I was poking around the search engine terms that led to blog hits yesterday and came across this one.
julie exline atheism unnatural has to be learned
I had to look up who that was. She’s the author of a study that supposedly concluded that atheists hate god. ERV made a good point about the media coverage of this study (lack of apostrophes all his fault, not mine. Tsk.):
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!
I didn’t find it online either, but I found the abstract via a database called Infotrac (specifically in General OneFile, which is part of it) that I can access through my library even from home. (breaks added):
Many people see themselves as being in a relationship with God and see this bond as comforting. Yet, perceived relationships with God also carry the potential for experiencing anger toward God, as shown here in studies with the U.S. population (Study 1), undergraduates (Studies 2 and 3), bereaved individuals (Study 4), and cancer survivors (Study 5).
These studies addressed 3 fundamental issues regarding anger toward God: perceptions and attributions that predict anger toward God, its prevalence, and its associations with adjustment. Social-cognitive predictors of anger toward God paralleled predictors of interpersonal anger and included holding God responsible for severe harm, attributions of cruelty, difficulty finding meaning, and seeing oneself as a victim.
Anger toward God was frequently reported in response to negative events, although positive feelings predominated. Anger and positive feelings toward God showed moderate negative associations. Religiosity and age correlated negatively with anger toward God. Reports of anger toward God were slightly lower among Protestants and African Americans in comparison with other groups (Study 1).
Some atheists and agnostics reported anger involving God, particularly on measures emphasizing past experiences (Study 2) and images of a hypothetical God (Study 3). Anger toward God was associated with poorer adjustment to bereavement (Study 4) and cancer (Study 5), particularly when anger remained unresolved over a 1-year period (Study 5).
Taken together, these studies suggest that anger toward God is an important dimension of religious and spiritual experience, one that is measurable, widespread, and related to adjustment across various contexts and populations.
And if you do want to read the whole thing, here’s what to ask for at your library. They’ll have the resources to find you a copy if they don’t subscribe to the journal itself:
Exline, Julie J., et al. “Anger toward God: social-cognitive predictors, prevalence, and links with adjustment to bereavement and cancer.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 100.1 (2011): 129+.
Exline has two web-based studies running now for those interested in doing them.
One study involves reflecting on your own personal experiences and beliefs involving God and suffering (including anger toward God). Another study allows you to share your own ideas and suggestions about ways to help people deal with anger toward God.
Tell them to consider becoming atheists. Since atheism requires rejecting the notion that gods exist, an atheist can’t hate god. Hating god means agreeing to accept the “fact” that a god exists and thus is in a position to be hated. I think a lot of atheists would say they hate the idea of gods, not actual gods. They’re hating the ideologies, not some undefinable being that nobody seems to really agree about anyway. Going by the the abstract, it seems Exline would concede that’s the case.
So let’s get back to the search itself. The fact of the matter is that we’re all born atheist. We have no beliefs at all until our parents start instilling some. Parents who want to raise their children from birth with the notion of a god overlooking things are going to tell their kids all kinds of crap about this being and the kids are going to swallow it whole. Any sensible skeptical questions they may have will be deftly handled by their “we know better, trust us” parents. Atheism is our true, natural state of being. God beliefs are what need to be unlearned — especially in cases where parents used the notion of god to punish children into feeling guilty for natural sexual urges, or justified abuse because they think their kids are sinners deserving of it.
How does that lead to well-adjusted adulthood? It didn’t help their parents, after all. They compound the problem by creating another generation conditioned to think the same way and the guilt and abuse rages on.
I totally get why god-belief in general can be a comfort in troubled times. I just think more believers should see the logic behind rejecting all of that in favour of a life devoid of supernatural meddling. Why should anyone approve of and support a god that would allow parents to do those things to their children? Why would any loving, caring god desire or require that kind of malicious trickery in order to create more believers? That whole belief system is flawed and problematic.
One of the first beliefs religious people ought to unlearn is that goodness can only come from god. That’s clearly wrong and atheists the world over live each day proving that it’s wrong, yet the belief lingers and proliferates. What more can be done to combat that notion? Maybe atheist groups need to get into the mainstream news even more than they are now, not just with “controversial” billboards but food drives and charity work and be vocal about making a difference as atheists.
Which reminds me, CFI-Saskatoon has a blood drive scheduled on May 6 in support of the Day of Reason, which runs the same day to counter the National Day of Prayer. Which one of those gets the most headlines? At some point I hope Reason is the one that comes out ahead.