A few days ago, headlines around the world screamed ‘Internet is killing God’! Well, Nietzsche’s knickers in a twist, Batman! Now, it is a slow news week, and click bait is easier to come by than real news. The study the news articles reference speaks a more measured language, and confirms what everyone knows: Increase someone’s knowledge and that will decrease their likelihood to believe stupid things. Phrasing that more carefully, the researchers say that
Internet use is associated with decreased probability of religious affiliation.
This is not at all surprising. Before the internet connected the homes of sparsely-populated regions (for example the US ‘Heartland’ a.k.a. ‘Hick Central’) to civilization, people had no choice but to believe their priests – they had no viable means of independent confirmation. In Palinland, the Bible was the definite authority on law, moral code and science. This has changed.
The internet works as a catalyst for the mind; it’s not the cause for a pandemic of unbelief. We now have vast resources of scientific knowledge, indexed, fully searchable versions of Bible, Quran and other religious texts, and, admittedly, even vaster resources of cat pictures available at our fingertips. Inquisitive minds use this to confirm or, increasingly, disprove millennia-old hate-filled myths. But it still requires an inquisitive mind.
So the headlines have it wrong. It’s not the Internet that destroys God. It’s knowledge that destroys silly superstitions. If, on the other hand, you want to keep your people religious, you must do as the Taliban and Boko Haram do: forbid education and do your worst to subvert knowledge.
That’s where faith-based schools come in.