There has been an interesting trend in recent years during times of tragedy when people typically express their thoughts and prayers. Atheists are now overtly outraged at these kind gestures, even though studies show that, many people (even those not overtly religious) actually appreciate such expressions, because we are social beings and are strengthened by the larger community’s support.
A cute study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Wyoming wanted to take a closer look at this phenomenon. The study results, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, exposed a very unusual trait among atheists.
The researchers studied people from North Carolina who lived through Hurricane Florence that hit in September 2018. It dropped upwards of 35 inches (0.89 meters) of rain causing massive damage largely due to flooding.
They gave each of the 482 participants, who ranged from atheists to Christians, $5, who were told they could use the money to gain supportive prayers or thoughts from others after the crisis.
Those with a more religious bend were actually willing to pay upwards of $7.17 to have a priest pray for them and on average $4.36 to have a stranger pray for them.
However, those on the other side of the spectrum, the atheists, and some agnostics, were actually willing to pay people NOT to pray for them. They were willing to pay Christians $3.54 NOT to pray for them and $1.66 for a priest NOT to pray for them.
Speaking on behalf of the study, University of Wyoming economics professor Linda Thunström noted:
Simply if you don’t believe in God why would you waste money to pay people NOT to pray for you.
The study exposed even a further oddity. While atheists were antagonized by thoughts from Christians, they did not have similar feelings when receiving thoughts from people they perceived to be secular or non-religious.
There is obviously more to atheism than a simple non belief in God. These actions suggest some type of offense.
The question is what is the root of this offense?
In an updated version of his book, Faith of the Fathers: The Psychology of Atheism released in 1999, Catholic psychologist Paul Vitz reported on his study of renown atheists such as Nietzsche, Madelyn Murray O’Hair and Voltaire where the author noticed an interesting trend. Many atheists came from homes where they had either been abandoned by their father or abused, often violently by their fathers
Vitz goes on to suggest that this poor of lack of relationship with their father dramatically impacted their perception of God.
Vitz told Religion News:
Atheists predictably were outraged by Vitz’s book and though the author does not believe every atheist’s beliefs are triggered by a failed relationship with their father, he suspects many are.