Friday, November 21, 2008

The Internet is Killing Christianity

Well, not really, but that didn't stop some Christian site from a gratuitously alarmist reaction to the news that there are atheists on the interwebs.

Comments poured in, and there was much lulz to be had: our children are in thrall to the demonic allure of internet irreverence, adults are having sex outside of marriage, gays are getting hitched - the end times are near! Clearly, this is a moral crisis in need of Spiritual Warriors!

Uggh. The horror.

But seriously, is the internet a detriment to religion? Possibly, but I rather doubt it's as harmful as the fundamentalists make it out to be. It's an open forum where ideas can freely compete - and I'm sure the risk of exposure to another viewpoint has frightened many a fundamentalist. And obviously, the anonymous nature of the internet makes it much easier to be more blasphemous than one might be able to be in real life (for example, I don't think I'd be able to pull off calling religions superstitious in public without risking harm). But it's also a place where like-minded believers congregate (and swap soundbites about America's perpetually imminent Godly destruction) and prop up each other's beliefs in the supernatural. And judging from the prominence of religion online and the ubiquitous presence of Godspam (preachy religious spam e-mails, often unintentionally hilarious in their faulty logic and repetition of urban legends), the internet is also a place of fervent evangelism.

No, the internet isn't killing Christianity. But its cosmopolitan nature raises serious problems for religious tribalism.

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