Is Christian evangelism to blame for the popularity of internet porn?

So I’ve just gotten back into the habit of blogging when someone sent me a link from another Patheos blog on the evangelical Christian channel. I was sort of in shock and awe at the post. I seriously bellowed in laughter at reading the headline and then began to actually read the argument he made for internet pornography being responsible for “the nones”. Here was the title of his blog post. Go read it for a laugh and then come back here while I rebut it.

Is internet porn to blame for the rise of the nones?

The first point to refute is the fact that Joel Miller is attempting to make a correlation equals causation argument without any actual verifiable data backing up his claims. Even were he to have the correct data his assertion that internet porn is the cause of the rise of “the nones” – the demographic of people who have no interest in organized faith, but do not consider themselves atheists – would still be a stretch of the imagination.

And it starts

Miller tries to spin the facts that the rise of the irreligious is coming because of the popularity of internet porn. He is basing this on a study conducted by Allen Downey, of the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts. I have linked to the article citing the study but for the ease of readability I will quote the relevant parts of it here as well.

The review of this study states

Back in 1990, about 8 percent of the U.S. population had no religious preference. By 2010, this percentage had more than doubled to 18 percent. That’s a difference of about 25 million people, all of whom have somehow lost their religion.

For most of us in the atheist and secular community that comes as no surprise as it is something we have been paying attention to for quite a few years. The author of the study had this to say about it

For people living in homogeneous communities, the Internet provides opportunities to find information about people of other religions (and none), and to interact with them personally. Conversely, it is harder (but not impossible) to imagine plausible reasons why disaffiliation might cause increased Internet use.

—————————————-

Internet use decreases the chance of religious affiliation

This study was done using some specific controls: income, education, socioeconomic status, rural or urban environments. Those are the big mitigating control factors cited and others included the amount of time on the web, etc.

The basic conclusion of the study is that the more an individual uses the internet the less likely they will be to stay religious. Now, this is also a correlation equals causality argument so it holds little weight as a factual model for cause. However, the correlation IS true. The causation is more than likely the ease of access to readily available information in regards to historical and religious data that was withheld or unavailable to the masses of previous generations. That is an assertion, though. A grand hypothesis, perhaps, and one that I believe will ultimately be proven true.

  • It is a fact we have more information available today for the common man than we have at any time in previous history.
  • It is a fact that people are losing their religious affiliation at an alarmingly high rate compared to any other time in history.
  • It is a fact that people who use the internet more are leaving their religion.

All of those are facts. They are correlations. They aren’t necessarily tied together in some intricate web, but if they are it would be hard to disprove. If it is disproven then clearly the causation is unknown even if a correlation exists. Therein lies the problem!

The claim

Joel Miller claims since there is more internet use, that means there is more use of pornography – thus people are leaving the faith because pornography clouds the brain. At least that is how I’m to understand what he is attempting to say. If not I hope he can clarify in a comment and I will amend this blog post and my rebuttal as well. Until such a time…

I don’t see pornography is a mitigating factor in anyone leaving a religion in any way whatsoever. If it happens, it is perhaps a minor incident. Although that statement is also wild conjecture. Here is my hypothesis which I’m hoping that the author of this study would like to include a future update as well:

Hypothesis 1

People have access to more information, knowledge, and understanding about history, science, and the universe at large. With this influx of knowledge they are dumping their archaic bronze-age fantasies they once held to heart. I know that is how it happened for myself and just about every other former “fundamentalist-turned-atheist” I’ve met. We all assumed the knowledge of the Bible was sacrosanct and then when we had that illusion shattered before our very souls we….well stopped believing in souls. Some might not go so far and still believe in some type of supernatural ‘what-have-you’, but you get the drift.

This is a very viable hypothesis as can be seen throughout the course of history. The more knowledge that individuals have possessed over time the more they have converted religion to fit with their personalities. There have been many splits with the church and the church has been the one to alter and change to the facts of the universe, not the inverse. The Protestant Reformation broke Christianity into three major factions: Lutherans, Calvinists, and Catholics. There is much more to it than my simplified explanation as there were attempts at reformation before and other small players, none of great significance, at least, but that was the first major evolution of Christianity. The knowledge that had been protected for the elite priests was suddenly being made available to the laypeople and they were making “heretical” conversions away from Catholicism.

And then there were more divisions and more subdivisions; to the point where we, today, have over 40,000 denominations in the Christian religion. All because knowledge was made possible. However, this was only Biblical knowledge – knowledge based on the concept that Christianity was real and there is no other alternative.

That is why you see the move today for people leaving religion – not porn – but empirical evidence disproving many of the allegorical (and many times unverifiable anecdotal) stories contained within, not only the Bible, but, every religious text in existence. This knowledge has massed exponentionally since the discovery of natural selection, and the subsequent unlocking of the story of time. It’s only been a century-and-a-half. Imagine what we could accomplish within 2,000 years!

Hypothesis 2

The rise of “non-religion” is responsible for the rise of porn consumption. People no longer feel guilty about being forced to adhere to ancient moral codes that hold no bearing on healthy human sexuality. They are now free to explore their own sexuality and desires without the feelings of guilt towards doing what is only natural. We are the only species on the planet that practices abstinence. That actually, by definition, would be unnatural. The rest of nature doesn’t do it. Is it any wonder why sexual abuse is very rampant among the religious? I contend that in addition to the rise of porn consumption, once adjusted to a saturation point, it will decrease sexual abuse – at the very least from the lazy sexual predators. That could be one’s hope, anyways, with the shift towards a higher consumption of pornography – if anyone has insight on that please share. I’m not an expert on that last point.

Hypothesis 3

Christian evangelists are responsible for the rise of porn consumption. This is old news but it’s a verifiable fact that states with demographics reflecting the most religious conservatism in their populace are the highest consumers of pornography on a regular basis. I linked to the PDF of the actual study itself. So if anything, basing this argument on statistics and facts, it would appear that the more religious you are, the more you consume pornography. The inverse of hypothesis 2 could be applied here: people feel guilty about their sexual desires and need a release mechanism so they turn to porn because they have an unhealthy attitude and lifestyle towards an entirely natural healthy sexual desire. In order to ‘quench’ said desire they consume the most easily accessible form of sexual gratification they can ‘get their hands on’ (pun intended) – internet pornography. Then, after said interlude, these individuals – filled with an overreaching sense of guilt and shame – run back to whatever their flavor of prayer and repentance they seek until the next completely natural dose of desire courses through their veins again. Wash, rinse, repeat…

Hypothesis 4

All three previous hypotheses are correct.

 

About Paul Loebe
  • Leiningen’s Ants

    Not trying to be
    all tautological,
    but porn’s the reason
    that porn is popular!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X

%d bloggers like this: