Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why do atheists hate God?

Q: Why do atheists hate God?

A: Atheists by definition are people who don't hold a belief in any god, so in their minds there is no "God" with whom to be angry. This is a bit like asking a Christian why they're so angry with Allah.

You will, however, often encounter a hostility to religion among many atheists, which is a subtly but significantly different issue than being angry with God. You can be angry with what, for instance, Muslim terrorists do even while not believing in the god they profess to worship.

Without making a judgment as to their merits, here are the reasons I most commonly see given by those atheists who seem to be hostile towards religion:
  1. Harmful Actions: Religion is seen as giving adherents license to commit unlawful, immoral, or otherwise harmful acts against other human beings. Regardless of the existence or non-existence of the god worshiped in that religion, the acts themselves are to be deplored on their own merits. Religion is regarded as significantly more likely to encourage such behavior than other belief systems, and as such should be avoided.

  2. Harmful Thought Processes: Religion is seen as promoting non-rational, non-scientific, non-logical modes of thought that lead to less than desirable social consequences. One example often given is the effort to replace the scientifically solid theory of evolution with Biblical "creation science" or "intelligent design" in public classrooms. This lessens the ability of our students to think critically about the world around them, in turn weakening our country's ability to compete in the scientific world.

  3. Truth Matters: Strong atheists believe there is no god, and to allow significant social institutions to go around promoting an untruth is distasteful. In general it's better to be truthful than otherwise, and this is just one of the more prominent examples of culture promoting untruths.


Those are among the more logical or rational reasons you'll find atheists promoting for why they dislike religion. There are many, many others, some much less rational and more emotional. Sometimes people who are raised in a very religious home will rebel against those teachings later in life, perhaps as a way of distancing themselves from their parents and perhaps out of genuine revulsion at the practices themselves. Some atheists undoubtedly are angry with what their family or community did to them in the name of religion, and thus reject all religion as a consequence.

Again, the Universal Caveat applies; you're going to get almost as many answers to this question as there are atheists out there. Including, of course, the sizable group of atheists who don't give a fig about religion one way or the other, any more than non-stamp-collectors care about the goings-on among philatelic groups.

10 comments:

Why do you hate god? said...

I recently launched Why do you hate god?, mainly out of curiosity. I wanted to see what people's answers would be, particularly those people who DO believe in a god, as it wouldn't make much sense for anyone else. Stop by and check it out sometime if you're so inclined!

OJ said...

You are right that atheists don't hate any gods, even god with a big G. It would be as silly as if I hated fairies.

I agree that religion, unlike many other outcomes of irrational thought such as alternative medicine practices or racism, is especially harmful as it seeks to install its unfounded beliefs into public school curricula, etc. Imagine if they taught crystal healing in health class. The outcry would be on a national scale.

Great blog, I'll be sure to check back :-)

Anonymous said...

If one of the reasons for not believing in God is the harm believers do to others (Holy Wars, etc) then by the same reasoning shouldn't atheists be against communism, while though it is atheistic in its tenents, has harmed/jailes/killed millions upon millions more in their quest to spread their regimes?
Also, just because someone says they are Christian, it does not make them a true Christian. Putting a turd in a cookie jar does not make it a cookie.

Anonymous said...

By the way, God states in the Bible that He hates religion also. He knows how people can sure mess up by following just ritual and certain belief systems can sure go screwy fast. God knows this and that is why He sent Jesus, first to pay for our sins, the offer a relationship with Him.
To believe in evolution takes faith, since none of us where here millions of years ago. Scientists can only interpret what they see in the bones and rocks. And they could be wrong.
Even as a Christian, I love learning about the history of this earth, knowing that it is theory that is presented which changes as more evidence is dug up.

Anonymous said...

My thought is this...if there is no God and we all go to nothingness when we die, what does it matter how/what we believe while alive? An innocent child goes to the same nothingness as a Hitler. If there is nothing after death, then an athiest cannot even say to the believer, "I was right." BUT if there is a God and afterlife, then even the Christian though the believer cdan say but gets no satisfactin saying "God was right." because of where the atheist (and many so-called believers) ends up.

Anonymous said...

The question should be not "Why do atheists hate God?" but why do atheists spend so much time on the subject of God at all. Going to the websites run by atheists, where arguments and theories and criticism against believers abound, if there is no such thing as a God, why waste time on it. Like the comment on how irrational it would be to hate non-existent fairies, yet no time is wasted on discussing the non-existence of fairies or even becoming an expert in fairy lore. Yet many atheists are very well versed in what is written in the Bible and spend much time writing about a God they do not believe exists and criticizing those who do.

Even if God is taught is schools, again, what does that matter if it all comes to nothingness anyway. A hundred, thousand or millennia from now, all those who heard about God in school, will be gone and what they heard, believed or done, good or bad, if life, will all be moot. UNLESS...there is a God and what He claims is true...

Jeff Hebert said...

Anonymous, I'll try to address your several comments in this one central location.

You said:

If one of the reasons for not believing in God is the harm believers do to others (Holy Wars, etc) then by the same reasoning shouldn't atheists be against communism...

This article isn't about the harm believers do to others as a reason for not believing in God, it's about the question of why atheists "hate" God, ultimately turning into why many atheists seem angry with religion. It makes no claim that this is a reason for not being a believer in the first place.

You say:

Also, just because someone says they are Christian, it does not make them a true Christian. Putting a turd in a cookie jar does not make it a cookie.

This is known as the "No True Scotsman" logical fallacy, and is also irrelevant to the discussion, which pertains to a general antagonism to religion. Even if the Christian (or Muslim or Hindu) in question doesn't qualify as "real" for whatever arbitrary set of rules you wish to provide, they're still religious.

You said:

By the way, God states in the Bible that He hates religion also. He knows how people can sure mess up by following just ritual and certain belief systems can sure go screwy fast. God knows this and that is why He sent Jesus, first to pay for our sins, the offer a relationship with Him.

Yes, whenever I want to show how much I hate something, I do everything in my power to make sure it exists. He's GOD -- if He doesn't like religion, He could make it go away with a wave of His noodly appendage.

You said:

To believe in evolution takes faith, since none of us where here millions of years ago. Scientists can only interpret what they see in the bones and rocks. And they could be wrong.

Falsifiability is one of the great strengths of the scientific method. Knowing how to know when you're wrong is absolutely invaluable, and one of the reasons it has been so successful at finding out how the world really works. Unlike religion, which cannot be falsified -- witness the guy who predicted the world was about to end, spending $100 million to tell the world about it. When the world did not end, rather than realizing he was wrong, he was able to reinterpret this as yet another example confirming the existence of god and the correctness of his prophecy.

Rather than applying "faith" to scientific knowledge, I prefer to call it "confidence". Faith that the fundamental laws of physics aren't going to suddenly change mid-flight, sending you plummeting to your death, and faith that (for example) you'll be reincarnated as a cow after death are not the same thing except in the most trivial sense.

You said:

Even as a Christian, I love learning about the history of this earth...

I find it interesting that you would use the formulation "Even as a Christian" here. Why would a Christian not love learning about the history of the Earth? Many millions of Christians spend fruitful lives researching all manner of scientific phenomena about the universe. Nothing about the Christian faith should be inimical to learning about what you perceive as God's creation. It's interesting that you would think it such a given that a Christian would not be interested in such things that you have to call it out.

You said:

The question should be not "Why do atheists hate God?" but why do atheists spend so much time on the subject of God at all.

If that were the question, you could pop on over to Why do atheists spend so much time talking about religion if they don't believe in god? right here on this very site :-)

Patricia Kistle Dorris said...

Atheist must know there is God, if they honestly thought there was no God, why do they get so angry. Like I have said before when it is proven to an Atheist that God exist they have lost. But if by some chance there is no God what do we lose? Absolutely nothing. I pray to God that every Atheist will some how come to their senses and know that God is real and that Jesus has paid for our sins so that we will have an everlasting life that will be wonderful and full of Love.

Jeff Hebert said...

Patricia, we don't believe in God, so there's no one to be angry with. If we did believe in God and so were angry at him/she/it/them, we would by definition not be atheists any longer.

Do you get angry at the Tooth Fairy? Or Santa Claus? Or the Easter Bunny? The question seems silly to you because you don't believe in those things (presumably). It's the same for atheists and god.

Now, just like you might get angry at stores who push Christmas too early with all the Santa nonsense, we can get angry with religions who get too pushy with their god. But that's a different thing from getting angry with the imaginary character in which you don't believe.

Anonymous said...

All that i ever wanted from God was to meet a good woman to settle down with, instead of being alone all the time. And with so many very nasty Stuck up women that are out there nowadays certainly makes it much worse meeting a good one now, unlike years ago when it would had been much easier. To see so many other men and women that were very extremely blessed to have met one another and have a family, certainly tells the story since many of us men would had wanted the same thing.