Will the Internet Kill Religion?

Will the Internet Kill Religion?

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“Question, Explore, Discover”

Since: Dec 11

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#1 Jan 26, 2013
From Salon:

http://www.salon.com/2013/01/16/religion_may_...

"As we head into a new year, the guardians of traditional religion are ramping up efforts to keep their flocks—or, in crass economic terms, to retain market share. Some Christians have turned to soul searching while others have turned to marketing. Last fall, the LDS church spent millions on billboards, bus banners, and Facebook ads touting “I’m a Mormon.” In Canada, the Catholic Church has launched a “Come Home” marketing campaign. The Southern Baptists Convention voted to rebrand themselves. A hipster mega-church in Seattle combines smart advertising with sales force training for members and a strategy the Catholics have emphasized for centuries: competitive breeding.

In October of 2012 the Pew Research Center announced that for the first time ever Protestant Christians had fallen below 50 percent of the American population. Atheists cheered and evangelicals beat their breasts and lamented the end of the world as we know it. Historian of religion, Molly Worthen, has since offered big picture insights that may dampen the most extreme hopes and fears. Anthropologist Jennifer James, on the other hand, has called fundamentalism the “death rattle” of the Abrahamic traditions."

So, here is something interesting. The internet, especially combined with smartphones and other portable devices, has changed how we interact with the world. When I was a teenager if you wanted to know something about Mormons you had to ask a Mormon or go to the Library and hope they had something on the subject. Everything was limited, at least in the short term. You could do research over the long haul and learn as much as anyone else. But for dinner table discussions you were limited to what you actually already knew and what others at the table could tell you.

Not anymore.

Now we pop out our Galaxy and Google it. In seconds we can set the record straight: Yes, Mormonism was invented by Joseph Smith and he was already a known con artist. Bam.

So I kinda agree with this idea that the internet is killing religion. But I'd say it is less about "killing religion" than about subtly fostering critical thinking. When you Google the LDS at the dinner table you are faced with a multitude of hits. You have to parse out which ones are most likely to be accurate. This is the essence of critical thought.

Religion is not a friendly place for critical thought. Once you pull down the curtain to see the Wizard it is impossible to put it back up. I think the internet is the tool that lets Joe and Nancy Regular pull down the curtain on just about anything.

“We Are Family”

Since: Aug 12

Here, There and Everywhere!

#2 Jan 26, 2013
I'll stick with my belief in GOD.
The USA still beleives and still print money that States, "IN GOD WE TRUST"

Enough said!

“We Are Family”

Since: Aug 12

Here, There and Everywhere!

#3 Jan 26, 2013
"Believes"
Yeah

Lexington, KY

#4 Jan 26, 2013
Atheistic fantasies of ecclesiastical extinction.

Why do I even respond to this nonsense?

“Question, Explore, Discover”

Since: Dec 11

Location hidden

#5 Jan 26, 2013
BigDaddyandGang wrote:
I'll stick with my belief in GOD.
The USA still beleives and still print money that States, "IN GOD WE TRUST"
Enough said!
85% of the USA claims to believe. Since self-reporting data is highly unreliable that number is almost certainly lower. A lot of people who claim to believe in God do not really. Just look at The Clergy Project for an example of this:

http://www.clergyproject.org/

" The Clergy Project is a confidential online community for active and former clergy who do not hold supernatural beliefs. The Clergy Project launched on March 21st, 2011.

Currently, the community's 400 plus members use it to network and discuss what it's like being an unbelieving leader in a religious community. The Clergy Project’s goal is to support members as they move beyond faith."

The numbers of people self-reporting as non-theists has more than doubled in the past decade. And that trend continues.

I think as we move forward you will start to see things like "In God We Trust" removed from our money as a matter of First Amendment necessity. Right now there aren't enough people requesting to have it removed for it to be a big deal. I don't ever read it so I don't really care. But obviously, as an atheist, it is not something I want or need on my cash.

Since: Nov 08

Corbin Ky.

#6 Jan 26, 2013
Yiago wrote:
From Salon:
http://www.salon.com/2013/01/16/religion_may_...
"As we head into a new year, the guardians of traditional religion are ramping up efforts to keep their flocks—or, in crass economic terms, to retain market share. Some Christians have turned to soul searching while others have turned to marketing. Last fall, the LDS church spent millions on billboards, bus banners, and Facebook ads touting “I’m a Mormon.” In Canada, the Catholic Church has launched a “Come Home” marketing campaign. The Southern Baptists Convention voted to rebrand themselves. A hipster mega-church in Seattle combines smart advertising with sales force training for members and a strategy the Catholics have emphasized for centuries: competitive breeding.
In October of 2012 the Pew Research Center announced that for the first time ever Protestant Christians had fallen below 50 percent of the American population. Atheists cheered and evangelicals beat their breasts and lamented the end of the world as we know it. Historian of religion, Molly Worthen, has since offered big picture insights that may dampen the most extreme hopes and fears. Anthropologist Jennifer James, on the other hand, has called fundamentalism the “death rattle” of the Abrahamic traditions."
So, here is something interesting. The internet, especially combined with smartphones and other portable devices, has changed how we interact with the world. When I was a teenager if you wanted to know something about Mormons you had to ask a Mormon or go to the Library and hope they had something on the subject. Everything was limited, at least in the short term. You could do research over the long haul and learn as much as anyone else. But for dinner table discussions you were limited to what you actually already knew and what others at the table could tell you.
Not anymore.
Now we pop out our Galaxy and Google it. In seconds we can set the record straight: Yes, Mormonism was invented by Joseph Smith and he was already a known con artist. Bam.
So I kinda agree with this idea that the internet is killing religion. But I'd say it is less about "killing religion" than about subtly fostering critical thinking. When you Google the LDS at the dinner table you are faced with a multitude of hits. You have to parse out which ones are most likely to be accurate. This is the essence of critical thought.
Religion is not a friendly place for critical thought. Once you pull down the curtain to see the Wizard it is impossible to put it back up. I think the internet is the tool that lets Joe and Nancy Regular pull down the curtain on just about anything.
So now that we have the internet we don't have to ask a mormon about what he believes. You say the internet provides us with the truth, what a hypocrite you are. Sorry, I guess "hypocrite" is a term based in religion and with you being an athiest I will change that to fraud maybe.

You said that Joseph Smith was "already known as a con artist". Can you show proof for that? Religion has been my passion for over 50 years and I have studied every sect of Christianity that exists so I will ask again since you made the bold statement. Can you show proof that Joseph Smith was a con artist before he established the mormon religion? Come on now, you made the claim, now back it up with proof.

I don't think Snopes has any answers for you on this issue, if they do then go ahead and use it and I will use my "critical thinking" on it,lol.

Since: Jan 11

Location hidden

#7 Jan 26, 2013
Luckily for us Americans, our Christians have been tempered by hundreds of years of Humanist values.

I sure would hate to live in a country full of Christians who follow the Bible. The few I've seen are a danger to themselves and society, but damn if they aren't hilarious.

“We Are Family”

Since: Aug 12

Here, There and Everywhere!

#8 Jan 26, 2013
I'm still here only by the grace of GOD, and the good old USA still has money printed with "IN GOD WE TRUST" that everybody needs, spends, and gives, so that others can survive.

Since: Nov 08

Corbin Ky.

#9 Jan 26, 2013
BigDaddyandGang wrote:
I'm still here only by the grace of GOD, and the good old USA still has money printed with "IN GOD WE TRUST" that everybody needs, spends, and gives, so that others can survive.
Amen Brother.
Josie P

Chapel Hill, NC

#10 Jan 26, 2013
Interesting discussion. Meanwhile, science marches on, revealing more about our amazing world. Like the fact that lightning can cause headaches: http://bit.ly/10YPLiK

“Not afraid to stand alone.”

Since: Jun 09

Flat Lick Ky.

#11 Jan 26, 2013
wowed wrote:
<quoted text>
So now that we have the internet we don't have to ask a mormon about what he believes. You say the internet provides us with the truth, what a hypocrite you are. Sorry, I guess "hypocrite" is a term based in religion and with you being an athiest I will change that to fraud maybe.
You said that Joseph Smith was "already known as a con artist". Can you show proof for that? Religion has been my passion for over 50 years and I have studied every sect of Christianity that exists so I will ask again since you made the bold statement. Can you show proof that Joseph Smith was a con artist before he established the mormon religion? Come on now, you made the claim, now back it up with proof.
I don't think Snopes has any answers for you on this issue, if they do then go ahead and use it and I will use my "critical thinking" on it,lol.
This may be what Yiago was talking about.

The Smith family supplemented its meager farm income by treasure-digging. Joseph was said to have an ability to use seer stones for locating lost items and buried treasure.[26] To do so, Smith would put a stone in a white stovepipe hat and would then see the required information in reflections given off by the stone.[27]

In 1823, Smith said that while praying at night for forgiveness from his sins,[28] he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who revealed the location of a buried book of golden plates as well as other artifacts, including a breastplate and a set of spectacles with lenses composed of seer stones, which had been hidden in a hill in Manchester near his home.[29] Smith said he attempted to remove the plates the next morning but was unsuccessful because the angel prevented him.[30]

During the next four years, Smith made annual visits to the hill, but each time returned without the plates.[31] Meanwhile, Smith continued traveling to western New York and Pennsylvania as a treasure seeker and a farmhand.[32] In 1826, he was brought before a court in Chenango County, New York, for "glass-looking", or pretending to find lost treasure.[33][

The first Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, was arrested and convicted in New York and was found guilty of being a con-artist, an impostor -- he was a necromancer and a charlatan. This conviction was four years before he published the Book of Mormon! Court documents prove he was a convicted criminal.

“Question, Explore, Discover”

Since: Dec 11

Location hidden

#12 Jan 26, 2013
Tide with Beach wrote:
Luckily for us Americans, our Christians have been tempered by hundreds of years of Humanist values.
I sure would hate to live in a country full of Christians who follow the Bible. The few I've seen are a danger to themselves and society, but damn if they aren't hilarious.
That's a good point. Every good thing a church has ever done was done because good people in the church decided to do it. Not because God came down and did it for them. The superstitious element of religion is baggage and the information age is lethal to that baggage.

More from the article:

"Religions have spent eons honing defenses that keep outside information away from insiders. The innermost ring wall is a set of certainties and associated emotions like anxiety and disgust and righteous indignation that block curiosity. The outer wall is a set of behaviors aimed at insulating believers from contradictory evidence and from heretics who are potential transmitters of dangerous ideas. These behaviors range from memorizing sacred texts to wearing distinctive undergarments to killing infidels. Such defenses worked beautifully during humanity’s infancy. But they weren’t really designed for the current information age."

I know a person who converted to the LDS church as an adult. He's been in it for about 20 years. During the Presidential campaign I mentioned that Romney, as a Mormon, has to adhere to some pretty wild beliefs such as magic underwear. He took offense to that, of course. But what was troubling to me was that when I mentioned the history of the church, particularly the way that Joseph Smith had used his magic stones before ever being visited by the angel, he was in denial. He seemed to have never heard of that. He seemed to have no real notion of the actual, recorded history of his own church.

That's because they control the information from within. Like Jehovah's Witnesses they actively ban and even censor books that the church feels would lead people astray.

So...if an idea can lead me astray then what does that say about the religion itself?

And here we are doubling the number of non-believers in a decade. Thank you internet.

Since: Nov 08

Corbin Ky.

#13 Jan 26, 2013
Limbertwig wrote:
<quoted text>
This may be what Yiago was talking about.
The Smith family supplemented its meager farm income by treasure-digging. Joseph was said to have an ability to use seer stones for locating lost items and buried treasure.[26] To do so, Smith would put a stone in a white stovepipe hat and would then see the required information in reflections given off by the stone.[27]
In 1823, Smith said that while praying at night for forgiveness from his sins,[28] he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who revealed the location of a buried book of golden plates as well as other artifacts, including a breastplate and a set of spectacles with lenses composed of seer stones, which had been hidden in a hill in Manchester near his home.[29] Smith said he attempted to remove the plates the next morning but was unsuccessful because the angel prevented him.[30]
During the next four years, Smith made annual visits to the hill, but each time returned without the plates.[31] Meanwhile, Smith continued traveling to western New York and Pennsylvania as a treasure seeker and a farmhand.[32] In 1826, he was brought before a court in Chenango County, New York, for "glass-looking", or pretending to find lost treasure.[33][
The first Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, was arrested and convicted in New York and was found guilty of being a con-artist, an impostor -- he was a necromancer and a charlatan. This conviction was four years before he published the Book of Mormon! Court documents prove he was a convicted criminal.
Not true, you are way off. JS was never convicted of any crime.

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index...

“Question, Explore, Discover”

Since: Dec 11

Location hidden

#14 Jan 26, 2013
wowed wrote:
<quoted text>
So now that we have the internet we don't have to ask a mormon about what he believes. You say the internet provides us with the truth, what a hypocrite you are. Sorry, I guess "hypocrite" is a term based in religion and with you being an athiest I will change that to fraud maybe.
You said that Joseph Smith was "already known as a con artist". Can you show proof for that? Religion has been my passion for over 50 years and I have studied every sect of Christianity that exists so I will ask again since you made the bold statement. Can you show proof that Joseph Smith was a con artist before he established the mormon religion? Come on now, you made the claim, now back it up with proof.
I don't think Snopes has any answers for you on this issue, if they do then go ahead and use it and I will use my "critical thinking" on it,lol.
Wow, I'm a "hypocrite". Interesting. I never said the internet provides us with "truth". The point is that today if you have a disagreement over some fact or another you can pull it out of your pocket, literally, and settle the matter. Unless you deny the existence of the internet and smartphones.

Now, here's where the rubber hits the road. I posted the bit about Joseph Smith without giving it much thought. I had heard many times that he was a con artist - which is true. He founded a religion and that makes him a con artist by trade.

Prior to founding the religion he and his family were involved in "treasure hunting" using "seer stones", according to the Wiki page and other accounts. I think this is a matter of historical record. To quote the Wiki page on the seer stones:

"Beginning in the early 1820s, Joseph Smith was paid to act as a "seer" in attempts to locate lost items and find precious metals hidden in the earth.[4] Smith's procedure was to place the stone in a white stovepipe hat, put his face over the hat to block the light, and then "see" the necessary information in the stone's reflections."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seer_stone_%28La...

If you think that a man charging people to use magic rocks to find lost items is not a con artist at work then we live in very different realities. I didn't argue that he was a convicted felon, just that he was a known con artist. Which is true.

But that is a tangent to the thread's main topic. The point is freely available information is poisonous to religion. Personally I don't think religion will ever go away. But clearly the dogmatic faiths of the past are not doing as well as they used to. Catholicism in particular has taken a serious beating in the past decade. Protestantism has a more robust survival mechanism because people of that branch of Christianity are more than willing to leave and start a new church if they don't like the old one. So we'll continue to see splinter Protestant churches from now on.

But I think moving forward it will be less likely that we'll see a huge rise in the classic, dogmatic religions. Cults can control information when they are small but as they get bigger it becomes harder to do. LDS has been working very hard to minimize the crazy bits of their faith and maximize their image as normal Christians. I think the fact that we had a Presidential candidate get as far as he did and still be a Mormon is actually pretty cool as it demonstrates a willingness to tolerate other faiths. But it is also a sign that religion might not be as important to people as it used to be.

“Question, Explore, Discover”

Since: Dec 11

Location hidden

#15 Jan 26, 2013
wowed wrote:
<quoted text>
Not true, you are way off. JS was never convicted of any crime.
http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index...
I do not know if he was ever actually convicted of a crime. However, he was a known con artist. He was a charlatan. Unless you think an angel visited him led him to some magic tablets and Jesus came to America.

Clearly Smith was not liked. He was ran out of town, shot, and pretty much hated by most people. For good reason, I would think.

“Not afraid to stand alone.”

Since: Jun 09

Flat Lick Ky.

#16 Jan 26, 2013
wowed wrote:
<quoted text>
Not true, you are way off. JS was never convicted of any crime.
http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index...
Have it your way,it isn't worth arguing about.

Since: Nov 08

Corbin Ky.

#17 Jan 26, 2013
Yiago wrote:
<quoted text>
Wow, I'm a "hypocrite". Interesting. I never said the internet provides us with "truth". The point is that today if you have a disagreement over some fact or another you can pull it out of your pocket, literally, and settle the matter. Unless you deny the existence of the internet and smartphones.
Now, here's where the rubber hits the road. I posted the bit about Joseph Smith without giving it much thought. I had heard many times that he was a con artist - which is true. He founded a religion and that makes him a con artist by trade.
Prior to founding the religion he and his family were involved in "treasure hunting" using "seer stones", according to the Wiki page and other accounts. I think this is a matter of historical record. To quote the Wiki page on the seer stones:
"Beginning in the early 1820s, Joseph Smith was paid to act as a "seer" in attempts to locate lost items and find precious metals hidden in the earth.[4] Smith's procedure was to place the stone in a white stovepipe hat, put his face over the hat to block the light, and then "see" the necessary information in the stone's reflections."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seer_stone_%28La...
If you think that a man charging people to use magic rocks to find lost items is not a con artist at work then we live in very different realities. I didn't argue that he was a convicted felon, just that he was a known con artist. Which is true.
But that is a tangent to the thread's main topic. The point is freely available information is poisonous to religion. Personally I don't think religion will ever go away. But clearly the dogmatic faiths of the past are not doing as well as they used to. Catholicism in particular has taken a serious beating in the past decade. Protestantism has a more robust survival mechanism because people of that branch of Christianity are more than willing to leave and start a new church if they don't like the old one. So we'll continue to see splinter Protestant churches from now on.
But I think moving forward it will be less likely that we'll see a huge rise in the classic, dogmatic religions. Cults can control information when they are small but as they get bigger it becomes harder to do. LDS has been working very hard to minimize the crazy bits of their faith and maximize their image as normal Christians. I think the fact that we had a Presidential candidate get as far as he did and still be a Mormon is actually pretty cool as it demonstrates a willingness to tolerate other faiths. But it is also a sign that religion might not be as important to people as it used to be.
Not really interested in defending mormonism, been there done that for many years. You did say, "I think the internet is the tool that lets Joe and Nancy Regular pull down the curtain on just about anything" and I took that as you saying that the internet contains only truth. We are back to your "critical thinking" and much of that is needed especially with pondering religious sects. One thing that made me look closer at the mormon faith was the fact that Governor Boggs of Missouri issued an extermination order for all mormons.

“Question, Explore, Discover”

Since: Dec 11

Location hidden

#18 Jan 26, 2013
wowed wrote:
<quoted text>
Not really interested in defending mormonism, been there done that for many years. You did say, "I think the internet is the tool that lets Joe and Nancy Regular pull down the curtain on just about anything" and I took that as you saying that the internet contains only truth. We are back to your "critical thinking" and much of that is needed especially with pondering religious sects. One thing that made me look closer at the mormon faith was the fact that Governor Boggs of Missouri issued an extermination order for all mormons.
Mormons are fine people. Mormonism is dumb. It has a metric ton of claims about the history of this very continent that are 100% NOT backed up by any kind of archeological evidence whatsoever. The LDS, a very rich church thanks to the compulsory tithing, have the money to prove their claims and are unable to do it.

So I call BS on LDS, just like I do on all other religions.

Now, regarding the internet and truth.

I said the internet can and is used to parse out information, or pull down the curtains and reveal the wizards. This is true. It does not mean I think everything on the internet is true nor does it mean the internet contains Truth (capital T philosophical Truth). I'm pretty sure I was clear on this.

Obviously you use the internet too. I don't understand why you are arguing about it.

“Not afraid to stand alone.”

Since: Jun 09

Flat Lick Ky.

#19 Jan 26, 2013
Yiago wrote:
<quoted text>
Mormons are fine people. Mormonism is dumb. It has a metric ton of claims about the history of this very continent that are 100% NOT backed up by any kind of archeological evidence whatsoever. The LDS, a very rich church thanks to the compulsory tithing, have the money to prove their claims and are unable to do it.
So I call BS on LDS, just like I do on all other religions.
Now, regarding the internet and truth.
I said the internet can and is used to parse out information, or pull down the curtains and reveal the wizards. This is true. It does not mean I think everything on the internet is true nor does it mean the internet contains Truth (capital T philosophical Truth). I'm pretty sure I was clear on this.
Obviously you use the internet too. I don't understand why you are arguing about it.
They've been erasing blackboards for a long time.

Since: Jan 11

Location hidden

#20 Jan 26, 2013
Most forms of manipulation in use by the religious don't work on the internet. Combine that with open competition of ideas and the ability to converse anonymously, and you have a medium where religion fares very poorly.

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