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Featured Thoughts on the "No atheists in foxholes" argument

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Hubert Farnsworth, Sep 23, 2019.

  1. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    One of the popular arguments used by Christians is that "there are no atheists in foxholes." I recall a man in my childhood church who was fond of using this statement. Now, I think it is highly unlikely that this statement is true. While many people probably do call out to a childhood deity in times of personal crisis, I highly doubt that everyone does. But, for the sake of argument, let's suppose the statement is true, and that everyone who is in a foxhole believes in God. How could this possibly be used as a legitimate argument for the existence of God? Do the Christians who are so fond of making this claim really think that a person in a foxhole is in the best frame of mind to rationally weigh the evidence for and against the existence of God and come to a logical decision? If anything, I would think that people are less rational and more driven toward erroneous and superstitious beliefs when their lives are in danger. Thus, if anything, I would say that the "no atheists in foxholes" argument is a better argument against the existence of God then for it, because people in immediate danger are obviously not going to be thinking as carefully about evidence as people who are in an environment where they have time to rationally and calmly consider arguments for and against the existence of God.
     
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  2. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta and Spiritualist and Pantheist
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    As a theist (or more specifically pantheist) I always disliked the "No atheists in foxholes" statement coming from theists.

    Not only is it not accurate but seems to just be propagated to irritate atheists.
     
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  3. leov

    leov Well-Known Member
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    Only two camps of activists with agendas.
     
  4. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    I agree.

    A dying person might cry out for their mother, too; it doesn't mean they actually believe their mother is physically with them on the battlefield or wherever.

    Personally, there have been a few times when I almost died. I can honestly say that God didn't cross my mind.

    In the whole, I think that the people who go around saying "there are no atheists in foxholes" are saying more about themselves than they are about atheists. I think they're effectively saying "I'm so incapable of relating to atheists that I have to deny that they even truly exist."
     
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  5. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Coincidentia oppositorum
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    Yeah. The expression isn't quite true. It's similar to the idea that's propagated in older shows that all female always make a high-pitched scream holding their cheeks when they see a dead body. All old cop dramas do it. Very unlikely reaction. And of course, there's been plenty of "Please God help me!" shouts in war dramas. As soon as you're shot at, people call to God... according to those old flicks. It's probably more likely they call to mama. :D

    I fell of my bike a few years back, and a ladder last year, and in both cases, in the fraction of a second, I knew I would be hurt, hurt badly, and saw the ground in slow motion coming closer, and my mind did touch on the thought of death (but it wasn't deadly of course, but you never know), I didn't for a fragment of a time-slice even consider God or afterlife. It was more like "this is it."

    I was almost run over a car too. Also falling of my bike. Car stopped his tires about 2 feet from my head. My son was more freaked out than I was. :)
     
  6. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Coincidentia oppositorum
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    True. And it might also point to some underlying basis for their own beliefs, that they believe because they're afraid, not because they're convinced. I rather have a belief or unbelief based on conviction than having based on fear.
     
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  7. Terry Sampson

    Terry Sampson ζει

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    From the looks of the OP, "the plan" worked at least once, eh? :D
     
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  8. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    Yikes! God must have been watching out for you that day. ;) (How's that to go along with the foxhole myth?)
     
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  9. Ouroboros

    Ouroboros Coincidentia oppositorum
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    Yeah. The Universe didn't want to kill me that day. :D

    I got new shoes and had moved the clip-ins from the old pair, but didn't tighten the screws properly, so when we stopped at an intersection, pulling out my foot, it didn't release and me and the bike went over, right out in the road. Flat on the street. But I didn't get much hurt. But the car was coming. She wasn't going too fast and managed to stop. My son is still a bit shaken years later, poor guy.
     
  10. Flame

    Flame Heretic Astartes

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    I think I've mentioned this before but my Great-Grandfather became an atheist while fighting the Nazis. Despite my great-grandma's pressuring he refused to see a catholic priest on his deathbed.
     
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  11. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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    I still remember being ambulanced to Mercy Hospital when I had my heart attack. Not once did I cry to God to save me. Still an atheist today.
     
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  12. Terry Sampson

    Terry Sampson ζει

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    Interesting, ... my father served in Europe, in the U.S. Army, and participated in the liberation of at least one concentration camp. Months after discharge, in September 1946, he married my mother and enrolled in Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois. He served as an ordained Lutheran-Missouri Synod pastor for 60+ years.

    Funny what happens on the battlefield.
     
  13. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Only atheists and fools think this is the argument under consideration.

    The argument to consider is whether to trust in the presumed existence of a benevolent God, or to choose not to. And when people find themselves faced with this choice, it's very often because they find themselves in threatening circumstances that are beyond their own ability to control. Which is what the saying about there being no atheists in foxholes is really about: the fear and loss of control that drives us to seek help beyond ourselves. It's not about the actual existence of God. But the choice to trust in the proposed existence of God.
     
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  14. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    While these people might be the fools by your estimation, I have literally been told in the past, in response to finding out I'm an atheist, 'We'll see when you're about to die.' It's not meant in a 'you'll lament your loss of control' type of way but in a 'you'll believe in a god then, because everyone secretly believes in a god.'
     
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  15. Flame

    Flame Heretic Astartes

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    He was a member of the Italian Resistance during the war. He never told us much of why he became an atheist but we believe it was the impact of losing his two brothers and a few cousins.
     
    #15 Flame, Sep 23, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  16. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    A speculation....
    They believe that cold rational thought interferes with our spiritual connection
    to the divine, ie, that it's a shield we employ.
    We must become emotional...suspending rational thought to see their Truth.
     
  17. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    Its just another form of discrimination and/or hate speech against atheist by some "good" christians, we get used to it. And those who use such derogatory comments will always become all incredulous if someone challenged them about it.

    The history or my family shows how utterly preposterous the statement is. I know of several family members, some atheist who have been engaged in war.
     
  18. syo

    syo Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, this means that Christians believe because of fear.
     
  19. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    I don't find it offensive....just misguided.
     
  20. ChristineM

    ChristineM "Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
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    Family members have died defending those cowards sitting in the bar discrediting brave people, i find it offensive
     
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