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Building an Atheist Internet Community

Yesterday, I received an interesting e-mail from an atheist in Pakistan. He is in a day to day struggle to keep his mouth shut out of a very real and legitimate fear that should a hint of his disbelief get out, he will probably be killed.

Such a serious situation prompted me to turn to my liberal Muslim friend from the scary streets of Chicago for advice. My Muslim friend has traveled to that very same city in Pakistan and there is a branch of his liberal Muslim Mosque there that might be able to help (although I worry that they might try to convert him to liberal Islam rather than trying to help in some other way).

This got me thinking about just how important the internet is to the rise of atheism. I have never met either of these two individuals personally and yet through the internet I can communicate with both of them. My new atheist friend in Pakistan relies on the internet to keep his mind thinking and to help save his sanity from having to hide his disbelief. My Muslim friend may or may not be able to help but at least it is through the power of internet developed by science which holds the key to solving this problem.

The internet is so dangerous to the Muslim world that Pakistan is seriously considering blocking facebook and other websites which could be used to criticize and/or question their religion. I think it is really important to form a strong atheist community on the internet and for atheists around the world to help each other. Whether it is simply promoting reason and reasonable ideas or whether is it reaching out to isolated atheists in overly religious nations or states, we need to help each other.

Religions have form communities which help out their members. Many atheists miss those types of communities even though they tend to be dogmatic. Through the internet we can form a new kind of community which serves some of the same functions of local Church communities without the dogmatism. An internet community is even stronger than local communities because we are non-localized. But we should start building local communities too.

The hard part for most atheists is building and being part of a community since the only thing really binding us together is a lack of belief. However, most modern atheists have also rallied behind common principles of rationalism, humanism, science, and to a lesser extent progressivism. We can build our internet and local communities around these things.

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  • steve

    Has your friend considered going to the U.S. embassy and applying for assylum? If his life is in danger, I think he would qualify.