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My Take: Why some people hate God
March 8th, 2011
10:07 AM ET

My Take: Why some people hate God

Editor's Note: Bernard Schweizer is an associate professor of English at Long Island University in Brooklyn. He specializes in the study of iconoclasts and rebels, including the controversial writer and public intellectual Rebecca West. His third book is “Hating God.”

By Bernard Schweizer, Special to CNN

There’s a lost tribe of religious believers who have suffered a lasting identity crisis. I am referring to the category-defying species of believers who accept the existence of the creator God and yet refuse to worship him. In fact they may go so far as to say that they hate God.
 
No, I’m not talking about atheists. Non-believers may say contemptuous things about God, but when they do so, they are simply giving the thumbs-down to a fictional character. They may as well express dislike about Shakespeare’s devious Iago, Dickens’ scheming Uriah Heep or Dr. Seuss’ Grinch who stole Christmas.
 
For atheists, God is in the same category as these fictional villains. Except that since God is the most popular of all fictional villains, New Atheists – those evangelizing ones such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins - spend a considerable amount of energy enumerating his flaws.
 
But someone who truly believes in God’s existence and yet hates or scorns him is in a state of religious rebellion so perplexing as to strain our common understanding of faith to the breaking point.
 
Although these radical dissenters could steal the thunder from the New Atheists, they have remained almost unknown to date.
 
When it comes to God-hatred, a collective blindness seems to settle on us. First, we lack a generally agreed-upon name to refer to this religious rebellion. And anything that doesn’t have a word associated with it doesn’t exist, right?
 
Well, in the case of God-hatred, this principle doesn’t hold because the phenomenon does exist whether or not there’s a name for it. And in any case, I’ve ended the semantic impasse by naming these rebels and their stance once for all. My chosen term is misotheism, a word composed of the Greek root “misos” (hatred) and “theos” (deity).
 
Why do I care so much about them? They strike me as brave, visionary, intelligent people who reject God from a sense of moral outrage and despair because of the amount of injustice and suffering that they witness in this world.
 
At the same time, they are exercising self-censorship because they dare not voice their opinion openly. After all, publicly insulting God can have consequences ranging from ostracism to imprisonment, fines and even death, depending on where the blasphemy takes place (Ireland, for instance, imposes a fine of up to 25,000 Euros for blasphemy) and what God is the target of attacks (under sharia law, being found an enemy of God, or “mohareb” is a capital offense).
 
But I also care about these rebels because they chose literature as their principal medium for dealing with their God-hatred. I am a professor of literature, and the misotheists’ choice of literature as their first line of defense and preferred medium endears them to me.
 
Literature offered them the only outlet to vent their rage against God. And it was a pretty safe haven for doing so. Indeed, hardly anybody seems to notice when God-hatred is expressed in literature. Such writers cleverly “package” their blasphemous thoughts in works of literature without seeming to give offense in any overt way.
 
At the same time, these writers count on the reader’s cooperation to keep their “secret” safe. It’s like a pact between writer and reader.
 
Zora Neale Hurston could write that “all gods who receive homage are cruel” without anybody objecting that “all gods” must necessarily include the persons of the Christian Trinity.
 
Or Rebecca West could write that “something has happened which can only be explained by supposing that God hates you with merciless hatred, and nobody will admit it,” counting on the fact that, since nobody will admit it, nobody will rat her out for blasphemy.
 
There lies, in a sense, the awesome, subversive power of literary writing, something that had worried Plato 2,400 years ago when he required that all poets be removed from his ideal “Republic.” Interestingly, though, while guardians of propriety have put Huckleberry Finn on the list of proscribed texts because of its liberal use of the N-word, few people have declared Hurston’s "Their Eyes Were Watching God" or Shelley’s "Prometheus Unbound" or West’s "The Return of the Soldier" as forbidden texts because of the underlying misotheism of these works.
 
And even where the misotheism is overtly expressed, as in Elie Wiesel’s "The Trial of God" or in James Morrow’s "Godhead Trilogy," literature offers an enclave of religious freedom that is vital to the human spirit and its impulse to free itself of any shackles, even the commands of God.
 
I refer to the story of misotheism as “untold” partly because misotheism tends not to be noticed even when it hides in plain sight. Another reason why the story of misotheism is “untold” is that nobody has bothered yet to draw the larger lines of development over time, beginning with the Book of Job and ending up with utilitarianism, philosophical anarchism and feminism. That story in itself is quite engrossing, but again it is not a story that has really ever been presented.
 
So I am doing quite a bit of connecting the dots, unearthing overlooked connections and making distinctions such as proposing a system of three different types of misotheism - agonistic (conflicted), absolute and political. Misotheism in its various manifestations is a dark, disturbing and perplexing strand of religious dissent. But at the same time, it is an attitude toward the divine that shows just how compelling belief can be.
 
If people continue to believe in a God they find to be contemptible, then belief is such a powerful force that it cannot be simply switched off on the basis of empirical data. Thus, in the last consequence, the study of misotheism is a testament to the power of belief, albeit a twisted, unconventional form.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bernard Schweizer.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Books • God • Opinion

soundoff (1,730 Responses)
  1. Atheist

    New atheists aren't evangelizing- they're positing a position and defending it. It probably seems like evangelizing to you since Dawkins and Hitchens can articulate their positions so well. Additionally, they've helped lots of people affirm what they knew all along- the fiction of religion is for feeble minded dimwits such as yourself

    March 8, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Ted

      New Atheists are sad, sad angry people. Christopher Hitchens is a prime example. They write their angry books to make money. There's nothing more to it than that.

      March 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • joe

      lol, Ted. If living realistically makes you sad and angry so be it. And you talk of money when churches/bibles/religious paraphernalia make billions of dollars?

      March 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  2. Byrd

    Why do I hate god? Let me count the ways... But mainly, because it states in the Old Testament that at some point in the past when humans were living all over this planet, he destroyed the entire Earth with a flood. Now fundamentalists and others are always claiming that the Bible is the infallible word of god and all kinds of stuff like that, so I'm holding that almighty jerk to this one. And he's gonna pay for his crimes. And of that eventuality, my faith is unshakable.

    Now I don't know about you, but I have a real problem the destruction of this planet and no two-sentence or sorry explanation will quite do for me. It's time for this god to pay the piper.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Frogist

      @Byrd: Are you being facetious or are you genuinely one of the people the author is talking about? If you are a misotheist you are the rare voice on the blog.

      March 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  3. NonReligiousBeliever

    Here's a concept that for some reason, to religious folks and athiests is hard to grasp. I believe there is an all powerful God that created and/or IS the universe. I however, do not follow or subscribe to any particular religion as this is man made and able to be corrupted and usually is. Try that on for size.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Fa shizzle

      In yo face!!!! LMAO. Dude, then why believe in a God if you do not believe in a faith? Does not make any sense.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Fa shizzle: Why must you believe in a faith to believe in a god? One doesn't follow the other at all.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Sally

      Me, too.

      It is incredibly arrogant of any human to believe that they understand the Creator (which I prefer to call he/she/it rather than God) or know what the Creator wants.

      If you take the common thread from ALL religions, what are they? 1. There is a Creator 2. Our souls live on after we die 3. Follow the golden rule.

      Life is much simpler with this philosophy.

      March 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Art

      Believing in God but not adhering to any religion is called being a deitist.

      March 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  4. Curiouser

    Ok, I give up.. how is it misotheist to be feminist? Is it that not being ultra-orthodox inherently makes you anti-god? Or is it that believing that women are equals anti-god?

    And finally why would ANY literature professor even begin a discussion about banning books? Isn't it bad enough that we have to fight constantly to keep Twain in public schools? Do we really want to have to start fighting for Wiesel?

    You would think he would have written a better piece.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Frogist

      @Curiouser: Dam good points all! I can't figure what the link is to feminism either. He doesn't really elaborate on his theory much. I guess it's a teaser to go to his website. Yeah, we don't need any more books being howled at by religious conservative crackpots.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  5. ComfortablyAgnostic

    Religious belief, itself, isn't insanity. It is an essential aspect in the human psyche. It has many positive attributes for INDIVIDUAL survival, as it allows an individual to belong to a group, which provides personal security – as long as the tennants are followed, of course.
    This is even true for ATHEISM, which is also a BELIEF system. Belief in Science is the foundation of Atheism, and Science is not all-knowing. In fact, science is primarily composed of Theories, which essentially are Beliefs. Dig deeper into science, and scientists start sounding like priests. Therefore, Atheists are nothing more than a group that claims the beliefs of another group as being false. Atheists claim to be enlightened, just like all the other groups of a particular system of belief. They try to evangelize, just like the other religions for which they compete against.
    No Atheists, you are no different. Your system of belief is based on something that is not perfect, either. You're belief system can be just as destructive as those of orthodox religions, if it were as rampant a belief as the orthodox religions are.
    The true answer is that no one knows the answer. You are merely fooling yourself if you believe that you TRULY KNOW there is no God. That belief is nothing more than a method of security for you. I say again, you are no different.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Demiurge

      Unlike religious beliefs, scientific ones are regularly put to the test and are weeded out if found wrong. Witness phlogiston theory, theories about atoms (from the "Plum Pudding Model" to the modern theory there are about half a dozen different, flawed theories describing the workings of the atom), and hundreds of other theories. Theory in scientific parlance does not mean "guess," it describes a predictive model based off of observation of facts. Such basic things like entropy or gravity are theories.

      Plus, let's take your last line and paraphrase it with a couple of words changed ever so slightly: You are merely fooling yourself if you believe that you TRULY KNOW there are no Leprechauns. That belief is nothing more than a method of security for you. I say again, you are no different.

      You are merely fooling yourself if you believe that you TRULY KNOW there is no Azathoth. That belief is nothing more than a method of security for you. I say again, you are no different.

      You are merely fooling yourself if you believe that you TRULY KNOW there is no invisible hobgoblin ready to drill into the back of your skull and suck out your cerebrospinal fluid. That belief is nothing more than a method of security for you. I say again, you are no different.

      How is a deity different from a fairy, a known-fictional deity, or a malicious monster?

      March 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Fa shizzle

      Demiurge is a retard but so funny. I love it. Too bad that when we both die I will never see him again....

      March 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      @Demiurge How is a deity different from a fairy, a known-fictional deity, or a malicious monster?-They aren't. What's your point. Either is equally valid? You seem to be assuming that just because a creature from fairytale is part of an accepted myth, that comparing it to something that is widely believed to be a non-myth (God) will somehow draw out a belief from an agnostic. You're incorrect. A true agnostic would accept the possibility of Leprechauns as easily as they would God. One is no more or less insane than the other.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • OS2toMAC

      I consider myself agnostic, though leaning toward atheism. I was brought of Catholic. My beliefs were lost not when I looked at evil in the world, but unnecessary suffering. Why the cancers, and other diseases that cause suffering for the afflicted? Why mental illnesses? In my opinion, a "loving" god would not abide them.

      Another issue has always been with religions themselves. To my knowledge, there has never been a war started over differing scientific theories. No one was killed because Pluto was downgraded from a planet to a planetesimal, or because they say that string theory involves 11 dimensions, not 12.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Anotheralt: A true agnostic wouldn't deny the possibility of anything. Agreed. But they would still be able to recognize the probable from the highly improbable. A god of the Christian imagining with the serpent and two naked people eating apples is a highly improbable creature whose only strong point is the fact that he has gone unchallenged for a long time due to the fervor of his followers. He does not hold up to realistic scrutiny.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Pantheist

      Demiurge: WHAT? Are you implying leprechauns don't exist?

      March 9, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • Crepusculus Lux

      I liked your post, but is comes across as a little preachy. I think that most people that label themselves as athiests are more likely to be agnostic. I put myself in that latter category. There may be some greater force in our universe (assuming there is only one) but I do not beleive in the manifestation of that force as a "god". nor do I beleive that the bible is the "word of god". As a human, I am of extremely limited intelligence, and therefore cannot comprehend or explain what that force is, or even if it exists. It is not that I won't/don't beleive, I just don't know.

      I do not agree with athiest who must "prove" there is no god, not sure why that is necessary, other than, as you put, a need to belong...good post!

      March 9, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  6. Machos

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

    March 8, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  7. ObvUsername

    Dude, atheists do NOT think of God as a fictional villain. What are you trying to do, get people to hate atheists? Atheist only hate people who invoke the name of God while doing villainous things – like killing people and being hateful jerks. As a far as fictional characters go, God is neutral.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Fa shizzle

      Come on guys!!! Atheists are cool. They believe in nothing at all which really sounds intellectual. So much freedom to think that they somehow evolved out of nothing makes so much sense guys. The Big bang was not something that happened between two people, it just happened. Kapow!!! Now that is awesome thinking. All the gases formed up together like a fart, and the primordial ooze came together, oh and let us not forget our forefathers, the planet of the apes. No wonder most of us like bananas and can swing from trees. Come on everyone!!! Let us be atheists. It is the coolest thing and so much fun. Just to be so liberal, so free and uncaring about anything around me. No rules baby!!!! Ugh, so much fun. No fiction in atheism at all. I love it!!!!

      March 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • zipvip

      Here is my simple logic, If you are cool and get laid in high school then you become atheist. If you are ugly or uncool and don't get laid, then you are miserable and look for some fictional characters like god to calm you emotions down. To all believers, start jerking off, it would all be good.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  8. hhh

    cat or dog sitting in your home donot know how the car runs or cannot be taught what is internal combustion engine, since the animal brain has that limitation so as humans, they cannot comprehend these stuff like who is creator , what is out there in the universe and why are we born.... it is waste of time to research because we are limited by all aspects, time, space and thinking.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Bus2

      Research is a waste of time because god's plan is unknowable? Wow, thank you for very clearly demonstrating the dangers of religion. Not only is the "unknowable" assertion a blatent cop-out used to validate the technical ignorance of the religious crowd, but it manifests as a lack of confidence in the products of the scientific method.

      Not only are you teaching people to be content with their ignorance, but you're also slowing down the scientific progress of our species as a whole. Nice job.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  9. God

    Haters gonna hate.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Fa shizzle

      ballers gonna ball?

      March 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • zipvip

      teabaggers gonna bag.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  10. pmmarion

    I don't hate God. It's just that I don't believe that one can have any understanding of what "god" wants. For the most part the people who claim to talk to god, knows what he wants and can tell you how to act in god's name are drugged or self deluded people at best and charlatans and con men at worst.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • mayrae

      we all know what God wants, just follow the Golden Rule, one which so many find so hard to live by. He wants us to care about each other, to keep your eyes and ears open as to what is going on around you, to know that every decisiion you make affects those around you, to stop using your tongue as a weapon. To stop hating, vindictive, rebellious behaviors are a norm. It is so very hard to be kind and so very easy to hate.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Paul M

      Mayrae, NO we don't know what god wants... Unless you have physically talked to him, in which case I would have to question YOUR sanity and your grasp on reality.

      March 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  11. Frogist

    Gosh I wish the author would connect some of those dots... it sounds like an interesting idea, but I am still uninformed of what it is exactly and how it links to utilitarianism, philosophical anarchism and feminism... I'd like to be informed. Anyone want to help enlighten me?

    March 8, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  12. bones1918

    If you dont want to believe in God, fine, dont. But why do you keep coming back to the belief blog to comment? Like a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • ASSASSINews

      We continue to comment because CNN continues to fill it's homepage with religion based articles. This is supposed to be a news outlet, not a church.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • rebrep

      Exactly!

      March 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • zipvip

      You guys are so dorky, that I just like to annoy you, that's the only reason I come here.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • rebrep

      Exactly to Bones! To ASSISnews – you don't click on CNN and end up on Beliefnet. You have to come here on purpose. There's plenty about Libya, Obama, Sarah Palin, Charlie Sheen, weight loss, plastic surgery . . .if that's what you're looking for.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • rebrep

      Zipvip. Thanks for answering the question I've asked so many times. Now I understand.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • bones1918

      @ zipvip. Yeah, we're all dorks. Johnny Cash... HUGE dork. Bono.. gigantic goofball. Charlie Daniels... GOOBER. Robert Duvall... also a big goon. Chuck Norris.. total goob. Elijah Wood.. gigantic loser. Aaron Eckhart.. humungous dork. Joe gibbs, Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders, Reggie White, Tom Landry, Bobby Bowden.. what a bunch of dorks. Oh yeah, A.C. Green, David Robinson, George Foreman. All dorks, right?

      March 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • BLUEFLAME777

      Well said..

      March 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      why do you try to 'censor' what others do. let people post if they want.

      March 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • bones1918

      @ Fuyuko. I'm not trying to censor anybody. I just don't understand the motivation to come here and post "God doesn't exist" posts over and over again if you don't believe in God. Frankly, it clutters up the forum and prevents Christians from exploring the interesting questions raised here. You all liken God to Santa Claus.. I dont go to Santa Claus blogs and keep posting over and over again that Santa doesn't exist. I honestly dont get the motivation to keep coming back. We're all people of faith because we had experiences that brought us to faith. If your mission in life is to really make us suddenly no longer believe, knock yourself out. But when it comes right down to it, it really sounds to me like you're trying to convince yourself (selves) that God doesn't exist. Why else would you keep coming back?

      March 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Crepusculus Lux

      that's a bit harsh, don't you think? do you beleive that non beleivers should not have a voice?.EVERYTHING about religion, sprirtuality, god, heaven and hell is at best speculation and theory. This is by no means, a rant against belief, belief has it's place, but rational beings must make decision based on facts, not belief, decisions based on belief is simply gambling.

      March 9, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  13. Alex

    god, as it is written in the Bible, is clearly an enemy of humanity and the planet Earth. The Noah flood story would be all you need to prove that. But of course, god doesn't exist.

    The Bible, as a collection of myth stories, is fun to read. As something that people should believe in, it's loathesome.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • lissy

      I can see how one would feel that way if they just read the Old Testament. Have you read the NEW Testament?

      March 8, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • zipvip

      God worte the old testament, realised it ain't very good. Then he wrote the new one. I believe in god as much as I believe in Spiderman.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  14. uhuhreally

    I don't hate God. I pray every day that he protects me from his followers...

    March 8, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Art

      Good one.

      March 8, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Me

      That is a Good one

      March 8, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Pantheist

      True...

      March 9, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  15. muttimarcia

    I disagree with his portrayal of atheists as seeing God as an evil fictional character. We do treat all religious mythology as fiction, but most are aware of the stories showing God's compassion and delight in its creation. To me, God is Santa Claus, not Uriah Heep. I don't point our "his" flaws, I just discount "him" altogether.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • rebrep

      I appreciate your comment. I have friends and family who are atheists and who are of other faiths than mine. We love and respect each other. We discuss our differences without malice and insult. I'm don't understand why non-believers make a point of going to articles of faith to simply spew hate, disdain, and repugnance. Militant atheists cannot convert believers any more than vice versa. I believe faith and science are not mutually exclusive, but that is my opinion based on my life experience. I don't pretend to walk in anyone else's shoes. Again, thank you for your thoughtful expression of your opinion.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Frogist

      @rebrep: Any discussion of faith or religion is automatically a discussion that includes atheism. Atheists may believe in the benefits and worth of science but atheism is not a scientific pursuit. You don't go to a science forum to discuss the difficulties of faith, do you? You discuss that in a philosophy forum or a belief forum, which is why atheists come here. Since you describe yourself as understanding that faith and science are separate things, I hope this makes things clearer to you.
      Furthermore, if you're going to call out the atheists for hateful comments, you should probably do the same for the believers. I have seen more than my fair share of ignorant, angry blowhard believers, predominantly Christians, on this blog and in real life. More so than I have ever seen with non-believers.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  16. kritterkat

    God hatred – because there has to be a stage between Christianity and reason.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Elena

      Ha ha ha ha!!!
      My exact thought.

      Amazing that after some simple logical thinking process, the result is the hatred of god instead of the disbelief of god. Our human brains are amazing and sometimes, well...

      March 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  17. Fibber McGee and Molly

    God does not exist.

    Grow up and move on.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Bob-o

      +1

      March 8, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      Then please explain bumblebees. It is aerodynamically impossible for them to fly but they insist upon doing so anyway.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • allen

      bumblebees explained: it's a myth (like god): http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/march00/aps_wang.hrs.html

      March 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Huh?

      That's like saying, "I think I don't exist." Who is doing the thinking? Whatever you say doesn't exist is still your own idea of it, so it must have existence to you otherwise you could not make the statement.

      March 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • JJ

      Cool study on the flight of the bumblebee (great song too). Gotta love research and science dispelling myths. This is what we get when we teach our students to become critical thinkers, and question conventional, statis quo thought processes. Go EDUCATION!

      March 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  18. morons

    Dear Bernaerd Schwiezer:

    You (and your like) are egomanical, self centered, arrogant and self absorbed. I am an atheist. I do not hate God. If I hated God, that would mean I believe in God. Stop speaking for other people who you obviously have spent no meaningful time speaking to in order to understand their belief system. You are not the only person on this planet, and that I believe is what you are mistaking. I hate YOU for being such a self absorbed, only my way is the right way A HOLE.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • rebrep

      You have become what you hate.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Misotheism Fan

      I think you are missing Bernards exact point. He is saying exactly what you are saying. The people he examines here are NOT atheists, for no one can hate what they dont believe in.

      On the contrary, Misotheists believe in God, but hate him more many reasons.

      I urge you to read more carefully.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Cason

      Settle down and read the article. He isn't talking about atheists.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Elena

      Dear morons,
      Did you READ the article? If you did, you should go back to grade school and learn how to excise main ideas from your readings.

      If you didn't, yet decided to assume that this article implies that atheists hate god, even though it clearly says that this is not the case because atheists do not believe in gods, then you are just what you so cleverly called yourself: morons. More than one apparently. Good one.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • donnaw

      What article did you read?

      March 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • GB

      "No, I’m not talking about atheists."

      Did you even read the article? The quote above is the first sentence of the second paragraph.

      The article is not about you. It's about people who believe in God.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • lissy

      Wow, bitter much? I think he plainly pointed out that the people he is talking about are NOT atheists. Read a little more carefully.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Harry Ball

      Did you even read the article?

      March 8, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • RangerDOS

      You didn't really read the whole article, did you?

      March 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • wvufan

      This is an amazingly idiotic response to this article given the fact that if you would have actually read the article, or at least read it with any level of reading comprehension, you would have seen that he deliberately stated in the openeing two paragraphs that he was not referring to atheists, but rather he was referring to those who belive in God's existence, yet refuse to worship Him.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Johnny5

      Re-read and reconsider your rant, please. There is nothing worse than someone who reads and doesn't absorb the contents.
      Also: Only call people A HOLES to their face, this way, you may get to enjoy the feeling of getting knocked out and then decide later that it is better not to speak so boldly to strangers.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  19. Misotheism Fan

    People often blame God for personal tragedies. Murder, genocide, natural disasters, etc..

    One can believe God exists, yet hate what he allows to happen.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  20. Houston

    Dear God,

    I am told that you are 1) All Knowing 2) All Powerful and 3) All Good. I have a few questions for you:

    If You are All Good, why is there Evil in the world? It must be in Your power to excise this Evil, since You are All Powerful. Since there IS Evil in the world, You either 1) Don't know about it (in which case You cannot be All Knowing); 2) Don't care about it (in which case You cannot be All Good), or are unable to do anything about it (in which case you cannot be All Powerful).

    Can You please clear this up for me?

    March 8, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Anotheralt

      Your questions assume you're capable of understanding God's response. There may (or may not) be perfectly reasonable answers to your questions to God. Who knows? Maybe we're just not evolved enough to hear them. You're creating God in your own image. Maybe it's more complex than that.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Misotheism Fan

      I like the post.

      You should check out this authors posts on "Religion Dispatches.Org". (link below). His most recent post was pretty interesting, regarding the controversial pastor, Rob Bell.

      http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/bernardschweizer/4339/5_reasons_we_didn't_need_rob_bell_to_banish_the_idea_of_hell/?comments=view&cID=16769#c16769

      March 8, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Misotheism Fan

      Heres correct link to Religion Dispatches posts.

      http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/bernardschweizer/4339/5_reasons_we_didn't_need_rob_bell_to_banish_the_idea_of_hell/

      March 8, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Cason

      Except it was God who defined himself as such in human terms. Saying your an olympic athlete when your really a synchronized swimmer is disingenuous.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • God

      I am holding back #2 so that you can exercise your free will in this world. But I will do not do this forever.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Zak

      Epicurus rip-off for the win! I do agree with you though OP. The "we aren't capable of understand God" excuse is a sham, maybe, just maybe you're clutching at straws? Which is more likely? You are crazy or there is no God, I know my answer.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Jack

      Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Boooooooring. My 4 yr old would ask these questions. Why is there evil, Gawd? Huh? Wow. Thanks for putting some thought into it.

      Go back to sleep.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • M

      God didn't create evil- we did. When Adam and Eve performed the first sin, evil was born. And why is everyone so worried about evil and suffering in the world? If there were no evil and suffering, then the world would be heaven. And it's not. People who are confident they lead a good life and will be saved don't worry about such things. They focus on helping whenever they can without wasting time asking "why did this happen?". The question is "how can I help?"

      March 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • JonathanL

      Are you talking to your imaginary friend again? Ask him why you can't see him.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • BuzzerKiller

      I can answer those questions for you.

      Why is there evil in the world? Because God needs to prove a point. See, Satan never, ever questioned God's POWER, he questioned his integrity. He basically said that God, who created man, was unfit to rule over them. Basically, this was like a student telling a teacher that he could do the lesson better than the teacher, even though the teacher had the answers already and was doing a great job of teaching.
      Sure, God could have easily wiped out Satan right then and there, but Satan challenged him. He said that he could do it better, so instead of destroying him (Which would prove God does have POWER, but it wouldn't solve the Integrity accusation, which was the base of all of it), he gave Satan the "chalk" and told him, "Fine, you do it. We'll see how you do it." And thus, it was like that.
      Satan did it, and his formula is completely wrong. We have free choice, but we're unguided, and misguided. We kill each other, we destroy, and conquer, and do many things that we want to do without really thinking that it's Satan's formula with the "chalk" that led to all this.
      "Armageddon" as people call it, will be when God finally takes the "chalk" back, and is like, "Yeah, you failed horribly." And begins to rewrite the "equation" .
      This will prove God's right to rule. He will have proved Satan is a LIAR, because he is fit to rule.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • KEVIN

      Amen Brother!

      March 8, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Pete the Ninja

      there is evil in the world b/c man decided to sin against God. God tolerates evil in the hopes of giving man kind the choice of repentance. God will deal with it in His time, which is in general when we becom so degenerate there is only one choice left, that is, to quote Tom Waits, All the angels sing, of Jesus' mighty sword. Woe to the earth in that day.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Southern Christian

      Actually God's original plan was paradise for all His creation for all time. But you may recall Adam an Eve had ONE commnadment and couldn't keep that one. They were banished from paradise for their sin and beget the sin nature in us all. Because of sin in the world and man's knowledge of right and wrong it didn't take long for the evil, decay, and corruption to cause a downhill course we are still on. The troubles of this world are all man made.

      As for the sin nature, you may recognize you do not have to teach a child to be selfish, mean, or even deceitful. You must teach them to be good because they are born with that sin nature.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      I'm not God, but I am one of His adopted children so I'll try to explain. When God expressed His Love for us by creating us, He had a choice. Blind devotion and servitude which would be slavery, or free will with which we could choose to love Him. Forcing us to love Him and do His Will is no where near as satisfying for Him or us as choosing to do His Will. Unfortunately Free Will has a down side. Why there is evil in the world is deeply theological. Whether you blame the snake, Adam or Eve, it entered the world at the beginning and comes from an Archangel that was thrown out of Heaven. You may know him as Satan, source of all evil in the world. Eliminating evil is simple, but hard. Treat other people the way you want to be treated (assuming you aren't a masochist :-)), and teach other people to do the same. Teach everyone to believe that and evil will cease to exist.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Fa shizzle

      Perfect example of someone who hates God. Tada!!!!!

      March 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • BuzzerKiller

      Southern Christian, it goes back a little further than that. The first humans sinned because they were deceived by Satan. He basically said to Eve, that she would not die, because if she ate this particular fruit, she would have her eyes opened and she will BE LIKE GOD.
      So basically, it was Satan saying, "God's just telling you this because he's afraid you'll be like him, knowing good from bad." ((Which means less reliance on God if you already know what's good and bad)). She ate it, and God, not being a liar, had happen what he said would have happen. "You will positively die" And she eventually did.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • BuzzerKiller

      Celt, Satan was NOT an ArchAngel. There only a very select few who are ArchAngels. Michael (The battle-name for Jesus), is one of them. Satan was an extremely powerful angel, and influential. He turned 33% of the Heavens against God. But he wasn't an ArchAngel.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • BuzzerKiller

      Jonathan, because Moses saw him and look what happened to him. he aged IMMENSELY. I don't think I'd like that to happen to me, thanks. ^^;

      March 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • BoyRescue

      You ask, "If You are All Good, why is there Evil in the world?"

      Yes, God did allow Evil in the world. Why? Because God wants to prove that even if Evil enters in the world God can overcome Evil. What other way to prove it then to let Evil enter the world. If God did not let Evil enter the world then God would fear that He can be beat. This is why He let Evil enter the world to prove God is above all things.

      You may ask, "Why are humans accountable to go to hell if God allowed Evil into the world?" First, because we sinned and secondly because God gave everyone a chance to avoid hell and into eternal life by confessing their belief in His Son Jesus Christ who was crucified a brutal death for the sins of the world. (John 3:16). By accepting Jesus and living a life for Him we transfer from the world of Evil into the world of Christ. Be bless.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • James Swanson

      Here is an example of what I believe kind of in parable format
      Consider you are teaching your 16 year old to drive and that a crash is ev-il.
      1. You know there is always a possibility of a crash, but you let them drive anyways
      2. You obviously care about your child and don't want them to be in a crash, but you let them drive anyways
      3. You could stop your 16 year old from practicing, getting a license or getting a car, but you let them drive anyways
      Not trying to debate whether God exists, but for people who believe in Him as a Father type figure, this made sense to me.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • BuzzerKiller

      No, you.. you're wrong, Boy Rescue. God doesn't need to prove anything other than he is the final and only salvation. Satan was the one who accused him of being unfit to rule, and said he'd do a better job. God gave him time to make a fool out of himself, proved Satan was a liar on many accounts throughout the biblical history, and finally took the "chalk" back and basically said, "Enough. I think I already proved that with you at the helm, it's chaos." Thus, he kept his integrity and proved his point, and Satan was cast out of heaven along with the others that stood by him because there was nothing left to prove anymore.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • BoyRescue

      Amen, BuzzKiller. Took the words right out of my mouth. Didn't see the post until after I posted mine. I like the way you put it. Don't mind if I use your analogy. Be bless!

      March 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • comm0nsense

      What a bunch of non-answers to a pretty basic question: why is there Evil in the world? First of all, to say we created Evil is proves the point that god isn't all he is set out to be (and it's definitely a He since it was all invented by men). You are basically saying we blind-sided God by creating this thing called Evil he didn't think of. We spoiled his nice little creation. Of course that is silly. Second, to say that perhaps his response is too complex for us to understand misses the overall point believers are making. That is, we do understand how the Universe works and in fact we do know that God created it all. Not only that, we know intimate things about God - his feelings, his state of mind, his forms of existence, what he plans to do with the world, and on and on. So, why the 'too complex to understand' response know when you claim to know so much about the world already (have you heard of the term god-of-the-gaps).

      Of course the reality is there has NEVER been any proof of any God, any miracle, anything that is outside of the laws of physics/nature as we understand them (and if you can prove otherwise, you will be a millionaire as there is a million dollar prize for this - heck ,i would give you all my money if you can show this). So, since EVERYTHING we say about God is just the result of our faulty brains, whenever we run to a wall in our fictional world, we retreat to the 'too complex' nonsense.

      Wow, that was too long a response.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • BuzzerKiller

      Thanks Boy Rescue. =)

      March 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Clarity

      Those are exactly the same questions I asked and really wanted to know. The despondency I experienced at the inability to make any sense out of it along with the immense futility I felt about my existence were intolerable...then something happened. I call it an experience of God.
      I can only tell you in metaphor or parable. It's as though your child fell asleep and is dreaming a nightmare and whatever is happening in the nightmare, he wonders why his father is not helping him out of his dilemma. Yet you do not know what he is dreaming, so you cannot answer him within the context of his dream. You only know that you love him and you gently try to wake him; and when he awakes he will realize that what seemed to occur in his dream never really happened and he is perfectly safe.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      "Of course that is silly. Second, to say that perhaps his response is too complex for us to understand misses the overall point believers are making. That is, we do understand how the Universe works and in fact we do know that God created it all. Not only that, we know intimate things about God – his feelings, his state of mind, his forms of existence, what he plans to do with the world, and on and on. So, why the 'too complex to understand' response know when you claim to know so much about the world already (have you heard of the term god-of-the-gaps)."

      Believers are, of course, incorrect if they say they *know* anything about the universe with absolutely certainty. They choose to accept certain assumptions. A scientist would be equally false in making such a statement about absolute certainty. The 'too complex' argument is a perfectly valid place to retreat to when you don't understand something....if you're a rational person and don't presume facts not in evidence.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Q

      What a pathetic bunch of apologetic regurgitation. Father figures, "sin", blah, blah. All seem to overlook the first cause, omniscience and omnipotence factor. According the to this "God construct", there can be no free will and we are acting out a script in place from the beginning. But beyond this, the Biblical God directly and indiscriminately kills the world (i.e. children, infants and pregnant women) in addition to directly ordering the slaughter of Amalekite children and infants. The only response to the problem of evil is the same pathetic excuses you hear from battered wives who continually stay with their abusive spouse, "He's really a good guy/father/husband. He really loves me deep down. He only hurts me when I set him off. It's my fault..."

      March 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Frogist

      I'm inclined to stand with Q and commonsense, because all other explanations seem to ignore the fact that god has chosen to play dice with the universe so to speak. He made a bet with Satan, or he wants us to to love him so he lets evil loose, or evil snuck by him... it's all contradictory to what believers say god is – ominpotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. And it leaves Houston's questions still unanswered. It's a tough sell, guys.

      March 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Ted

      If you wanted a legitimate response to this, you wouldn't be looking for it here.

      March 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • clif

      BuzzerKiller, how do you know all that you say? You seriously become sounding like a spammer, a crook who can convince anyone about anything. You are speculating about (imaginary) events and figures which not only you but no one else has ever witnessed.

      March 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Leeann

      James Swanson, thank you for your parable about teaching your 16 year old to drive, knowing that he may crash. It was thought-provoking. It doesn't quite answer the "why is there evil?" question, though. The Christian God, being omniscient, knows–doesn't just assume a possibility–that some of us will "crash" yet lets us do it anyway. If you as a parent knew without a doubt (omniscience) that your child would get into a horrific accident on Tuesday, March 8 if he were permitted to drive, I doubt you would let him get into a car today.

      March 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • BNC

      Dear Houston,
      I write this so that you(we ) the world can under stand It is not God who has made the world as it is. Adam and Eve when they ate of the fruit entered sin into the picture. It was not too long after that we read of the story of cain and able and how jealousy works and mans heart going bad. Then we read of Sodom and Gomorah ( sorry on the spelling). All through the old testament we see man's heart.

      Jesus later wrote in Matt 7:14-23 that it is man who defiles what is good. Mankind jhas started wars. True Christianity ( you will know the truth and the truths will set you free John 8:32) will tell you that a Christian walks in peace and walks in love. I say this because many who claimed to be Christians can not and do not live in peace or walk in love.

      God cares about every one of you. He has given man kind free will. It is up to us in this life to walk in darkness ( romans 12:13-14, Eph 4:17-19) or to walk in the light ( John 1:1-9, john 12:46, john 14:6)

      As humans as peopel of this earth we must take responasabilty for our own actions. It is not God's Fault but man. It is also up to man to seek God, serve God and live for God.

      I hope you and and anybody else will look deep into their hearts and understand that being a Christians does not mean you are perfect but, that through Christ we can achieve the forgiveness God offers. I wish the world would see that through God we can have peace and love. If we are willing to seek that peace and love.
      Everyday I pray for this nation. Everyday I pray for teh lost why? Because if God can save a man like me who was going down some bad paths. He can save and give joy to all of those who are already down that path.

      March 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • RICK

      Houston those were good questions, Well for a person that lack understanding, and from what I have read your questions have been answered. Here is my take, God does not need me to defend him it is I that need him to defend me, and instead of asking your question here, go some place were it is real quiet, and ask him your question, then wait. I can promise you, you will get a anwser.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • PABLO

      Read the Bible and study it and pray for WISDOM....your questions are both tiring and insulting if don't even take the time to study what you are talking about. And, even studying the Bible will not always mean you will ever understand. God only gives understanding to those who first believe. He's just funny that way....

      March 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Darren Schlack

      I doubt any theists here would attempt to respond in the place of God on this one. But a lot of reasonable and logical answers have been given to this dilemma. One is to simply deny classical definitions of one of the three premises (e.g. omnipotence only relates to having power over all things that are possible, and since it's impossible to override will of free moral agents, God's omnipotence cannot be extended to this). Another is to carefully consider our definition of what the greatest good is. Even the most secular, utilitarian ethicists will admit to how complex this equation is. This leaves everybody in a cloud of mystery, even though we're all trying to see through it with our moral senses. It might be that God has a greater good in mind that allows for human suffering, death, and natural disasters. It might be that human happiness, conscience, and other abilities and goods could not have come about without the sacrifice of millions of years of evolution and survival of the fittest. This is every bit a mystery as many of the questions raised by secular ethicists.

      March 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • asgardshill

      Codicil to Houston's Question:

      Is God capable of creating a rock so big that even He can't lift it?

      March 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Sally

      He's "creating god in his own image"? I thought God created US in HIS image? If that's the case, there shouldn't be any misunderstanding, right?

      March 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • bones1918

      Dear Science-

      I'm told that the two laws of thermodynamics that are the basis for all we know about physics are that 1, matter cannot be created or destroyed, and 2, all things move from order to chaos. If this is true, how can evoloution occur without intelligent design? How can light simultaneously be a particle and a wave? How can a muon particle that only a lifespan of 2.2 × 10 -6 seconds and only occur in a Star exist on earth if its lifespan is shorter than the amount of time it would take to travel from the Sun to the Earth? Could it be that our understanding of time as a linear progression is wrong? Please clear this up, because im starting to feel like science adn physics require just as much faith to rely on as those silly theists believing in a creator. Love, us.

      March 8, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Umm...

      BuzzerKiller, your knowledge of Genesis and the Apocrypha is atrocious.

      March 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Art

      Houston, I agree with you 100%.
      Anotheralt... God cannot possibly have ANY good reason for the suffering of little children who were killed in the most horrific way. If he has a reason of ANY kind, then he is evil, not good.

      March 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Stanle13

      Houston, we have a problem...lol..I always wanted to say that 🙂 anyway here is the problem that lies on both sides:

      1) Religion to most intelligent people just does not make sense for so many reasons. Omnipotent but allowing evil is just one of them, there are a lot of things that do not make sense but that is based also on the fact that we lack knowledge.

      2) Science on the same hand does not make sense in regards to evolution or the big bang. It takes faith to belive in God, BUT it also takes faith to belive in science.

      FAITH: confidence or trust in a person or thing

      When you think about it athiest's and believers have a lot in common. They both have theories that they cannot fully prove and that requires FAITH.
      Personally I have no idea, I have plenty of theories and ideas but they all reuire some sort of FAITH.

      How different would the world be if we could all just accept that NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE!!

      March 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • James Swanson

      @Leann
      That's an extremely difficult question and I hadn't thought about it... but I think in the example it would mean choosing between making every decision for them behind the wheel (i.e. never letting our hands as parents off the wheel so they can try) for their entire lives and giving them the chance to try for those 16 years. I believe that God wrestled somewhat with this exact decision and that I would probably lean towards the one He made as well, to knowingly allow evil to happen as opposed to making every decision for them.

      March 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • aginghippy

      “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
      Then he is not omnipotent.
      Is he able, but not willing?
      Then he is malevolent.
      Is he both able and willing?
      Then whence cometh evil?
      Is he neither able nor willing?
      Then why call him God?”

      Epicurus 33AD

      March 9, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Brief

      The definition of "all good" isn't only simply the fine line between whats 'good and bad'. Being "good" can also be described as being just. So yes, God is just. Evil wasn't because of God, it started from the beginning of humans. And because He is just (or good), it is completely logical that we would fall into the consequences of evil. But because He is also loving and all powerful he sent one way to clear the world of sin.

      March 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • James Swanson

      If you believe in God and Satan, then you also believe evil started before humanity. Lucifer fell from Heaven before humans were around.

      March 12, 2011 at 10:21 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.