Losing our religion: New research shows the Internet could be making Americans lose faith


New research has shown a correlation between the rise of the Internet and the decline of Americans claiming religious affiliation.

Other factors, such as an increase in higher education, are also implicated, but according to Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, the increase in Internet usage has a significant correlation.



Maybe we are just getting lazier. I used to hear people say they could find God on the golf course or while fishing on Sunday. Now they look for what satisfies them on a small LED screen. Eventually they will find out they were really worshiping themselves.


The Internet does seem to make it much easier for like-minded people to find and connect with each other, perhaps emboldening some to declare their lack of faith in a much more public way than in times past.


I’m not surprised at all. One of the first things I noticed when I started using the Internet was the atheists everywhere mocking God wherever He was mentioned. :mad:


I totally agree. Shall we pray about this? Maybe say a prayer each time we use the internet- for us and everyone we encounter on here.


I think it makes accessing ridiculous counter-arguments to religion easier to find.

I’m sure that’s how we used to get talking about eating shellfish whenever the gay “marriage” issue came up. :rolleyes: Not because people are thinking, but because they used a search engine. :ouch:

Before the internet, if someone wanted to find out information about non-Catholic or especially non-Christian religions, they would’ve in most cases needed to find a bookstore or library. And really, how many people were doing that!?

The problem is that if a person doesn’t do their homework, and a lot of people clearly do not, they are easier prey for linear, unfounded arguments.

Oh, and that’s the other thing too. If you’re looking for the good stuff on-line, a lot of times it’s under lock and key known as subscription.

This place, of course, is an exception. :smiley:

The other issue I’ve noticed growing up with the internet: the older, more traditional types have tended to be slower in developing a web presence.

Look at facebook and myspace, both founded by guys who were under 30. And youtube? The Smosh channel and JamesNintendoNerd had attention and views that major networks would’ve died for, figuratively speaking.

With so much younger folks who still may not have figured out themselves who they are and are influenced by more or less anti-establishment institutions, and the criminal element being steps ahead of the more traditional means as usual :rolleyes:,should it really be that big of a surprise?

I mean, I probably could’ve told you that years ago! A guy I knew even used an on-line quiz to confirm his choice of religion!


Yeah there seem to be a lot of people who have nothing better to do than bash religion online. It’s pretty sad.


That make sense.
People can exchange information easier, quicker. Lectures on religion are online and religious debates are all over youtube and forums like this.
I think the internet has helped a lot of “in the closet” Atheists/Agnostics come out and express themselves in public when they might not have done so 10- 15 years ago.



Downey says that his research has controlled for ‘most of the obvious candidates, including income, education, socioeconomic status, and rural/urban environments’ to discount a third factor, one that is responsible both for the rise of Internet use and the drop in religiosity.

However, that still leaves a 45 per cent drop in religious affiliation that is unaccounted for.

‘About half of the observed change remains unexplained,’ Downey told the MIT Technology Review.

I think the other half can be blamed on Starbucks. If you look at the graph showing increase in internet usage, you will see that it parallels the tremendous proliferation of Starbucks franchises in the US. Surely this correlates with decreasing American religiosity just as much as does increasing internet usage. And perhaps the increase in internet use is fueled, at least in part, by the increase in Starbucks

Of course, as Mr Downey observed, correlation does not imply causation. However, I think as an explanatory factor, Starbucks is as important as the internet.


Yes, they come out, and some feel empowered and attack religion and God left and right, get threats from jihadists and fall back into silent running.




Many years ago I commented to a friend that the introduction of the internet was the most significant event in “information sharing” since the invention of the movable type printing press.

Back then, the proliferation of books, booklets, broadsides, etc meant that those who could read had access to many many new ideas…and those who wished to have something disseminated likewise could do so with much greater ease and reach a much wider audience.

Today we think of the written word as fairly controlled through copyrights etc…but back then it was a pretty wide open thing. Today we think of the written word, the printing industry and such as fairly slow and time consuming ( as compared to the internet surely). Yet compare the speed of the printing press to the work of scribes and I think you will see a fair comparison.

It was only about a century between Gutenberg and the protestant reformation. I really don’t think this is entirely coincidental.

Anyway - just some thoughts.



I agree that prayer will help much! Also, following through with positive sharing of faith information so that others will hear the truth and seeds will be planted.

There is a good side and bad side to the internet, as there is with other forms of media. It can be for good if we focus on it that way. It is a challenge for us to not be discouraged, and seek the Lord’s help.


On the other hand, the Internet is a tool. And an opportunity. How about Christians make an effort to have more of a presence and not just a defensive one. Start one of those games like “Farmville” on a biblical theme perhaps?:slight_smile:


I have learnt a tremendous amount on the Catholic Church from the internet and mainly CAF.


Yes! I have learned much as well. I had never been to Catholic schools and there were big gaps in my learning, although what I got was very helpful.

We need to pray and think positively in order to make great use of internet media.


I have to agre with the last two posters - I wouldn’t be discerning a call to the Catholic church if it hadn’t have been for the online work of Catholic apologists. The 'net can be a cesspit for a number of reasons, but it can also be a wonderful faith blessing.


Me too. I’ve been enlightened, hurt, humbled, and strengthened. It’s been a source of grace for someone like me who thought Catholics were just a different kind of Christian and that Church doesn’t really matter that much as long as you believe in Jesus.

Just wish I had more money to donate…




There is also an element of reading comprehension to consider. Blog editorials are far more often cited than resources such as New Advent when looking for information. Finding like-minded people on the internet is simple enough. Finding solid resources is a bit more tine consuming.

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