I was raised as an atheist. No church. No indoctrination of beliefs. No fellowship or spiritual guide. I embraced the concept that life is a meaningless and momentary accident for most of my life, and I was comfortable with that. For this reason I sought answers about reality in science. Ultimately it was science that taught me the true nature of faith. I learned to question everything, even my faith in science. I don't reject atheism now, but I can no longer call myself an atheist simply because I also do not reject the notion of a higher power. That's a tricky perspective to achieve. It requires a re-interpretation of faith, much different from that taught by religious organizations and even more disparate from the definition adopted by atheists.
I've often asked myself if I'd rather be smart or happy. Knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss. I almost always decide on smart, which may or may not speak to my ego. What speaks to my perception of reality is that, until recently, I never considered that you could be both simultaneously. What's the difference between a miracle and a coincidence? Etymologically speaking, the difference is vantage point. Are you seeing the forest or are you seeing the trees? With concepts like Quantum Entanglement and Wave-Particle Duality, it becomes very difficult, even as a logic-minded person, to deny that there are holes in our story of reality.
One study done at Cornell University was successful in demonstrating that the mind is not only capable of precognitive awareness, but that it is so integrated into our consciousness that we are unaware that we use it at all. It's important here to note that neuroscientist David Eagleman has made great strides in illuminating our misunderstandings of time perception. His studies have gone a long way in revealing evidence that suggests that time is a construct of the mind and not the other way around.
On that same token many legitimate scientists have tackled the taboo concepts that the word faith induces. Dean Radin, PhD, author of The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena and Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experience in a Quantum Reality, has spent his career experimentally qualifying the fact that it is possible to perceive distant information and to influence distant events across time and space, however limited that may be. Scientist Robert Lanza's theory of Bio-centrism states that "life is not an accidental byproduct of physics, but rather a key part of our understanding of the universe." Bio-centrism offers a new perspective on how science may one day unify psychology, quantum physics, and mysticism, by asserting that "there is no independent external universe outside of biological existence." Lanza, a world renowned scientist, goes so far as to maintain that Bio-centrism may be able to prove, scientifically, that there is an afterlife.
The human mind is only cognitively aware of a limited amount of information at any given time. Think of it like this: reality is all around you, but your perception is not a 360 degree vantage point. You see through the pin holes that are your eyes and things go on all around you that you have no awareness of. So what makes you think you know so much? Inference, allusion, speculation? These are all examples of faith. How confident are you that information is not being missed?
It always remains a scandal of philosophy and universal human reason that the existence of things outside us ... should have to be assumed merely on faith, and that if it occurs to anyone to doubt it, we should be unable to answer him with a satisfactory proof. - Immanuel Kant
The story Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott conveys relatable imagery on the perspective of entities living in a 2-dimensional reality. Scientists don't consider it a leap of faith to infer from this thought experiment what higher dimensions might be like. Higher Dimensional Geometry has proven to be a boon for modern scientists looking for alternative ways to connect General Relativity to Quantum Mechanics.
In One Dimension, did not a moving Point produce a Line with TWO terminal points?
In Two Dimensions, did not a moving Line produce a Square with FOUR terminal points?
In Three Dimensions, did not a moving Square produce — did not this eye of mine behold it — that blessed Being, a Cube, with EIGHT terminal points?
And in Four Dimensions shall not a moving Cube — alas, for Analogy, and alas for the Progress of Truth, if it be not so — shall not, I say, the motion of a divine Cube result in a still more divine Organization with SIXTEEN terminal points?
Behold the infallible confirmation of the Series, 2, 4, 8, 16: is not this a Geometrical Progression? Is not this — if I might quote my Lord’s own words — “strictly according to Analogy”?
It's not religious or superstitious to be aware of the fact that there are facets of reality that we as human beings have no conceivable way of perceiving. That being said, it's an interesting exercise to try. Try to think of what reality would look like from a different vantage point. What if you had more than just 5 senses? What would those senses be?
Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; but ... let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition. -Immanuel Kant
Perhaps words are the issue. When you hear a word like "faith" you have an immediate connotative response to it. You know what it means in the context of your life. If you're Christian, maybe you think of church or prayer. If you're an atheist maybe you think of being tricked or duped. Psychoanalyst Jacque Lacan proposed that "the real" is outside of "the symbolic," which is to say that "the real" is that which is outside language and that resists symbolization absolutely. This can become very convoluted when you're applying words and definitions to abstract concepts as intangible as faith and as discarnate as God.
We employ faith every day through object permanence and memory recall. Our species cannot function without faith. We hold beliefs that are not based on our current viewable surroundings and make decisions based on those beliefs. All faith really is, is trust. I trust that the world will be here still when I wake up. And I trust that even when my life is chaotic and stressful, it won't always be. I trust that pi*radius^2 measures the area of a circle. And I trust that my loved ones still exist in my absence. Why? Is it because there is plenty of evidence to suggest it? Is it because I was told to believe these things? Is it because when I am looking forward in time to the questioning abyss of unmade plasmic possibility, the unknown future seems to ask me what I'd like to see and my answer is often "more of the same?"
Faith is looking down a corridor and seeing a wall at the end. At first glance you assume this is a dead end. But as you walk you begin to notice the lights and shadow that come from passages on either side of the "end." You can't see down them, you don't know what's there; it could be dead end corridors. You know there is something beyond what you can see, and you look forward to finding out either way. Faith is a muscle we exercise, a behavior that when refined allows us to make broader connections and compute uncanny topics more quickly, allowing for a more efficient computation of otherwise perplexing elements of reality.