Religion and the Internet: a post conference view

Those of us who took part in the Faith 2.0 Religion and the Internet Conference at the RSA yesterday will each of us have carried away different memories of the event. I’m sure that (nearly?) everyone found it immensely worthwhile. It was great to be able to share what was happening in the auditorium with people around the world via the excellent livestream, and the organizers (Durham University and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation) are to be congratulated on their meticulous planning and attention to detail to ensure that everyone was looked after with real kindness.

There was, I think, a tremendous affirmation of the importance of real, face-to-face encounter alongside online or virtual meetings. As I travelled back, I could not help thinking that the internet has unleashed a power we haven’t yet truly understood. Like printing, it enables us to communicate more quickly and cheaply than ever before. Like nuclear fission, it can generate both heat and light. It is an energy, a force, and we are privileged to be shapers of what it will become and how it will be used. Perhaps we need another conference, not about how the internet can serve religion, but how religion can serve the internet to ensure that its power is used for good and peaceful purposes.

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