Many Christians laud faith as a virtue, and value intuition and gut feelings as confirmation of their beliefs. I reject all of this as unreliable, and it is my goal to elucidate why.
I will start by defining what I mean by faith, and then respond to some theistic uses of it. I accept the definition of faith in the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1. So the atheistic definition that 'faith is belief without evidence' is accurate to the definition found in Hebrews. If Christians wish to dispute this they should take it up with the New Testament canon and the anonymous author of the epistle, not with us.
When dialoguing with Christians, I am often scolded for not giving faith a chance and that I'm dogmatically accepting scientific naturalism. I would like to point out that I did give faith a chance, I was raised on faith. I consciously followed the Christian faith and bought into its conclusions for years. I read apologetics and debated online with atheists for about 4 years before jumping ship. I also do not dogmatically accept anything. If it became apparent that scientific naturalism was not producing intellectual progress or contributing to the wealth of knowledge that furthers the advancement of our species, I would abandon it just as I abandoned by former religion. The thing is though, that scientific naturalism is making progress, and we are constantly finding out more and more about the world we live in by scientific methods.
The other common thing that I hear from the Christians that I discuss/debate with is that they think faith is a path to knowledge. This is usually coupled with the two statements in the previous paragraph. When I have asked how faith is a path to knowledge, I am only ever met with distractions and diversions. I don't see the connection between faith as defined in Hebrews and knowledge. How can you learn something from having confidence in what you hope for, or from having assurance about what you don't see? In every aspect of my life I learn things by examining the world around me, or by listening, reading or doing things. I have never learned anything by believing something a priori, without evidence. In fact I contend that doing so is the antithesis of learning, and only takes away from potential knowledge, rather than contributing to it as my theist friends insist. On top of the dodging of this question, I have never received an acceptable answer when I ask what knowledge faith has given them. If as they say faith is an alternative path to knowledge than the rational methods I apply, then surely they could point to an example of knowledge that has been revealed by faith? It seems like a reasonable question to me.
When the issue of morality arises I am met constantly with the view that God instils moral values into our intuitions, or something akin to it. No amount of sociological, evolutionary or neuro-scientific reasoning seems to be able to convince them that intuitions are not reliable ways to know anything. Moral ideas are largely the product of cultural conditioning, and many intuitions come from our evolutionary heritage and are explicable by natural, hormonal or neural means. We have learned so much about how our brain works and the natural world we live in, and as a result we can correct for errors in our cognition and intuition. Similarly, we can correct moral beliefs that are conditioned into us from cultural or evolutionary heritage. Pointing to moral intuition is not a cogent argument for the existence of God, as our moral intuitions are constantly changing as a result of cultural change. Our intuitions and gut feelings are useful tools in every day life, as we often can not afford the time to sit and think rationally about every decision we make, but we must also realise that they are often error-prone and sometimes flat out wrong. If you think God exists because you have a gut feeling that something exists out there it is my opinion that this is but another example of cognitive failure.