Why alt.atheism Exists
[Editors note: Usenet newsgroups were once very popular venues for discussion of topics of interest. In the intervening years since the writing of this article, however, they have become less and less popular, primarily because they tend to be overrun with spammers. In the meantime, discussion boards, such as the Talk Freethought (TF), have become increasingly popular. Because discussion boards are moderated, they do not typically become venues for spammers. It is suggested, therefore, that in reading through this article, substitute “TF” for “alt.atheism” and the meaning will be essentially the same. And please visit Talk Freethought.]
“I don’t wish to offend anyone, but I was wondering why this newsgroup exists?”
Some hold that the newsgroup was created by some sort of elder creator. He saw that there was darkness upon the face of the net, so he created a posting in alt.config suggesting that there should be a newsgroup “alt.atheism.” For five days he created articles discussing the newsgroup, then on the sixth day he created the newsgroup itself, with the assistance of some daemons. On the seventh day he rested, and looked at the newsgroup, and saw that it was good.
Others hold that the newsgroup came about through random chance. It began as a mail message accidentally created by a system process, which (over the course of hundreds of thousands of bounces and millions of CPU cycles) evolved into a Usenet control message. Some forked copies of the mail message created newsgroups like “alp.arbghhh” and “prqa.dne.auvheism,” but the forces of natural selection ensured that these groups were unpopular, and soon died out. Eventually, after many years, “alt.atheism” took over as their natural successor.
“I mean, in a sense, the large traffic on this newsgroup justifies its existence”
Ah, yes, the anthropic principle of newsgroup creation. This holds that the newsgroup MUST exist, because otherwise we would not be able to post to it asking why it exists.