An interesting article on NPR. If you didn’t feel like reading it, the basic synopsis is that there are now search engines for religious people to use that will filter out any results that don’t already agree with their world view. Not only that, but the search engines are proactive in what content they provide. The article gives two examples: Search for “democrats” and you get articles on Marxism, search for “sex” and you get abstinence only articles.
This whole thing just blows me away. So you’re telling me that your belief system is so weak it’s threatened by just being exposed to other world views, thus if you must use the internet (and be connected to the the wealth of accumulated knowledge the world has to offer) you choose to do so by essentially locking yourself in a closet.
Actually, it’s not surprising. If you’re a religious fundamentalist, like the people who use these sites, you’ve already arbitrarily decided on how the world works. You’ve deluded yourself so deeply into believing that you’re correct, so why bother even exposing yourself to other ideas? It’s sad really. What they’re essentially doing is intellectually castrating themselves. Perhaps it’s out of fear. Maybe they’re afraid their might be a chance they could be wrong, and that being exposed to different opinions might open them up to doubt.
I think the internet has had a really interesting effect on religion. While on one hand it makes it easier for religious groups to coordinate and get out their message, it also exposes people to a lot more information that they previously wouldn’t have been able to get. I think this is key, it is this fact that makes the internet a negative thing for religion. In order to keep your believers following you, it’s important to control their access to information. Information is power after all. With the internet offering all this information, and for free, you’ve lost that power. You can no longer control what your followers are exposed to. In the real world religion can rely on social pressures to keep people in line. People are more likely to shut up and go along with the crowd and avoid asking questions that might cause them trouble. With the anonymity of the internet, religions can no longer coerce people like that. Here is a really interesting video on the subject: