The Absent Father

The Absent Father February 9, 2020

By Marty McDonald


Imagine a 5 year old girl, never having met her father. She asks her mother, “Mommy, do I have a dad?” The mother replies, “Yes, you do. Here is his address. Write to him whenever you want”. So she writes a letter to her father, asking him to visit. She sends it, but gets no response.

So she sends another letter, and another, and another, but never receives a response.

Over time, the girl wonders if her penmanship is wrong. So she tries to improve her penmanship. Still, no response.

She tries enclosing drawings in her letters, but still, no response.

She decides her letters are ignored because she isn’t writing in cursive. So she works hard to learn cursive.

She practices endlessly and is very hard on herself when she makes cursive mistakes. But even writing in cursive, she never receives a response from her father.

She even starts to use more beautiful, expensive stationary & envelopes, thinking those will motivate her father to respond. Still, no response.

After 15 years of this, the child (now a 20 year old woman) concludes, “Either my father is a complete jerk for not answering me, or he doesn’t exist anymore. Regardless, it’s unhealthy for me to spend so much time and energy trying to convince my father to contact me. Therefore, I’m going to stop writing to him. I need to get on with my life”.

70 years later, at the age of 90, the woman dies.

She awakens in the afterlife. There, in front of her, is her father.

He asks her, “Why did you stop contacting me? Why did you conclude that I was either ‘a jerk’ or ‘did not exist’? GO TO HELL!”


If you seek a divine being, and that being does not respond in any way, you are under no obligation to keep believing in it.  You shouldn’t be held responsible for getting on with your life even if that being does exist.

Apologists deal with this concept by appealing to a concept called “Divine Hiddenness”.  “Divine Hiddenness” is just a fancy way of saying “God doesn’t reveal himself”.  But the same people who say that also claim that nature itself attests to his presence.  This is of course a contradiction, but apologists will have ways to explain that too.

If you’re tired of waiting for any proof that a god exists, or that it cares about you, or that you can rely on it in times of need, it’s OK to just move on.

If, after all is said and done, the deity DOES exist and sends you to hell (which doesn’t really exist), it’s just as well, because who wants to spend eternity worshiping an absent father?


If you are struggling with religion and want someone to talk to, the chatline is always open at recoveringfromreligion.org.

A directory of non-religious therapists is available at seculartherapy.org

About Marty McDonald
Marty McDonald was raised Catholic, then became Evangelical after being “born again”. Now that he's recovered from Christianity, he wants to help others who are also trying to recover. You can read more about the author here.

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