Using the Internet may destroy your faith – this is the conclusion of a study showing that a rapid decline in the number of religious people in the U.S.A. since 1990 is correlated to the ever growing number of people using the Internet.
Allen Downey, Professor of Computer Science at the Franklin W. Olin College, provided an answer to this question. He analyzed data collected through a general social questionnaire which was observing religious attitudes in the U.S.A. since 1972. He concluded that there were several factors that contributed to the fact that there is a decreasing number of Americans who consider themselves religious, the most controversial of which is the use of the Internet. The conclusion was that this was the precise reason why the number of people with religious affiliations had decreased over the last two decades.
The above paragraph is the beginning of an article published on a news portal, which I was heavily surprised with. Allen Downey writes about religion as if it was a shopping item, and the faithful were consumers with holes in their pockets. Faith is not a cold statistical number that can be analyzed through cold statistical questionnaires, but rather the sacred home to the soul, which liberates those who stray through the dark by means of divine light. Faith resides in every person who is a genuinely free individual, and there is no social questionnaire capable of peeking into the human soul. When Mr. Downey and others like him say that the Internet is to blame for the decreasing number of people who go to churches and other temples, he should take a closer look at the scriptures, because the Son of God teaches us that God is in every person that does good to others. A good person is the greatest temple of faith. I am asking this computer science professor whether faith’s holy mission isn’t the spreading of truth, humanity and justice. And the Internet is precisely the place that provides opportunity to many humanists and good-will people to spread those noble values that make us human in the first place. Without the Internet, there would be no Google, no Yahoo, no Gmail, LinkedIn, Amazon Kindle (an oasis to poets and writers), and a number of worldwide liberty-propagating portals. Allow me to prove the validity of my claim through a personal example. Thanks to the Internet, I have created my website containing a multitude of my articles, essays, poetry, as well as books published at e-shop, in which I write about compassion, justice, humanity, ideas towards the greater good, love, dreams, suffering and sorrows (lest we forget that a tear has the same taste and color on the faces of everyone, regardless of race, gender, or religion). These are works – essays, poetry, plays and novels – which embrace all those noble values that faith is feeding on. Of course, those works also discuss greed, insensitivity, vanity, cunning, corruption, nepotism, and all the diseases that are destroying the human soul and faith. Yes, these works might not be “bestsellers”, but they were written from the heart, for the hearts of all good-will people, and they would never stand a chance to get published in pro-regime media controlled by all kinds of dictators and political castes, or in “free” big media owned by magnates whom my works are unmasking.
I shall repeat my question to professor Downey: is the Internet killing faith in people if it provides the freedom to point out greed, corruption, slave trade, dictators, and other evils that dwell within mankind? Life teaches us that the Internet does not destroy faith! (Sadly, there always sick people who will misuse a noble thing like the Internet for their dishonorable and deviant issues, but the Internet is not to blame; rather, it’s weak-spirited people who are using it.) One has the right to ask whether the Internet isn’t a thorn in the side of those who want to kill faith within people and shackle them in dejection, primitivism and the darkness of ignorance. Why don’t they say it out loud, like pope Francis did, that it is greed that is destroying faith? Those who want to monopolize faith, as if it was a shopping item, should know that no one has the right to appropriate faith, because every person, as a free individual, has the freedom to choose, and this is the only way for faith to flourish within people. If I would claim that I am the greatest among the faithful, I would disavow Him, because I too am battling the two selves within, and no matter how mellifluously I stick to my faith, vanity often draws me away from it and into the darkness. By admitting this to myself, I am getting closer to faith.
Sadly, ethics is not as appreciated among people as it used to be, even if we know that it strengthens the human spirit, and a strong spirit is what makes us compassionate and side with those in need. The refusal to fight people trafficking is akin to quietly supporting prostitution! Lust is just as evil as greed! Those who cure their inner emptiness with futile lust are falling! “To love is to place our happiness in the happiness of another.” (Leibniz) We should know that list is an evil that doesn’t just destroy the soul, but also the sacred mission of true love and this is why the evil of prostitution is booming (and child prostitution is mankind’s ultimate defeat). Weak-spirited people (the clients), regardless of whether they are wealthy or poor, are just as much to blame as are those who traffic people. Why? Because if not for the clients, there would be no prostitution! Furthermore, not siding with those in need is selfishness! Shrugging your shoulders in dejection and turning away from those who protest against disempowerment is akin to betraying your dignity and your faith! Life teaches us that faith is a merciful light, filling people with the hope for a better tomorrow, and those who spread dejection fall, as they claim that all institutions (banks, corporations, politicians) are in the hands of greedy people, and that there is no hope for a better tomorrow. There is hope! Silence is a betrayal of one’s freedom! Silence is not golden; it is rust eating away at the truth! There are good and bad people among the poor and the wealthy alike. There are ethical banks that aren’t slaves to greed, as there are commercial banks who are slaves to greed, laundering hundreds of billions of dirty money owned by drug cartels, dictators and political castes (like the political caste in Croatia). There are ethical banks that diligently generate money for the greater good, while commercial banks, which obsessively gamble on Wall Street with their clients’ money, lose the purpose for which they were founded by banking visionaries. There are creative businessmen whose magnificent visions create value for the greater good, and their humane faces are visible to the public through their humanitarian donations. There are political visionaries who do not serve greed, but fight for a better future, creating humane laws that will provide people with opportunities to make their dreams come true. Yes, I still believe that there are still many more dreamers who dream of a better future for everyone on the road of dreams, than there are those who dream of ruling the world. Each person, as a free individual, has a responsibility towards their own lives to base their acts on conscience. From the beginning of their lives, each person is fighting the two selves within. Good and evil are following us more closely than our own shadows. A strong spirit is man’s best ally in the thick forest of temptation. Those who think that by having money and threading across corpses can buy them happiness and faith, are fooling themselves. Isn’t that what the Son of God is teaching us?
Let us return to the distant past. When Christ was walking the streets of Jerusalem wistfully (he knew that Judas would betray him) before Passover, north of the temple, close to the Bethesda pool where he earlier he cured an invalid of 38 years, he stopped next to a broadly smiling old man who was asking a wealthy Pharisee for some food. Instead of food, the Pharisee offered curses, and when Christ asked him in a brotherly voice why he offended an old man who attempted to make him a better person, the Pharisee looked at Christ and arrogantly said that he was genuinely faithful, and a protector of faith, unlike the old man, because he left a fistful of golden coins and lots of food at the temple each week. The Son of God calmly said: “Although you are dressed in silk, and the beggar is dressed in rags, I see more poverty in your eyes than in his. You are a miserable man! I didn’t come here to cure the beggar, but you. His pockets are empty, but his spirit is full. And then, your pockets are full, but your spirit is empty.” And he calmly looked into the Pharisee’s eyes. The Pharisee stood there motionlessly, and then it seemed as if he awoke from a deep dream. He took all the money he had and distributed it among the poor. When he was done with that, he looked at the sky and said: “Thank You, Lord!… I never felt as blessed and fulfilled! Yes, now I know how far away I was from faith!” He admitted, looking at Jesus with a gaze worthy of the Son of God. This short story teaches us real Biblical values, i.e. that money and titles never entitle anyone to misappropriate faith. Yes, the Creator teaches us that we help someone to their feet, we raise ourselves too. And he also teaches us to open ourselves, as His gate shall open for us too! Pope Francis is opening the Lord’s gates by giving to the poor, and I humbly pray that the owners of corporations, banks, and the Bank of Vatican itself shall do the same. I humbly pray that those who blame the destruction of faith on the Internet shall open their doors and give their surpluses to the poor.
Without the Internet, the world would be governed by the monopoly of media magnates, who would create their own “truth”! How much money, gold and diamonds do you think oligarchs, dictators, bankers and political castes would give to shut down the Internet?
Don’t these “guardians of faith” know and feel that faith is not a corporation whose shares keep rising and falling according to secular laws, but a merciful light. The more freedom, dignity, hope, kindness, compassion, humility, tolerance and love there is in a person, the bigger the flame of faith is.