Faith of the Fatherless

Wonder why atheists hate God? Check out their relationship with Dad


09/28/2011 04:30:01 PM

Wow. Seriously, how many strawmen can you have in one article? For a start, how can you hate something you don't believe in? You can dislike/hate the belief, the followers and the dogma, but you can't hate what you think is imaginary? After all, do Christian hate Thor, Odin, Osiris or Zeus? As to the rest of the article, finding a handful of examples proves nothing. After all, how many atheists did they talk to who had great relationships with their parents, grandparents and siblings whose statements were conveniently swept under the table? Sounds more like just another desperate attempt by the religious to make statements about something they don't understand and a desperate sattempt to justify their own feelings of smug superiority.


09/28/2011 11:27:55 AM

Showing you can find twelve atheists whose relation with their fathers was (in one among countless possible ways) unsatisfactory, and that you can find twelve theists whose relation with their fathers was (in their own self-description, or in some biographer's description) positive, is not substantial evidence for the claim that atheism is caused by inadequate father-child relationships. Not to mention the fact that neither Hitler nor Voltaire was an atheist.


02/21/2011 12:40:34 AM

Atheism IS a zero on the spiritual health scale because atheism denies the existence of spirits, and therefore must also conclude that there is no such thing as "spiritual health" at all. So spiritual health, according to atheism, is equal to zero because it is totally non-existent. Anyone who has taken the time to READ Vitz's actual book knows that he does not make "ridiculous over-generalizations." He specifically points out and addresses the fact that there are exceptions to his theory. But as long as we're presenting anecdotal evidence, let me have a go: My Dad spent EVERY day with me growing up, as did my Mom. If your dad only spent a measly 3 days a week with you growing up, your childhood was an appalling travesty. Try reading Vitz's actual book all the way through BEFORE you judge it. How does that sound?


09/06/2005 06:09:13 PM

Dear Ms. Morse, why do you assume that being an atheist is a "zero" on the spiritual health scale? I know I don't feel very sick about it at all. My father and I spent three days a week together doing various things (hiking, swimming, etc.) until I left home for college. He is not an atheist, but I am. How does this data fits in with your ridiculous over-generalization? As for hating God, my understanding is that it is impossible for a non-existing thing to be the object of an emotion. Okay, so now I'm assuming I'm correct, but you can hardly criticize me for that.As for Nietzsche, it was a twisted version of his philosophy developed by his sister Elisabeth that was used by Adolph Hitler and Eric Harris. People who were influenced by Nietzsche's actual philosophies include Camus, Foucault, Derrida, and Buber (a Jewish theologian, for the record).P.S. I know the authors probably never read these posts, I just thought the open letter was a nice format for my critique. : )


02/17/2004 05:20:56 PM

First of all, the article starts out with the assumption that all atheists hate God. Not only does this pass for an exciting, provocative way to attract attention to the article, but it instantly reassures those who wish to use the premise as an excuse not to pursue the issue any farther. After all, it's the atheists who are sick, not the concept of a paranoid, schizophrenic, sexist homophobic god who was so bloodthirsty he allowed his own son to be sacrificed to his own glory. And what would a serious anti-atheist diatribe be without reference to Hitler? Even if all the analogies made therein were correct it still fails to address the logic behind atheism and the illogic behind theism. Belief in God requires blind faith and a suspension of rational thought. No real Supreme Being would require such a thing.


11/26/2003 12:46:48 PM

Hm. Both of my parents were (and still are) atheists (or perhaps more accurately, agnostics), and I have a good relationship with both. It seems to me as though this article presupposes that all fathers are christians, and that it's their role to indoctrinate their children in that capacity. It gives no consideration to fathers who, in their "strong paternal roles", would like to steer their children away from supernatural tomfoolery.


09/16/2003 03:19:07 AM

Could it not be that a person lacking patermal guidance is more likely to seek out truth on their own... rather than simply adopting dad's faith like so many do? If so, I'm glad to have grown up lacking a strong father figure! Oh... and by the way... I did not end up moving "into gangs, or hero worship of some sports star, or worse - a charismatic political or cult leader."


06/12/2003 03:16:46 PM

Considering all the scientific evidence that supports the existance of G-d... it sure takes a lot of faith to be an atheist.


11/07/2002 04:14:34 AM

I find it odd as this is the second site I've found this on, and that Mr. Vitz seems to be only studying the psychology of famouse (dead) atheists. It doesn't actually make much sense. I'm a buddhist and as a general rule tend to be agnostic though atheist is what I'm growing into. Frankly my father was too far from the man I thought he was. But this seems more like what I think they call grasping at straws... A desperate chumly and curiouse attempt to insult the nayesayers using thier own methods.


03/25/2002 12:38:11 PM

That's just magnificent...Now they get tired of blaming it on the Devil, so they start blaming parental relationships...What's next ? Lack of reason ?


01/16/2002 01:27:42 PM

This article disgusts me. It is yet another attempt by a religious person to say: Atheists are bad people, and this is why.


01/04/2002 10:18:29 PM

The only thing that Vitz has proved is that religious father figures serve to strong-arm their children into believing nonsense, lies, and superstition. In conclusion, As you assert CG, this was not a controlled study, but an irresponsible and direct insult to anyone who asks: "Why?" and requires factual data. I really can't imagine how NYU could employ someone who is argueably anti-psychology (per his 1994 book "Psychology as religion: The cult of self-worship", as a professor of psychology. Does this make sense to you? It sure doesn't to me.


01/04/2002 10:17:48 PM

Secondly, of the 11 Christian fundamentalist male acquaintances that I know, all come from cruel, violent, dominating paternal religious environments, 3 of which had fathers that died when they were young (12, 12, 14). Of the 26 atheist friends I know, all had very loving relationships with their fathers until they were into adulthood. How ironic, in comparison to Vitz's/Morse views. Carl Sagen (and myself ) are perfect examples of the loving, intellectual, and secure relationship an atheist has with his father. Our father's were our best friends, our mentors, and our educators.


01/04/2002 10:16:37 PM

Or Hitler's strong support and ties to the Vatican? Or the the United States Dept of Justice' research on crime in America? Research done in 1991 by U.S. government investigators (most of which Christian by the way), that proves a disproportionate amount of crime is committed by practicing "Christians"? The same results showing Atheists to be the least likely to commit crime, on a percentage level? Where are Vitz' comments on this?


01/04/2002 10:15:30 PM

Apart from the obvious lies and false statements, ie "Hitler's father...", etc.; has he forgotten the Hitler quote: ""Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.”?


01/04/2002 10:14:24 PM

Chief_Gnome Consistently right on the mark (as usual). Firstly, this type of article reminds me of the same type whose assertion it is that: "Blacks, women, and Jews are inferior". Prof. Paul Vitz (not even in the field of psychiatry, but a fundamentalist Christian psychology Professor; read: preacher with a doctorate in education) just uses pseudo-science to make his point seem valid.


11/21/2001 11:59:45 AM

Vitz's book consists of forty case studies of atheists from broken homes, along with a "control" of forty theists from nice loving families. Why not twenty Atheists from happy loving homes as the control. Then draw conclusions from that. I expect he'd have found twenty sad atheists from broken homes, and twenty happy atheists from nice happy homes. It is possible I am misrepresenting Vitz - after all I have to go on is the appalling article by this Morse woman. Suffice to say Morse seems to take the fact that Vitz's atheists all had broken homes and his theists didn't as being significant in some way. He chose them that way! They were not a random selection. Not all atheists become philosophers, many go on to be mass murderers, is the underlying message of much of her article. Another sad Christian attempt to claim that atheists couldn't possibly be right - they must just be mentally disturbed.


10/01/2001 11:10:11 PM

Simply amazing.'s all my dad's fault that I'm an athiest? I thought it was the disturbing abundance of rational thought I possess.


09/28/2001 02:42:35 AM

Of course I can believe that an specific attitude toward one's father may lead to atheism. There are similar reasons why one can be lead towards atheism; disdain for Christianity may just be one of them. All beliefs have a reason behind them, so... Having said this, it will not suffice to shrug off atheism simply as a disorder or a reaction to an event in one's life. I can only talk from my own experiences - I know full well the reasons which led me to atheism, however now that I am a confirmed atheist, the only reason I will give you for being so is that I SEE NO REASON WHY I SHOULD BELIEVE IN GOD. While I admitted the possibilty of truth for this proposition, it doesn't quite explain why it is attitude towards the father that makes one an atheist. Clearly this is a Christian attitude towards atheism - a Wiccan would (probably not) have said that most atheists have an bad attitude towards their mother.


09/27/2001 11:27:41 AM

The author draws the conclusion that weak or abusive fathers lead children to a disdain for the supernatural. Atheism is not a hatred or disgust with god. Atheism is rational thought which leads to a conclusion that, based on the available evidence to date, a god does not exist. I think Vitz is trying to pigeonhole Atheism into a psychological category that would, with special therapy, give up disbelief and embrace the supernatural. It demonstrates a self-interested religious defense that goes back to St. Tomas Aquinas. It's a determination to bolster public confidence in faith and the unknown by repudiating the Atheist enemy at any cost. And, besides. It sounds like some children of weak fathers tend to develop strong independent minds. And that's the kind of mindset necessary to find logical, rational thought. What's wrong with that?


09/27/2001 10:14:08 AM

And what if an atheist raises children well? Am I to understand that if I am a present and viable force in my child's life that he or she will reject my commitment to reason, logic, and, above all, self-reliance to seek out a mythical entity to help them through life? This article seems to indicate that this is, indeed, the fate of the children of atheists.


11/17/2000 02:30:35 AM

I sense there is a lot of hurt within the Atheist community towards those who might explain away their belief in unbelief, or belief in nothing. To address one point raised earlier, Hitler and Stalin were Christians in paper only, as I perceive a good deal of people to be, but you can't call them followers of Christ in any true sense. Likewise, you might not call Ms. O'Hair or Richard Dawkins (a fundamentalist) the standard of Atheism. Though I don't really understand the point of Atheism and believe that morality requires not a belief in a certain religion, but a belief in certain spiritual guidelines, it would be very wrong to presume all atheists as immoral; however, as some secular humanists express, their sense of morality might vary within the circumstances, something with which I disagree. It all boils down to respect for other people and open, honest dialogue. K


11/14/2000 03:45:23 PM

Can an atheist hate god? Hmmm Question to theists or author, do you hate the tooth fairy? Answer for both of course not don't be riduculous.


11/10/2000 01:42:44 AM

This article contains two inaccuracies that I often encounter. 1. Hitler was possibly the most radical Christian of all time, however current day Christians often try to sweep him under the carpet by denying that he was Christian. If you don't believe me remember that the Aryan race (Hitler’s ultimate goal) was supposed to be a superior race of tall, blonde haired, blue eyed, Christians. 2. Given enough time, effort and research you can prove almost anything.


11/07/2000 10:27:04 AM

Reality check: 1: Hitler and Stalin where both christians, but destroyed the churches that opposed them. [Like all tyrants.] 2: Some christians with strong fathers have committed horific acts.[Jeffery Dahlmer, et. al.] This just continues to push the prejudiced idea that immoratlity and atheism are mutually exclusive. From a personal viewpoint I had a 'good' christian upbringing with two devoted parents, but I still became an atheist. It had nothing to do with them. It was my choice. It shares nothing more than the prejudices of the author. martin ;-)


11/06/2000 08:07:27 PM

I find one passage of this article particualrly disturbing. Apparently "not all atheists become philosophers or psychiatrists; some of them go into politics. Among the most infamous are Hitler and Stalin, who share not only a reputation for efficient butchery but also demonic fathers" this is an extremely sick thing for anyone to write, equating atheism with Hitler? While i am not sure i was under the impression that Hitler was by no means an atheist, and thought that it was "God's will" or his "Mission from God" to exterminate the Jewish race. All that shows is the negative effects RELIGION have had on world history, not atheism.


11/01/2000 09:35:07 PM

You're right cld23. Why do so many people blame stuff on Nietzsche? I'm in the process of reading Twilight of Idols, and have yet to come across anything that would encourage people to commit murder. Most of the conservative Christians that are offended by his writings haven't even read them. They get a few quotes from radio shows or tracts, things like "God is dead" and go off on a crusade against him without ever really understanding his views.


10/31/2000 01:22:44 PM

First of all, I would like to respond to all those who say we are using strong words or that we are angry: well, duh! Wouldn't you be upset if you were consistently misperceived by the public? For example, look back at the phrase below the title of this article: "Wonder why atheists hate god?" It is inconceivable how an atheist can hate someone or something in which he/she doesn't believe. Come on, the least you could do to show us atheists some respect is to do some research on what atheism is and what it isn't. And how exactly did Nietzsche influence the Columbine killers? Might as well attribute any and all "evils" to atheism because we're so immoral, right? To turn the tables around on this argument: what if I made the claim that Christianity is a result of a bad fatherhood or lack thereof? Do you see how stupid that sounds? Ditto with Mr. Vitz's argument.


10/25/2000 01:35:03 PM

Hmmm, would a better thesis be that a bad father-child relationship leads to searching for some coherant worldview, be it atheism or religion? Could conversion be linked to faulty father-child relationships? Or even more active participation in the faith of the father, searching for a better 'father.' And why should the relationship with God be only 'God the father'? Could children whose fathers were abusive, weak, or absent construct alternative relationships with the divine? What about 'God the lover,' or even 'Goddess the Mother'? All and all, this could be a fascinating study (interview living atheists, maybe, and compare them to living religious and their father relationships?), but you know, if you already find a group deficent, you'll find plenty evidence of it.


10/16/2000 04:55:19 PM

The beginning to this article is underneath this one. Though I tolerate the writer's opinion, I think that there is a sense that those who do not have a supreme force in their lives are somehow deficient, wheras I think that nearly every atheist of the second kind has a much more joyous life and one that has more interaction with society than most of those that believe in an intervening God of the first type. I do, however, think that more research is needed into the fact that it is the father more than the mother that has the majority of the influence on the child.


10/16/2000 04:54:45 PM

I'd just like to say that I think there are two types of atheists. There are those that have been brought up in dysfunctional families that have not spiritually grown enough even to "accept" an organization's (almost certainly the church) imposed morals and then there are those that have gone beyond this stage to an era of sceptisim where they have rejected the churches morals as they are strong enough to think for themselves. The period of submitting to a supreme or force (God) yet thinking for oneself comes after this. I think that the people that the writer talks about are of the first kind of atheists. See next article!


07/11/2000 03:02:28 PM

As an atheist you must not even give these people the time of day and you must also realize that us "Atheists" are guests at this web site. Sounds like you're the one bringing about the strong words. Why is it that athiests should not give theists the time of day? What harm is there in engaging in intellectual and rational conversations about our beliefs? I understand that some people are intolerant of other people's points of views, or attempt to force their own beliefs upon others, but it is the fault of these single individuals and not the fault of an entire group. Athiests are not just 'guests', as you call them, but they are members as well. This web site is about the expression and dialogue of a person's spiritual beliefs, whether they include God in the big picture or not.


07/11/2000 03:02:06 PM

A fundimentelst wrote it. That is obvious in the last paragraph. They are very extreme words. Really, I couldn't tell what denomination/group this person was in based on the last few paragraphs. The a person like the one who wrote this article sees atheists are people that are wrong. You might want to clarify on that. Do you mean wrong as in "there really is a triune God that loves all of us and wants us to be in a realtionship with Him", or wrong as in "they lack morality", because the article does not push either view. The article is only making a theory that there is a root to why so many people have abandoned their faith, whether Protestant, Catholic, or what-not to become athiests, and they believe it may be due to their upbringing and family life. The knowledge that I have gained about my athiest friends through counselling them goes in line with the theory presented in this article.


06/30/2000 09:25:01 PM

This article is not suprizing what so ever. A fundimentelst wrote it. That is obvious in the last paragraph.They are very extreme words. The a person like the one who wrote this article sees atheists are people that are wrong. They are trying to find a reason that they can go to sleep with. Now, 'when' the world finaly does go competely atheist it will be far better then it is now. As an atheist you must not even give these people the time of day and you must also realize that us "Atheists" are guests at this web site. 95% of the world is religious, thats just the way it is, for now. About the part of an infant being spiritual or not....spirituality is tought!