In trying to help us learn the meaning of faith, John Lennox recently said the following:
Christopher Hitchens gives one of the most wonderful examples that I have ever come across: “If one must have faith to believe in something, the likelihood of that something having truth or value is considerably diminished.” And I faced him with this in one of our debates. I said to him, “Christopher, do you believe that you exist? Do you have faith that you exist? Because if you do, that considerably diminishes the fact that you do exist.” It is just utterly absurd, and it comes from this false definition of faith.
Apart from the lack of philosophical rigor in modern atheists, the point Lennox makes illustrates for us the false view of faith that is being defined for us by the critics. Unfortunately many in the church are not helping their own cause very much, for the church has, for a century or so, been dividing faith and reason as if the two were unrelated.
A much more clear term, I think is trust. When a person in authority tells us something, we trust what they tell us, or we do not. If a drunk on the street tells me that I had better get out of the way because the buildings might fall down, I will not have much trust in his statements. But if a policeman were to tell me the same thing, I would take his statement seriously and move myself to safer ground. Christopher Hitchens likely had trust in his teachers because they demonstrated to him that they were knowledgeable in what they taught. Surely Mr. Hitchens did not doubt everything he was ever taught until he could prove it for himself. Such a degree of skepticism would not allow someone to get through the day, let alone pass a course in school. So Hitchens, like all skeptics, are selective in their skepticism.
So we have faith in policemen and teachers and the apostles of Jesus because we trust what they say. We trust them based on what they have told us in the past, which demonstrates their authority. We do not have blind faith, for such term is an oxymoron. Rather, we have a reasonable faith.