Atheist Contradictions – Anger at God

“I hate you, God. I hate you as though you actually exist.”Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

A recent set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reveals that a significant number of people who consider themselves to be atheists or agnostics are reported to have feelings of anger toward God. In fact more atheists appear to feel this way than do believers. Julie Exline, one of the lead researchers on the study, talked about this contradiction:

At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.

Expressions of anger from atheists are obviously common, though certainly not universal. Indeed the characteristic that seems to distinguish the ‘New’ atheists is the vehemence and disdain with which they express themselves, but this study seems to indicate that atheists actually feel this anger toward God Himself.

In many ways this refutes the common atheist meme that belief in God is akin to a belief in fairies or unicorns or Santa. It is virtually impossible to imagine someone retaining anger toward unicorns. Indeed, atheists often say that they simply believe in ‘one less God’ than do Christians but the reality is Christians don’t spend any time expressing anger at Zeus or Vishnu, or any other entities they deem imaginary, whereas atheists fill blogs and books decrying the shortcomings of the Christian God.

I think such anger in and of itself lends credence to the existence of the Christian God – if He were so easy to dismiss, then why waste such emotional effort in pointing out His presumed short-comings? Indeed, one of the events in my life when I was an agnostic skeptic that caused me to re-think my ideas about Christianity was the realization that no other belief caused me to react with such anger. It dawned on me that perhaps this was because I detected a grain of truth in Christian claims and if that was the case, it would radically challenge many of the choices I made about how to live my life.

I would think at the very least the inherent contradiction of feeling anger toward a God one doesn’t think exists would cause certain people to question the rationality of their beliefs.

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13 Responses to Atheist Contradictions – Anger at God

  1. bZirk says:

    This angst toward God has always been a little amusing to witness in atheists I know. Whenever I have questioned any of them about it, the answer is always convoluted, which makes sense as they don’t understand themselves why they have it. LOL!

    Gone to catch up on your entries. 🙂

  2. jackhudson says:

    Great to ‘see’ you again! Hope all is well with you and your family.

  3. James says:

    The more interesting question is whether people who are raised Buddhist or Hindu have “anger towards God.” They probably don’t.

    My guess is that as most people in the US are raised to believe in the Christian God, they will inevitably have some residual belief in that God. It’s hard to jettison all the ideas you were raised with.

  4. Mike D says:

    Typical for believers to jump on this without understanding the context. Here’s what one of the study’s authors had to say about the finding:

    * The idea of anger toward God can be relevant for SOME (not all!) people who don’t believe in God (e.g., atheists, agnostics).
    –For example, some nonbelievers have anger toward God as part of their history, and some report anger when prompted to focus on a residual or hypothetical image of God. (The thinking might be like this: “If God did exist, then he would be a jerk.”)
    –IMPORTANT: ** We are by no means claiming that all nonbelievers are angry at God.

    More deets:
    http://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-philadelphia/atheism-101-are-atheists-angry-with-god

    Sorry, we’re not angry at your imaginary friend. 🙂

  5. NewEnglandBob says:

    Reading comprehension 101 is needed by Jack, the consummate untruth teller.

  6. jackhudson says:

    Typical for believers to jump on this without understanding the context. Here’s what one of the study’s authors had to say about the finding:

    * The idea of anger toward God can be relevant for SOME (not all!) people who don’t believe in God (e.g., atheists, agnostics).
    –For example, some nonbelievers have anger toward God as part of their history, and some report anger when prompted to focus on a residual or hypothetical image of God. (The thinking might be like this: “If God did exist, then he would be a jerk.”)
    –IMPORTANT: ** We are by no means claiming that all nonbelievers are angry at God.

    Sure, and if you had read what I said you would have read where I plainly said this feeling is “certainly not universal” you would realize your entire post is moot. But there is no doubt that it exists, and the study demonstrates it exists, as Exline affirms. 

    Interestingly they also found a lot of unbelief results from such anger, and persists despite the conclusion that God doesn’t exist. This is certainly my experience; atheists are often particularly angry people. 

    And these realities support my conclusion that a belief in God is quite different than a belief in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. There are after all no books called The Unicorn Delusion or Santa is not Great  

  7. jackhudson says:

    Reading comprehension 101 is needed by Jack, the consummate untruth teller.

    Typically angry response from perhaps the most angry atheist who posts here.

    And one of the most skittish as well if memory serves.

  8. kenetiks says:

    I have actually been quite a lot happier since losing my belief.

    My “irritation”, not anger, is not with god, it’s with his fanclub.

    You seem to be misrepresenting the data as if it actually meant something or meant something else entirely.

  9. jackhudson says:

    Which part – the fact that atheists are angry, or to whom their anger is directed?

    The authors of the study certainly seem to think a certain amount of the anger is directed at God.

  10. kenetiks says:

    The parts as already pointed out by other comments.

  11. Justin says:

    “More deets: http://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-philadelphia/atheism-101-are-atheists-angry-with-god
    Sorry, we’re not angry at your imaginary friend.”

    Uhh, the author of the article admitted the opposite….

  12. jackhudson says:

    Yeah, it’s still contradictory in light of the claim that God is imaginary. Take this highlighted point from the article:

    * The idea of anger toward God can be relevant for SOME (not all!) people who don’t believe in God (e.g., atheists, agnostics).
    –For example, some nonbelievers have anger toward God as part of their history, and some report anger when prompted to focus on a residual or hypothetical image of God. (The thinking might be like this: “If God did exist, then he would be a jerk.”)
    –IMPORTANT: ** We are by no means claiming that all nonbelievers are angry at God.

    Now consider the common belief amongst children that Santa Claus exists – are people angry at themselves for having believed in Santa? If I was ever angry at Santa for some imagined slight, do I retain that anger after I realize he doesn’t exist? Does that anger flare up when I see an image of Santa?

    The answer is ‘of course not’ – at least not for a logical or reasonable person. The contradiction is real.

  13. kenetiks says:

    Kinda sad really.

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