Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
One of the criticisms of Christianity is that it is a crutch for the weak. Belief in God is considered by some to be nothing more than an illusion to satisfy unconscious needs. But Dr. Paul Vitz wondered the opposite: suppose it's the atheists who are engaging in unconscious wish fulfillment. To find the answer, Vitz scanned the last four centuries for patterns that distinguish the lives of atheists from the lives of theists.
After studying the lives of more than a dozen of the world's most influential atheists, Vitz discovered they all had one thing in common: defective relationships with their fathers. Vitz defines "defective" fathers as those who were dead, abusive, weak, or who abandoned their children.
Sigmund Freud wrote that his father was a sexual pervert. Thomas Hobbes's father was an Anglican clergyman who got into a fight with another man in the churchyard and, subsequently, abandoned his family. Ludwig Feuerbach, at age 13, was abandoned by his father, who openly took up living with another woman in a different town. Voltaire fought constantly with his father, causing him later to reject his surname.
Schopenhauer's father committed suicide when he was 16. Both Bertrand Russell and Nietzsche lost their fathers at the age of four. Sartre's father died before Sartre was born, and Camus was a year old when he lost his father. Hume also lost his father in early childhood. Hitler's father was a violent man who unmercifully beat Adolf, his mother, and even the family dog; he died when Adolf was 14. Stalin's father also administered brutal beatings to his son.
Obviously, much more evidence needs to be obtained on the "defective father" hypothesis. But the information already available is substantial; it is unlikely to be an accident.
Being a father means more than providing a paycheck. It is modeling what our Heavenly Father is.
Dear Lord, thank the Lord for being the perfect Father and example to each of us. Help each of us fathers to strive to be like You and share Your love as we raise the children You have given to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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