Foxhole Atheist

by Nola

We are told there are no atheists in foxholes. That in times of stress or tragedy, we all cry out, “Oh, God.”

It is with certainty and a heavy heart that I can assure you this is not true.

My family is suffering a tragedy. An innocent baby is fighting for his life, and he will suffer a fair amount of brain damage even if he wins the fight for his life.

It’s the stuff of nightmares.

The father is angry with God asking, “Why me? Why my child? What did I do wrong? Why are you testing me? What can I offer to fix it all?” He believes all things happen for a reason. And that REASON is what he is stuck on. WHY was my child allowed, or worse, selected, to be harmed by God?

As I struggle not to shake this man’s faith as he stands in his foxhole any more than it’s been shook, I do not struggle with these guilt-ridden questions. There is no God. There is no Hand of God that personally picked THIS father or THIS child to allow to be harmed. This injury is not an atonement for a wrong either of them committed. It is Nature at her most fickle. Does it suck? Undoubtedly. Do I want to know WHAT caused the injury? Absolutely. But is there a REASON this injury affected this child? None other than a scientific one.

And I’ll tell you something. It’s a lot easier to wrap one’s head around the fickle side of Nature than it is to determine God’s logic. When you take the personal out of it, that God-is-my-God-and-He-will-protect-me-as-long-as-I-love-him-and-now-it’s-hard-to-see-His-protection-even-though-I-never-waivered-in-my-love-for-Him, it makes sense. Bad things happen to good people. At random. I mean, it seems these days God is on everyone’s speed dial–all these direct lines with Him taking a personal and direct interest in YOU: He is the reason you got a promotion; He caused Katrina and the devastating tsunamis; He is testing you by having you lose your job; He caused you to get cancer; He cured you of cancer.

I just don’t buy it and won’t feed it to my daughter. This baby wasn’t harmed by, or because of, God. He wasn’t left unprotected by God. And praying isn’t going to bring a miracle to this baby either. Yes, you can think about this sick child, offer up positive energy and do all manner of well-wishing for him. But I know that through all that, it is up to that little boy, science, and medical treatment to heal him. Or not.

Things die. Death is all too natural. And we don’t go to Heaven; we cease to exist. Except in the hearts and minds of those on Earth who love us. And that is no small thing.

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