In a world where fancy hats and holy robes mean absolutely nothing and where arguments must stand by themselves, Christians are not feeling quite at home. Some Christians are admitting that the internet is a great threat to Christianity.
Christian apologist Josh McDowell put it succinctly:
…the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism. And, folks, that’s exactly what has happened. It’s like this. How do you really know, there is so much out there… This abundance [of information] has led to skepticism. And then the Internet has leveled the playing field [giving equal access to skeptics].
… The Internet is weakening Christian witness and “we better wake up to it because it’s just beginning.”
Nothing is more damning to religion than the greatest library of information ever assembled in the world. With just a few clicks, people everywhere can look up everything, from common logical fallacies that Christians use to the latest news on evolutionary science. A database of knowledge on such a gigantic global scale, built on top of a a free marketplace of ideas, is exactly the kind of environment where religion does not flourish.
While Christianity enjoys a robust online presence, the edge still seems to belong to its unbelievers. ChristianForums.com, online since 1998, boasts a quarter-million members. But with an Alexa ranking of almost 12,000 in the U.S. and only 68,000 unique page views per month, it lags behind the most popular forums for the irreligious. The web’s largest atheist forum is a subcommunity of the social media site Reddit, launched in 2005. Its Alexa traffic ranking puts it in the top 50 sites in the United States with 2 million unique visitors per month, many of those to its “Atheist” subcommunity of 154,000.
The secular community indeed has a huge presence online. And it’s a testament to our success that we’ve made it this far. The evidence and arguments have always been on our side, and by all means, we are winning the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world whose minds had previously been enslaved by religious nonsense.
We should be proud of our position on the internet, but at the same time, we should humble ourselves about reality on the ground. Over 10% of public high schoolers are still taught creationism. In poor communities especially, graduation rates are low, religiosity and crime rates are high. Access to quality education is lacking.
That’s why atheists and secularists should make education reform our number one issue, possibly higher than church-state issues. It is the ultimate civil rights issue, and it’s an issue that is going to affect millions of youth for the rest of their lives. We already know that improvements to education is correlated with rates of atheism, which is natural, but that’s not why it should be our issue. It’s our issue because we stand for things greater than statistics; we want to open people’s minds and have them come to their own conclusions.
Supporting the internet and fighting for children’s opportunity to learn more about this world. Inspiring generations of people with science, history, literature, and world cultures. This is the issue of our time.