I quite like William Lane Craig’s definition of faith:
“Faith is trusting in that which you have reason to believe is true. Once you have come to believe that something is true, using reliable epistemological means, you can then place your faith or trust in those things.”
I had come to believe that atheism was true, and that it was the best explanation of my world and experiences. I trusted that it would continue to be so. However when I had an experience that my atheism could not easily explain I lost my trust in it.
When I was growing up one of my favourite authors was Carl Sagan, a strong advocate of the conflict thesis that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. I viewed religion and spiritually as the way that pre-scientific people explained away natural phenomena that they didn’t understand, excusable for them perhaps but in a modern rational age representing a rejection of rationality and hence unforgivable. Most of the Christians I had met were people with little science knowledge and I greatly enjoyed explaining their ignorance and stupidity to them.
Then I met a Christian in my analytical chemistry class. I couldn’t understand how a person could be studying science and be a Christian. He responded graciously to my interrogations and was able to explain away my usual atheistic gotchas. I decided I needed some new arguments to explain his folly to him so I started reading a bible looking for things to argue with him about. I started at the front because that is the way to read a book obviously. We had debated our way through Genesis and had moved onto Exodus. I was reading through the story of the plagues and getting very angry at this so-called God’s unfairness when something happened, very similar to these:
I find it hard to describe in words how it affected me but the best analogy I can come up with is that well known illustration of two black faces on a white background that is also a white candlestick on a black background. I could see two black faces and I had spent years ridiculing those who claimed to see a candlestick. After that experience I could see that the candlestick had been there all along.
Please understand that I am only trying to answer your curiosity, as I believe I am obliged to do according to 1 Peter 3:15. I am not trying to change you or alter your position. This is not intended to “prove” theism. If you can’t see the candlestick either then I think my telling you it is there will be just as useless as all the people who tried to tell me it was there. Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.