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alt.atheism FAQ

by alt.atheism members

Welcome to alt.atheism!

What is a FAQ?

Many newsgroups of a 'controversial' nature have noticed that new readers often come up with the same questions, mis-statements or misconceptions and post them to the net. In addition, people often request information which has been posted time and time again.

In order to try and cut down on this, most newsgroups have Frequently Asked/Answered Questions files, or FAQ files. They are posted regularly, and generally aimed especially at new readers of the newsgroup in question. However, even long-time readers should browse the FAQs now and again.

If you are new to Usenet, you may also find it helpful to read the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. The articles titled “A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community”, “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Usenet” and “Hints on writing style for Usenet” are particularly relevant. Questions concerning how news works are best asked in news.newusers.questions.

What is the purpose of alt.atheism?

Alt.atheism was created in 1990 as a place to discuss atheism and atheist topics and any other topics that may interest an atheist. Many of us enjoy discussing various topics with other atheists. All are welcome in the newsgroup, whether they're atheists or not, as long as they are not trolls. The topics of the newsgroup include such diverse subjects as:

  • Whether it is reasonable to pretend to be religious in order to avoid upsetting your family
  • Prayer in schools
  • Discrimination against atheists
  • Sunday trading laws
  • The Satanic Child Abuse myth
  • Whether you should be an overt atheist or 'stay in the closet'
  • How religious societies prey (sic) on new college students
  • How to get rid of unwanted proselytizers
  • Whether religion is a danger to society and/or the individual
  • Why people become atheists

Of course, inevitably alt.atheism tends to attract the religious looking for someone to convert. Most readers of the newsgroup don't want to be preached to, although a few seem to derive perverse pleasure from tearing apart particularly ill-considered or uninformed postings.

Does the newsgroup have a website?

Yes! You can find the newsgroup's website at

What is available on the website?

A wide variety of things can be found:

  • This FAQ
  • The Library, which houses postings of interest over the years, articles on philosophy, or other noteworthy materials by the newsgroup members.
  • The Quote of the Month archive
  • Instructions for getting connected to Usenet newsgroups.

What is the Quote of the Month?

This is a monthly contest run by alt.atheism members that highlights a “singular remark” each month. One is selected for both theist and atheist posters. You can read the rules of the Quote of the Month contest at

The Cat-Herding Rules and Regulations of alt.atheism and Some Information

  1. All are welcome in the newsgroup, whether they're atheists or not, as long as they are not trolls.
  2. Proselytizing of ANY religion is NOT welcome! (Those guilty of this bad nettiquette will be treated as they deserve!)
  3. This newsgroup exists for atheists to discuss anything of interest to them and other atheists, although others who are honestly interested in joining a discussion and are not trolls are welcome. Trolls will be treated as what they are.
  4. When responding to a long message, please try to remember to reprint only the part you are responding to. Also, please don't respond to another message without reprinting the part you are responding to. No one knows WHAT you are responding to, if you don't do this. Also set your readers to mark reprinted text as quoted and be sure to retain the attribution (that's the > or » in front of each line) to show who said what.
  5. All subject threads with the letters aa in front of them are intended for atheists only. If a theist should respond to one of these threads and an atheist wants to respond to the theist in return, the atheist should remove the aa to start a new thread. If the theist wants to remove the aa first, that's okay, too.
  6. The Party thread or aa Party Thread is for discussion of any topic that is off-topic for the newsgroup. These can be funny or serious. This thread originated with a discussion of a virtual party.
  7. Cross-posting to more than five newsgroups at any one time is very poor nettiquette and extremely rude.
  8. Killfiles are our friends. Forte Agent, Gravity and other companies offer this delightful way to block out the static and noise of trolls and religious proselytizers who deliberately ignore this FAQ and plain old-fashioned common courtesy. Many killfiles also come with a spell-checker which is a great help to the more fumble-fingered or spelling handicapped among us (I use my spell-checker….religiously?) Killfiles generally cost a one-time fee of $29 with no charge at all for upgrades.
  9. This forum is not a conversation with a few at a party, but a free for all among hundreds of people with a wide range of interests and attitudes, so don't feel compelled to respond to every reply. Pick a few representative or unique ones that look like they might lead to interesting conversation and try to stay focused, at least until you get a sense of some of the respondents, and they you. Keep your sense of humor and don't take any of this too personally. You may be here to learn, to teach or simply to enjoy yourself, so don't be shy.

The alt.atheism atheist/agnostic number list

  • The alt.atheism atheist/agnostic number list is a list of atheists/agnostic from anywhere on the Internet. As long as you are an atheist/agnostic who is involved in any aspect of the Internet (newsgroups, WWW, lists, chats, etc., you are welcome to join. Stand up and be counted! The current count is 2308! To join the list, send the following information to:
    1. The name and/or nickname you want on the list.
    2. Are you an atheist, atheist agnostic, atheist freethinker, Buddhist atheist, Jewish atheist?
    3. Your year of birth.
    4. The country you live in.
    5. Your gender.
  • The atheist questions are a collection of questions one of which is posted in alt.atheism on an irregular basis as a way to liven up the discussion. New questions are always welcome and each will be posted to the newsgroup in turn. Send any suggestions for new questions to Michelle Malkin. The first 200 questions and up to fifteen answers to each can be found at:

A word about kill files

Sometimes, someone posting to alt.atheism will say something like: “Since nobody has been able to refute this point, it must be true.”

Ignoring the obvious logical flaw in that statement, it could be that nobody even saw whatever comments were made.

Because alt.atheism is an unmoderated newsgroup, it tends to be high in volume and high in noise. It's a safe bet that many readers have “kill files”, sets of instructions their newsreader programs perform automatically on entering the newsgroup. Kill files can be used to perform all kinds of useful tasks, such as picking up replies to your own articles, picking out subjects you're interested in, or skipping articles about things you find boring.

Sometimes someone will manage to annoy the readership of alt.atheism enough that many people will program their newsreaders to discard all his/her postings. It's even possible to get some newsreaders to skip over all articles which even mention a particular person.

Worse yet, some sites have become known as major sources of spam – unwanted commercial advertisements. Many people program their killfiles to delete everything from those sites. If you've innocently signed up to site with a poor reputation, you may find that hardly anyone notices your articles.

For this reason, never assume that silence in response to a Usenet argument means that it cannot be refuted. More likely, it means nobody is even reading it. Very few arguments presented on alt.atheism pass without comment.

Please do not re-post entire articles with a note saying “Please refute this, somebody”. If everyone skipped the article, the chances are they did so because they didn't want to see it. Watch the newsgroup for a while, and you'll get a pretty good idea of who's in lots of kill files.

If you want to know how to set up a kill file, consult the manual page for your newsreader. If you use rn, trn or strn, you can look at the “rn kill file FAQ”, posted to news.answers regularly.

What's this IPU?

The IPU is the Invisible Pink Unicorn (blessed be her holy hooves).

Some times theists get carried away, and begin preaching. As pointed out elsewhere, preaching is not appreciated on alt.atheism. On the other hand, flame wars over preaching aren't much fun either.

So, some atheists will instead respond with some preaching of their own. There are a number of suitable deities available. J.R. “Bob” Dobbs is popular with SubGenius atheists, and the goddess Eris is popular with Discordians. But alt.atheism also has its own deity: The Invisible Pink Unicorn (pbuhhh).

Like most Goddesses, she's invisible and highly unlikely to exist. However, there is much argument as to her exact colour, her shape and size, and other properties of her nonexistence. She burns with anger against theists, and allegedly grinds them beneath her holy hooves.

Other additions to the list of atheist gods are: Maeve - catgod of The Church of Last Thursday (the universe was created last Thursday and all memories of things happening before this were placed in our minds. Can you prove otherwise?), Nirfur - the catgod of All Things Yellow & Fuzzy and the very large Siamese catgods Si & Am who reside near The Great Litterbox In The Sky (evildoers are placed head down in the more pungent sections until they learn their lesson.). (Lots of atheists like cats, y'see.)

The point of this silliness is to prod the theist into remembering that their preaching is likely to be viewed by atheists as having all the credibility and seriousness of their preaching about the IPU and various catgods.

atheism/faq.txt · Last modified: 2015/01/04 22:05 by hypatiab7