"Apparently praying keeps her calm and happy. It's some kind of ritual for them. It doesn't do any harm. Why don't you go and join them if you're worried?"
Theo said: "I don't think they'd want me."
"I don't know, they might. They might try to convert you. Are you a Christian?"
"No, I'm not a Christian."
"What do you believe, then?"
"Believe about what?"
"The things that religious people think are important. Whether there is a God. How do you explain evil? What happens when we die? Why are we here? How ought we to live our lives?"
Theo said: "The last is the most important, the only question that really matters. You don't have to be religious to believe that. And you don't have to be a Christian to find an answer."
Rolf turned to him and asked, as if he really wanted to know: "But what do you believe? I don't just mean religion. What are you sure of?"
"That once I was not and that now I am. That one day I shall no longer be."
Rolf gave a short laugh, harsh as a shout. "That's safe enough. No one can argue with that. What does he believe, the Warden of England?"
"I don't know. We never discussed it."
Miriam came over and, sitting with her back against a trunk, stretched out her legs wide, closed her eyes and lifted her face, gently smiling, to the sky, listening but not speaking.
Rolf said: "I used to believe in God and the Devil and then one morning, when I was twelve, I lost my faith. I woke up and found that I didn't believe in any of the things the Christian Brothers had taught me. I thought if that ever happened I'd be too frightened to go on living, but it didn't make any difference. One night I went to bed believing and the next morning I woke up unbelieving. I couldn't even tell God I was sorry, because He wasn't there any more. And yet it didn't really matter. It hasn't mattered ever since."
Miriam said without opening her eyes: "What did you put in His empty place?''
"There wasn't any empty place. That's what I'm telling you."
P.D.James, The Children of Men