Quite a few years ago, on this blog, I said:
I think we are lucky for the Internet. Not only is it a beautiful exposition of the potentiality of science, but it also allowed me to link up with like minded people, and provided a wonderful source for research and information about atheism.
I always thought the Internet would be the death of religion. Religion tends to thrive on ignorance, but the Internet is the antithesis of ignorance. One can find anything on the Internet, even, paradoxically, ignorance. Fortunately, the Internet is science embodied, so even though it can be misused, due to redundancy of information, it will tend to correct itself. Like anything, you take everything you hear and read with a little bit of salt, until you can falsify or confirm it. But most of you are skeptics, so you know that.
I’ve gotten into the habit of checking every viral email sent to me, telling me things I supposedly don’t know, by looking it up on the Internet. Wikipedia is a great site for general knowledge, and Snopes is a great place to check for urban legends. The former is also internally self-correcting, being a user created site, and the latter…well, I’m often asked “How do you know Snopes is accurate?” The answer is I don’t, but the many times I’ve used it, it has been right, so after awhile I gain confidence in it with use.
Of course, the search engines like Google and Yahoo are wonderful resources, as long as you have that salt shaker by your keyboard.
Another general interest site I’ve used a lot is Bible Gateway, a searchable Bible site, with multiple versions of that so called holy book. My Catholic upbringing exposed me to the Bible, but only those parts the church liked to emphasize. If you’re looking for a quote about, say, genocide, or mass rape of virgins, or mauling of children by bears, all in the name of Yahweh, the Bible Gateway is a good place to find the right quote.
But back to religion and the Internet.
As the video shows, exposing religion to the light of scrutiny diminishes it, shows it for what it really is – a vacuous, self serving, predatory meme. Back in the dark ages, and other times when the church was the main source of information, knowledge could be controlled. By comparison, the Internet is unfettered and accessible by anyone with a computer, and in this day and age, even people who can’t own a computer still has access, through public libraries and work, not to mention indirectly via other mass media (how many times have you seen screen shots of a web page on a TV program, or a URL cite in a footnote of a book?).
With this kind of access to knowledge, religion is at a serious disadvantage. People who believe the clap-trap churches call knowledge have only themselves to blame for their ignorance, because they can rebut it. In effect, those who believe do so because they want to cling to their comfortable beliefs, not because they have no source for alternative knowledge.
It’s only a matter of time. As I said here, our hope is in the future generation. It’s no coincidence that the future generation will also be the Internet savvy generation. It’s already beginning to show in the research, where even those under the age of 29 who self identify as Christians seem to follow a “mushy” set of beliefs.
This past October marked the 40th anniversary of the Interent, when the first two nodes of its predecessor, ARPANET, were connected and the first message was sent. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)
I raise my beer bottle in a belated Happy Birthday wish to the Internet!
H/T Richard Dawkins