May 30, 2007

How Can You Hate God....

if you don't believe in him?

Barefoot Bum, brings up a good point. Atheists have been accused of hating God. But, how is that possible? If atheists don't believe in God, how can they hate him? It's like saying people who don't believe in the tooth fairy hate her.

If I found out right now, some definite way, that the Christian God exists as they believe he does, I might be put in the position to hate him. But, since I'm pretty much convinced he doesn't exist, or that at least, he doesn't exist in any way we can possibly conceive, I have no opinion at all. I can't have an opinion about something that I don't think exists.

I suppose, however, one can have an opinion about people who believe something exists. My opinion on that? People who believe in God have a different viewpoint. And so long as they don't try to have me hanged (literally or figuratively) or change the laws so I am forced to say I believe in him, I don't care what they believe. If believing in God makes them happy and have a meaningful life, more power to them.

So, hate God? Not possible for me as a non-believer. Hate between people with different beliefs - totally possible. And not at all reserved to just one POV. If we're gonna point fingers out, we gotta point fingers inward too. We're all human.


The Barefoot Bum said...

Just for the record, the essay is not by me but by my esteemed contributor, James F. Elliott.

JohnR said...

I think there's some substance to "hating god." Many former believers used to feel a relationship with God. Even if god is non-existent, the believer perceives an emotional connection and invests considerable trust in the imagined relationship. This situation is made more complex when religious society, institutions and human intermediaries are added to the mix.

The experience of deconversion for former believers like me is often one of betrayal. I had a phase where although I acknowledged cognitively that god didn't exist, the void in the relationship, the feeling of betrayed trust and broken promises, the sense of abandonment were all very real, and it was easy to feel anger at an entity in which I no longer believed.

So, even though it's a rational contradiction, I think it is possible for some atheists to 'hate god.' But then I'm introducing a level of nuance and empathy that those theists who are making such a blanket accusation probably aren't willing to bother with.

Kate in NJ said...

I'm with you, I can't hate what does not exist.