Why does religion hate social networks? Of Russians, archbishops, Amish farmers, Social networks and the creation of a global Identity

Today, we hear that facebook, SMS and social networking have been criticised by an archbishop in the UK

Last week, it was Amish farmers who saw the mark of the beast in RFID technology

Religion seems to want to reclaim an increasing role in everyday life ..

But let’s not forget one more very tragic story .. Praying man let his daughter die rather than seeking medical care

Why does religion hate social networks?

Here is my view ..

Religion lends a form of identity.

Identity is defined more by what you ‘cannot do’ rather than what you ‘can do’ ..

So, religion is based on restrictions (don’t eat this, restrictions on sexuality, on women’s rights etc etc)

Much of which over the years has been built sometimes by force ..

Now, social networking (web and mobile) creates more relationships – and thus more things / ideas you CAN do.. These relationships bring more ideas, more contacts – often which contradict the existing ideas. The web created these ideas and mobile will accelerate them globally to the smallest farmers in Asia and Africa.

This will create a new GLOBAL identity .. Which is a threat to the existing identities which many of us take for granted today(including religion)

Let me come back to the father who let his child die because he prayed for her .. and everyone will be sorry for both the father(who is well meaning within his frame of reference) and also the daughter ..

This tragic(but well meaning) mindset can arise more in a ‘closed ecosystem’ i.e. your ideas and thoughts have to be similar to those around you (and hence not challenged). So, social networking is GOOD for humanity since it creates rational people with a GLOBAL identity and is more likely to bring ideas which contradict your own …

I am not saying that religion does not do good .. Clearly it does .. But I can also see why religion would want us to restrict access to new ideas and contacts

The principle is generic .. Substitute ‘church’ by any institution(ex corporation) and the effects are still the same ..

The hope in a globally converged scenario is to borrow from that lovely song by Sting (Russians) which says : that the only hope in a nuclear war is to hope that the Russians love their children too ..

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy

There is no monopoly in common sense

On either side of the political fence

We share the same biology

Regardless of ideology

Believe me when I say to you

I hope the Russians love their children too

So, social networking is good I say although it seems to be sacrilege to some ..

And this is why Open devices and generative devices are important since they create new social relationships

and long may that continue ..


  1. Jon says:

    Interesting article, and while I can understand your reasoning as to why you think institutions would resist social networking, and agree that social networking/interbwebs do offer a threat to them as institutions, I think your characterization of religion vs social networks, based on the identity of “things you cannot do” vs. “thinks you can do” misses the mark.
    Unfortunately, to properly elucidate, it will take a brief history of western thought. This means starting with Greco-roman philosophy. I will try to summarize, and keep it very simple (and potentially oversimplify, but I think the thrust shouldn’t be lost).
    Western philosophical thought can be characterized or summarized by one question. This question is “Why?” This has been the primary, driving question of western philosophy from the beginning. What is implicit in this question is the assumption/belief/conviction that there is something greater than this great big world of ours, or even this universe. There is something transcendent. The “Why” question is an attempt to understand or find that. Of course, the “fun” is in arguing over it, seeking it. The result is that through the ages, there have been different answers to this question. This is where Christianity enters ing. Christians came along in the earliest years of our era, and believed that they found the answer in the Jewish Scriptures. God created everything. So, the Judeao-Christian answer is the Creator-God who revealed Himself in the Scriptures. This viewpoint prevailed until the Renaissance, during which Greek philosophy, via Aristotle through Thomas Aquinas re-asserted itself in the south of Europe, and later, during the Enlightenment up north as well.
    During this time (Da Vinci was fundamental in bringing about this change), a new question began to come to the fore, that eventually replaced the “Why” question. This question is “How?” How do things work. This question actually flows out of Aristotelean philosophy, and its focus on the individual–the particulars. This “How” question ignores the transcendent, the greater, the universal, and focuses on the parts to the exclusion of the whole. This burst into full fruition during the scientific era, which resulted in our modern era, which survived until the mid 20th century.
    It was sometime during this time that the “How” question began to fall out of fashion. One might ask why this happened, and the answer is simple. The “Why” question, by virtue of its being asked, seeks the reason. It is transcendent. The “How” question, merely explains the mechanics of the function, and ignores the transcendent–the purpose. By focusing on the “how”, one is led, naturally to the final question. You expressed it by focusing on the “can”. However, I prefer to express it by asking, “Why not?” The problem with this question is that it doesn’t really expect an answer. It _is_ the answer. It’s the only possible answer to the “How” question. If there _is_ no “Why” then “why not?” Not only is anything possible, _everything_ is possible, and anything and everything goes. We are, after all, nothing more than cogs in a machine. There is no purpose, no goal, no end, nobody to answer to, and nothing to answer for, so why not? The popular term for this “why not” philosophy is “postmodernism”.
    To bring “church” back into it, and bring it to your subject. Christianity, at least, firmly believes in the transcendent, and that God has given guidelines. These guidelines mean that there are “oughts” and “ought nots”. One with a “why not” philosophy, can only see the “ought nots”, and may not grasp the “oughts”, either.
    One could also describe this clash of world views in an entirely different way. The “why not” world view is outcome based. Whatever it takes to get what you want–that’s fine. Whereas a “why”-based world view is foundational. It is principle-based. There are rules to be obeyed. For instance, suppose sports were played with an outcome-based philosophy. That would be called “cheating”–throwing the game. It would create chaos–Calvin Ball, if you will, or complete farces of games. Imagine if the Super Bowl were already pre-determined that the Steelers should win yet again. That’s outcome-based living. Principle-based means that there are rules that govern play, and if you play within those rules (which are set to create balance, and fair play), you have at least an honest chance to win or lose, based solely on your abilities.
    I hope my explanation shows that, while you were, in some essence, correct, your characterization wasn’t the most accurate.
    This also leads to why I would have to disagree with your conclusion, that social networking will create a new ‘global identity’. Technology doesn’t really change things. it just expands on our ability to be ourselves. In other words, all it will do is expand man’s potential to continue and propagate his prejudices and (to be blunt) evil side. You have to realize that Christian philosophy had/has as a goal, by the use of the ought-nots and oughts, to minimize the influence of man’s evil side, while maximizing the positive. On the other hand, the “why not” question, tends, in practice, to maximize the evil side by totally removing the boundaries that provided a safe, fair playing field (remember La Sade, from whom we get the word “sadism”).
    In any case, thanks for the thoughtful, thought-provoking post. (and yes, I am active on some social networks) ;-)