Misotheism is the "hatred of God" or "hatred of the gods" (from the Greek adjective μισόθεος misotheos "hating the gods" or "God-hating" – a compound of μῖσος "hatred" and θεός "god"). In some varieties of polytheism, it was considered possible to inflict punishment on gods by ceasing to worship them.[ citation needed ] Thus, Hrafnkell, protagonist of the eponymous Hrafnkels saga set in the 10th century, as his temple to Freyr is burnt and he is enslaved, states that "I think it is folly to have faith in gods", never performing another blót (sacrifice), a position described in the sagas as goðlauss, "godless". Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology observes that:
It is remarkable that Old Norse legend occasionally mentions certain men who, turning away in utter disgust and doubt from the heathen faith, placed their reliance on their own strength and virtue. Thus in the Sôlar lioð 17 we read of Vêbogi and Râdey á sjálf sig þau trûðu, "in themselves they trusted".
In monotheism, the sentiment arises in the context of theodicy (the problem of evil, the Euthyphro dilemma). A famous literary expression of misotheistic sentiment is Goethe's Prometheus , composed in the 1770s.
A related concept is dystheism (Ancient Greek : δύσ θεος "bad god"), the belief that a god is not wholly good, and is possibly evil. Trickster gods found in polytheistic belief systems often have a dystheistic nature. One example is Eshu, a trickster god from Yoruba religion who deliberately fostered violence between groups of people for his own amusement, saying that "causing strife is my greatest joy."
The concept of the Demiurge in some versions of ancient Gnosticism also often portrayed the Demiurge as a generally evil entity.
Many polytheistic deities since prehistoric times have been assumed to be neither good nor evil (or to have both qualities). Thus dystheism is normally used in reference to the Judeo-Christian God. In conceptions of God as the summum bonum, the proposition of God not being wholly good would be an oxymoron.
A historical proposition close to "dystheism" is the deus deceptor "evil demon" (dieu trompeur) of René Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy , which has been interpreted by Protestant critics as the blasphemous proposition that God exhibits malevolent intent. But Richard Kenningtonstates that Descartes never declared his "evil genius" to be omnipotent, but merely no less powerful than he is deceitful, and thus not explicitly an equivalent to God, the singular omnipotent deity.
Dystheistic speculation arises from consideration of the problem of evil — the question of why God, who is supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, would allow evil to exist in the world. Koons notes that this is a theological problem only for a eutheist, since a dystheist would not find the existence of evil (or God's authorship of it) to be an obstacle to theistic belief. In fact, the dystheistic option would be a consistent non-contradictory response to the problem of evil. Thus Koons concludes that the problem of theodicy (explaining how God can be good despite the apparent contradiction presented in the problem of evil) does not pose a challenge to all possible forms of theism (i.e., that the problem of evil does not present a contradiction to someone who would believe that God exists but that he is not necessarily good).
This conclusion implicitly takes the first horn of the Euthyphro dilemma, asserting the independence of good and evil morality from God (as God is defined in monotheistic belief). Historically, the notion of "good" as an absolute concept has emerged in parallel with the notion of God being the singular entity identified with good. In this sense, dystheism amounts to the abandonment of a central feature of historical monotheism: the de facto association of God with the summum bonum.
Arthur Schopenhauer wrote: "This world could not have been the work of an all-loving being, but that of a devil, who had brought creatures into existence in order to delight in the sight of their sufferings."
Critics of Calvin's doctrines of predestination frequently argued that Calvin's doctrines did not successfully avoid describing God as "the author of evil".
Much of post-Holocaust theology, especially in Judaic theological circles, is devoted to a rethinking of God's goodness. Examples include the work of David R. Blumenthal, author of Facing the Abusing God (1993) and John K. Roth, whose essay "A Theodicy of Protest" is included in Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy (1982):
Everything hinges on the proposition that God possesses—but fails to use well enough—the power to intervene decisively at any moment to make history's course less wasteful. Thus, in spite and because of his sovereignty, this God is everlastingly guilty and the degrees run from gross negligence to mass murder... To the extent that [people] are born with the potential and power to [do evil things], credit for that fact belongs elsewhere. "Elsewhere" is God's address.
The deus deceptor (French dieu trompeur) "deceptive god" is a concept of Cartesianism. Voetius accused Descartes of blasphemy in 1643. Jacques Triglandius and Jacobus Revius, theologians at Leiden University, made similar accusations in 1647, accusing Descartes of "hold[ing] God to be a deceiver", a position that they stated to be "contrary to the glory of God". Descartes was threatened with having his views condemned by a synod, but this was prevented by the intercession of the Prince of Orange (at the request of the French Ambassador Servien).The accusations referenced a passage in the First Meditation where Descartes stated that he supposed not an optimal God but rather an evil demon "summe potens & callidus" ( "most highly powerful and cunning"). The accusers identified Descartes' concept of a deus deceptor with his concept of an evil demon, stating that only an omnipotent God is "summe potens" and that describing the evil demon as such thus demonstrated the identity. Descartes' response to the accusations was that in that passage he had been expressly distinguishing between "the supremely good God, the source of truth, on the one hand, and the malicious demon on the other". He did not directly rebut the charge of implying that the evil demon was omnipotent, but asserted that simply describing something with "some attribute that in reality belongs only to God" does not mean that that something is being held to actually be a supreme God.
The evil demon is omnipotent, Christian doctrine notwithstanding, and is seen as a key requirement for Descartes' argument by Cartesian scholars such as Alguié, Beck, Émile Bréhier, Chevalier, Frankfurt, Étienne Gilson, Anthony Kenny, Laporte, Kemp-Smith, and Wilson. The progression through the First Meditation, leading to the introduction of the concept of the evil genius at the end, is to introduce various categories into the set of dubitables, such as mathematics (i.e. Descartes' addition of 2 and 3 and counting the sides of a square). Although the hypothetical evil genius is never stated to be one and the same as the hypothetical "deus deceptor," (God the deceiver) the inference by the reader that they are is a natural one, and the requirement that the deceiver is capable of introducing deception even into mathematics is seen by commentators as a necessary part of Descartes' argument. Scholars contend that in fact Descartes was not introducing a new hypothetical, merely couching the idea of a deceptive God in terms that would not be offensive.
Paul Erdős, the eccentric and extremely prolific Hungarian-born mathematician, referred to the notion of deus deceptor in a humorous context when he called God "the Supreme Fascist", who deliberately hid things from people, ranging from socks and passports to the most elegant of mathematical proofs. A similar sentiment is expressed by Douglas Adams in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in reference to the temptation of Adam and Eve by God:
There are various examples of arguable dystheism in the Bible, sometimes cited as arguments for atheism (e.g. Bertrand Russell 1957), most of them from the Pentateuch. A notable exception is the Book of Job, a classical case study of theodicy, which can be argued to consciously discuss the possibility of dystheism (e.g. Carl Jung, Answer to Job ).
Thomas Paine wrote in The Age of Reason that "whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the word of God."But Paine's perspective was a deistic one, critical more of common beliefs about God than of God himself.
The New Testament contains references to an "evil god", specifically the "prince of this world" (John 14:30, ο του κοσμου τουτου αρχων) or "god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4, ο θεος του αιωνος τουτου) who has "blinded the minds of men". Mainstream Christian theology sees these as references to Satan ("the Devil"), but Gnostics, Marcionites, and Manicheans saw these as references to Yahweh (God) himself.[ citation needed ] References to God as wrathful or violent are more sparse in the New Testament than in the Old, but a number of antitheist speakers, notably Christopher Hitchens and Matt Dillahunty, have drawn attention to a number of passages.[ citation needed ]
Misotheistic and/or dystheistic expression has a long history in the arts and in literature. Bernard Schweizer’s book Hating God: The Untold Story of Misotheism is devoted to this topic. He traces the history of ideas behind misotheism from the Book of Job, via Epicureanism and the twilight of Roman paganism, to deism, anarchism, Nietzschean philosophy, feminism, and radical humanism. The main literary figures in his study are Percy Bysshe Shelley, Algernon Swinburne, Zora Neale Hurston, Rebecca West, Elie Wiesel, Peter Shaffer, and Philip Pullman. Schweizer argues that literature is the preferred medium for the expression of God-hatred because the creative possibilities of literature allow writers to simultaneously unburden themselves of their misotheism, while ingeneously veiling their blasphemy.
Other examples include:
In more recent times, the sentiment is present in a variety of media:
The characters in several of Tennessee Williams' plays express dystheistic attitudes, including the Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon in The Night of the Iguana.
Robert Frost's poem "Design" questions how God could have created death if he were benevolent.
In Jewish author Elie Wiesel's play The Trial of God (1979), the survivors of a pogrom, in which most of the inhabitants of a 17th-century Jewish village were massacred, put God on trial for his cruelty and indifference to their misery. The play is based on an actual trial Wiesel participated in that was conducted by inmates of the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Nazi holocaust, but it also references a number of other incidents in Jewish history including a similar trial conducted by the Hasidic Rabbi Levi Yosef Yitzhak of Berdichev:
Men and women are being beaten, tortured and killed. True, they are victims of men. But the killers kill in God's name. Not all? True, but let one killer kill for God's glory, and God is guilty. Every person who suffers or causes suffering, every woman who is raped, every child who is tormented implicates Him. What, you need more? A hundred or a thousand? Listen, either he is responsible or he is not. If he is, let's judge him. If he is not, let him stop judging us.[ citation needed ]
In Alan Parker's Oscar-winning 1980 feature film "Fame", one of the main characters (played by Barry Miller) makes an explicit statement against God. Playing an aspiring stand-up comedian who is asked in an acting class to talk about an experience that has affected him deeply in order to sharpen his skills as a performer, he delivers an extended uncut monologue (rare for a mainstream Hollywood film at that time) that heavily criticizes both modern capitalism and religion, concluding with the line "and then we can all go pray to the asshole God who fucked everything up in the first place".[ citation needed ]
Several non-Jewish authors share Wiesel's concerns about God's nature, including Salman Rushdie ( The Satanic Verses , Shalimar the Clown ) and Anne Provoost (In the Shadow of the Ark):
Why would you trust a God that doesn't give us the right book? Throughout history, he's given the Jewish people a book, he's given the Christians a book, and he's given the Muslims books, and there are big similarities between these books, but there are also contradictions. ... He needs to come back and create clarity and not ... let us fight over who's right. He should make it clear. So, my personal answer to your question, "Should we trust [a God who can't get things right]", I wouldn't.
The writing of Sir Kingsley Amis contains some misotheistic themes; e.g. in The Green Man (God's appearance as the young man), and in The Anti-Death League (the anonymous poem received by the chaplain).
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A number of speculative fiction works present a dystheistic perspective, at least as far back as the works of H. P. Lovecraft and Olaf Stapledon's influential philosophical short novel Star Maker .
By the 1970s, Harlan Ellison even described dystheism as a bit of a science fiction cliché. Ellison himself has dealt with the theme in his "The Deathbird", the title story of Deathbird Stories , a collection based on the theme of (for the most part) malevolent modern-day gods. Lester del Rey's "Evensong" (the first story in Harlan Ellison's much-acclaimed Dangerous Visions anthology), tells the story of a fugitive God hunted down across the universe by a vengeful humanity which seeks to "put him in his place". "Faith of Our Fathers" by Philip K. Dick, also from the same anthology, features a horrifying vision of a being, possibly God, who is all-devouring and amoral. Philip Pullman's previously mentioned trilogy, His Dark Materials , presented the theme of a negligent or evil God to a wider audience, as depicted in the 2007 film The Golden Compass based on the first book of this trilogy.
The original series of Star Trek featured episodes with dystheistic themes, amongst them "The Squire of Gothos", "Who Mourns for Adonais?", "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky", and "The Return of the Archons". In "Encounter at Farpoint", the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation , Captain Jean-Luc Picard informs Q, a trickster with god-like powers similar to the antagonist in the aforementioned "Squire of Gothos" episode, that 24th-century humans no longer had any need to depend upon or worship god figures. This is an amplification of the tempered anti-theistic sentiment from "Who Mourns for Adonais?", in which Captain James T. Kirk tells Apollo that "Mankind has no need for gods, we find the one quite adequate." A later episode, "Who Watches the Watchers", depicts accidentally reviving theistic belief in a more primitive species as a negative thing which must be stopped. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine it is revealed that the Klingon creation myth involves the first Klingons killing the gods that created them because, "They were more trouble than they were worth."
In the film Pitch Black , anti-hero protagonist Richard B. Riddick stated his own belief, after an imam accuses him of atheism: "Think someone could spend half their life in a slam with a horse bit in their mouth and not believe? Think he could start out in some liquor store trash bin with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and not believe? Got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God... and I absolutely hate the fucker."
Robert A. Heinlein's book Job: A Comedy of Justice , which is mostly about religious institutions, ends with an appearance by Yahweh which is far from complimentary.
The Athar, a fictional organization from the D&D's Planescape Campaign Setting denies the divinity of the setting's deities. They do, however, tend to worship "The Great Unknown" in their place.
In the 2013 film Prisoners , Holly Jones and her husband Isaac lost their faith in God after their son died of cancer. Since then, they have been kidnapping and murdering children in order to make other parents lose faith in God and turning them into revenge-driven hollow shells of their former selves, i.e. spreading their misotheism to other people. As Holly Jones states to Keller Dover near the end of the film: "Making children disappear is the war we wage with God. Makes people lose their faith, turns them into demons like you."
Misotheism is a 2008 album by Belgian black metal band Gorath.
Dystheistic sentiment has also made its way into popular music, evincing itself in controversial songs like "Dear God"by the band XTC (later covered by Sarah McLachlan) and "Blasphemous Rumours" by Depeche Mode, which tells the story of a teenage girl who attempted suicide, survived, and turned her life over to God, only to be hit by a car, wind up on life support, and eventually die. A good deal of Gary Numan's work, specifically the album Exile, is laden with misotheistic themes.
The output of Oscar-winning songwriter/composer Randy Newman also includes several songs expressing dystheistic sentiment, including the ironic "He Gives Us All His Love" and the more overtly maltheistic "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)",both from his acclaimed 1972 album Sail Away . In the latter song, Newman bemoans the futility of dealing with God whose attitude towards humanity he sees as one of contempt and cruelty.
The song "God Made" by Andrew Jackson Jihad proposes dystheism and has an implied hatred for God. More specifically, their song "Be Afraid of Jesus" is about a vengeful Christ although this could be a critique of fundamentalist hate speech.
"God Am" by Alice in Chains from their self-titled album has many misotheistic themes about the perceived apathy of God towards the evil in this world.
"Godwhacker" by Steely Dan from their Everything Must Go album developed from a lyric frontman Donald Fagen wrote a few days after his mother died of Alzheimer's. "It's about an elite squad of assassins whose sole assignment is to find a way into heaven and take out God", he later explained. "If the Deity actually existed, what sane person wouldn't consider this to be justifiable homicide?"
In the song "Terrible Lie" by Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor expresses anger, confusion, and sadness towards God and the world he created.
"Judith" by A Perfect Circle is a satirical song that places blame on God for the illness of the lead singer's mother, Judith. Despite her deteriorating condition, Judith never questions why she has been placed in her predicament but instead continues to praise and worship God. Her son angrily mocks god and presents arguments as to why she shouldn't have to suffer.
Marilyn Manson's "Fight Song," "Say 10," and others have direct and indirect misotheistic themes.
American death metal bands Deicide and Morbid Angel base much of their lyrics around misotheism in name and in concept. Many bands in the black metal genre, such as Mayhem, Emperor, Gorgoroth and Darkthrone express extreme misotheism in their lyrics.
In 2006, Australian artist Archie Moore created a paper sculpture called "Maltheism", which was considered for a Telstra Art Award in 2006. The piece was intended as a representation of a church made from pages of the Book of Deuteronomy:
...and within its text is the endorsement from God to Moses for invasion of other nations. It says that you have the right to invade, take all their resources, kill all the men (non-believers) and make no treaty with them.
Omnipotence is the quality of having unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of their faith. In the monotheistic philosophies of Abrahamic religions, omnipotence is often listed as one of a deity's characteristics among many, including omniscience, omnipresence, and omnibenevolence. The presence of all these properties in a single entity has given rise to considerable theological debate, prominently including the problem of theodicy, the question of why such a deity would permit the manifestation of evil. It is accepted in philosophy that omnipotence cannot be effectively understood.
The problem of evil is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil and suffering with an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God. Or as the first known presentation by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, as attributed and made popular by David Hume, puts it: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then from whence comes evil?"
Theodicy means vindication of God. It is to answer the question of why a good God permits the manifestation of evil, thus resolving the issue of the problem of evil. Some theodicies also address the evidential problem of evil by attempting "to make the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good or omnibenevolent God consistent with the existence of evil or suffering in the world." Unlike a defense, which tries to demonstrate that God's existence is logically possible in the light of evil, a theodicy attempts to provide a framework wherein God's existence is also plausible. The German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz coined the term "theodicy" in 1710 in his work Théodicée, though various responses to the problem of evil had been previously proposed. The British philosopher John Hick traced the history of moral theodicy in his 1966 work, Evil and the God of Love, identifying three major traditions:
Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of a Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with deism, the term often describes the classical conception of God that is found in monotheism – or gods found in polytheistic religions—a belief in God or in gods without the rejection of revelation as is characteristic of deism.
Omnibenevolence is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "unlimited or infinite benevolence". Some philosophers have argued that it is impossible, or at least improbable, for a deity to exhibit such a property alongside omniscience and omnipotence, as a result of the problem of evil. However, some philosophers, such as Alvin Plantinga, argue the plausibility of co-existence.
Negative atheism, also called weak atheism and soft atheism, is any type of atheism where a person does not believe in the existence of any deities but does not explicitly assert that there are none. Positive atheism, also called strong atheism and hard atheism, is the form of atheism that additionally asserts that no deities exist.
Nontheism or non-theism is a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of espoused belief in a God or gods. Nontheism has generally been used to describe apathy or silence towards the subject of God and differs from an antithetical, explicit atheism. Nontheism does not necessarily describe atheism or disbelief in God; it has been used as an umbrella term for summarizing various distinct and even mutually exclusive positions, such as agnosticism, ignosticism, ietsism, skepticism, pantheism, atheism, strong or positive atheism, implicit atheism, and apatheism. It is in use in the fields of Christian apologetics and general liberal theology.
The existence of God is a subject of debate in the philosophy of religion and popular culture.
The evil demon, also known as malicious demon and evil genius, is a concept in Cartesian philosophy. In the first of his 1641 Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes imagines that an evil demon, of "utmost power and cunning has employed all his energies in order to deceive me." This evil demon is imagined to present a complete illusion of an external world, so that Descartes can say, "I shall think that the sky, the air, the earth, colours, shapes, sounds and all external things are merely the delusions of dreams which he has devised to ensnare my judgement. I shall consider myself as not having hands or eyes, or flesh, or blood or senses, but as falsely believing that I have all these things."
The standard problem of evil found in monotheistic religions does not apply to almost all traditions of Hinduism because it does not posit an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent creator.
Antitheism is the opposition to theism. The term has had a range of applications. In secular contexts, it typically refers to direct opposition to the belief in any deity.
The Atheism Tapes is a 2004 BBC television documentary series presented by Jonathan Miller. The material that makes up the series was originally filmed in 2003 for another, more general series, Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief, but was too lengthy for inclusion. Instead, the BBC agreed to create The Atheism Tapes as a supplementary series of six programmes, each consisting of an extended interview with one contributor.
In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith. God is usually conceived as being omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present) and as having an eternal and necessary existence. These attributes are used either in way of analogy or are taken literally. God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). Incorporeality and corporeality of God are related to conceptions of transcendence and immanence of God, with positions of synthesis such as the "immanent transcendence".
Deus is the Latin word for "god" or "deity". Latin deus and dīvus ("divine") are in turn descended from Proto-Indo-European *deiwos, "celestial" or "shining", from the same root as *Dyēus, the reconstructed chief god of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon.
Dystheism, is the belief that a god or God is not wholly good and is possibly evil. Definitions of the term somewhat vary, with one author defining it as "where God decides to become malevolent". The broad theme of dystheism has existed for millennia, as shown by trickster gods found in polytheistic belief systems and by the view of the God of the Old Testament through a nonreligious lens as angry, vengeful and smiting. The modern concept dates back many decades, with the Victorian era figure Algernon Charles Swinburne writing in his work Anactoria about the ancient Greek poet Sappho and her lover Anactoria in explicitly dystheistic imagery that includes cannibalism and sadomasochism.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to atheism:
In Christian heresiology, there have been historical claims that certain Christian sects worshipped the devil. This was especially an issue in the reaction of the early Church to Gnosticism and its dualism, where the creator deity is understood as a demiurge inferior to the actual, transcendent God.
Skeptical theism is the view that we should remain skeptical of our ability to discern whether our perceptions about evil can be considered good evidence against the existence of the orthodox Christian God. The central thesis of skeptical theism is that it would not be surprising for an infinitely intelligent and knowledgeable being's reasons for permitting evils to be beyond human comprehension. That is, what may seem like pointless evils may be necessary for a greater good or to prevent equal or even greater evils. This central thesis may be argued from a theistic perspective, but is also argued to defend positions of agnosticism.
The Augustinian theodicy, named for the 4th- and 5th-century theologian and philosopher Augustine of Hippo, is a type of Christian theodicy designed in response to the evidential problem of evil. As such, it attempts to explain the probability of an omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnibenevolent (all-good) God amid evidence of evil in the world. A number of variations of this kind of theodicy have been proposed throughout history; their similarities were first described by the 20th-century philosopher John Hick, who classified them as "Augustinian". They typically assert that God is perfectly (ideally) good; that he created the world out of nothing; and that evil is the result of humanity's original sin. The entry of evil into the world is generally explained as punishment for sin and its continued presence due to humans' misuse of free will. God's goodness and benevolence, according to the Augustinian theodicy, remain perfect and without responsibility for evil or suffering.
The Evil God Challenge is a thought experiment. The challenge is to explain why an all-good god should be more likely than an all-evil god. Those who advance this challenge assert that, unless there is a satisfactory answer to the challenge, there is no reason to accept God is good or can provide moral guidance.
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