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The greater the use of the Internet, the less religiosity

The greater the use of the Internet, the less religiosity

July 14, 2024

Religion has been present in the day to day of the human being from 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 the epoch of the caverns, and even in the Neandertals.

However, despite the fact that for millennia we have lived in a more or less similar way, in the last decades our species has been shaken by a series of technological and cultural revolutions that have transformed the whole society. And, as the great material changes also generate changes in ideas, religiosity has been transformed. In fact, a recent study indicates that something as usual as the use of Internet is related to a lower belief in religion .


  • Related article: "Types of religion (and their differences of beliefs and ideas)"

More fondness for the Internet, less religious feeling

Religiosity is very complex, and throughout the different human societies there are great differences not only with regard to the majority religions, but also in the degree of religiosity. While decades ago atheism and agnosticism were marginal, nowadays they are becoming more common in Western societies, especially in those countries considered "first world" where there is a strong welfare state and extreme poverty is relatively small

However, beyond the place where one lives and the social class to which one belongs, there are other factors related to believing more or less in a religion, and it seems that the use of the Internet is one of them. Paul K. McLure, the author of the study, based the research on the data obtained in a national survey of the United States of America, the Baylor Religion Survey, which gathered information from some 1,700 adults living in that country. Among the items in this questionnaire, There were questions about the level of religiosity and faith, and the habitual (or not) use 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 religious activities, such as weddings or baptisms, but with the intensity of religious beliefs (or absence of them).

In addition, those who spent more hours connected to the network of networks were less likely to argue that a single religion was true and the rest were not. In other words, they tended to treat all religions more equitably, as if they were the same. Curiously, It was not the same with the time spent watching television .

What is this about?

Keep in mind that this research has found correlations, and not a relationship that necessarily has to be cause and effect . It may be that browsing more on the Internet reduces the intensity of religiosity, but it may also be that less religious people navigate more (despite the fact that the study isolated the influence of social class, race, educational level, political ideology and other important elements). However, McLure believes that there are reasons to think that the Internet has had an impact on our way of positioning ourselves before the religious.


Insulation tendency

Frequent use of the Internet can lead to a certain isolation and adopt a lifestyle away from others at times when you do not work. Bearing in mind that religion is almost always based on shared rituals, this can affect beliefs: not habitually exposed to those customs in family or in community It 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 less importance: family prayers and other frequent rituals.

Bias towards rational thinking

Another feature of the Internet is that it contains a virtually infinite amount of information. Although today we do not give much importance, it is something exceptional that without the help of anyone we are able to access to all types of content that allow us to learn about all subjects in a relatively autonomous way.

This makes those questions that before apparently had no answer, giving free rein to speculations based on mysticism and magical thinking, today can be answered in a matter of a few minutes thanks to search engines like Google. Think, for example, of the possibility of understanding how the evolution of species works, going beyond the caricature of "come from the monkey".If there is no mystery, the feeling that "there is something else" decreases.

The religions remain firm

Although the use of the Internet is increasingly widespread, and although the proportion of the non-believer population is increasing, there is no doubt that religions continue to enjoy very good health. It is unlikely that our technology-related habits will make them disappear without further ado.


Religion: Crash Course Sociology #39 (July 2024).


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