Freelink - Brief History of the Quote

"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
...Stephen F Roberts

...Yep, that's me! I am the author of the above quote which has become a bit of a popular statement throughout the net (and some in the real world too).

...I first used The Quote as a tag line for postings on the newsgroups alt.atheism and talk.atheism at some point before October 1995. I don't remember exactly when I started using it, and unfortunately lost my mailer that would have contained the archive. The earliest records that have is back to 1995, and by October 1995 it apeared 'widespread' in taglines, so I must have originated it sometime before then. Most likely early 95 or late 94.

...The Quote is an original quote that came from an online debate I was having with religious people in the newsgroups. I used the a similar comparison in a debate when my opponent wondered why I ignored the evidence for god, and in return, I wondered why my debate opponent chose to ignore the evidence for Shiva, or Zeus, or any of the other possible gods.

...I then slightly refined and shortened it the next day to use it in the 'modern' form as a tagline. Within days, The Quote was in use by others in their taglines (I added my name as an attribute a few weeks later when people asked me if it was my original quote).

...About a month later, I made another variation of the quote that also appears sometimes: "We are all atheists, some of us just believe in fewer gods than others"... but it never quite got the popularity of the original :-)

Since that time, I've occasionally ego-surfed to see how the quote has moved out around the world.

Interestingly, as the quote moved out, it seemed to become attributed to "other" Stephen Robertses. Its funny sometimes to see who people attribute the quote to. For awhile there I even had my own Wikipedia page, but that only lasted a few months before it was cleaned out.

I've also occasionally been accused of plagarism and stealing the quote from others.

I have no doubt that others have said similar things throughout time (afterall, its not like the general concept of atheism was made up by me). But I didn't know about any of the others when I first penned the quote (remember this was 94-95, there was no wikipedia or google to look things up with).

I just had the luck to put together the phrase right at the dawn of the modern Internet age. :-)

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