Many of the 6th graders at the the school where I teach now carry smart phones. Often times when I present them with information that they consider remarkable, or perhaps suspect, out comes the iPhone and they start tapping away just to see if what I’m saying can be trusted. Are there really 400 billion stars our galaxy and is the universe really 13.7 billion years old? Is the moon Ganymede really named after a little boy abducted by a lecherous God? That sort of thing.
I wonder if they do the same thing in their religion classes. I assume they do. Although many of them are deeply religious it’s clear that they are all exposed to atheist ideas. It’s been said that the person who has been exposed to only one faith is very likely to believe it, and a person who has been exposed to a hundred faiths is very likely to disbelieve them all. With access to the internet upper middle class American kids are exposed to just about everything and I wonder what effect that will have on their religious beliefs.
My gut feeling is that young people who feel outcast-or on the edges of society-will find solace and a sense of belonging on the more extreme and fundamentalist religious websites. However I feel that for most children the internet will free them from religious beliefs. I suspect that when today’s children grow to adulthood there will be fewer religious people but those who are left will be much more uncompromising in their views. What are your thoughts?