As of 7/22/12, two out of five Atheists (n=105) confirmed what many theists have suspected: Some Atheists prefer hell to an eternity with a good god in heaven. (see the poll here)
What the heck was that about? Many atheist commentors were, like me, astonished with this finding! But maybe there is hope: Research has shown that what we say we do (or would do) often does not accurately match what we actually do or would actually do (for example: church attendance). I don’t think any Atheist, in that actual situation, would really choose hell. Instead, I think they used the poll to make a statement.
I did not post my poll to find out what atheists would really do, but instead to probe a suspicion I have concerning some blogging-Atheists’ personalities. So here are some of my speculations about why some Atheist declared that they preferred hell to heaven:
- Some Atheists are so upset with theists’ notions of “God” and/or “Heaven” that they wanted to show it by choosing hell in the experiment. They don’t care about the truth of their choice, but more about what their reaction emotionally conveys. They want to convey a message and will sacrifice the truth of their actual words in order to convey that message — a common human communication behavior. But remember, these same Atheists probably pride themselves in being rational.
(1a) Another version of this may be: “I hate thought experiments that make me imagine something I don’t believe in. So I am going to jump into Hell!”
- There are a disproportionate number of atheists that have a very rebellious temperament and who hate the idea of a dictator — even a benign one. Thus, oddly, burning for eternity sounds far better to them than living under the rules of someone else. (see one temperament study here)
- The hell-jumpers assumed hell is just annihilation and assumed Heaven would be torturously boring.
- They miss understood the problem and/or read too much into it. Or, I just wrote the problem poorly – though several commentors said it was clear.
Of course the results could have been completely inaccurate: perhaps a bunch of Christians took the Atheist poll just so they could enjoy throwing us into hell. 🙂 Either way, of course this is not a valid research tool. But understand that much rigorous research is inspired by hugely flawed anecdotal hints of possible connections. Maybe someday someone will explore my theory more accurately for us.
Meanwhile I just wanted to say that I have observed many on-line atheists arguing with such vehemence that I think it obstructs their clear judgement — heck, I am sure I do it sometimes too. This post was an attempt to demonstrate that possibility — even atheists display “the worldview defense” (explored at Ephiphenom’s post).
Offended atheists, fear not: My next post will explores the foibles of theists!
Question to readers: What is your theory? Is this probe of mine useless, or do you think there may be something to my suspicions?