Atheist in the Foxhole Part 1



I was a member of 2nd Brigade in the 82d Airborne Division in August of 1990.  We were the first ground troops to deploy to Saudi Arabia for the Desert Shield/Desert Storm conflict.  As Gen. Johnson put it, “We are drawing a line in the sand.”   With that said, we were wheels up, headed for the gulf.  The moment we arrived there was fear and tension in the air.  We knew as we landed, we were greatly outnumbered by the Iraqi forces just over the border.  If they attacked us at that point, all hell would have broken loose.  I am glad that Saddam balked at the opportunity.  For it wasn’t long before the follow-on forces were quickly streaming in behind us.


When thrust into a situation like this, it is not long before your look at your mortality.  In doing this, your mind imagines what will happen if you “buy the farm”.  You start to mourn the loss of your own life and what it will be like for the people you leave behind.  Do they truly know how I feel about them?  Will this change the course of their lives?  There is so much unfinished business when dying before your time, and with very little notice. 


After my mind played out several scenarios, I began to wonder about my “soul”.  I never had proclaimed myself to be saved by Jesus and had always hinged on being agnostic or atheist.  I had come to believe that heaven was too good to be true.  A fantasy ending – to a fairytale story.  But this situation was different, I had to be sure because we weren’t in Kansas anymore.  The stakes were higher than ever, you have to get this one right.  There is no turning back.  And there it was, a military issue bible in camouflage sitting on my cot.  Could the answer be in here?  I started to read.


I had read the bible, or parts of it in the past, but this time I needed to give it my full attention.  What I found was things that really didn’t make sense to me.  I could say the same if I was reading Shakespeare.  There are a lot of quotes and bits and pieces that make sense, but as a whole, I can’t put this all together.  They sure didn’t make it easy for the novice reader.  This is my soul we are talking about!  Thankfully there are guides to help you along your path.  Experts in the field to answer these questions and help guide you to salvation.  There are also a lot of common folk who have taken it upon themselves to interpret the bible in the way that they see fit.  I began to understand why there were so many different Christian based religions all based on the same book.  And if you were a part of one of these, you will be covered in the whole soul and afterlife department.  Good!


7 responses to “Atheist in the Foxhole Part 1

  • Ed Wiessing

    No offense, Mike, but the the Bible was compiled by the Catholic Church as inspired by God. Therefore, it is the Catholic Church’s interpretation and scholarly approach (again as inspired by God) that SHOULD trump all others.

    Keep in mind that the Protestant faiths broke away from the Catholic Church for one reason or another beginning about 1500 years after the Catholic Church was established by Christ, and then conveniently tailored the Bible’s very text (and interpretation) to suit their specific denominational beliefs and “disbeliefs”, in total disregard of the Roman Catholic Church’s long-standing doctrine. One perfect example of this is the Anglican Church, which broke away specifically because the Pope would not allow Henry VIII to divorce one wife and marry another woman. We now have the KJV, which SOME people use as the definitive version of the Bible – and IT has only been around about 500 years!!

    Other faiths that purport to be “Christian”, but which do not trace their origins even indirectly to an establishment BY Christ, present an untold number of literally bogus interpretations.

    The Bible is not light reading as a rule, although there are some pretty easy passages that certainly don’t require much help. One great error exercised by some fundamentalist denominations is to attempt to interpret the Bible literally. Like stating unequivocally that God created all things in 6 days and rested on the 7th. I mean REALLY! Is it THAT important or is the message simply saying that God is ALL powerful and created all things, with ease. Did Noah drift for 40 days? Did the Istraelites wander for 40 years? Or were the writers simply saying it was a “friggin” long time, relatively speaking….?

    OK…off my soapbox. I remember the same feelings, Mike. We chewed some of the same dirt (er….sand) back in August an September 1990. I’ll tell you what caused MY faith to waver – the camel burgers, the warm Pepsi, and the fact that we were cursed with an S3 who made life a living hell for pretty much everyone.

  • theguywiththeeye


    I applaud Mike, and his courage to stare death in the face without a backup plan. It’s a story people need to hear — myself included.

    As for the Bible, any derivation of Catholicsim is only less Catholic, not less divine. Anyone can claim to be inspired by God, but most do not believe the claim unless convinced by some authority. In the case of Catholicm, that Authority was Constantine The Great, around 300 AD, when he decided that putting the Christian cross on the shields of his soldiers might bring them success in battle (among other selfish, delusional motives).

  • Kirk Hoey

    It’s funny you mention Shakespeare because it’s rumored he was a translator of the King Jame’s version.

  • jbgeorge56

    Great! I was an M-1 Tanker with the Big Red One. Happy Anniversary.

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