In my recent writings on the nature of faith and morality, a member of the studio audience wrote:
My own Christian faith is quite consistent with evidence, and has been based on evidence from the start. It is also not unreasoned. Maybe you don't agree with its conclusions, but that does not mean it is unreasoned.
I hold that by definition faith is belief ungrounded on any type of evidence. So, to the degree that a person has religious belief grounded on evidence then, by that fact alone, I would hold that this is not faith. It would be religious belief, but not faith.
This might not be how others have decided to use the term but, in the end, those types of consideations are not relevant. As long as a person keeps the use of a term consistent within his own writings, no matter how far it might deviate from the way somebody else uses the term, then this cannot be made the basis of an argument against him.
Changing definitions in mid-argument would make one guilty of the fallacy of equivocation.
However, keeping a constant definition throughout an argument, even if it is an unusual definition, does not commit any fallacy or lend itself automatically to any defect of reason.
You may disagree with this use of the term. You may have an interest in promoting some other term. Yet, none of that would change the fact that such a dispute is purely semantic and bears no substantive fruit.
We may dispute whether Pluto is a planet. However, when all is said and done, the dispute does not count for much. The diameter, surface features, distance from the sun, and chemical composition do not change whether we call it a planet or not.
No dispute over where to attach the term "faith" will affect the nature of belief without evidence.
The fact remains that I am talking about a defense of policies that cost others their life, their health, and their liberty. And I am talking about the type of evidence that is morally required to make those types of claims - and religious evidence does not qualify. What matters is the type of evidence that would be admissible in court.
If a person is advocating harm to others based on any weaker type of evidence - a type of evidence that would not be found acceptable in a court of law - then that person is acting immorally towards those that he argues shall be deprived of their life, health, or their liberty.
It does not matter what the name is. What matters is whether the type of evidence available is of a quality that can justify doing harm to others. That is the question to be asked, and that is the question the courtroom analogy helps us to answer.