Yes, I know. Atheists are offended by that. Let me taunt you again. If you disagree with that statement, you are NOT an atheist.
Let me set you up with a bit of background. Perhaps we can agree on this, no? Would you say that as an atheist, God is no more “real” than say, Zeus, or Odin, or the Flying Spagetti Monster? Yes, you say?
Okay good. We shall continue.
Would you also say that religion, belief in an afterlife, or plain old “fear of God” stuff is just right out. Let’s face it, as an atheist, you don’t believe in that crap. Life is biological. When you’re gone, you’re gone. There is no higher calling than living your life to the fullest, not like a jerk, but fullest, being a good and productive human. It just makes good sense.
You also hate it when people say that without religion there would be no morals. Why not, you ask?
You reply, leaping forth from the font of Kantian thought, only that which can be applied universally is truly moral. You understand that the concept of universal morality and the golden rule are practical and lead to a good and solid foundation. Without this practical morality your own lifetime would have been marred with warring and fighting and disease and misery. Pay if forward, you say. Morals make good sense. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now there’s a moral framework you can get behind.
One more thing, and this is important, so pay attention. You say that life is more precious for you than it is for a “believer,” because, to an atheist, there is nothing after. Life is the greatest gift, the only gift you will truly ever receive. Life is all that you will ever have, and death takes away EVERYTHING.
Are you still with me? Do I have it mostly nailed down? I don’t want a straw man here. I want an atheist that can stand up and take it. But you know the strangest thing?
I agree with you.
But I still say there are no atheists in foxholes.
What?! Haven’t I been listening? Bear with me here, I’m going to spell it out. Here it is:
If life is all that you have and all that you will ever have, what the hell are you doing dying in a foxhole? I ask you, atheist, what is so important that you would be willing to give your life for it? I’m baffled. You profess to no god. You patently disavow any sort of celestial reward. You cast off the yoke of religious dogma, superstition, and tradition. For what do you die? Are you stupid? Crazy? Crazy like a foxhole, maybe. I’m on to you though.
rational practical atheist might reply that he is risking his life for a stable future, for enlightenment, for an end to suffering. I shoot back, but YOU aren’t going to be around? What would the point be?
Maybe he will talk to me of acceptable risk and potential reward. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, he would say. Don’t kid yourself. There is no acceptable risk in war. Why sacrifice yourself for oblivion then?
Nobody will live this life as well as you, for you are you and no one else. No one else will enjoy it like you. No one will smell it, taste it, touch it like you. No one can live it as you live it, experience consciousness as you experience it. This fact is not selfish, it is reality, the only reality you will ever know.
But why do you die in this foxhole, atheist? May I dare offer an explanation?
Perhaps, there are no atheists in foxholes, because by the very fact that you are willing to die for something you believe in, something bigger than yourself, you nullify your atheism.
You’ve already proven yourself a practical maverick thinker, not prone to group-think. You’ve shown yourself to be a rational being of the first order. You have seen through all the veils the world has pulled over the eyes of your brothers. You’re the only one that actually sees the truth.
Why are you in the foxhole, then? Perhaps you are not only NOT an atheist, but the most pious of us all. By giving your life in a foxhole, you are faithful to your fellows. You make a commitment knowing the outcome is uncertain. That is faith, my friend. You have faith. Perhaps “true-believers” are not even fit to tie your sandal strap. You are such the atheist that you may as well wrap around and come out the other side transfigured and clothed in divine white.
So I ask you:
Do you believe in justice? Is absolute justice worth dying for? Do you believe in love? Is absolute love worth dying for? Ultimate empathy? I submit, dear atheist, that you are nothing of the sort. Not only are you not an atheist, but you are as the righteous of history, a hero of the first order, a savior of mankind.
Amen I say to you, brother.