I have been very curious lately about the reasons atheists join up for military service. I don't mean to paint with a wide brush, but by and large, most atheists I have met are life loving people and the thought of senseless death bothers them. Yet, the very nature of military service is that you may have to kill.

I joined the US Coast Guard in 1986, mainly to feed my family. I had no lofty goals, no sense of patriotism other than being a citizen. Regan's economic plan hit the blue color workers hard, so I enlisted and spent my 26th birthday in boot camp. The Coast Guard is well known as a life saving service, so it fit in very well with my own personal views.

I'd like to hear other service members reasons for joining up.


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my reasons are:
1)to help solve the my countries problem of insurgency that stunts its development
2)to prove that we can be human without god through public service and to prove that actions is more powerful than prayers
3)to join the family business(legacy) the very reason im talented on this profession
Despite the opinions of talk show hosts on Fox News like Glenn Beck, even though I thought of myself as an atheist, Patriotism was still one of my primary factors for joining the military. The job security and money for college were just an added bonus.

I suppose not knowing what I wanted to do with my life was also a factor.
I joined during OEF. As I watched those young men and women put their lives on the line I realized that I had the ability to help make the decisions that could save those lives. Now as a Captain and an Iraq veteran I think I've done that and continue to.

While my atheism didn't influence my choice to join either way, I find that "collateral damage" and "acceptable loss" mean more to me, because I don't have the luxury of finding solace in the belief of an after life for me or my soldiers.
I enjoy my job very much. I have never been a trigger man and I don't think I'd have the stomach to kill as much as the SF guys do. That said, I'm satisfied that the intelligence I provide leads them to kill or capture religious fundies.
I truly believe that there are some people who are so brainwashed that it is nearly impossible to get them to see the truth. "Abu Badguy" could live with Sam Harris, Dan Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins for years and never give up his fundie beliefs.
Since the brand of fundamentalists we find here in Afghanistan are very likely to kill peaceful civilians in their plight, I have no problem contributing to their demise. The fundies here hate atheists more than any other group of people - they use their version of the word atheist as an insult. We often hear them call Americans and Coalition forces "atheist dogs."
I'm also patriotic, maybe not as much as when I was 17 and a practicing Catholic, but I do still feel that our country is worth the risk. The Army has set me up well for jobs after retirement. I can expect a pretty well-paying job in a thriving market after I finish my career in uniform.
I wasn't certain about my views about religion and such when I joined the military. I did know that I wanted to help preserve and protect a nation where everybody is allowed to think freely. In an ironic twist, my 20 year letter arrived at my unit a few days before something happened that made me decide to stay in rather than retire, Sept. 11, 2001. That was the day I became totally convinced that ALL religion is horrible. Anything that could seduce people into committing such barbaric acts had to be wrong. In addition, looking at the historical record, any deity with any sense, that loved and cared so much about humans, as we have all been led to believe, would have come down here and settled all of the questions and arguments about belief a long, long time ago.


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