Pharyngula

What is Atheist Nexus’s game?

There is a new social network site for godless folk, called Atheist Nexus. Good idea, except that there may be a little problem.

A few doubting atheists (how could they possibly be suspicious?) investigated the site before signing up, and discovered some discrepencies. The fax number and mail server are shared with some outfit called the Divine Christian Center (warning: if you click on that link, the site autoplays Christian rock at you). The creator, who goes by the name Thor and Kym Membe, is also the registrant on both domains. He claims that he is an atheist, he just happens to also be a web design freelancer who was commissioned to work on the DCC site. That sounds perfectly plausible, and I’d accept that as an explanation, except that this message turns up on a bible college site:

We have seen a steady increase in uncommon and deadly events around the world – most recently, the quake in China and the cyclone in Myanmar. This is a call to prayer for the suffering and the hurting. God is calling us all to humble ourselves before Him in prayer. We may not understand what is happening; we may not have answers for anyone asking. One thing we should know without a shadow of doubt is that God loves the world and all who are in it. Let’s join forces and pray for those in China and Myanmar. Let’s lift them up before God and ask that He comforts those who need comfort and bring healing to those who need it. Let’s pray for the little boys and girls who have lost their parents, and for the everyone who has lost someone or something.

Kym Membe
Mattoon , USA

Hmmm. That doesn’t sound very atheist-like to me.

It’s all a little fishy. Maybe very fishy — this could be an evangelical group fishing for atheist names and email addresses. Or it could be an innocent case of an industrious web designer getting work with diverse groups.

There aren’t any grounds to flee Atheist Nexus just yet, but it looks like they need a little more in-depth scrutiny. Maybe some of the godless experts in networks and security that hang out here will want to chase down the details.

Comments

  1. #1 PatrickHenry
    July 10, 2008

    Kym Membe is probably just a very conservative player of Pascal’s Wager.

  2. #2 Dutch Delight
    July 10, 2008

    Maybe some of the godless experts in networks and security that hang out here will want to chase down the details.

    “PZ Meyers unleashes atheist hackers on the internets.”

  3. #3 stevogvsu
    July 10, 2008

    Fishy doesn’t begin to describe this particular situation… Though if it really is what it appears to be they really have stooped to some very very…very low ball tactics.

  4. #4 JoJo
    July 10, 2008

    I’ve just spent some time wandering around that site. It appears to be an atheist-themed Facebook.

  5. #5 imrational
    July 10, 2008

    Atheist Nexus at least pointed out the desire and utter need for an atheist social-networking site.

    I think that the credibility of Atheist Nexus has been heavily harmed by all this. Will it pass through this storm? If the site is legit, what can be done to earn back trust?

    The fact that the christian prayer was added within days of registering AtheistNexus is another point that needs further elaboration.

  6. #6 chgo_liz
    July 10, 2008

    Mattoon! I hope none of you ever have to spend time there. The only grocery store is a Wal-Mart, if that gives you any idea.

    I can’t imagine an atheist living in Mattoon if they were old enough to move away from mom & dad. Champaign-Urbana (U. of Illinois) is about 1.25 hours away. Right next door in Charleston is Eastern(sic) Illinois University, with a main library that would embarrass most middle schools. Yeah, I’ll wager money that Kym is not only not an atheist, but a True Believer(tm).

  7. #7 Dutch Delight
    July 10, 2008

    Uhm, the guy who just misspelled PZ’s last name is an imposter I tell you.

  8. #8 Russell Miller
    July 10, 2008

    Interesting enough, there appears to be a Kym Membe from Mattoon, IL, who is the director of Supply Center Online:

    http://www.tradekey.com/profile_view/uid/1373129/Warehouse-Supply-Online.htm

    Note that this is a Mail Boxes Etc. Dropbox. Google Cache shows that he is actually based out of Mattoon, IL:

    http://209.85.141.104/search?q=cache:-ev0s36tTMwJ:www.tradekey.com/profile_view/uid/1373129/Warehouse-Supply-Online.htm+%22kym+membe%22+mattoon&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us&client=firefox-a

    Interesting to note, if not only because this guy appears to be trying to actively hide where he is located.

  9. #9 SteveM
    July 10, 2008

    That sounds perfectly plausible, and I’d exceptaccept that as an explanation, except that …

    Sorry, couldn’t restrain myself.

  10. #10 Sorry fot that
    July 10, 2008

    Mmmm.. PZ there are two spelling errors in the first paragraph….

  11. #11 chgo_liz
    July 10, 2008

    I’m not being very lucid today. What I meant to say is that UofI is so close that anyone with independent thought in central Illinois has a place close at hand if they need to get out of Dodge. They don’t have to leave the state or even the general area to find civilization.

  12. #12 Scott Mc
    July 10, 2008

    You can’t even view any of the site content without registering a user account – I usually like to check out sites like these in a drive-by fashion. I can’t be bothered setting up a temporary email to receive the possible deluge of wing nut spam, so I’ll leave it to those better motivated.

    Scott.

  13. #13 Lilly de Lure
    July 10, 2008

    PZ said:

    The fax number and mail server is shared with some outfit called the Divine Christian Center (warning: if you click on that link, the site autoplays Christian rock at you).

    Thanks for the warning PZ – that’s one link I definitely won’t be clicking then. I’m mildly disturbed to find there are still people out there who think that this aural assault masquerading as a musical genre actually attracts people to the faith that produced it!

  14. #14 Jens Enzo
    July 10, 2008

    Guys…

    This is not as fishy as you might make it out to be.

    The guy IS a former Christian… no doubt about that. He even seems to be a recent convert… but he has said this openly now.

    I think that Nexus IS INDEED a legit endeavour… and I would still recommend it to everyone.

  15. #15 Thomas
    July 10, 2008

    Maybe it’s the old bait-and-switch. Get thousands of atheist members together, log them in with a carefully worded terms of use contract, and then BAMB! Up go the Jesus stickers and holy type faces.

    It’s an ugly, ugly thought.

  16. #16 Quidam
    July 10, 2008

    I have set up a unique disposable email address and registered there. I’ll know pretty quick whether there are any problems if I start receiving emails to this account.

  17. #17 Jens Enzo
    July 10, 2008

    The creator of Atheist Nexus has just taken the blasphemy challenge:

    “I denounce the Holy Spirit and the Quran – and any other deity conceived by the mind of any human being. Jesus Christ was not the “Son of God”, because “God” does not exist. There is no “Allah”. The Bible and any other “Holy Book” are only literary works done by men. There is only humanity and science.”

    Kym Membe aka Thor

  18. #18 amk
    July 10, 2008

    Anyone looking for a temporary email could use . Literally no set up required.

  19. #19 Bill Dauphin
    July 10, 2008

    Interesting to note, if not only because this guy appears to be trying to actively hide where he is located.

    Maybe, but be careful about assuming so based on the fact that his business address is a Mail Boxes Etc. box. I’m in the process of starting a small (microscopic, actually) home-based business, and my brand new business address is a box at the local UPS Store (which used to be a Mail Boxes Etc.). There are some advantages (which have nothing to do with hiding your location) to having a business address separate from your home, and unlike a USPS box, a box at one of those commercial places gives you a street address, at which you can receive packages from FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.

  20. #20 Matt Heath
    July 10, 2008

    The thing about christian rock (and all christian pop genres) is that “bad” is pretty much by definition. Nick Cave or Belle and Sebastian can record music with explicitly christian lyrics but because it isn’t bad it isn’t christian rock. Likewise Marvin Gaye and Johnny Cash never made “christian music”

  21. #21 tsg
    July 10, 2008

    Sounds like those pro-life “abortion centers” that would tell pregnant women they offered abortions and then lock them in a room and show them videos about how horrible they were for wanting one.

    The Big Lie for Jesus, once again…

  22. #22 Matt Heath
    July 10, 2008

    I really should proof read if I’m going to change my wording half way through typing. “pretty much PART of the definition”

  23. #23 techskeptic
    July 10, 2008

    OR….

    perhaps its just a person, who happens to be religious, who recognizes a growing market and wishes to create a product for it.

    If you were to create a product, wouldn’t you want religious people to use and buy it regardless of your atheism?

    call me crazy.

  24. #24 amk
    July 10, 2008

    I like my formatting in #18.

    The creator of Atheist Nexus has just taken the blasphemy challenge:

    Linkage?

  25. #25 Tristan
    July 10, 2008

    @12

    Use a mailinator.com email. No need to register, just type in anything @mailinar.com It’s very useful as you can check the e-mail if needed, but at the same time it’s not a real e-mail.

  26. #26 Adrian Hayter
    July 10, 2008

    My friend and I didn’t like Atheist Nexus from the start, but due to a load of technical errors and slow loading times rather than the current Christian problem. We are going to start work on a *proper* social networking site for atheists, humanists, freethinkers, etc.

    Hopefully it’s utilize open source software rather than depend on Ning.com’s dodgy programming, and we’ll be able to customize it to the communities liking.

  27. #27 Adrian Hayter
    July 10, 2008

    My friend and I didn’t like Atheist Nexus from the start, but due to a load of technical errors and slow loading times rather than the current Christian problem. We are going to start work on a *proper* social networking site for atheists, humanists, freethinkers, etc.

    Hopefully it’s utilize open source software rather than depend on Ning.com’s dodgy programming, and we’ll be able to customize it to the communities liking.

  28. #28 Lucretious
    July 10, 2008

    hahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahaaha!!
    Here’s my email: kenhamisanidiot1@yahoo.com

  29. #29 Jason Failes
    July 10, 2008

    “We are going to start work on a *proper* social networking site for atheists, humanists, freethinkers, etc.”

    That’s all well and good, but what advantages will it have over creating such groups within preexisting social networking sites? (even Brownian hasn’t friended me yet on Facebook, damn…)

    I guess my thought is we want to stay a part of the larger community and not begin in-grouping ourselves to such an extent that we lose contact with the outside world, with all of its dissenting (and yes very often frustrating) opinions.

  30. #30 MH
    July 10, 2008

    You even have to sign up in order to read the “About Us” page! I’ve never come across something like that before.

    RichardDawkins.net has a social network. I’ve never used it (I normally just hang out in their excellent forum), but I have no doubt you can trust it.

  31. #31 Yoo
    July 10, 2008

    I haven’t joined the Atheist Nexus for the simple reason that I couldn’t see the point (what makes it better than atheist groups in more general social networking sites? being unable to read the “about us” pages without registering makes it harder to find out). But even if it seems to be a bit fishy, I don’t see what would be gained by setting up a fraudulent site.

    It seems that the effort to set up such a site would far outstrip anything one might hope to gain from pulling some dirty trick on a group of atheists. And I don’t think it would be any more difficult to find out information about atheists with everything else on the Internet. Of course, the more extreme of the religious aren’t exactly known for their rationality, so they might indeed be spending far more effort than it’s worth, but I somehow doubt it.

  32. #32 artificialhabitat
    July 10, 2008

    I’ve watched the story develop over the last 8-10 hours, and I’m coming around to the idea that the site is what it claims to be. There seems to be little that a christian could gain from all the effort.

    I’m prepared to give the admin the benefit of the doubt, for now!

  33. #33 Copache/Motley
    July 10, 2008

    It’s quite interesting. I was thinking of affiliating my 250,000 Atheists group on Facebook with Atheist Nexus, so Kym added me on MSN at my request, and once I found out it ran on Ning’s platform I was sort of irked.

    I should have noticed that it ran on Ning before, but I can’t say I was paying that much attention to detail.

    He posted it first on my group and I was the second actual member, though he had two accounts, one probably being a ghost account.

    He seems genuine, but wouldn’t get into business specifics once I revealed my under-18 status. Seems sort of iffy to me, but I can overlook it for now.

    I’m still interested in the site, although I will now proceed with caution. Adrian Hayter (who commented here already) is a friend of mine on Facebook and I know that at least that person is genuine. I just met Kym, though.

  34. #34 Dave
    July 10, 2008

    Man, I HATE to do this, but I have to verify for myself:

    Shouldn’t the possessive of Nexus be Nexus’?

    PS: I’m normally not a grammar Nazi. Honestly.

  35. #35 Brownian, OM
    July 10, 2008

    Nope, looks too convincing to be an antiPoe (remember, Brownian’s Corollary to Poe’s Law states that fundamentalists are incapable of producing a convincing parody of atheists). If it were, the page would be splashed with comments representing a fundie’s version of atheism, like “let’s make religion illegal, then we can keep all the science for ourselves and nobody will tell us we can’t have abortions whenever we want.”

  36. #36 Kilted_Dad
    July 10, 2008

    #6. #8, everyone,

    I’m from Mattoon (Bagel Capitol of the world, btw), believe me, it is a tough place to grow up if you aren’t a TrueBeliever (TM). I moved out as soon as I got the opportunity. I don’t know this Kym Membe, but I’ll do us all a favor and sign up, do some investigation with some folks I still know in the area and maybe even meet face to face next time I’m back in town.

    Let’s give this person a chance, He or she is embedded deep in enemy territory.

  37. #37 Jason Failes
    July 10, 2008

    “PS: I’m normally not a grammar Nazi. Honestly.”

    That’s the topic of Ben Stein’s next film, documenting the undeniable link between grammatical fastidiousness and the rise of Nazi Germany.

  38. #38 Jason Failes
    July 10, 2008

    Ausgewiesene: Keine Schlechte Grammatik Erlaubt.

  39. #39 TheOtherOne
    July 10, 2008

    then BAMB! Up go the Jesus stickers and holy type faces.

    Can I just say that I really, really, really want to see the UNholy type faces?

  40. #40 Fizzy
    July 10, 2008

    “Shouldn’t the possessive of Nexus be Nexus’?”

    Nexus is singular, it gets the ” ‘s ” treatment. Nexuses, on the other hand, would possessivize as ” nexuses’ “

  41. #41 teehee
    July 10, 2008

    The site doesn’t require email confirmation. You can just enter any email that you feel like, even for non-existent domains. I’m not suggesting that you do so but if that was your cup of tea ;)

  42. #42 Fiziker
    July 10, 2008

    Man, I HATE to do this, but I have to verify for myself:

    Shouldn’t the possessive of Nexus be Nexus’?

    PS: I’m normally not a grammar Nazi. Honestly.

    In some style guids that would be acceptable or even prefered. However, in my opinion (as well as many other style guides) the correct possesives would Nexus’s and Myers’s.

  43. #43 Fiziker
    July 10, 2008

    I signed up for Atheist Nexus last week and so far I haven’t gotten anything out of the ordinary (I’m not very pleased with the site so far as far as the networking goes). Hopefully this turns out not to be a scam.

    I did recieve this email from Atheist Nexus a few hours ago addressing the concerns people have had:

    A message to all members of Atheist Nexus

    Hi, All!
    There has been some concern arising from an apparent connection between Atheist|Nexus and a Christian entity. I would like to quickly put out the fires, so here’s my explanation:
    I am a web design freelancer in my other life – see me at XenonVisual.com. The website DivineChristianCenter.org showed my company’s contact information by default – as you can see, the site is not complete pending more information from my client. The only affiliation between myself and the church is a professional one. While I remain strongly and actively opposed to religion (Christian or otherwise), I do not discriminate when selecting clients.
    The concern is understandable, but rest assured that Atheist|Nexus is truly the work of atheists, with no other motive but to connect atheists.
    Thor

  44. #44 Phaedrus
    July 10, 2008

    Of course, if this is a fake site, you could always pluck an email address from the latest Nigerian Scam email you have in your junk folder, sign in with that, and let them play with each other.

    I’m sure their exchanges would be interesting….

  45. #45 molecanthro
    July 10, 2008

    i really want to believe him.
    he tried also to address the very devout prayer he posted on a website very recently (maybe the same time he was developing the site).
    then his wife started posted basically to make people feel guilty for questioning her husband. unfortunately, they have a sick child…she brought that up as well which i don’t think was necessary.
    then you have all the people saying ‘how dare you question his reasons for creating this’ and accusing people of going on a witch hunt and other crap like that. when all people were doing was trying to make sure that it’s a safe, legit site and they had very valid criticisms which i don’t think have been fully addressed yet.

    anyway, i’m staying on there for now…just because i’ve met some good people. and people are discussing getting a group together including people known from other blogs and such to act as co administrators.

  46. #46 jynnan_tonnyx
    July 10, 2008

    “(warning: if you click on that link, the site autoplays Christian rock at you)”

    Given that “Christian Rock” is apparently a genre unto itself, I think it’s high time we see more “Atheist Rock” bands. Anyone else?

  47. #47 BrotherRichard
    July 10, 2008

    AN OPEN LETTER FROM BROTHER RICHARD POSTED AND SENT TO ATHEIST NEXUS COMMUNITY

    Hello all,

    As many of you know, there has been serious concerns and questions about the legitimacy of Atheist Nexus and its founder. Because of this, I have agreed to temporary take an administrative role in the site.

    I have created this discussion(on website)to deal with any questions or concerns you might have. As some of you may know, I run the site: Life Without Faith. You could describe me as an evangelical anti-theist. I am a former minister and have helped many people let go of their faith and overcome the sometimes overwhelming fear of Hell.

    Please post your concerns and questions here and I vow to deal with each legitimate one. I also vow to deal with this situation objectively and in all honesty. I will post the results here and on my site. I have been given administrative access and if that changes I will immediately post it on my site.

    I believe that Atheist Nexus has a lot of potential and could fill a need in our community. It has been said many times that getting atheists to agree on anything is like trying to herd cats. Let’s prove that statement wrong. The only way we can make any real change in the world is through unity. There are core values that we all can agree on and leave the rest to personal preferences and civil debate.

    Many of you have posted warnings and messages through MySpace, Facebook, and your personal sites. I would ask that you also post this message so that we can get the word out that actions have been taken to resolve the concerns.

    Thanks and celebrate reason,

    Richard
    http://lifewithoutfaith.com

  48. #48 molecanthro
    July 10, 2008

    update:
    Richard, from http://lifewithoutfaith.com has been made an administrator.
    Additionally, Kym (aka Thor, the founder of the site) is currently meeting with Phil Ferguson, head of CUFREE.net face to face.
    So it’s headed in the right direction.

  49. #49 Sir Jebbington
    July 10, 2008

    Yes! Atheist rock!

    I’ve signed up… with doctorlongrod@temporaryinbox.com, of course. Too suspicious.

  50. #50 Capital Dan
    July 10, 2008

    Trusting a Christian?

    Not going to happen. All they do is lie and deceive in order to weasel their worthless mythology into whomever’s life they can.

    When he’s begging people to pray in one breath and touting his recent to conversion to atheism in another, I’m not going to trust the snake. I figure he’s lying to someone.

  51. #51 Sir Jebbington
    July 10, 2008

    Hmm, I also see that on the registration page they ask for the same info twice.
    It also asks for your age group, even when you put your birth date in the previous page.
    That’s just stupid.

  52. #52 Scooty Puff, Jr.
    July 10, 2008

    PZ, do you remember when you thought you’d been had not long after the interview for “Expelled” née “Crossroads”? Then you found out you’d definitely been had? I think this is the same thing. You should go with your gut on this one; it’s almost certainly something unholy… err, unreasonable. (Shifty eyes)

  53. #53 Jim Lippard
    July 10, 2008

    Atheist Nexus is hosted by Ning, which is a service that hosts do-it-yourself social networking sites. Their mail server is also hosted by Ning (amx.ning.com) and the contacts on the atheistnexus.org domain are set to 1and1.com’s private registration. Did these previously point elsewhere, from which you obtained the connection to divinechristiancenter.org, which is hosted by Telstra Europe?

  54. #54 5ive
    July 10, 2008

    #45:
    “then his wife started posted basically to make people feel guilty for questioning her husband. unfortunately, they have a sick child…she brought that up as well which i don’t think was necessary. ”
    Dang, but you are a cynical chap!!
    I think she put that up to show partly how she and her husband come out of chritisanity. She said their prayers didn’t work, no matter how much they prayed, their baby stayed sick. I, personally am congratulating them for using real life instances to shake their beliefs in god.

  55. #55 DoctorE
    July 10, 2008

    WTF, why the sign up… ??? thats just weird, christian like if you will :)

  56. #56 PuckishOne
    July 10, 2008

    The Xenon Visual domain was registered in June, 2008. Atheist Nexus was registered July 1, 2008. If tracking AN leads to the church e-mail used by XV that suggests that AN was built on top of the XV domain (and real web-doers, please correct me if needed). If Thor is a freelancer working on the church webpage, why would it track back to the church? Wouldn’t a designer want to host his own work until he gets paid for it?

    Also, when was that prayer posted, as well as the Blasphemy Challenge? It was suggested the prayer was recent – would someone post that and then de-convert, yet still host a website that could be easily tracked back to a church? And if this is an outreach by atheists fresh from de-conversion, why not be up front about that all along? I can’t imagine it would be a deterrent to those interested in joining the site. (I won’t go into the numerous problems with the site design itself other than to say it didn’t strike me as the work of a professional designer.)

    If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s not likely to be a squirrel in a duck costume.

  57. #57 Jim Lippard
    July 10, 2008

    “The Xenon Visual domain was registered in June, 2008. Atheist Nexus was registered July 1, 2008. If tracking AN leads to the church e-mail used by XV that suggests that AN was built on top of the XV domain (and real web-doers, please correct me if needed). If Thor is a freelancer working on the church webpage, why would it track back to the church? Wouldn’t a designer want to host his own work until he gets paid for it?”

    The atheistnexus.org web and mail servers are hosted by Ning’s service, as part of their build-your-own social network service. The xenonvisual.com website is hosted at The Planet, and their mail servers are 1and1.com’s (1and1.com is a domain, webhosting, and mail provider). The contact addresses for xenonvisual.com all use admin@divinechristiancenter.org as an email address. divinechristiancenter.org is a website hosted on Telstra Europe (which is a bit weird), which is also using 1and1.com’s mail servers.

    I don’t see anything particularly suspicious about a web freelancer working on a website for another entity that is hosted elsewhere–that’s common. The fact that divinechristiancenter.org is on a server in Europe is odd, though.

    Kym Membe’s name comes up as a contact on the web pages for the Virginia-registered business Supply Center Online, Inc., of Lorton, VA, which bills itself as a “woman-owned business” but has no listed officers or directors in the information I found online. It sells warehouse, janitorial, moving, dock, and office supplies, as well as furniture and electronics; Kym Membe is listed with the Buxton Drive address in Matoon, IL that appears on the xenonvisual.com domain. Kym Membe’s name also comes up associated with Justrite Manufacturing Co. LLC of Des Plaines, IL, a 102-year-old company that makes “safety containment systems.” Their manufacturing plant is in Matoon, IL.

    Kym Membe uses the name “lt4jesus” on jivesoftware.com’s forums.

    So I think it’s safe to say that Kym Membe is in Matoon, IL, probably works or worked for Justrite, is trying to develop some online businesses, and has apparently been recently a fan of Jesus.

  58. #58 uncle frogy
    July 10, 2008

    >>I believe that Atheist Nexus has a lot of potential and could fill a need in our community. It has been said many times that getting atheists to agree on anything is like trying to herd cats. Let’s prove that statement wrong. The only way we can make any real change in the world is through unity. There are core values that we all can agree on and leave the rest to personal preferences and civil debate.<<<

    pardon me if I am paranoid but I have doubts about the need for “unity” as defined by whoever brother richard is.
    seems to me that independence of thought was one of those things that precluded being organized into an interest group ala the “christian right” or its predecessor the “moral majority”, to foster change in society
    I for one am not interested in joining any group or being a follower of any ideology with any leaders or official spokes persons who tell me what I think or define my priorities, been there and done that.
    I realize that like “god” leaders need followers (believers) a lot more than followers need leaders “gods”

  59. #59 speedwell
    July 10, 2008

    I believe Kym about being an atheist. Why? Call it bias:

    - Several years ago, I lived in Charleston while I dated an EIU professor (spit, hack, get the taste of THAT relationship out of my mouth…).
    - I worked in Mattoon. A tornado creamed the east half of the town that year, which slightly improved the scenery. (Snark.)
    - I actually began my deconversion in that cold dark little apartment south of the college.

    If I had stayed, I would have gone insane. I knew a couple other atheists who were on the edge or just over. If you are an atheist in that town, you have just got to do something to break the chains. Christ, the local hospital is even named after Abraham Lincoln’s crazy wife, Mary Todd.

    That’s my last word on the subject. I hate the place so much I’m getting nauseated writing about it.

  60. #60 mandydax
    July 10, 2008

    Who wanted some dark-ass Atheist Rock?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZKggvZGexQ

    Okay, so it’s more Nihilist rock, and there are no souls to stay in the dead bodies, but he got the “there is no god” part right, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch is very tasty.

  61. #61 Jim Lippard
    July 10, 2008

    speedwell: Are those the conditions that spawned the “Mad Gasser of Mattoon” in the mid-1940s?

  62. #62 Kym Membe[Thor]
    July 10, 2008

    I invite everyone to view the following notice that I published to the “About Us” page on atheistnexus.org. Here’s the bottom line – I was a Christian and now I am not. Here’s my story…

    I would like thank everyone for their participation in the growth of Atheist|Nexus. I am glad to be among people of rational thought. As some members have suggested, I am going to give an account of my life here. Please read this to understand who Thor is and why Atheist|Nexus exists.

    I was born 40 years ago to African diplomats in New York. I spent a lot of my childhood in Africa and France. I came to the U.S. to reclaim my citizenship and pursue “the America Dream” 6 years ago. All throughout my life, I was a committed follower of the Christian “God”. I went to college for Theology (yes, I took a class in Apologetics) and was always active in the church. I was raised to believe in “God”, so the fear of death and damnation in hell stifled my burning need to ask the hard questions. The many times when I did ask the questions, my “programming” kicked in and I intuitively defended my faith. I was a true proponent of the ontological defense.

    Since I am naturally inquisitive, I persisted in my doubts. These questions weighed heavily on me to the effect that I stopped attending church. Yes, I maintained my faith, albeit weak. The prayer for the China and Myanmar victims (posted within the last 2 months) is a reflection of my real concern for other human beings, even in light of my personal struggle with faith. During the time that I abstained from church, I was reading and assimilating the works of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others. I especially enjoyed “A Letter to a Christian Nation” [Harris] and “The God Delusion” [Dawkins]. Coupled with my own festering doubts, the books and videos literally destroyed any bit of faith that might have been left in me. I was born again to reason.

    My wife has posted about our little girl – Ellyze. She turns one this Saturday and she’s never been able to sit up. She has a condition called CHARGE syndrome and faces severe developmental challenges. She’s deaf and has weak sight. I know many will say, “You’re not an atheist, Thor. You’re angry at God.” I am angry, but not at “God”. There is no “God”. I am angry because I have dedicated my life to leading people astray, peddling a false “God”. I am angry because as a child, I never had a chance in hell to break free from the fallacies of Christianity. I, like so many others like me, was programmed from infancy to believe that “God” was real and that he wanted me to “serve and live for him”. Hell yeah, I’m angry. But there’s a silver lining here – I have seen reason. My daughter’s condition was one of the triggers for my realization of truth. Life sucks sometimes, but that’s reality.

    Now, I am free from the idiocy of religion. And because I have always stood up for what I believe, I did not think twice about investing my time and effort to create Atheist|Nexus. While some of my language and mannerisms might show through as “religious”, you can be sure that’s only because I have spent the greater part of life speaking that way. I understand completely the questions that people have raised. There is still work to be done, and I am open to learning what I can from the 1000+ freethinkers on this site.

    The issue of DivineChristianCenter.org is simple, really. As mentioned in my earlier message to everyone, I build websites as a freelancer. When I publish a web template, it automatically populates with my contact information. That is why the contact information on the two sites matched. You will also find that my fax number is linked to my profiles on Alibaba.com and Tradekey.com – I am a Project Director for an industrial supply company during the day. If it is the wish of the membership, I will keep this site operational. I have always said that this site will be managed by its members. If anyone is willing to contribute their time and skills, please contact us. This was never intended to be a one-man-operation. To this effect, I have requested (and received) the help of Richard of http://lifewithoutfaith.com (Brother Richard) to share the administrative aspect of http://AtheistNexus.org. I also met with Phil Pherguson of http://CUFree.net today and we had a good conversation. Phil cannot vouch for my character, having only met me today. Our meeting did allow me the opportunity to discuss my position with someone face to face. After we deal with the initial concerns, it is Richard’s and my desire to create a board of directors and revisit the organizational structure. I hope that the many great minds here will converge and establish the direction of this project.

    Thanks,
    Kym Membe

  63. #63 baz
    July 10, 2008

    For full explanation, see here:

    http://www.atheistnexus.org/about

    I believe this guy is genuine and I also think it’s a great idea setting up this site. People say atheists aren’t a community, “like herding cats” etc., but this site is a good way to put that to the test and let us have somewhere to hang out where we know people are going to at least agree with us on one major philosophical point!

  64. #64 PuckishOne
    July 10, 2008

    Jim Lippard: Thanks for that insight. It had seemed strange to me only because I figured that a web designer would want to host any projects-in-progress on his own server to avoid clients scarpering with the goods before payment, but your explanation makes sense.

    That aside, that was clearly the least questionable bit of all of this, and I have no intention of going near Atheist Nexus. I’m not the target audience for any social networking sites anyhow, being married, disinterested in finding a piece on the side, fairly boring, and not much of an LOLcat fan. ;)

  65. #65 PuckishOne
    July 10, 2008

    Brother Richard and Mr Membe,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment here and address the members of this forum. I have only one that I’d like to ask, and that is why did you not simply state all of this on Atheist Nexus? Why not be forthcoming about your paths to atheism at the beginning? Surely you realized that members of the atheist community tend to be a skeptical lot as well, and amongst our numbers are many techno-savvy people who would look into the origins of your website (if only just for kicks). If this truly is an honest effort at building community, it’s been tainted for many people (myself included) through this episode, and that’s unfortunate.

  66. #66 BrotherRichard
    July 10, 2008

    PuckishOne,

    I was not associated with the site until today. My de-conversion “testimony” has been very much present on the web and various places.

    I too was concerned about the accusations because I had recommended the site to my readers. When Kym asked me to take an administrative role, I was hesitant at first, but after talking to him on the phone, I felt he needed at least to be heard.

    I don’t think Kym was ever dishonest. He started the site a zealot for his new convictions and didn’t expect it to take off like it has. It seems he was not hiding anything.

    As I have stated, I have vowed to examine all the concerns and will ask others to help me. I am only doing this because I feel that the site could meet a need in our community. I understand that it is not for everyone, but I believe that it will be helpful for the “new atheists” that are coming out of the woodwork right now (which is a good thing).

    Kym has not taken any money from anyone. He has spent a lot of his own money and untold hours of time. It would be much easier for him to just close it down, but I, and many others have encouraged him to stick with it.

    Thanks,

    Richard

  67. #67 JoJo
    July 10, 2008

    I just received the following email:

    A message to all members of Atheist Nexus

    Dear Members,

    As many of you know, there have been serious concerns and questions about the legitimacy of Atheist Nexus and its founder Kym Membe. Because of this, I have agreed to temporarily take an administrative role in the site.

    I have created a discussion group on the site dedicated to all the concerns. As some of you may know, I run the site: Life Without Faith. You could describe me as an evangelical anti-theist. I am a former minister and have helped many people let go of their faith and overcome the overwhelming fear of Hell. Kym claims to be a very recent de-convert and has struggled with this fear.

    Please post your concerns and questions to the discussion group. I vow to deal with each legitimate one objectively and with all honesty. I will post the results in the discussion group and on my site. I have been given administrative access to Atheist Nexus and if that changes, I will immediately report it to you on my site.

    I believe that Atheist Nexus has a lot of potential and could fill a need in our community. It has been said many times that getting atheists to agree on anything is like trying to herd cats. Let’s prove that statement wrong. The only way we can make any real change in the world is through unity. There are core values on which we all agree. Let’s leave the rest personal preferences and civil debate.

    Many of you have posted warnings and messages through MySpace, Facebook, forums, and your personal sites. I ask that you please post this message so that we can get the word out that actions have been taken to resolve the concerns.

    As a starting point, I asked Kym to give us all some info about himself. Because of size limitations for this email I could not include it here. However, if you log onto the site it is posted on the About Us page: http://www.atheistnexus.org/about. If you are not comfortable logging into the site at this time, I will soon post it on my site as well.

    Thank you,

    Richard
    http://lifewithoutfaith.com

  68. #68 PuckishOne
    July 10, 2008

    Brother Richard,

    Thank you for your reply. Somehow I was unaware of your site until today but spent a little time over there and must say I think it’s great. :)

    I don’t question the depth of Kym’s newfound atheism, only the timing, and I do understand that he’s now laid it on the line, so to speak, which I appreciate. I also agree with you that a site such as this can fill a need in the community and while it may not be for me, I do hope that those who need a place can make Atheist Nexus the right one for them.

    Thank you again for responding, and good luck to you and Kym.

  69. #69 clinteas
    July 10, 2008

    Ahem,

    now aside from the question whether this is one big atheist fishing scam or not,and to be honest,if there is any doubt to start with whatsoever,my personal details wont be going there,there is a totally different aspect here AFAIK.

    Why in dogs name would I want to be on a atheist-only social networking site?I am not aware of any studies that show that catholic or protestant or any other religious chicks are worse in bed than atheist chicks,or that atheists are more promiscuous or anything.
    This whole atheist nexus thing,even if not a sham,sounds pretty boring to me,and would exclude large chunks of the female population !
    LOL

  70. #70 Steven
    July 10, 2008

    He used to be a theist. When was this message written?

  71. #71 Becky
    July 10, 2008

    This is turning out to be more than I expected it! Listen to me, someone I know IRL met with the owner today. From what he says I have no reason to doubt that he is what he says he is. Just someone who wants to connect with other Atheists in a religious-free environment. E-mail me if you wish to talk. But please, don’t spread slander before you talk with him yourself. I enjoy having a fun, safe place to go with people who think like I do.

  72. #72 Sir Jebbington
    July 11, 2008

    @clinteas, #69 (coincidentally): No one is making you join. Just don’t be critical of those who do join. Apparently, you only think that social networking is for meeting women for sexual relationships.
    Remember the term “social” in “social networking”? It’s there for a reason, and it isn’t “sexual networking” for a reason. Some people like to socialize; if you aren’t one of them, good for you.

  73. #73 trog69
    July 11, 2008

    Jim Lippard at 61: I had to read your link to the Mattoon Gasser, and saw that poor Alice Huffman suffered mebbe the worst case of vapors on record!

    Alice Huffman, the daughter of Cal Huffman, suffered a more severe reaction to the gas than the other residents: her throat became so constricted that she stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated. She also suffered convulsive fits for several weeks after the attack, though local physician S.F. Driver recorded at the time that this was most likely due to anxiety brought on by the attack, rather than the effects of the gas itself. [1][6][7][8]

  74. #74 trog69
    July 11, 2008

    Oopsy, the last paragraph, above, from the link at #61.

  75. #75 Chris (in Columbus)
    July 11, 2008

    Hmm….

    Ok.

    Well. Here we go.

    Did that lady even think? “God loves the nations that he just decided to wreck havoc on.” Those disasters have left so many people dead. It will take years to clean up. And at a time like this, you’re gonna say that we need to turn to GOD? What the heck?! The same God who was just responsible for the unnecessary death of over a hundred thousand people?

    Even if there were a God, I wouldn’t be turning to him right now. Wait I take that back–I’d turn to him, flick him off, then spin back around and drop my pants. Might as well end it all with mooning the divine fucker-upper of the universe.

  76. #76 Kobra
    July 11, 2008

    I have to sign up for an account to view their About page. That’s fishy.

  77. #77 BrotherRichard
    July 11, 2008

    Kobra (and others),

    The letter on the About Us page has now been posted here: http://lifewithoutfaith.com/index.php?/archives/66-Atheist-Nexus-The-Founder-Speaks!.html

    Richard

  78. #78 Rob
    July 11, 2008

    @69:

    Phishing scam

    /geek nazi

  79. #79 Citizen Z
    July 11, 2008

    I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but atheists know all too well how dishonest Christians can be. And even if he is being sincere right now that he doesn’t believe in god, he’s still only a recent deconvert. What happens if the “programming” (as Kym himself called it) kicks back in? I would hope it doesn’t, but that sort of thing does happen.

    I only see downsides to joining that community, sorry.

  80. #80 Ashley Paramore
    July 11, 2008

    OMFG I’m so tired of this drama.

    Thor/Kym handed over moderation to Richard, of the blog lifewithoutfaith.com – he has an explanation on his blog
    http://lifewithoutfaith.com/index.php?/archives/66-Atheist-Nexus-The-Founder-Speaks!.html

    He also met with Phil Pherguson of http://CUFree.net yesterday.

    In any case, people just need to chill out.

    Occam’s Razor – that’s all I have to say.

  81. #81 Nicole
    July 11, 2008

    Wow, all this controversy and the replies from the site’s admins are actually encouraging me to go sign up and check it out.

    My GMail is already pretty good at filtering my hundreds of spam messages if there is any doubt, anyway.

  82. #82 El Herring
    July 11, 2008

    I almost signed up to it – but then I noticed that I couldn’t read any of the articles without signing up. To hell with that – I’m not buying into something I can’t investigate first.

    It’s all a bit (unevolved )fishy to me. I’m staying clear of it.

  83. #83 El'd Herring
    July 11, 2008

    Matt Heath @20: “The thing about christian rock (and all christian pop genres) is that “bad” is pretty much by definition.”

    Agreed. I quite like the music of Neal Morse – excellent prog rock and highly recommended, providing you can stomach the fact that practically every song he writes is about his personal god. He comes across as being like the christian fanatic you meet at a party who turns every conversation into a rant about “Isn’t god great?”

    Such a shame – Neal’s music really rocks, but for FSM’s sake I wish he’d change the subject now and then…

  84. #84 Matt
    July 11, 2008

    If they want to make it look less like a scam…

    How about letting people view the about us page without logging in?

    Never mind that a lot of the other content should be open.

    Why would you give a universal password to a site that won’t even say who they are without getting your info? Requiring login is #1 on the list of ways to scare off customers online. So either they are stupid (no desire to participate thanks) or some kind of scam (same).

  85. #85 Alethias
    July 11, 2008

    I joined. as a fairly recent deconvert from christianity myself(2004), I had a fair number of struggles and trials, so I empathize with what he is going through.

    Atheists are a contentious, cautious lot. Some think it looks like a phishing scam. Once I joined and logged in, I saw nothing that made me feel concerned. It seemed to me that having to log in before seeing stuff is designed more as a protection of the user community than anything nefarious.

    Maybe I’m biased because I feel sympathetic, but I see nothing wrong there.

  86. #86 DingoDave
    July 11, 2008

    Ref. Lucretious post #28

    Ha Ha Lucretious, I love the picture which appears on your website, of PZ Myers blogging on his laptop computer, while riding a saddled Darwin Fish.

    Thanks for that, it’s a keeper.

  87. #87 truth machine, OM
    July 17, 2008

    How about letting people view the about us page without logging in?

    Some people are pretty dim. There’s an about box on the front page, and again on the login page.

    Why would you give a universal password

    Universal password? Who uses one of those?

    to a site that won’t even say who they are without getting your info? Requiring login is #1 on the list of ways to scare off customers online. So either they are stupid (no desire to participate thanks) or some kind of scam (same).

    No, I think they’re screening out stupid people and theist trolls.

  88. #88 Jbelcher
    July 17, 2008

    @ chgo_liz: I know it’s a little late but I’ll have you know there are plenty of Athiests in Mattoon! And by plenty I mean me and maybe three other people :/

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