72: Does Fatherlessness Cause Atheism? Dr. Paul Vitz
Are atheists uniformly dedicated to truth and evidence, to rational thought and logic? Might there be a hidden causal factor at play in more cases than one would imagine? Psychologist and researcher Dr. Paul Vitz thinks so. It’s fatherlessness.
His latest book, Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, sets forth the case that abusive, absent, or weak fathers very often provide the psychological soil from which atheist weeds are more likely to fester. Using example after example of leading atheists (start the list with Nietzsche, Hume, Sartre, Russell, Camus, Freud, and the so-called New Atheists Dennett, Dawkins, and Hitchens), Vitz reviews the basic life biography and finds a “father wound” in one degree or another.
He doesn’t reduce atheism to a pop psych theory (not all atheists share the same experience of an abusive father, and, besides, human beings are complex) but he carefully traces the atheists own words and the ways in which their respective intellectual journies led them to reject God—the Father.
It’s a fascinating read. And, as you’ll soon find out, Dr. Vitz is a fascinating guest.
In this interview, you will learn:
- Why Sigmund Freud was right in asserting that God is “an exalted father,” but not in the way Freud believed
- How the memories of even a long deceased father can influence your faith perspective
- Why Jesus called God Father and not Mother
- The reasons why Vitz did a control group comparison of philosophers and other writers of the same era and social backgrounds who had warm, close relationships with their father—and how their spiritual outlook differed from the atheist group
- Why “public atheists” (those devoted to writing and debating their atheism) is overwhelmingly a male phenomenon
- Why, when women leave a relationship with God they usually don’t become atheists, but they form a new relationship: yogi, guru, New Age community, goddess worship, etc.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, by Paul C. Vitz
- Surprised By Joy: The Shape Of My Early Life, by C.S. Lewis
- The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism by Edward Feser
- My Father, Bertrand Russell by Katherine Tait
- Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton
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