Myth: Atheists Hate God and Christians

Angry at God and Fate
Angry at God and Fate. Don Bayley / Getty Images

Atheists hate God and that is why they claim not to believe.

To atheists, this is a really odd claim. How can someone hate something in which they do not believe? As odd as it may sound, some people really do argue for this perspective. For example William J. Murray, the son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, has written:

...there is no such thing as "intellectual atheism." Atheism is a system of sin denial. Atheists deny because they decry and violate His laws and His love.

Hating Gods

This argument and its variations imply that atheists really believe in a god but hate this god and want to rebel. First, if this were true then they would not be atheists. Atheists are not people who believe in a god but are angry at it - those are just angry theists. It's possible for a person to believe in a god, but be angry at it or even hate it, even though that probably isn't very common normally in the modern West.

Whether a person is an atheist who actively denies the existence of any gods or an atheist who simply disbelieves in any gods, it's not possible for them to simultaneously hate or even be angry at any gods - that would be a contradiction in terms. You can't hate something in which you don't believe or which you are certain does not exist. Thus, saying that an atheist hates god is like saying that someone (maybe you?) hates unicorns. If you don't believe in unicorns, the claim simply doesn't make any sense.

Now, there might be some confusion due to the fact that some atheists do have strong feelings about related subjects. Some atheists, for example, may hate the idea of god(s), religion in general, or some religions in particular. For example, some atheists have had bad experiences with religion either while growing up or when they started to question things. Other atheists may believe that the idea of gods creates problems for humanity, like perhaps encouraging submission to tyrants.

Another reason for confusion might be because some people arrive at their atheism have having bad experience with religion - bad enough that they were angry theists for a while before becoming atheists. Just because they were angry theists, though, doesn't mean that they continued to be angry at an alleged god once they stopped believing. That would be incredibly odd, to say the least.

A third and final point of confusion may occur when atheists make claims about "God" being psychotic, abusive, or immoral. In such cases, it would be more accurate if the author were to add the qualifier "if it exists," but that is cumbersome and rarely happens. Thus it can be understandable (if not quite accurate) why some would see such statements and then conclude that the author "hates God."

Other reasons for any anger will vary considerably, and one of the most common is that they feel that certain religious or theistic ideas or practices are ultimately harmful to people and society. However, the specific reasons for these beliefs aren't relevant here. What is relevant is that, even if atheists have strong feelings about some of these concepts, they still can't be said to hate god. You just can't hate something you don't believe exists.

Hating Christians

Related to the above, some will try to argue that atheists hate Christians. To be honest, some atheists might indeed hate Christians. This statement cannot, however be made in general. Some atheists might hate Christians. Some might hate Christianity but not Christians themselves.

Most atheists do not hate Christians, though it's likely that a few might. It is true that many atheists may get frustrated or angry at some Christians' behavior, especially in forums for atheists. It is all too common for Christians to come in and start preaching or ranting, and that gets people upset. But this is not the same as hating Christians. Indeed, it is actually rather rude to make false general statements such as "atheists hate Christians" just because some atheists have acted improperly. If you would like to have any constructive discourse on atheist forums, it would be best if you avoided statements like this.