I used to be a fervently evangelical atheist; I believed that I was right about the non-existence of any form of deity or after-life, and I needed to show all the non-atheists out there how deluded they were.
Having married a man staunch in his faith who believes simply because he does, I have learned to understand faith a little more. I still don’t agree, but I know now that trying to change his mind would be like trying to convince a toaster to run a marathon: it’s not what he’s built for.
When people ask me about it, I try and explain how for both of us our belief – one way or the other – is so deeply part of us that we are not conscious of it until it is challenged. I have likened the situation to the Belief Chip from Red Dwarf. Tareka is wired for faith, I am not.
I have come to accept that my husband’s faith is as much a part of him as his sense of humor and his inability to perform “active listening” convincingly.
We both believe what we believe and know that what matters is how we live now, rather that what might or might not happen after we die. I accept and respect his faith and he mine. We take the piss out of each other for our beliefs, but ultimately honor them.
Try looking at your partner, or your friend, or your neighbour in this way. Try and understand that their faith (or lack of it) is not a failing or something that needs to be corrected. It is part of what makes them who they are, and you care about them, so you should also care about their beliefs. As long as no-one is trying to force you into something you do not agree with, then there is no reason that we can’t all behave well towards each other.
Love thy neighbour, even if he plays the trombone.