There are no atheists in foxholes. As soon as your life is in danger, you know very well there’s a god, and you beg him to keep you safe.
How to debunk it
- There have in fact been many, many atheists in foxholes, from famous ones like Hemingway and Orwell to the millions of soldiers in the Soviet and Chinese armies, to the many atheist service members today who show off their “Atheists in Foxholes” signs, to me—your humble servant, who has also been one.
- This argument perfectly illustrates how much the god hypothesis is based on wishful thinking. If a person begs for help from a higher power at a time of danger, all it shows is that the person is subjectively desperate, not that something objectively exists outside of their desperate mind. Wishful thinking doesn’t lead to objective truth. You should try to base your beliefs on the evidence of reality, not the other way around.
- If you’re looking for objective answers, what makes more sense: accepting the measured opinion of someone who thinks logically and follows the evidence, or accepting the frantic, desperate pleadings of a terrified person? Of course, we can all sympathize with the terrified person and try to come to their aid, but that doesn’t mean we should accept their cosmological claims about supernatural creator deities.
- If being terrified or desperate really did lead people to discover objective truths, shouldn’t we terrify our scientists, politicians, doctors and technologists? Wouldn’t they do much better according to this argument? Why is it that, in reality, when faced with tough decisions about correct courses of action, we try to calm down and get more rational rather than terrify ourselves?
- If an oncologist tells his patient that he has Stage 4 cancer, and the terrified patient refuses to accept it and claims he’s perfectly healthy, whose opinion should we trust more? Subjective fears and desperation aren’t good avenues for reaching objective truths about the universe. In fact, they often lead you astray.
- Terrified people from all cultures at all times have desperately pleaded for help and asked for forgiveness from thousands of different deities. Do all those deities objectively exist or does this just show that desperate people have the same type of wishful thinking regardless of the deity, angel, ghost, ancestor spirit or saint they happen to believe in?
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