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There are no Atheists in Foxholes - Really?

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posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 04:43 PM
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According to Wikipedia:

The statement "There are no atheists in foxholes is an aphorism used to argue that in times of extreme stress and fear, such as when participating in warfare, all people will believe in or hope for a higher power."

en.wikipedia.org...
The phrase is often used on TBN and other Christian media to argue that atheism is phoney, and that times of fear bring out the "true", natural yearning for God even in scoffers and deniers.
It appears to be one of the most effective tools in religious manipulation.
Yet, outside staunch atheist circles it is never really questioned.

According to Wikipedia the statistics don't seem to tally with the propaganda, if one applies the argument to the US military. It says they have more non-religious members than religious. (This would be in contrast to global perceptions that the US military is strongly brainwashed by the religious right.) The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers uses the aphorism "No Atheists in Foxholes" ironically, in order to draw attention to the statistical untruth of the statement (and they possibly feel aggrieved that their profession is used by religious sects to push something they don't believe in).
The Freedom from Religion Association in Wisconsin even erected a monument to "Atheists in Foxholes", and it's one of the few military monuments to my knowledge that clearly states that it hopes to avert war.

Personally, what irks me is that the argument can be used by any religion - it doesn't specify that there are no Muslims, Hindus or animists in foxholes (for example).
Doesn't that demonstrate that religion is non-specific in its manipulation, and it's quite happy to have foxholes with other religions as enemies? Wouldn't most religions just seem plain ridiculous if they didn't have an enemy of another denomination or faith as the "other"?

I'd say it's the atheists who should be in the foxholes.
Religious people with true faith shouldn't fear death, and thus they shouldn't be afraid to die. They shouldn't need foxholes.
Or is that a case of another aphorism: "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die"?


[edit on 25-7-2010 by halfoldman]




posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 05:03 PM
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It's a silly argument to begin with, but ...

As the main male character, a soldier, observes in Robert Heinlein's novel Glory Road, tactical situations occur where prayer can't hurt, and might help. Since prayer costs nothing in itself, it is therefore a so-called dominant action in those siutations. Being "in a foxhole" plausibly refers to such a situation.

Everybody plays the dominant action if they see it in time. The whole point of dominance is that you choose it regardless of what you believe.

So, even if it were true that atheists "in foxholes" prayed, no inference about their religious conviction would be warranted.

And, surprise surprise, it isn't so in the first place. No worry, being in a foxhole probably also means you might not be thinking about decision theory just then.

S&F for your trouble. God bless.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 05:26 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 

Good points.
However, the faithful would ask: "Why is prayer the dominant behaviour in such situations?"
Although my thread takes a critical tone, there is something to the aphorism - I've been in sticky situations (like before an operation) where I must confess, I was a very bad atheist and prayed.
The faithful would say that spiritual man is the "natural" man (or woman), and that this dominant behaviour in stressful situations proves that God created us spiritually to worship Him - to paraphrase an Islamic saying "God is closer than your juggular vein".

Skeptics might blame it on brainwashing - it's usually the "god" figure we culturally grew up with.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 05:39 PM
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Despite the atheist organizations in the military, I am really shocked by media reports that make out religion as the quintessential ingredient of the American army. The following is from Fox News.
www.youtube.com...

Is this really the message that the world should see?
That it was all some kind of religious crusade?

I'm also reminded of the Scott and Decker saga - two American missionaries whose "Travel The Road" series was an entertaining (or cringe-worthy) addition to TBN's youth channel, JCTV.
In their Afghanistan episode they were clearly shown embedded with US troops before attempting to convert Muslims:
www.youtube.com...


[edit on 25-7-2010 by halfoldman]



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 06:49 PM
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Is there a conspiracy in the (as you claim) belief and proclamation by Christians on tv that there are no atheists in fox holes?

And regardless of whether or not the op is appropriate to this sub-forum, a ridiculous straw man is being constructed.

I watch a fair amount of Christian programming and it is certainly on my radar when I'm not actively watching. I can't remember that trite non-truism being spouted once.

Maybe it has, maybe it hasn't. But if I can't remember a single incidence, the frequency of it's use seems to be so minor as to be statistically meaningless.

Eric



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 07:27 PM
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reply to post by EricD
 

Who is constructing what strawman?
I heard the very same argument twice on TBN this week.
I have also provided video proof of it from Fox News.
Not that I need this, it is well documented, and the very existence of organizations like "Atheists in Foxholes" prove that it is a much abused aphorism.
Are you saying people build monuments and found organizations for fun, or simply for making straw-men?

Whether it is deemed a conspiracy, or if it goes to a more general forum like BTS, I brought up a valid argument that irked me. And unless I was confronted with it this week it wouldn't have irked me.

And yes, for me it is a conspiracy, because whosoever invented religions to control us knew that the more we were placed into stressful situations the more we would have blind faith in what we were told, and the less we would question. That goes for kamikaze pilots, suicide bombers and the soldiers exposed to Fox News, JCTV or Pat Robertson.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 07:28 PM
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However, the faithful would ask: "Why is prayer the dominant behaviour in such situations?"
Although my thread takes a critical tone, there is something to the aphorism - I've been in sticky situations (like before an operation) where I must confess, I was a very bad atheist and prayed.

I tend to look at "religious" things from a psychological perspective. Talking to an unseen personality who resides outside of you sounds a lot like a symbolic enactment of your conscious ego coordinating itself with your own unconscious self inside.

There are worse things to do the night before surgery, I think.


The faithful would say that spiritual man is the "natural" man (or woman), and that this dominant behaviour in stressful situations proves that God created us spiritually to worship Him - to paraphrase an Islamic saying "God is closer than your juggular vein".

Figurative language, evocative metaphor, vivid imagery... they're the royal road to the unconscious, no?

Projection is also natural. God seems to have done a great job in creating our capacity for that
.


Skeptics might blame it on brainwashing - it's usually the "god" figure we culturally grew up with.

Or, getting the conscious ego in touch with the unconscious self is a learned skill. And the way you learned to do it was to imagine an instance of the Wise Old Man archetype, and then talk to him respectfully. So, now you can do it "by the numbers," if you want to, just like you were taught.

What's wrong with that, if it works? And if you'd grown up somewhere else, then maybe instead you'd go someplace quiet, curl yourself up into a full lotus, and just sit there for a while. That could work, too.

I don't think that's brainwashing, exactlly. The person who taught you probably believed that the reason it worked was that God intervened. Even though I favor a psychological alternative explanation, I don't really know that he doesn't intervene. I just know it would look the same whichever hypothesis were true.

Other hypotheses maybe weren't interesting to your teacher? Hell, that's pragmatism, not dogmatism
.

Good talking with you.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 08:11 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 

That's a really good psychological exposition.
However, can psychology ever be free from religion?
The conscious and unconscious were constructed by Freud, who also inserted a controlling mechanism between the two polarities. Significantly in 1933 C.G Jung wrote of Freud's idea of the super-ego as a "furtive attempt to smuggle in his time-homoured image of Jehova in the dress of psychological theory" (Carl Jung: "Modern Man in Search of a Soul", Ark Paperbacks, 1995: p.141).
Psychology itself may be the product of archetype and secularized morality and religious notions.
Perhaps psychology merely became the confession to a modernist priest?
But, personally I think you are largely correct.

We only need to ask ourselves: when does fundamentalism in societies occur, and why is it invariably in times of war? That being said, to the poster above, EricD, you probably do have a point.
The war grandstanding on TBN has been reduced significantly (which is interesting in itself, because people are still dying). Gone are the days of Robertson parading around with a stick before a map of Iraq.

Perhaps to further psycho-analyze - most religions would concede that evil occurs to bring people to God. In Christianity most salvation testimonies are of radical cries to God when people are at their lowest point. Krishna writing says that God will take all material things away until you have no choice but to become a devotee.
It is the "atheist in foxholes" argument. It is crucial to religion.
That actually implies that a circular argument exists between NWO/power activities and religion: they took our archetypes (and perhaps a true spirituality) and provide the stress and the answer to that stress!
And then the answer (religion) again leads to more psychological distress (war) and thus religion.
What a cosy little system.



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 10:56 PM
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Fascinating site by The Association of Military Atheists and Freethinkers:
www.maaf.info...
One major complaint seems to be that of mandatory forms of prayer.
In general the question for me becomes not so much what occurs in the US and other militaries, but rather WHY reporting seems to focus on the military as being hyper-religious.

Perhaps if pacifism is associated with religious saviours, one could ask why we have foxholes and people in them in the first place?
One could also question why atheists and non-believers in a specific God continue to toe the line with so little resistance.
While the experience of war makes believers, it also creates unbelief and people who will never believe again. Yet these people choose to be a silent majority? Why - is it because of tradition?



posted on Jul, 25 2010 @ 11:47 PM
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Interesting clip from Al Jazeera about the politics of proselitizing in Afghanistan:
www.youtube.com...
The question is later posed in the documentary, are such activities by evangelical soldiers undermining the safety of others?
Does it perpetuate the foxholes?



posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 12:45 AM
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There are no conspiracy theorists in rabbit-holes. They've already gone through them.


Sorry, couldn't resist, please carry on...



posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 01:54 AM
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reply to post by silent thunder
 

Well thanks for your insight
.
At least you don't claim that conspiracy theorists and rabbit holes are wholly incompatible
.

[edit on 26-7-2010 by halfoldman]



posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 07:35 AM
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Don't know why, but this quote comes to mind:


Had We wished, We could have elevated him by it, but he stuck to the Earth and he followed his desire. His example is like that of a dog, if you scold him he pants, and if you leave him he pants; such is the example of the people who deny Our revelations. Relate the stories, perhaps they will think.
(Qur'an, 7:176)



posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 11:50 AM
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reply to post by halfoldman
 




I've been in sticky situations (like before an operation) where I must confess, I was a very bad atheist and prayed.




I'm also reminded of the Scott and Decker saga - two American missionaries whose "Travel The Road" series was an entertaining (or cringe-worthy) addition to TBN's youth channel, JCTV.




I heard the very same argument twice on TBN this week.


So since you heard it twice on TBN this week i take it you are a regular viewer. So let me get this straight you pray in times of distress and you watch TBN, we are suposed to believe that you are an atheist? Are you part of some christian off shoot group like "atheists for christ" or something?




And yes, for me it is a conspiracy, because whosoever invented religions to control us knew that the more we were placed into stressful situations the more we would have blind faith in what we were told, and the less we would question.

Now you are just grsaping at straws to have some consipracy here...



posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 06:56 PM
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reply to post by zaiger
 


So since you heard it twice on TBN this week i take it you are a regular viewer. So let me get this straight you pray in times of distress and you watch TBN, we are suposed to believe that you are an atheist? Are you part of some christian off shoot group like "atheists for christ" or something?


If you were supposed to believe I was a committed atheist I would not have mentioned the inconsistency in my behavior. What I wanted to illustrate was that the aphorism is not entirely untrue for all people, and some find religion that way, while for others the experience is temporary. From the religious point of view turning to religion in times of distress is a proof of an innate yearning for God, while I can also analyze it as a psychological response that has to do with childhood conditioning (as was discussed above).

I was first introduced to the "Travel the Road" controversy through Al Jazeera, and then made a point of watching it. There could be countless reasons why people are interested in certain media, from analyzing gender constructions to techniques of auto-suggestion (some of which are quite similar to Derren Brown's programs).
I wonder how Richard Dawkins could have written "The God Delusion" if he didn't read or view anything on Christianity?

So yes, the aphorism has an obvious truth. One need only consdier how the early missionaries complained that the Native Americans were difficult to convert and baptize in their "natural state", but when they sickened and died from imported diseases "the harvest of souls was great".
However I would question whether that is a spiritual response.



[edit on 26-7-2010 by halfoldman]



posted on Jul, 26 2010 @ 07:09 PM
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I think the quote has been entirely over-analyzed. That's just my .02 of course.

I can attest that when you are trying to dig an extra foot into the ground using your face, chest and knees with incoming rounds pinging and whizzing around you, even an entirely non-religious man will try to appeal to a higher power for some backup.

I heard a kid from the 82nd reciting "our father" while waiting on our "ass" to show up (which happened to be the only thing better than God at the time, an A10). The kid could be overheard saying he hasn't prayed since he was a very small child afterward.

It's meant to be taken more figuratively than literally imo.

Adios hermanos.



posted on Jul, 27 2010 @ 08:19 PM
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reply to post by Shark VA84
 

Thank you very much for your on-topic opinion and sharing your experience.
By your example the aphorism seems to be literally true in those testing circumstances (rather than figurative)?

I suppose a lot of things that are figurative (aphorisms, spiritual texts) become lteral bones of contention when it comes to conflicts between church and state, or religion and atheism. Perhaps for many lived experience is more complex than opposing, polarized arguments allow for.



posted on Jul, 27 2010 @ 08:23 PM
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"There are no atheist in fox-holes", is a flawed statement.

foxhole |ˈfäksˌhōl|
noun
a hole in the ground used by troops as a shelter against enemy fire or as a firing point.
• a place of refuge or concealment.

So if I am in a place of refuge I can't be an atheist.

Has there been interviews conducted in fox-holes asking people what religion they and/or if they switched beliefs upon entering the fox-hole?'

To me this is nothing more than senseless religious propaganda.



posted on Jul, 27 2010 @ 08:23 PM
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"There are no atheist in fox-holes", is a flawed statement.

foxhole |ˈfäksˌhōl|
noun
a hole in the ground used by troops as a shelter against enemy fire or as a firing point.
• a place of refuge or concealment.

So if I am in a place of refuge I can't be an atheist.

Has there been interviews conducted in fox-holes asking people what religion they and/or if they switched beliefs upon entering the fox-hole?'

To me this is nothing more than senseless religious propaganda.



posted on Jul, 27 2010 @ 08:28 PM
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I have seen non-believers resort to prayer in times of great stress and danger before. Not that I would claim *all* athiests would do this, but as Shark VA84 noted above, sometimes people revert to habits from their early childhood when they are under stress.

Also, some people who were brought up in a religious family, even if they decide later in life they don't believe, sometimes can't help praying "out of habit," almost like an obsessive-compulsive type of thing.


[edit on 7/27/10 by silent thunder]



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