Garrett (garote) wrote,

A fracas in Alt.Atheism

An internet newsgroup is like a public message board, where anyone is free to reply to a message by posting another one below it. Alt.atheism is one of these internet newsgroups, among the oldest and most populated. As a teenager, I spent some time lurking in alt.atheism, sampling the ideas there. I waded through a thousand messages, but still only had just a sample. Hundreds more were posted every day in an endless hurricane of correspondence, usually around various self-proclaimed Christians who had wandered in to teach all these "heretics" a lesson. Most authors were barely articulate, others beautifully so. The overall effect was like holding a chess tournament locked inside a barnhouse with a thousand explosively flatulent animals. On fire.

I left the newsgroups and forgot about them for most of a decade. Then, out of curiosity, I came back in 2001 to see if alt.atheism had changed any. It had not. I added to the sound and fury for a while, posting the messages you see below, but soon gave up and left again.

This sequence of postings is probably the last time I got really involved in an online debate about "God". In this period, I came to the realization that the sound and fury of alt.atheism was masturbatory in nature, as were most of the endlessly contentious topics it covered. People just argued them to feel good and waste time. I admit to being just as cocky as everyone else while I posted there, and that I had a religious bone to pick. I was annoyed by what I saw as Christianity's desire to manipulate, frighten, and control me.

To put it bluntly, I don't give a crap about it any more. The ideological exploration I made is thorough enough, and in my personal life it has hardly been challenged - instead, the Christians I have met have politely kept their beliefs to themselves, and I have had no reason to defend myself as in the messages below. When the topic of "God" or a spirit world has come up, debate has been friendly and respectful. Perhaps if I got into more trouble -- moved to a chateau in Mississippi and started handing out manifestos for example -- these ideas would come in handy. But I have no desire to proselytize, beyond placing what I wrote online as a reference and a resource for others.

You may find some of these dialogues interesting. Perhaps they cover ideas that you're surprised people are still arguing about. Feel free to cite them in your high-school essays.

"A Fracas in Alt.Atheism"

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