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(RNS) A new paper links a rise in Internet use to a decline in religious affiliation.

9 Comments

    • **over-exaggerated sigh** You’re right. I cannot pursue my medical career until I forsake my Faith. I cannot learn anything from my myriad of books (a good portion of which are written by atheists anyway) unless I don’t believe in a deity. I cannot help someone on an emotional or intellectual level until I stop going to Mass. Daniel, there’s this thing going around, and it’s quite beautiful. Some call it sensitivity – I just call it thinking before you speak.

      • People are able to hold completely contradictory opinions and be perfectly honest with both. So yes, you obviously can be a well educated doctor and be religious at the same time. It doesn’t say anything about the compatibiity. It only says you are a hypocrite and you have double standard.

  1. While the internet is an easy target–and I’m not saying it doesn’t contribute–I think society has trended this way for some time. Robert Putnam famously chronicled the demise of social institutions and levels of community engagement and service in his book “Bowling Alone” which was written in 2001 years before the inexorable rise of “social” media. A snippet:

    “Television, two-career families, suburban sprawl, generational changes in values–these and other changes in American society have meant that fewer and fewer of us find that the League of Women Voters, or the United Way, or the Shriners, or the monthly bridge club, or even a Sunday picnic with friends fits the way we have come to live. Our growing social-capital deficit threatens educational performance, safe neighborhoods, equitable tax collection, democratic responsiveness, everyday honesty, and even our health and happiness.”

    Yes, incessantly watching cute kittens on youtube (or fornicating foursomes on porntube) is effecting society’s engagement, but I wonder if it is less a cause than one of many symptoms of greater societal ills: apathy and social disengagement. Chicken and egg perhaps.

    • Since you brought up the chicken or the egg, I’ve found reading about it quite interesting –
      “A simple view is that at whatever point the threshold was crossed and the first chicken was hatched, it had to hatch from an egg. The type of bird that laid that egg, by definition, was on the other side of the threshold and therefore not a chicken—it may be viewed as a proto-chicken or ancestral chicken of some sort, from which a genetic variation or mutation occurred that resulted in the egg being laid containing the embryo of the first chicken. In this light, the argument is settled and the ‘egg’ had to have come first. However, whether this was defined as a chicken egg or proto-chicken egg is debatable. So technically the egg came before the chicken, but the chicken may have come before the chicken egg. So it depends on whether the question is “What came first, the Chicken or the egg” or “what came first, the Chicken or the Chicken egg””

  2. Sure. Religion flourishes best in a bubble. (Look at OTHER religions, if you don’t want to apply that to your own.) The faith-based home-school or send their kids to religious schools, and generally socialize with fellow believers, too, in order to stay in that bubble.

    Outside education and the internet alike expose people to other information, other views, other arguments. Now, if you’ve been raised from infancy to believe in your religion, you’re naturally going to be resistant to reality. Most people will not abandon their treasured beliefs. Most people will rationalize away any contrary arguments, if they listen to them at all.

    But with more opportunity to hear what your religious leaders would prefer you didn’t, more people will discover both the understanding and courage to walk away. Even then, most people won’t walk very far. They might cling to some nebulous spiritualism, for example. True rationality is hard. But it’s a start.

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