Indeed, I think that facing up to the suffering that is a part of nature itself may be easier for an atheist because we do not have to reconcile the inconsistency between the evil before our eyes and faith in a loving god. A few years ago, I had dinner with a woman who had just attended a lecture of mine in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When her 12-year-old son died of leukemia, she joined a support group for parents who had lost their children to disease or violence, but she soon left because she was an atheist and so many of the other participants kept saying, "God must have a reason." Of course he must. Otherwise, why had their children died of cancer or been mowed down by a drunk driver? "For me," this grieving mother said, "the task was to reconcile myself to something for which there was no reason other than cells gone wild. I don't know how I could bear it if I thought that my son's death was part of a plan, because I would have to hate any god with such a 'plan'--and if I were consumed by hate, then I would know despair."
From today's Washington Post. I couldn't agree more, including the last section about the sometimes (mostly) awful NBC coverage of the Winter Games. My emphases.