Christian minister and apologist Josh McDowell recently spoke at the International Christian Retail Show, where he told attendees that the Internet is the greatest threat to Christianity.
"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."He goes on to cite many statistics showing just how influential the Internet has become. According to McDowell:
- The number of evangelical Christians who don't believe in absolute truth has jumped from 51 percent to 62 percent in 1994, then to 78 percent in 1999 and it now hovers at around 91 percent.
- Back in the good old (pre-Internet) days, if an agnostic or atheist wrote a book nobody would read it. But now the Internet has given atheist authors (that would be me...) access to these kids' minds.
- Ninety percent of sixteen-year-olds have viewed pornography. Among fifteen- to seventeen-year-olds, 59 percent of girls and 69 percent of boys say pornography is acceptable.
Religion's "memeplex" (the collection of ideas that make up each religion) has evolved to take advantage of our biological programming. All successful religions emphasize the indoctrination of children. Any religion that didn't is now extinct, replaced by a more successful religion that did emphasize the indoctrination of children.
(Shameless self promotion: I wrote a whole chapter on this topic in The Religion Virus and several articles in Is Christianity Dying?.)
So Mr. McDowell and I are one hundred percent in agreement about the Internet's effect on Christianity and on religion in general. The information age has broken the monopoly that parents and churches had on children's knowledge.
When I was a kid, we had zero access to atheist literature or ideas. We couldn't learn about pedophile priests, our gay friends were all in the closet, and literature about sex and sexuality was virtually nonexistent. Even competing branches of Christianity weren't accessible. Today it's just the opposite: kids can learn anything they want (sometimes too much), and parents are virtually powerless to stop it.
Education is the enemy of religion, and today's children are being educated by a much wider set of teachers. It's just another factor contributing to the impending death of Christianity.