Why Are You So Angry at God?

My counselor asked me the question, “Why are you so angry at God?,” close to the end of our last session. I shut down. It’s not anger at God that caused me to shut down. After all, the short answer is: I would have to believe in a God in order to be angry at Him. And I do not. Regardless of what my beliefs are, they don’t include a supernatural entity.

I don’t know how to make this any clearer.

It is, however, anger at my counselor that caused me to shut down. I was angry he asked this question given the numerous attempts on my part to explain my disbelief in God. In my mind, asking this question disregarded my firm position: belief in God is an unnecessary illusion for which I find no value in my own life. Hence, this “lack of relevance to my life” is the reason I discarded my belief in God so many years ago. Asking “Why are you so angry at God?” arrogantly presumed the contrary and attached an emotional bias to it.

I recognize the possibility that much of our discussion about God, spirituality, and the nature of religion, as well as the emotions attached to such discussion, are possibly a form of transference/ countertransference. I don’t want this to become a power struggle despite our obvious opposing views on matters of faith and spirituality — me as a non-theist and my counselor as a theist. I had hoped my post, On Belief and Godwould eliminate any confusion and place a boundary on matters of spirituality to “agree to disagree.”

Like I’ve stated previously, my spirituality is the one area of my life where I don’t need validation from others.

I’ve spent the last 2 weeks, since that last counseling session, attempting to reconsider this question of anger at God to no avail. I’ve literally started and re-started this post 5 different times! There’s simply nothing there to dispute within the question itself. Only the blatant disregard of my lack of belief in God warrants any comment.

Zinnia Jones said it best in her article titled, “Are atheists ‘angry at God’?“:

“…when believers treat a difference in views as pathological in nature, it allows them to refuse to consider the actual merits of the position they don’t agree with.”

Atheism can be a deeply spiritual experience in that it allows the individual to search and find ways to meet one’s own psychological and social needs through the “living experience” of each moment rather than placing faith in the belief of God to overcome life’s struggles. In short, each moment of our lives has the potential for creating awe without the requirement of a supernatural entity creating it. Rather than arguing about who is right or wrong about the nature of god and whether or not it exists, understanding why that belief persists in our society could potentially promote more compassion and tolerance, not only in discussing this matter, but also in how we treat one another in daily life.

In the following video, Why We Believe in Gods – Andy Thomson – American Atheists 09, Andy Thomson makes the point:

Morality is doing what is right, regardless what we are told. Religious dogma is doing what we are told, no matter what is right.

We don’t need religion to tell us to practice “good” behavior or to promote hope. We don’t even need a belief in God to accomplish these things. We need empathy and compassion.

Also, two articles on the Psychology of Belief that I found interesting:

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7 thoughts on “Why Are You So Angry at God?

  1. I love discussions like this. I’m a Christian (and, obviously, a theist), but I don’t understand the vitriol that theists have against non-theists, or the arrogance of some non-theists toward theists. On on a smaller scale, I do see a reason for someone like me would view it as a challenge or mission to “convert” a “non-believer.” I suppose the evangelical far right has a lot to do with that. I’m from Alabama and live in Georgia now, and in some places it’s safer for non-theists to remain in the closet, so to speak. Good for you for sticking up for yourself. I look forward to watching these videos. Be well.

    • I think “the vitriol that theists have against non-theists” stems from an emotional attachment to deeply held religious beliefs. This reminds me of the addict who vehemently clings to denial rather than facing the addiction. The challenge that upsets belief is so disturbing on so many levels, the theist has no other choice but to use emotional reasoning rather than rational thought in an attempt to reassert his belief to himself. In reality it has little to do with the non-theist’s opposing viewpoint and everything to do with the theist’s reaffirmation to maintain the challenged belief.

      At the same time, “the arrogance of some non-theists toward theists” would be similar to the loved one who clearly sees the detrimental affects of addiction on the life of the addict, yet failing to convince that addict who is in denial. I think the “stages of change” are perfectly applicable to any area of belief — not just addiction — to clearly demonstrate the stages of moving from what we “want” to believe to what actually “is” going on in the brain to form that belief.

  2. My belief in God is so intertwined with my thoughts, my decisions, my gratitude that I truly cannot imagine what would fill that place if He wasn’t there. I think this is the one thing that is hard for me to accept about atheism. Don’t get me wrong – I accept you as a person with your own mind and spirituality, but I can’t wrap MY mind around it. I don’t believe that God will bring me through every struggle, but I believe He is able to. Sometimes He says no for His glory. This is what I believe though. Also, believing in a higher power is liberating and freeing. Religion has given God a bad wrap. People are idiots in general that love to spew opinion such as I am now. The God I serve is a God of love and forgiveness and mercy to those who seek Him. Plain and simple. He is there for everyone, not just Religion followers. You have a right to believe as you desire. It is a precious place that no one else can penetrate – our spiritual life. I respect that even though I have no idea what it would be like to form a spiritual foundation on my own self – as I am fairly screwed up individual with a host of terrible decisions – which has given me the ability to love and show compassion, but if it weren’t for God’s love I don’t know if I would have the confidence to reach out to others regarding these things. I would think I would desire to cover it up and hide it ashamed. God’s love allows me to be forgiven and move forward and yet still remember enough to help others. Anyway, I ramble.

    One more thing to say :)….I am an amateur artist at best. Sometimes when I am painting something – that never ever turns out the way my mind sees it by the way, I reflect on creation and I am overwhelmed by the artistry of it all. Who can do that? What can? Take for instance the variety of birds, snakes, bugs? The whole circle of life and how it moves through each day effortlessly. Take humans totally out of the picture – creation is glorious. Who or what do you thank when you see a beautiful sunset? This awe you speak of – awe for who or what? The self? How can that be when none of us is even capable of creating life? Yes, we can procreate human life, but how do you explain all the rest?

    My intention was not to offend or convert or anything. Your post was wonderfully written. For the record, if your therapist knew you were an atheist her question was disrespectful and at the very least, unprofessional.

    • For me, belief in God and Christianity was stifling, enslaving, and persecutory. I didn’t find that liberation and freedom until I began letting go of my belief in God and denounced my Christian faith. I didn’t find that liberation and freedom until I began relying on myself to meet my own physical, psychological, and spiritual needs to cope with the struggles of life rather than “turning it over to God.” It truly was a liberating notion to learn that only “I” have control over my own behavior, my own thoughts, and my own emotions — each of which Christianity and the Bible taught me to feel ashamed of, worthy of nothing more than condemnation to Hell. Freeing my will to take pleasure in living NOW rather than fearing God’s will after I’m dead gave me the freedom to explore “me” and actually learn from my mistakes.

      I agree — all in existence IS glorious, even humans. Is it really so hard to believe there was no creator? That nature, itself, and everything contained in the Universe evolved to this point in time with no direction whatsoever? Isn’t that “awe”some enough to fill your heart with admiration and respect? It sure as hell is enough for me. Saying God or anything else “created” it only cheapens, lessens my wonderment, stifles my intellectual curiosity, and stops the questioning process dead in its tracks.

      I need only thank the SKY for painting the beautiful sunset. I thank the BIRD who cheerfully visits, singing its delightful song. I thank the TREE that stands tall in front of me, providing shade and beauty. I thank the CLOUDS and the RAIN for providing life giving water; and I thank the RIVER for collecting it, flowing with the strength to form canyons and displaying its glory through waterfalls. I thank the DOCTOR who uses his expertise to treat and care for the loved one. I thank the INDIVIDUAL who generously practices love and compassion through an act of kindness. I could go on and on with examples; but my point is, I give my attention and my gratitude to whatever or whomever is in front of me because at the end of the day those experiences and interactions ARE tangible proof to me of my reality and the greatness of it all. No God necessary.

      • I am sorry to hear that someone taught the bible to you in a way that made you feel shame, because it says there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. I agree that some people are teaching the tenants of the Christian Faith incorrectly for their own benefit and power. I suppose it has been corrupted from the start in some way. I don’t practice a particular religion for that very reason. I am sickened by the judgement that comes from the pulpits of many churches. That is not God. He is not a God of wrath to those who are saved. I know I am speaking something you do not care about. It sounds like you have a belief system that brings you peace and comfort. If so, then let it bring you peace at all times. When people doubt your beliefs or question them I think I would question their motive before allowing it to upset you. Let’s face it, atheism is not found everywhere and it is hard to understand to people who believe in a higher power. If you are firm then stand firm in love and compassion. You answered me kindly and to the point. I think most people are just curious. Thank you for the discussion :).

  3. I think it is crucial to make a distinction between religion (a belief system associated with a particular church or group) and spirituality (an individual’s belief system about whether and how a “higher power” for lack of a better word exists and impacts our existence). In my humble opinion, too many organized religions have belief systems that utilize guilt and fear to try to control others, and as a therapist I spent many years helping people attempt to undo the psychological damage caused by their religious experiences. If religion works for people, great. If they want to reject organized religion and embrace their own spiritual belief system, that is fine too. Whatever works for each person to bring comfort and well-being is valid. Too many people are judgmental toward others about their beliefs. Let’s just all get along.

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