"Theophobia", or the irrational fear and/or hatred of God, does not exist; at least, not in any meaningful sense.

First of all, it's both insulting and laughably ludicrous to say that atheism is theophobic, or to say it is 'denial'. Atheists do not believe in gods. You can hardly fear or hate something which you do not believe exists. I suppose it could be claimed that some atheists fear or hate the *idea* of God, but that is not at all the same thing.

Conversely, if a theist fears or hates God, it's hard to see how such feelings are irrational. After all, if you believe that there's an infinite, omnipotent, omniscient etc. being out there, it's pretty rational to fear it, since it could destroy you with a thought. Moreover, if this being is responsible for everything that's ever happened, it follows that it must be responsible for every evil ever perpetrated. If we can reasonably hate Hitler for killing millions in concentration camps and causing millions more deaths on the battlefield, certainly it is reasonable to hate the being ultimately responsible for all death and destruction.

I should probably note that this was originally (at least in part) intended as a response to an earlier writeup that said things like "atheists deny God because they fear Him" and other such... things. In all honesty, I can't remember anything more specific than that.


The irrational fear of God or theology

theophobia<psychology> Morbid fear of God.
Origin: G. Theos, god, + phobos, fear
(05 Mar 2000)
CancerWEB's On-line Medical Dictionary

So this is not the fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom as mentioned in the book of Proverbs (OT, Bible).  It is more psychologically damaging and deeper rooted.  As with so many phobias it is often a displacement or a sign thereof.  The most usual issues are deep seated guilt (which itself might be a displacement or self blame or a real gilt such as the night terrors as you remember the murder you committed), Perfection / imperfection complexes, childhood punishment related trauma (including unattainable performance complexes*),  or trauma relating to Church institutions.  Due to the deep seated nature of the problems concerned friends should be prepared to be loving and supportive but leave the psychology and treatment to a trained specialist.

Theophobia finds a modern incarnation as the counterpart to something best called Atheophobia - the morbid and irrational fear of the absence of God or theology, and believers therein.  Atheophobia can also be no fear of God ("who obviously isn't there"), the complete absence of fear.  While not being fearful is good - proper respect for your environment and the ways it can hurt you is still important.

For definition at this stage we shall say that Atheophobia is fear of atheists and theophobia is fear of strong religious beliefs.  This is not quite the case but for what we shall now examine it might as well be.

I have encountered people the world over that act in the same way - they come from a strong atheistic stance and react with a certain terror that is worrying.  They attack with berserker like ferocity any mention of religion (but Christianity especially) with a great deal of (often poorly informed) zeal and stock arguments.  Their counter parts in zeal would be the Billy Grahams of this world.  

I do not mean to attack atheists in any way as I know many who are always ready for a quality informed debate.  Equally I know Christians who are usually up for some open discussion. These people seem to be completely normal and even happy with their view point and comfortable with others who differ.

I have, equally, found large numbers of (again mostly Christians) atheophobes who attack the atheist (and other differing faiths) viewpoint with zeal using equally large amounts of stock arguments.  It would seem that phobic is the right way to describe both these groups.  It is as if they are frightened to the point of utter terror that perhaps they might be wrong.  I am sure that sometimes it is a case that they attack what they do not understand (fear, again) but why attack at all?  If, after all, you are wrong - better to admit it now than waste your life surely?  To do this, though, would require that the person, (so irrationally afraid of holding an inaccurate world view), first recognise the fear within themselves.

It is a sad fact that being wrong is sometimes too terrifying a concept to cope with.  We would have to say sorry, admit we were in error and change our lives accordingly.  We don't want to because we are happy the way we are.  We often fear change because we feel safe with things the way they are.  We set up mental safeguards to stop ourselves thinking certain thoughts we guard against the need to change our lives when we feel safe and content with them.  So instead we dig in and defend our position (something we have all done).

Perhaps what we need is a word that describes both groups - a word meaning fear of being wrong.  Perhaps this word will do for now: Human.

* Performance "complexes" develop as a twisted version of behaviourism therapy, where the child attempts to perform to higher and increasingly unattainable standards in order to please an angry or (worse) inattentive and uninterested parent.  This can reach the stage where the child / young adult can behave in no other way and attempts to please everyone.  The breakdown that will follow is particularly traumatic and nasty. 

Lastly in accordance with my own definition of what a good write up on phobia should contain:

(Some) Films to avoid for Theophobes


StrawberryFrog says: I find myself to be alergic to god(s) , but I liked time bandits when I saw it all those years ago. The other films that you listed would indeed bring me out in a rash.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.