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Sat Jan 14, 2012, 11:46 PM

Is the Internet Responsible for Americans Losing Their Faith?

Last edited Sun Jan 15, 2012, 02:30 AM - Edit history (1)

Check this out:



It seems as if the ranks of the "Nones" didn't start really start gaining ground until the mid-1990's, just as the Internet was picking up steam.



Again, as the free-flow of information and ideas online became more widespread, the numbers of non-believing youth began to rise, surpassing that of young evangelicals around the turn of the century.

The following graph suggests that more liberals are losing their faith, whereas conservatives are "stubbornly clinging to their Bibles," as President Obama suggested during the 2008 campaign:



Lots more charts and graphs here:

http://www.pewforum.org/American-Grace--How-Religion-Divides-and-Unites-Us.aspx

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Arrow 20 replies Author Time Post
Reply Is the Internet Responsible for Americans Losing Their Faith? (Original post)
LAGC Jan 2012 OP
Angry Dragon Jan 2012 #1
LAGC Jan 2012 #2
skepticscott Jan 2012 #3
edhopper Jan 2012 #4
Goblinmonger Jan 2012 #5
cbayer Jan 2012 #7
OriginalGeek Jan 2012 #6
Ron Obvious Jan 2012 #8
OriginalGeek Jan 2012 #9
cbayer Jan 2012 #10
rug Jan 2012 #12
Ron Obvious Jan 2012 #13
cbayer Jan 2012 #14
Ron Obvious Jan 2012 #15
cbayer Jan 2012 #16
Ron Obvious Jan 2012 #19
cbayer Jan 2012 #20
humblebum Jan 2012 #11
laconicsax Jan 2012 #17
cbayer Jan 2012 #18

Response to LAGC (Original post)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 12:18 AM

1. NO

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 02:40 AM

2. Must just be one of those weird coincidences then.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 09:09 AM

3. The more you know

The less you believe.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 09:18 AM

4. Correlation does not equal causation

Other things were happening in that period. Including a great increase in atheist and secular human writings for the general public.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #4)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 10:52 AM

5. Your causation statement is, of course, correct

But as a high school teacher, I can assure you that America's Youth that I see do not read atheist writings unless they are already identifying themselves as that.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 11:25 AM

7. Did adolescents and young adults stop reading Ayn Rand?

Everyone I knew read her books back in the day, no matter what they considered themselves to be.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 11:02 AM

6. If you made me guess

I would offer up the suggestion that maybe online activities have made people a little more comfortable admitting their lack of faith.


Of course, I have no way to prove that.

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Response to OriginalGeek (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 11:38 AM

8. That's certainly a big part

I've heard many American atheists say that they didn't know there was anybody else out there that shared their beliefs and that that kept them in the closet. I find that a bit hard to believe, although I accept that it must be the case.

I've never been anything but an atheist, and I've never felt the need to hide that fact despite living in some very religious parts of the country. In fact, being a bit of a Milquetoast in real life, I confess I rather enjoyed the recoiling in fear and dread reactions I sometimes got in those places when I told them I was an atheist, but I suppose that's not true for people raised in a religion.

I'd say one other factor is that it's harder to baffle with bullshit with the printed (and permanent) word. In real-life discussions between theists and atheists, the former tend to baffle the latter with rapid-fire bullshit that can't be adequately refuted in time, leaving the onlookers thinking that the atheist had been stymied. Also, since their beliefs lack substance, theists have spent a great deal more effort on the style of presentation than those espousing the atheist/scientific point of view who sometimes naively believe facts and logic are all that's required to convince. In a printed medium, bullshit can be adequately refuted, and sticks around to embarrass the purveyor of said bullshit.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #8)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 12:11 PM

9. I am trying very hard to remember when I first met another atheist

in real life. I graduated from a fundamentalist christian high school in 1981 and left home 3 months later and have been sure in my heart that I was an atheist from that time but it wasn't until about 4 or 5 years ago that I actually met another person who was an out and proud atheist.

My wife of 25 years is (nominally) a southern baptist and she and my kids know I'm an atheist (I say nominally because she identifies herself as that but I have only seen her go to church twice in my life - once was with her mom and once was with mine) but I never officially "came out" to my mother and didn't post it on my Facebook until the day after she died.

I imagine it was cowardly of me to not tell her but I think she knew anyway and saying it out loud would have been very upsetting to her - she was a children's evangelist and ran vacation bible schools for years. My stepfather is still alive and I don't care if that prick never speaks to me again so I don't care that he knows but I just never wanted to openly hurt my mom like that would have done.

Nowadays I work with that previously mentioned out atheist in a large company so we can talk amongst ourselves but we try to mind who else we talk about it. We just aren't quite as careful as I would have been 10 or 15 years ago.

But I have been online since the late 80s starting with a Commodore64 and a 300 baud modem and I have anonymously been an atheist on many forums and I am glad for it too as now I personally feel more comfortable talking about it in real life (whether or not I actually do talk about it.) I even argue with my little brothers all the time about it, lol, but we were gonna fight about one thing or another anyway.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #8)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 12:17 PM

10. How would you feel if I were to say the following:

In real-life discussions between atheists and theists, the former tend to baffle the latter with rapid-fire bullshit that can't be adequately refuted in time, leaving the onlookers thinking that the theist had been stymied. Also, since their lack of beliefs lack objective substance, atheists have spent a great deal more effort on the style of presentation than those espousing the theist point of view who sometimes naively believe tolerance and openess are all that's required to convince. In a printed medium, bullshit can be adequately refuted, and sticks around to embarrass the purveyor of said bullshit.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #10)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 01:56 PM

12. There's very much a false bravado on the internet.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #10)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 07:04 PM

13. I'd say you were making no sense whatsoever.

Apparently you think you're scoring some clever points by reversing the participants in my example, but you fail in providing a persuasive case. If your description made sense, there would be a large number of conversions of atheists to religion as they became convinced of the strength of your written arguments.

Since that doesn't match the observed reality, we can dismiss your description.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #13)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 07:21 PM

14. I didn't read your post as a persuasive case either, just as a way to bash those that may see

things differently than you. (Referring only to your third paragraph here).

If you had couched your description in a way that invited response or discussion, it might come across as more persuasive.

When you start the discussion by calling any ideas that don't coincide with yours bullshit and lacking substance, you have effectively closed down the conversation.

But, perhaps, that is what your intent was. You appear to have dismissed any counter ideas before I ever responded to you.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #14)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 07:43 PM

15. No, that wasn't my intent

No, that wasn't my intent, and it wasn't my intent either to kick the shins of religious people with my statement.

The question was "is the internet responsible for a large number of Americans losing their faith?". I provided one factor that I believe to be in part responsible for that trend.

Assuming you're a person of faith, I daresay you didn't come to that faith because of reasons of logic or scientific argument. I don't think too many religious people have. The opposite is much more likely to be true -- many a religious person has lost their faith because of reasons of logic and scientific fact which they might not have been exposed to except online.

Many religious people, though, try to provide logical or scientific reasons for their faith. Reasons that I don't believe would convince anyone not already of the faith, and reasons I suspect therefore to be nothing but post-hoc rationalisations of their already existing faith. The same is not true of atheists. If a good scientific or logical argument could be presented to them for theism, they would no longer be atheists. I don't think many atheists are atheists simply because they prefer there to be no life after death where they'd be reunited with dead loved ones, but rather because the evidence leads them that position.

As such, I think online discussions in a medium which favours cold hard facts over appeals to emotion, the deck is stacked against the theist, and that's why we're seeing an increasing number of Americans lose their faith.



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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #15)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 07:50 PM

16. OK, that's a really reasonable and non-offensive way to say it.

My only point was that if I came in here and made a similar statement about atheists, essentially calling their position bullshit, all hell would break lose.

I would have taken the same stance with someone who did come here and say that about atheists or any other group that wishes to post in here. And I have done just that. My beliefs or lack of them are of no consequence.

I apologize for stepping on your toes, but I wanted to make that point. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #16)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 08:11 PM

19. No worries...

I confess that I initially assumed I was posting in Atheists & Agnostics, and would have phrased it differently had I been more alert to my surroundings.

No apologies required, or indeed, offered.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #19)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 08:12 PM

20. It occured to me that you might think you were there.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 01:16 PM

11. The internet is itself is nothing more than another

 

form of communication. However, it has opened up the entire world to communication as never before, and is indeed the reason many have changed their ideas about faith, pro and con. It has also enabled the growth of faith, as well as exposing the warts, wrinkles, the good and the bad of organized atheism. Every group and every idea has been affected by the proliferation of the internet.

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Response to LAGC (Original post)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 07:52 PM

17. Looks to me as though it was the Clenis, not the Internet. n/t

 

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #17)

Sun Jan 15, 2012, 07:54 PM

18. ....

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