>Atheists and their Fathers: Who really needs Sky Daddy?

Posted: 27/10/2008 in apologetics, atheism, psychology

>There is a common complaint, that is at least a hundred years old, the Christians like myself believe in Sky Daddy. Specifically, the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful, and –above all- all-loving God is a projection of childish desires for protection from the scary world. “God” is just an exalted projection of an earthly father. While there is some truth to this, I think it is an argument that can just as well easily be leveled against an atheism. Paul Vitz, a psychologist, summed it up in his book Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism.

Now, there is some qualified truth to the Sky Daddy idea. I think that many Christians use God as a security blanket even into adulthood. There is a tendency to dump every decision in life to what God is telling you. Thing is, there comes a point when God wants you to do things on your own a bit. But this does not mean that this is all Christianity and theism are motivated by.

Many atheists assert that people’s belief in God is a subconscious result of their good fathers. Why not instead assert that people subconsciously reject God because of their lousy, abusive, or absent fathers? This is called “the defective father” hypothesis. Vitz, in his book, lists many famous atheists from history –such as Sartre, Voltaire, and Netizche and shows that all of these men had either dead fathers, weak fathers, or abusive fathers. For instance, H.G. Wells’ father spent time playing cricket, drinking, and gambling instead of looking after his family’s businesses.

In contrast, Christians like Pascal, Wilberforce, and G.K. Chesterton, all had positive fathers or surrogate fathers. Pascal was “home-schooled” and accompanied his father to the philosophical lectures of his day. Wilberforce’s father died at a young age, but was looked after by his uncle, who introduced his nephew to Methodism.

Now, there is of course not a “proof” of God here anymore than there is a “proof” against God in the Sky Daddy case. It does however show a connection between our fathers and our beliefs about God. More importantly, it shows that atheism can be just as ‘pathological’ as they sometimes claim theists are.

So maybe next time you talk to an atheist, who thinks he has the finest intellectual reasons to reject Christianity, you should forget about your personal testimony or apologetics or whatever. Instead, just ask, “So how’s your relationship with your Dad?”

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