Paper Idea: Religion and the Net

Most world religion statistics point out that more than 50% of the world claim belief in either Christianity or Islam.

World Religions

For over 2000 years, the interpretations of “Abrahamic religions” have greatly influenced historic events and cultures. The formation of the Council of Nicaea in the 4th century CE is an early example of debates in interpreting religious doctrine which influenced many future generations.

The historic interpretations of Abrahamic religions are so diverse that they have consistently been used as a reason for conflict or stereotyping. Groups of individual Abrahamic faiths are also recorded to have partaken in major conflicts against each other due to differing opinions and labeling. In early Muslim history, a conflict often cited as the First Fitna is one of the first examples of Muslim civil war. In European Christian history, the protestant reformation is a famous example of conflict undermining Papal power. Conflicts in interpretation continue today to the point that intolerance has been used as a basis for hatred. Today some people even associate the current conflict in Iraq as more of a religious war than a politically motivated one.

With the emergence of the internet, millions of religious websites have appeared online. As a result, has the internet contributed to a progress of religious tolerance? Are people changing ideologies due to globally accessible online resources? Using the models we’ve discussed pertaining to the progression of film theory and HCI, what are some of traits of effective technological tools in increasing collaborative research for religious scholarship?


  1. Tyler Pace

    You may want to check out some of the literature regarding race and sexuality on the net for inspiration and guidance. In my passing readings of some related literature it seems race and sexuality on the net have received more of a prominent, critical focus than religion. You may be able to borrow heavily from those related domains.

  2. laurabrunetti

    I’d love to see where this paper goes. What concrete examples have you thought about? Sites dedicated specifically to religion and /or the influence of “globally accessible online resources” (wikipedia?) that are not necessarily affiliated with a specific religion or religion at all?

    I noticed that “Abrahamic religions” at the beginning changes to just “religion” at the end. Will you be focusing on that group (Abrahamic) specifically, or more likely one of the big three, or even a subset of one of the three? 🙂 Otherwise, how will you define “religion” as such? If it is just a doctrine of how one lives one’s life, then even an untraditional belief system (not one of the Abrahamic or Eastern religions) could be argued to be a “religion.”

  3. yenning

    I like the topic. That remind me of a film which used the idea of creating a website for specific religion. For example, you can have a slip engraved with signs for divination online, rather than go to a temple to have one. I just wonder if you want to choose some websites or forums about religion to pursue this topic.

  4. jeffreybardzell

    I love this topic as a problem space. It could tell us a lot about the use of technology in an area that is intensely personal and meaningful, and not directed towards the workplace. So I’d love to see you do something in this area.

    My concern is that as articulated, this would be hard to do as a capstone, let alone a paper project. Can you narrow it down, in some way, so that your focus is much more manageable for this paper? The way I look at it is that if you can write a nice, tightly focused paper on this topic now, then you can move forward with that in future work even more robustly.


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