I was reading an article earlier today about Gay-Straight Alliances in the southern United States. One of the things one of the interviewees said caught my attention: "my generation is the first that grew up with the internet -- the ability to gain any piece of information from any source at any times. This gives us an advantage to see what the world thinks, not just what our parents or communities think." It seems evident that the internet, at least in part, is helping spread tolerance for LGBT individuals. I also wonder if a similar point can be made about religion.
It's no secret to most of you that I think most religions are ridiculous at best. The sheer struggle against any sort of change amazes me at times. So you might be surprised to learn that I was very religious up until college. I suppose the right word for it is indoctrination. For a long time I simply didn't know there was any other way to think about faith. It wasn't forced on me any more than my mother making me go to church, it just was. Luckily for my own sake the sheer ridiculousness of the bible mingled with the equally ridiculous concepts of heaven and hell didn't sit well with me and I abandoned my faith. (I can see the earth and the sun and see that these things give me life. I'll worship those.)
I'm often impressed by the sheer amount of knowledge that we have access to. What the hell did people do in the days before Google and Wikipedia? I can learn just about anything I want within seconds. With the advent of smart phones, I don't even need to be near a computer. Kids don't have to grow up like I did, ignorant of anything else. They don't have to believe the crap their parents or their preachers tell them because they can debunk it almost instantly. Little kids don't live in fear of their palms going hairy from masturbating or homosexuality causing a litany of diseases because they can ask the internet. They don't have to subject themselves to a literal interpretation of the bible, and so long as Christianity refuses to adapt itself with society's expanding knowledge, it will push more and more people away from organized religion. The number of people who don't consider themselves a part of any denomination is already high and it is growing.
Because of its stubbornness, religion relies on its followers possessing a certain lack of information. The internet is killing that faster than religion can even react, and without some sort of reaction, it will die.