A reader writes:
It is precisely when you are losing that denying the existence of God makes life make sense. I have had an illness for a number of years - it is a neurological illness, which is the existential equivalent of having your eye scraped or being kicked in the testicles. It gets you right where it hurts the most - in this case, in the white matter tracts of my brain. My torture from this illness only makes sense, is *only* meaningful to me if there is no God, or if the God which exists does not really care about my welfare at all. Because I have done nothing terribly wrong, immoral, in my life, let alone anything wrong that makes this punishment seem necessary or proportionate or just under any conception of ethics or justice. Strangely, it is only by denying God in these moments that my life makes enough sense for me to push forward.
Somehow the logical equation has been inverted against those who resist a positive belief in God especially in these moments. Following from the experience of suffering, the burden of proof is on those who believe in a God, or at the very least a beneficent God, to demonstrate how it is possible for both pure, intense suffering to exist, as it does in the story of the concentration camp victim or Hitch's devastating illness, and also for a beneficent God to exist. And yet, somehow people tend to resort to believe in a God when they are experiencing intense suffering.