“There are no atheists in foxholes.”
I’m sure you’ve heard this more times than you care to remember. I’m sure you’ve heard religious believers dismiss secular humanism as a shallow, breezily hedonistic philosophy that dries up and blows away in the face of trauma, mortality, and grief.
It’s malarkey. You probably know that, of course; you probably know plenty of atheists who have been through terrible hardship without turning to religion. Chances are you’ve been through some yourself and emerged with your godlessness intact. You may even know—or indeed be—an atheist in a foxhole: not the metaphorical kind, but the military kind, seeking shelter from enemy fire.
I want to talk about one of those metaphorical foxholes. I want to talk about how, in the depths of it, my atheism and humanism didn’t dry up; instead they supported me and helped carry me through. And I want to encourage other humanists to talk with each other—and with religious believers—about your own trials and challenges and the ways that humanism, atheism, materialism, skepticism, and an evidence-based view of the world have helped get you through. (Assuming, of course, that they have.)
Here’s the short version of what happened to me: This past October I got hit with a serious one-two punch…