This past April, Allen Downey, a professor of computer science at Olin College of Engineering, published his study on the relationship between Internet use and the decline in religious affiliation among Americans. His findings went viral. Downey concluded that the Internet is responsible for a growing number of Americans who do not associate themselves with a religion. Many news outlets reported on Downey conclusions, most without any criticism: a quick Google search of “The Internet and religion” results in nothing but paraphrases from this single study.
Earlier this year an argument surfaced about the internet and religion. Is the internet taking people away from religion? Last April, Kimberly Winston of Religion News Service published “Is the Internet Bad for Religion?” She reviewed an academic paper by Allen Downey, a professor of computer science, whose research showed that “the share of Americans claiming no religious affiliation grew from 8 percent to 18 percent while the number of Americans connected to the Internet rose from almost nothing to 80 percent.”