Anger at God common, even among atheists
If you're angry at your doctor, your boss, your relative or your spouse, you can probably sit down and have a productive conversation about it. God, on the other hand, is probably not available to chat.
And yet people get angry at God all the time, especially about everyday disappointments, finds a new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
It's not just religious folks, either. People unaffiliated with organized religion, atheists and agnostics also report anger toward God either in the past, or anger focused on a hypothetical image - that is, what they imagined God might be like - said lead study author Julie Exline, Case Western Reserve University psychologist.
In studies on college students, atheists and agnostics reported more anger at God during their lifetimes than believers. A separate study also found this pattern among bereaved individuals. This phenomenon is something Exline and colleagues will explore more in future research, which is open to more participants.
It seems that more religious people are less likely to feel angry at God and more likely to see his intentions as well-meaning, Exline's research found.
And younger people tend to be angrier at God than older people, Exline said. She says some of the reasons she's seen people the angriest at God include rejection from preferred colleges and sports injuries preventing high schoolers from competing.
The age difference may have to do with cultural norms, she said. Perhaps previous generations were taught to not question God, whereas younger people today don't have any qualms about it. On the other hand, it might be that as people get older, they learn how to handle these types of feelings better.