In April, CNN posted an introspective piece on its Belief Blog entitled, “Is the Internet killing religion?”
It got the wheels in my mind to turning, and I think it begs an overall greater question, one that isn’t so harsh.
How is technology as a whole affecting religion?
It’s a question that lacks a concrete answer, but indeed needs answering. And the writer of the CNN blog post points to recent studies that correlate the lack of religious affiliation among Americans to the increased use of the Internet over the past two decades.
Those that are religiously unaffiliated are referred to as “nones.” One of the points made is that the Internet simply offers an avenue to new ways of viewing the world, in addition to providing a vehicle for nones to connect with others that might share the same views. Essentially, one can not only have a specific view on religion in the new age, but find millions who share in that view or want to help carry on the view, in the click of a button.
Another point implied in the post is that similar to the creation of the Internet itself, the Internet serves as such a massive and powerful tool that it allows people to create, learn about, and research other incredibly powerful tools, that in turn put more faith in humanity than in God. In short, Internet users are learning of man’s “creations” at an accelerated rate, and it is shifting the focus from the power of God to the ability of humankind.
So what’s to take from this?
Even for those who aren’t heavy Internet users, how do we see technology and religion intertwined on a daily basis? The greatest platform for the two to cross paths, at least in recent years, is social media.
Without fail, every time I take to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I see a post related to God. But what is most interesting, and perplexing, about these social media posts is that their content often seeks to thank or communicate with God. I would debate that more people take to social media to thank God for the day than they take to prayer, and that begs another question: Since when did social media become the most reliable avenue in which to speak to the Lord?
The reliance on technology as a pathway to God, specifically with the younger generation, is not bad, but it certainly is different, and we can refer back to the Internet for examples.
How many kids have a physical Bible as opposed to a Bible app on their phones? How many children would draw a depiction of God as opposed to looking up one on their computers? How many people read the story of Noah as opposed to going to see Noah in theaters? Don’t be fooled, movies and television are two of the greatest forms of technology.
So now that we see how technology has affected religion, we must make it up in our own minds whether this change in the way people worship or relate to God is negative or positive. And I think the most accurate conclusion is, it’s not that you use the Internet to connect with religion, it’s how you use the Internet to connect with religion.
Using the Internet to distance yourself from the Lord, to become one of the nones, obviously creates a negative connection between the web and God. But if you are using the web to study up on God, read the Bible, and connect with others that are searching for and researching God’s word, there is no better source, outside of church and its services, to gain knowledge of the Lord.
Personally, I believe however you communicate with God, the important thing is that you are communicating with Him. On many of those Facebook or Instagram posts, the comments consist of others thanking God or expressing their love for the Lord, and that is always positive.
You can also think of the positives of having church services broadcast on television and the Internet. West Angeles has an amazing livestream of church services that lend a helping hand to those who might be sick come Sunday or are physically unable to make the trek to church. Maybe you’re out of town on business, but don’t want to miss Bishop’s message. Maybe you’re out of town visiting family and want to give your relatives a glimpse of the wisdom of our Bishop.
Technology will continue to develop. Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to project holograms of Bishop Blake in our living rooms in the next few years. But our Bishop has preached the word of God to us for decades, and that word will never change, no matter how we choose to receive it or spread it.
If you haven’t already, pay a visit to Westa.tv. In addition to a livestream of West Angeles services is an online Bible, our prayer wall, Sunday’s Best, and podcasts of past sermons.