from Rob R
I have heard from a couple of sources of a study that demonstrated that many prominent atheists hated their fathers.
I shared this with a small group from my church and I was challenged on the notion to support this claim. I don't know if this is the source but it's pretty good. This video is of Paul Vitz who's a psychologist who wrote Faith of the Fatherless which is a record of his study of 72 major proponents of atheism and their relationships to their parents, particularly their fathers.
Here is an hour long lecture by the author. I admit I have not yet seen it all.
I would just highlight a couple of claims made by Vitz.
He isn't saying this is true of all atheists. He distinguishes between mild atheists, who don't view their atheism as central to their identity and don't make a big deal about it, and intense atheists who do and who have a major axe to grind against religion. His hypothesis is mainly about intense atheists. And of course upbringing does not determine one's religious outlook. You're going to have exceptions such as intense atheists who have a good relationship with their father like John Stuart Mill. No doubt your going to have people who've had a rough relationship with their fathers and are theists. Billy Wayne, a preacher who spoke at our church came to mind, though Billy is reconciled to his formerly abusive father who has come to faith.
As for the significance of this, of course Vitz rightfully notes that this does not directly reflect on the truth claims at stake with theism vs. atheism. He notes that what he is doing is turning the tables on atheists who have tried to use psychology as a weapon against religion in these matters.
Of course in and of itself, the psychological reasons behind a worldview may be emphasized to the point of ad hominem attack. This is to be avoided but at the same time, that such a psychologically unhealthy situation should be fairly consistently linked to a set of beliefs should make one wonder.
Vitz has further comments here though I am not sure that there is information here that wasn't in the video.