- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Ignatius Press; 2 edition (October 18, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1586176870
- ISBN-13: 978-1586176877
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism 2nd Edition
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"In deploying Freudian theory against atheism itself, Paul Vitz has proven beyond a doubt what's missing from secular accounts of secularization: namely, actual human beings. His thesis is intellectual jujutsu of the first order, as anyone reading this timely revisiting will appreciate in full."--
Mary Eberstadt<span>, Author, </span>The Loser Letters<span> and </span>Adam and Eve after the Pill
"Paul C. Vitz has republished one of the most profound books in the emperical psychology of religion, </span>Faith of the Fatherless<span>, now with additional data. Here he skillfully demonstrates objective analogies between the family experiences of articulate atheists and their pronouncements concerning the family of God. Of course, since there is "nothing" more personal than God-and our beliefs and relationships to God-our capacities for personal relationship matter tremendously in the formation of our divine beliefs. Everything is interconnected, we know. However, Prof. Vitz's engaging style makes his demonstration of these objective analogies especially memorable and useful for understanding unbelief and ourselves."--
Paul de Vries, PhD<span>, President, NY Divinity School</span>
"The reasons for belief in God and unbelief are complex and varied and hotly disputed. Paul Vitz makes a striking contribution to the current debate with an elegant and thoroughly plausible explanation for much atheism that turns the traditional Freudian critique of religion on its head. Relying on the biographies of well-known modern atheists, he finds significant evidence that negative childhood experiences with regard to one's father can severely compromise one's capacity to believe in God. Whatever one's beliefs, there is much to ponder in this well-written and well-researched book."--
- Eric L. Johnson, PhD, Director, Society for Christian Psychology
About the Author
Paul C. Vitz, is Professor/Senior Scholar at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, Arlington, Va. and a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at New York University. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan and his Ph. D at Stanford University. He was an atheist until his late 30s. Professor Vitz is the author/editor of a variety of books including: The Self: Beyond the Postmodern Crisis, Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship, Sigmund Freud's Christian Unconscious, Censorship: Evidence of Bias in Our Children's Textbooks and numerous articles in professional and popular journals.
Top customer reviews
It doesn't take great powers of observation to watch young children long for a "good" father. They want to be loved, affirmed, reared, and nurtured in development by a person who places priority on their growth, their development, and their well-being.
When a void exists instead of this encircling involvement, or worse yet, the anti-thesis happens, children naturally respond in a self-protective manner.
My personal observation is that most men who are poor fathers were poorly fathered themselves. This brokenness has profound theological roots. Men carry a double responsibility before God. Since they share masculinity with God, they are doubly responsible to correctly portray His person, character and work. Men who love and sacrifice themselves for their family show that part of God. When they fail to do so, at any degree, they tell a lie about God. Children generally believe what they are told, whether in word or deed.
A child's natural inclination toward God is to then turn away from God, as they respond to poor parenting by their father. The father has cast a shadow of what the child will understand God to be. That may one day later be corrected, but not necessarily.
Vitz has analyzed for us the portion of history which formalized atheism. Bad fathers have always existed, no doubt. People kept God at arms length. After the advent of intellectual atheism into modern thought people now have a "respectable" avenue to live out their distance with God, often seeded in their lives by defective fathers whom Vitz has uncovered.
At the close of what is a provocative work, Dr. Vitz tells us that his "ultimate interpretation of atheists is that they are a product of their
1. historical period,
2. interpersonal trauma with attachment insecurity (e.g., the defective father) and/or in many cases, interpersonal incompetence (e.g., autistic mental characteristics),
3. above-average intelligence,
4. ambition and resentment and sometimes envy - and last but far from least -
5. their own free choice" (pp. 194, 195).
To illustrate his "defective father" position, Dr. Vitz offers VERY brief biographical sketches of assumed atheists and theists, contrasting their supposedly unsatisfying and satisfying relationships with a father or a father surrogate (Unfortunately, some seem like little more than ad hominem attacks.). Though he offers disclaimers and ultimately talks about free choice, he often writes as though one's relationship with an earthly father will fully determine one's orientation toward the Heavenly Father. His discussion of how some may be "neurologically predisposed to atheism" (p. 180) is EXTREMELY poorly developed.
Again, I suspect that Dr. Vitz could have offered enormously more, than what he puts forward in Faith of the Fatherless. This is NOT the book that I had hoped it would be.
Vitz's research lays out just the opposite argument based on the dysfunction and fatherless lives of the key atheists of the past 400 years. He suggests that rather than mankind having created God because of some need for a father figure, atheists have rejected God because of their own biases against their fathers - nearly all of whom were absent or abusive.