Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Myth Busted

See Wikipedia on the subject.

Curtsy to Fred Kiesch.


Imogen said...

I hate that aphorism. Three words to its users: Battle. Of. Stalingrad.

Camille Hopkins said...

“There are no atheists in foxholes' isn't an argument against atheism, it's an argument against foxholes." - James Morrow

Lux Mentis said...

I've personally seen a lot of people hedge their bets when the chips are down and a situation presents itself where they could meet their maker, even if they are normally irreligious.

War could easily make you question God's Will (if you were a believer) or his existense. I suspect this is a medium to long term effect of watching the random barbarity of war.

On the other hand, when under immediate threat, who wouldn't hedge their bets? I mean, there could be a 99.999% chance there is no intervention-capable divinity, but if a quick prayer (along the lines of 'Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition') gives you an extra 0.001% chance of coming out alive, why not?

I believe aetheists are rationalists. I believe the stress of combat is inherently irrational. Soldiers get trained to take potentially lethal risks under orders from people who may not be as competent or worthy as themselves in some cases. And yet, if you are told to charge the MG nest, that's what you are supposed to do - it is inherently irrational.

So in the domain of the irrational, covering all the bases probably feels like a good idea.

Justthisguy said...

1. You changed the format! My old version of Firefox cuts off the right-hand edge of the cartoon!

2. People hanging on the barbed wire for a day or so, slowly hurtfully dying, are proof that God does exist, and has a very mean low nasty sense of humor.

Kathrin said...

> if a quick prayer (along the lines of 'Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition') gives you an extra 0.001% chance of coming out alive, why not?

Ah, the Pascal's Wager approach (see Wikipedia).

The question then is "which god", and "why would a god that cares if you believe place any value in a prayer that was literally just 'hedging one's bets'"?

Besides, I would argue that the somewhat absurd notion that such a prayer could help is balanced if not overtaken by an opposite potential for harm. People who claim to follow what I stand for, and don't, tick me off far more than the people who simply have no position on the issue.

Give me an honest socialist over a fake libertarian any day. Who is to say a hypothetical God would not feel the same?

Annie said...

I just came across this this week, but I'll definitely be sticking around :) read through the archives might take a while...

Zoe Brain said...

JTG - thanks for bringing this to my attention - I halved the rendering dimensions, so it should fit now.

Zosimus the Heathen said...

Interestingly, I've been in a few life-threatening situations myself, and I found that, when I was, "making my peace with God"* was usually the last thing on my mind (my thoughts tended to be more along the lines of "Shit! I've got to get the fuck outta here!").

One particularly memorable example of an "atheist in a foxhole" I can think of is the mountaineer Joe Simpson (of Touching the Void fame), who despite plunging into an icy crevasse during an ill-fated mountain-climbing expedition, and (from what I recall of his story) busting half the bones in his body, said that praying for help, and expecting God to get him out of his predicament, was a course of action he never even considered.

*Ie begging him not to torture me for all eternity.