Why do atheists think Christians worship God out of "fear of His retribution"?
Christians worship God, because "he is to be revered, for with him there is forgiveness of sins, and new life".
I posted this answer:
What prompted me to become a Christian? When I was 13, my sexually abusive and torturing dad told me that I would burn in hell for all eternity, and I believed him with all my heart.
That's why atheists think it. Because it's true, at least frequently, if not always. Also, even when it's not true, the fact that hell is there makes one's "choice" to follow Jesus a bit suspect. One might believe purer motives if there weren't such a horrifying consequence for making a different choice. If I tell you I love you, and you're pointing a gun at my head, you might be forgiven for thinking that my love is insincere. You might also be thought heartless if you shot me and said, "Well, you asked for it! I pointed the gun and told you that you have to love me, and you didn't! So you chose it yourself!" I've heard this from hundreds of Christians, and it seems really sick to me.
I didn't give it another thought. But a little while later I got an email from "Leon B":
I saw your answer to the question above. I'm genuinely sorry you went through what you did. I'm an unbeliever myself, and FWIW, I'm doing my best to raise my two little ones without any reason to fear Daddy. I don't know if it helps to know this, but there is at least one little girl and one little boy who're being raised in the kind of environment that all children should grow up in.
I AM glad you realized your biological father was telling you some bullsh*t and you chose to jettison it, rather than clinging to a belief system that would have further victimized you.
Hey Leon, that's beautiful. It's making me cry. Thanks so much for telling me. I have to tell you, that ghastly shit clung to me for 30 years. The reason I'm out here on Answers right now is that I've been trying for four days to make sense of my life, asking everyone, but especially the Christians, for answers. Their horrifying answers, plus the compassion of the atheists, helped me, after four days, to look at that hideous thing in my head and say, "That's not real." That was a couple of nights ago. I haven't convinced myself yet, but I keep saying it, and I can see Yahweh and hell dissolving before my eyes.
So there's a nice bit of news for you in return for your beautiful words. Thank you and best, best wishes. Rob