For some reason, our local FOX affiliate decided to cover a blog post by Sanjay Gupta:

Anger at God common, even among atheists

Technically they were covering some study by Julie Exline, but considering the fact no one has linked to it, and I cant find it anywhere online, lets be honest. It was opinions on second hand opinions using third hand opinions.

High-five there, traditional media!

Anyway, the gist of it is that atheists are ‘mad’ at a god-like creature Christians imagine as their choice of deity. OKC Atheist president Nick Singer rightly noted that that is stupid. Atheists cant be ‘mad’ at the Christian god any more than they can be ‘mad’ at the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause. Those entities dont exist. Being ‘mad’ at them doesnt make any sense.

I would have used different examples, though. If we grant the premise that the Christian deity exists, then yes. I would have to say that I would be ‘mad’ or ‘angry’ with that entity. I find it to be a repulsive creature unworthy of worship. If the Christian god were real, I would be against it. Likewise, if Darth Vader were real, I would ‘hate’ him. He is clearly a villain to non-dipshits, and I would happily join the Rebel Alliance. If that didnt exist, I would start it. But I highly doubt Sanjay Gupta would write an article about an airheaded study by Julie Exline on how atheists hate Darth Vader (I repeat, I cant find the article anywhere, but I will bet you a shiny nickel its airheaded).

I mean, there is nothing particularly difficult about this. Its basic logic.

But just in case you are wondering about the intellectual depth of the religious studies department of the University of Oklahoma, Barbara Boyd stepped up to the plate to make a goddamn fool of herself. She totally believes atheists are angry at God. See, atheists hate God because of bad stuff that happens in their lives. And atheists are just atheists because they are rebelling against their parents.

ATTENTION BARBARA BOYD:

You are an idiot. If your choice of profession wasnt a dead giveaway to that fact, you made it clear when you voiced those tired, bigoted claims about atheists. Basic fucking logic, woman. Basic fucking logic. Im not ‘angry’ with your personal choice of deity, any other deities, or any other fictional characters. Furthermore, I am cognizant enough to recognize that ‘good things’ and ‘bad things’ happen in my life because of my actions and the actions of those around me, and our respective environment, and my personal interpretations of said actions. No fictional characters required. Furthermore, my parents kick fucking ass. They raised me in a household where I was free to explore any and all intellectual pursuits, including religion. There was no position to ‘rebel’ against, because my parents respect my intelligence, opinions, and choices. Unlike yours, apparently, as the concept seems so foreign to you. I would be more offended at your stereotype of atheists if your position didnt say more about your own tragically pathetic life and the vacuity of your religion than it actually effected me.

Comments

  1. #1 Kemist
    January 4, 2011

    Well, these last two weeks, atheists have been called:

    - Angry

    - Grumpy

    and even:

    - Fat

    These are familiar as the insults children use when they know they have lost an argument.

    I mean, what about “wrong” ? Or is that settled even for them, they don’t even think they’re right anymore ?

    Even if I were a pessimistic apoplectic lardass, if I’m right about something, my personal qualities, poundage and various failures don’t make me wrong.

  2. #2 Brian
    January 4, 2011

    I’ve got this study I’m hoping to publish that shows that many (perhaps even most) Christians are mad at Quetzalcoatl.
    Muslims, on the other hand, are more likely to be angry with Ngai.

  3. #3 noncarborundum
    January 4, 2011

    This week I’ve been really pissed at Inšušinak, but it’s starting to get old.

  4. #4 T. Bruce McNeely
    January 4, 2011

    People unaffiliated with organized religion, atheists and agnostics also report anger toward God either in the past,

    This makes sense, at least. One reason why former believers become atheists is the realization that their faith isn’t helping them through a bad event or time. Anger toward God then evolves into non-belief.

    or anger focused on a hypothetical image – that is, what they imagined God might be like – said lead study author Julie Exline, Case Western Reserve University psychologist.

    Okay, I can’t get my head around this one. I’d REALLY like to know if the researchers are labelling fate or bad luck as this “hypothetical image”. In my experience with bad shit in my life (betrayal and multiple deaths in relatively short order), I certainly wondered why I seemed to be “singled out”. I felt anger as well as other emotions. However, in no way would I interpret this as “anger towards God”. Someone else might, I suppose, especially if they wanted to “sex up” a study.

    In studies on college students, atheists and agnostics reported more anger at God during their lifetimes than believers. A separate study also found this pattern among bereaved individuals.

    Calling Captain Obvious! Yep, he agrees. This study needs some “sexing up”.

  5. #6 qetzal
    January 4, 2011

    From Lester’s link:

    It seems that more religious people are less likely to feel angry at God and more likely to see his intentions as well-meaning, Exline’s research found.

    So religious people think it’s OK for God to behave like a sociopath, as long as he means well? Lovely.

  6. #7 Jon H
    January 4, 2011

    I woke up on the wrong side of Pazuzu today, if you know what I mean.

  7. #8 Scientizzle
    January 5, 2011

    FYI: anyone so inclined can participate in Dr. Exline’s research at this link: http://psychology.case.edu/research/god/index.html

    One study involves reflecting on your own personal experiences and beliefs involving God and suffering (including anger toward God).
    This study should take approximately 1 hour to complete.
    Link: http://filer.case.edu/jaj20/god_and_suffering.htm

    Another study allows you to share your own ideas and suggestions about ways to help people deal with anger toward God.
    This study should take 10-15 minutes to complete.
    Link: http://filer.case.edu/jaj20/coping_anger_god.htm

  8. #9 Ralf Muschall
    January 5, 2011

    There is an older paper by Exline about the same topic: http://www.division36.org/Newsletters/v29n1.pdf

    There she splits atheists in “simple unbelievers” (which is normal atheists) and “conflicted unbelievers”, i.e. those who:

    “indicated a past belief in God, followed by a decrease in belief over time. In contrast to the simple unbelievers, these participants usually did answer questions that asked about emotions and attitudes toward God. Even though many of them currently labeled themselves as atheist/agnostic, they had some past history of believing in God. Many also reported some current belief in God when beliefs were tapped using a 10-point scale (as opposed to a dichotomous category).”.

    Angry ones were found ony in the latter group.
    If this also applies for the recent study, it might be a either problem of sampling bias, or even of the existence of lots of angry almost-ex-believers, rather than just Faux News.

  9. #10 Rorschach
    January 5, 2011

    LOL !!
    I’m angry with liars like the Pope, or Georgie Pell. The tooth fairy, meh, does the best it can I guess.

    If the Christian god were real, I would be against it. Likewise, if Darth Vader were real, I would ‘hate’ him. He is clearly a villain to non-dipshits, and I would happily join the Rebel Alliance.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9XYKY4Km20&feature=related

  10. #11 MikeMa
    January 5, 2011

    Welcome home. Ms ‘dipshit’ Boyd deserves the roasting. Her view is so puerile as to indicate an almost complete lack of empathy or understanding of beyond what I typically expect of 12 year old boys. I also suspect a bit of projection.

  11. #12 MacTurk
    January 5, 2011

    As Kemist(no 1)pointed out “Well, these last two weeks, atheists have been called:

    - Angry

    - Grumpy

    and even:

    - Fat”.

    I am an atheist. However, I am not angry, grumpy or fat. I presume that according to all these experts(who prove that an academic qualification is no guarantee of either intelligence or sanity) I am therefore a failed atheist?

    I watched the faux news item, best described as “waste of time and energy”. Hearing a “Dr. Barbara S. Boyd”(Ph.D in what? Fairy stories?) pontificate about something she knows nothing about merely proves the old idea that ignorance is no barrier to opinion. As for Ms Exline’s published work, most appears to be fluff. Eg. “Three pathways to self-forgiveness: Coping with shame, guilt, and regret”.

    I can and do feel anger towards religion(s) and their clergy for the sometimes crippling guilt and fear they inflict on their adherents. I can and do feel anger towards Ian Paisley, who has retired as the first First Minister of Northern Ireland, having spent his adult life stirring religious conflict. I can and do feel anger towards the evil child abusers and their protectors in the Catholic church.

    I cannot, and do not, feel angry about some anthropomorphic non-existent sky fairy. Why would I waste the time and oxygen?

    “Dr” Boyd would no doubt tell me that I am in denial….

  12. #13 iknklast
    January 5, 2011

    I once had a fundie friend of mine who was getting ready to go to his uncle’s funeral. He didn’t think his uncle should have a funeral, since he ‘didn’t believe in God’. My friend then told me that his uncle had been ‘mad at God’ for years. He couldn’t comprehend when I told him it was impossible for someone to be mad at someone they didn’t believe in, and asked him to please clarify his uncle’s position. This logic was clearly beyond him, though he had a master’s degree in engineering.

  13. #14 Vicki
    January 5, 2011

    Yes, if I believed in their simple-minded sociopathic torturer, I’d be angry at it. As it is, I am angry at the people who tell children that the world is run by an omnipotent being that hates a lot of innocent people, and who use that belief to maintain their own power or as an excuse for their personal dislikes. And if I believed in a well-meaning god, I would still be angry, because such a being would either be incompetent, or have an idea of benevolence too skewed to do us actual living beings any good.

    Yes, I am a tired atheist, both literally (I haven’t been getting enough sleep) and figuratively: we’ve heard this one over and over and over. It doesn’t get any more convincing. And I’m tired of the idea that someone else’s ideas about my emotions constitute an epistemological argument. A thing exists or it doesn’t. That a third party wishes that there are invisible pink unicorns, or doesn’t want the Bavarian Illuminati to exist, doesn’t affect whether either of those entities is real.

  14. #15 Prometheus
    January 5, 2011

    MacTurk@#12

    “Hearing a “Dr. Barbara S. Boyd”(Ph.D in what? Fairy stories?)”

    Not PhD.

    Assistant adjunct faculty ‘Dmin’ granted through the McCormick seminary acknowledging some box top courses at various scholastic sounding thingies that may or may not be near the University of Chicago. Bit of a campus joke really.

    She wanders around confusing students and creating faculty drama with the airs of a dowager empress.

    Her only real qualification is her marriage to Tom Boyd, the University President’s favorite after dinner raconteur.

    She was just a bit of low hanging fruit Tom picked off of the undergraduate yum yum tree years ago that has gone all squidgy and now it insists, without any real talent or qualification, on being part of his act.

    Morons making this accusation demonstrate that they are intellectually incapable of parsing the difference between the delusion of a “god” and the very very real vile destructive parasitic opportunistic murderous institutions called religions.

    The only people who don’t loathe religions are mitigating their loathing with a belief in a benevolent celestial board of directors, getting a check or both.

    That’s Babs Boyd in a nutshell.

    P.S. In the interest of full disclosure I am angry, grumpy and fat but it really has very little to do with being an atheist.

    I am angry because I live on earth and I pay attention.

    I am grumpy because Hellmouth keeps getting me up at two A.M. to scarf kibble and read his Pee-mail (canine squitter account).

    I am fat because:

    1. Paper pusher.

    2. Chefs, bakers and The Bride are in love with anybody who has memorized half of Larousse and Technique and they force feed me until I fall over in hopes of a constructive opinion.

  15. #16 D4M10N
    January 5, 2011

    I’d like to point out that naive “anger at God” over one’s circumstance can over time develop into a calm and thoughtful reconsideration of the argument from evil, which in turn may lead to atheism. It seems that Exline doesn’t interact with this possibility, perhaps because she only asks subjects about their feelings rather than their reasoning process.

    More here:
    http://blog.oklahomaatheists.com/2011/01/do-atheists-hate-god.html

  16. #17 Prometheus
    January 5, 2011

    P.P.S. Julie Exline’s work is funded by the Fetzer Institute. I was kind of hoping it was devoted to the promotion of fizzy pink box wine but no such luck. The Fetzer institute is some marvelously silly thing created by a Norman Vincent Peale wannabe who accidentally died rich.

    No bet on the airhead prediction.

    Apparently you can get a grant if you just agree to go around smiling, hugging people and making insincere compliments.

    Look it up. It’s goddamn hilarious.

    Sheril Kirshenbaum needs to give them a call. She could very well be one of Fetzer’s early breeding experiments.

  17. #18 BigJ
    January 5, 2011

    Julie Exline appears to have commented on the CNN story. She states:

    What we have found is that SOME (not all!) people who do not believe in God report either: a) anger toward God as part of their history or b) anger when prompted to focus on a hypothetical image of God.

    The article has a comment from her that reflects this. Assuming this is indeed what the study looked at, is anyone actually surprised that this was presented by a Fox affiliate misrepresented this as “Atheists are all angry at GOD!!!1!!”

  18. #19 harold
    January 5, 2011

    The only people who don’t loathe religions are mitigating their loathing with a belief in a benevolent celestial board of directors, getting a check or both.

    I am not religious and never have been.

    I also do not “loathe religions”. I am not getting a check from any religious organization. I don’t know what a “celestial board of directors” is.

    I oppose certain types of behavior, such as unjustified violence, dishonesty, discrimination, child abuse, etc. Some religions practice, enable, or promote these behaviors. Some non-religious entities practice, enable, or promote these behaviors. Some religions do not practice or promote these behaviors. I loathe the legacy Pol Pot (not religious) and do not loathe the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr (religious and named after Martin Luther).

    I do not care about other peoples’ conjectures about what will happen “after death”, one way or the other.

    If “accommodationist” means agreeing with false of illogical arguments in any way, shape or form, then I am NOT “accommodationist”.

    If it means accepting the fact that some people have beliefs or subjective preferences that I don’t share, and being able to deal with that without getting angry at them or implying that their rights should be violated, well, then I am guilty of that, but I prefer to refer to that as “tolerance”.

    I self-identify as an apatheist. I am not interested in arguments about the existence of gods.

  19. #20 harold
    January 5, 2011

    If it means accepting the fact that some people have beliefs or subjective preferences that I don’t share, and being able to deal with that without getting angry at them or implying that their rights should be violated, well, then I am guilty of that, but I prefer to refer to that as “tolerance”.

    I should clarify that I don’t mean to imply that atheists are particularly prone to do any of this.

  20. #21 An agnostic
    January 5, 2011

    Why I Am Not A Christian, by Bertrand Russell

    Read it in the early 60s. Makes a very good case.

  21. #22 ktesibios
    January 6, 2011

    “If we grant the premise that the Christian deity exists, then yes. I would have to say that I would be ‘mad’ or ‘angry’ with that entity. I find it to be a repulsive creature unworthy of worship.”

    Indeed. As I have always said abut the fundie god, “the god the Falwells of this world believe in is a pissant petty sadist who isn’t worthy of notice let alone worship. Fortunately said god is only a projection of their own pissant petty sadism.”

    It certainly isn’t any god that gets me P.O’ed. The behavior of many of its idiot otakus, OTOH…

  22. #23 Rorschach
    January 6, 2011

    Who’s Alex ?

  23. #24 Macturk
    January 6, 2011

    Prometheus, have to love the reasons for being a little stout. Lucky, you are!

  24. #25 Prometheus
    January 6, 2011

    harold@#19

    That’s a rather disorganized and painfully distended justification for what Dennett calls belief in belief.

    “I loathe the legacy Pol Pot (not religious) and do not loathe the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr (religious and named after Martin Luther).”

    Pol Pot is a nom de guerre. His name was Saloth Sar and he was a Theravada Buddhist who combined his belief in the rejection of the materialist world with non standard communism. He died (possibly suicide)in a state of ultimate Buddhist virtue, completely indifferent and detached from his actions in this world.

    Better do some homework in political religions. North Korea is arguably the most religious nation on earth.

    Martin Luther King Jr was named after his father Michael King jr.. Martin Luther King jr. was also a nom de guerre.

    I am assuming (hopefully) the civil rights struggle is the basis of your fallacy of appeal to authority. What King did under the auspices of his ministry as opposed to what he did in coordination with the secular organizations, the NAACP and the Alabama Council on Human Relations are worlds apart.

    Again, homework.

    The only religious organizations that haven’t gleefully murdered their own adherents for heresy are the ones who haven’t been able to wrest sufficient power from the state to do so with impunity.

    I am a big fat grumpy angry historian and this is a big fat fact.

    Macturk@#24

    Yes and no. Having an army of talented chefs and cooks lined up to shove their savory collations into my big fat face means I never get to cook anymore and I am a fantastic cook.

    When I had time to cook I was in great shape (a nine layer timpano is the equivalent of running a marathon in a steam bath).

    Unfortunately the only way to stop it is to strip the stocks off of the shelves so that my friends don’t come over and say things like “oooooo you’ve got an Ampia AND caviar AND morels AND port wine AND dutch butter….I’ve always wanted to make….”

    Two hours later I am sitting sitting with the Hellmouth in front of the fireplace like Mr. Creosote trying to dodge the wafer thin mints.

    Oh no.

    I just realized I have a box of wafer thin mints in the pantry.

    I’m screwed.

  25. #26 titmouse
    January 6, 2011

    Yah it’s pretty obvious people don’t get IRL mad at make-believe d00ds.

    But I want to point out that it’s not just the science-friendly who call themselves “atheists.” There’s a huge tribe of New Agers hanging around under the atheist umbrella (oh hai Bill Maher!).

    The left-hand path or chaos magick types view the monotheisms as impediments to personal growth and power –inventions of the ruling class to control the weak. They say blasphemous things to break their own conditioned anxiety associated with traversing a taboo. Ergo, all the sex-drugs-rock’n'roll antichrist “hail Satan” COSplay. That looks pretty angry to Joe Baptist. And that’s what Mr. Baptist associates with “atheism.”

    An Oprah defender on one of these blogs praised her for pimping “The Secret,” which that particular fan viewed as something like religion sans God. Close enough to atheism to count.

    Personally, I would like to kick the magical thinkers out of the atheism club. But I’m not the boss.

  26. #27 harold
    January 6, 2011

    Prometheus –

    I probably don’t have any major reason to argue with you, so I’ll clarify once more.

    I didn’t justify anything or appeal to any authority about anything. I am not “accommodating” anything, either. I don’t have any religious beliefs. If I found any arguments in favor of any religion to be convincing, obviously, I would have converted to it, and I have not.

    What I stated was the fact that I am not religious, yet don’t “loathe religion”.

    I also made the very simple, obvious point that I, personally, “loathe” certain behaviors, whether or not they are associated with religion.

    These are factual statements about my personal, subjective opinions.

    Rather than get into an utterly fruitless dispute about whether or not Pol Pot was “religious”, I’ll retract my mention of him and substitute Joseph Stalin as the example. (No need to dump a bunch of details that are available in the Wikipedia article on Stalin, I already know that it wasn’t his original name etc, etc, etc.)

    Of course MLK Jr was named after MLK Sr. They are also both named after Martin Luther.

    I was already aware of most of details you added. I am not sure whether it is a named logical fallacy, but the assumption that another person is not aware of something just because they didn’t have a reason mention it is not logically sound.

    Clearly, I mentioned Dr Martin Luther King Jr., not as an “authority”, but merely as an example of someone who, although apparently religious, did not indulge in the behaviors I dislike, and instead did things which I personally admire. With the caveat that we can never really know his or anyone else’s inner thoughts, and thus could dispute fruitlessly over whether he was “really” religious, the example stands. Despite your apparent over-interpretation, I made no general statements about the civil rights movement.

    The only religious organizations that haven’t gleefully murdered their own adherents for heresy are the ones who haven’t been able to wrest sufficient power from the state to do so with impunity.
    I am a big fat grumpy angry historian and this is a big fat fact.

    That is not a straightforward fact, regardless of your academic credentials or personal characteristics.

    It is a generalized statement about very complex human behaviors. Its validity hinges on finding a mutually acceptable definition of “religious organization”. The language “gleefully murdered” is also problematic. If I were to review an academic publication, I would prefer to see a term like “killed”, which has no legal implications. And of course, “gleefully” implies knowledge of emotional states which may not always be available.

    However, I do, of course, strongly agree that many major organized religions have a track record of inciting and committing massive amounts of inhumane violence.

    Although I am sure that you will get the last word by responding aggressively to this comment, I also suspect that our disagreements are fairly trivial.

    In general, despite my failure to have a negative emotional reaction to “religion” broadly defined, I agree on most things with most science-supporting atheists.

  27. #28 James Sweet
    January 17, 2011

    In fairness, I went through a fairly long period of being rationally atheist, but emotionally “angry at God” — because, as you point out, Yahweh’s a real tool, and I couldn’t completely let go of the emotional baggage of having realized that before becoming fully atheist.

    Of course, the concession to the haters ends there: It was reading books from the gnus that I finally let go of all that.

    Vocal atheists are not (generally) “angry at God”. But I’ll wager that shiny nickel back to you that a fair amount of closet atheists are.