‘Where was God in Aurora?’ comments show Internet as church for atheists

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The Internet has become the de facto global church for atheists, agnostics and other doubters of God, who of course don’t have bricks-and-mortar churches in which to congregate. 


We see this phenomenon in motion every day on the CNN Belief Blog, where atheists/agnostics/humanists are among the most zealous commenters.

Recent string of posts around the question of “Where was God in Aurora?” (such as this and this) drew especially large waves of comments that show atheists are using the Internet to commune with one another and to confront religious believers in ways that they don’t usually do in church.

Atheists and other secularists have offline organizations that stage in-person meetings – the Secular Student Alliance has seen its number of campus chapters quadruple in the last five years, to 368 – but the Internet has probably played a bigger role in the rise of the so-called New Atheism. The movement’s adherents evangelize their godlessness, just as many religious folks evangelize their God, often taking to the Belief Blog to do so.

“A lot of millennials who are coming of age have found that the Internet is a fantastic place to talk about their doubt,” says Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance. “Before the Internet, there was no place for young people to do that. The only place to go was really church, and that wasn’t always a welcoming place.

“But they can go online and discuss these ideas without being judged by friends and families,” Galef says.

For closeted atheists, the Internet’s anonymity is a big draw. A coalition of national atheist groups recently launched a program to transition doubting clergy to lives of open atheism by first having ministers come out anonymously in a closed online community.

Written By: Dan Gilgoff
continue to source article at religion.blogs.cnn.com

21 COMMENTS

  1. Quite an encouraging article, while reading it I wondered if it was possible that in my lifetime the whole religious edifice will collapse like a Jenga tower. Then I read some of the comments and realised that, no there is still plenty of stupid to go around.

  2. The deistic god simply concerned itself with a one-off singularity, and has no vested interest.
    The pantheistic god is both immanent and impotent.
    The god of Abraham was firmly ensconced in James Holmes’ consciousness. After all, a) one needs a powerful, nay godlike, internal motivator to abandon social conventions for the sake of mass murder, and b) that sort of thing is what the god of Abraham really loves.

  3. I cant help but feel like we’re witnessing something happening to social consciousness, here. Mabye I’m being nieve, but, I personally see more and more articles and real life discussions about these things turning the tide on what we humans, as a while really do believe. It’s fucking wonderful. But, mabye I’m just seeing what I wanna see. I dunno…

  4. Steve,

    Yer just a heathen that can’t see the bigger picture….as theologian and respected philosopher Professor William Lane Craig would assert. Every nasty thing has to happen for a reason….

  5. Yeah!

    That’s about us! We have been at this for years, and the truth keeps oozing out all the portals of ta’ Innnerwebs. We have made a world of kids who will not just shut up and believe what they are told, but instead, are asking for evidence. We have made places where clergy can go find honest work, and communities are sending child rapists (and those who cover for them) to jail. We will certainly see the most corrupt of the institutions collapse in our lifetimes./Yeah!

  6. I read them too. Wish I hadn’t; it is quite depressing.

    And I am aware that the comments that irk me most are along the lines of “if you are an atheist you can’t have any moral sense”. Those who respond with “well, I am an atheist and I do lead a moral life by any normal standards” often elicit the priceless “well then, you may think you’re an atheist, but you can’t be. Deep down you believe”.

    That is the symptom of a genuinely closed mind, surely?

  7. During the victim’s memorial, a news camera kept panning the sunset that by pure coincidence had clouds with crepuscular rays. I am fairly certain it was meant to silently convey a christian ambiance :/  

    Then I saw the photo of the “cloud angel”.  This could almost be a ‘Mr. Deity’ skit -
    Sir, people are asking why you didn’t prevent the Aurora killings.  Oh that, I was distracted; anyway, I DID send an angel to gather souls and comfort the people!

  8. There are lots of people who share common opinions on things who have no common place in which to share their opinions. But had they a place, it would not be a church. Church is a place of delusional worship, atheists don’t tend to worship nor are they typically delusional. Meeting hall would do. Nice effort; though, trying to  draw parallels with religion. Shame there are none.

  9. This type of rationalization only comes from a distant perspective. Or maybe Ignorant Amos could be someone to stand up over the bloody dead corpse of their child / wife / loved one, shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, that’s unfortunate but these things happen for a reason”.

    Give that big picture view a whirl when the life taken is someone in your life. It might feel a little different.

    Then again, the human brain needs to protect itself from injury. If such protection comes at the price of assigning explanation for daily events to a deity’s plan for you, no one else has the right to force you to think otherwise. Just let others handle things in a way that works for them and understand an all knowing deity isn’t part of their thought process. Why should anyone care about the beliefs of another? – As long as no one is forcing their beliefs on another. That’s over the line.

  10. @rdfrs-79b219b407614594e77ec5749957c363:disqus Where do you get the idea that anyone here wants to force anyone else to think a certain way? All we do is state our case in the best way that we can, it is up to individual readers whether to believe us or not. I like to think that we have the truth on our side. Only those without the truth tend to resort to force to make their point.

  11.  @rdfrs-79b219b407614594e77ec5749957c363:disqus
    If you look back over some of Ignorant Amos’ earlier posts, you will realise he is being tongue-in cheek sarcastic about William Lane Craig!

  12. Commenting on these religion articles and confronting believers is making some of them think, not most of them, but some are responding to being challenged.  The young are more inquisitive than pre-internet and that’s wonderful.  This was sent to me recently of a Bar Mitzvah of a 13 year old non-believer (or serious doubter) and I had to laugh as he stood there explaining how he thought all those OT stories were bunk to a room full of friends and relatives. 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  13. aah, the No True Scotsman rears his ugly head. 

    a. Atheists cannot have morals.
    b. I’m an atheist, and I have morals.
    a. Well then you’re not really a true atheist. 

    Strange frame of mind indeed. I wouldn’t entrust these people with anything if all that’s preventing them from turning to loonies is the belief of a magical father figure watching over their every move. That’s not morals, that’s psychotic!

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