by Matt Slick
The question, "Why are atheists hated?" is very generic and needs to be analyzed before we can answer it. We know that some people hate atheists and others do not. Also, what is meant by hate? Does the person asking the question mean hate in the sense of dislike or sheer unbridled disdain? Since the question is not specified, it makes answering it more difficult. Nevertheless, let me give it a try.
In one respect, people dislike atheists because they deny God. Many people believe that God exists and cannot understand why anyone would deny his existence. Many Christians that I know are perplexed by atheists' denial of God. This has a negative effect on their opinion of atheists.
But there is another sense in which atheists are openly, strongly hated. Many people, even some Christians, hate atheists because of their denial of God. Where one person might dislike an atheist for that reason, another might hate an atheist for the same reason. It would all depend upon the individual.
Let me offer some possible reasons why atheists are strongly disliked by so many people.
Atheists often work against the Christian faith
Many atheists routinely work against the Christian faith and trying to get the 10 Commandments removed from public places, sue Christians to stop them excercising their rights in the public square, sue to have laws changed against Christianity, and are generally trying to promote atheism in public. They most definitely are working to get Christianity and the Bible out of schools and our culture and get atheism and humanism promoted in its place. This will naturally cause a plethora of feelings from apathy to outright condemning hatred.
Atheists often persecute Christians
Many Christians feel persecuted by the atheists who pool their money, hire lawyers, and work against Christianity. It seems that now and then there's always can be an atheist who is personally "offended" by a Christian praying at an event or not wanting to bake a cake for a couple, or whatever the issue might be, and then protesting, boycotting, or suing to get his way. We Christians are far more tolerant than atheists.
Atheists are very often intolerant of other views, especially Christian ones. I've had a lot of experience dealing with atheists, debating them, researching them, and interacting with them. I can say that a majority of them are very intolerant of Christianity. But, on the other hand, I do know of very few atheists who are polite and think Christianity has a lot of good to offer. They don't seek to undermine anyone's faith or alter society to conform to their desires.
A lot of people associate atheism with immorality. Whether or not any particular atheist is more moral or not than the average person isn't the issue. The perception is the issue. Generally speaking, Christians know that their moral basis is found in God and therefore it rests outside of themselves. Therefore, their moral compass is necessarily based in God's revelation and not some subjective desire of any particular atheist. To reiterate, in atheism, this necessity of defining morality in God's revelation is nonexistent. Instead, it is based on subjective preferences. The obvious problem is that such subjective preferences can change. Changing subjective preferences means changing subjective morals with the imposition of the subjective changing morals imposed on society. That, of course, is disturbing which leads to the association of atheism with immorality.
Sometimes people fear what they don't understand. So, since many people cannot understand why anyone would deny God's existence, a lot of time those who affirm God's existence are fearful of those who don't. This is not a rational fear, but it is something held by a lot of people nonetheless. We identify with our worldview. Religious people live in a religious worldview. Atheism is a worldview without God. So, a lot of people react negatively to this because they have not thought through their worldview or applied logic to the issue of mutual compatibility in a society of different beliefs. This is unfortunate.
Atheists are often hated in society for a variety of reasons. Some of them are completely irrational, but others are based on legitimate concerns. Of course, I'm not advocating hatred for anyone. I have no problem dealing with atheists. But, when they attack my faith were try and impose their moral values on me and society, then I'm going to react. I'm not afraid of that reaction. I'm not afraid to tackle them. And I don't hate them.
After all, Christ teaches us to love our enemies, and so I do; that is, I show love to the enemies of my faith.
Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."