As a person who is as religious as you are, how do you write generally atheist characters like Bean so well? Is it just through your own logic, or do you have a model, or what?


Living in contemporary America, the views and attitudes of atheists are the easiest to obtain, since a hostility to religious faith is in fact the "established church" of elite American culture. But when it comes to a character like Bean, who is a doubter who is reluctant to commit to a community or a belief system, I can bring into his mind the kinds of questions that have come into my own and the minds of every other seeker after truth. Asking a tough question about God does not imply that, in the end, a negative answer is inevitable. On the contrary, my religious beliefs have survived and been strengthened by a lifetime of questioning, doubting, wondering, and exploring. Any belief system that goes unquestioned isn't much of a belief system at all, I believe; but even more dangerous than believing without question is questioning without questioning one's own questions. That is, doubts of a religious belief always have an underlying premise, which should also be doubted. Doubt your own doubts, and question your own questions, or you end up replacing one thoughtless belief system with another.