Time magazine reported a few years ago that 94 percent of Americans pray and believe that their prayers are answered. Don’t assume that that is faith. That could be the natural virtue of religion, for which we are grateful. The European Values Study twenty years ago revealed that six percent of the atheists in Ireland believe in the divinity of Christ. (The Irish can be very complicated when it comes to matters of faith.) Consider James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, both of whom were identified as Irish atheists. After preaching nihilism and meaninglessness for years, Beckett in his old age was quoted as saying, “Please God” and “God bless.” “God bless” is a devout Irish way of saying good-bye. Nikita Khrushchev once said, “Next year I will go to Washington, God willing.” Even American atheists will somberly sit at a meeting of the League of the Militant Godless, and when somebody sneezes, they will all say, “God bless you.” Nature will simply not let us escape from God.

This excerpt comes from The Virtue Driven Life.