My answer to What is the most difficult thing you have ever convinced someone of?
Answer by Yuri Kruman:
If you’ve ever tried convincing an ex-Soviet scientist (especially biologist) about the value of religious faith, you may know some share of my pain for the past 10 years.
In my personal journey from a Soviet upbringing with two scientist parents (a biologist mother, a physicist father and a sister who married a former altar boy who hates organized religious with a passion), there has been no harder argument in my career (including as a lawyer, financier, startup executive, published author and career coach) than convincing my skeptic mother of the sincerity of my acquired religious faith.
In what has been a decade-long series of (often painful) conversations about the value of religious rituals to me (which she derides, citing the right intent and ethical framework as far more important) and now, to my children (which she no longer dismisses), my dearest mother has often questioned the sincerity of my religious observance and (mostly) politely dismissed it as extraneous and distracting, not to mention a childish caprice. <A rhetorical stab to the heart>
Only in recent times, when religious ritual and community have provided a tremendous support and coping system for me and my family through very tiring times (serious health issues), has she fully come around to the value of religious ritual and community and religious observance.
This is not least because scientific studies have regularly shown that religious faith and community are the strongest factors in recovery from chronic and terminal diseases like cancer, heart attacks and strokes.
While Soviet habits (religion was illegal and derided as opium for the masses) die hard and a skeptical scientist’s worldview will rarely change after decades of systemic, peer-reviewed thinking and reasoning based on empirical evidence, difficult times do sometimes convince even the greatest skeptic of the value of religious faith and community.
One just never knows. If one’s faith is sincere, it will overcome even the strongest skepticism from a non-believer.