Atheists in Foxholes

Do soldiers always call on a higher power when their life is on the line? An increasingly vocal group of activists says no.


10/03/2006 01:46:48 PM

Some people will never believe in God no matter what goes on not even in foxholes being shot at. And many men who have died in wars have screamed for there mothers. And I think that is totally because Mom was always the one who put a band aid on the cuts and healed the wounds. Some do find God and scream for him too. And in a time like that I would scream for God. For he is the only one who can help.


09/07/2006 09:50:27 AM

Religion is absolutism followed by excuses.


08/29/2006 05:42:28 AM

During the second world war my Uncle was one of many who fought on the D-Day beach head. If he was still alive he'd tell you how you could hear the dying and severly injured in their agony and pain, crying not to God but to their mothers.


08/26/2006 05:27:48 PM

Who cares. It proves nothing. It would also mean nothing if gamblers prayed to Lady Luck.


08/22/2006 05:34:59 PM

Notching belts holds no interest to me, sorrowful_mysteries, but identifying the incoherencies of religion does. But, I'm no hard-headed unbeliever and will readily convert if given decisive proof of the existence of supernatural entities.


08/22/2006 12:12:07 PM

I would be very interested in seeing what a nonreligious definition of a subjective moral vaguery like "good" would be. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. Well, if I were to use that as my nonreligious definition of good, I'd surely be tried for crimes against humanity.


08/22/2006 11:29:44 AM

If there areno atheists in foxholes, then this means ONLY theists perpetuate war.


08/22/2006 10:25:03 AM

Well, that's certainly good to hear about New Zealand. As for your hyperbole about religion... I guess you sure showed me. Too bad this isn't the debate forum where we actually could take this up. I guess you can notch another one off on the belt.


08/22/2006 06:01:13 AM

Heyyy... Stephen Colbert was reading this page!!


08/22/2006 01:40:49 AM

And, for your information (which is proving itself increasingly inadequate), New Zealand indigenous culture is alive and well.


08/22/2006 01:38:39 AM

(continued) So quote Chesterton and anybody else as much as you want, but as you cannot furnish the least bit of evidence that your beliefs belong to anything but that gaseous domain of high-minded verbiage, religion will remain a horizontal continuum of language-based, language-experienced - and thus material - assumptions.


08/22/2006 01:31:44 AM

Oh, what utter bosh, sorrowful_mysteries, and why compound it by insisting on indulging in hyperbole. While, as an atheist (i.e., someone with no invisible means of support), I reject 'spiritualism, I'm all for the spirituality. The adjective "spiritual" applied to religion is a fraud, clear and simple. Every religion aims at manifest - and thus material - results. Every religion is based upon tangible and precise - and thus material - practices. Every religion relies on guarantees that are historic and thus material - or revealed - and thus materialized. Every religion directs itself towards individual - and thus egotistical and thus material - hopes. That every religion also requires a show of contempt for the material merely adds to the hypocrisy of the whole thing.


08/21/2006 11:53:24 PM

RE: New Zealand... Ah, the fruits of cultural genocide. And it still doesn't answer the nagging question of its benefits as a 1st World nation. RE: Empiricism/Materialism... Fair enough, except that it pretty much leaves out most of human experience. Which reminds me of a Chesterton quote: "For we must remember that the materialist philosophy (whether true or not) is certainly much more limiting than any religion... A Christian is only restricted in the same sense that an atheist is restricted. He cannot think Christianity false and continue to be a Christian; and the atheist cannot think atheism false and continue to be an atheist. But as it happens, there is a very special sense in which materialism has more restrictions than spiritualism... The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle."


08/21/2006 05:33:08 PM

Good posts, Ishie-1013! sorrowful_mysteries: New Zealand wasn't necessarily unpopulated when the Maori got here either, and the Moriori didn't fare too well either. But now we all live in relative harmony with no montrous or oppressive ogre governing. Yes, I can go along with your definition of 'civic superstition'. 'Depends what you consider evidence'. Well, you know, that old customary stuff that's available to the senses and subject to rational proof and is objective enough that it doesn't depend on a priori beliefs.


08/21/2006 06:51:20 AM

I've been utterly convinced I was going to die. I was scuba diving, screwed up my estimations of the surface conditions, and was picked up by a wave and thrown into rocks, and then got hammered by waves over and over, wedging my tank into the rocks, and I was pretty certain I was going to die... if not from drowning, then from a broken neck. What was going through my head? I hate to burst bubbles, but the Abrahamic notion of God never entered into even my slightest thought. My survival mode was churning "don't panic; don't panic". Once I began to lose strength and accept that I was probably going to die, I thought "S***, I screwed up. That was stupid." Then I got pulled to safety by my dive buddy. No cries to God, no sudden repentance. To people that don't believe in gods, we honestly have no reason to consider what you guys believe in as an option, anymore than you yell out to Siva at the last minute, to save you.


08/21/2006 06:48:03 AM

This sentiment that atheists must 'repent' or whatever in death is one that's disturbed me for a while. I find it dehumanizing, essentially an accusation that all of us are cowards lying to ourselves until the "going gets rough". Then we certainly must do the deathbed (or foxhole) prayer. And we're still one of the last groups it's safe to make horrendous comments about and not get ridden out of office on a rail. If half the things said about atheists today were said about blacks or Jews, I shudder to think.


08/21/2006 02:02:08 AM

I'm a Kiwi (New Zealander)... Ah, and I suppose New Zealand was unpopulated when the British got there. And whatever do you mean by 'civic superstition'? State authority masquerading as religion, with the subsequent characteristic of patriotic piety, of which a soldier praying to God to help them murder other human beings without getting murdered themselves would be an example. for which it cannot provide a scintilla of evidence. Depends what you consider evidence. ...


08/21/2006 02:01:41 AM

... Moreover, the assumptions are monarchic, unquestionable generally on pain of heresy, sin, damnation, torture, or some combination thereof. Absolute nonsense. Have you actually read religious writings with any depth, or do you just stop at stereotypes? And while the concept of 'good' may indeed be originally itself a 'religious one', it has not been the singular domain or province of religion for a long long time. I would be very interested in seeing what a nonreligious definition of a subjective moral vaguery like "good" would be.


08/20/2006 02:43:10 AM

And by the way, we are all atheists, unless, of course, you believe in all the gods' that man has invented?


08/20/2006 01:41:35 AM

If I left out anything, it's only because I wasn't sure of how many characters I had left to type into my Post. I still enjoy being a Christian, though, and I wouldn't trade God in for anything in the world. I know, I know, some of you atheists accuse us of being immoral hypocrites and all, and I admit it, sometimes we are. And some of us do get all legalistic, judge others a bit too harshly, and try to impose our beliefs on others, and often there is no shame in what we do, either. But you have to remember, too, that just because some Christians behave in ways that are disapproving to others, it doesn't mean that all of Christianity is like that. We Christians are only human, and we make mistakes, but most of us are pretty decent human beings once you get to know us. And besides, it isn't about legalism at all, really. It's about trusting Jesus, the One true God Who is the forgiver and redeemer of our sins. That's what REALLY matters.


08/20/2006 01:13:20 AM

I'm not an atheist (thank goodness), but I am somewhat of a free-thinking Christian. I believe in God, I believe that every word in the Bible is God's Word, I believe in the Virgin Birth, I believe that Jesus died on the Cross for mankind's salvation, and I believe in the Trinity. However, I also believe that, just because I'm a Christian, and that God owns me, it doesn't mean that I should have to give up my rights to my body (except when it comes to abortion), my way of thinking and doing things, or even the things that I choose to believe in. In other words, I really do enjoy being a Christian, but I also don't have to be something I'm not by agreeing with things other Christians believe in that don't make any sense to me at all.


08/19/2006 10:29:49 PM

I'm a Kiwi (New Zealander), sorrowful_mysteries, and we've never experienced any regime here that could be remotely called oppressive or monstrous. And whatever do you mean by 'civic superstition'? My proposition is that, it is the worldview of religion that we can do without, entailing, as it does, a host of complex and elaborate assumptions for which it cannot provide a scintilla of evidence. Moreover, the assumptions are monarchic, unquestionable generally on pain of heresy, sin, damnation, torture, or some combination thereof. And while the concept of 'good' may indeed be originally itself a 'religious one', it has not been the singular domain or province of religion for a long long time. They were never very good at it, anyway.


08/19/2006 07:49:42 PM

Don't worry... As a believer, I'm probably at far greater immediate risk from the resurgence of civic superstition than you are as a nonbeliever. I'm also curious as to what country you live in that you think it hasn't been an oppressive monster. Anyways, in a more direct response to your original proposition, your argument was less that we can do good without religion as it was that we can do good without being cognizant of our rationale for doing so. Even the concept of "good" is itself a religious one.


08/19/2006 04:04:59 PM

You indulge in hyperbole, sorrowful_mysteries. I have lived in a country all my life where separation of the Church and State has been maintained, and the State is by no means 'a horrible, opressive monster'. Mind you, I would agree that when, and if, that separation should ever cease to exist, it wouldn't be long before the freedom of non-believers would stand in jeopardy.


08/19/2006 07:45:27 AM

Back about 1800 years ago, the Roman critic Celsus complained that Christianity was only able to convince women, slaves, the young and the elderly. When you're criticized for being too liberal and progressive, I think that's a good thing that tends to put the next few millenia into perspective. So without being entwined with the State, the Church apparently adopts this rather natural posture of being socially progressive, be it 1 century ago or 18. Entwined with the State, the Church becomes this horrible, oppressive monster. And we know from the separation of Church and State that the natural posture of a State is as a horrible, oppressive monster. Kinda' makes you go "hmmmmm".


08/18/2006 11:58:22 PM

Yes, sorrowful_mysteries, but it was once pitted against most of those things you index. Now all those things, and more, can be accomplished without the need to believe in things that have no more anchorage in reality than phlogiston or the mischievousness of gremlins. All that is good in religion can be had elsewhere.


08/18/2006 12:31:06 PM

Which is the way it should be... When the Church is at its meekest, it's at its most powerful to get back on track and do things like win women's sufferage, abolition and integration, universal health care, and other swell things.


08/18/2006 02:49:36 AM

The Church's own nakedness and poverty have been exposed now for a long long time.


08/17/2006 10:34:53 PM

I would have thought that the persistence of war after the separation of Church and State would have put to bed such ridiculous notions as "religious war". Did those who trumpet supposed "killing the name of God" just not pay attention during the last 2 centuries, or what? War is about, and always has been about, power and territory. Thrown into the mix, civic superstition masquerading as religion has only proved a useful tool for the State to manipulate people, and disposed of when no longer useful. Adam, I'm all for the separation of Church and State, so as to protect the Church and let the State stand naked and guilty of its crimes against humanity. OMG!!1!


08/16/2006 05:24:04 PM

"When bombs and bullets are flying around and you're praying that some Higher Power doesn't let you get killed as you carry out your commission to kill other human beings, you aren't religious. Period." omg, how could you say that??? Thousands of people in the last thousand years kill while they're still devoutly religious. Think of all the religious wars that occured in the last several hundred years! Heck, back in the Middle Ages when 99% of the world was religious, soldiers always prayed and have priests bless them before they went off to combat. Think about the Protestant-Catholic conflict in Ireland, the many wars between Christians and Muslims over the last thousand years, the various Hindu and Buddhist factions that have bombed each others schools and temples! And I think 9/11 speaks for itself. If someone or something that condones war and bloodshed (for whatever reason) could not possibly be religious, then NONE of the major religions would be religions.


08/16/2006 11:57:59 AM

"I am offended that pledging my allegiance to my country is pledging my allegiance to the Judeo-Christian God." If one asked 100 people what God is, one would get 100 different responses. The term God can no more be linked to Christianity, than it can to any other theistic religion. It says "one nation under God" not "I pledge allegiance to God" What then does "one nation under God" mean. I think it would depend on who you talk to. Subjective at best. I fail to see how it promotes any particular religion. If the term God bothers some they could change it to "one nation under nature" then I am sure others would be troubled.


08/16/2006 11:14:39 AM

A little off-thread. I am deeply disgusted by the portrayal of atheism in the tone set by the gallery of the "Godless". It takes a whole lot of guts to think things through and realize you don't believe in God. But the gallery treats these people like criminals. For instance, take the man who fought against the "under God" statement in the Pledge of Allegiance. The caption called him the most reviled man in America. I call him a hero. America is not about Judeo-Christianity. I refuse to say "under God" when I say the pledge, not because I am an atheist, for I am a believer, but because I am offended that pledging my allegiance to my country is pledging my allegiance to the Judeo-Christian God. The worst evils in the world have been done in the name of religion or suppressing a religion. To all those offended by atheism: America accepts all creeds. Live with it or move to a less free country.


08/16/2006 07:24:43 AM

Well put, sorrowful mysteries.


08/15/2006 09:30:53 PM

Forty percent of Americans believe in demonic possession. Is that a good thing? Are all our enemies the anti-Christ? This entire line of thought is worthless. Most addicted gamblers believe that they have "luck" working for them. Should that make us all feel good that "luck" can be made to work for us. Perhaps with a rabbits foot? It wasn't lucky for the rabbit.


08/15/2006 07:39:45 PM

It's amazing how many people confuse a kind of fear-provoked civic superstition with religion. When bombs and bullets are flying around and you're praying that some Higher Power doesn't let you get killed as you carry out your commission to kill other human beings, you aren't religious. Period.


08/15/2006 06:45:03 PM

Contemplating the size of the Universe (or, perhaps, the Multiverse) gives an overwhelming sense of smallness and insignificance. Yet, somehow, I feel that my life matters, and that I am loved. I even feel that there may be, in some way I don't understand, a personal God. I can reconcile the idea of a loving God with the horrors of human suffering only by reminding myself of the size of the Universe. From my perspective, things seem horrible. From God's, who knows? I consider myself both a skeptic and a believer at times. By the by, the U.S. Military needs to be brought into the 21st Century (but NOT by Don Rumsfeld) and stop discriminating against people of other faiths, including atheism.


08/15/2006 04:27:21 PM

I care about the good in people no matter what their inspiration. A good atheist is better than a bad religious person anyday. Too many have warped religion to suit their own needs and to justify their actions.


08/15/2006 09:23:50 AM

Heretic fo Christ, what about this other notion: God limits His Omniscience and Omnipotence, as the only possible condition for us humans to be free?


08/15/2006 06:59:03 AM

Looking at the gross imperfection, injustice, and sheer lunacy in the world does not disprove the existence of God. It is, however, a strong argument against a particular notion of God - the notion of a superbeing who sits somewhere out there, watching the world, occasionally intervening. When such a superbeing is described in terms of omniscience, omnipotence, and absolute goodness, we ask why this being - who knows what is wrong and has the power to make it right and would want it to be right - nevertheless allows so much to be wrong. If there is intervention, it is too inconsistent in timing and outcome to be comprehensible. This NOTION of God is untenable except to dogmatists who fall back on either of two all-purpose evasions: We don't question God, and what appears to be evil is all part of God's "plan."


08/15/2006 12:50:04 AM

While Henrietta22 is entitled to her beliefs, and I'm glad that she and her children survived their traumatic accident, others, including believers, are, as fromoz correctly points out, not so lucky. Sometimes the odds fall in one's favor. To atribute it to some God when they do is simply arbitrary.


08/15/2006 12:46:21 AM

Actually, fromoz, and contrary to popular understanding, an atheist is not someone who believes, or 'insists', that there is no God, but rather one who lacks a belief in God (a-theism, without a God). And there are several forms of atheism, and several reasons to be an atheist My own atheism certainly doesn't insist that there is no God, but rather, amounts to the assertion that theism does not provide an adequate proof of the existence of God. Furthermore, and compounding this, when I look at a picture of conjoined infants or read about cloacal exstrophy or Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, I find the thought of an All Good Omnipotent Being absurd.


08/15/2006 12:37:38 AM

It's fine for so many people to believe that God helped them - but what about all the others that God didn't help. Working from a perspective that there is a God - I can't help wondering why God turned his back. I'm still waiting for some religious person to live a long time and not succumb to death. But so far as I know, evidence in this regard, as proof of a God, isn't forthcoming. Even the Popes die, and I'd be willing to bet that being an athiest or not makes no difference on the battlefield. It's just that some, like Muslem martyrs, have a belief so strong that being killed or wounded is a blessing in their eyes.


08/14/2006 10:29:19 PM

As you should, Henrietta. And atheists and agnostics should be recognized for what we are, not for what superstitious people think we are.


08/14/2006 10:08:21 PM

As my car went out of control, my little 5 yr. old, in the backseat, said, "mom will we be all right?" I said "yes, God will help us". As we turned upside down, it was like being in slow-motion. I had a china platter in the backseat, with my son, daughter, our tiny Chihuahua, and a tank vacumen. Our son had four stitches from the broken platter, and our dog a bruise on his head. The volkswagon was totaled. I didn't yell for help, I knew God would help us, and his power did. You can stop shaking your atheists heads, and believe whatever you want. I do.


08/14/2006 08:27:00 PM

I always hear people (religious people) saying how hard it is not to believe in a higher power and that there's no way an endangered atheist wouldn't finally call on God to save him/her. That's one of the biggest fallacies pertaining to atheism. It may be hard for YOU not to call on some imaginary deity to save you, but not for a real atheist. There are MANY atheist (and agnostic) soldiers who have been in very life-threatening situations and never once thought about god-belief or religion or prayer. Atheists would spend less time praying futilely and more time trying to figure out how to get out of the predicament.


08/14/2006 08:10:56 PM

No one know for sure, but I bet this could be true. I personly found hard not want believe in something greater than this world.


08/14/2006 07:09:33 PM

I'm sure that many people who call themselves "Athiests" have died or have been wounded fighting the "good" fight. And I'm sure that many homosexuals have died or been wounded in similar ways. However, I wouldn't call myself an "Athiest", which is an absolute insistence that there is no God. I would rather call myself an "Agnostic", willing to drop to my knees as soon as someone proves to me that God exists, or when God, if he exists, makes himself known. I simply don't know if God does or doesn't exist, and without proof either way, I believe I'd be foolish to claim absolute knowledge either way.