Atheists hate god
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“”As always, waging war on the atheists who hate our Heavenly Father. And by atheists I also mean agnostics, who are people who aren't sure if they hate our Heavenly Father.
|—Edward Current (atheist parodist), Checkmate, Atheists!|
The phrase "atheists hate god(s)" (AHG) is a fallacious anti-atheist argument which attempts to label atheism as a mere emotional opposition to god(s), rather than a reasoned denial of the existence of said god(s). Atheists do not deny the existence of god(s) because they "hate god(s)" or "want to live in sin", because atheists don't believe in these things, any more than Christians hate, say, the gods of Hinduism. If they're mad, generally they're pissed at something a religious person or group has done.[note 1] After claiming that atheists hate god, many writers go on to attack "militant" atheism and new atheism.
In line with the varied specific beliefs of atheists in the world, some may actually wish a god did exist (but can't reconcile this with what they observe, such as the problem of evil), some would very much dislike the god portrayed in the Bible/Qur'an (etc.) and don't believe such a being could exist, some simply do not care, and many will fall somewhere in between.
The argument is extremely common and shows no signs of going away; see the quotes section. A common retort to atheist arguments goes along the lines of "if you don't believe in god(s), why do you talk about [it/him/her/them] so much?"
“”[I]t is impossible for an atheist to hate God. One cannot hate something that he believes is nonexistent. In fact, most atheists would love nothing more than to believe that God exists, that He created the universe, and that they will never die. While that is a beautiful thought, atheists don't believe that it is true.
AHG relies on several flawed concepts.
As shown in the counterexample section below, nonexistent characters can clearly be hated. But beyond that, there are several legitimate reasons that atheists may dislike "God":
- Atheists may dislike people who use religion to justify their actions. (And the existence of religious people is not a controversy.) By extension, atheists may dislike the idea of the god(s) for giving this justification, despite being fictional.
- Atheists may consider that, if the god(s) did actually exist, but made this world as it is, then that god would be evil. Thus, they think that asserting the existence of god(s) is morally offensive—for surely a loving creator would not make such a flawed world.
- Atheists may think that truth matters, and that getting rid of false beliefs—such as the existence of a deity—is therefore important. Beyond this, atheists may think that believing in the existence of a deity makes people more prone to accept other falsehoods—such as faith healing—which do tangibly harm people.
AHG uses the logical fallacy of Bulverism. Rather than engaging the atheist's non-emotional reasons against belief in gods, the theist asserts that the atheist's ideas come from emotion. This avoids honest argument and back-and-forth and lets the theist shut off discussion.
Atheists, who believe in god
“”This argument and its variations imply that atheists really believe in a god but hate this god and want to rebel. First, if this were true then they would not be atheists. Atheists are not people who believe in a god but are angry at it - those are just angry theists.
Similar to Bulverism, AHG is often used to assert (fallaciously) that there is actually no question about the existence of god(s), because everybody believes in God, even atheists! The idea is that atheists secretly believe in God, but pretend not to believe due to hate.
This is a terrible straw man of atheist positions.
If this were so, then there would be no reason to argue about a universally accepted truth, and so the only disagreement would be whether we should love god(s) (theist) or hate god(s) (atheist). This, in turn, offers an easy opportunity for the theist to point out all the nice things that their god(s) has supposedly done. This is much easier than logically examining the plausibility of the theist's doctrine.
This is also an abuse of terminology because even someone who believes in secret still believes, and misotheism would be the correct term for a believer who hates the god they believe in. An "atheist" who hated god, would just be an angry believer, not a non-believer. It is absurd to suggest otherwise.
The idea that "atheists hate god" has several obvious counterexamples.
“”This is a bit like asking a Christian why they're so angry with Allah.
First and foremost, if this argument is true, then Christians must hate every single one of the gods Christians don't believe in by merely failing to believe in them, and by arguing that YHWH is superior. (Exchange "Christian" and "YHWH" as needed.)
“”[I]f you say something like "I hate Darth Vader"[,] no-one's going to assume that you believe he exists. You don't have to specify that you hate the concept of him.
“”I hate god in the same way I hate Voldemort. - Jason Millet
Temporarily assume that there exists a being, Zylgrp, the Gibbering Unknown Terror. Thus sayeth the Book of Zylgrp: On one bright and beautiful spring morning, Zylgrp awoke, yawned, and slaughtered every living human. Zylgrp tore their every every atom apart, though he made sure to stagger the killing, so that people would have to watch their loved ones disintegrate before they too disappeared. It was unimaginably painful, for the humans. Zylgrp laughed as he watched. And then, exhausted, Zylgrp went to bed and slept peacefully. Thus sayeth the Book of Zylgrp. Amen.
The vast majority of people (with the possible exception of VHEMT) would dislike Zylgrp, the Gibbering Unknown Terror. They might even hate him. Yet Zylgrp does not exist. Rather than hating Zylgrp, they hate what Zylgrp stands for -- omnicide. In the same way, atheists may "hate" gods because they disagree with the morals that that god represents. And for Jews/Christians/Muslims who would protest that their god is less slaughter-happy, consider the Great Flood and examples of God personally killing people.
To summarize, James Kirk Wall writes:
Let’s suppose, hypothetically speaking, someone invented a character with supernatural powers that was jealous, vengeful and cruel who inflicted death and suffering on countless people including women and children. And let’s suppose there was a story about this character coming face to face with the Incredible Hulk. Wouldn't you be cheering for the Hulk to kick his ass? And yet neither character is real.
Meet the "puppy-monkey-baby". It is everything you don't want:
The puppy-monkey-baby is a fiction invented by advertisers, now (hopefully) unemployed. It doesn't exist. Yet humans have a universal reaction: unbounded, frothing, seething hatred for the mere possibility that it might. How? Because it is possible to hate something, even a nonexisting something, for what it represents -- in this case, horrifying CGI for a horrifying product.
To atheists, a "god" is merely a fiction invented by another flawed human. Hating that fictional character is not difficult, and does not require believing that said god exists.
“”Atheists are not angry at God (just as they are not angry at the Tooth Fairy), and most of us didn’t become atheists because something bad happened to us. We became atheists because we find no evidence for any gods.
Exline et. al 2011 summarized several studies on religion and attitudes towards God, and found:
Religiosity and age correlated negatively with anger toward God. [....] Some atheists and agnostics reported anger involving God, particularly on measures emphasizing past experiences and images of a hypothetical God.
These are two interesting findings:
- More religious people were less likely to hate God. So religious people don't hate God. Phew!
- Yes, atheists do have hate — in two distinct ways, neither of which requires that they believe that god exists. The first is hate against a hypothetical idea — ie, if God did exist, as described by the Bible or Qur'an, then they would hate that god. The second is hate against a historical idea — e.g., they had political views or a sexuality that opposed what their former religion was, and so left that religion (see chart) and lost belief in that deity.
“”I have had a lot of conversations with atheists. Many express a strong hatred of God. I have been at a loss to explain this. How can you hate someone you don’t believe in? Why the hostility? If God does not exist, shouldn’t atheists just relax and seek a good time before they become plant food? Why should it matter if people believe in God? Nothing matters if atheism is true.
|—Don Batten, Creation Ministries International|
“”We can become incensed by objects and creatures both animate and inanimate. We can even, in a limited sense, be bothered by the fanciful characters in books and dreams. But creatures like unicorns that don't exist — that we truly believe not to exist — tend not to raise our ire. We certainly don't blame the one-horned creatures for our problems. The one social group that takes exception to this rule is atheists. [....] Many claim to believe that God does not exist and yet, according to empirical studies, they tend to be the people most angry at him.
“”However, in the interest of total disclosure, let me add that my problems with faith were not solely intellectual. I had a vested interest in the non-existence of God because I was living a rather immoral lifestyle and did not want to be held accountable for my behavior. To me, atheism opened up a world of hedonism that I knew wouldn’t be acceptable to God if he existed. (Let me be clear: I’m not saying that all atheists are hedonists. I’m just saying that, for me, atheism cleared the way for me to live a self-indulgent, me-first, narcissistic life. And to be honest, to this day I can’t figure out why atheists would choose any other path, although I know many do.)
|—Lee Strobel, discussing the time when he was an atheist|
“”[W]hen a person refuses to come to Christ, it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God’s Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves the darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.
|—"professional philosopher" William Lane Craig|
“”I was at this time living, like so many Atheists or Antitheists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world. Why should creatures have the burden of existence forced on them without their consent?
|—C.S. Lewis, discussing the time when he was an atheist|
“”From that experience I have learned that there is no such thing as "intellectual atheism". Atheism is a system of sin denial. Atheists deny God because they decry and violate His laws and His love.
|—William J. Murray|
“”I've noticed it is pretty common for them [atheists] to say that they "lack belief in God" or "don't believe He exists" and then site [sic] Old Testament Scriptures where God does what they think is morally reprehensible (which is funny since they have no objective and absolute morals by which to make such judgments). They complain, mock, and pronounce ethical condemnation against the God of the Bible … just like you would do to someone you hate. Hmmm … So, they really do hate God.
“”Of course, atheists will say that they can't hate what they don't believe in. But if that is the case and they actually deny that God exists (either by positive denial or passive lack-of-belief), then they are expressing denial of the Christian concept of God by not properly affirming Him.
“”As we can see by the sheer passion and virulence of the atheist - they seem to hate the Christian God - we are not dealing here with cool philosophy up against faith without a brain. Atheism is every bit of a religious commitment as Christianity itself. It represents the latest version of the human assault on God, born out of resentment that we do not in fact rule the world and that God calls on us to submit our lives to him. It is a form of idolatry in which we worship ourselves.
|—Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen|
“”They’re a small group of people, and they get on Fox or CNN and they rant and they rave, and I pretty much based my character [in God Is Not Dead] off of these guys that I see who are just angry — they’re just filled with anger and hatred. On the one hand, I feel sorry for them, but then I kind of laugh at them. Why would anybody spend so much time ranting and raving about something they don’t believe in?
“”Is it satanic? Is it some spiritual thing, people who are atheists, they hate God, they hate the expression of God? And they are angry with the world, angry with themselves, angry with society and they take it out on innocent people who are worshiping God. And whether it’s a Sikh temple or a Baptist church or a Catholic church or a Muslim mosque, whatever it is, I just abhor this kind of violence, and it’s the the kind of thing that we should do something about. But what do you do? Well, you talk about the love of God and hope it has some impact.
|—Pat Robertson, discussing the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, which was perpetrated by a neo-Nazi who spoke of a "racial holy war"|
- Can atheists hate God?, Hemant Mehta
- Do Atheists Hate God?, DarkMatter2525
- The Nay-Theist, TV Tropes
- Atheism and hatred of God, Conservapedia
- And there's very little doubt that religious people exist.
- EVANGELIST: ATHEISTS KNOW THEY'RE WRONG, WND
- Checkmate, Atheists!
- Anger toward God: Social-cognitive predictors, prevalence, and links with adjustment to bereavement and cancer. Exline, Julie J.; Park, Crystal L.; Smyth, Joshua M.; Carey, Michael P. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 100(1), Jan 2011, 129-148.
- William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith (1994), pp. 47 & 49-50. The relevant passages are quoted here and here