Do Advancements in Technology Lead to Atheism?
Technology vs. Religion
Our Beliefs vs. Tech Industry
Does technology really influence how we feel about religion? Does it promote atheism?
That's a very tricky question, but there are many ways to go about this.
For some there's the idea that the more society advances, the more likely religions will suffer. For others they either don't see the tech industry as a threat or they fight against it.
As far as the subject is concerned, atheism and agnosticism has been growing over the past several years and the power of the church, temple, or other religious staple has been declining.
But whose to blame?
How much power does technology have over our beliefs, and are there other forces that have influenced the rise of atheism.
Technology vs. Socialization
Social Media's Influence on Religion
Technology has worked with us to produce communicative outlets like Facebook or Twitter, but should social media dictate recent trends of atheism or should it be the tech that created social media platforms?
Partly responsible for the rise of nonbelievers is the ability to look at a huge chunk of the population through social brands. It gives us a broader perspective of the world and what they're thinking.
That perspective helps us form new and different opinions than those we've been raised with, and this is particularly true of millennials and the generation Z populous. It's those groups that are challenging religion the most.
They grew up during the digital age and have either been born or aged into social media, but things were already changing well before Facebook and Myspace began.
The amount of people who believed in deities started declining when the world wide web emerged. Since then we've seen a steady global decline in religious beliefs.
However having a broader perspective can't be the reason why people abandon religion, so what other factors tell them to stop believing?
- 10 facts about atheists | Pew Research Center
Here’s what we know about self-described atheists and their beliefs.
Science Fiction Becomes Nonfiction
Science Fiction to Reality
Today we are seeing and hearing about advancements that were viewed as science fiction as early as 50 years ago.
The idea of a smartphone, voice control, or autonomous vehicles wasn't something people believed was going to happen, but rather concepts that were futuristic.
Even events like the moon landing was something no one 100 years ago would think were possible, but that's where we're headed. It's very likely that the first humans on Mars could be our generation's moon landing.
But what does this have to do with atheism and religion?
Well if we're able to manipulate our environment and create things that were only viewed as fiction, then in a way, it's like we're playing god. This is true in the health industry when we're able to cure once incurable diseases and use science/medicine to increase our life spans.
The more we're able to control the natural order, the more our religious views become jaded. How can our beliefs be justified if one day we can prevent death and aging from happening.
That would completely go against what most religions preach.
Information vs. Religion
Does Information Decrease Religion?
As we learn more about everything, do our beliefs suffer as a result?
In the Google age, the answer is just a few taps or voice commands away. We no longer have to rely on individuals for information and our ideas broaden.
Social media may give us insights into people's thoughts and ideas, but true understanding comes from our own experiences. I've discovered that learning about the world and how it progresses has shaped my religious outlook.
It may not have seemed that way at first but the older I got, the more I realized my mind has altered and not merely due to aging/maturity. The generations before me had also matured but they never loosened their beliefs, so what makes me a special snowflake.
I use technology to get answers just like millions of my peers, and it would appear that those most informed are the ones that divert from the pathways they grew up with.
Learning about the world, technology, and the future has changed what was once a standard method of religious thinking. It's what's causing the shift we're seeing right now.
Is Technology a Bad Thing?
If Technology Causes Atheism, Is it Bad?
Should we hate technology because it's partially responsible for the rise in atheism?
Why would you hate something that saves thousands of innocent lives daily and keeps people safe/informed. Why would you hate something that gives you joy, entertainment, and familial communication.
If elder generations who are most religious hated what technology has done, then why would they watch TV, use Facebook, or get pacemakers. They can't deny its use, and they can't say they hate technology unless they're Amish (maybe).
On the other hand, they do complain about aspects of the industry that has removed people from religion, but wouldn't that be hypocritical? Of course it would but humans are built to be that way, yet there's another question to be asked.
Why is atheism such a bad thing?
Maybe it isn't as bad as our ancestors thought it was.
Atheism vs. Tolerance
Are Atheists More Tolerant?
According to several studies, atheists and agnostics are more tolerant of homosexuality compared to most religions.
That shouldn't be surprising given a lot of religions do not favor same sex relationships or marriages, and in fact, they punish those who practice them. That's the case in many parts of the world today.
Being tolerant is important given where our society is heading, but we also have to be generous towards others. A few studies showed that atheists and children of atheists are more likely to be generous towards other people.
I realize these studies don't determine everything, but there seems to be a trend where atheism doesn't appear to be as bad as some think.
Given that logic, if tech does lead to an increase in atheism, then is technology making the world an acceptable place?
Possibly but how will it affect our future in the decades ahead, and what will become of religion if this is true.
The Future of Religion
The Future of Atheism
Atheism is projected to grow in the decades ahead but so is religion.
The world may eventually be split into a few major religions as minor organized groups get phased out. In particular, Christians and Muslims are likely to be the top two dominant religions by 2050.
However I think a lot of these projections are underestimating the impacts of the tech industry and scientific advancements.
Personally I think if scientific advancements continue to accelerate, then we may one day see a collapse of "organized" religion. It may take decades or a century for this to happen but unless tech innovation stops or declines sharply, then it's going to happen.
This doesn't mean that faith and morality will be eradicated, but we're going to see very secular forms of that ideal.
It may appear scary to many but it doesn't have to be a terrible thing. The true pinnacle of human achievement is when we can combine tolerance, faith, and technology to create a better society.
I think that's what technology is trying to do. It wants to bring us closer together and widen our viewpoint so that we become more tolerant of everyone's beliefs including atheists/agnostics.
The world is after all a small place, so why not embrace it rather than forego it.