The second annual Ask an Atheist forum on February 5 was quite well attended. There were four of us on the panel answering questions. One question dealt with how it came to be that each of us did not believe in god’s existence, and the answers were pretty much the same, that although we had all been brought in religious families, we each realized at some point that it was silly to believe in something which violated all the laws of science and for which there was no evidence.
During my answer, I said that I was somewhat embarrassed that I had arrived at this realization so late in life (in my thirties) while my fellow panelists, two of whom were students, had figured this out while still in their teens. It still amazes me that I did not come to my realization sooner. After all, I had atheist friends in my teens and we argued about god and religion. But their arguments did not convince me then and that makes me wonder how I could have been so oblivious for so long.
I think I have discovered the answer. My atheism was caused by Mac computers.
I began disbelieving in the mid-1980s, around the same time that the Apple Macintosh computers were introduced. I remember the sense of excitement about using the first Macs when they came out in 1984 when Drexel University installed a lab of them and I had so much fun with them. I immediately realized that these were the computers I wanted to use, even though I did not get my own until 1989.
My realization that Macs were the true causes of my conversion to atheism was triggered by this page of the website of an outfit called Objective Ministries that clearly lays out the case of how Apple is the agent of Satan. Little did I know that I was being seduced by the revolutionary new ‘point and click’ operating system into giving up my god-fearing ways, whereas my young fellow panelists had grown up in the age of Macs and thus were indoctrinated much earlier in their lives.
So it is clear that the Macintosh line of computers is deliberately turning people to atheism. This raises an interesting question. If Macs are the tools of the Devil, is Steve Jobs the anti-Christ? Does that make Bill Gates the second coming of Jesus? The incomprehensibility of the old DOS operating system does remind one of religious doctrine. Is Armageddon already here, except that the fight is over market share for personal computers?
Actually, the Objective Ministries website linking Macs to the Devil is a parody but is so well done that initially I was fooled and thought it was real, yet another product of the paranoia of religious people seeing dark plots against religion in all kinds of unlikely places. Another page on this same site that also initially fooled me says that Objective Ministries is seeking to launch an expedition to find living pterosaurs in order to disprove the theory of evolution which says that humans and dinosaurs did not live contemporaneously. It was only when I started researching into who “Dr. Richard Paley” was and the “Fellowship University” where he supposedly taught something called “theobiology” that I discovered the truth.
That I was almost completely taken in by these hoaxes is because religious websites are often so weird and illogical in their message that it is hard to distinguish the real thing from a clever parody. The websites of the religious are so irrational as to make ripe targets for parodists and some are having a lot of fun doing so.
Not all seeming parodies are really so. The website of the Westboro Baptist Church is so over-the-top in its anti-gay bile that it seems like a parody. But the numbers of real people it gets out for its demonstrations seem to suggest that it is either real or has a huge numbers of performance artists working for it for a long time, which seems unlikely. Similarly the counting down to Armageddon of the Rapture Ready site is not known as a parody but its premise is so absurd that it would not surprise me if it was.
Conservapedia is not a parody (as far as I know) but its Wikipedia-modeled open editing platform has led to suspicions that many of the entries are by parodists actually mocking religion, while seeming to be earnest supporters of its 6,000 year old world view.
Although the cover of Objective Ministries has not been completely blown yet, there are some well-known parodies of religious websites that are fun even though, and perhaps because, you know they are parodies. Jesus’ General, Landover Baptist Church, Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian, and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are some examples.
But coming back to the issue of the link between atheism and computer preference, Objective Ministries may be on to something, when it asserts in jest that there is a correlation, even a weak one, between using a Mac and religious disbelief. One interesting study might be to see if Mac users are more likely to be unbelievers than Windows or Linux users. Maybe the Pew Research Center should add this question when it conducts its next survey of the religious beliefs of people.
POST SCRIPT: Cookie Monster does not quite get the library concept