A Christian case for atheist chaplains

Branson Parler

August 14, 2013

The very title Chaplain holds part of the problem. Chaplains are - etymologically - from chapels, which suggests a religion of sorts. If the Chaplain Corps was renamed the Counselor Corps or the Comforter Corps or something that showed their function and not their faith background, this whole thing would be a non-issue.

( timfall.wordpress.com )

August 14, 2013

I agree with the notion that Tim presents here, there's something odd about an Atheist being a chaplain. Though, given some of the most recent studies that show Atheists to be of a higher moral quality, I can see why many think they're qualified for the position.

The real truth here, that I think often gets ignored, is that there's no such thing as a religious person. Religion is nothing more than a belief system. So what we're really doing here is rejecting somebody from a particular job because they don't believe like we think they ought to believe. Again, probably not wrong for somebody that we want to title as a chaplain, but then again, the role of the chaplain has been so watered down, they could very easily be atheist and still do the job as defined by the government.

August 14, 2013

A good arguement put forward, but it's missing the fact atheists don't lack faith or have 'unbelief', they actually have belief - that there is no God. And therefore faith that nothing is going to happen when they die - because you have to consider the 'risk' in holding that believe, right?

I think it's correct, worldview is a much better way of putting it, and perhaps if there were atheist chaplains it would demonstrate one of Tim Kellers ideas that it takes more faith to believe there is no God than concede there probably is one.

What an atheist chaplain actually would do day to day is interesting thought though.

Branson Parler
August 15, 2013

Sam, I was trying to get at the point that atheists do have some kind of basic beliefs with the reference to Wolterstorff and Plantinga. I can see where some atheists might object to the idea of being defined solely by their belief that there is no God. To define a category of people by what they don't believe in is a bit strange. For example, defining everyone, or almost everyone, as a-unicornist isn't really a satisfactory way to classify a group of people, because it only broadly notes what they're against but not much about what they do believe. And this is where the real conundrum lies, I think, with respect to "atheist" chaplains. You could have all kinds of differing beliefs and approaches under that umbrella. So the atheist/naturalist/humanist community would have a lot of sorting out to do in order to deal with the practicalities of the day-to-day work of someone in that position and how to deal with the wide variety of beliefs among those who would broadly classify themselves as atheist/naturalist/humanist.

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