David Hayward (a.k.a. nakedpastor) uses the saying “There are no atheists in foxholes” to point out a metaphorical truth:
… I’ve seen and personally experienced people under extreme threat who realize their faith has totally evaporated.
I’m convinced that we need to get in touch with our atheism, our unbelief. Is there a separate “Deity” out there? Is there a Divine Interventionist? If asked if I’m a deist or a theist, I say not really. If I’m asked if I’m an atheist, I also say not really. Although it might unsettle some, I’m okay with that.
I have been an atheist in a foxhole. You might be one now. That’s okay.
… A few years ago both my children were in ICU at the same time. They were very sick from ecoli poisoning and kidney failure. I took some comfort that people were praying for them. I even tried to pray myself. But it felt like my prayers went no further than the ceiling. Maybe not that far. The great news is that they recovered. Of course, we were in an awesome children’s hospital with an incredible specialist…