Religion has been present in the daily life of human beings since several thousand years before the birth of civilizations. The different forms of religiosity are based on rituals and symbols, and these elements are already present in cave times, and even in Neanderthals.
However, although we have lived in a more or less similar way for millennia, in recent decades our species has been shaken by a series of technological and cultural revolutions that have transformed our entire society. And, as great material changes also generate changes in ideas, religiosity has been transformed. In fact, a recent study indicates that something as common as the use of Internet linked to lower belief in religion.
- Related article: “Types of religion (and their differences in beliefs and ideas)”
More love for the Internet, less religious feeling
Religiosity is something very complex, and throughout different human societies there are great differences not only with regard to the majority religions, but also in the degree of religiosity. Although decades ago atheism and agnosticism were marginal, today they are increasingly common in Western societies, especially in those countries considered “first world” in which there is a solid welfare state and extreme poverty is common. relatively small.
However, beyond where you live and the social class you belong to, there are other factors related to believing more or less in a religion, and it seems that Internet use is one of them. Paul K. McLure, author of the study, based the research on data obtained from a national survey in the United States of America, the Baylor Religion Survey, which collected information from about 1,700 adults residing in that country. Among the items in this questionnaire, included questions about the level of religiosity and faith, and the habitual use (or not) of the Internet.
Although the use of this virtual tool was associated with less contact with religion, this link had nuances. For example, it did not have to do with the frequency with which one participates in specific activities of a religious nature, such as weddings or baptisms, but with the intensity of religious beliefs (or lack thereof).
Furthermore, those who spent more hours connected to the Internet were less likely to maintain that a single religion was true and the rest were not. In other words, they tended to treat all religions more equally, as if they were the same. Curiously, The same did not happen with the time spent watching television.
What is this about?
It must be taken into account that this research has found correlations, and not a relationship that necessarily has to be cause-effect. It may be that surfing the Internet more reduces the intensity of religiosity, but it may also be that less religious people surf the Internet more (although the study isolated the influence of social class, race, educational level, political ideology and other important elements). However, McLure believes there are reasons to think that the Internet has had an impact on the way we position ourselves regarding religion.
Tendency towards isolation
Frequent use of the Internet can lead to a certain isolation and adopting a lifestyle apart from others when not working. Taking into account that religion is almost always based on shared rituals, this can affect beliefs: Do not regularly expose yourself to these customs in family or community weakens the importance that religiosity has for a person.
However, as we have seen, these people are no longer absent from important religious events; In any case, they would not go to those of lesser importance: family prayers and other frequent rituals.
Bias towards rational thinking
Another characteristic of the Internet is that it contains a practically infinite amount of information. Although today we do not give it much importance, it is something exceptional that without anyone’s help we are able to access all types of content that allow us to learn about all subjects relatively autonomously.
This means that those questions that previously apparently had no answers, giving free rein to speculations based on mysticism and magical thinking, can today be answered in a matter of a few minutes thanks to search engines like Google. Let us think, for example, about the possibility of understanding how the evolution of species works, going beyond the caricature of “we come from the monkey.” If there is no mystery, the feeling that “there is something more” diminishes.
Religions remain firm
Although the use of the Internet is increasingly widespread, and although the proportion of the non-believing population is increasing, there is no doubt that religions continue to enjoy very good health. Our technology-related habits are unlikely to simply make them disappear.