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Why some people hate god

By Bernard Schweizer

There’s a lost tribe of religious believers who have suffered a lasting identity crisis. I am referring to the category-defying species of believers who accept the existence of the creator God and yet refuse to worship him. In fact they may go so far as to say that they hate God.

No, I’m not talking about atheists. Non-believers may say contemptuous things about God, but when they do so, they are simply giving the thumbs-down to a fictional character. They may as well express dislike about Shakespeare’s devious Iago, Dickens’ scheming Uriah Heep or Dr. Seuss’ Grinch who stole Christmas.

For atheists, God is in the same category as these fictional villains. Except that since God is the most popular of all fictional villains, New Atheists – those evangelizing ones such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins – spend a considerable amount of energy enumerating his flaws.

But someone who truly believes in God’s existence and yet hates or scorns him is in a state of religious rebellion so perplexing as to strain our common understanding of faith to the breaking point.

Although these radical dissenters could steal the thunder from the New Atheists, they have remained almost unknown to date.

When it comes to God-hatred, a collective blindness seems to settle on us. First, we lack a generally agreed-upon name to refer to this religious rebellion. And anything that doesn’t have a word associated with it doesn’t exist, right?

Well, in the case of God-hatred, this principle doesn’t hold because the phenomenon does exist whether or not there’s a name for it. And in any case, I’ve ended the semantic impasse by naming these rebels and their stance once for all. My chosen term is misotheism, a word composed of the Greek root “misos” (hatred) and “theos” (deity).

Why do I care so much about them? They strike me as brave, visionary, intelligent people who reject God from a sense of moral outrage and despair because of the amount of injustice and suffering that they witness in this world.

At the same time, they are exercising self-censorship because they dare not voice their opinion openly. After all, publicly insulting God can have consequences ranging from ostracism to imprisonment, fines and even death, depending on where the blasphemy takes place (Ireland, for instance, imposes a fine of up to 25,000 Euros for blasphemy) and what God is the target of attacks (under sharia law, being found an enemy of God, or “mohareb” is a capital offense).

But I also care about these rebels because they chose literature as their principal medium for dealing with their God-hatred. I am a professor of literature, and the misotheists’ choice of literature as their first line of defense and preferred medium endears them to me.

Literature offered them the only outlet to vent their rage against God. And it was a pretty safe haven for doing so. Indeed, hardly anybody seems to notice when God-hatred is expressed in literature. Such writers cleverly “package” their blasphemous thoughts in works of literature without seeming to give offense in any overt way.

At the same time, these writers count on the reader’s cooperation to keep their “secret” safe. It’s like a pact between writer and reader.

Zora Neale Hurston could write that “all gods who receive homage are cruel” without anybody objecting that “all gods” must necessarily include the persons of the Christian Trinity.

Or Rebecca West could write that “something has happened which can only be explained by supposing that God hates you with merciless hatred, and nobody will admit it,” counting on the fact that, since nobody will admit it, nobody will rat her out for blasphemy.

There lies, in a sense, the awesome, subversive power of literary writing, something that had worried Plato 2,400 years ago when he required that all poets be removed from his ideal “Republic.” Interestingly, though, while guardians of propriety have put Huckleberry Finn on the list of proscribed texts because of its liberal use of the N-word, few people have declared Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God or Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound or West’s The Return of the Soldier as forbidden texts because of the underlying misotheism of these works.

And even where the misotheism is overtly expressed, as in Elie Wiesel’s The Trial of God or in James Morrow’s Godhead Trilogy, literature offers an enclave of religious freedom that is vital to the human spirit and its impulse to free itself of any shackles, even the commands of God.

I refer to the story of misotheism as “untold” partly because misotheism tends not to be noticed even when it hides in plain sight. Another reason why the story of misotheism is “untold” is that nobody has bothered yet to draw the larger lines of development over time, beginning with the Book of Job and ending up with utilitarianism, philosophical anarchism and feminism. That story in itself is quite engrossing, but again it is not a story that has really ever been presented.

So I am doing quite a bit of connecting the dots, unearthing overlooked connections and making distinctions such as proposing a system of three different types of misotheism – agonistic (conflicted), absolute and political. Misotheism in its various manifestations is a dark, disturbing and perplexing strand of religious dissent. But at the same time, it is an attitude toward the divine that shows just how compelling belief can be.

If people continue to believe in a God they find to be contemptible, then belief is such a powerful force that it cannot be simply switched off on the basis of empirical data. Thus, in the last consequence, the study of misotheism is a testament to the power of belief, albeit a twisted, unconventional form.

Bernard Schweizer is an associate professor of English at Long Island University in Brooklyn. He specializes in the study of iconoclasts and rebels and is the author of Hating God: The Untold Story of Misotheism.

This article originally appeared on CNN’s Belief Blog.

Recent Comments

  1. Misosdeus

    “…Why, since you wounded
    this heart, don’t you heal it?
    And why, since you stole it from me,
    do you leave it so,
    and fail to carry off what you have stolen?
    Extinguish these miseries,
    since no one else can stamp them out;
    and may my eyes behold you,
    because you are their light,
    and I would open them to you alone.
    Reveal your presence,
    and may the vision of your beauty be my death;
    for the sickness of love
    is not cured
    except by your very presence and image…”
    –St. John of the Cross, from_Spiritual Canticle_

    God: Enemy. Bringer of wounds, creator of evil, thief of dreams. Sender of miseries not extinguished and the agonies of the injured heart. Instigator of incurable illness before death. “Reveal your presence?” It has been revealed already in all your misgivings and pain. Turn away from that absent false “light” toward the truth and reality of this present image unhealed. Be your own one to stamp out what you will; you’ve long since received the answer to your beseeching in the resounding silence.

  2. Jennifer Duffy

    There is a God but he is unloving.
    He is never a she, always right never wrong. We are never allowed to express our opinion of God for he feels blasphemed against. It is quite simple that God so loved himself that he gave his only son and through him, his world is now saved.
    He lives in paradise while people are dying and always has since humanity existence.

  3. Marcus

    I hate god because the world is full of injustice and suffering. People who do good things get bad results. People who do bad things get good results. What kind of LOVING CARING god would allow that to happen?

  4. Pained

    I hate God because he forsaken me. He let me get hurt by the people around me. My father never loved me. My family always blamed me for every mistakes that happened. Our house got burned because of me being an idiot. We got robbed and tricked by other people many times. I used to worship Him and loved Him with all my heart. I help people because I believed in doing good things but people I helped took it as their own advantage and used me to get what they want. I SUFFERED SO MUCH BECAUSE THE PEOPLE I CARE ABOUT BETRAYED ME TOO. THIS GOD NEVER LOVED ME. PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD ARE AWFUL!

  5. Jessica

    I hate God because he is a narcissist. He will supposibly only help you if you love him and put him before anyone else ( even your own parents or children). I hate God because I have been trapped in a emotional, mental and physically abusive relationship with my parents and he won’t even answer one of my prayers (that I have been praying for 5 years). He is to busy loving himself that he has forsaken his children on earth. How could a merciful and loving God allow me and all the people currently suffering to suffer for many years without ever seeing the light.

  6. Bianx

    I hate God because he created me. If I could have a choice, I wouldn’t want to be part of this world filled with demons. I am too weak to fight my own demons, how much more whenever I deal with others’ demons. I feel trapped because I can’t love Him, therefore I’d probably end up in hell. I don’t want to be part of this bs. I’d rather be nonexistent.

  7. Alvina

    I never knew there were people who thought like me. I hate God too. I just don’t understand why he created us. I don’t believe or follow any religion…but believe there is a God who created all of this. But I was taught that God created us to show us love…..Where? Where’s the love? I just see evil and trauma and pain and endless amount of people dying. Year after year there’s a problem. This year is the virus. I wonder what pain God will put us through next. I feel like God is messing with us. Sometimes i wonder if God is even real. Since… isn’t God suposed to be good? Why did he create is? If I could ask God that, I would. But i was told you should never question God. Because apparently God is “always” right and good. God is defo messing with us. Escuse all the spelling mistakes. Can’t be asked to fix it. Not in the mood. Just don’t want to be part of any of this anymore. Never asked for any of this. Never understood religion. Why do only the belivers go heaven and non belibers go hell? It’s not fair. I’d probably go hell for saying all of this. But I don’t care. It’s not my fault. It’s that jerk who’s called God….for putting me and everyone through misery….and messy with us. I hate God. Wish i was given an option to exist or not.

  8. Alex Kariotakis

    He cursed my life through an orthodox priest. He let him abuse me to the point of suicide. I now hallucinate demons and am in torment every day. He never answers a d has proven to me his hatred for me and my life by sending so much curses and evil upon me. I wish I never sought Him out because I am so disappointed. He has wounded me incurable and does not seem to care. I would fist fight Him if I could. If I died right now Is go to hell anyway so what does it matter what I say at this point. My life has been hell ever since I started to seek Him out He wants nothing to do with me so the feeling is mutual at this point. My life and dreams have been destroyed by Him and his priest. Others He seems to bless, care for and lavish His love yet miserable sinners such as myself He beats to the ground.

  9. Howard Smith

    I love God. I am 71 and certainly bad things have happened to me.

    Then, I realized that we all have—here it comes—free will—very powerful.

    Just one example:
    My biological father and stepfather were both negligent, abusive men. However, years later it was revealed to me through lots of prayer and trusting in Christ that I needed to learn how to forgive.

    Many other examples of lost loves, broken relationships, etc. followed.

    As I see the bigger picture, I see I made some horrible choices that made other lives truly miserable through my free will choices.

    So, I’m choosing to forgive. Why?
    Because God says so.

    And that is good enough for me.

    Thank you. May God Bless you and walk with Christ.

  10. m

    I HATE god. It has allowed and I believe enjoyed me being abandoned and used since birth. I have asked for very little – I’ve been asking to simply die since at least the age of seven. Just one little thing…I honestly believe it enjoys people’s suffering.

  11. Sophia

    I hate God because Im so tired of this I know we have trials and tribulation but it would be nice to have some good days happy times then you could deal with the bad times but when things are bad ALL THE TIME how can you thank God for good time when you never have or have long enough to say that’s ok good days are coming. I’m so tired of this life I did not ask to come here God only care about those who are rich he keep them wealthy and the poor stay poor o that’s right they will get theirs in heaven suffer here first I thought that’s what Jesus did for us no where being crucified every day ourself. If I don’t make it to heaven that’s ok I just rather not exist no one asked to be he your health is your wealth if you’re not healthy it’s hard to become wealthy. and trust ME God is not going to help you he would have by now.

  12. Billy P. Sonntag II

    I hate God because He abandoned me when I have needed Him the most. For whatever reason this year He has been ignoring me every single time I pray and I’ve prayed multiple times a day, put MANY things in His hands only to watch Him do absolutely NOTHING to relieve my suffering and misery. It’s like He’d rather I suffer and be miserable on a daily basis than even lift a finger to help me. That’s not a friend, who stands there with arms folded watching you get your butt handed to you and doing nothing to help. That’s a coldblooded absentee landlord who doesn’t give a damn about my suffering. God can kiss off. I don’t want Him in my life anymore. I still believe in His existence, just like I know sharks and spiders and alligators exist but that doesn’t mean I want to have lunch with any of them either. If God was held to His own standards He would end up condemned to Hell for all time…

  13. Paul

    My hatred of God has become so overwhelming and such a danger to my health that I am trying to make the leap towards outright atheism. God brings me so much unhappiness of thought that I need to rid myself of him to try to find some peace of mind. Also, reading Elie Weasel’s ‘Night’ hasnt helped.

  14. Rachel Mathew

    I hate god too. Coz i know he is all powerful but still lets bad things happen to good people. I sometimes think maybe satan is god himself

    I hate him. I had called upon him ever since i started to talk but all he allowed in my life was people to verbally abuse me, abandon me and traumatize me. And i run to god crying for help.. and he like sadist only let more pain in my life..
    I hate god more than anyone coz i trusted him more than anyonr and he proved me that im only meant to receive his wrath.

  15. Tea

    From Howard:Just one example:
    My biological father and stepfather were both negligent, abusive men. However, years later it was revealed to me through lots of prayer and trusting in Christ that I needed to learn how to forgive.

    Many other examples of lost loves, broken relationships, etc. followed.

    As I see the bigger picture, I see I made some horrible choices that made other lives truly miserable through my free will choices.

    “So, I’m CHOOSING to forgive.
    And thats good enough for me.
    And when your own free will acts and succeeds on your behalf…. remember, the creator of all things gave YOU (not animals and inscects) the POWER to choose.

  16. cheryl k

    Over a lifetime of 50+ years I have suffered repeated and unrelenting losses – childhood, security in adolescence, professional career, friends, home, self-respect, confidence, and now, family. I have pleaded for god’s help, and tried to be grateful all my life, but both prayer and gratitude consistently result in more and greater loss. Patience only brings disappointment. What i want more than anything is to stop living. The overwhelming and incontroverted evidence is that, if there is any god at all, he is horribly uncaring, unmerciful, and unloving. Honest believers simply cannot refute what is so painfully and obviously true. I want no part of an eternity with such a monster.

  17. Cynthia Raley

    Oh my goodness, I had no idea that there were regular people having these same thoughts.
    I am exactly as the poster Paul described: “My hatred of God has become so overwhelming and such a danger to my health that I am trying to make the leap towards outright atheism. God brings me so much unhappiness of thought that I need to rid myself of him to try to find some peace of mind…”
    I don’t know that I’ll be able to discard the belief in God though.
    I read Bernard Schweitzer’s book “Hating God” which I believe to be the most important cultural contribution of the current century so far, but almost no one has taken notice of it. Just reading it made me feel so much less alone – and now I find out there’s a number of other everyday people feeling this way. REALLY good to know.

  18. Jody

    My hatred of God has been building up deep inside from when I was a little kid. I’ve felt his hatred everywhere in the form of too many bad things happening exclusively to me to be coincidental, among other things. It’s hard to sum up my hatred and anger towards him in a few short sentences. He has done so many horrible things to me that I don’t even know where to begin. All of these psycho-Christians preach about suicides spending eternity in Hell only because God dealt them a bad deck of cards, and I figure that he has to be in bed with Satan. He is sick and twisted. My father worships him, and he is a sick and twisted man inasmuch as he has always been abusive to me in one way or another from the time I was 6 years old. God enjoys watching others suffer in pain and inflicting pain upon them. He is evil. If there was a way to destroy him, I would do it in a heartbeat. I was once religious, and I eventually came to my senses and stopped going to church. It was the wisest thing that I ever did. He takes things that I value and he destroys them in one way or another. He keeps me isolated from others.

  19. Vlad

    Cut the ball and chain and kill the guilt of torture… Praise Lucifer and be free!

  20. Chad

    I can relate to a lot of the things in the comments that I have read, and a lot of the feelings that are conveyed.
    I’ve never heard someone openly say that they hate God, maybe because I’m not a very outgoing person, but I used to be.

    I have questioned a lot of things in the Bible, and I do believe in God. I think a lot of people share the sentiments of hating God or not agreeing with half the things God does or allows. A lot of people might be afraid to say or even think it because God is God, and He will get retribution in whichever way He wants and however He wants.

    I believe fear, and not love, has kept me at His feet, because who knows what might happen to me or my loved ones if I don’t obey Him, or if I disappoint Him. I am a sinner, and I too would choose never to have existed at all than to be part on this world.

    I just wish that God followed through with His plan to destroy mankind in Genesis 6, but because of Noah…

  21. Renee

    I am not alone. I knew there had to be others like myself who were disgusted with God. I’ve always said if God is all knowing and knows exactly how your life will be and decisions you will make throughout your life that surely a God that has Love for us wouldn’t allow the bad apples among us to exist. He’s supposed to be our loving father right. How can he sit up there and not do anything to help our children. So God can see everything right? So you mean to tell me a loving God is watching children being raped and beaten and he’s doing nothing? Just watching? I’m sorry. I could never sit and watch something like that happen, not to my child or anyone else’s. He’s a piece of shit. He’s not a loving God and he doesn’t care anything about us. If it’s true that God cast Lucifer out for being prideful in his beauty and for rebelling then maybe it wasnt Lucifer that was bad after all. Maybe we are (well not me) all being duped and wont it be funny when when all of us questioning God and holding him accountable go to hell only to find out that hell is the real heaven. I don’t know but personally I don’t want to go to Heaven if it means sitting up there with him while he enjoys the show!

  22. Some people

    Ezekiel 18:23
    [23]Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

    So these evil people who can still repent. God is being loving and merciful towards those people because that’s who he is . And it is absolutely not his fault sin existed. We chose to disobey him, and if we want to be saved we can choose to profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour . If you give a pair if scissors to a child and tell them not to run, but they do it anyways and injure themselves, won’t you help them and forget they disobeyed you. That’s kind of what God does for us , except, instead of ignoring the sin(which he cannot do ) he made an atonement for them so that we may be forgiven and be conformed to Jesus Christ. Please don’t take this lightly , I’m not saying this because I think it’s fun and Rose’s, there an unforgivable sin of rejecting the Holy spirit to the point your heart is so hardened, you no longer hear him.

    You can call me insane , or any bad name you can think of, you can forget about me, but don’t forget that it’s never too late till it’s too late .

  23. Donna

    I hate god.because he makes me suffer every day. I pray it gets worse.. He just keeps slamming me down

  24. Aaron McKenzie

    1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV — If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    This is how I feel about the cross. You can tell me a million times, Jesus can die twice that “for me”, and unless I can be met in an understandably personal way that gives me some semblance of love, I have no choice but to come to terms with reality and accept that I’m not loved. I gave what I felt was my whole life to a god who could never quite, demonstrably love me. Words can’t describe the pain I felt or still feel. He can come from the clouds, but I’ll always remember his absence in my suffering. He can sit on a throne before my eyes, but that he wasn’t with me in my hardest of times will strike me more at heart than anything else. There’s lot of room for me to hate god, but rationality and a kind of “self-preservation” has convinced me to forgive him. There’s better reason for me to not hate anyone, and I can say I don’t. But I will say that of all beings there are to hate, god is most deserving (at least that’s something I’ve come to believe from my experience).

  25. Atheist

    There is no God.

  26. Noone

    I grew up with the evangelical Southern baptist thing. I believed it all and then life happened, like really happened. Four family members were murdered, two were stabbed over 20 times, one was shot in the head twice, one of the women was set on fire after she was stabbed and bleeding out. She was 7.5 months pregnant. The child died as well. I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation as to why a so called loving God did absolutely nothing to save these people. I don’t want to hear about sin, free will, or running with scissors. I won’t let my 4 year old grand daughter hit the dog let alone stab him and light him on fire as he is bleeding out.

    A friend was repeatedly raped as a young child. He once explained, “I hate that crap the Christians feed you. I prayed all the time for it to stop. I was told if I asked God to protect me he would. It didn’t stop for six years. I hated God because he was a liar, he never came to save me.” Don’t tell me that your God eventually answered that kid’s prayers and that there was a higher purpose to his being raped. Are you saying that the only way your God can deliver a higher purpose is through rape?

    I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation that explains why God allows rape, murder, starvation, disease. The simpletons say it’s all about sin and free will. But I ask you, if your niece had been Asking God for help before being stabbed 24 times and set on fire and he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “free will,” would you be a fan? Even better, if he sent some jerk to tell you that you had better be humble and beg for forgiveness because the all powerful being who wouldn’t save a raped child is going to allow you to burn forever, would you feel anything but anger and resentment? Would you allow someone you love, flaws and all, to suffer hellfire for all eternity? And yet the guy who supposedly invented love, has no problem with torture. Shoot, I love my cat better than that.

  27. Mike

    Very easy for a single man like me to hate God so much since he never gave me a wife and family to share my life with, and it is bad enough being single and alone all the time as well.

  28. John Bernstein

    I am glad this world will be destroyed by fire once and for all. Let the end come soon.

  29. LM

    I hate God. He doesn’t listen he doesn’t answer. He took away my parents when I was 3 months old. He left me with my grandparents who never adopted me. He made me watch my stepfather drown. He took away my brothers. He rook away my grandparents. He left me with aunts who misused and abused me. Show me where he listened. I did nothing to deserve this. God may not need my advice but I sure as hell tell you he needs advice from someone because I was a child and I didn’t deserve this.

  30. John mcCarthy

    I used to be a Christian until I unintentionally renounced god. It says once you do that you cannot be renewed to repentance. I looked down on him b4 I fell away with disapproval for what it seemed he was responsible for. I didn’t ask to exist why should I have to go to hell cause I broke his law? I don’t care about his law that’s his problem

  31. Samuel

    I used to question the theorem of hell fire as a kid. I ask myself why would God allow humans he created in love to burn in hell because of sins?. Why did he even allow sins to be committed? I don’t have a valid answer till date. I grew up in a christian home then suddenly life happens. Life really happens which created trauma for me in my head. I cried my eyes out. I tried to end my life because I didn’t choose to be here. That’s how I gave up in believing in the concept of God. I was open minded about it, but people tried to kill me. Because where I am from a case of blasphemy is a capital offense.
    Until I stumbled on the theorem of christian atheism. I was able to.kearn how to go to church but not to believe in the sky daddy again.
    The concept of God sucks. I hope he forgives me if he’s real.

  32. KT

    I hate god I really do so much. How can a loving god let me suffer like this his so called word says he doesn’t support laziness but I see people who don’t even work hard get everything in life what a god. I seeked pastors tgey prayed for me and i had hope things were moving but they all came down. His so called word is ridiculous region is stupid. If he says he will take me to hell so come on then I don’t care. I no longer fear him my hatred has grown that much to over power fear. I hate him if he were human I’d bit him to death

  33. sarah kaboya

    I love God because He is good. He has delivered me from countless pits, many of which I fall in with my eyes wide open. God is good. He gave humanity free will, which we unfortunately misuse much of the time. The only way to control human decisions is to turn humans to robots. And God, in whose image we were made, is not a robot. God speaks, directs us, shows us correct choices to make, but we ignore Him. Or don’t put ourselves in position to hear Him. His greatest gift to us after life, freewill, is our unmaking too. If you’ve failed before, try again. Go to Him with no preconceived ideas. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. If you are sincere, He will. He did to me.

  34. Aaron McKenzie

    “A man with an experience of God is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.”
    — Leonard Ravenhill

    Anytime a well-meaning Christian attempts to defend god, I love to refer to this quote. We have our reasons for hating him, and the Christian has his or her reasons for loving him (as I did for too many years).

    Go on. Lay out your arguments. But this isn’t Christian apologetics. This is about personal experience. And so while you have your countless stories of god delivering you from “pits”, we have ours of which he left us there to rot. Your experience is nothing to us, but please go on.

    Glad you feel that warming love of his. We don’t feel that nor have we experienced that to be real in our lives. We’ve experienced what’s understood personally to be the absolute absence of god. There’s no argument in existence that’ll simply topple that. It’s called “experience”.

    Go ahead. Resort to your experience. Tell us that’ll he’ll be there if we’re sincere. All because you experienced that, trapping us in the inescapable conclusion that we’re insincere. Tell us that we must be ignoring him because that’s what your experience tells you. Tell us all you want, but I hope you enjoy the vanity of doing so as if your experience is more meaningful and right than ours.

  35. A Great Reaon To Hate God For Me

    That scumbag God never gave a good single man like me, a good wife and family to share my life with.

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