It is often claimed by atheists that people believe in God primarily for emotional and not intellectual reasons. Atheists, in contrast, are more rational and scientific and their atheism is built on cold hard facts, not emotions.

Apparently that’s not the case. As the cited psychological study shows, for a large proportion of atheists, their disbelief in God is due to being angry with God or a traumatic event that has made them doubt the existence of God. Obviously, whether a Creator exists or not has no logical connection to whether you feel that that Creator has been fair to you or not. So to deny the existence of a Creator based on how one feels about Him and one’s life generally is purely emotional and has nothing to do with reason.

The interesting implication for me is that with careful manipulation, one could easily induce widespread atheism in a population. Simply toy with people’s emotions. Make them feel like life is unfair, that life is full of hardship, pain, and suffering. TV, social media, and a 24-hour news cycle, one that puts disproportionate focus on violent death and destruction, are the perfect tools for this purpose. Combine this with the notion that organized religion is burdensome and stifling and that the opposite of religion, i.e., liberal humanism, is life-affirming and a clear path to happiness and fulfillment, and before you know it, atheism is the fastest growing religion. But not due to the “triumph of reason and science.” Quite the opposite in fact.

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“A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds 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. […] Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.

“At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses 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.”