This is an unusual post in the sense that it’ll probably be more useful for believers than for nonbelievers. A few of my other posts are like that but usually my posts are made for skeptics. That being said have some context: I debate frequently and I commonly come across believers (not always Christians but usually Christians) who don’t understand that atheists don’t hate God, or at the very least that disliking the God character isn’t a requirement to be an atheist. I also know more than a few skeptics who don’t know about misotheism. So I decided to make a post about misotheism and a few other unusual attitudes towards the God character.
Please remember: These are not my positions nor do I claim to know a whole lot about them. What I want to do here is remind people that these positions exist or show them that these are positions people can take when it comes to religion and beliefs. I’ll include places for people to visit to learn more about them at the bottom of the article. These are not often discussed positions, and I think they should be more frequently talked about. If you know of resources about these positions you want to share let me know about them in the comments section down below!
I find this movie annoying. I’m only including this clip because Professor Radisson is not an atheist. As has been said by dozens of other skeptics, this dude is a misotheist. Professor Radisson is the antagonist of the movie “God’s Not Dead” and the only contribution this movie has made to any conversations involving religion is that it has reminded people who pay attention to these conversations that there multiple stances towards belief and not just worshiping a deity or not believing in one.
Professor Radisson is a believer. From the moment he let it slip that he believes in God and that he hates God it became clear that he wasn’t an atheist and should be called a theistic (as in believing) misotheist. Misotheism is the position taken by people who despise God. If you hate God or any other deity you are a misotheist in relation to the deities you hate.
If you are a misotheist that means you hate God. This is NOT the same as not believing in God. As an atheist I lack a belief in God. I don’t hate what I lack a belief in. I won’t speak for others, but at the very least I have no ill will towards the deity (and other deities) I don’t believe in. I am not going to say that all misotheists are believers, but I doubt that there are very many skeptics who’d say that they hate the deities they lack belief in. That being said, I dislike the God character in a way similar to how I dislike other fictional evil-doers. I won’t say I “hate” Dr Octopus, or Bane, or The Raggedy Man, just like I won’t say that I hate God because I don’t feel that things I don’t believe in deserve hate. Similarly for skeptics who think the deity of the Bible would be a good being if it existed, they probably don’t love Harry Potter, Superman, or any other protagonist because they don’t think they are real. I like fictional characters or I dislike them but I don’t love or hate them.
Dystheism:This is another position. This is the position that God (or gods) exists and is (or are, in the case of belief systems with multiple deities) NOT entirely good and could theoretically even be evil. If I were to be convinced that a deity exists and that it was the deity of the Bible, this would probably be MY position. I would be a theistic (as in believing in a deity) dystheist. Unless I were convinced that the deity of the Bible were real and the Bible was incorrect about the nature of the deity in it.
This position is different from misotheism because dystheism is a position concerning the nature of God or gods and misotheism is a position concerning attitudes towards God.
This video talks about dystheism, maltheism, and mentions misotheism.
Why Should We Talk About These Positions?
I want to talk about these positions to either teach people that they exist and have names or to remind them that these are real positions. So often we get wrapped up in this idea that people’s attitudes towards religions and the deities of religions MUST be either belief and reverence or skepticism. As a society we don’t feel comfortable talking about nuanced positions including positions that challenge worship (such as misotheism) and positions that challenge opinions on the nature of deities (such as dystheism) but we should.
If we’re going to have conversations about religion and belief we’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we continued to pretend that the only acceptable attitudes are so black and white. I want to use my blog to challenge how we discuss religion and I think that by reminding people that theism isn’t as simple as many people want it to be I am doing just that.
Don’t be afraid to admit that your attitudes are not simplistic. Not every believer believes that God or the gods are simplistically perfect and benevolent. Not every single person who believes in gods believes they are worth worshiping. I think we sometimes need to remind ourselves of this simple fact.
If any of the positions I’ve discussed today are your positions I hope you think I did a decent job of explaining the position.
What’s your position? Was this the first time you talked about or heard about the positions I mentioned in this post? I’d love to chat with you in the comments section down below about this!