I Get Mail – When Atheists Pray

This one’s a big one. I had to go check but it seems to me a copy pasta from here.

Springtime, and the armies of atheism have gathered forces and are starting their annual spring offensive to ensure that the name “God” or reference to any religion — other than their own, of course — is not even vaguely referenced in any school graduation ceremony or other function held on public property.

Read it and weep!

I count “Armies of Atheism”, “Spring Offensives” (Because we are Invading the Soviet Union) and “A Complete Lack Of Understanding of the Establishment Clause”. It’s like the trifecta of stupid arguments.

Mate when you make an argument such as this, you demonstrate that you are a fool and when you have demonstrated that you are a fool there is not much else for us to do here.

Atheism is that religion whereby the devoted believer (atheist) believes that there positively is no supreme being greater than himself. His faith is that there is no possibility of a creator or deity that could be omnipotent, more powerful than himself or have a more superior intellect than his own.

No. Atheism is not a religion. Religions are based on faith, Atheism is based on an absence of evidence regarding the existence of a god. If one can provide existence most atheists would change their ways but sadly we live in a reality where there is no existence of any gods. Thus you must put up with us.

Atheism is merely the absence of belief in any gods. A Christian is an atheist of Hindu gods and has no qualms in not believing in the gods of others.

And we believe that to date we are the most technologically and intellectually advanced species on the planet. We are unsure about the universe. To date no organism has proven itself to be our “master”. And at this point out technological prowess makes us the fastest and strongest creatures on the planet.

The Atheist Nation is growing, and it has emerged from its dark, basement netherworld to make its presence known in town halls, city streets, roadside billboards, school grounds and courtrooms across America.

That’s goblins you are confusing us with.

Atheists spend vast sums of money to promote their own religion in their war against those who profess faith in any other religion.

I for instance have spent el-zilcho pounds in promoting atheism. In fact I don’t think I have converted even a single believer into a non-believer. If I have please make yourself known in the comments. I need to cash those in with the Goblin King (David Bowie of course).

During a field sermon on the island of Bataan in 1942, with the entire island reeking with the stench of rotting human flesh, W.T. Cummings observed, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

That is not an argument against atheists, that is an argument against foxholes. And it is incorrect. There are plenty of atheists in foxholes to the point where they are actively discriminated by the US Army. It’s less of a problem in the UK which has had a staunch multi-faith army for more than a century with many atheists holding important roles. In fact the faith of a soldier has never been an issue.

Anyone who has endured heavy enemy artillery fire and has turned to see that his friend’s head has been blown off or that he himself was severely wounded and bleeding profusely would quickly abandon his atheism and pray to God for the shelling to stop so a medical corpsman could get to him to stop the bleeding and put his intestine back into his body.

A more astute man would wonder why both sides claim god is on their side and why a god would let the horrors of WW2 occur. In reality, god never stopped the shelling. People did. Often at great cost to each other’s lives. And the person who saved you was a medic. At no point is god involved in this.

After all? Where was god when “good Christian Nazis” were fighting the atheist horde of Communist Russia? Where was Jehovah when “Good Christian Nazis” were being stomped by those Church of England folk from the UK? There was no Jehovah during the blitz but there were brave men and their aeroplanes? Where was god at Auschwitz or Treblinka or Terezin? He certainly wasn’t at the Burma Railroad or Bataan or Nanking.

Why must god intervene now? To save your life but not the life of your friend? What sort of fickle god do you worship?

And why must we pray to your Christian god to stop shelling? It seems that the prayers of Hindus to their gods were equally acceptable to the random hand of fate in providing the necessary action to assuage a believer.

And steady on there. A bit too much war porn and not enough common sense here. The funny thing is at no point during the shelling of Japanese soldiers by the allies did Japanese soldiers spontaneously become Christians.

I’m curious. Does an atheist also stop being an atheist when his 5-year-old is rushed to the hospital after being run over by a truck? Does he remain an atheist when his dear wife is diagnosed with stage three cancer?

We stay atheists. See a theist has to explain where his god was when his child was run over. Or why his god let his child get run ovver in the first place. The sad answer is normally “God was testing me” which is a bit of a fucking dick move.

Atheists? Well we know who is to blame (either the kid or the truck driver or it was an accident) and we know who can help our loved ones. Neither of these two individuals are taken to a priest. At no point has anyone prayed away a broken leg or cancer. Every time it’s been doctors who fought off the disease. Not the belief in a non-existent deity.

Does he stop being an atheist when his year-old baby girl turns blue, stops breathing and he has to cool her tiny body in the snow and give CPR until the ambulance gets there? Does an atheist thank God when the sweet baby finally gasps for breath? Saying maybe a little “Thanks,” under his breath?

I don’t suggest doing that. That’s not standard procedure and you can cause frostbite particularly since babies have difficulty maintaining body temperatuure.

And no. I find that god tends to not help as much as CPR and an ambulance.

And we thank the doctors, the nurses, the paramedics and those who helped save our kids rather than the actions of a nebulous wanker who didn’t stop the child from getting hurt in the first place or worse due to the state of his omnipotence is actively responsible for not doing anything to save the child in the first place.

Does he stop being an atheist when he is told his odds are bad for surviving his heart operation? Does he remain an atheist when he is holding the hand of a loved one who is suffering and screaming in agony while dying?

Yes and yes. If anything the existence of suffering is a greater thorn in the side of a Christian who has to accept that their omnipotent god does less to alleviate suffering than the sinful and weak and powerless men.

Are atheists only atheists during the Spring Offensive, the Holiday Offensive and after their war-room meetings? Or do they abandon atheism during their child’s brain cancer treatments and return to atheism when the cancer is gone?

We have a war-room? Why won’t any of you invite me? I am good at war! I won’t become a Christian when shells fall on my foxhole!

Plenty of atheists have suffered through the loss of a loved one and while we don’t have a heaven to placate us we know that everyone will die one day. And the best we can do is live with the memories of the good times we had and live learning the lessons they taught us and in a way that would make the dead proud had they been alive.

All we can do is our best.

Is it only in foxholes, or also in other times of great personal tragedy, pain or suffering, that an atheist ever says, “Please, God” or wipes away a tear and says “Thank God”? He can always return to atheism and denying God as soon as the holiday season begins.

No. Anymore than the theist blames god for being struck by lightning or being eaten by a shark or some other highly improbable “death”. Miracles are just “good luck”. We never say “What a miracle” when the oil slick was just there and the crash barricade had rusted just there. Just because something is improbable but unpleasant why must it stop being wonderful and the act of a god?

There are atheists who have lived through all these things without the pacifier of a god to “give them strength”. Mainly because we get strength from our fellow men. Not from imaginary beings.


  1. CaitieCat says

    …their omnipotent god…

    Seems more like an omnimpotent God to me: always ineffective.

    Nice fisking, Avi.

  2. says

    Read it and weep

    I am weeping. I held my mother’s hand as she took her last breath after a 2 year fight with Melanoma. I am also a war veteran. And I was ( and remain) an atheist throughout. I’m not sure what your commenting policy is so I will simply say “Boo!” To the originator of that “article”.

    I confess that I haven’t been reading your blog ( soooo many good ones here at FTB) but I will be now. Thanks!

  3. gshelley says

    There’s a bit of Pascal’s Wager about this, in that the person pushing these arguments sees the choice as their god or no god. Even if an atheist in a moment of desperation decided to pray, why assume it would be to the Christian god. depending on the context, there may be many gods more likely to help. In a war, a war god, or maybe one of the Norse ones. For illness, there are gods of health and healing that would seem a better choice

  4. opposablethumbs says

    People like this gloat (oh so very desperately -and loudly) if an atheist reflexively utters stock phrases such as “thank god” or “I wish to god this were over” etc. without stopping to think that these are verbal tics absorbed simply thanks to a lifetime of cultural immersion, and no more meaningful than reflex blinking or making a face at an unpleasant smell. They forget that atheists in different parts of the world will of course have the verbal tics that correspond to the culture they grew up in, just like anyone else – acquiring our culture’s automatic verbalisations is part of the process of acquiring language. If I get a shock from faulty wiring and yell “jesus fuck!” it doesn’t mean I believe in the xtian trinity or any other (well there’s always Ian Dury’s trinity, I suppose – reputed to be Very Good Indeed)
    They must be desperate, to clutch at such straws – and don’t seem to think much of what it means to believe in their religion, if this is all they think it takes. Mind you, people like this probably believe that “confessions” extracted under torture are actually reliable – and that torture is just fine as long as it’s their side and their god that’s inflicting it.

  5. says


    I use the terms “goddamned” and “godsdamned” interchangably. I sometimes say “bless you” when someone sneezes (though my preference is gesundheit (lit. good health) because it’s much nicer.) If I get a shock or a minor burn I usually will exclaim something like “holy crap” or “Jesus!” or something of the sort. And yes, in that situation of a child turning blue suddenly starting to breathe I probably would say “thank god” or something similar.

    I’m still an atheist, I’ve just been conditioned to say those things.

  6. gordonduffy says

    There’s a fun speech in one of Christopher Brookmyre’s books about how under fire everyone converts… to atheism.

  7. grumpyoldfart says

    Anyone who has endured heavy enemy artillery fire and has turned to see that his friend’s head has been blown off or that he himself was severely wounded and bleeding profusely would quickly abandon his atheism and pray to God for the shelling to stop so a medical corpsman could get to him to stop the bleeding and put his intestine back into his body.

    There is as much chance of me calling on god as there is that the theist will call on the Tooth Fairy for assistance.

    A WWII veteran once told me that when he was with dying soldiers most of them called out, not for god, but for their mother.

  8. sisu says


    That’s goblins you are confusing us with.

    made me laugh out loud. Thanks Avi!

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the armies of atheism have gathered forces and are starting their annual spring offensive …

    C’mon guys, we’re only half a week away from the summer solstice.

    You wanna conquer the world, we gotta get moving sooner!

    Just wait ’til next year…

  10. Cera says

    As someone who did get diagnosed with cancer a few months ago…

    Yes, I remain an atheist. In fact, the only time god ever came to mind was when I was thinking about that old canard that “when you hit hard times you turn to god” and reflecting on the fact that it never even remotely occurred to me to do so.

  11. says

    My dad died on Thursday. I held his hand as he passed away. There were no thoughts of afterlife, or god, or anything like that. Only sadness that this great guy would no longer be a part of my life, except through the memories he gave us.

  12. CaitieCat says

    When I was 15, my father was killed in front of me, while my younger sister and I barely escaped. I never once, not while we tried desperately to revive him, not when the EMTs sat back and looked grim, not when my mother finally arrived (sis and I were on vacation several thousand km from home at the time with Dad, Mum at home with her then-new second husband; it took her four days to arrange emergency flights and stuff.

    The only time I thought of any god or gods was when my grandmother’s choice for the funeral service, a Lutheran, I think, felt he needed to spend some time telling us about how God felt about this. I told him to leave me alone, that I thought the idea that “God wanted him more” was offensive and horrible, that “God has a special plan we don’t know about” was an awfully unsympathetic thing to say, and that if he wanted to tell someone that it was all because of the ineffable majesty and unknowable mysteries of his invisible friend, maybe he could do it to someone who wasn’t an atheist. Or at least about someone who wasn’t an atheist; my father was half the reason I was raised an atheist (my mother being the other half). Because the last thing I wanted was “how not to use your brain about this”.

    As to the unthinking “verbal tic” kind of thing, I’ve managed to alter my usages of those, over *mumble-mumble* years since my father died, so that now if I slip into one, it’s usually altered in some way that makes Christians go “huh?”, or think I’m a pagan or something. I say “Thank the gods”, or “thank the goddess”, or “goddess help me” when something horrific happens. Really chaffs some Christians’ pants, too. I’ve also been known to shout “HELP ME JEEBUS” when rolling dice in Arkham Horror, though usually Jeebus has run scared from one of the ELDER gods. :D

    Honestly, though, the actual believing in and rejecting “god/s” part? Never happened. No one told me when I was little that there was a sky-wizard who gave a fuck whether I mumbled at them or not, so I had nothing to unlearn about it.

    The times I was sexually assaulted? Neither was “god” there, nor did I wish there was one. What I counted on was my Canadian Forces unarmed combat training, and a strong right hook. I haven’t any doubt that if the “godless Commies” had came through the Fulda Gap, I’d have died in my foxhole swearing pungently…and being an atheist.

  13. CaitieCat says

    Also – Kevin, my sympathies for your loss.

    And Cera, I hope you get to be in the skinniest part of the long tail of good health outcomes.

  14. opposablethumbs says

    All my best wishes to Cera and to Kevin. I hope you have support from family and friends around you.

  15. says

    I’ve never understood the objection to using “God” or the like as a figure of speech. I’m atheist, raised Hindu, but whenever I get pissed, I tend to say “Christ!” simply because I like the sound. It’s short, sharp, rattles across the tongue like a tin can full of gravel, and sounds vaguely like invective. It’s a great curse, and I’m not going to change my language because theists get snippy.

  16. says

    There was a case recently where a christian couple was convicted of letting a SECOND child die because of their belief that prayer was all that was needed to heal the poor kid.

  17. Randomfactor says

    Atheists spend vast sums of money to promote their own religion

    Yup. In the United States we typically GET that money from school boards and city councils who decide to bet taxpayer money against the Constitution in court.

    Sometimes we sell books.

  18. says

    Has this person even heard of survivor bias?
    If someone is in mortal danger and prays to a god for a miracle, and survives, they’re going to be putting their story out there and everyone will hear of how their god saved them. If someone in mortal danger prays to a god for a miracle, but doesn’t get it, then by definition they won’t be alive to tell people how, despite their fervent prayer, that god failed to save them.

    Thus stories of people being saved from life-or-death situations by the power of prayer have an inevitable unfair advantage in the marketplace of ideas, that we need to be on guard against.

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