No, The Internet Is Not A Church For Atheists

The ‘net is a church for us atheists
Say the people who have a real church
Do they just use the phrase to annoy us in ways?
Other metaphors work, if you search:

The ‘net is a pub, or a forum,
Or a stadium where we compete,
Or a library, say, or a worldwide café
Or a park where, as friends, we can meet.

There are churches aplenty in meatspace
Fancy cages from which we’ve been freed
It’s a meeting-place, yes, but for me, I confess,
Other places can best fill that need.

CNN’s Belief Blog has an annoying article up, “Where was God in Aurora?” comments show internet as a church for atheists.

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.

I didn’t realize that the function of a church was as a place to come and comment. I’ve been preached to (back in my church-going days), but I don’t recall once where, in the middle of a service, a debate broke out.

The internet is not an atheist’s church. The notion that “a place where people congregate” is automatically a church, shows a serious lack of imagination. I’ve spoken (not as Cuttlefish) at pub meeting groups, I’ve met in libraries and bookstores and cafes, (and bookstore cafes). I’ve congregated with other like-minded people… at sporting events, concerts, plays, lectures, and conventions. None of these things have been in the remotest sense religious (the closest, I’d say, would be some of the sporting events).

And of course, the internet has no shortage of religious sites, nor religious commenters. Some days, it seems that perhaps the only reason that Belief Blog has such a high percentage of atheists, is that the religious believers are out polluting all the news and opinion sites with their comments. (I know full well, though, that I actively seek out such sites, so my sample may well be biased… frankly, as biased as Belief Blog’s observations.)


  1. machintelligence says

    I think it is significant that we atheists can reflect on ourselves and admit that we, too can be biased.
    BTW I have a picture of the exceedingly rare Rocky Mountain Cuttlefish, but I don’t know how to send it to you.

  2. qwerty says

    I’ve often thought that if someone in a church confronted the preacher; they’d be either booed or immediately escorted to the nearest exit.

    Yes, a church is the last place a debate would happen during a service praising the big cheese.

  3. EmuSam says

    Friends (Quaker) meeting house, though I’m not sure if it counts as a church. Everyone sits around until someone feels like saying something, then they stand up and say it.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Machineintelligence– the addy would be cuttlefishpoet (at) gmail (dot) com; can’t wait to see!

  5. Randomfactor says

    Rocky Mountain Cuttlefish

    If that’s like the Rocky Mountain Oyster, I don’t think I want to know.

  6. Randomfactor says

    The atheist’s church is the world, and the universe around it.

    It’s also our heaven–and I for one wish the theists would quit trying to force us OUT of heaven.

  7. Cuttlefish says

    I dunno, Randomfactor–I get what you mean, but my world is, well, the world. I don’t need anything to be my church. I also don’t need anything to be my heaven; heaven is too small a notion to compare to the real world, and to call the latter a version of the former is to damn with faint praise.

    I’d be happy to leave all that vocabulary where it belongs. In the past.

  8. Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant) says

    I’d call reality more of the atheist holy text – different interpretations exist, but at the end of the day anything incompatible with reality must be discarded.

  9. petermountain says

    “There is nobody they can point to to discuss their atheism or their doubts about the Bible or their morality, and the Internet provides that.”

    Amen brother!
    I’m actually old enough to remember a time before the internet. And the process back then for moving away from bullshit and into reality was very disruptive for just about everyone I was associated with. I had overwhelming questions which I needed help with but to even discuss them was regarded as something on the order of assault. I remember the first time I “met” an atheist. It was 1992 ~on the internet. No, it may not be our “church” but after years of wandering through the desert, I do regard it as the “Promised Land”.

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