Shmuley Boteach has a laugh at the idea of atheist military chaplains. I think the idea of atheists chaplains is silly in general, but I can certainly see that there ought to be some kind of chaplain-equivalent for people in the military who aren’t religious. Boteach’s objections are somewhat problematic.
And what comfort will they offer dying soldiers, G-d forbid (oops! Even that doesn’t work). Will they say, “Game over. You’re going to a place of complete oblivion. Thank you for your service.”?
Well, what comfort can anyone offer dying soldiers? What comfort will Boteach offer?
I don’t even know, actually. It’s my understanding that Judaism doesn’t actually believe in an afterlife, so what does he have to say that’s different from “a place of complete oblivion”? I don’t know, but if it is in fact different from that, what reason is there to think it’s true? Maybe he says you’re going to a place of infinite ice cream, but if he does, he’s telling an untruth. Why is he the one who is giggling and making fun?
In the same way that it might be uncomfortable for a Jewish soldier to talk about his deepest issues with, say, a Catholic Priest, it is arguably just as uncomfortable for an atheist soldier to talk to the same Priest.
Gee, you think?!
Still it would seem that those who profess an absence of belief can’t really be religious or spiritual chaplains. If you’re an atheist then what you see is what you get. There is no other reality — higher or lower — and the word spiritual is nothing but a crude con.
Well, Shmuley, how do you know there is an “other reality”? What do you know about it? What is your evidence for it? How do you know it’s not nastier than this reality we “get”? How do you know anything at all about it?
He notes that his atheist friends will say things like that, but he feels no obligation to answer or say anything cogent; instead he just says…you know what he says:
…the new atheists, like Richard Dawkins, demonstrate an intolerance and condescension to people of faith that is very similar to what one sadly finds among some of the most close-minded of religious people.
Therefore after death we go to a place of infinite ice cream.