Source: The Christian Post
By Morgan Lee
A Christian blogger has argued that a recent study showing an inverse correlation between Internet access and faith, might be due to prevalence and accessibility to pornography.
In a report released last Friday, computer scientist Allen Downey of Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts found with the numbers of non-religiously affiliated Americans jumping from 8 to 18 percent from 1990 to 2010, the prevalence of Internet use has also increased from essentially zero to nearly 80 percent.
Downey's study suggested that increases in Internet use accounted for about 20 percent of the observed decrease in affiliation.
In the 1980s, Internet use was essentially nil, but in 2010, 53 percent of the population spent two hours per week online and 25 percent surfed for more than seven hours, it says.
Downey posits that the correlation might be due to the Internet allowing individuals who grew up in one faith but are now interested in another religion to connect with people who share their current beliefs.
"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," says Downey. "Conversely, it is harder (but not impossible) to imagine plausible reasons why disaffiliation might cause increased Internet use … Internet use decreases the chance of religious affiliation."
Writing on his personal, non-work affiliated blog earlier this week, Joe Miller, who works for the Christian publishing company Nelson Books, arrived at a different conclusion.
"Downey's answer plays off the modernist prejudice that equates religion and ignorance. That's false on its face," he wrote. "But once we consider the Internet as a factor at all, there's a far more obvious answer than wider horizons: porn."
"Porn has been part of the Web from day one. And the stats for online consumption are staggering, even among Christians," he continued.
Miller argued that porn inhibits "prayer and beneficial contemplation."
"Given the Christian understanding of the spiritual life, we're not capable of simultaneously pursuing our lusts and sanctification. Such a pursuit causes internal dissonance, and the only resolution involves eventually conceding to the pull of one or the other," Miller wrote.
Miller also pointed to Nate Larkin's Samson and the Pirate Monks, where the author writes that he grew increasingly angry and then distant from God as he grew ever more immersed in porn.
"If the rise of the internet has anything to do with a loss of faith — and it's an interesting thought — the role of ideas is likely minimal. Arguments don't cool many hearts, but sin surely does," he added.
Orthodox Christian and writer Rod Dreher, who excerpted Miller's post onhis own blog, seconded Miller's conclusions.
"If you accept the modern world's view on sex, and abandon Christianity's teaching, you will soon abandon Christianity. People don't like to hear that, but it's true."
In 2012, Pew Research reported that one-fifth of U.S. adults and one third of adults under 30 are not religiously affiliated. The number spiked five percent from 2007 and includes atheists, agnostics and those who simply do not label themselves with any particular religious affiliation.
Project Know, which is currently running a campaign aimed at helping those addicted to pornography, states that according to WebMD, 420 million web pages contain pornographic material. The second-largest pornography site on the web "receives 100 million page views a day, and shows 4,000 videos a second during its peak hours. This one site receives an astounding 2 percent of the Internet's total traffic."