Atheism and the argument from hate

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<a rel=”license” href=””><img alt=”Creative Commons License” style=”border-width:0″ src=”×31.png&#8221; /></a><br /><span xmlns:dct=”; href=”; property=”dct:title” rel=”dct:type”>Argument from Hate (problem of hate)</span> by <a xmlns:cc=”; href=”; property=”cc:attributionName” rel=”cc:attributionURL”>Jonathan Garner</a> is licensed under a <a rel=”license” href=””>Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License</a>.<br />Based on a work at <a xmlns:dct=”; href=”; rel=”dct:source”></a&gt;.

I want to propose an argument from hate to the non-existence of God. I intend it to be a response to the argument from love, that is espoused by some theists. My intent isn’t so much to argue that the argument is strong, but that it undercuts the argument from love leaving us with a stalemate. It should be noted that the argument from love is primarily  at an ontological naturalistic worldview. Hence, the non-theist who doesn’t hold to naturalism doesn’t seem to have nearly as big of a problem accounting for love in response to this argument, if love actually objectively exists (realism). It should also be noticed that the argument from love is not taken all that seriously in Philosophy or Philosophy of Religion and for various reasons; nevertheless, it is possible that the argument is sound (it’s also possible that the argument is not sound or it might be probable that it is not sound)

Deductive argument from love:
1.) If God does not exist, then love does not exist. 2) Love exists. 3) Therefore, God exists

IBE argument from love:
1. Love exists. 2. God is the best explanation for love. 3. Therefore, love, at least, counts as some evidence in favor of theism.

The biggest problem for the theist who runs the argument from love, is to explain how love cannot possibly or cannot plausibly exist without God. The theist will have to explain why all the other accounts for explaining love, if love exists, fail or are plausibly false. There are many accounts that do not appeal to God, including ones that are not naturalistic. One such account is Platonism. That is, love exists as an abstract object. On Platonism there is a Platonic heaven with various forms. One such form is the form of Love. This is just one explanation for love, and since the theist is running the argument from love, she needs to explain why all the non-theistic accounts fail. Now let’s get into my argument.

In at least its deductive version, it is very hard to see how the argument from love is going to work. The proponent will have a huge burden to explain why all the other accounts can’t plausibly be true. With the IBE argument, there is still a burdent to explain not only that God is a good explanation for love but also to explain why it is plausibly better than the other accounts of love. Hence, it won’t do for the theist to shift the burden of proof and demand that the non-theist give an account of love and argue why that account is cogent.

Argument from Hate (Best explanation):

1. God is not the best explanation for hate

2. Hate exists

3. Therefore, hate counts, as at least, some evidence against God

Argument from Hate (deductive version)

  1. If God exists, then hate does not exist
  2. Hate exists
  3. Therefore, God does not exist

By “God” I mean a being that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good.

Premise 2 of both arguments will probably not be the controversial premise for the theist. Many times one can hate themselves for something they did that was immoral or they can hate themselves in the sense of hating, for example, how their looks like eye color. Hence, the hate can be understood in moral and non-moral terms. Nobody denies that some hate is justified. What I am talking about is unjustified hate like hating on poor people or hating on people of different races. What I mean by “Hate” is just unjustified hate, not hate in the sense of being outraged at immoral acts. It might be objected that hate “exists” but not in a heavy metaphysical such that “hate” is just the brain emoting. But if this is the case, then wouldn’t it also be the case that love does not exist in a heavy metaphysical sense but is also just a product of physical mechanisms? Thus, if the objection is sound, the argument from love fails.

Just think about all the examples of hate in history. Think about all the constant wars waged because hatred from both parties. Think about the Nazis and anti-Semitism; think about hatred towards blacks and the slave trade; think about the crusades; think about the hatred of women. But back to the Nazis, this is hard not to see how the Holocaust is not the most or one of the most hateful thing(s) in history. It was the extermination of 6 million people of a certain race, and this was all due to a hatred of these people. Of course these consequences just show how much hate there really was in the Nazis and in part of human nature as well (at least a lot of times for humans)

So, there’s homophobia, sexism, transphobia, atheistphobia, and islamophobia. There’s ahatred of one’s family, hatred of jews, hatred of blacks, hatred of middle-eastern people, hatred of americans, hatred of latinos, hatred of men, and so on. The point is that there is a lot of hate, a lot of horrific hate, and a lot seemingly pointless hate.

The immediate problem is to explain why there is hate to begin with, if God exists. It’ not hard to see how hate could exist if an Omnibenevolent being does not exist.

Premise 1  of the best explanation argument is the controversial premise for the theist. What should be said is that I contend that this premise has, at least, as much support as the similar but opposite premise from the argument from love (i.e. God is the best explanation for love). Even if the evidence is bad for the first premise, it is no worse than the evidence that is used to support the argument from love. Thus, said premises in both arguments would be undermined. But why is the evidence no worse? Well, we can flip the arguments that theist uses in support of their premise that, “If God does not exist, then love does not exist,” to argue the first premise of my argument. The typical response for the person who argues from love is to say that God is a good explanation for love because if God exists, he can ground love in his nature. How do you plausibly explain love without God?! Well, the problem is that we can flip this reasoning by bringing in evil god. I could argue that if evil god exists then he provides a very good explanation of evil. After all, evil good can easily ground evil in his nature. How do you explain hate without evil god? If the latter does not work, then why does the former work? Clearly, I could allege, evil god is surely the better explanation of hate than God. If evil god is not the beter explanation for hate, then why is God the best explanation for love? If evil god is the better explanation for hate than God, than the presence of hate in our world counts as evidence against God. Someone might object by saying that evil god existing is not atheism. However, for right now, we are talking about the existence of God, not some finite deity. In addition, the claim is that evil god is a better explanation for hate than God, not that evil god is the best explanation for hate. But wouldn’t that mean the God is a better explanation for love than evil god? Well, yes, but that would not mean that God is therefore the best explanation of love.

But what is the evidence for premise 1 in the deductive version of the argument? Well if God existed, He would be a God of Love. A God of love would only hate insofar as hate in the sense of justified hate or just hate that is understood insofar as a God of Love can’t love unjust hatred. A loving God would want to love humans and share this love. The greatest good for humans is to be in a loving relationship with God. So ironically, love can be used against the theist here even though they propose an argument from love. Maybe God allows hate for some greater good? But in the context of a loving relationship, why does their need to be hate? Why prefer greater goods over our deepest good, which is a relationship with a God of love? If anything, it appears that the evidence for the first premise in this argument is more supported than the conditional premise in the argument from love.

In addition, when we understand God is love, we then understand that this love is love without unjust hate. Would we not expect a God of love to model his love to us?

Even if this does not convince you, I think you should then also question the deductive version of the argument gtom. If it is impossible for hate to exist with God, then why would it be impossible for love to exist without God? What is the difference? Let’s assume the evidence for my argument is weak. If that’s the case, how is the evidence in favor of the argument from love any better? If it is not, then the argument from love is undermined.



1. The argument from hate is no different than the argument from evil. Response: I think it is different. The argument from evil doesn’t necessarily have to do with moral evil, it can also deal with natural evil or natural suffering. Natural suffering isn’t “evil”. Some hate can be seen as a particular instance of evil, but it is not moral evil itself. Someone could commit an evil action or do an immoral thing and not have a motive of hate for another person, so this case where a moral evil is not hate.  For example, I could lie to someone about my my grade point average because I am embarrassed about it. But is hate a particular instance of moral evil? Perhaps, but could we understand hate where it is not neccessarily an instance of moral evil? Well certainly this would be the case with animals. But in addition, suppose I have a mental illness that produces hateful feelings or thought. Perhaps, this mental illness makes it to where I have hateful feelings or thoughts. So in this case, we could see someone being insane, and it is hard to say that insane people are committing moral evils if they have no choice. But if they have no choice over hate, than how could that be a moral evil? But suppose I have something less like depression. This depression causes me to have hateful thougths and feelings. Maybe I do have control over these thoughts and feelings or maybe I don’t. But suppose I do in some sense. We could understand this as me having the thoughts/feelings but then I have a choice to entertain these thoughts (“a second glance). Now supposing that there are such things as thought crimes, have I committed a thought crime if I haven’t given the thoughts or feeling a second chance? Well it seems I have not because while I didn’t have control for these arising, perhaps I did have a choice to pursue them further. But if that’s the case, then it is true that at some time I was hating someone without it being an instance of moral evil.  Secondly, even if the argument from hate is necessarily just a particular or specific instantiation of evil or the argument from evil, so what? My main goal it to weaken the argument from love, and I could also just as easily assert that the argument from love is the same thing as the argument from morality, or the same thing as the argument from degrees, or the same thing as the argument from goodness. If hate isn’t different from the problem of evil, then why is love any different from the argument of goodness, beauty, etc.? Even if the argument from hate does not add any more weight to non-theism, it does not follow that the argument from love adds any more weight to theism. And even if it is only the argument from hate that does not add more weight, it does not follow from that fact that the argument from love is strong.

2. Hate presupposes objective morality, which can’t exist without God. Response: This is question-begging and it is not obvious that objective morality can’t exist without God. Here, we are taking the assumption that it is not known that it is true and we are running a different argument altogether here. Or, we are assuming for the sake of the argument that it is not true. Even if this objection is sound that only means that those who find the moral argument to be sound will not find my argument to be strong. However, there are many theists who do not think the moral argument is strong, and there are many agnostics who obviously don’t find the moral argument to be an argument that should be considered good. It’s an interesting question whether morality requires God, but that is a different discussion. If my argument is sound, it means that God doesn’t exist which means that all arguments for God’s existence, including the moral argument, can’t go through.

But there might be another more devasting response to the objector. The argument is aimed at the theist’s world view. Since the theist already grants that hate exists in at least a moral sense, it does not matter whether some non-theist can account for it.

Most importantly, I have argued why the argument from hate cannot be reduced to necessarily being an instance of moral evil.

3. Hate is the privation of Love. Response: I could easily say that Love is the privation of Love; that could be a more plausible view. Where’s the evidence for either assertion? The privation view rests on totally different metaphysical assumptions than what most Philosophers accept today, so without support, it is question-begging. The absence of Love is more plausibly indifference, and indifference is not the same thing as hate. And yet, hate exists whether or not it is an absence of love, and it would be question-begging to just assert that love is grounded in God. In a nutshell, the argument doesn’t claim that hate isn’t the absence of love.

As Ryan Stringer puts it:

A potential critic might still argue that since evil (for example) is really just the absence of goodness, there technically is no evil, only the absence of goodness. This argument does not work….for the alleged fact that these features really are not evil, but only lack goodness, does not eliminate the phenomena altogether…

…Furthermore, if evil is nothing but the absence of goodness, then (1) evil things must completely lack goodness and (2) things that completely lack goodness must be evil. Yet both of these consequences are false…For counterexamples to the second consequence, note that abstract objects and empty space appear to completely lack goodness[15], yet surely do not count as evil…. While abstract objects and empty space completely lack goodness, it is absurd to group them with such evil things.[16]

…evil things—whether they be experiences, events, desires, character traits, people, actions, states of affairs, or what have you—are true existential presences that lack goodness. They characteristically involve either the presence of negative things like pain and suffering, cruelty…or the taking away of positive things like freedom, happiness, and so on. In fact, these two characteristics not only allow us to make sense of degrees of evil, but also explain why (a) the two consequences of viewing evil as nothing but the absence of goodness are both false and (

It is false that evil is just the absence of goodness. We would say that suffering exists in the relevant sense, whether or not suffering is a privation of pleasure. Why not the same for hate? Besides, the privation view is typically used in order to absolve God of being the creator for things that are not good, not him allowing these things which is my argument from hate . But notice “not good” is not the same thing as “bad”.

4. Objection: Your reply to the moral argment objection the Fallacy of Equivocation. You are switching between two different notions of the word hate because you’re using it in a moral and/or non-moral way. Response: My only claim is that it could be known in both ways, such that, it is not neccessarily the case that hate is reduced to moral evil.

5. Objection: Hatred does not exist. Response:If hate does not exist, then does love also not exist? Secondly, the theist already grants that hate exists just like they grant that love exists.

6. Objection: The argument is unpersuasive, mainly because there are not good reasons to accept premise 1 of the argument. Response: The argument might not be persuasive but why is it any less persuasive than the argument from love? This argument does have an intuitiveness about it when we think of a God who is all-loving such that he would desire a relationship with us, and he would not approve of unjust hate. Hence, premise 1 does have at least some support.

7. Objection: I don’t buy into the argument from love so I don’t see your argument as a problem. Response: It’s true that there isn’t as much of a problem here if one does not buy into the argument from love, but the theist does. But the other question still is whether premise 1 is correct.

8. Objection: Hate does not exist in any objective sense. Response: This undermines the argument from love because the argument from love is predicated on the existence of love. In other words, one cannot rationally, without good reasons, accept that love exists but hate does not exist. If one thinks neither exists, then the argument from love has been undermined. In addition, if the argument from love can work if love is subjective, then so can the argument from hate. But if love is subjective, why would that require love? Because it seems we only need to go as far as humans for an explanation.

9. Objection: One theodicy is that God allows hate because that is the possible price he has to pay for free will, and free will is a greater good that to be of value. So, free will outweighs the existence of hate Response: We can flip this response by saying, “Evil god allows love because that is the possible price he has to pay for free beings who freely do immoral things. How much worse is hate if beings hate out of their own free will! ” If the latter does not work, then why would the original objection work? Moreover, is the amount of hate outweighed by free will? Do we need this much hate in order for there to be free will? It seems that we do not need this much hate in order for there to be free will. Finally, this doesn’t account for the instances of hate where the creature does not have free will.

10. Objection: Another theodicy is that God allows hate so that we can grow, for characters-building and growth is a greater good that seems worth having. Response: “Evil god allows love so that we can worry about them and grieve when they die.” Nobody buys the latter, so why do we buy the former? In addition, we don’t need this much hate in the world in order to build character.

11. Objection: We don’t know why God allows hate but that does not mean there is not a reason. However on could also say,”We cannot see a reason why evil god allows love, but that does not mean there is not a reason”. Perhaps someone will say that we can’t rule out either God or evil god having a reason. But, is this the case? Do we want to say that for all we know evil god has a reason for allowing love? Does this seem plausible? At least at face value it seems really problematic.

12. Objection: God allows hate for some greater good (like free will). Response: this objection does not apply to my IBE argument. Furthermore, one can have free will in a relationship with good, our deepest good. In a relationship with God, he could temporarily withdraw his felt presence from us if we are hateful towards God. Also, God could help us grow through our hate and humble us within a a relationship with him. In addition, why wouldn’t God prefer our deepest good over finite goods, including freewill?

13. Objection: Perhaps, non-theism is the best explanation for hate, but why would that rule out God as the best explanation for love. This could be the case, but I have argued that it is not obvious that God is the best explanation for the existence of love because there are different accounts of love. Moreover, I have addressed theodicies that theists can use against the argument from love. If the theodicies don’t work in reverse to explain love, then why would they work in their original forms in explaining hate? The answer it that it does not seem to be the case, which means

Conclusion:The main aim in this paper has been to undermine the argument from love. I have argued that the argument from love is undermined


#God’s existence #Argument from hate against the existence of God #problem of hate #argument from hate #Love #Argument from Love #Non-existence of God #Privation of good #Privation of Love #God #non-theism #atheism #brain chemicals #evil is a privation #hate is a privation #naturalism #ontological natural #materialism #physicalism #Existence of God #Evil #Problem of Hate #problem of evil #argument from evil #is the argument from hate just the problem of evil or another form of the problem of evil?


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