Some readers might worry that I’m just tilting at a bunch of straw men in this comic. A fair worry. But unfortunately, the reality is that I have seen these arguments coming from a lot of prominent sources recently.
To start with, there is the new film “God’s Not Dead”, which just opened this weekend. I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet (hopefully soon!!), but from what I gather from the trailer (and from what I’ve heard from friends who went to see it), the lead atheist in the movie – an evil philosophy professor, of course – is actually driven by a deep irrational hatred of God stemming from personal tragedy.
The “atheists just hate God because they hate their dads” line has long been a popular one. See this book for a recent example, and also be sure to take a look this nice discussion over at Camels With Hammers.
And of course the claim that atheists just hate or reject God because they resent being watched and judged (presumably so they can have fun doing all the evil sinful stuff atheists enjoy) is also a popular one, and has recently been propagated by no less than the great Alvin Plantinga himself.
I take it to be obvious that all of these arguments are utterly beside the point. Even if it were true that every single atheist in the history of humanity was really driven by some deep irrational hatred of God, that would tell us absolutely nothing whatsoever about whether such a being actually existed. It would be a strange and interesting psychological fact about atheists, nothing more. So why these arguments keep coming up? I suspect quite simply because they are an effective, if cheap, diversionary tactic. It’s not unlike when pseudo-Freudian atheists like to argue that people only worship God because they are driven by some sort of deep unconscious need for a father figure. Like the arguments above, this argument is a silly generalization, not well supported by any evidence, and, most importantly, completely irrelevant. It tells us nothing whatsoever about whether or not God exists.
It would be nice if films that actually took a fair, nuanced, thoughtful look at some of the issues surrounding belief in God got half the attention that “God’s Not Dead” has been getting. And yes, I realize that I am just contributing to the problem here. To rectify that situation a bit, here’s a link to a much better, much more interesting, much more thoughtful film that I highly recommend to everyone (regardless of your religious views), called “God on Trial”.