Can an atheist hate God?

by Randal Rauser

One of my readers, the irrepressible Beetle, thinks not. Beetle writes: “The fundy stereotype of the atheist has the latter hating God. But that is absurd of course, because one would not waste so much emotion on something which one did not believe in.”

But is it really absurd? Not according to protest atheism. This is a type of atheism which affirms

(1) I believe God does not exist

Of course all atheists affirm. The protest atheist distinguishes him or herself by also affirming something like:

(2) If God does exist, God should not be worshipped.

There is more here than just a formal withholding of worship however. The protest atheist also likely holds something like

(3) If God does exist, God should be hated.

The most famous example of protest atheism is found in Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov where Ivan the atheist relays to his pious Christian brother Alyosha a story of a young boy who was torn apart by hunting dogs in front of his mother. Then with a deep bitterness Ivan tells Alyosha, “It’s not God that I don’t accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return Him the ticket.” Ivan does not ultimately believe God exists, but even if God does exist Ivan makes clear that he wants nothing to do with him…

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Can an atheist hate God? | The Tentative Apologist

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