Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Can you be angry at a hypothetical?

As a Christian, I have often been questioned by unbelievers who have one simple question, "How can you believe in a God who allowed _________?" You can fill in the blank with some wrenching personal experience, whether it be 9/11, a divorce, a death, a miscarriage, or something even worse. While many atheists claim their beliefs are purely logic-based (and perhaps some are), a new study shows that for many unbelief comes as much from anger as anything else.

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

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...

And younger people tend to be angrier at God than older people, Exline said. She says some of the reasons she's seen people the angriest at God include rejection from preferred colleges and sports injuries preventing high schoolers from competing.
There is a very old saying among Christians, that people are born with a God-sized hole in their heart. Humans seem to have an instinctive intuition that there is a higher being, and even those who deny His existence still have strong feelings toward Him.

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