Anger at God leads to atheism

Joe Carter reports on a study that shows that atheists are angry at a God they don’t believe exists.  Or, rather, their anger at God motivated them not to believe in Him:

A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.

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.

Exline notes that the findings raised questions of whether anger might actually affect belief in God’s existence, an idea consistent with social science’s previous clinical findings on “emotional atheism.”

Studies in traumatic events suggest a possible link between suffering, anger toward God, and doubts about God’s existence. According to Cook and Wimberly (1983), 33% of parents who suffered the death of a child reported doubts about God in the first year of bereavement. In another study, 90% of mothers who had given birth to a profoundly retarded child voiced doubts about the existence of God (Childs, 1985). Our survey research with undergraduates has focused directly on the association between anger at God and self-reported drops in belief (Exline et al., 2004). In the wake of a negative life event, anger toward God predicted decreased belief in God’s existence.

The most striking finding was that when Exline looked only at subjects who reported a drop in religious belief, their faith was least likely to recover if anger toward God was the cause of their loss of belief. In other words, anger toward God may not only lead people to atheism but give them a reason to cling to their disbelief. . . .

I’ve sometimes mistakenly assumed it to be a purely intellectual failing—a matter of the head, not the heart. Only recently have I begun to appreciate how much the emotional response to pain and suffering can push a person to an atheistic worldview.

Most pastors and priests would find my epiphany to be both obvious and overdue. But I suspect I’m not the only amateur apologist who has been blinded to this truth. As a general rule, those of us engaged in Christian apologists tend to prefer the philosophical to the pastoral, the crisp structure of logical argument to the messiness of human emotion. We often favor the quick-witted response that dismisses the problem of evil rather than patient empathy, which consoles atheists that we too are perplexed by suffering.

Many atheists do, of course, proceed to their denial of God based solely on rational justifications. That is why evidentialist and philosophical approaches to apologetics will always be necessary. But I’m beginning to suspect that emotional atheism is far more common than many realize. We need a new apologetic approach that takes into account that the ordinary pain and sufferings of life leads more people away from God than a library full of anti-theist books. Focusing solely on the irate sputterings of the imperfectly intellectual New Atheists may blind us to the anger and suffering that is adding new nonbelievers to their ranks.

via When Atheists Are Angry at God | First Things.

To be angry at something you don’t believe exists is, of course, illogical.  To not believe in God as a way of rejecting Him makes an emotional sense, though that is illogical too.

The expectation that God is and must be benevolent derives from Christianity.  Zeus and the other pagan deities were certainly not benevolent.  Hindus have the evil creation deity Kali.  Muslims, I suspect, do not hold Allah to these high moral standards, since he is above them all.

And yet, as I have complained, so many Christian projections of God leave out the distinctly Christian understanding of God, that He is incarnate and that He is crucified.

I think an apologetic to this emotional atheism–which I suspect underlies much of the rational atheism as well–must center around the God who suffers, the God who dies (phrases some Christians cannot abide, though such language is affirmed against them in the Lutheran confessions).  We must emphasize not just a transcendent deity looking down on the suffering of the world, but a God who enters that evil and suffering world and takes it into Himself and bears it for us.  That is, Christ on the Cross.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    I would also add the reason for the suffering of Christ and why there is suffering in the world to begin with: sin. All creation was made good, but it has been corrupted by sin and we all pay the price, sometimes more than others, but we are all under the curse.

  • SKPeterson

    I would also add the reason for the suffering of Christ and why there is suffering in the world to begin with: sin. All creation was made good, but it has been corrupted by sin and we all pay the price, sometimes more than others, but we are all under the curse.

  • Pete

    Interesting – so the old “two tenets of atheism” joke (1, there is no God and, 2, I hate Him) may be more true than we thought.

  • Pete

    Interesting – so the old “two tenets of atheism” joke (1, there is no God and, 2, I hate Him) may be more true than we thought.

  • John C

    It’s a little more complicated than that Pete.
    Athiests would reject the doctine that each of us are is born under a curse.
    They would also reject the notion that God would send a Son to be crucified and that this Son would bear the sin on our behalf.
    This doctrine of sin and sacrifice would be familiar to Jews and gentiles two thousand years ago for it is an extension of the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur.
    Setting aside doctrine, Christianity also has probems with modernity. Attitudes are shifting on homosexuality, global warming and the role of women and men in society and yet the more public face of Christianity remains stubbornly conservative and Republican — a set of attitudes that are not all that attractive to bright young things at university. Christianity thus becomes a marker of social division.

  • John C

    It’s a little more complicated than that Pete.
    Athiests would reject the doctine that each of us are is born under a curse.
    They would also reject the notion that God would send a Son to be crucified and that this Son would bear the sin on our behalf.
    This doctrine of sin and sacrifice would be familiar to Jews and gentiles two thousand years ago for it is an extension of the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur.
    Setting aside doctrine, Christianity also has probems with modernity. Attitudes are shifting on homosexuality, global warming and the role of women and men in society and yet the more public face of Christianity remains stubbornly conservative and Republican — a set of attitudes that are not all that attractive to bright young things at university. Christianity thus becomes a marker of social division.

  • Jonathan

    The complaint from both the rational and emotional atheists is usually heard as, “How could a loving God let THAT happen?” By itself, I think that is an unconvincing argument against the existence of God. Maybe He exists but he is angry, ambivalent, or irrational. That’s why I agree that the incarnate, suffering God who deigned to come into our messed up world is the best answer to types. This focus on our incarnate, suffering God messes with the rational’s sensibility of what their idea of a rational God would do–His ways are not their ways, and it takes them down a notch or two. And it says to the emotionally scarred that we have a God who is indeed with us and for us.

  • Jonathan

    The complaint from both the rational and emotional atheists is usually heard as, “How could a loving God let THAT happen?” By itself, I think that is an unconvincing argument against the existence of God. Maybe He exists but he is angry, ambivalent, or irrational. That’s why I agree that the incarnate, suffering God who deigned to come into our messed up world is the best answer to types. This focus on our incarnate, suffering God messes with the rational’s sensibility of what their idea of a rational God would do–His ways are not their ways, and it takes them down a notch or two. And it says to the emotionally scarred that we have a God who is indeed with us and for us.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    If anything this is where the fideists of the Lutheran camp are almost right, almost. In some confessional circles that is you hear a sort of mantra brought out against apologetics. That they don’t rely on the gospel. That all you need is the gospel. Of course that is the brilliance of Dr. Rosenbladt, and John Warwick Montgomery, their apologetic is a presentation of the Gospel. But so many fail to see this.
    The truth is The gospel is needed above all, but apologetics can be extremely helpful in presenting it.
    The problem is the gospel can address this emotional atheism, if the guy calms down enough to allow you to discuss your views. But they have put up intellectual walls that won’t let them hear the gospel until you tear them down. As Dr. Rosenbladt always told us, apologetics is about removing the obstacles in the way of the gospel.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    If anything this is where the fideists of the Lutheran camp are almost right, almost. In some confessional circles that is you hear a sort of mantra brought out against apologetics. That they don’t rely on the gospel. That all you need is the gospel. Of course that is the brilliance of Dr. Rosenbladt, and John Warwick Montgomery, their apologetic is a presentation of the Gospel. But so many fail to see this.
    The truth is The gospel is needed above all, but apologetics can be extremely helpful in presenting it.
    The problem is the gospel can address this emotional atheism, if the guy calms down enough to allow you to discuss your views. But they have put up intellectual walls that won’t let them hear the gospel until you tear them down. As Dr. Rosenbladt always told us, apologetics is about removing the obstacles in the way of the gospel.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Veith, you are right in that we must proclaim the man of sorrows, smitten and afflicted for us, the God who saves. We meet resistance because against all evidence they don’t even believe Jesus existed and if He did His legend is nothing more than amalgamation of pagan deities ala Zeitgeist.

    It always amazes me those who demand physical evidence are the first to ignore archeology and cling to the imaginations of 19th century philosophers and historians. But then, I remember for as smart as they are they have no wisdom. Atheists on a whole are collectively unable to discern the truth. They believe they can as they cling to the false god of scientific method and human rationality. We can preach Christ crucified till we are blue in the face but until the Law destroys their faith in their false gods they will never hear.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Veith, you are right in that we must proclaim the man of sorrows, smitten and afflicted for us, the God who saves. We meet resistance because against all evidence they don’t even believe Jesus existed and if He did His legend is nothing more than amalgamation of pagan deities ala Zeitgeist.

    It always amazes me those who demand physical evidence are the first to ignore archeology and cling to the imaginations of 19th century philosophers and historians. But then, I remember for as smart as they are they have no wisdom. Atheists on a whole are collectively unable to discern the truth. They believe they can as they cling to the false god of scientific method and human rationality. We can preach Christ crucified till we are blue in the face but until the Law destroys their faith in their false gods they will never hear.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    So is it atheism per se that we generally observe, or a shunning of our Lord out of anger? My brother’s response to God seems to follow at least a bit of this pattern, and I’m reminded of friends’ comments about “I don’t believe in atheists.” Hmmmm….

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    So is it atheism per se that we generally observe, or a shunning of our Lord out of anger? My brother’s response to God seems to follow at least a bit of this pattern, and I’m reminded of friends’ comments about “I don’t believe in atheists.” Hmmmm….

  • DonS

    This is the second time today that I am following Bike Bubba and echoing his comment. Humans often shun those against whom they harbor anger. However, it is unseemly to shun an all-powerful God while yet professing belief in Him. What good can come of that? So, to compensate, the angry person takes it one step further and declares unbelief. A coping mechanism, so to speak.

  • DonS

    This is the second time today that I am following Bike Bubba and echoing his comment. Humans often shun those against whom they harbor anger. However, it is unseemly to shun an all-powerful God while yet professing belief in Him. What good can come of that? So, to compensate, the angry person takes it one step further and declares unbelief. A coping mechanism, so to speak.

  • http://www.ctgop16.com ACR

    Thank you `DonS’
    “I don’t believe in atheists.”

    I had never seen what should be an obvious line before, or if I had can’t remember when – it’s perfect.

  • http://www.ctgop16.com ACR

    Thank you `DonS’
    “I don’t believe in atheists.”

    I had never seen what should be an obvious line before, or if I had can’t remember when – it’s perfect.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I have to say, without denying that this kind of “emotional atheism” exists, it doesn’t ring true for most of the atheists I know. Instead, it brings to mind more the atheists one hears a lot from — whether in books or Web discussions (at least, the ones not specifically created for atheists). The loud ones. Most of my atheist friends are pretty quiet people. They know I’m a Christian, but they don’t pick fights with me. If anything, they occasionally ask thoughtful questions to learn more about what I believe. Maybe I’m just blessed to know such nice atheists.

    All of which to say, get to know your atheist before you figure out which apologetic approach to use with him.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I have to say, without denying that this kind of “emotional atheism” exists, it doesn’t ring true for most of the atheists I know. Instead, it brings to mind more the atheists one hears a lot from — whether in books or Web discussions (at least, the ones not specifically created for atheists). The loud ones. Most of my atheist friends are pretty quiet people. They know I’m a Christian, but they don’t pick fights with me. If anything, they occasionally ask thoughtful questions to learn more about what I believe. Maybe I’m just blessed to know such nice atheists.

    All of which to say, get to know your atheist before you figure out which apologetic approach to use with him.

  • trotk

    tODD, it is like anything else. There are those who are loud and vocal in any group, and there are those who quietly go about their lives. For people outside the group, the ones they notice are the loud and vocal ones, even if they are a minority. Thus the atheists believe all Christians are like Pat Roberts and the Christians believe all atheists are like PZ Myers.
    Get to know your local atheist. That should be the theme of the month.

  • trotk

    tODD, it is like anything else. There are those who are loud and vocal in any group, and there are those who quietly go about their lives. For people outside the group, the ones they notice are the loud and vocal ones, even if they are a minority. Thus the atheists believe all Christians are like Pat Roberts and the Christians believe all atheists are like PZ Myers.
    Get to know your local atheist. That should be the theme of the month.

  • DonS

    tODD and trotk, to clarify, I agree with you. We are speaking of a subset of atheists only, not all of them. Certainly, there are many who have come to their atheism in what they believe is a rational and unemotional way, based on evidence as they see it. Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins would fall into this camp, I believe.

  • DonS

    tODD and trotk, to clarify, I agree with you. We are speaking of a subset of atheists only, not all of them. Certainly, there are many who have come to their atheism in what they believe is a rational and unemotional way, based on evidence as they see it. Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins would fall into this camp, I believe.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trotk said (@11), “Get to know your local atheist. That should be the theme of the month.” Indeed. Too often, atheists are the focus of our most unrelenting and unloving attacks, rather than just more people who need to hear the Gospel.

    Perhaps I am still chagrined from the time I posted on Twitter the so-called “Two Tenets of Atheism”, which I think I had heard somewhere around here, and which I thought terribly clever. I was subsequently accosted by not a few of my atheist friends, who caused me to realize that “clever” is often not the same as “loving” or even “helpful” when it comes to dialog. A lesson I struggle to internalize, as some here might gladly attest.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trotk said (@11), “Get to know your local atheist. That should be the theme of the month.” Indeed. Too often, atheists are the focus of our most unrelenting and unloving attacks, rather than just more people who need to hear the Gospel.

    Perhaps I am still chagrined from the time I posted on Twitter the so-called “Two Tenets of Atheism”, which I think I had heard somewhere around here, and which I thought terribly clever. I was subsequently accosted by not a few of my atheist friends, who caused me to realize that “clever” is often not the same as “loving” or even “helpful” when it comes to dialog. A lesson I struggle to internalize, as some here might gladly attest.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@12), I’m not terribly familiar with Hitchens and Dawkins, beyond what is discussed here and there as a result of their remarkably effective marketing efforts, especially by their Internet acolytes. But no, I did not have them in mind as examples of the kind of atheism my friends exhibit. After all, none of my friends have written books decrying God, Christians, and religion. Much less gone on a lecture circuit debating anyone who holds to such things.

    Again, if you met my friends, I don’t think it would be at all obvious to you that they were atheists, unless the topic came up or you asked them. They don’t seem terribly emotional about their atheism, or even that invested in it. Maybe they’re all better labeled as agnostics, and I’ve been confusing in calling them atheists. Anyhow.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@12), I’m not terribly familiar with Hitchens and Dawkins, beyond what is discussed here and there as a result of their remarkably effective marketing efforts, especially by their Internet acolytes. But no, I did not have them in mind as examples of the kind of atheism my friends exhibit. After all, none of my friends have written books decrying God, Christians, and religion. Much less gone on a lecture circuit debating anyone who holds to such things.

    Again, if you met my friends, I don’t think it would be at all obvious to you that they were atheists, unless the topic came up or you asked them. They don’t seem terribly emotional about their atheism, or even that invested in it. Maybe they’re all better labeled as agnostics, and I’ve been confusing in calling them atheists. Anyhow.

  • trotk

    DonS, I am amazed that you see Hitchens and Dawkins in the camp of rational, non-emotionally driven atheists. I know that they think that they have arrived at their beliefs rationally, and perhaps they originally did, but the majority of what they say publicly exudes hatred for God. They certainly don’t shy away from proclaiming that they hate all religions, which in their minds is more or less the same thing as God, because He doesn’t exist. Read “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” if you want to see examples of the emotionally driven and logically deficient reasoning.

  • trotk

    DonS, I am amazed that you see Hitchens and Dawkins in the camp of rational, non-emotionally driven atheists. I know that they think that they have arrived at their beliefs rationally, and perhaps they originally did, but the majority of what they say publicly exudes hatred for God. They certainly don’t shy away from proclaiming that they hate all religions, which in their minds is more or less the same thing as God, because He doesn’t exist. Read “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” if you want to see examples of the emotionally driven and logically deficient reasoning.

  • DonS

    trotk and tODD: I have not read the books of either Hitchens or Dawkins, though I have heard them both in interviews. The reason why I thought of them was because they both claim to have come to their conviction that there is no God because of study and based on evidence, rather than because of something bad that happened in their personal lives. Or, at least, I believe that is the case.

    tODD, I understand what you are saying, and the fact that both Hitchens and Dawkins have made careers out of their atheism at least potentially undermines the sincerity of their beliefs. I’m not wedded to these examples, but was merely attempting to come up with examples that didn’t seem to fall into the “angry at God” camp. They might not be good ones, after all.

    It might reasonably be said, as you imply tODD, that those who simply lack belief in God, without emotional investment, are not really atheists, but agnostics. For to deny the very possibility of existence of a Supreme Being, from our very limited mortal perspective, requires an emotional response of some sort.

  • DonS

    trotk and tODD: I have not read the books of either Hitchens or Dawkins, though I have heard them both in interviews. The reason why I thought of them was because they both claim to have come to their conviction that there is no God because of study and based on evidence, rather than because of something bad that happened in their personal lives. Or, at least, I believe that is the case.

    tODD, I understand what you are saying, and the fact that both Hitchens and Dawkins have made careers out of their atheism at least potentially undermines the sincerity of their beliefs. I’m not wedded to these examples, but was merely attempting to come up with examples that didn’t seem to fall into the “angry at God” camp. They might not be good ones, after all.

    It might reasonably be said, as you imply tODD, that those who simply lack belief in God, without emotional investment, are not really atheists, but agnostics. For to deny the very possibility of existence of a Supreme Being, from our very limited mortal perspective, requires an emotional response of some sort.

  • John C

    I don’t think athiests hate God, trotk. I think their anger is directed more at Christian doctrine which has been manipulated to justify the persecution of others — women, heretics, Jews, homosexuals, apartheid ……..
    Athiests don’t mind if you worship the God of your choice trok as long as you don’t intrude into the lives of others.

  • John C

    I don’t think athiests hate God, trotk. I think their anger is directed more at Christian doctrine which has been manipulated to justify the persecution of others — women, heretics, Jews, homosexuals, apartheid ……..
    Athiests don’t mind if you worship the God of your choice trok as long as you don’t intrude into the lives of others.

  • trotk

    John C, did you miss the study in the original post? Did you miss at comment 11 that I said that only the vocal few have that hatred?

    I assume most don’t hate God. I assume most are atheists because they aren’t convinced by arguments for God. There are a vocal few that clearly hate religion and/or the concept of God and/or God personally. For some, there is a difference between these things. For others, hating the religion is equal to hating God(see PZ Myers).

    The anger that is toward Christian doctrine that has been manipulated to justify persecution is shared by lots of Christians, though.
    But let’s not kid ourselves. Men of all religions and men who despise all religions have persecuted others historically. You can’t really blame one group more than others without having to twist lots of facts and ignore all sorts of historical details. The arguments (whether religious or not) that justify the persecutions are just window dressing (not the driving motivation to persecute) that is an attempt to cover the real problem: man has a pretty ugly nature.
    In other words, the motivation to persecute doesn’t come from the religion; it comes from the ugly heart of man.

  • trotk

    John C, did you miss the study in the original post? Did you miss at comment 11 that I said that only the vocal few have that hatred?

    I assume most don’t hate God. I assume most are atheists because they aren’t convinced by arguments for God. There are a vocal few that clearly hate religion and/or the concept of God and/or God personally. For some, there is a difference between these things. For others, hating the religion is equal to hating God(see PZ Myers).

    The anger that is toward Christian doctrine that has been manipulated to justify persecution is shared by lots of Christians, though.
    But let’s not kid ourselves. Men of all religions and men who despise all religions have persecuted others historically. You can’t really blame one group more than others without having to twist lots of facts and ignore all sorts of historical details. The arguments (whether religious or not) that justify the persecutions are just window dressing (not the driving motivation to persecute) that is an attempt to cover the real problem: man has a pretty ugly nature.
    In other words, the motivation to persecute doesn’t come from the religion; it comes from the ugly heart of man.

  • John C

    I don’t know that man does have an ugly heart — a few do of course. And I do wonder whether the persecution has been greater because ‘the Bible/Koran says so’ and ‘God is on our side.’

  • John C

    I don’t know that man does have an ugly heart — a few do of course. And I do wonder whether the persecution has been greater because ‘the Bible/Koran says so’ and ‘God is on our side.’

  • trotk

    John, I figured that your reaction would show me what perspective you are coming from.

    The thing that I cannot get away from is that I am fundamentally selfish. I put myself before everyone else the vast majority of the time. I’ve got little boys and they have been acting this way since the beginning. I’m a principal at a great school and all the students and their families have this mentality.

    What I am trying to say is that we are all worshipers of ourselves. This is the root of all the junk that man does. And if we all have the same root, the only difference is how graphically or publicly we have acted it out.

    And this is the part that I am sure you won’t agree with, but the root issue (our self worship) is sufficient to destroy us. (The only source of life and goodness is God, and if we reject Him, which is what we do when we worship ourselves, we reject His life and goodness – there is no other source.) It is an unspeakably ugly evil, no matter how insignificant we deem it. Pragmatically, it must be awfully evil if it has the power to make us hate and murder and enslave.

    As to whether persecution is greater because of religion, I don’t know. Man without religion seems pretty capable of wickedness, man with religion seems pretty capable of wickedness.

  • trotk

    John, I figured that your reaction would show me what perspective you are coming from.

    The thing that I cannot get away from is that I am fundamentally selfish. I put myself before everyone else the vast majority of the time. I’ve got little boys and they have been acting this way since the beginning. I’m a principal at a great school and all the students and their families have this mentality.

    What I am trying to say is that we are all worshipers of ourselves. This is the root of all the junk that man does. And if we all have the same root, the only difference is how graphically or publicly we have acted it out.

    And this is the part that I am sure you won’t agree with, but the root issue (our self worship) is sufficient to destroy us. (The only source of life and goodness is God, and if we reject Him, which is what we do when we worship ourselves, we reject His life and goodness – there is no other source.) It is an unspeakably ugly evil, no matter how insignificant we deem it. Pragmatically, it must be awfully evil if it has the power to make us hate and murder and enslave.

    As to whether persecution is greater because of religion, I don’t know. Man without religion seems pretty capable of wickedness, man with religion seems pretty capable of wickedness.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C said (@19), “I don’t know that man does have an ugly heart” — and that may be true — but God does know, and he tells us so:

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17)

    (From before the Flood) “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6)

    (From after the Flood) God said, “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” (Genesis 8 )

    When you say “a few do of course”, John, perhaps those are just the people that you personally know?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C said (@19), “I don’t know that man does have an ugly heart” — and that may be true — but God does know, and he tells us so:

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17)

    (From before the Flood) “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6)

    (From after the Flood) God said, “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” (Genesis 8 )

    When you say “a few do of course”, John, perhaps those are just the people that you personally know?

  • JohnC

    Did God actually say, “that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time?” These sound like the words of man rather than God or the words of jewish priests trying to tell a story about the nature of good and evil.
    Do you actually believe that every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood, Todd?
    I can understand how this proposition can give comfort to some but this is not a propostion I can accept.

  • JohnC

    Did God actually say, “that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time?” These sound like the words of man rather than God or the words of jewish priests trying to tell a story about the nature of good and evil.
    Do you actually believe that every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood, Todd?
    I can understand how this proposition can give comfort to some but this is not a propostion I can accept.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    JohnC (@22), you do realize, of course, that you are never in good spiritual company when you ask, “Did God actually say … ?” (cf. Genesis 3:1).

    “These sound like the words of man rather than God.” A curious judgment. Upon what would you base your claim? It would imply that you know what God actually says, what he sounds like (at least stylistically), so that you are able to compare his real words with those in the Bible. So where did you get this knowledge, if not from the Bible itself?

    Moreover, most men I know — especially those who do not believe in God — would take issue with what the Bible says about man’s heart. Including you, as you may recall (“I don’t know that man does have an ugly heart”).

    So on the one hand, your own judgment as a man is that man’s heart in general is likely not all that bad, but on the other hand, you accuse statements that say that man’s heart is all that bad as sounding like the judgment of men, not God. It’s a curious stance you’ve located yourself in.

    “Do you actually believe that every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood, Todd?” I do. And though, proud man that I am, I am often averse to admit that this applies to me, yet when I read such statements, I see that they are true — for my life, for the life of my son, and so on.

    “I can understand how this proposition can give comfort to some.” Then I don’t think you understand this proposition at all. It is not comforting. It is accusing. It points the finger at me — and you — and says you are horrible, you are wretched, you are evil, you are sinful. No comfort there.

    The comfort lies in what was done in response to that condition.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    JohnC (@22), you do realize, of course, that you are never in good spiritual company when you ask, “Did God actually say … ?” (cf. Genesis 3:1).

    “These sound like the words of man rather than God.” A curious judgment. Upon what would you base your claim? It would imply that you know what God actually says, what he sounds like (at least stylistically), so that you are able to compare his real words with those in the Bible. So where did you get this knowledge, if not from the Bible itself?

    Moreover, most men I know — especially those who do not believe in God — would take issue with what the Bible says about man’s heart. Including you, as you may recall (“I don’t know that man does have an ugly heart”).

    So on the one hand, your own judgment as a man is that man’s heart in general is likely not all that bad, but on the other hand, you accuse statements that say that man’s heart is all that bad as sounding like the judgment of men, not God. It’s a curious stance you’ve located yourself in.

    “Do you actually believe that every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood, Todd?” I do. And though, proud man that I am, I am often averse to admit that this applies to me, yet when I read such statements, I see that they are true — for my life, for the life of my son, and so on.

    “I can understand how this proposition can give comfort to some.” Then I don’t think you understand this proposition at all. It is not comforting. It is accusing. It points the finger at me — and you — and says you are horrible, you are wretched, you are evil, you are sinful. No comfort there.

    The comfort lies in what was done in response to that condition.

  • JohnC

    You have looked into your own heart and found you are wretched, horrible and evil. Very well, but this is not a curse I will inflict upon my children. This is my stand and I cannot be moved.
    I would also add that there is no evidence for the flood; not in the way it has been told in the Bible. It seems to have been a story told by the Jews to explain their own relationship with God.

  • JohnC

    You have looked into your own heart and found you are wretched, horrible and evil. Very well, but this is not a curse I will inflict upon my children. This is my stand and I cannot be moved.
    I would also add that there is no evidence for the flood; not in the way it has been told in the Bible. It seems to have been a story told by the Jews to explain their own relationship with God.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    JohnC (@24) said, “this is not a curse I will inflict upon my children,” but of course you already have — at least, the curse of original sin. They have it as well as you. The only question is whether you will acknowledge it or not. You have indicated that you will not.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    JohnC (@24) said, “this is not a curse I will inflict upon my children,” but of course you already have — at least, the curse of original sin. They have it as well as you. The only question is whether you will acknowledge it or not. You have indicated that you will not.

  • JohnC

    So be it.

  • JohnC

    So be it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I have seen some of these emotional atheists describe themselves as anti-theists. They are far from rational. I am not surprised at the 90% of women being angry at God when they get a severely sick baby. No fury like woman scorned and all.

    Most of the atheists I know are the skeptical, agnostic, aspergery type. Their reaction to religion is apathy. Some are even pretty positive toward religionists because they see them as healthy and well adjusted family oriented types. Some even send their kids to religiously affiliated schools. They don’t fear or loathe religion. They just don’t care.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I have seen some of these emotional atheists describe themselves as anti-theists. They are far from rational. I am not surprised at the 90% of women being angry at God when they get a severely sick baby. No fury like woman scorned and all.

    Most of the atheists I know are the skeptical, agnostic, aspergery type. Their reaction to religion is apathy. Some are even pretty positive toward religionists because they see them as healthy and well adjusted family oriented types. Some even send their kids to religiously affiliated schools. They don’t fear or loathe religion. They just don’t care.

  • JohnC

    Furthermore, if the story of the Flood is rejected as a factual account of a cataclysmic event and regarded more as an origin myth of the Jews then what God said and did not say about evil and the nature of man becomes a lot more interesting. And for that matter, so does the Bible.
    There does not appear to be any archeological evidence for the flight of the Jews from Israel nor any accounts in Egyptian records. Exodus is just another story told by the Jews about their tribal history and their relationship with their God.
    The Books of the Old Testament are stories of your tribe Todd but not of mine.

  • JohnC

    Furthermore, if the story of the Flood is rejected as a factual account of a cataclysmic event and regarded more as an origin myth of the Jews then what God said and did not say about evil and the nature of man becomes a lot more interesting. And for that matter, so does the Bible.
    There does not appear to be any archeological evidence for the flight of the Jews from Israel nor any accounts in Egyptian records. Exodus is just another story told by the Jews about their tribal history and their relationship with their God.
    The Books of the Old Testament are stories of your tribe Todd but not of mine.

  • JohnC

    Bugger, the 2nd paragraph should read ……………the flight of the Jews from Egypt nor any accounts in Egyptian records.

  • JohnC

    Bugger, the 2nd paragraph should read ……………the flight of the Jews from Egypt nor any accounts in Egyptian records.

  • http://www.euthoria.org Tim R

    I think in a lot of cases what is mistaken for anger against God is actually anger against religion. Neither Dawkins or Hitchens is actually angry at the Jewish/Christian/Muslim deity as such, because to them, it doesn’t exist. What they’re angry at is the teachings that say you have to believe in (and swear fealty to) such a deity or suffer eternal torment.

    In many cases this is indeed a very emotional and irrational approach (funny how often those two go together), but it’s hardly unique to atheists. Religious people tend to respond to dogmatic claims that God doesn’t exist in precisely the same way.

    Most people will respond in anger when a belief that is important to them is attacked or, worse, condescendingly denied (ie, “I have a higher authority that lets me ignore your belief,” which would be the Bible, the Koran, or “Science”).

    While I’m sure there are plenty of purely emotional new atheists, I don’t think the majority of them are.

  • http://www.euthoria.org Tim R

    I think in a lot of cases what is mistaken for anger against God is actually anger against religion. Neither Dawkins or Hitchens is actually angry at the Jewish/Christian/Muslim deity as such, because to them, it doesn’t exist. What they’re angry at is the teachings that say you have to believe in (and swear fealty to) such a deity or suffer eternal torment.

    In many cases this is indeed a very emotional and irrational approach (funny how often those two go together), but it’s hardly unique to atheists. Religious people tend to respond to dogmatic claims that God doesn’t exist in precisely the same way.

    Most people will respond in anger when a belief that is important to them is attacked or, worse, condescendingly denied (ie, “I have a higher authority that lets me ignore your belief,” which would be the Bible, the Koran, or “Science”).

    While I’m sure there are plenty of purely emotional new atheists, I don’t think the majority of them are.

  • Kane Augustus

    Propagandism. It is entirely reasonable to come to a position of disbelief, or to deconvert from belief via a gradual, non-angry, disagreeance with religious claims.

  • Kane Augustus

    Propagandism. It is entirely reasonable to come to a position of disbelief, or to deconvert from belief via a gradual, non-angry, disagreeance with religious claims.

  • http://palmsundays.blogspot.com Juan Palm

    I illustrated the anger of atheism once in Bible Class by having a dramatic rant about how much I hate unicorns. It is irrational and silly to hate something that doesn’t exist, yet that is exactly where the vocal atheists are. Ironically, I was at a parade with some church members a week later and one 4-H girl had rigged up a horn on the front of her horse. The members got quite a chuckle about that and said that they just hoped the parade would not include any Leprechauns.

  • http://palmsundays.blogspot.com Juan Palm

    I illustrated the anger of atheism once in Bible Class by having a dramatic rant about how much I hate unicorns. It is irrational and silly to hate something that doesn’t exist, yet that is exactly where the vocal atheists are. Ironically, I was at a parade with some church members a week later and one 4-H girl had rigged up a horn on the front of her horse. The members got quite a chuckle about that and said that they just hoped the parade would not include any Leprechauns.

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  • http://bafoofkit.tripod.com Bala Bafoofkit

    Don’t be silly, you haven’t got past the pervasive flat earth model in the Bible. IT has nothing to do with anger against god, it’s anger at the stupidity of theists and their prejudices against anything they deem to be unbelief.

  • http://bafoofkit.tripod.com Bala Bafoofkit

    Don’t be silly, you haven’t got past the pervasive flat earth model in the Bible. IT has nothing to do with anger against god, it’s anger at the stupidity of theists and their prejudices against anything they deem to be unbelief.


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