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Author/DatePost
Alex_Kasman
Apr 26 2007
Tillman's atheism finally worth discussing?

Pat Tillman, who turned down a huge NFL contract to enter the army and later died in Afghanistan [this previously said "Iraq"...thanks to Justin for the correction], was first hailed as a hero. When he was a hero, of course, nobody mentioned the fact that he was an atheist in the new media. But, now that his family is stirring up trouble by pointing out that the army lied about the circumstances of his death, things have changed. As described in this article, an officer in Tillman's unit in an interview with ESPN suggested that his family is unhappy because of their atheism (because they think that Pat Tillman is now "worm dirt").

Well, yes! That's exactly the point. We do take life and death very seriously because we do not believe that there is some afterlife. So, in a sense, I am not offended by the officer's comments -- even though they may have been intended as an insult -- as they do point out a truth.

So, I do understand why Tillman's family would be upset -- both about the coverup and about the idea that this man's life was wasted for a war as stupid, pointless, and unjusitified as this one.

But, do even people who believe that Tillman's soul is up in heaven somewhere think that this would make it okay? It seems ironic to me that the usual insults thrown at atheists suggest that we are immoral or do not have the "love of creation" enjoyed by our religious counterparts...but when we protest an unjust war and express concern about needless loss of life, it is suggested that if we were more religious we would think that it was all just peachy!

-ak

Chemrobb
May 3 2007
Tough topic

(well, I tried to post a reply the other day, but doesn't look like it worked. So I'll try again:).

Hmmmm. Alex, I'm not quite certain if your post is mostly about misconceptions the religious have about atheists (ie, lack of "love of creation" your last para.) or about the Tillman case in particular. But I think you mean the former, and if so I certainly agree.

As an aside on the Tillman case: you have to read through two news article links to get the gist of what happenend, and that Officer's remarks. Lt Col (properly abbreviated as LTC in the Army) Kauzlarich's remarks were in my opinion unfortunate. I would never have ventured to speculate on anybody's beliefs and especially not the surviving family's. But I'll throw out a couple of points:

1) Fratricide is a de-facto fact of military operations. Happens in every modern war, every time...no exceptions.

2) Kauzlarich's remarks seem to me to be a result of frustration with having to continually deal w/ the Tillman family. Let's face it, they have the gov't on the run on this one and are NOT going to let it go. They've been in the limelight and as long as theres mileage to be gained, they will pursue stirring up the issue. And nobody in the Army is trained to handle that kind of foolishness. (by 'foolishness' I mean no disrespect to Cpl Tillman or his family - I'm saying that the media circus won't "solve" anything, and tying up Officers/soldiers with this mess serves no purpose in the long run. If it would save someones life later on, then it would be valuable. But all this stuff does is put people like Kauzlarich in an impossible PR position...).

3) VIPs in units like the Rangers, SEALs, etc is a [u:bbaf4c9606]terrible[/u:bbaf4c9606] idea. The Commanders - up and down the chain - are stuck with the 'monkey on their back' of having a hi-profile person around. And its bound to influence certain decisions (consciously or not) even if it didn't in Tillman's particular case. Who knows when or where that influence might case other casualties??

Also, witness the hoopla over Prince Harry serving in Iraq. He wants to go, but if he gets killed it'll be the military's fault. And if he eventually doesn't go, its due to "preferential treatment" the other common Brits don't get...and when something goes wrong, we get a "coverup", a knee-jerk reaction to the worst-dream scenario.

****

Kauzlarich seems to be lashing back at the family. I can't really blame him. And, yeah, I bet if they did think he was simply in heaven now, it would be much easier for them. But I doubt Kauzlerich is trying to slam atheists. Odds are he doesn't even know any admitted atheists (not that theres anything to have to "admit" to ! :)

"Another worthless post by Chemrobb"

n-atheist
Jan 30 2009
Re: Tillman's atheism finally worth discussing?

A new article in the NY Times sports section says lots of nice things about Pat Tillman:

“Compared to what he did on the football field, and he was a great football player, it paled in comparison to what kind of person he was,” said Hodel, who arrived in Arizona midway through the 2001 season, after being released from the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad.

“Jake Plummer and Pat Tillman were the first players to shake my hand and introduce themselves,” Hodel said. “I wouldn’t say I knew Pat well, but I had lunch with him a couple of times. Just being around him made you want to be a better person.”

Of course, in this context there really is no reason to mention his atheism (and they don't), but I almost wish they would because it might help people get over the idea that atheists are ethically/socially challenged.

meemoon
Jan 31 2009
Re: Tillman's atheism finally worth discussing?

I don't see any valid religious connections to the war in Iraq. Unless,of course, it's the fanatical islamism that drives some of the Iraqis,and others,to blow themselves up. The billboard that appeared in N. Chas. drove me to contact this discussion site so I've never in my 60 years had a conversation with any fellow,committed atheists. Tell me,am I to believe that my rejection of religion compels me to adopt the common,liberal abhorance of war? I don't. This war has apparantly been bungled from day1,but I can see the rationality of it's implementation. Will atheists, like liberals,believers or not, automatically assume I am stupid or brainwashed? Are my conservatism and patriotism not compatible with my total rejection of "god" and religion? I'm curious.

Alex_Kasman
Jan 31 2009
Re: Tillman's atheism finally worth discussing?

Meemoon,

Welcome to the discussion!

Although I expressed my belief that the recent US invasion of Iraq was a bad idea, I would not expect you to necessarily agree with me about that just because we're both atheists. The members of the SHL include people of a variety of "political persuasions". There is no atheist dogma to which you must ascribe.

But, I would like to think that we're open minded and rational enough to have discussions about even these things about which we disagree. So, feel free to point out where you think I'm in error and offer convincing arguments to change my mind. I promise to give them serious consideration and hope you will do the same.

-Alex

meemoon
Jan 31 2009
Re: Tillman's atheism finally worth discussing?

Thanks for the welcome,Alex. Since I'm new here,I wanna stay focussed on matters religious. I've been rude,screwed, and tatooed on the Iraq war issue but I look forward to further discussions of same. Let me say for now that I don't consider the war "stupid,unjustified, and pointless". I will admit that it always tickled me when I expressed unabashed support for our troops' activities in Iraq, the anti-war crowd would usually condemn me as a "typical red-neck, bible thumping asshole". Well,asshole I may be (ask my ex-wife), but I have what I believe to be cold calculative reasoning behind my Iraqi war support.At least here,among friends (?), I hope not to infuriate people just because I may actually disagree with accepted wisdom.

Alex_Kasman
Jan 31 2009
Re: Tillman's atheism finally worth discussing?

I'm glad to know that you have good reasons to support your views. My own cold calculations resulted in a different conclusion, but the issues involved are complicated. I would not assume that you were a "typical red-neck, bible thumping asshole" just because we disagree. Perhaps someday we can discuss it...to learn to better understand another viewpoint if nothing else.

But, I see the wisdom in your suggestion that we should not discuss it at the moment. Just as there is sometimes value in discussing a topic on which we may disagree, there also comes a point when you realize that further discussion will just lead to further frustration and nothing else. And, that would not be much of a welcome for you, would it?

-Alex

Justin
Mar 11 2009
Re: Tillman's atheism finally worth discussing?

I thought that Tillman was killed in Afghanistan?

meemoon
Mar 11 2009
Re: Tillman's atheism finally worth discussing?

Meemoon,

Welcome to the discussion!

Although I expressed my belief that the recent US invasion of Iraq was a bad idea, I would not expect you to necessarily agree with me about that just because we're both atheists. The members of the SHL include people of a variety of "political persuasions". There is no atheist dogma to which you must ascribe.

But, I would like to think that we're open minded and rational enough to have discussions about even these things about which we disagree. So, feel free to point out where you think I'm in error and offer convincing arguments to change my mind. I promise to give them serious consideration and hope you will do the same.

-Alex

As you can see,I've had time to think about this and will continue to let the Iraq issue sit on the stove for a while. I certainly would never conceit to attempt to change your or anyone's mind or position on the Iraq war issue.Frankly, I see no connection whatsoever between the subject of atheism and the Iraq war. But when I see those who prosecuted this war equated with dictatators and communists,I will respond. And if I am to identify with "secular humanism", I can more quickly find people to condemn in the islamist movement than in any parties here in the USA.

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