As a humanist, I am somewhat amused by the idea of humanist chaplains being added to the US military’s chaplain corp.
The idea that there are no atheists in foxholes should be challenged, but also examined.
Believers would like to think that atheists are childish perpetually rebelling adults and that when push comes to shove, we put aside our anger at god and we really do believe.
That isn’t the case at all, atheists are in foxholes. In fact, when you are in danger, taking the time to pray and ask to be delivered, is when you are more likely to be killed because you stopped paying attention to the surroundings that are endangering you.
But, should there be atheists in foxholes? That is a more compelling question. Why should an atheist join the military at all? Career opportunities and training –the involuntary American draft of the lower and middle classes has ended and been replaced by a voluntary poverty draft of the economically disadvantaged. The US military is the employer of last resort.
Sure the US military has the most tricked out hardware and sophisticated tactics, but a military compromised of such a mixed bag of people who have varying degrees of dedication to the task are not an effective force against dedicated and decentralized fanatics who hide among their civilian supporters, because they are the civilian supporters.
To my mind, the phrase, no atheists in foxholes, should mean that no atheist was dumb enough to sign up for military service and risk their lives for nothing.
However, patriotism is not limited to theists, although, it is essentially, putting your idea of nation above all other nation ideas – so patriotism is essentially, the religion of citizenship. And fundamentalist patriotism is that My Country Right or Wrong/Might Make Right mentality that dovetails into religious fundamentalism.
We cannot fight fanaticism with reason and rationality – we need to fight it with fanaticism directly and reason indirectly.
I have long thought that the way to deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan is with an all female army, preferably when they’ve synced up their menstruation cycles – the Taliban would have little option but to flee the fields. The only way to fight a fanatic is by presenting them with their worst fears.
So, leave the humanists and marginally religious soldiers stateside, they won’t perform as well as fundamentalist soldiers and will require more post battle trauma counseling and won’t ever be able to return to combat status.
Theists are easier to convince to die for a cause if it’s connected to their god’s will aka higher power that will reward them for their sacrifice. There is very little separating a Fundamentalist Christian/Patriotic soldier from a fundamentalist jihading suicide bomber – with the except that the suicide bomber is more dedicated to the cause in that they are absolutely laying down their life. Whereas a soldier in a troop, may survive the various battles and war overall.
It is to the military’s advantage to have religious/patriotic soldiers – soldiers who are dedicated to the purpose experience less post traumatic stress disorder because they can justify what they see as necessary to the higher purpose.
When soldiers have joined for the career and training opportunities and it’s their bad luck that a couple of wars are on – even the ones who initially joined after 9/11 to protect their country – once you question the purpose of the conflict, you necessary can’t ignore what’s happening around you. It starts a cascade failure of meaning and purpose – thus the soldier becomes traumatized.
It helps the US military avoid the expense and loss of manpower when they don’t have soldiers who will become traumatized. It is also to our society’s advantage to send only the religiously motivated – because they will experience less psychologically trauma and be able to reintegrate upon their return home, but also because this would remove an aggressive segment of our society from the gene pool for those who do not.
One of the main purposes of war is to reduce population, directly through battle but also indirectly in the aftermath of famine and disease. War is what happens when you put too many rats in the cage, they battle with each other until the number of rats is supportable by the resources available.
Planet Earth is our cage and there’s not enough resources for everyone, something’s got to give, and it’s better to eliminate the obstructionist portion of society – the religious sector – so that the rest of us can get on with the business of shifting from fossil fuels to other sustainable fuels, to sustainable societies that are better able to get along and cooperate with each other the way we need to do and that religion is one of the major stumbling blocks to.
We have to stop thinking locally and think globally and part of thinking globally is that diversity is good and that no one group of people is any better than any other group of people, we’re all in this together.
As long as the focus of the world in on one religion over another, we are never going to collectively step up and say that none are better than any other – so it’s up to those who have stepped away from the my religion is better than your religion argument and notice that religion is hampering our species sustainability.