Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The internet as the greatest threat to faith

Christians are worried.  Now they can't raise their kids in a bubble, protected from any contrary information that might make them think:
“The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have... whether you like it or not,” said [Josh] McDowell...

It used to be that most American kids were surrounded with Christian thinking, encountering no one who'd even express doubts about the adult version of Santa Claus. I know when I grew up, I never knew a single other person who wasn't a Christian, at least as far as I knew.

Of course, I always read a lot, so I did have access to other ideas. But people who didn't read could be remarkably ignorant about anything that believers didn't want to acknowledge.

But this is why religion overwhelmingly depends on where you are born. A child born of Muslim parents in Iran or Saudi Arabia is highly likely to believe in Islam when he grows up. A child born of Hindu parents in India is highly likely to be a Hindu as an adult. And a child born of Christian parents in America is quite likely to believe in the Christian mythology later in life.

...But not as likely as it used to be, apparently. Or that's the Christian fear, at least. You see, Christianity just can't compete with evidence and rational thought. If children aren't brainwashed at a young age, they'll start thinking for themselves - especially when diverse views are so easy to find on the internet.

Now I think of that as a good thing. Hmm,... doesn't that tell you something? After all, shouldn't I be worried that children of atheist parents will find Christian or Muslim thinking online? Shouldn't I want to shelter impressionable atheist children from such things?

But no, I'm confident enough of my own opinions that I'm willing to compete in an open forum. If believers think they have something to say, let them say it. It's only believers who worry that they just can't compete on a level playing field. Gee, I wonder why that is?

Obviously, all parents want to teach their children what they themselves believe. There's nothing wrong with that. But religious believers want to block off any diverse views. They often send their children to religious schools, so that their kids encounter no one different, no one who disagrees with their own pet dogma.

Diversity is a danger when you can't support what you believe. It's not a danger at all when you can. That should tell us something.

I don't know if the internet is actually such a threat to believers, since most people won't bother looking for contrary opinions - and won't believe it if they do encounter something contrary to church teaching. But just knowing that there are other people - many of them - who think differently might help to deprogram them.

Still, I'm sure most people will continue to believe what they've been taught since infancy. After all, it's very easy to believe what you want to believe, and who wouldn't want to believe that they're never going to die - and, more importantly, that the people they love will never die, either?

I know I'd like to believe that, myself. There's only one reason I don't: there's absolutely no evidence to indicate that it's anything but wishful-thinking. And I prefer the truth, even a difficult truth, to a pleasant lie.

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