It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith.

Pi views his favorite teacher, Mr. Kumar, as a man of faith, despite his atheism. While Pi feels drawn to the study and practice of religions, he does not adhere to any one doctrine or book of religious texts. Instead, he explores Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Fundamentally, Pi connects with the key concepts that unite these religions: God, light, and love. Pi’s choice to have faith leads him to be accepting of atheists. Like him, they have made a choice to believe in something, even if that belief declares God doesn’t exist.

Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.

Pi prays for the daily miracles he will need in order to stay alive. When the reality of sharing a lifeboat with Richard Parker hits Pi, he feels terrified and hopeless. As he considers giving up, he hears a voice in his heart telling him to fight to survive. Pi finds within himself a determination to deal with his circumstances and live. Pi believes that the mere fact of living from day to day will qualify as a miracle, showing the presence of God with him. As long as Pi remains faithful—and works hard—he can survive.

Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love—but sometimes it was so hard to love.

Pi muses that he did not always have an easy time maintaining his faith in God during his 277 days as a castaway despite never giving up his religious practices. Pi sees his religious faith as a manifestation of love, and at sea, Pi suffers powerful negative emotions: anger, despair, perhaps even hatred for the Frenchman who attempted to kill him. Instead of dwelling on these challenges, however, Pi often chooses to focus on those experiences that reaffirm his faith, such as the appearance of a school of fish or the arrival of a storm.

Mr. Okamoto: “Yes.The story with animals is the better story.” Pi Patel: “Thank you. And so it goes with God.”

During his interview with the Japanese officials, Pi gives two versions of what happened after the boat sank—one with animal companions and one with human companions—and the officials reveal that they prefer the animal narrative despite how unbelievable the story seems. Pi uses their concession to explain his religious feelings. While belief in God might not make factual sense, it makes emotional sense: Faith uplifts the mind and spirit and makes the world a better place. Like stories told by religions, Pi’s story with the animals highlights miracles and serves, at heart, as a story of love between a boy and a tiger.