Faith – A belief in something that has not been proven. (example: God created the universe.)
Fact – An inescapable truth that can be repeatability proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt. (example: 2 + 2 = 4)
In the debate of theology vs. science (which I don’t believe to be mutually exclusive), participants on both sides often confuse their faith and the facts. This results in mess of opinions being paraded around as the “truth”, when they most definitely are just opinions.
Despite what most Christians would profess, nobody has proven facts that a man named Jesus lived 2,000 years ago. There is evidence that suggest this might be true, but it hasn’t been proven with facts. And even if it had, there is no proof (facts) that he was the Son of God and was crucified on a cross. And even if there was, there is no proof (facts) that He was without sin, born of a Virgin, and that He rose from the dead on the third day and ascended into heaven. And even if all of these ideas could be proven (with facts), there is still no proof (facts) that He went through all of this to cleanse the world of sin.
Thus, because there are no facts to prove these things, it is faith (belief) in these things that Christians must rely on. Unfortunately, a major conflict occurs when said Christians confuse their faith and beliefs with proven facts. First, said beliefs end up being forced on others as proven facts that apply to everyone (just as 2 + 2 = 4 is true for everyone) as opposed to just beliefs. Second, when Christians trade their faith for unproven facts, they become “know-ers” instead of “believers”, which conflicts with the teachings of the Bible as Jesus himself placed immense focus on His followers “faith”, not their “knowledge”. (Matthew 9:2, 15:28)
On the other hand, faith is not solely restricted to the religious / theological realm. The same can be true for some scientists who believe that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is a fact, even though it has not been repeatedly proven. As such, it remains a “theory” or a belief in which these scientists are putting their faith in. And though it may eventually be proven to be fact, to treat it as a fact before it is proven would be to confuse ones faith (beliefs) with the facts, similar to example of the Christians above.
In my experience, I have found that ALL people have the same amount of faith. The difference is simply where they choose to invest that faith. Some people put their faith in a religion or a god, others put their faith in science. Some put their faith in the government, while others put their faith in the stock market and 401k funds. Still others put their faith in themselves and their families, in Hollywood and pop culture, in sports teams and personal titles. There are many places in which we put our faith and I don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong with this practice. The issue occurs when we confuse our faith with the facts.