Anger at God common, even among atheists
January 1st, 2011
12:15 AM ET

Anger at God common, even among atheists

If you're angry at your doctor, your boss, your relative or your spouse, you can probably sit down and have a productive conversation about it. God, on the other hand, is probably not available to chat.

And yet people get angry at God all the time, especially about everyday disappointments, finds a new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

It's not just religious folks, either. 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. This phenomenon is something Exline and colleagues will explore more in future research, which is open to more participants.

It seems that more religious people are less likely to feel angry at God and more likely to see his intentions as well-meaning, Exline's research found.

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.

The age difference may have to do with cultural norms, she said. Perhaps previous generations were taught to not question God, whereas younger people today don't have any qualms about it. On the other hand, it might be that as people get older, they learn how to handle these types of feelings better.

Anger at God can strongly resemble feelings you may have against another person, Exline found. God may seem treacherous or cruel when bad things happen, just like another individual might. Your anger may fester even more when there's no good reason for the negative event, such as a natural disaster or a disease, to occur. And strong, longstanding negative emotions of any kind can lead to physical ailments.

Moreover, distress at God is associated with mental health symptoms. Exline and colleagues found that among cancer survivors interviewed once and then again a year later, those who were angry at God at both points in time had the poorest mental and physical health. But the study cannot prove whether anger at God made them feel worse or that feeling worse made them more angry at God.

Just like with people in your life, you can respect and feel anger toward God at the same time. And you can move toward forgiveness by reframing the way you view the negative event: Perhaps God was not responsible for it or that he acted in that way for a reason.

"When people trust that God cares about them and has positive intentions toward them, even if they can’t understand what those intentions or meanings are, it tends to help to resolve anger," she said.

Granted, these studies aren't definitive; they are steps forward in this emerging field of inquiry and not the final word on the subject.

But we see it in the real world, too. Jeff Crim listens to people's anger at God all the time - specifically, people who are dying. He's a chaplain and bereavement coordinator North Star Hospice in Calhoun, Georgia, and has found that it's important to find a way to express your anger at God in order to deal with it.

Expressing anger can be cathartic, and help you move on, but how you do it is deeply personal, Crim said. Crim himself will speak aloud to God, but others find solace in a trusted spiritual leader or other person to confide in about their anger at a higher power.

"What they need is a safe place to express their anger, to know that their anger has been heard and listened to," he said.

soundoff (1,234 Responses)
  1. pete.best

    I'm saved too. I said so.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. OSTB

    I'm just comfortable knowing that I don't know and uncomfortable with those who think they do and treat it as dogma. We have already passed the torch from one "God" to the next in history hundreds of times. I just think the world would be a better place if we had more faith and respect for humanity instead of serving an alternative purpose.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Frank Houston

    If you read the research and the article, you will see that it specifies that the supposed "anger" against God could have happened in the past.

    If we know a fact about Atheists and Agnostics is that the majority of us came from religious backgrounds and households, so many of them "in the past" used to believe in the existence of a God.

    I am an Atheist, I used to believe in a God because I was brougt up in a Christian home, of course at some point or another while I still believed in a God I had been angry at this God.

    But In the past I have also angry at Santa because he did not bring me the toy that I had asked for.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Benson

    God ALWAYS answers prayers, it's just that sometimes the answer is NO or NOT YET. I don't know why, just like little children don't understand why their parents won't grant them something that they really, really want. A child is not as wise as his parent.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Akhlut

      So, if that's the case, why does YHWH see fit to allow children to suffer and starve instead of sending down manna from heaven? He did so for a bunch of idiot tribesmen who couldn't escape a tiny peninsula in a reasonable time frame, so why not innocent children who are suffering horrifically for no apparent purpose then natural phenomena and inefficient infrastructure? That's needlessly cruel and horrible; were a human to engage in that sort of behavior, wherein they could provide aid without any problem to themselves, it would rightly be called immoral and possibly evil; yet, with YHWH, it is cried out as being just and holy.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • dan

      SIN and disobedience brought suffering in the world and we all are "unfairly" but really fairly affected by it. This is the simple Cause- and-Effect principle. It is easy for the kids/us to complain after all the warnings "It is not fair". Why this why that? IT looks like the sin's effect are unpredictable and predictable, but God is just, loving and fair eventhough sometimes we don't understand. One day we will, but for some will be too late and for some will be awsome.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
    • Benson

      I truly believe God made this world to function. He also gave His children free will. I don't know why God chooses to allow those things to happen, but the bible warns that these things are happening in our world because people continue to push God to the side. We expect God to fix all the suffering, but what have we as humans done to help? You speak of starving children, but look at the vast sea of wealth in Hollywood. Those celebrities in Hollywood (and Bollywood) could probably solve a large portion of the worlds hunger if they would live like regular people. How many of us got new tv's, cars, clothes, and toys for CHRISTMAS, but did nothing to feed those starving children? Why are we expecting God to do it, just because we won't? Is God allowing them to suffer, or are we? I think when the world begins to do their part, God will step in and do His when He is invited to.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:55 | Report abuse |
    • Akhlut

      YHWH can feed starving children without any effort with the further side benefit of making his existence a known, provable fact.

      The problem is that you have a model that can predict ANYTHING, and thus, in fact, proves NOTHING. If something goes well, then that's YHWH's will. If something goes wrong that goes counter to what one would expect of YHWH, well, he's ineffable, so it's still a win. Yet, if I were to say the same thing of mighty Azathoth, the seething chaos at the center of the universe who dispenses boons and curses at random due to his blind idiot nature, I'd get shouted down because it is nonsensical; yet, it is effectively the same model as YHWH is. YHWH only gets protection due to tradition and antiquity.

      YHWH makes about as much sense as Thor, Kali, or Huitzlopochtli.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
  5. dan

    It does not make sense. Don't the "atheists" say that they don't believe in God because He does not exist? Why would they get angry on someone that they don't believe in? I guess they are still in denial. There is something there inside of the man (a void) that cannot be filled with anything of this world – only the Creator can filll it when you accept Jesus CHrist as your Saviour and Lord. I've been there.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. ChristianAramaic

    @Steve:It is good to see that at least some people haven't been blinded by dumb atheist ideas.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      Just your sentence speaks volumes, people are not aloud to have there own ideas? Yours has to be right? You know the only way; your Christian faith is the only way. If true, why is it there are more Muslims in this world? And who is right, and who is wrong, because I want to be on the winning team, Christianity and the bible state clearly that if you do not follow his word you will go to HELL! I don’t want to be on the bad side of things when according to the Mayans the world will end next year. But wait, that is not a Christian belief so it must not be true. And what about Zeus and the other Greek Gods? Because before there was Christianity, there were Greek Gods. If they are right we are all screwed because that belief system was thought after thousands of years to be wrong. Wow this is confusing, again…. More people have died in the name of GOD than any other reason. Not real Christian like unless we are killing in his name then it is ok….. Moron

      January 3, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
  7. G. Hale

    This is complete and utter nonsense. One cannot be angry at something that does not exist.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Anonymous

    This whole study seems fundamentally flawed if it groups atheists along with agnostics. Agnostics believe there is some form of higher power that's unproven yet. So, if an atheist is angry at god then that person is really an agnostic.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MCR

      no they don't. they have no idea and they don't care.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
  9. pete.best

    I just saved everyone in this forum. You are all saved.
    my word is THE word. do you believe me?
    or why not?
    it's pretty good word.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. MCR

    Anyone who requires the worship of every human on earth and condemns those who disobey to an eternity of burning in flames in the most uncomfortable place in his power to create is need of serious psychological help. Actually, I think this type of personality is beyond help and should be put to death.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pete.best

      that is good stuff.....LOL "Like"

      January 3, 2011 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • sal

      Actually the worst punishment that God ever inflicts on anyone is his own absence, otherwise known as hell. I guess I can understand just sending people away after they spend 50 or 60 years being angry at me for some unfathomable reason.

      January 3, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
  11. Agnostic

    It's true, I use "it's" name in vain all of the time when I'm angry!! 🙂

    January 3, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Rationalist

    "People unaffiliated with organized religion, atheists and agnostics also report anger toward God EITHER IN THE PAST, or anger focused on a hypothetical image "
    The capitalized part of the quote above is the key here. Many atheists start out as Christians because that's what they were indoctrinated with as a child. The first step in doubting those beliefs can often be anger. This smells like a study with an agenda, and its certainly getting spun way out of context in this article.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Matt

      Good point. I will agree in saying that when I was like 6, I got angry at God, never having given God much thought. As I discovered at age 8 (about 2 years after I finally figured out Santa Claus was a lie), God wasn't listening because God wasn't there. But yeah, aside from my infantile 'anger at god', I've never given 'him' a second thought after figuring out what a lie it all is. Honestly, I think I'd be miserable if I were religious!

      January 3, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • dan

      "Organized religion?" - atheists are part of desorganized religion?

      January 3, 2011 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
  13. Joe

    I don't see how an atheist can be angry at something he doesn't believe exists.

    Angry at religion? That's a different thing entirely, as we all can agree that religion exists!

    I wonder if the survey or the people answering the survey did not adequately separate the two ideas.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Benson

      What I got from the article is that even people who claim there is no God can't help but acknowledge Him in their times of despair, when they are lacking control over their lives. When they don't need Him, He doesn't exist, but when they want their way in a situation, they are angry He didn't step in and give them their way.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      @Benson, I wish I could tell you and have you understand that this author, like yourself, holds the belief that we Atheists have any uncertainty about ours. We don't. I am as certain that there is no god as I am that I have fingers and toes. So the belief that on my death bed I will magically recant, is baseless... its wishful thinking from the religious types that we can all be 'saved'.... I hold the same wish for Christians – save yourselves from the hypocrisy you live in. Save yourself needless suffering, self shame, and doubt by coming into the light that is SCIENCE. Stop basing your morality off of a book, and base it off of life experience. Trust me, its nice over here, and we have cookies 🙂

      January 3, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @ Matt..... Amen...

      January 3, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
  14. James

    It's not real complicated people. It's called life. Your born, you live, you die, then you turn into plant food. Its up to you how you live your life.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. David

    God was created by man's imagination. Religion exists because of man's lack of imagination.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • someoneelse


      January 3, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Haha, oh I don't know... the Bible is a pretty imaginative piece of work there. I mean, none of it is even remotely sane. I think the Bible, if anything, was the result of too much imagination, and too little critical thought... I mean, look at the Mormons for example. They took 'Joseph Smith' at his word that he saw Jesus in a hat... and then just rolled with it. I do accept the notion that people are 'wired to believe' which dulls their critical thinking in regards to these sort of stories, but I also refuse to accept that everyone on the planet 'believes on some level', because I for one, do not. I have absolutely no problems accepting that the Bible, and any other religious texts (except maybe Buddhism) are complete fiction...

      January 3, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
  16. someoneelse

    Pure BS. Seriously, they are conditioned to use certain phrases by society (i.e. bless you) even if they don't mean it. Psychologists and sociologists are the morons who failed out of useful degrees and went into the easiest possible (except of course History or General Arts) to still get a degree.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. JazzyJake

    The premise of this article is absurd. It's just more wishful thinking from the same type of believers who wishfully think that we atheists have deathbed conversions. To be angry at something that doesn't exist is simply irrational; no true atheist could hold this contradiction.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Matt

      I completely agree, and wonder what the author's beliefs are. This is a completely non-objective story in which again, people cannot seem to accept that you can live a life without absurd beliefs... spot on man, spot on.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
  18. UseYourBrain

    I would deem myself as an atheist, or at best, agnostic. I have found some eastern ideas such as those of Taoism and Buddhism to be much more palatable than the idea of a wrathful old white-man in the sky who has created us as flawed beings, and then punishes us for being flawed. I once had a boss who thought that God specifically made it rain so that his son did not have to play football that day. I was astounded that an adult could be so foolish. What about the millions of others inconvenienced by that rainstorm? Was there a bride out there who got screwed with rain on her wedding day, all because my Boss prayed harder for rain than she did for sunshine? The scariest thing is that there are millions, if not billions of uneducated looney people in this world who have no rational, scientific capacities. These people would happily have creationism taught to "combat" darwinism, as they pet their specialized dog breeds which were created how? By selective breeding. Hellooooo! Wake up world! Use your brains!

    January 3, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Matt

    This article is total crapola. As an Atheist of many years, I do not 'get angry at god'. For me, I know where my anger or frustration should be directed at. Everything in life boils down to cause/effect. If someone is causing me grief, I will get mad at them, not god. If I find myself in a situation that seems hopeless, I figure out the solution. I don't know of ANY Atheists that would blame god for anything seeing as how he does not exist. In fact, the only resentment toward 'god' that I have is that 'god' is even a concept that humans believe in. In that sense, sure, I blame 'god' or the concept of him for most of the worlds problems. If anything, I am angry that god does not exist in the first place, because I personally believe that if he did, he would completely set the record straight and we would have less conflict and/or war. But blame god for my problems? Never, since the blame would inevitably be a waste of time. Another useless, factless, and baseless article by CNN.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sealchan

      Actually being an atheist originally I got mad at God and it did do me some immediate and long term good. The immediate effect was that I immediately was able to noticably progress out of a depression I had been in for over a year. Atheists should realize that true believers understand that God doesn't dialog, God works through the world and through one's psyche. It is a personal, subjective experience that, nonetheless, occurs frequently enough that an experience of God can be seen as an objective phenomenon (witness William James' "The Varieties of Religious Experience"). The trick is to not forget, whether Christian or Atheist, that God is a matter of faith and not proof.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Matt, your personal belief that if God did exist...He would completely set the record straight...takes away all of God's power. He created this world and mankind, as the Bible says, for His pleasure. But He gave His creation a thing called intellect and free will and the world can go to flinders, but He won't interfere with that gift He gave us. We are His children and not His robots. And, let me ask you this.....just how would you direct God to fix things? Would you ask him to follow your holy plan or would you try to look up at Him and tell Him that according to your ideas about things that He screwed up?

      God's intellect and power created the entire universe and we know less than 1 millionth of 1 millionth of a percent about what He has created here. We are priviledged guests and the closest thing I can think of, when I consider what a man might tell God to do, would be for an amoeba to stick his little head up and start giving orders.

      The greatest personal gift I've ever received from God was the peace that came into my life when I stopped doubting and arguing with Him and told Him that I was tired of all of that and then surrendered to His direction for my life. It was an immediate peace and lifting of burdens and I've never tried to pick them up since. All of my problems didn't evaporate and the world is still a nasty threatening mess, but I leave it to Him because that's what He wants me....and all of the rest of us....to do.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
  20. TGP

    Very recently I denouce my religion. Not because I stop beliving God, but I refuse to wordship with people who rather to protect their own ideas and agendas and not embrace what the text (Bible) really call us to do. God/Universial/Cosmic Energy/etc call us to look beyond the physical. We as humans only want to see what we want to see. The fact of the matter is, we see the world in black and white in reality world is actually grey. How else can "evil" exist when the "Good" God created evrything? The anger of the atheist and the blindness of theist comes from the fact that the universe/God is Omnipotent, He walked both in light and in darkness, He is both good and evil. life and death. Until we realize this, we will continue to be angry, confuse and blind.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. sealchan

    I have to wonder at the idea that an atheist or agnostic gets mad at God...the one way that it makes sense to me makes sense for just the right reason...God really is a matter of faith and not proof. This is hard to understand because it just seems more plausible to think that truth is based only on experiences that a scientist can reproduce in the lab. What is harder to understand is how the human mind really works, its psychology. We use metaphors and think or fantasize in terms of conversations with ourselves and imagined others all the time. I could see an atheist, in a moment of passion, needing to vent at someone responsible for what no one could possibly be responsible for.

    The fact of the matter is, that atheists who get mad at God are in need to reconsider their atheism...not so much because they found it necessary to vent at something they don't believe in but because they are not aware of the need of the human mind to process life through imagination and projection onto others and that belief in God opens up a whole new world through which one can come to grips with the terrible things in life in a way that doesn't shatter one's own limited psychological resources and powers in a world that could crush you in a thoughtless moment. God may be seen as an unavoidably necessary psychological factor requiring the believer to have faith in a personality that they can't prove. In this sense its/His subjective, practical value is a truth.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. roy369

    don't get mad at god, for he is too busy. get mad at pope; he is god's representative. welll, the vatican claims so,

    January 3, 2011 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Richard

    The question of atheist anger about God is insane. How can you be angry at some religion you don't recognize? Where does CNN get these idiotic questions? Must be a slow news day or something.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Teeph

    Okay. Everybody gets the non-sequitur with regard to an "athiest" being mad at "god." Logically, it just can't (or at the very least SHOULDN'T) be so, at least IF you expect logically consistent words and actions from human beings. In my opinion and experience though, that's a pretty big "if."

    I fail to see the magical panacea that exempts a self-professed athiest from the same inherent human hypocrisy as religious folks suffer from.

    See, the problem comes with "rules." Religious folk LOVE rules so they've got tons of them. Problem is, with so many rules, it doesn't take long for them to start breaking their own rules. (Darn hypocrits! How do they live with themselves?) And that makes them BAD PEOPLE.

    No one wants to be bad people, so what do you do? You get rid of the "rules." From what I've observed, many athiests are at least a little proud of their cleverness in skirting "traditional" rules by rejecting the basis of said rules ("god"). Excellent work so far. Now you cannot be judged by those rules. Huzzah! You're GOOD PEOPLE! For a little while anyway.

    Only thing is, NEW rules inevitably pop up. (For example: You can't be a good athiest if you get mad a the "god' you supposedly don't believe in.) And then those new rules get broken. Then you get judged and are bad people again. =(


    Point is, hypocrisy is inevitable so long as you attempt to expect consistently logical behaviour from human beings. We're HUMANS after all, not Vulcans.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Richard Wolford, PhD

    Yup, I'm also mad at Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Seriously CNN? Do any of your reporters know how to read? Esp. since that is NOT what was found. At. All. If you're going to report on studies, please do us a favor and read them. Atheists do not believe in any god or gods. That's it. End of story. Move along.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GodTookNoPart

      You have pretty horrendous grammar for someone with a " PHD." Oh wait, you probably don't.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
  26. rh

    By definition, if you believe that there is a "God" in any capacity, you are not an atheist.

    Yes, there are probably some agnostics who get "angry at God".

    But as an atheist, it's as the others said, getting mad at the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny or Batman or Bugs Bunny makes just as much sense as getting mad at God – there is no difference as it is made up.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lem

      As a Christian I believe that's everyone has a right to believe whatever they want. God has given every man free will. If He made us worship him then he wouldn't be a loving God but a dictator. I would rather live like there is a God and find out there isn't rather than live like there isn't and find out there is.

      Anyway, it's funny how atheist don't believe in God or any gods but their whole belief or nonbelief system is based on the absence of God. Doesn't this mean there has to be a little belief? I don't see a lot of anti Santa or Easter bunny groups. Just food for thought. God bless.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
    • Ms.

      Lem, our beliefs aren't based upon yours. It's you, the Christians, who define themselves by being "not of this world" rather than the other way around.

      January 3, 2011 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
  27. Jon

    Atheists need to get over themselves and quit relying upon their simple psyches and terribly limited understanding of anything except themselves. I challenge all atheists to forget about themseoves for ahile and read four books. Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce, all by C.S. Lewis. Then go find a copy of a book by Peter Kreeft called "Between Heaven and Hell".

    January 3, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. dan

    "Atheist" It does not mean if you were raised in a Christian family you are "christian" or better say a follower of Jesus Christ. You would say the same thing of a kid who was born in the garage – that does not make him a car or even a good mechanic. You become a christian after a transformation of your mind and spirit by receiving a true faith in Jesus Christ. This depends on you and the Holly Spirit. Start with the the historical facts and word of God (John...) and faith will come in you and you will receive Jesus Christ who will transform your life. Blessings and have a New Year with Christ this year. Don't be afraid – and do yourself a favor; Let-It-Go and trust God. Do a study on this before...

    January 3, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vel

      Dan, it's too bad taht no Christians can agree on what makes a "True Christian". Every Christian thinks that their version is the only "right" one and that their prayers get answered. They think that others don't get answered since they aren't doing it "right". There has been study after study to determin if prayer and religous belief does *anything* and the only answer we get is that no religion has any better results than any other. "Let God and Let God" fails constantly. If this was true, why are there people starving? Dying in disasters? Why does a supposed God that is pure good need to use evil and disasters to work its will? Why do people claim miracles if one should not even pray for them? Yet more excuses why yoru god is evidently impotent and very likely nonexistent.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
  29. NorCalMojo

    So many angry atheists insisting that the article is wrong.

    Too funny.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JazzyJake

      Yes, but I'm angry about a ridiculous article, not at god.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:47 | Report abuse |
    • someoneelse

      Might be because it is logically impossible. Either they aren't atheists or they are using socially conditioned phrases (such as 'bless you'). You on the other hand lack critical thinking skills.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Also no shortage of angry Christians picking on those who don't agree with them.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
    • vel

      because the article has it wrong. Don't good theists have problems with misinformation and lies, dear? Why allow more nonsense be spread about atheists when its not true?

      January 3, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      I've never believed in true atheism. I've always believed that even atheists have an un-admitted knowledge of "God". Interesting study that seems to back up that point.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      An atheist who is secure in his disbelief wouldn't get defensive.

      The fact that the article made you angry should make you rethink your views. A real atheist would acknowledge that some people who call themlselves atheists are only angry and disappointed. That's just common sense.

      If you took it personally and got defensive, chances are you stilll have at least some belief.

      If you're running to or away from God, God is still the center of your universe.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      A Christian secure in his beliefs would not get defensive either. But here you (and they) are.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      I'm agnostic, btw, but I was a true atheist for 25 years. ( I still drift back into atheism and disbelief sometimes.)

      I didn't hang around religious forums debating about it. I didn't get angry with Christ, God, or religious people. I simply didn't care.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      And yet, here you are.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:22 | Report abuse |
    • NorCalMojo

      The article is simply stating that some atheists aren't honest about their beliefs and motivations. Why is that controversial or offensive in any way?

      If there are christians claiming that everyone who calls themself a christian believes in Christ and God, I'll call them on it too.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      If you had read the article, you would have seen that the anger was "in the past." Hmmmmmmmm, maybe that's what led to the atheism? The article never states that the anger is still directed at God. Maybe, if they are angry, they are angry at religions' bad behavior and oppressive tendencies, amongst other things?

      You took a few too many smug pills this morning.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
  30. Sergio

    I am an atheist, and I dont get angry at god never, simple because I dont belive and I don't care in nothing concerning religion. I simple dont think in god and I am sure true atheists either. Good things and bad things just happen one way or another for my own choices, this is most of the times. So, there is no reason to blame on things that doesnt exist (god for example) what happens in your life.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Patch

    Ah, Douglas Adams. I believe these were his words...

    "[He] hoped and prayed there wasn't a god, then, realizing the contradiction, merely hoped there wasn't a god."

    January 3, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Mr. Sniffles

    Sanjay Gupta must have wanted to get his blog ratings up, so he planted a lame atheism story to chum up a lot of responses.

    Number of people reading the story and comments who change their view on religion/atheism? Zero. None. Nada. Bubkis. Total waste of time.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Tim

    I've never believed in true atheism. I've always believed that even atheists have an un-admitted knowledge of "God". Interesting article that seems to back up that point.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • vel

      ah more hopes of theists who really really want atheists to "really" beleive in God and they just " don't admit it". My, this would validate your nonsense wouldnt' it? But unfortunately for you, it's not true. I don't have any belief in god or knowledge of it at all. And you have no evidence that your god exists period, no theist does. I do enjoy when Christians are so sure that they have the right answer and *every* other theist is wrong, but none has any better claim than the other.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Then you're an idiot.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:54 | Report abuse |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      Your analysis is way off. Any appearances of a latent belief in God would have to do with the widespead assumption of the existence of God in our culture, from major holidays, inscriptions on money, and massive proselytizing. In the Middle East, the assumption is Islam, and you, having merely conformed to the prevailing winds, would be a Muslim had you been born there. We atheists pretty much had to choose to go our own way, against the prevailing wings of conformity.

      January 3, 2011 at 12:55 | Report abuse |
    • faithful

      Now now, Melissa. Let's watch our language please.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • Teeph

      "We atheists pretty much had to choose to go our own way, against the prevailing wings of conformity."

      O. M. G. . . . I am SO attracted to you right now. Look at you, casting aside the oppressive mores and folkways of the society you were born into at random as if they were so much trite and meaningless piffle. You? You're dangerous, aren't you. A rebel. I bet you have a leather jacket. Maybe even a motorcycle. I want you. Please. Call me.

      January 3, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      For the record, my post was not meant to be an attack or even smug; simply a statement of my experience with atheists and (especially) agnostics.

      I can absolutely understand people’s frustration and disgust with organized religion. I can also understand people’s observations that even Christians can’t seem to agree on simple doctrine. Both points are fair and pretty accurate. My fear, however, is that men’s actions have determined your belief. Rather than truly studying the texts, you quote hearsay and “decide” that you will not “believe in a God who would allow destruction and division.” But (in this case) a study of the Biblical texts would inform (and I use that word with all due respect) you that God created “free will” for a reason. Sure, free will leads some people to hate, but it also leads others to love. Without free will, there would be no love. We would simply be robots obeying whatever we were programmed to obey. That would include loving God. And that is not the kind of love that God seeks for Himself or for His creation.

      Anyway, my post was not meant to offend. That said, I’m always amazed at how these articles on faith seem to bring out the absolute worst in people from both sides.

      January 3, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      faithful, its not my problem if you can't handle the truth.

      January 3, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
  34. RonGod666

    I’ve been told that gods answer prayers in three ways: Yes, No, and Wait. If you don’t understand how ludicrous that is perhaps you need to believe in a god.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • faithful

      Actually it's no, yes, wait and YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

      January 3, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Akhlut

      Unless one worships the ineffable Elder Gods, such as Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth, both of whom care not for their worshippers, yet might yet bestow one of their terrible and powerful gifts in a fit of pique. Then, one's prayers are not so much answered as ignored or misconstrued.


      January 3, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
  35. Kent

    I too thought the article had a religious bias and was smug in tone and seemed to use 'personal research' also known as bullsh%t.

    Religion is undeniably linked to culture and has evolved over the milleniums in thousands of different ways independently as a method of attempting to explain the unexplainable. An unfortunate byproduct of religion in every case is that there are always certain individuals who use religion as a vehicle to control and exploit a populace.

    Having said that, I do believe everyone has a type of religion. For myself for example, I worship The Bealtes. I always have and I always will.


    January 3, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Coconut head

      The Beatles are druggies.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      Acually, I think Paul is the only Beatle who might still do some weed. Ringo quit years ago, and John and George are just too dead to want to do drugs.

      January 3, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
  36. Jean

    If one believes in an all powerful god, the only rational response would be anger. Such a god should be capable of communicating his/her wishes clearly to all people so that all people would know him/her in the same way and behave accordingly to the same dictates (or commandments). Since that have NEVER been the case, there are only two possible conclusions: every different version of god and god's rules are man made, or whatever god does exist gets his jollies watching us fight over who he/she is and what he/she wants. The later should make every believer angry.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melissa


      January 3, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • Coconut head

      Ever considered the concept of God giving us free will? Of our ability to sin and twist God's words? God's word is perfectly clear to me.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
    • Coconut head

      God LOVES sinners, HATES sin!

      January 3, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • Jean

      Coconuthead: Your god's word is perfectly clear to you. Ok. But I know people of many different religions and they ALL think their god's word is perfectly clear to them. You can't all be right!!!!!!! By calling on free will, you are saying that everyone who doesn't believe what you believe has been sent the "truth" by god but chose not to believe it. If you are Christian, that would mean you think all non-Christians (Greeks, pre-Christ Romans, Norse, Native Americans before European contact, Australian Aborigines, etc) were spoken to by god but chose to disbelief. This makes NO sense. If god has ever spoken to me, I certainly wasn't aware of it so he can't have done it very well. However, I believe in living a life that values other people and the home (earth) that we all share so I have a very strong value system with a definite sense of right & wrong. Only my reasons differ. I believe in trying to make THIS world a better place for it's own sake, not because some god will punish me after my death if I don't behave or worship him properly.

      January 3, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
    • sal

      So isn't it funny how it isn't the believers who are angry? Try your logic out on that one again.

      January 3, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
  37. Bible believing God fearing Christian

    Matt, the bible is the only book that has writtens and its contents have come to pass. Also, as it regards this article, how can atheist be mad at God when they dont believe he exist. The bible says that every knee shall bow...

    January 3, 2011 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      Jesus repeatedly said that the Kingdon of God would come down upon the earth in the lifetime of some of the listeners. It did not come to pass. Which makes both you and Jesus wrong on a major point of his teaching.

      Jesus was wrong? Not possible if he was what Christians say. But he was wrong all the same, repeatedly.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      You keep telling yourself that load of idiotic lies. Maybe it will some day be true. Nostradamus has had more come true than the bible, and he's just as full of crap as that book written by sheepherders who thought the earth was flat and interpreted by every person on the planet to mean something different.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
  38. Realist

    Absolutely ridiculus. This can only be written by a beleiver who cannot fanthom that someone else does not beleive. An atheist cannot be angy at something that does not exist. We you chose to beleive you chose to stop resoning as the answer are provided for you. And For Tim I am a true atheist, the bible is a story used by men for their own purposes. It make people accept their fate with out to much of a fuss.

    Besides if I'm doing something wrong, let your god tell me, not you

    January 3, 2011 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Kevin

    What I take exception to is the presupposition that belief in God is a given, even for Atheists.

    I would like to see the actual answers before I accept what is clearly a loaded poll.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. JOHN

    Theres an alternative history of our existence and it wont be found in any bible of any religious sect.

    January 3, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Bible believing God fearing Christian

    All be told, atheist do believe in God, they just dont want to accept or worship Him. The bible says the word was written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. Again, NO OTHER BOOK HAS HAD IT WRITTINGS COME TO PASS.

    January 3, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melissa

      Knock off the crap.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
    • Tommas

      You really need to read more than one book....

      CCTV – as imagined by George Orwell in ‘1984’ (1949)
      The Internet – as imagined by Mark Twain in ‘From the London Times of 1904’ (1898)
      Geosynchronous Satellite – as imagined by Arthur C Clarke in ‘Extra-Terrestrial Relays’ Wireless World magazine (1945)
      The video iPod – as imagined by HG Wells in ‘When The Sleeper Wakes’ (1899)
      test-tube babies – as imagined by Aldous Huxley in 'Brave New World' (1932)

      The list can go on forever

      January 3, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      I'm a non-believer, atheist. I do not, nor did I previously believe that there is a god. Neither did my parents.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Too bad you can't delete your comment...... it sure makes you seem unintelligent.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
    • RichardSRussell

      Actually, there are a ton of other books which have had their predictions come to pass. You probably even have several of them in your own house. They're called "cookbooks". Every cake is a miraculous fulfillment of a prophecy called a "recipe".

      You think it was otherwise in Biblical times? Of course not! Some old prophet came up with a prediction, it was copied down and passed around, and everybody had a recipe for exactly what it would take to make it come true. Sooner or later somebody did it. The ones that NEVER came true were conveniently omitted from the historical records (except for a few embarrassments that snuck in, like Matthew 1:23 and 25).

      January 3, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
  42. butlerbulldawg74

    it's nothing more than a reflex be/c most of us atheists and agnostics were raised with some sort of religious/christian influence.

    January 3, 2011 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tommas

      Haha, the same reason I say jesus F#@king christ when I read some of the religions morons out there

      January 3, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  43. EE

    "atheists and agnostics reported more anger at God during their lifetimes than believers..." Nooooo. Get right out of town. I would imagine that anyone who once believed in God and became an atheist or agnostic had some anger issues with God. None of us needed an article, and extensive research was not needed to tell us that.

    January 3, 2011 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Paul Phil.

    Funny, I don't believe in athiets. Their only contribution to the world was discovering how to clutter message boards.

    Am I also unstable for believing that we'll find a cure for cancer some day? Faith and science go hand in hand, people.

    January 3, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kent

      Funny Paul Phil

      I don't believe in false idols, astrology, horoscopes, ghosts, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ouiji boards, Santa, the tooth fairy or God.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • RichardSRussell

      The only reason science and faith can go hand in hand is because they are entirely separate and distinct ent-ities, so score 1 for you, Paul.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
  45. matt

    The premise of the article is silly. How can an A-theist be angry at a God. This is idiotic. Who ever wrote the article seems to have made some assumtions how others think or believe. Also, anger isn't really a true emotion. It is an outward way of expressing other emotions like fear, insecurity, envy and so on.

    January 3, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Tom

    What a stupid story. If you're angry at god, you are not an atheist. I repeat, you cannot be an atheist if you are angry at god.

    January 3, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. serialmom

    I think this article is just very poorly written. Here is a quote from one of the researchers," According to Exline’s findings, Protestants, African Americans, and older people tend to report less anger at God; people who do not believe in God may still harbor anger; and anger toward God is most distressing when it is frequent, intense, or chronic." According to this statement, atheists can harbor anger, it does not say "anger at god." For the rest of this interview her is the link, http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/anger-god-trauma-death-relationships-emotions/mental-health/ (sorry for my previous posts' misspellings of "casual" and "baccalaureate"

    January 3, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. jon

    What an incredibly stupid article. Total crap based on total crap pseudoscience. Anyone who says the social sciences are sciences knows nothing about science or about social science.

    January 3, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RichardSRussell

      Rule of thumb: Any field of study that feels obliged to include the word "science" in its name is not a science.

      January 3, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
  49. Anonymous

    "Like C.S. Lewis was, many atheists are angry with God for not existing."

    That's about as well placed and intelligent as me suggesting that people who believe in god/s delude themselves in this way because they are afraid of the alternative. People believe what they want to or believe what they are told to.

    January 3, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shaunathan

      "That's about as well placed and intelligent as me suggesting that people who believe in god/s delude themselves in this way because they are afraid of the alternative." You're entire statement implies that you lack intelligence, i.e., you just called yourself an idiot. And yes, many people hold their beliefs simply because they're afraid of the perceived (or misperceived) alternatives. They're called Fundamentalists.

      "People believe what they want to or believe what they are told to." Blanket statement of the obvious held up as some sort of profound conclusion. Adds nothing to the discussion. Lame. Next.

      January 3, 2011 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
  50. chetter

    From a journalistic standpoint this is the most ridiculously written article. Atheists do not believe in god, therefore making anger towards god impossible!

    January 3, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.