Reddit Users: Why Atheist Redditors Are Stuck On the Internet


For those unfamiliar with the term "lurking" as it pertains to the internet, the formal definition is, according to Wikipedia, “a member of an online community who observes, but does not actively participate.”

If you have ever lurked Reddit, the web’s largest aggregated post-and-comment board, you may notice atheism is a very popular subject. Its category or "subreddit" is one of the most subscribed, and most post-rich on Reddit. The great irony of this highly trafficked area of thought is birthed by its internal contradiction, how it stretches the gap between the championing of rational thought, and the rants, “gotcha!” style rage comics, Facebook captions, and other anecdotal jabs. For a group so active on the internet, this seemingly enthused crowd is more likely to "lurk" in real life than confront, no matter how much they disagree by the faith-based existence around them.

Are we to make cowards out of Reddit’s atheists for the discrepancy between the prevalence of real life and internet proclamations of godlessness? Maybe, as the world’s loudest atheist, Richard Dawkins, first bemoaned in his TED talk, “Atheists do not want to be impolite … Can we stop being so damned polite?” Or, as R/atheist stalwart with the username “blackstar9000” explained in a very thoughtful post on the state of the atheist subreddit, “Many of the users are just recently converted, who fear being ostracized by people the religious people who make up their support system.” Perhaps Dawkins was being a bit unsympathetic in his own right. Religion, as a point of conversation, is about as volatile as it gets.

Unfortunately, the cognitive dissonance between redditor and reality will persist, as long as the faith based argumentation of the religious, and the sometimes irate complaining of Atheists mix like so much water and oil. Until then, the atheists of the internet are participating in a discourse that is suited better for their entertainment than a polemic attempt at confronting the religious.

Moreover, the atheism is not the opposite of religion, and therefore they will not clash as if they were the forces of light and dark, or what have you. The two co-exist and, arguably, mesh in certain places of worship where the parishioners are there for tradition or family, rather than creed. Better yet, there have been instances of Christians bravely appearing on the Atheist subreddit, to diplomatically qualify their understanding of religion. Perhaps atheists rarely respond out of their comfort zone in this manner, such proselytising is too dogmatic.