Soul-Searching in Cyberspace: Christianity and New Age on the internet
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In the last few decades the Internet has developed into an indispensable medium in the daily lives of most western people. Not surprisingly, also religious and spiritual groups use the Internet intensively to proclaim their beliefs and to get in contact with fellow believers. Yet, from the viewpoint of classical sociology, this is a very remarkable observation. According to secularisation theory, after all, the technological and religious realms are fundamentally incompatible, as the modernization and rationalization of western society will eventually lead to a ‘disenchantment of the western world’ (Max Weber). This means that as people increasingly come to rely on science and technology, religion will be marginalised and may even disappear. Despite the ongoing scientific and technological developments, however, religious and especially ‘spiritual’, esoteric beliefs are booming nowadays. The recently started Ph.D. research project of this article’s first author aims at scrutinising issues concerning spirituality, traditional religion and the Internet. Its central hypothesis will be set out in this article, focusing on the differences between Christianity and New Age spirituality in relation to cyberspace.