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.
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.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Getting Angry with God, who does and who doesn't?
Anger is as old as creation. The first recorded instance in the Bible is in Genesis 4: 5-6 when Cain is said to be angry, although were not told if he is angry at Abel or God. Whatever the case, it seems that the first instance of anger also contributed to the first murder.
But it is not only infamous people like Cain who get angry. Moses has a fit of anger (Ex 32:19) and so does David (2 Sam 12:5). But the person who seems gets angry the most in the Bible is God. At least 50 times in the Old Testament anger is somehow associated with God. Indeed, if one were not careful, one could quickly follow the lead of Marcion and find Jehovah to be the angry God of the Bible.
The New testament also speaks of anger. Although James tells us to be slow to anger (1:19-20), we find Jesus getting angry. In Mark 3:5 Jesus said to be angered by those in the Nazareth Synagogue. And even if the temple cleansing scenes do not say that Jesus was angry, we get the picture. It is not normal for a contented person to make a whip and drive people out of a place.
But what about being angry with God? I am unaware of any instances in the Bible in which anyone expresses their anger directly at God. Perhaps it is there in a subtle way when a psalmist reflects on how the wicked advance over the righteous and it seems that God has forgotten his promises. But I am unable to find any specific references when a person exhibits anger towards God.
But modern people certainly do. A recent study by Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Wester Reserve University, surveys people who get angry at God and comes up with some interesting results. Apparently, atheist get mad at God more often than do religious people.
According to an article on CNN,
Some may say that this proves the old adage that there are no atheists in a foxhole. I am not sure that we can jump to that conclusion. But it does make me wonder why someone who says they are an agnostic or atheist would even bother blaming God. Is anger at an outside force, real or otherwise, a coping mechanism to deal with uncontrollable situations?
What do you think? I would be curious to hear from agnostics and atheists as well as believers.