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Misotheism

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Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.
—Thomas Paine[1]

Misotheism is the hatred of God or gods. It derives its name from the Greek μῖσος "hatred" and θεός "god". Although the concept of hatred of gods and the belief that gods are worthy of hatred dates to antiquity, misotheism is a relatively recent term, appearing only in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.[2]

Religion and dystheism[edit]

Polytheistic religions often feature pantheons of gods, some with personalities worthy of hate. In these cases, gods are not expected to be wholly good and loved unconditionally. Thus, the related concept of dystheism applies, which means that God or the gods are not fully and wholly good entities. With respect to religious believers in monotheistic religions, misotheism can arise due to the problem of evil; as unable to accept the idea of a good god which allows evil, people can begin hating it, rather than merely ceasing to believe in it.

Various examples have been put forward to support the idea of dystheism in Christianity.[3] Bertrand Russell often used these in defense of atheism by suggesting that the God character suggested by the Bible was not worth believing in nor worshiping anyway.

Misconception with atheism[edit]

A common argument is that atheists hate god. However, this is not only a faulty argument but also a misuse of established terminology. Misotheism does not necessarily imply atheism, as you'd probably have to believe in gods first in order to hate them.

As atheism is also a lack of belief in any and all gods it becomes an even stranger assertion; as believers will single out their own as the figure for hatred. Rarely will evangelists ask themselves why they hate the numerous gods they themselves do not worship. This is most easily addressed by belief in belief, that states that any belief in any higher power is better than none at all, but this doesn't actually address the point that non-belief equates with hatred.

Creationist website A Storehouse of Knowledge incorrectly identifies this as a specific form of misotheism where the atheist merely hates the "idea" of (the Christian) God.[4] The site also incorrectly identifies hatred of God as less common compared to the hatred of the "idea" of God — again, completely ignoring other religions and the extensive pantheons of polytheistic religions for which misotheism and dystheism apply.

But God is a dick...[edit]

Atheistic arguments often do focus on the negative aspects of God as a character, as depicted in the Bible. The multitude of examples of God personally killing people is one such common thread that is brought up to discredit God as a likable character. At first glance this can easily be misconstrued as misotheism, or even maltheism. An atheist using and believing in exclusively such arguments would be guilty of a good bit of doublethink, as to bring up such characteristics as a negative requires some degree of belief.

However, this is not always the case. Arguments invoking the clearly evil side of God as a character generally are used in two ways, neither of which implies necessary or secret belief in God:

  1. To refute the idea that the God believers hold as real would be considered good.
  2. To emphasise how unworthy of worship such a character would be.

In the first case, it is not a theological argument about God's existence, but merely the characteristics ascribed by the religion itself. It is an argument often more about a specific religion and its potential inconsistencies and hypocrisies rather than the existence of a higher power of any kind. Belief is not essential for this except as an open minded thought experiment. The second case is used in refutations to Pascal's Wager — such as the Agnostic Atheism Wager. This states that the character of God isn't worthy of worship even if it were real, and so the atheist would rather burn in hell than go to heaven next to such an evil creature. Again, this doesn't indicate or require belief; it is merely a thought experiment that entertains a different set of ideas for the sake of the argument before deriving a set of hypothetical conclusions.

In short, accusations of "hating" God based on these arguments seem to just be splitting hairs over the lack of the qualifying remark "if He exists".

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