Wednesday, June 11, 2008

There are no atheists in foxholes

Rachel Lucas used that as a post title. She had shared that she prayed when her boyfriend's father was seriously injured by a drunk driver. Rachel, as best I recall, believes in God - but not in a God who is worshipped in any existing religion. Rachel's blog comment section was soon filled with atheists protesting her use of the quote.

I do not intend, here, to generalize about all atheists. Many are surely wonderful people whom I would be delighted to hang out with. But, maybe some of the atheists who visited Rachel's comments section were temporarily not as wonderful.Rachel:
Man, the things you can learn from angry atheists. Valuable life lessons such as: if you ignore them, then you’re scared and insecure in your beliefs. If you engage them, as they so clearly and very badly want you to do, then you’re attention-seeking and a whiner. I can’t decide whether to be scared or a whiner! It sucks to only have those two choices but listen people. The atheists have everything figured out, they really do, so don’t blame me if I restructure my life to reflect their superior intelligence.

Another much-needed lesson for all of us here: it is apparently one of the worst things you can possibly do to ever use that foxhole quote. I know this because, obviously, since atheists have everything figured out, if there were more horrible things going on in the world that could be helped by the time and energy these atheists have put into their own personal battle against that quote, they’d be doing those things instead.
Don't you, dear wise reader, think "There are no atheists in foxholes" is an intentional comedy exaggeration? I do. Think of three or four men standing at a bar:
"Lads, there are no atheists in foxholes!"
Everyone haw haws and clinks beer mugs. OTOH:
"Lads, there are less atheists than theists in foxholes"
just doesn't have the same comedy effect. In fact, "less atheists" is actually a sober statement which - if thought about it too hard - might prompt one to cry in his beer. A similar comedy exaggeration:
"Lads, there are no married men on the road!"
Everyone haw haws and clinks beer mugs. OTOH:
"Lads, there are an awful lot of instantly unmarried men on the road"
doesn't have the same comedy effect.

This is why an atheist protest against "foxholes" is so silly. No sensible person considers the foxhole statement to be literal and quantifiable. It's a comedy exaggeration. It has enough truth behind it to touch some atheist nerves. Enough truth behind it is also what makes it memorable.

Rachel's concluding remarks:
Instructive, is what I’m saying it is. Especially now as someone who’s gotten it from both sides. The thing about arguing with Christians is that you always have a trump card. The minute they get nasty, insulting, or hateful, all you have to do is mention that this isn’t what Jesus would do. That either shuts them down or proves their hypocrisy and their own personal failure to live up to what they’re endorsing.

Atheists, on the other hand, particularly the angry variety, well you’re just screwed. Not because they’re right or because their argument is superior, but because there is no overarching moral standard that they claim to adhere to and that you can use to prove to them their own hypocrisy.

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