Atheism and it's Link to Bad Dad's

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by 007, Sep 27, 2004.

  1. 007
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    007 Charter Member Supporting Member

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    Atheism and it's Link to Bad Dad's

    by Anne Morse



    How long was it after you started college that you heard that first attack on your faith? Unless you attend a religiously-oriented school, it probably didn't take long.

    Maybe it happened in your Freshman English Lit class, where the professor--so careful to respect the beliefs of every other student (including the one who thinks he's Elvis reincarnated)--made a point of ridiculing belief in the Christian God.

    Or maybe it happened in Biology 101, where the professor contemptuously dismissed anyone stupid enough to believe a bunch of creationist myths.

    If you took a class in Women's Studies, you likely heard that Christianity is a patriarchal religion designed to oppress any woman fool enough to join it.

    Of course, not all attacks on faith come from professors. You might have tried to witness to your new roommate--only to have him dismiss your faith as a "crutch" for the weak. Or you may have opened the school newspaper, only to see a letter viciously attacking the school for allowing a theologian to speak on campus.

    If you think these attacks appear to be more common on campus than off, you're right. Atheists do tend to congregate there. And the reason they reject the Judeo-Christian God with such passion is the subject of a fascinating new book by Paul Vitz.

    Vitz is a psychologist, and until he was in his late thirties, he was an atheist himself (He's now a Roman Catholic). In his book, Faith of the Fatherless (Spence, 1999) Vitz says he began to wonder why America--a country that was essentially an atheist-free zone until the late nineteenth century--has become one in which "the presumption of atheism" defines public life. "The rejection of God in our schools is just one small example of the triumph of atheism," Vitz notes. Atheists have been wildly successful in promoting the assumption "that belief in God is based on all kinds of irrational, immature needs and wishes, whereas atheism or skepticism flows from a rational, grown-up, no-nonsense view of things as they really are."

    Even though well over 90 percent of us tell the pollsters we believe in God, "references to God in public discourse have become extremely uncommon; we have become a nation of public and practical atheists," Vitz says. "This social condition has been well described by Richard John Neuhaus as the 'naked public square.'"

    Well, if the public square is naked, then the average college campus is a veritable nudist colony. Serious references to God in scholarly writing is considered "taboo," Vitz says. In fact, he adds, bringing God up in any way "would bring the legitimacy of one's scholarship into question."

    How did this state of affairs come about? Until just a few decades ago, America's public square was on the best-dressed list, religiously speaking. As Vitz observes, no other culture in history has manifested such a widespread public rejection of the divine--while at the same time boasting a citizenry that stubbornly persists in clinging to private belief in the Almightly.

    "That such a rejection of God should have triumphed is quite remarkable--even bizarre" in a country that is seriously religious," Vitz says. How did atheists become so good at controlling publicly "acceptable" views about God--especially on college campuses? That's what Vitz wanted to know. He began his study in the same place atheists began: by examining the psychology of belief.

    Atheists, of course, have long considered belief in God nothing more than infantile wish fulfillment. They disdain religion as an illusion we poor schmucks made up to satisfy unconscious needs.

    But, Vitz wondered, what if the shoe's on the other foot? Suppose it's the atheists who are engaging in unconscious wish fulfillment?

    To find the answer, Vitz began scanning the last four centuries for patterns--patterns that distinguish the lives of atheists from the lives of comparable theists.

    What he found is nothing less than astonishing. After studying the lives of more than a dozen of the world's most influential atheists, Vitz discovered that they all had one thing in common: Defective relationships with their fathers. By defective, Vitz means the fathers were dead, abusive, weak, or abandoned their children.

    For example, Freidrich Nietzsche, a philosopher whose writings influenced everyone from Adolph Hitler to the Columbine killers, lost his father when he was not quite five years old. Nietzsche had been extremely close to his dad, a Lutheran pastor who died of a brain disease. "Nietzsche often spoke positively of his father and of his death as a great loss which he never forgot," Vitz explains. But "he also saw him as weak and sickly." It is not hard, Vitz says, "to view Nietzsche's rejection of God and Christianity as a rejection of the weakness of his father."

    Bertrand Russell was famous for his rejection of Christianity; he lost his father when he was a young child, and was raised by a rigidly puritanical grandmother. Russell's daughter says that his grandmother's joyless faith was "the only form of Christianity my father knew well," a faith that taught that "the life of this world was no more than a gloomy testing ground for future bliss. . . My father threw this morbid belief out the window."

    French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre also fits the defective father theory: His father died when Jean-Paul was a baby. "Jean-Paul was obsessed with fatherhood all his life," Vitz says. "His father's absence was such a painful reality that Jean-Paul spent a lifetime trying to deny the loss and build a philosophy in which the absence of a father and of God is the very starting place for the 'good' or 'authentic' life."

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  2. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    Cool Article, PR.
     
  3. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    interesting but I fear it's using vodoo science to sell a book .
     
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  4. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    Very interesting article, I think some very excellent points made.
     
  5. deaddude
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    deaddude Senior Member

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    My loss of Faith had nothing to do with my father. Of course maybe agnosticism has nothing to do with the father. That’s atheism. You become an agnostic for some other reason probably. Maybe it’s stolen candy, or having too many siblings or too much exposure to religion in general, or radiation from Tranoble.

    But in all seriousness (ha ha ha) there are probably people on both sides of the theistic vs. atheistic argument, who are using their beliefs for "infantile wish fulfillment."

    Oh and Dillo what kind of Voodoun would they be practicing Obeah or Santeria?
     
  6. acludem
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    acludem VIP Member

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    Is there a link somewhere for the proper use of an apostrophe? The word dads (plural of dad) should not have an apostrophe.

    As to the article, it's simply :bsflag:

    I have a solid relationship with my father and I am considered an atheist because I practice Buddhism (my dad doesn't). My two best friends also have good relationships with their fathers, both are at best agnostic.

    The problem is that Christians just can't understand why anyone would disagree with them.

    acludem
     
  7. Bullypulpit
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    Bullypulpit Senior Member

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    The article reads more like propaganda than good science.
     
  8. 007
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    007 Charter Member Supporting Member

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    ... and the pot speaks of the kettle looking black.
     
  9. Arabian
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    Arabian Member

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    actually i dont think that what happened in this study
    is a basic theory
    it just some kind of Coincidence
    and we cant take it as a basis for every thing
    cuz every thing depend on you fate or destiney
     
  10. Bullypulpit
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    Bullypulpit Senior Member

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    Not at all old son...I'm sure if one looks hard enough one can find a correlation between left-handed men born under a full-moon and poor parenting skills. Have a nice day. :teeth:
     

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