A research study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion authored by Paul K. McClure of Baylor University, and quoted in the psychology and neuroscience news website “PsyPost” appears to answer that question: Yes (or at least a qualified Yes)!
Quoting from the PsyPost article:
McClure found that the more that individuals use the Internet, the less likely the chance of them remaining “religiously affiliated and religiously exclusive.” Increased internet use, however, was not found to be responsible for decreased participation in religious activities. McClure states that:
“One of my main findings in this study is that increases in internet use correlate with a loss of religious affiliation, and I also discovered that individuals who spend lots of time online are less likely to be religious exclusivists, or in other words they’re less likely to think there’s only one correct religion out there.”
I will not attempt to debate the results of the Baylor University study but I think the stated “conclusion” Mr. McClure has drawn from this study may be a little one-sided.
“To make sense of these findings, I argue that internet use encourages a certain ‘tinkering’ posture which makes individuals feel that they’re no longer beholden to institutions or religious dogma.”
Rather than looking at the study findings in a negative light, which McClure appears to do, I will argue that religious dogma, which relies on blind faith and strict obedience to a religion’s interpretation of ancient, translated text, has met it’s match in the diversity and constant flow of new information provided by the Internet. The Internet has, indeed, set individuals free from the belief that they are beholden to an organized religion or a set of religious dogma.