Myth: Atheists hate God
When Jason came out to me as an atheist, I started reading atheist blogs because I wanted to understand a little more what he was thinking. Something that I noticed as I read through them was that there was a lot of anger from atheists out there. And as Greta Christina outlines in her most recent book, there are a number of things for atheists to be angry about. When you are the least trusted group simply because of your lack of belief, that can lead to some anger issues. There are a number of injustices happening to atheists, from lack of representation in government to discrimination against in schools.
Beyond that, there are some genuine frustrations with religion. Some of these frustrations are related to things that are taught in religious communities including views about sex or morality or the nature of sin. Some have been hurt more directly by religious groups either through abuses in church leadership or through teachings that were more damaging than uplifting.
All of these things can lead Christians to believe that atheists are angry at God, and some will go so far as to say that atheists hate God.
This is another area where the elements of truth can sometimes blur the lines between what is actually true and what is not.
Some atheists would say that if God was strictly as depicted in the Old Testament, they would probably hate that guy. Some say that they have a real anger, and perhaps even hatred of religion. And will say that they hate what they believe God represents (a controlling authoritarian who condemns people to hell).
But none of these are the same as hating God.
There are some Christians who hate what the Easter Bunny represents. They hate that it takes away from the holiness of Easter. They hate that it contributes to the commercialization of a sacred season. They hate that it is a hold over from pagan traditions.
But because they don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, they don’t hate it specifically. It’s not real, so it’s not something that they can hate. Instead, it is a symbol of things that they hate.
The same holds for atheists. They don’t hate God because they don’t believe that God exists. When we as Christians make the mistake of saying that they hate God, we are ignoring the nuance of the discussion. We are ascribing belief where none exists.
And perhaps more damaging, we are ignoring some of the places where we might be contributing to the frustration and anger that some atheists are experiencing. If we do go by the title of Christians, we must acknowledge that we are the example of God to those that we meet – including atheists. And maybe, just maybe the problems lies not with God, but with us.
If we want to see fewer angry atheists, perhaps we need to give them less to be angry about.
Next Week: Atheists think Christians are stupid
- I’m one Christian and my pool of atheist friends is not vast. If you want to know about what an atheist believes, ask them. Daniel at The Barking Atheist will be co-blogging with me for this series and he is as committed as I am to having a good conversation between Christians and atheists. Stop by his place for additional thoughts on each of these topics!
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