How many atheists would still be atheist if God actually showed up?
Probably most of them, actually.
Encountering miracles isn’t really a beginning of faith for most people. My own story of faith actually begins with encountering someone who didn’t have all the answers, but knew they were out there. Miracles don’t engender faith, through faith they call us to change.
In the gospel for today (Matthew 11:20-24), Jesus deals with this issue. When Tyre and Sidon, and Sodom and Gomorrah come out looking more repentant than your city, you know something is wrong. The issue is this, people aren’t going to suddenly have their eyes opened by seeing miracles. When Jesus talks to Thomas later in the Gospels (doubting Thomas, remember?) he says, “blessed are those who cannot see, and yet have believed.” They have a pure faith. They have to, they have to recognize the limitations of their perception, and be comfortable knowing that the answer is out there. Their faith is in the fact that they have not seen the miracles, and still believe.
It’s important to note here, that this faith doesn’t sit and accept just anything as true. It weighs everything against what is known, and questions everything that isn’t. It also isn’t incompatible with a scientific knowledge of the world (which is also questioning and evaluative.) What faith is, is a second set of eyes, eyes that can look at the world and see deeper meanings in simple things. Eyes that can see miracles, and realize that they are a call to repentance and change.