From this past Saturday's Wall Street Journal's Review section:
Atheists With an Asterisk
Atheists may not believe in God, but they're still uncomfortable urging a deity to "make someone murder my parents cruelly."
That was one of 10 ugly requests of God that volunteers were asked to read aloud, as part of a study in Finland, while their skin conductance was measured.
Asked how they felt, believers were more bothered by the statements than nonbelievers. But the skin test, which measures stress by sensing how much people sweat, revealed that the nonbelievers were just as bothered as the believers. An atheist ought to regard any statement calling on God to do something as meaningless.
The researchers suggest several explanations, including that atheists might believe deep down in a deity, or might once have believed and can't completely shake the notion.
"Atheists Become Emotionally Aroused When Daring God to Do Terrible Things," Marjaana Lindeman, Bethany Heywood, Tapani Riekki and Tommi Makkonen, International Journal for the Psychology of Religion (Feb. 19)