Instead of begging an imaginary being for strength in a crisis, I reach to others and myself. During times of crisis I do not ask, “God please help me” or “God give me the strength”. I simply state, “Come on, Blair, you can do it!” or “There are worse situations than this Blair, you can get out of this.” Alternatively, I will ask for help from my family and friends.
I analyze the situation logically instead of emotionally. I figure out the best way to get out of a crisis. I walk into a hazardous and dangerous situation, take charge of it, and think it through. I take control of all the assets available to me, solve the situation, and get myself out of danger. I have fought fires, chased bad people, and been in some desperate situations. Each time I was able to gather my own inner strengths and battle the situation head-on.
That has not to say that I am not emotional or that I do not react emotionally. It is hard not to react emotionally since our biology evolved to do such. Our emotions help us survive. I have seen lots of blood and damaged bodies in my time and I have never reacted emotionally – my training took over and I did what I had to do. When my daughter got hurt, it was different – my biological instincts overrode my training and I freaked out. It took me some time to come down, react logically, and get my act together in order to get her to help. One thing I never did during that time was pray to god or ask for help from a supernatural being. I did it on my own and got my daughter to the science of medicine – not the pseudoscience of church.
Another thing that helps me get through situations like that is my own body and the chemical reactions and processes that take place inside it. Adrenaline will do wonders in an emergency!
I seek help from people and things that can really help me. I do not seek help from imaginary beings that theists give credit to for doing something themselves. I find strength and help from some of the following:
- My children, family, and friends
- Meditation or Biofeedback
- Adrenaline (Yes – I am an adrenaline junkie!)
Prayer and gods do not cure our diseases or solve problems during times of crisis. Where prayer and faith help is by calming the fears people have because prayer acts as a form of meditation and faith can have a biofeedback or therapeutic influence. Prayer and faith may give people the courage and emotional strength to continue, but they do not solve the problems we face.
We, as human beings, solve those problems ourselves. Imaginary beings do not give us the answers. We come up with them. Why do theists give their gods credit for their own actions? Why do theists deny themselves the credit they deserve for being human beings with the ability to think on a higher level? Give yourself credit where credit is due.
I do not know how many times I have heard theists say to people suffering from clinical depression, “Pray to god, and he will help you.” God and prayer do not cure clinical depression. Prayer may act as a form of therapy – but it cannot cure clinical depression. There is a big difference between feeling an overwhelming sadness and clinical depression. There is no arguing that prayer may help someone overcome sadness or “feeling depressed”, but prayer cannot cure clinical depression. As a society, we over-abuse the word depression and often associate it incorrectly with sadness or “the blues”.
Clinical depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that prayer cannot cure.
If you are a theist and have ever told someone to pray to get rid of his or her depression, you owe that person an apology. In addition, you should advise that person to seek medical help for their condition.
Often we find this argument being used in the “there are no atheists in foxholes” statement. There are atheists in foxholes. I served in the Navy for almost ten years and encountered several life-threatening situations. Not once did I pray to a god to get me through the crisis.
If anything, I would aver that there are no theists in foxholes. When we are in the heat of battle, our training and experience take over and we do out jobs. It is not until after the battle is over, when we have a time to reflect upon what happened, and upon our morality, the theists begin to thank their gods and prayer.
When someone chucks a grenade into your foxhole you do not pray that god gets rid of it – you grab it and chuck it back out. You may pray latter if you are a theist – but when your life was in danger you relied on your training and your instincts – you saved yourself.
Talking to fellow sailors and soldiers, I have learned one thing about god during a crisis: people forget about him. During a battle or major crisis, people forget about god most of the time. They attack the situation head-on and either save themselves or dig themselves into a deeper hole or cause their own death. Only afterwards, do people start reflecting on the situation and thank a god for saving them. God did not save them – their quick action and ability to think during a crisis saved them.
My father served in Vietnam. Vietnam made him realize that there was no god and he became an atheist in the foxhole. The foxhole made him an atheist.
Several friends of mine served time during war and each of them found strength in their atheism instead of finding a god in their foxhole. War to him or her was proof that there was no god.
One of the things that I have noticed during times of major crisis is that the hyper-religious often served as a hindrance to getting the job done and saving our butts. The hyper-religious would start to pray and cower to their god while the non-religious or the lightly religious would accomplish the mission or objective.
During any time of crisis or times when death was around the corner, I never turned to a god for help. It was my own inner strength and my own ability, as a thinking human being, to figure out my dilemma and a way out of it.
Often after a major catastrophe, we hear people say, “I had a guardian angel watching over me” or “God saved me from dying”. That is nice that they think their god saved them from death – but what about the other people that died. Did they not pray hard enough? Did their god not listen or were they not worthy?
When you hear about people that were praying to a god during a time of crisis it is important to pay attention to their story. Often you will find that those that were actively praying during a crisis were in a stagnant mode. They were hiding under a desk (as we witnessed at Columbine) or were hiding in a basement or bathroom (such as in tornado activity) or were doing something else that left them inactive during the crisis. Those that were taking action talk about thanking God after-the-fact.
The last couple of years of my life have found me in several crises with my family and environment. In each of these cases, I turned to my family, my friends, and myself for the strength to tackle these situations. Together we pulled through each crisis without any help from an imaginary being. Together we came out of each crisis stronger and closer than ever before.
There are atheists in foxholes. Foxholes create atheists.