The internet as religious experience

_107859825_mediaitem107859822Source: BBC News


For most of recent human history, by which I mean the last few millennia, social organisation has been rooted in practical faith.

Religion, which departs from philosophy when it gives meaning to this life through reference to a transcendentally different realm, has been the method of settling disputes within local populations, if not between them.

Great cities of antiquity were built around sites of communal prayer, such as the church or mosque; market-places, such as the town square or bazaar; and schools, which were often the venue for religious teaching. These venues generated social capital, creating bonds of mutual trust and affection between people who, despite their differences, needed to rub along.

Today, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of God have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, religion is in the ascendant across the world, not least because the religious have more babies than atheists. While secular thinking thrives in science and the academies, it certainly hasn’t replaced faith in human affairs. But religiosity does have a new, powerful rival; one, moreover, that performs very similar functions, and makes irresistible claims on our attention. It’s called the internet.

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Categories: Internet, Religion

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