• The Early Days of Internet Atheism

    We’ve all heard that the internet is where religions go to die and it’s true. Recently, VJack over at Atheist Revolution published a great post about his struggle to find information on atheism before the internet. It got me thinking about my own struggles in the early days of they called “The World Wide Web.”

    While I became an atheist when I was 13 due in no small part to the Problem of Evil, I didn’t really become active in atheism until college. When I was 13, I started to tell people that I didn’t believe in God anymore and someone told me that I was an atheist. I hadn’t heard that term before, but I accepted it nonetheless.

    However, there were no open fundamentalist believers where I lived so I didn’t have the need to learn any religious counterarguments. When I started college, I met fundamentalists who fit all the worst stereotypes. The need arose and I was put in the position of having to defend modern science and reason, while at the same time refute ridiculous religious claims.

    The internet was pretty new then and there weren’t many atheist websites. The sites that were out there were just lists of various articles. They were difficult to navigate and I spent hours in the wee morning reading as much as I could find.

    Most of the time, I had to reinvent the wheel and think of how best to refute Christian arguments on my own only to find out later that philosophers and science educators have already had refuted these silly arguments long ago – sometimes even hundreds of years before Christianity even started. Fortunately, learning how to think critically gave me an advantage.

    One atheist website I stumbled upon was called, “WhyChristiansSuck.com.” The site doesn’t seem to exist anymore, but at the time it was one of the best resources for me even though I don’t agree with the title of the site. If it were my site, I would have probably called it, “WhyChristiantiySucks.com.” The difference is subtle, but important.

    Still, the site was very informative and I remember having great conversations with the site creator who only referred to himself or herself as, “N.” I never did find out who “N” was, but I know that he or she feared coming out of the atheist closet at the time. “N” allowed me to write a column on the site called, “Philosophy Corner.” It was actually my introduction to atheist blogging.

    What and when was the first atheist website that you found? Was it helpful?

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    Category: AtheismPersonal


    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

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    1. Thanks for the mention. I think I first started looking for atheist websites in 2003, give or take a year. The Raving Atheist was one of the first – if not the first – I found. Strangely, the author is now Christian. Daylight Atheism, Stupid Evil Bastard, Friendly Atheist, and God is for Suckers were other early ones. I only remember finding a handful that regularly addressed atheism, and this was part of what prompted me to start Atheist Revolution in 2005.

      It certainly is encouraging to see how much the atheist blogosphere has grown since then.

    2. Mine came with USENET, FIDONET and KESHERNET. All BBS webs that existed before the Internet. Some of that transferred over to the Internet; for example, The Panda’s Thumb originated out of a USENET forum.

      1. Yeah, I was going to mention USENET. There were several fairly active atheist/agnostic related newsgroups in the alt.* hierarchy that often cross posted to talk.origins. These places were where I encountered my first real intellectual atheists, whose logic busted away the last vestiges of an ill considered agnosticism that I was holding onto.

    3. Hmm, evilbible.com has a section from a website that went under called “The Church of theists suck.” Could that be the site you’re referring to?

    4. I just wanted to say thank you for posting this regarding “WhyChristiansSuck.com”. I was raised an atheist (more or less – my parents didn’t impose their beliefs on me, taking a “what do you believe?” approach, but I suppose it’s no coincidence I adopted them) and as a teenager I became increasingly fixated on strengthening my convictions after finding myself butting heads with several fundamentalist Christians I met at my large high school. Being the mid 90’s it was the dawn of the internet age and I easily (at least relatively easily, compared to before I imagine) found many resources to fuel my passion. One of the greatest websites I came across, and pretty much the only one I read after I discovered it, was “WhyChristiansSuck.com”. I have to admit, despite my adolescent self-righteousness, like you I also took issue with the name, but I appreciated the strident views of its contributors, the straightforward uninhibited writing, and the apparent limitless amount of information available. After a while my concentrations shifted to other matters but WCS had a huge influence on me. Just the other day, following a passionate discussion with a fellow atheist friend of mine, I thought back to my younger years and realized I hadn’t looked up the site in well over a decade. I’m so disappointed that it no longer exists but I was happy to see someone else remembers it and enjoyed it as I did.
      It’s really unfortunate there doesn’t appear to be an archive available on the web of all the great articles but I’m grateful that something inspired my teenage self to print the majority of them out! I have no idea where they are but somewhere in a box of files in my house is a 2+ inch thick folder I’m looking forward to rediscovering.

    5. I had one of the earliest atheist sites on the net way back in 1995 when I was an undergrad at Carroll University studying comparative religions and was discovering how horrific the scriptures really were. It became jokingly known as: “the church of theists suck”, which was really just a big collection of scriptural contradictions, errancies, etc. There’s a long story behind the site’s downfall, but I gave notice any reader should take what they want and do whatever they wish with it. Today, many of those old essays are still all over the net.

      The atheist community in some ways was pretty different than it is now, it expanded faster than it felt it would back then, which was great to watch, but many of the same problems that made the atheist community terrible then, still plague us today and in some ways have become phenomenally worse. Those issues are why I no longer belong to the atheist community despite having more knowledge on religion now than I ever did, in fact, I am not aware of any atheist advocate who went on to accrue more education in comparative religions than I have – but I don’t bother sharing the information anymore, the few years I spent in the community was more than enough to turn me off permanently.

      1. I was around in those days. What was the name of your site? Also, there are still areas of the atheist community that are pretty cool. I hope you will return to that part of the community.

    6. Oh, and just in case: Acharya S., Skeptics Annotated, baby Sagan, Cyprus, B. Walker, these were the people on the scene when it was still mainly news groups and AOL data banks. It was those original essays that birthed the framework for so many sites that came later. This was way before the days of the rational responders or folks like TJ, most of the famous atheists today were toddlers then.

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