Atheists in Foxholes

When God and I were talking today, the old maxim, “There are no atheists in foxholes,” came up. God told me that while there’s certainly some merit to the concept it didn’t turn out to actually be true.

There are two kinds of atheists in foxholes, she told me.

The first are true non-believers, in which she includes committed agnostics. These are people that take credit for their own actions and responsibility for their own fates and if their going to die in combat they’ll do what they can to avoid it but aren’t going to compromise their own beliefs by asking for help from a God they don’t believe in. She likes or dislikes these folks on the basis of how they live their lives and how they treat people and animals, the same as she does anyone else, but she respects their commitment either way.

The second kind don’t believe in her any more than the first, but that doesn’t stop them from praying and bargaining anyway. But it’s not really her that they’re praying to, she says. They’re praying really to themselves. They’re praying as a way to focus their attention, in a fit of irony they’re focusing on the imminent possibility of death as a way to help keep their minds off the danger all around them.

So remember, just because you can’t take God out of the foxholes doesn’t mean you can take the atheists out either.

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