Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Divine soup, anyone? A review of Hating God

By Greg Clarke - posted Thursday, 19 May 2011

Misotheism has nothing to do with Japanese soup, and everything to do with the fact that many people who object to theism are still enthralled by God. The book, Hating God: The Untold Story of MIsotheism (by Bernard Schweizer), tries to uncover why it is that some prominent writers have an enduring hostility towards the God that they don't believe exists.

Beginning with Job and Epicurus, and ending with Gore Vidal and Philip Pullman, Schweizer considers the political and moral objections misotheists have to the classical conception of God, the biblical teaching about the character of God, and the range of accusations they make against the Christian God in particular.

After an overview of prominent misotheists from several centuries, disciplines and backgrounds, Schweizer offers six case studies of 'literary misotheism', since "literature is the principal conduit for expressions of animosity against the Almighty" (p.5). Weaving autobiographical material in with readings of poems, essays and novels, Schweizer establishes that the misotheists are obsessed with rejecting God in a public way, so that readers can see their blasphemy and rebellion, a little like teenagers making a scene of disobeying their parents. Rather than ridiculing this stance, Schweizer recognizes it as offering to God a perverse form of respect, rather than ignoring Him (Her? It?) completely.


This thesis reminded me of two instances of this that have always intrigued me. The first is the song by The Cure, 'The Blood', in which Robert Smith sings, "I am paralysed by the blood of Christ, and though it clouds my eyes I can never stop." I interpret that as meaning that once you have heard the offer of having your soul 'washed' in Christ's blood, it is near impossible to move on from it. How great a doctrine! How terrible if it is not in fact true. How much we desire it.

The second instance is in the play Endgame, by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters pray with all their might. They screw up their eyes, clench their desperate hands, and concentrate hard for several seconds. Eventually, they break from the posture, and one of them declares, "The bastard! He doesn't exist!". God is a bastard for not existing.

I think hating God in this way is far preferable to losing interest in the question of the Divine. I far prefer an angry Atheist to an Apatheist. At least the God-hater still cares.

In fact, one of the counter-intuitive recurrences in Hating God is the journey that many of the misotheists take from anger and resentment, through deconstruction of religious claims, to reconstruction of a god-free but moral universe, and finally towards a sense of God's recovery.

God the tyrant, the dictator, the cruel oppressor is rejected. God the lover, the creator, the good father, the world-restorer is in fact longed for. It is only some kinds of imaginary gods that misotheists hate.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

65 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Greg Clarke is Chief Executive of Bible Society Australia and Co-founder of the Centre for Public Christianity.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Greg Clarke

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 65 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy