Madison, Wisconsin – 1/18/12
Analyst Bert Toast recently explained that atheists might not be so quick to support the SOPA protests come early Wednesday morning. Several major websites have decided to blackout on Wednesday, January 18 to show their opposition to the so-called SOPA and PIPA bills. Among the Internet sites that have chosen to shut down are www.reddit.com and www.wikipedia.com. Toast believes that the protests may have serious consequences for atheism.
It’s just that – of the 86% of atheists who only exist on the Internet, 67% spend all of their time at reddit. Take that site away for a day, and you have significantly weakened the atheist movement.
Toast thinks that most people will not notice an absence of atheists on Wednesday, but those who do will likely be glad. He cited a number of potential positive results from the blackout and subsequent disappearance of most atheists.
Assuming they do not join Occupy or find their old WoW software, many atheists could grow so bored that they leave the basement. Some may go to school. Others might even seek jobs.
Professor Barb Dwyer said she did not know how long atheism will last if there are more protests in the future. According to Dwyer, the Wikipedia blackout is an even bigger problem for atheism than is the reddit blackout.
What people do not seem to realize is that atheists obtain most of their information from Wikipedia. While the site is down atheists will not be able to further their education in religion, philosophy, biology, or other academic interests that are so central to atheism. Atheists will be unable to conduct the sort of in-depth research they are used to at Wikipedia and will need to turn to social sites to fill in their knowledge gaps. But unfortunately reddit will be down as well.
Dwyer went on to say that one site started by an atheist – Facebook – will be open for business as usual on Wednesday. According to Dwyer, this will allow the sort of academically rigorous and meaningful debate that atheists are familiar with to continue as long as they can recall their arguments without consulting the sites that have been temporarily shut down.