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The Bible and Suicide

Readers Respond: Have You Been an Atheist in a Foxhole or a Similarly Dangerous Situation?

Responses: 41


The claim that there are no atheists in foxholes has been around for a long time, but it became especially popular after the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. For theists it may be natural to assume that such a thing is true, but it's not. Just as there have surely been atheists who converted to theism, there are plenty of atheists who haven't - and plenty of theists who became atheists after facing situations like war. Have you faced death and remained an atheist?

No reason to implore deities

One of the primary reasons why I was vested with the title with which I now post this is because I operated as a part of a private personal security firm that assisted the needy with their emergencies, given that those emergencies, for one reason or another, 'fell through the cracks' of traditional emergency response. Although most of the situations to which I was subsequently a part were mundane, I eventually came to see a number of terrifying incidents and life-threatening encounters. I never saw a reason to implore any kind of god of gods; perhaps my penchant for honesty would serve as a greater impetus than some, but I refused to believe in anything for which there was insufficient evidence. I saw it no different than simply lying, even if I didn't know for sure that gods did not exist. The fact that a great abundance of the wrongdoers against whom I found myself was comprised of theists didn't help the case for an all-loving deity, either. Empathy is more important than gods.

Death row

Not been in a foxhole but as Christopher Hitchens said. There are no atheists on death row either.
—Guest Mark

Tragedy strikes regardless of faith.

In 2010 I cared for my mother in the last stages of colon cancer. My mother refused treatment for her cancer and the colitis that led to it, because she believed she could pray herself well. That if she just had enough faith that "GOD" would hear her and she would be healed. My mother was a good person. She would literally give a stranger the shirt off of her back. She is dead. Her faith and her god didn't save her. At no time during my mother's last days did I join her in her belief. I changed her diapers combed her hair clipped her nails and read to her. I cooked and cleaned and took care of her business. I convinced her to make a will even though she didn't believe she would need one and I watched my mother die. I wished that I could have convinced her that she should take care of herself instead of trusting in a fairy tale to do it for her. Maybe she would still be here.
—Guest menotme

Why do you need foxhole protection?

If you truly believe, then why do you need the protection of a foxhole?
—Guest Commentor

There Certainly Are Atheists In Foxholes

i have never believed in a deity. this is not for want of trying, but the more i educated myself about religion, the less likely it seemed that i would ever believe. i simply cannot believe in gods, and especially the ghastly tyrant of monotheism. 2 years ago, my supposedly cured cancer returned and is now incurable and 100% fatal. i have felt no desire to look for any metaphysical causes or meaning for my ilness, and no desire to pray to a god, or hope for supernatural healing. why would i? i am living each day fully and as a free person.
—Guest Chris J

Ocean Foxholes

After 17 years in the Navy and counting, I have never asked any diety for safety on the ocean. I simply did my job and trained those to do theirs to the best of my ability and whatever happens will happen. Irritatingly enough, they force nightly prayers over the ship's loudspeaker system and you would not believe the outlandish things they give credit to god for. I feel bad for those that are so delusional they turn to fairy tales to keep them safe. I will keep relying on presence of mind, calmness in stress, and the belief that mythical creatures or not, my Shipmates will do what they have been trained to do.

Currently in Iraq third time

Athiest since 16. 3 tour to iraq usaf, seen combat and engaged in firefights. I think einstein put it best "I beilieve in a god who reveals itsel in the nature of all things not in a god that concerns itselfs with the fates and actions of mankind." so there may be a force or a mover of the cosmos that we cannot explain but there is no personal god When I realized I was not a christian, it was the most mind opening day of my life, suddenly everything got better, everything was simpilier, I enjoyed living so much more, and I have become a better person because of it. If one religion I respect it is buddhism but the strict kind not the sublime, I like how it tells you flat out life is suffering and wants and desires are the cause, I felt this way before I read what buddhism was about, I still strive to do the best and I have desires but I dont let them consume me. I love how gautama(buddah) said god is irrelevant if you wish to reach enlightenment.
—Guest guest jake

no fear

In the few life or death situations I have experienced, my mind has always, without exception, concentrated on solving the problem at hand, as calmly and as rationally as I can, without haste...there is always only one source of salvation and that is 'self' ...determination. Entertaining a 'well, maybe?' thought is, naturally, out of the question, has never happened. I beleive in my view of reality without question, as strongly as any Theist beleives in theirs, its automatic. ...and more power to them, what ever works for them, is fine...for them. Besides, irrational thinking or 'wishful thinking' is a waste of time during critical circumstances and is more likely to get you killed. When one finally comes to terms with the reality that this life, this consciousness is all there is, then life becomes much simpler..and understandable......and precious. If I can save a fly, a snake, a dog a mouse...I will. Why kill? We share this planet, this space with other earthlings. Enjoy.
—Guest Mike O'Neill


In 1956 my best friend joined the 82nd Army Airborne. I opted for the U.S. Marines in '58. It took me 51 years for me to get up the nerve to jump from an airplane. Preceeded by two weeks of cold sweats and dry mouth thinking about the 40 seconds of free-fall from 10,000 feet (tandem jump)before the chute opened, I didn't give a thought to god. When it came time to jump all I worried about was "Can I get my right foot onto the landing gear at 90 miles-an-hour?" YouTube: Clay's 1st Jump May 30, 2009
—Guest Grandpa_In_The_East

There Certainly Are Atheists In Foxholes

I've been an atheist since grade school. As an adult, I lived in L.A. for about ten years. Once, during an extremely powerful and terrifying earthquake, my old apartment building started falling apart. I was pretty sure I was going to die. The quake was so strong I could not get out of the building. As soon as I was sure there was nothing I could do, I relaxed. I did not call out for any god or gods. I did not pray, I did not imagine being in an afterlife. No thoughts of a religious nature came to me at all. As I said---I'm an atheist.
—Guest James

I'm another atheist in a foxhole

I'm in the Canadian infantry - the guys who actually dig and live in the trenches, and do most of the dying. I've been the recruiting officer, and I can say that half of the members I signed up chose the non-religious "solemn affirmation" over the religious "swearing in". At a military trial I assisted in, the only person who "swore" on a Bible was the accused - the rest of us all "solemnly affirmed". Just like among Canadian youth generally, 1/4 to 1/3 of the Canadian Army are atheists. That's a lot of atheists in foxholes.

I thought I was toast

My 3rd parachute jump ended badly.I was headed for power lines and I thought to myself " I'm gonna die" and calmy watched these wires getting close at a tremendous speed.At no point did it occur to to me to ask for or hope for some sort of devine interventio. I did not die. And when I became aware of my surroundings(hospital) ten days later, I most certainly did not thank any god.I thanked the medics and nurses who got me back to tip-top shape.
—Guest Veejay

No thoughts of gods

Because theists fill so much of their thought process with their gods it doesn't occur to them that gods simply do not exist in the thoughts of atheist. It doesn't matter how stressful the moment is the "god thought" doesn't exist for us. Not in our conscious mind and not in our subconscious mind. It is like thinking that a theist would start believing in elves when under stress. But one thing that can be very misleading to theist, and I have had them tell me this, is that they claim that some atheist have uttered "Oh my god" at some time or another under stress. To an atheist this is no more meaningful than saying any other explicative. It is just something we have heard so many times it is an autonomic response with no more significance than saying "Oh crap!". But theists want to read more into what is to us the same as swearing.

Definitely an atheist in a foxhole

Although I have not yet been in any such situation, I am sure that I will definitely be an atheist in a foxhole. I have been through mental stresses and have definitely been a atheist thought. This thought has come to my and since then have been contemplating about not loosing my mind.
—Guest Bromide


Unexpectedly had to have open-heart surgery. First time prayer occurred to me was a couple of days later when the hospital chaplain visited me. I had to tell him a couple of times that I'm an atheist before he'd believe I didn't need him. A good atheist friend of mine is a fighter pilot in the Middle East, he tells me prayer is the farthest thing from his mind when he's flying a mission...it would only interfere with his piloting.
—Guest Dean
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