Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Bold atheists

Edmund Burke said:

Boldness formerly was not the character of Atheists as such. They were even of a character nearly the reverse; they were formerly like the old Epicureans, rather an unenterprising race. But of late they are grown active, designing, turbulent, and seditious.

I wonder what he’d think of this?

Discussions - 5 Comments

Permit me to bite.

"And an atheist symbol, which resembles an atom, is among the dozens of "approved emblems of belief" that can appear on the headstones of fallen soldiers in military cemeteries." I had no clue that this was the case...but if you read Stars and Stripes you will hear about the occational Wiccan who wants to put up a pentagram...and is denied. But appart from these I think the Army is pretty clear and consistent when it comes to tolerating religious diversity.

Before every mission someone gives a prayer...and personally I am an atheist...but I have never been offended by people asking "hopeing" not to be blown up or encountering any difficulty...the only way this would offend me would be if someone developed the idea that since God was protecting them it was okay to take unecessary risks(and if this was the case then the military would be quick not to tolerate religion... everyone is the army realizes the stupidity of the insurgent idea that Allah guides the rounds...if this was the case then we would never bother with BRM/weapons qualification.) Largely I don’t even think of prayer even one that ends in Jesus name as offensive...on the contrary I see it as pefectly natural and good. There is a passage in the bible that talks about forgiving and forgeting the wrongs done to you before the sun sets. I think prayer, especially since it is often times the Lord’s prayer is a good way and time for clearing away the petty disagreements and animousities towards one another that may have built up in the course of the day. Hopefully at the end of the prayer, which ends the convoy brief we are all on the same page and ready for the mission.

Personally if you ask me most enlisted people in the army are agnostic, or religiously confused I see most military prayer as an esprit de corps thing...there very well may be no atheists in the foxhole...but then there very well may be no believers in the strip club. And if you ask most soilders they would prefer to be in the strip club.

Of course you can opt out of the prayer, and you can opt out of going to the strip club...and if you don’t re-up you can opt out of the foxhole.

You can opt out of a lot of things in life...or you can try them and come to understand that they have different and multiple meanings/functions...that aren’t necessarily the ones philosophically attributed.

Welcome to the Libertarian center and all the contradictions that may imply.

Since Burke was opposed to the attempts by the Jacobins to eliminate all ties with historical Christianity (he didn’t think it was prudent, I think that comparing these two cases is looking at apples and oranges. Atheists in the military in no way threaten the U.S. historical tradition of religious freedom, including the freedom from religion. It was reverence for tradition that Burke most venerated -- not religious devotion.

Jesus once said (in American English even!), "Love your neighbor as yourself". I wonder what he would think of this.

I never doubted for a minute that they’re atheists in foxholes. Or at least Machiavellian quasi-atheists who only start to pray after they’ve run out of bullets.

Is the reference to Epicurians an attack on Voltaire?

Aren’t Epicurians of necessity atheists?(Yes. because it is the fear of God and the fear of an afterlife which restricts pleasure, and thus must be dismissed..enter Democritus). I guess my real point is that even if a majority of soilders or americans for that matter claim christianity...they are somewhat or rather completly epicurians/stoics...Also soilders don’t look kindly on those who are struck with fear...if you run out of bullets you had better use that bayonet.

Well Epicurians are not always atheists...Epicurus himself admired the greek gods asthetically. A lot of problems here... especially since denouncing him as a simple pleasure seeker isn’t very convincing. Also a true Epicurian tries to stay away from Politics because it belongs to the third class of pleasures....but there is something there that pertains to soilders especially along the lines of disciplining desire and casting away fear(not all fear since fear can also be an honest sensation whose evidence is carried with it)

In short regardless of religious denom on dog tags...and I am rather sure that christian non-denom predominates... most soilders are either Epicurian, Stoics, Lockean, or Hobbesian.

It is true that it takes as much faith to be an atheist as a theist. In my book, the only intellectually-defensible stance is agnosticism...that is true humility. On the other hand, for the sake of our society I will admit that belief is important...that’s why I try not to undermine our religious institutions, even though I sometimes find religious belief to be rather silly and illogical (every other Tuesday through Friday). I am a true Burkean...respect for what has worked to our benefit.

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