Sunday, July 31, 2005
atheists in foxholes
"There are no atheists in foxholes" someone recently quoted to me, during a discussion on atheism.
Hmmm. Is that a fact? There are plenty who would dispute that.
If the quote is meant to impune the patriotism of atheists, it is easily disproven. Even if you mistakenly believed that atheists never volunteered, it's kind of idiotic to suggest that all atheists who were ever drafted into the military deserted before they saw action. Still some people erroneously use the quote that way, but that's not the original meaning.
The original intent of the quote was to suggest that everyone believes in god when "put to the test" and that atheists have never been "tested" properly or they too would be believers. As if atheism were just some childish bravado, easily stripped away in a moment of fear.
If you look a little deeper, the real nugget of truth in the quote is this: Belief in god is based on fear and helpless desperation.
If it takes the extreme conditions of a foxhole to drive an atheist to belief, how much more brave and fortified must the atheist be than the believer, who is driven to accept the absurdities of religion by the abstract thought of death, in the comfort of his home?
(The "Atheists-in-Foxholes" monument is adjacent to the Willa Mae Whatley Auditorium in Fearn Park, overlooking Lake Hypatia, Alabama.)