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Charles's avatar

Is the internet a threat to Christians?

Asked by Charles (4804points) April 30th, 2012

“The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not,” said McDowell,

The belief or worldview, McDowell said, forms values, which in turn drive one’s behavior. The worldview “is where we are falling down the most anywhere in the world.” So what is the prevalent worldview in America today? “There is no truth apart from myself,” that’s what even many young “evangelical, fundamental, born-again Christians” believe, he said.”


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45 Answers

Ron_C's avatar

I don’t know who this McDowell person in but he is completely wrong, Evangelicals permeate all aspects of our daily life from slogans on our money to movements to place intelligent design into the grades school curriculum. Atheists now have a platform to counter the hyper-religious agenda. That is the real complaint. The religions resent the idea that equal time should be granted to those opposed to their ideas.

There is a similar argument about democracy. The right, supported buy the evangelicals, want to limit democracy in order to “save” the union. The left believes that the cure for problems with democracy is more democracy.

The cure for stilted and stifling religion is information. The more information the lower the hold of belief over knowledge. So the cure for religion is more information.

Personally, I am rooting for the atheists.

syz's avatar

If your “religion” is so flimsy as to be threatened by TV, movies(thinking of the Harry Potter “witchcraft” hullabaloo), and the internet, then perhaps there’s a problem with your religion.

john65pennington's avatar

I have always said that the internet is the devil. It was intended for education and communication, but it has not turned out this way. Access to the devil’s work is easily available to the young and old and sways a mind in the wrong direction.

And, people ask me why?

They already know the answer.

chyna's avatar

Perhaps there is a problem with the strength of your belief system if you are threatened by what people say on the internet.

thorninmud's avatar

I grew up in a Christian sect that treated faith as something that had to be coddled and sheltered from the influences of the Big Bad World. We were supposed to limit our associations with non-believers, carefully screen what we read and watched, and mistrust higher education. I can only imagine how they must now view the internet.

That leads to a kind of “greenhouse” faith that can’t survive in the great outdoors. I have no interest in spending my life in a greenhouse.

ucme's avatar

Only if they view images of lions.

marinelife's avatar

No more than any other medium. What does it mean that a Christian’s faith could not withstand the awareness of other viewpoints?

SuperMouse's avatar

@syz hits the nail on the head here. Anyone whose belief is so shallow as to be threatened by the internet isn’t much a believer to begin with. I have read all kinds of stuff from Christopher Hitchens to Richard Dawkins and I still believe in God. If an article on the internet shakes my faith, there obviously wasn’t much there to begin with.

As for the internet (or anything else) threatening my teaching my children my faith, I have a slightly different view than the evangelicals discussed in the question. I believe that it is my job to teach them what I believe while encouraging them to do their own independent investigation and come to their own conclusion. Every person’s faith – or lack thereof – is their own and in my opinion faith that hasn’t been examined is not a true faith.

Blackberry's avatar

Anytime you go from staying in the dark to a source of multiple and varied opinions, you’re going to experience some conflict or continue to stay in the dark.

wundayatta's avatar

Certainly not. In fact, it gives Christians much greater access to people and more power to influence people. It makes Christians much more dangerous than they ever were.

This disingenuous posturing by McDowell is hiding a smirk as he secretly congratulates himself for gaining sympathy for being the underdog, when in fact he is the ravening monster in the playground. Christians rule the world and are working on consolidating their rule. They act like they are David, but in truth, they are Goliath. This kind of pretense makes me sick. I hope people won’t fall for it.

tom_g's avatar

@wundayatta has a good point. This reminds me of the “liberal media” myth, which is a strategy more than an analysis.

ragingloli's avatar

Facts and critical thinking are the greatest enemy of the propagandist oppressor. Of course he feels threatened by it.
When you disparage scepticism, evidence and critical thinking, it just shows that you do not care about what is true.

Judi's avatar

I think the true Christian message of Loving God and Loving others will always prevail. Maybe the ideas of elitism, and us vs. them might subside, but I really don’t think Jesus will mind that.

jerv's avatar

Knowledge has always been an enemy of Christianity, or at least of The Church. The Internet spreads knowledge, so it is a threat to traditional Christianity.

However, it is not a threat to those who are decent people who actually follow the teachings of Jesus.

Ron_C's avatar

@wundayatta Really a Great Answer!
@jerv all of the great thinkers, like Galileo were suppressed and persecuted by the church. That is part of the reason that we should never fall to theocracy. Once a religion, any religion, gets the upper hand it uses its power to suppress and probably destroy opposition.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, every Christian I talk to who defends handing out bibles to children, talking to children about Christ, and persuading kids to come to church without specific permission from the child’s parent first states that they would not mind at all if I told their kid God isn’t real. They tell me they feel sure their children will talk to them, and not be swayed. So, if the Christians are supposedly so secure in their religious teachings, I don’t see why they would think the internet is a threat.

Clarification: I am not saying all Christians are going around trying to convert children, I am only talking about those who do.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Only if the want it to be. The way I see it, anyone can make up an external threat. It helps them raise money. Full employment for the clergy. Keeps the masses amused.

THat doesn’t make it rational ro real.

Ron_C's avatar

@JLeslie I have said, before, that I believe indoctrinating children in a religion is tantamount to child abuse. I exposed our kids to various forms of christianity and buddhism when they were old enough to understand. I proudly raise two nice young atheist women who do the same for their families.

Contrary to christian statements, my children grew up principled, honest, and kind. Both have done work for charity, both have strong moral positions. It is much simpler to raise a principled atheist than to raise a devout religionist and it doesn’t strain intelligence or require an apologist.

JLeslie's avatar

@Ron_C I think if I had children I might not be as open as some on this front. I would sort of indoctrinate my own kids with not being led by religion, and probably not hide what negativity I do have for the very religious. It would not have to do with athiesm or theism, but more about organized religion, and within my household nothing is ever said about looking to religion or God for guidance or rules, at the same time, my husband is a theist, and his parents, and I am fine with that. I would have no problem with my children believing in God, I would have a big problem with them becoming bible thumping Christians. My husband’s family is Catholic, so my children would have exposure to Catholicism from the age zero, but I know how we raise our children would be respected. If my kids felt a desire to learn about and even convert to Catholocism, I would support it. If a friend of theirs in school invited them to some Christian church, I would be extremely negative about it. I am not sure how I would handle it, but I would not approve.

As far as the internet, if they were on Christian sites all the time, I would want to know why? What they were thinking. I, again, would not be too happy about it. It seems to make sense to me that some Christians might worry about it in the reverse with atheists online, that sounds more genuine to me than when Christians say, “sure I don’t care if you put up billboards that say God is a Myth and hand out books to my children on school grounds describing why God does not exist.”

Ron_C's avatar

@JLeslie I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school, therefore I am atheist. There seems to be only two types of people in my graduating class, those that became deeply religious even to the point of joining the clergy; or those, like me that abandoned religion altogether. Religious discussions never really came up. Both children were baptized catholic (I was hedging my bets) but neither one ever underwent the indoctrination that I had. I don’t think that any of my grandchildren were baptized and I no longer believe in hedging my bets.

bkcunningham's avatar

Except for the headline, the word, “threat” is never used in the linked article. Did anyone read the article?

tinyfaery's avatar


Ron_C's avatar

I did and still don’t know who this McDowell guy is except for a christian apologist.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’d never heard of The Christian Post.

digitalimpression's avatar

Well I certainly don’t feel threatened. So… no?

Judi's avatar

I heard about Josh McDowell in the 1970’s. He wrote a book called Evidence that Demands a Verdict. The story goes that he was an avowed atheist that set out to prove that the resurrection could never have happened. His logic was, that if you discredit the resurrection, you will discredit the foundation of Christianity.
According to the story, his research instead convinced him it was more likely that the resurrection DID happen than that it didn’t.
He has beef held in high esteem by the fundamentalist movement since I first heard of him.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Interesting, @judi. I will agree with this McDoweel on one item, to quote you:

” His logic was, that if you discredit the resurrection, you will discredit the foundation of Christianity. ”

I accept that 100%. I don’t believe in the resurrection. So I have no problem not believing in Christianity.

ragingloli's avatar

You do not have to discredit the resurrection. Christians have to demonstrate that:
1. It happened at all.
2. That “god” had anything to do with it.
And besides, there are enough christian core myths (creation, global flood, the sky dome, geocentrism) that are already discredited.

Ron_C's avatar

@ragingloli and @ragingloli “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”. As far as I have seen, there is little proof that Christ actually existed, let alone performed miracles and rising from the dead. The only believable character in the new testament is Thomas because of his unwillingness to believe until he stuck his fingers into the wounds.

As soon as Christ comes back and comes to my house for a beer or wine, I will remain in doubt.

ragingloli's avatar

And even if jesus existed and did everything the bible claims he did, it still has to be demonstrated that god exists and that it had anything to do with it. (Ancient Aliens, anyone?)

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Ron_C – he’s more of a hard liquor guy’

Ron_C's avatar

@ragingloli if I had to believe in anything, ancient aliens would be my choice. They are much cooler than a vengeful god and they don’t disturb your weekend with services.

ragingloli's avatar

They are also more plausible.

Berserker's avatar

Is this guy mad? Reminds me of Jack Thompson, who says that video games are pure evil and turn people into murderers.

Some parts of the article I find interesting;

McDowell, who lives in southern California with his wife Dottie and four children, said atheists, agnostics and skeptics didn’t have access to kids earlier. “If they wrote books, not many people read it. If they gave a talk, not many people went. They would normally get to kids maybe in the last couple of years of the university.” But that has changed now.

How many freakin kids spend all their online time reading about theology, religion, politics and the conflicting ideals related with those things? The ones that do would probably go pick up books or go to talks if the Internet didn’t exist, if they were that interested. The net may be unlimited, but that’s just why kids will rush to their favorite sites.

Atheists and skeptics now have equal access to our children as we have, which is why the number of Christian youth who believe in the fundamentals of Christianity is decreasing and sexual immorality is growing, apologist Josh McDowell said.

Right. Lol. Since when is social immorality a new thing? The Internet created that? Dude, what the fuck? As far as sexual immorality goes, I think the Church has a few things to answer about that.

So this guy is using statistics and surveys to further his point. You know, if there’s a God and He’s all mighty, I don’t think He’s going to be thwarted by the net. The net is not a danger to religion, unless God wills it. This guy is completely off his rocker. Although I do understand that he’s coming from a social standpoint, and that his claims come from environmental influence. But that’s kind of the problem right there, because religion is a very strong thing yet
So it’s all up to the Internet? It’s some big monster that cannot be stopped? This is no different than when I hear about censorship on television because some parents are too lame to explore and explain things with their kids. Instead, this dude is, essentially, saying that knowledge is bullshit. He reminds me of Venerable Jorge from The Name of the Rose.
The Internet is killing religions and God. Right. As already stated, the net can be a great tool for the exchange of knowledge and meeting people, which can only help those devoted to their religions. As with a lot of things, the content can be trustworthy, accurate, or none of that. But unless faith is not meant to be and must be eradicated out of man’s nature, which I highly fuckin doubt, I would never go as far as to say that the net is a threat to Christians.

Paradox25's avatar

This is an iffy topic for me, considering that I’m neither a pseudosceptic, an atheist, an agnostic (though I’m close to classifying myself as one), a Christian or any other type of religionist. Personally I feel that both the Christian and physicalist viewpoints severely outnumber the other philosophical paradigms on the internet. I still feel that the internet is a godsend considering that more philosophers, psychologists, parapsychologists, researchers and scientists who support the secular case for dualism and the ‘paranormal’ (an oxymoronic term in my opinion) and are able to get our viewpoints out more too.

Unfortunately the Christian viewpoint still overwhelmingly owns the afterlife on the net. Also, so do the sceptics who deny the afterlife. In the end I feel that information is the ultimate way to eliminate immorality, not create it. Information is readily available almost instantaneously from the internet, so in a sense I feel that critical thinking ability along with attaining bad info are on equal grounds here. I do feel that the internet is a threat to both Christianity, along with pseudoscepticism, especially when it comes to younger or more open-minded people. Inevitably truth will prevail, whether we like it or not.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

If protecting your children’s ignorance of reality or other points of view is important to you, then the Internet would certainly be a treat to your beliefs.

jerv's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence…whether those beliefs be religious or political.

Sunnybunny's avatar

No I think Christians are the biggest threat to Christians.

GracieT's avatar

Pardon my waiting so long to reply to SuperMouse, but GA! I was raised Catholic and ran away screaming but found Christianity again as an adult. I believe in God and have put my trust in Jesus, but I have a brain and use it. I agree w/ everyone when much of what is visable organized Christianity is condemned as not holding to the teachings of Christ. I believe in the expression “Jesus was a socialist,” and look to my beliefs as closest to those of a Democratic Socialist. I think that Jesus did not hold the belief that it is “every man for himself” and instead taught that we should look out for and aid our fellow man.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Well, as @thorninmud said, religious groups try to shelter their members from people who have different views, and media who can convey different views to them (such as TV, internet). I hate to use the word “brainwashing” but if the only way you can hold onto your belief system is through ignorance, then it is kind of like sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “la-la-la.”

Ron_C's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt “shelter their members from people who have different views” The nuns told us it was a sin to go to a wedding in a non-catholic church. It was a serious sin to participate in their prayers. That is part of the reason that when I got older I stopped believing anything the nuns taught.

GracieT's avatar

I just re-read my answer and realized that it didn’t actually answer the question! My apologies. I can’t see the internet as anything more than
a place to simply gather
information, and therefore don’t
see it as good or bad in itself.
It is rather what people do with
the information they gather.
The internet may be true or
false, the views expressed
may be positive or negative-
you need to do more than just
rely on one website. You still
need to investigate. The
internet is not a subsitute for thinking, it is simply a gathering place for information.

jerv's avatar

@GracieT “you need to do more than just rely on one website. You still need to investigate.”

If you have seen this recent question or similar around the web, and you know that there is often a link between strong religious belief and political views (political Conservatives tend to socially conservative as well) then you will note that those who thump the Bible the hardest/loudest are also the least likely to investigate, except to find sites that support their viewpoints. Of course, studies show that those that pound the Bible the hardest are also likely to know less about it than those of other faiths or no faith at all…

GracieT's avatar

@jerv, I do remember that question and, in fact, am following it. But my point is simply to caution against using blanket statements to characterize an entire group. I know that many (but not all!) evangelical Christians do espouse that belief. I am not that old but I was educated before the internet became so commonplace, so much a part of our daily lives. I am simply pointing out that not all Christians look at the net as a threat. Some of us, in fact look to it as a benign tool to spread infomation. I know that was not the intent of the origional question, I just wanted to point out that the net itself is a benign part of life in the west today, as is globalization. It is what people do with the information they have to deal with that is the point, not the information itself.

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