Paul C. Vitz on FatherlessnessThe Psychology of Atheism, Truth Journal (January 9, 1995).
Besides abuse, rejection, or cowardice, one way in which a father can be seriously defective is simply by not being there. Many children, of course, interpret death of their father as a kind of betrayal or an act of desertion. In this respect it is remarkable that the pattern of a dead father is so common in the lives of many prominent atheists. Baron d’Holbach, the French rationalist and probably the first public atheist, is apparently an orphan by the age of 13 and living with his uncle. Bertrand Russell’s father died when young Bertrand was 4-years-old; Nietzsche was the same age as Russell when he lost his father; Sartre’s father died before Sartre was born and Camus was a year old when he lost his father… the information already available is substantial; it is unlikely to be an accident.