceships to colonize other planets. Becoming so technologically advanced that we could engineer life ourselves on other planets if we wanted to. Jumping from star to star through the eons, gathering as much energy as possible from each star until all stars run out of energy and then, on a day very very far in the future, we will no longer have any energy left in the universe and the last survivors of humanity will die during the heat-death of the universe.

    Am I off-base?

    April 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
    • Akira

      Do you know what the word atheist means?

      April 9, 2014 at 7:11 pm |
      • guidedans

        Akira,

        I know what the word atheist means. Lacking a theism. I just don't think Atheists know what it means as they keep attacking religions. If you were without belief, you would not have any arguments with anyone as you would have nothing to disagree with them over. The atheists on this forum seem to have PLENTY of beliefs about faith and God.

        I think Dalahast's characterization of them as "anti-theists" is probably more accurate.

        Anyhow, I still would want to know what the perfect world of non-believers looks like.

        April 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
        • Akira

          I think Dalahast uses that word as a epithet. But that's another conversation.
          I have found that most atheists merely argue the evidence. Some are very bombastic, this is true...

          There has never been a perfect world, either with or without religion. There never will be.

          Why? Humans are volatile. With or without religion.

          I accept this.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
        • sam stone

          Atheism does not mean without belief, guidedans.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
        • guidedans

          You think that the reason why we have not found intelligent life in the universe is because that pretty much immediately after becoming intelligent, life will just destroy itself with weapons or accidental black holes or something?

          Thus, probs in like 100 years, we're probably doomed?

          April 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
        • Akira

          Guidedans, I think those are your thoughts, not atheistic ones.
          Has your faith assuaged your fears?

          April 9, 2014 at 7:52 pm |
        • guidedans

          Naw Akira,

          I don't legitimately think that. I just like to think about the whys out there. I got no fears in this life*. I got Jesus.

          *except for spiders.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
        • Akira

          Lol. Spiders are our friends.

          Said no one I've ever met...

          April 9, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
    • bostontola

      Everything you describe could happen with or without religion.

      I wouldn't know how to define a perfect world/future.

      April 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
      • guidedans

        Totally agree with out on the with/without religion part, but I don't get the end-game for non-believers. I don't know what they are fighting for. I understand what Christians are fighting for, they want God to live and rein on Earth and then us to be in His presence in Heaven for eternity.

        I don't know what motivates the non-believers.

        April 9, 2014 at 7:22 pm |
        • bostontola

          I don't know what motivates non-believers in general, just me. I would bet it is different for each one though. You assume that non-believers have some overarching goal. Personally, I value my family, community, country, mankind, and all life and seek to make decisions that promote them all the best I can.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
        • ccfarris

          "Non-believers?" I believe in a lot of things, but not in "the supernatural" and other fairy tails. Also, I hate to tell you, but there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
        • commonsensed01

          Uh, How about peace on earth, equality for all, a justice system that is not for sale, no corruption, honesty, integrity. More moeny spent on education and social justice than on the Department of Defense, CIA, and NSA.
          The hard line religious right via the tea party and GOP fight many of these things.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
        • guidedans

          I get that, but isn't their an end goal in mind? Like, "I want to leave behind a memory of myself with people" or "I want to make a change to the world that will propagate after I am dead"

          If you don't have a goal, then what is pushing you to move forward?

          April 9, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
        • guidedans

          Commonsense,

          But what does that get you? Yes, it would be great if our governments and businesses all worked toward the good and that people fought for integrity, or better yet, didn't have to fight for integrity because everyone was so good, but what then?

          Like, what would that world then do? We cure all diseases? We colonize the universe? What do non-believers want humanity to accomplish?

          April 9, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
        • bostontola

          guidedans,
          That is not one of my goals.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:34 pm |
        • guidedans

          Boston, I don't care what goals you don't have, I want to know what goals you do have!

          April 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
        • Akira

          Why must there be an ulterior motive?

          April 9, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
        • bostontola

          I think I told you, make decisions and take actions that promote my family, community, country, mankind, and all life the best I can (make good trade offs when they are in conflict).

          April 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
        • guidedans

          Akira,

          It's not an "ulterior" motive. It is just a motive!

          My motivation is to bring glory to God and to shine as brightly as possible here because I know that the more people I get into Heaven, the more glory will be directed at God.

          I don't know what the non-believers want (I understand that there in no one thing that everyone wants, I just want some examples)

          April 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
        • observer

          guidedans,

          Why does God need glory? As an absolute dictator, he can do anything his wants.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
        • Akira

          Guidedans, ah. I see. Good luck with achieving your goals.

          April 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
        • guidedans

          Boston,

          God doesn't need glory. He deserves glory. I am happy to help give God what He deserves.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
        • commonsensed01

          I see through your smokescreen there:
          "My motivation is to bring glory to God and to shine as brightly as possible here because I know that the more people I get into Heaven, the more glory will be directed at God."

          The more people I "recruit" for God, the more points I get in the afterlife. Here's my problem with that:
          1. You are selfish enough to want recognition for bringing people to your God. You don't do it because it is "simply the right thing to do." It's a slight twist on Pascal's Wager. I and most other atheists do things because they are simply the right thing to do. We aren't doing it to get to some spiffy afterlife – we don't believe in one.
          2. I don't believe in a heaven or afterlife.
          3. So if God's Earth Patrol comes back and smites all us sinners, and all the religious nut jobs inherit the earth and it becomes paradise, just how long would it be until you get bored? WHAT WOULD YOU WANT NEXT? What would your next goal be?

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

          No Smokescreen here.

          Ya"ll gonna be in a bad place unless you come to Jesus. I want you to get to enjoy God.

          I have my desires and I am sure you have yours.

          I am pretty sure I won't get much more than eternal bliss in Heaven if I convert you or someone else.

          Do it for you. Do it for the big guy in the sky.

          April 9, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
        • enderspeakerforthedead

          Threats are considered, "Argument from Consequence," and are no more meaningful than moving the goal posts when facts outweigh myth.

          June 2, 2014 at 1:28 am |
  19. agentxyz

    Let he who is without sin Comcast the first stone.

    April 9, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
  20. unsername1

    let's hope and pray Pope is an internet junkie.

    April 9, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
    • ugetthefacts

      I doubt the pope actually believes in a god. His continued efforts to deny children victims, to protect pedos at the vatican and enable bishops to lobby against victims are proof of that.

      April 9, 2014 at 6:51 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.