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The internet is a godless place, science has confirmed - in a sense.

People who use the internet more are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated, a new study has found.

The study, published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, was undertaken by researchers from Baylor University a private Christian university in the United States.

It examined data collected in the third wave of the Baylor Religion Survey, of 1,714 United States adults, asking respondents about their internet use and religious tendencies.

The findings showed that increased internet use was associated with a decreased likelihood of being religiously affiliated (following a specific religion) and religiously exclusive (of the belief there is only one correct religion). However, increased internet use was not associated with decreased religious activity participation.

On the other hand, increased TV viewing was associated with decreased participation, but not linked to a decreased likelihood of religious affiliation.

Study author Paul K. McClure of Baylor University told PsyPost:

One of my main findings in this study is that increases in internet use correlate with a loss of religious affiliation, and I also discovered that individuals who spend lots of time online are less likely to be religious exclusivists, or in other words they’re less likely to think there’s only one correct religion out there.

MIT's Technology Review talked to Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts in 2014 about this subject.

Using data from some 9,000 people in the General Social Survey, a widely respected sociological survey carried out by the University of Chicago since 1972, he concluded that the increase in internet use in the past two decades had caused a significant drop in religious affiliation.

The MIT Technology Reviewreported:

He finds that the biggest influence on religious affiliation is religious upbringing—people who are brought up in a religion are more likely to be affiliated to that religion later.

However, the number of people with a religious upbringing has dropped since 1990. It’s easy to imagine how this inevitably leads to a fall in the number who are religious later in life. In fact, Downey’s analysis shows that this is an important factor. However, it cannot account for all of the fall or anywhere near it. In fact, that data indicates that it only explains about 25 percent of the drop.

Downey told them:

For people living in homogeneous communities, the Internet provides opportunities to find information about people of other religions (and none), and to interact with them personally.

Conversely, it is harder (but not impossible) to imagine plausible reasons why disaffiliation might cause increased Internet use.

HT PsyPost

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