IRC Chat: A Community For Atheists And Freethinkers
IRC internet chat protocol was designed around 1989 by a group of guys in Finland. Like everything else about the Internet the prototype
became the reality; from testing to standard in one fell swoop. Chat can be carried on in a channel or individually, in addition file transfers of
text, code, or pictures can be accomplished. A more recent development is the transmission of voices in walkie-talkie style, whiteboards,
Net Atheists are a growing segment of the atheist population, not all are otherwise isolated from like thinking people as you might expect.
For example, there is Clark Adams, moderator of alt.atheism.moderated and Public Relations Director for the Internet Infidels; though he
works for a web-based organization, he does not fit this description. Nonetheless Clark (AKA GodFree as channel operator of Dal.net's
#atheism) will marry a fair lady he first met in #atheism later this year. A recent marriage celebrated in this hard-hitting debate channel was
that of Agnostic_Pope (He) and Godless_Heathen (She). Humanist wedding details can be viewed in Godless_Heathen's website. Don't
forget to see her "children's" pages. Parties for channel regulars and "ops"are also organized from time to time in meeting places all over
Other, sometimes desperate, needs are filled by the community found on IRC. TheNick, a frequent visitor of #atheism on Dal.net finds a peer
group of real value to him and to whom he can report, with satisfaction, that he is still winning his battle against alcoholism. He could not be
himself at AA meetings and his inevitable dissatisfactions with AA as a peer group seemed to have become a weak link in the chain of his
resolve to never drink again. TheNick does contract programming work and making friends is hard when moving often, but #atheism is
almost always online and became community for him. TheNick is not shy and would share his story with interested people. A U.S. Airman
who was a channel regular in #atheism and had realized his atheism while in the Air Force was brought to take a pacifistic stance as a
result of his atheism. He had a major problem obtaining Conscientious Objector status as an atheist. Heathen, an op, had read of a similar
case from the Vietnam era in Freethought Today, the publication of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. In this case the Supreme Court
ruled that an atheist had as much right to CO status as a religious person; given the address and phone number the Airman left the channel
temporarily. Shortly after that GodFree (remember Clark Adams?) came into the channel and Heathen messaged him concerning the
situation. GodFree happened to know the man in question who is an active state-church separation defender he had met at freethought
conventions. The way was paved and the Airman received a CO's discharge. SirPhin AKA TheHermit, founder of Dal.net's #godless channel
tells the story of a young Asian man who, failing in school and in his relationship with his girlfriend, had resolved to commit suicide. SirPhin
is a computer and Internet professional and was able through his international Internet connections to discern the actual location and real
life identity of the youngster and notify authorities and support people in his city. I personally was online one night when I noticed the strange
ranting of a fellow who happened to be in a hotel room above the beginnings of the latest round of Northern Irish violence. This area is
shaped like an amphitheater and his hotel was about 1 kilometer from center. The bitter tirade against the Orangemen and the Irish in
general soon proved to be the stressed reaction of an expatriate Irishman visiting on business and I was able to feel his horror and
inescapable connection to his religious countrymen as they burned below. This last story is an example of how breaking news travels over
the Internet. I was aware of the significance of Drumcree and the fact that serious new disturbances were occurring almost 24 hours before
it was reported in Austin media. This man was in #godless, #religious_debate, and #atheism at the same time. I think that that night we
were community for an atheist far from home. One young woman finds help with her relationships on line, in fact she often shows up with
her "Nick" modified to reflect the current status of her long running relationship. A man everyone has advised her to dump. She also offers
support in kind to other women and girls on IRC.
Yes, there are youngsters in the atheist channels, and lots of them; here is the group most likely to be isolated due to circumstances beyond
their control. These are very bright young people and you will be hard pressed to tell who they are in a debate. Not all are debaters or all
atheists for that matter. The more serious youngsters will be found in Dal.net's #atheism and UF.net's #atheism. Less serious to bordering
on silly youngsters are often in #evilatheistconspiracy and #godless. Some wiccans and other sorts of religious types are tolerated in these
last channels. For the maximum in tastefulness and tolerance #religious_debate seems to stand out.
Channels I have found for atheists are:
On Dalnet: #atheism, #godless, #evilatheistconspiracy, #religious_debate
On efnet: #atheism (this channel has become younger I hear; migration to Dalnet)
Ircnet: #atheism (5 years old, having a gathering in Finland soon, mostly European)
BeyondIRC: #The_Atheist_Temple (never found anyone in this channel, hmmm)
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From the officers:
The ACA Lecture Series returns Sunday, March 9th with Vic Cornell giving us an update on ACLU activities. The lecture starts at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon.
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