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Jul 19 2009

Oh noes, atheists are taking over teh internets!!11!one!!

I should probably just ignore Christian blogs that whine about Sotomayor’s racism and the homosexual agenda, but this struck me as both silly and intriguing. It’s a post titled “Bring Down the Atheists“:

“…why does it seem like the internet is being overrun by God-haters? Am I the only person who sees this? I like to get on various article sharing sites like Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc., and it seems like the stories that poorly reflect upon God are generally the highest rated on those networks. My article titled, “Hollywood’s Creation” was placed on Reddit by an atheist, and the person who posted it basically called me crazy. I got several hundred visitors in a few hours from Reddit, most of them atheists looking to see if I was as insane as advertised.

I could literally spend hours typing out the names of all the atheist forums and blogs that exist. And all of this had made begin to wonder; where are the Christians? This is especially puzzling when one considers that Christians make up nearly eighty percent of all Americans according to pewforum.org. Have Christians given up on the internet?”

Maybe between all the goatse and lolcats, they realized the internet is truly an abomination. Ahem, continuing on:

“If you can write, start a blog. If you can make Christian music, share it on a website. The nearly eighty percent of all Americans who are Christians need to let our voices be heard louder and clearer, and that’s the HardTruth.”

Ok, first things first. Does this guy seriously think Christians are somehow not having their voices heard? Really? He says it himself that Christians make up nearly 80% of the US population. Christianity has permeated our culture in every imaginable way: in our national motto, on our money, in our pledge, in public school graduation ceremonies, in laws and public policy, on our city hall and court room steps… attempting to infiltrate science classrooms, cluttering radio stations with gospel and christian rock channels, permeating our language and slang, filling up billboards down the highway, putting a church on every street corner, tacking little silver fish onto the back of a car, etc, etc, etc. If that’s not loud and clear enough, I think I’m going to be fucking deafened by the coming Christian Internet Revolution.

But I have to admit, he does raise an interesting point. Are atheists overrepresented on the internet? Being one of those technological atheists who follows Digg and reddit, reads numerous atheist blogs, and blogs about atheism, I’m not sure if I’m unbiased enough to comment. I’m obviously seeing a very atheist heavy side of the internet because I seek out those atheist-friendly communities. I’m sure there are a plethora of Christian sites out there, but I have no interest in going to them or interacting with their communities. But just as an extremely rough estimate, lets look at Google, shall we?

Christianity + Christian = 5,620,000,000
Atheism + Atheist = 18,620,000

They have us beaten by two orders of magnitude when it comes to search terms. And while atheists can be quite vociferous, I’m pretty sure all the hits for “Christianity” aren’t from whining heathens.

So have we infidels taken over the internet yet? Not quite. But I have to admit that Digg and reddit do intrigue me. If you’re not familiar with these news sharing sites (shaaaaaaaame), they are pretty atheist biased. Atheism and religion bashing articles are constantly making the front pages, getting many votes, and acquiring tons of comments. I’ve seen even the most liberal and kind of Christians get torn to shreds in comments, while atheistic comments get automatically upvoted. What gives? Why would news sharing sites foster atheist activity?

If I had to put forth a hypothesis, I’d guess that atheists thrive in the anonymity of the internet. So many people are afraid of coming out of the closet because of possible backlash, and even out atheists aren’t always vocal about their beliefs. We don’t get our fill of atheism in every day American culture (like Christians do in the above examples), many of us don’t have any local organizations, and I’m sure even some of us have no atheist friends. The internet is the perfect platform for finally getting stuff off of our chests and for meeting other people who share our beliefs. We can see atheist news that isn’t making it to mainstream newspapers, heathen comics that would never make the local funny page, religious criticism that you may be too afraid to speak of in real life for fear of physical harm… So I guess if this hypothesis is right, it really makes sense why atheists flock to Digg and reddit and blogs and forums. We’re part of a nation so dead set on labeling itself Christian, that instead we’ve become citizens of the internet.

And you know what? I’ll pick ASCII pedobear, mudkipz, and Leeeeeerrooooy Jeeeenkins over superstitious dogma any day.

43 comments

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  1. 1
    ClemsonPoker

    I think that's an accurate assessment. Another factor may be that atheists are, as a group, more curious and thus more likely to try to keep up with current events. The easiest way for someone to do that nowadays is through sites like reddit and Digg. It's also self perpetuating, at this point if I were a Christian who stumbled upon reddit, I'd probably exit rather quickly and not return.

  2. 2
    ClemsonPoker

    I think that’s an accurate assessment. Another factor may be that atheists are, as a group, more curious and thus more likely to try to keep up with current events. The easiest way for someone to do that nowadays is through sites like reddit and Digg. It’s also self perpetuating, at this point if I were a Christian who stumbled upon reddit, I’d probably exit rather quickly and not return.

  3. 3
    DividedYouFall

    Upvoted. Reddit probably played a large part in my deconversion as i was constantly confronted with logical atheist arguments which i couldn't answer, without which I would have been safe within the propaganda mill of the church. (probably)

  4. 4
    Wanderer

    Upvoted. Reddit probably played a large part in my deconversion as i was constantly confronted with logical atheist arguments which i couldn’t answer, without which I would have been safe within the propaganda mill of the church. (probably)

  5. 5
    Ellimist

    I, er, kinda… um… submitted this post to Digg:

    http://tinyurl.com/n2oe9h

    It was already on Reddit:

    http://tinyurl.com/movr6b

  6. 6
    Ellimist

    I, er, kinda… um… submitted this post to Digg:http://tinyurl.com/n2oe9hIt was already on Reddit:http://tinyurl.com/movr6b

  7. 7
    Pontymython

    A large part of the "80% of all americans who are christians" is people who simply write it on their census forms without thinking. Most aren't militant, closed-minded (and probably slightly crazy for the most part) religious folk, like yourself.

  8. 8
    Pontymython

    A large part of the “80% of all americans who are christians” is people who simply write it on their census forms without thinking. Most aren’t militant, closed-minded (and probably slightly crazy for the most part) religious folk, like yourself.

  9. 9
    Anonymous

    We all have to be anonymous because two-face christians will try to destroy us in a similar way the Scientologists try to destroy everyone who protests them.

    Christianity is a dieing religion because knowledge (the internet) killed it. Christianity will be replaced by the end of the Age of Pisces.

    Everyone is born an atheist, because we are NOT downloaded with religion at birth. Parents don't give their children a religious choice instead FORCE their beliefs upon their children and want the church to brainwash them.

    http://www.EvilBible.com

  10. 10
    Anonymous

    We all have to be anonymous because two-face christians will try to destroy us in a similar way the Scientologists try to destroy everyone who protests them.Christianity is a dieing religion because knowledge (the internet) killed it. Christianity will be replaced by the end of the Age of Pisces.Everyone is born an atheist, because we are NOT downloaded with religion at birth. Parents don’t give their children a religious choice instead FORCE their beliefs upon their children and want the church to brainwash them.http://www.EvilBible.com

  11. 11
    Anonymous

    @Pontymython – You are incorrect. No one is marking it off on their census forms in the US without thinking. It is illegal for the US goverment to even ask the question on the census form.

    The PEW Census is a non govermental agencey that conducts phone surveys. So those randomly selected to answer may just be answering without thinking. But the answer is true for them. The question is how do you get them to think.

  12. 12
    Anonymous

    @Pontymython – You are incorrect. No one is marking it off on their census forms in the US without thinking. It is illegal for the US goverment to even ask the question on the census form.The PEW Census is a non govermental agencey that conducts phone surveys. So those randomly selected to answer may just be answering without thinking. But the answer is true for them. The question is how do you get them to think.

  13. 13
    Anonymous

    Well, we also have the interwebz outside of America.

  14. 14
    Anonymous

    Well, we also have the interwebz outside of America.

  15. 15
    Anonymous

    Comparing the number of results from Google for words like "Christian" versus "Atheist" is just silly, since Christians are more likely to write about their beliefs while atheists are more likley to just get on with their lives. The majority of people I know (mostly atheists here in northern Europe) don't spend time writing about things they don't believe in.

  16. 16
    Anonymous

    Comparing the number of results from Google for words like “Christian” versus “Atheist” is just silly, since Christians are more likely to write about their beliefs while atheists are more likley to just get on with their lives. The majority of people I know (mostly atheists here in northern Europe) don’t spend time writing about things they don’t believe in.

  17. 17
    Veritas

    And here I was, thinking we were about to take a Panzer tank through the doors of Google and begin our rule of teh internets with the iron but secular fist of the National Atheist Party.

    Damn.

  18. 18
    Veritas

    And here I was, thinking we were about to take a Panzer tank through the doors of Google and begin our rule of teh internets with the iron but secular fist of the National Atheist Party.Damn.

  19. 19
    Eric Davison

    "Comparing the number of results from Google for words like "Christian" versus "Atheist" is just silly, since Christians are more likely to write about their beliefs while atheists are more likley to just get on with their lives."

    The point of Jen's post seems to me to be the exact opposite of this quote – that there are a large number of atheists on sites like Digg and reddit who don't "just get on with their lives" (as much as I hate using that phrase – how does talking about my beliefs indicate that I'm not "getting on" with my life?) and spend quite a bit of time talking about it. I've noticed it, Jen noticed it, and the Christian Jen quoted noticed it.

    I'd agree (and I think Jen would too) that google searching is not a very useful or accurate measurement, but it gives a rough idea. It's roughly like finding out that 80% of the U.S. identifies as Christian – it gives you a number, but no useful information behind it. Are they actually a Christian? Just grew up in a Christian family? An atheist but scared to admit it? Similarly, with google searching, you don't know how the term was used – as criticism? As a reference or as part of an analogy? Unconditional praise? So yes, google search = extremely rough estimate, but not anymore "silly" than asking people if they're "Christian" without actually asking them about specific beliefs.

  20. 20
    NQbass7

    “Comparing the number of results from Google for words like “Christian” versus “Atheist” is just silly, since Christians are more likely to write about their beliefs while atheists are more likley to just get on with their lives.”The point of Jen’s post seems to me to be the exact opposite of this quote – that there are a large number of atheists on sites like Digg and reddit who don’t “just get on with their lives” (as much as I hate using that phrase – how does talking about my beliefs indicate that I’m not “getting on” with my life?) and spend quite a bit of time talking about it. I’ve noticed it, Jen noticed it, and the Christian Jen quoted noticed it.I’d agree (and I think Jen would too) that google searching is not a very useful or accurate measurement, but it gives a rough idea. It’s roughly like finding out that 80% of the U.S. identifies as Christian – it gives you a number, but no useful information behind it. Are they actually a Christian? Just grew up in a Christian family? An atheist but scared to admit it? Similarly, with google searching, you don’t know how the term was used – as criticism? As a reference or as part of an analogy? Unconditional praise? So yes, google search = extremely rough estimate, but not anymore “silly” than asking people if they’re “Christian” without actually asking them about specific beliefs.

  21. 21
    Thom Blake

    It should be noted that part of the Christian narrative is being oppressed. Christianity loses a lot of its punch when it's not being thrown to the lions. So a lot of the charges of 'oppression' are likely just people responding to that narrative and trying to keep their religion alive.

  22. 22
    Thom Blake

    It should be noted that part of the Christian narrative is being oppressed. Christianity loses a lot of its punch when it’s not being thrown to the lions. So a lot of the charges of ‘oppression’ are likely just people responding to that narrative and trying to keep their religion alive.

  23. 23
    Anonymous

    The other thing to remember is that for the most part, atheists don't have a big agenda to push, other than preventing intrusion of religion into areas where they feel it doesn't belong (science, public policy, tax-funded schools, the money, etc).

    If religious people kept their religion in their churches, and weren't out there freaking out about getting creationism taught in schools and the like, atheists would largely go on about other things that were important to them.

  24. 24
    Anonymous

    The other thing to remember is that for the most part, atheists don’t have a big agenda to push, other than preventing intrusion of religion into areas where they feel it doesn’t belong (science, public policy, tax-funded schools, the money, etc).If religious people kept their religion in their churches, and weren’t out there freaking out about getting creationism taught in schools and the like, atheists would largely go on about other things that were important to them.

  25. 25
    Sage

    That 80% figure includes several major demographics. One is almost the entirety of rural America, which is overwhelmingly Christian. More importantly, though, it includes the group that a commenter already addressed – the huge number of "meh" Christians, that only go to church on Easter and simply put it down on the census because they'd feel vaguely guilty if they didn't. The farmers don't have computers or don't care about the Internet, and the other crowd is too apathetic to go talking about their religion online all the time.

    I've got a few guesses for the Google hits. First: news. Think how often the words "Christian" or "Christianity" are mentioned in news articles. Second: every church website ever made. Third: profiles and surveys. Any site that has a "religion" field will probably come up as a hit for that search.

    Overall, I think that it's a vocal minority on both sides. I could be a snobbish, smug, non-PC asshole and say that there's a correlation between atheism and technological aptitude, but…actually, no, I'll go ahead and say that. That's as good a reason as any for the spread of our dirty atheist propaganda on filthy dens of iniquity like Digg and Reddit.

  26. 26
    Sage

    That 80% figure includes several major demographics. One is almost the entirety of rural America, which is overwhelmingly Christian. More importantly, though, it includes the group that a commenter already addressed – the huge number of “meh” Christians, that only go to church on Easter and simply put it down on the census because they’d feel vaguely guilty if they didn’t. The farmers don’t have computers or don’t care about the Internet, and the other crowd is too apathetic to go talking about their religion online all the time.I’ve got a few guesses for the Google hits. First: news. Think how often the words “Christian” or “Christianity” are mentioned in news articles. Second: every church website ever made. Third: profiles and surveys. Any site that has a “religion” field will probably come up as a hit for that search.Overall, I think that it’s a vocal minority on both sides. I could be a snobbish, smug, non-PC asshole and say that there’s a correlation between atheism and technological aptitude, but…actually, no, I’ll go ahead and say that. That’s as good a reason as any for the spread of our dirty atheist propaganda on filthy dens of iniquity like Digg and Reddit.

  27. 27
    Anonymous

    As another anon pointed out, Internet's not wholly American.

    I suspect it's a dominant method for Americans to meet 'outsiders' – often people from largely secular countries for whom religion has never been anything but a rather silly pastime on the fringes of society. It's not as if US denizens can hear much about positive first-hand experiences with godlessness from other media outlets;)

  28. 28
    Anonymous

    As another anon pointed out, Internet’s not wholly American.I suspect it’s a dominant method for Americans to meet ‘outsiders’ – often people from largely secular countries for whom religion has never been anything but a rather silly pastime on the fringes of society. It’s not as if US denizens can hear much about positive first-hand experiences with godlessness from other media outlets;)

  29. 29
    Anonymous

    One point that came to mind after reading this post was this: There r a lot of Atheists willing to go to Christian sites and argue the points, but few to no Christians that get on Atheist sites like this to fight us. That alone could be driving up that google stat. Which tells me Atheists are more vocal on the internet than Christians. Maybe that blogger was onto something….

  30. 30
    Anonymous

    One point that came to mind after reading this post was this: There r a lot of Atheists willing to go to Christian sites and argue the points, but few to no Christians that get on Atheist sites like this to fight us. That alone could be driving up that google stat. Which tells me Atheists are more vocal on the internet than Christians. Maybe that blogger was onto something….

  31. 31
    Anonymous

    Atheists are thinkers by their very nature, therefore they are more likely to be on a site that involves thought and feedback like reddit etc.

    The religious are told weekly NOT to think so they are far less likely to be somewhere that involves intelligence or thought

  32. 32
    Anonymous

    Atheists are thinkers by their very nature, therefore they are more likely to be on a site that involves thought and feedback like reddit etc. The religious are told weekly NOT to think so they are far less likely to be somewhere that involves intelligence or thought

  33. 33
    Anonymous

    I love the 80% number that always gets tossed around. I always follow up with some questions about teh Pope. It seems Catholics are good enough Christians when they need to make some point, but not good enough to call "real Christains."

  34. 34
    Anonymous

    I love the 80% number that always gets tossed around. I always follow up with some questions about teh Pope. It seems Catholics are good enough Christians when they need to make some point, but not good enough to call “real Christains.”

  35. 35
    A Recovering Catholic

    I suspect that there are more avenues to explore in deconstructing stories dealing withe religion, than there are for the religious, who can do no more, than nod their heads collectively and agree that God did it.

  36. 36
    A Recovering Catholic

    I suspect that there are more avenues to explore in deconstructing stories dealing withe religion, than there are for the religious, who can do no more, than nod their heads collectively and agree that God did it.

  37. 37
    mcbender

    I actually find myself wondering what proportion of the "Christian" Google hits were posted by atheists, and what proportion of the "Atheist" Google hits were posted by Christians.

    It'd be interesting to see whether we (irrespective of affiliation) spend more time discussing ourselves or our enemy (so to speak), and whether there's a significant difference in that respect between the two groups.

  38. 38
    mcbender

    I actually find myself wondering what proportion of the “Christian” Google hits were posted by atheists, and what proportion of the “Atheist” Google hits were posted by Christians.It’d be interesting to see whether we (irrespective of affiliation) spend more time discussing ourselves or our enemy (so to speak), and whether there’s a significant difference in that respect between the two groups.

  39. 39
    Anonymous

    "There r a lot of Atheists willing to go to Christian sites and argue the points, but few to no Christians that get on Atheist sites like this to fight us."

    Makes me wonder who is more tolerant of the other.

  40. 40
    Anonymous

    “There r a lot of Atheists willing to go to Christian sites and argue the points, but few to no Christians that get on Atheist sites like this to fight us.”Makes me wonder who is more tolerant of the other.

  41. 41
    Anonymous

    Seeking debate =/= intolerance.

  42. 42
    Anonymous

    Seeking debate =/= intolerance.

  43. 43
    crank

    the internet must have killed grammer too

  1. 44
    Blag Hag Hipsters, rejoice! | Blag Hag

    [...] remember why the name was familiar. Nearly three years ago, which is eons ago in the blogosphere, I poked fun at a dumb post he made about how atheists are taking over the internet. He made remarks about looking forward to personally finding me and meeting me when he found out I [...]

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