A recent post caught my attention the other day. It was called: 9 Things You Should Know About C. S. Lewis. It was quite an eye opener. I didn’t know that C.S. Lewis was the author of more than 60 books or that he had a fondness for nicknames (he and his brother called each other “Smallpigiebotham”). I didn’t know that he fought in the Battle of Somme in WWI, or that he was wounded. I also did not know that Lewis was raised in a church-going family. I thought he was always an atheist, but he didn’t become one until the age of 15. Lewis later wrote,
“I was at this time living, like so many Atheists or Antitheists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world.”
Now I find that interesting. It shows that many self-claimed Atheists live in a contradiction. They claim to believe that God does not exist and yet (and this aligns with modern empirical studies), they tend to be the people most angry at him. Back in 2011 the Journal of personality and Social Psychology found through their studies that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of that study wrote,
At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalysis of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.
Fascinating. I had a conversation with a close family member not long ago. This particular individual grew up in a Christian home, regularly attended a bible-teaching church and was later baptized. Then at age 18 he renounced his faith. Now he’s angry at God (whom he doesn’t believe exists). He can’t understand why God, who is (supposedly) all-loving would allow evil. He can’t understand why he would create people, knowing full well they would sin. And he can’t understand how God could create a place called hell, so that the majority of the human race who don’t want him in their lives can suffer there. Now there are things there that many Christians have a hard time with. I’m not going to take the time to give my two cents worth on it – that’s for another post. The point I’m simply making is here is a young man who is angry at divine Being that, according to him, doesn’t actually exist. And that’s a contradiction.
But it’s a good contradiction. It means there is still hope. Atheists and agnostics (people who believe that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God) are more religious than they think. God has put eternity in their hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). They have a hard time shrugging that reality off. They just keep fighting, untill one day, God willing – they give in.
And that gives hope to all believing friends and family of atheists.