Fr. Robert Barron addresses the common misconceptions about the nature of God that lead so many who worship at the altar of science to deny God exists. According to Fr. Barron, the atheist critique hinges on their mistaken understanding of God as “the supreme instance of the category of being.” Citing St. Thomas Aquinas, Barron argues that this is exactly what God is not. Rather God is ipsum esse subsitens, that is, the subsistent act of being itself. “The sciences in principle cannot eliminate God, because God is not some phenomena in the world.”
But for Hutson and others who are perplexed at the dogged persistence of “magical thinking,” it gets worse. Hutson cites studies that show the persistent belief in God is not merely understood as some distant Deistic First Cause but, rather, of a God who cares, a God who judges and a God who might punish. Deep in our bones we are intrinsically theistic. He writes, “Even atheists seem to fear a higher power. A study published last year found that self-identified nonbelievers began to sweat when reading aloud sentences asking God to do terrible things (‘I dare God to make my parents drown’). Not only that, they stressed out just as much as believers did.”
Further, our revulsion at evil befalling our parents is not merely because they are ours, that is, because it would be unpleasant for us to have them experience evil. Rather, we are, all of us, offended by evil befalling the innocent because we have an innate sense of natural law, of good and bad, right and wrong, that echoes through all that is. We are intensely aware of either harmony or discord with truths far beyond human construction or patternicity, and the ubiquity and immutable persistence of these truths is why atheists must be so cranky and belligerent.
I think there are some people who genuinely believe that there is no God, but it’s easy to look at a lot of “cranky and belligerent” atheists and see them as people who are more angry at God than disbelieving in Him.