My ex-husband has been a lifelong atheist. He was the most immovable sort of atheist: a professor, very worldly and sophisticated, convinced he knew everything, consumed with pride and narcissism. His narcissism eventually led him into crime and depravity, because he was convinced that there was no such thing as God or Satan, right or wrong, just "what he liked" and "what he didn't like." He thought he was above the laws that apply to ordinary, stupid people, and was full of contempt for churches and Christians. My growing faith was one of the things that parted us. We were divorced more than seven years ago.
About two years ago our little son, then eight, decided that he wanted to be baptized, and in his innocence wanted his daddy to see the fine service our church holds. So my ex came to church, rather resentfully, expecting to see the pastor a charlatan and the snakes big and fat. Instead, he admitted that the pastor appeared to be a very literate and very sincere man. Subsequently we began having a security issue--I had a stalker who was coming to church and following me around--and my ex decided that he had to come to church to serve as bodyguard to me and my kids. So for the next several months he had to sit and listen to the pastor every Sunday for an hour and a half.
He subsequently went away to pay for his crimes. When he returned, five months later, he was right back to church. One sees him praying now, taking communion, weeping as the pastor gently preaches a message that hits home, or sometimes going up to to the altar for special prayer. It won't be long now. It's taken 64 years, but the nasty atheist has turned into an understanding and supportive daddy who is doing his best to help his kids and is taking them to church every Sunday. He is humble now, the first to admit that people who have little formal education can be very well-educated indeed. Praise God!--prayer works.
I have seen the worst (and those who thought they were the best) come to the LORD, Cap. Thanks for your story to add to so many. My list of those I am praying for (and waiting on) is long.....but He is faithful.
"He is humble now"
That is a key; and it is not taught now-a-days!
Children do make a difference. I have raised my daughter with the faith, and sent her to a good school. Her father is "too busy." BUT she had him in tears one time (she told me) promising to go to church every Sunday. He knows he has to be a good example for her, and that sends him to church more often than he would otherwise be inclined: "too busy." AND he would not listen to me: it would only harden him. I flatly told him: I am not your mother, it is not my responsibility to nag you to go to church. It is YOUR responsibility . . . So the kids definitely have an edge!
Do hope your ex comes around finally. As you said, pride and narcissism allow a person to rationalize away God -- they make themselves into a god: i.e. arbiter of what they shall and shall not do. They can't accept a God telling them what is right or wrong. Remind him that the 10 Commandements are not rules to stifle us, but "operating instructions" for human nature. If we violate them, we only hurt ourselves and others, because that is the way we are made.
Thanks for sharing your story.