I was sick of stories where Christians fight evil scientists or scientists fight ignorant Christians, so I came up with Shannon, a chemistry nerd from an eco-Christian denomination who views scientific study as a form of worship. I've had a lot of fun building her up and determining her path for growth, but I still have one unanswered question: where does her faith in God come from in the first place? To give some idea of why I'm worried about screwing this up, I read a book a while ago with one designated atheist character, Sefton. Sefton's reason for not believing in God was that he was gay and had been harassed and persecuted by Christians. This was framed as stubborn refusal, like he knew on some level God existed but just wouldn't worship him out of anger and bitterness. Even though Sefton was treated sympathetically, this felt incredibly patronizing to me, as if the author couldn't even think of a reason for someone to genuinely not believe in God. (It almost reminded me of when authors have to make excuses for why someone is a lesbian, because obviously a woman needs a reason to not be attracted to men!) At the same time, I inadvertently developed Shannon's character arc into one of gradually increasing refusal to bow down and obey others who think they know better than her. Three different characters each want her to follow them, and it kept making sense for her to reject them. Given that her world is being invaded by demonic monstrosities and innocent people are dying around her, she has every right to question her faith, and it would feel unrealistic if that was the one point where she never doubted. I've gone through and rejected multiple ideas, ranging from direct experience of a miracle to a Descartes-inspired appeal to personal nature. My current idea was inspired by some of Barack Obama's words about his faith--that it was "a choice, not an epiphany," and it didn't make him stop questioning. In this formulation, Shannon likes who she is, and she believes that her faith in God and her devotion to Christian teachings are among the things that guide her to be a good person. She can't prove any of it's real, but she'd rather act like it's real than go through life without it. This sets up interesting parallels or contrasts with three other characters, feeds into the overall message of the story, makes her rejection of one of the villains a lot more painful, and makes a good setup for a massive rant from another protagonist who finds it offensive on multiple levels. Despite this, I feel like it's missing a certain amount of heft. Faith is often a very emotional experience, so is it really okay to make the basis of her faith so cold and impersonal?