Internet Infidels Newsletter

June 1996

In this issue:


ARIL Recognizes the Secular Web

 

The Association for Religion and Intellectual Life (ARIL) has recognized the Secular Web as a "hot site," which it defines as "offering among the best resources concerning world religion on the Internet." According to ARIL, the Secular Web offers "resources in service of the secular, but there is much discussion here of biblical and theological issues. Though the editors of these pages put themselves forward as atheists and infidels, we admire their humor, irony, and elan." The original review may be found on the ARIL web site.


New Additions to the Secular Web

 

As if completely redesigning the Secular Web wasn't enough to do, we have been busy uploading several new documents to the Secular Web:

You can find all of these files by clicking on the "What's New" icon at the bottom of all our pages.


New Supporters of Internet Infidels and the Secular Web

 

Three secular scholars have endorsed Internet Infidels and the Secular Web:

  • Fred Edwords, American Humanist Association
  • Michael Martin, Boston University
  • Delos B. McKown, Auburn University

We thank all of our supporters for their endorsements!


The Bahnsen-Tabash Debate

Edward Tabash

 

I believe that Dr. Bahnsen handled himself miserably during the debate. He was vicious, harsh, and treated me like a criminal rather than like a colleague who has taken the opposite approach to his in searching for truth. He never capably responded to my arguments discrediting religious supernaturalism. He defended biblical miracles as if they were a given and never dealt with my arguments, based on science, reason, and human experience, which challenged his claim that the events in the Bible somehow managed to violate the laws of nature. He was entirely unable to refute my argument that there is no basis to believe that the biblical accounts of miracles are true, since such violations of the laws of nature have never been subject to verification or duplicated under scientific circumstances.


Craig to Allow Publication of the Craig-Washington Debate

Jeffery Jay Lowder

 

Thanks to a Craig supporter named Helen Mildenhall, William Lane Craig has decided to allow electronic publication of his remarks in the Craig-Washington Debate, on the condition that they be stored on a Christian server. In exchange, he will allow Internet Infidels to link to the transcript. Craig has tentatively selected Christian Leadership Ministries as the site to hold the debate. We'll let you know as soon as the complete transcript is available.


AOL and Atheists

Christopher L. Feige

 

Does religious discrimination exist on America Online? Read on and decide for yourself.

On and off, for the last four years, I've been a member of America Online. The initialization of my account coincided with my admission to Incarnate Word College and the required core curriculum which included theology and philosophy. Not long after being in these classes, I was introduced to the classic problem of evil and other theodicies. Though these classes were a good introductions to topics, I found myself hungry for more and continued to investigate these topics. Within a year, a had a decision to make about my own faith: either God does not exists or he must be evil. At the time, I was not comfortable abandoning a faith that I had grown up with and married my wife under so I decided that it must be the case that God is evil. This conclusion was based on a premise from the problem of evil; that being, how could an all good God create evil or beings with the potential to do evil. From my reasoning, an all good being, either by characteristic or by choice would not be able to create evil or any being able to do evil (not to mention random "evil" by mother nature). I also concluded that if my God were to be all powerful, he must have the ability to do evil. For me, the free will rebuttal did not cut the mustard. I also sifted through the Bible and found spots where God himself admitted to doing evil and in Isaiah 47:5 KJV, he even admits that he created evil. In our world today, any person who does an act of evil, creates a situation where evil must be done, or creates evil directly is considered an evil person. From all of these, I concluded that God was evil, hence I took the handle and screen name "GodisEvil on America Online." I adopted this name with full conviction as a Christian (however tainted it may have seemed to other Christians).

For the better part of the next three years while on AOL, I had many good conversations with other members and many with the "good Christians" who found it necessary to cuss and swear at me for having such a name.

About five months ago, I finally came out of the closet. I started admitting that I was an atheist although it was probably true that I had been one for quite some time. I stopped visiting the Christian Chat rooms on America Online because they had become increasingly foul mouthed and, to be blunt, quite lame. Instead, I started visiting the Atheist Chat room and visiting web sights about atheism. Within a few days, I was able to find a proper label for myself - a strong atheist.

Now, I find even acknowledging the possibility that God could exist as silly as entertaining the idea that unicorns could exist. From time to time, in the Atheist Chat room, we were swamped with Christians trying to convert us and tell us how hot the fire in hell was going to be. I started putting up with the Christians telling us how immoral we were. Time and time again, we were confronted with Christians telling us how atheists are the biggest liars on earth and that Satan would have a special place for us. We even put up with Christians disrupting the room so badly (by scrolling while exiting and entering the room) that no conversations could be had. While scrolling is enough to be punted from AOL, being a Christian in an atheist room is not. I doubt that AOL would ever look twice at a Christian spewing in an atheist room because that particular faith is so engrained in our country. Most people, Christian or not, would not think twice about a Christian on a mission of conversion because so many people recognize that Christianity demands it's followers to convert (i.e. they are responsible for spreading the word to unbelievers and will be responsible in their afterlife for them). So, when a Christian enters an Atheist Chat room on America Online, no one even questions it. They simply recognize it as part of the religion.

Here is the catch; try being an atheist in a Christian Chat room. I know many agnostics and atheists alike who have been punted from AOL for simply debating with them in a Christian Chat room. The debates can soon degrade into a one sided mud slinging contest and when that happens, Christians usually loose their cool and their faith. They start cussing, swearing, and generally throw a tantrum. When this happens, the guide will usually punt the atheist for starting the dispute. And sometimes you do not need to saying anything at all - just watching the text scroll in front of your screen may be enough to get punted.

One night while in a Christian Chat room, after bailing out of the Atheist chat room because of the "good Christians," I sat watching the text from the chat room while having a private conversation with instant messages (IMs). Another friend of mine, an agnostic from the atheist chat room, started a debate with a Christian. The debate was a friendly one and was calm for being a debate with a Christian. The Guide (chat room monitor) entered the room and told my friend Klgtrout to cease his conversation because it was considered a room disruption. I was immediately pissed off because I had just been forced out of the Atheist Chat room. I sent an instant message to the Guide saying something to the effect of how hypocritical AOL was and gave my example of not being able to use the Atheist Chat room. Within about a minute of that message, I was disconnected from America Online for a breach of terms of service. I immediately logged back on (you need three violations to be terminated) and went back to the room. I was really pissed off at this point and wanted to complain to the AOL God about his choice of Guides. I went back to the room and sent a message to the guide in the room asking if he was the one that had punted me (I wanted to make sure it was the same one). He did not respond so I sent the same message to him 2 more times. Within another minute I was punted again for harassment. At this point I wanted to blow up the place. Instead, I logged back on and wrote a letter to the AOL God and explained the situation. They defended their Guide's decision by saying that my screen name was designed to disrupt the room and that the violation must stand. The did not address the issue of the second violation at all. I responded with an explanation of my screen name and how erroneous they were in their decision. The reply to that was a blunt; " We will not debate this issue any longer, the violation will stand."

For the atheists out there using AOL, it may not be evident to you exactly what has occurred here. I feel that I have been discriminated against because of my "non-religious" beliefs. It is evident that AOL does discriminate when it comes to mattes of divergence from " acceptable" faiths. In my opinion, AOL showed their discrimination by saying that my screen name was disruptive. Because my name was "GodisEvil" I was tossed from America Online two times. I canceled my subscription with them before the third occurrence. To me, America Online is a good example of religious prejudice alive and well in the United States. Any Christian with a name like "JesusLUVsU" or "SavedOne" can freely enter the atheist chat room and never have to worry about preaching or trying to convert. On the other hand anyone with a name like "GodisFake," JesusLiar," or even "GodisEvil" will have to be on their guard while in a Christian Chat room.

[Christopher L. Feige lives in San Antonio, TX. His email address is (email address removed)


How You Can Support Internet Infidels

Jeffery Jay Lowder

 

Internet Infidels are finally getting their own bank account. If you wish to support Internet Infidels, you may send your checks to Internet Infidels, 7437 S. Eastern #302, Las Vegas, NV 89123, USA. Checks must be drawn on a U.S. bank and payable to "Internet Infidels." Unfortunately, we do not have 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization (yet), so your donations will not be tax-deductible. All donations will be used to support 1) a post office box, 2) getting 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, and 3) our ever-growing hardware requirements on a new server. (We have over half a gigabyte of files and we get more than 12,000 accesses per day.) We are grateful to the many supporters who have pledged their support.


The opinions expressed in the Internet Infidels Newsletter are not necessarily those of the Internet Infidels.

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