I feel like many intellectual debates break down at the semantics level, so I wanted to get some definitions out of the way first. With questions such as:
Are there any areas of your life and daily existence that you take by faith (for granted) without needing evidence?the words ideas that I felt needed defining were truth and knowledge, belief, faith, and proof. I didn't want to get too deep into epistemology, but I felt is was important to show where I stood on these matters.
Truth and Knowledge: there's a lot of philosophy behind the word “truth” – just take a look at the Wikipedia article on it. When it comes to truth and knowledge, I believe we can have only a certain amount of knowledge of an absolute truth. So while I believe there is an absolute truth out there to be known, I don't think it is possible (or at least likely) that we can ever know absolute truth – in other words, I don't believe humans will ever be omniscient. I believe that knowledge of the truth is on a scale of certainty. That is, if you asked me the truth value of the statement “the sky is blue”, I would say “true” because I have a high level of certainty that the sky is blue, based on most people's definitions of “sky” and “blue”. While most people would say their certainty of that statement is “100%”, I take that as meaning “99%” certainty. Basically what I mean by that is, there's always a chance we could be wrong about anything, however minuscule that chance may be. For more information on this viewpoint, look up “Philosophical Skepticism.”
Belief: A belief is defined as a psychological state in which an individual holds that something is true. We also know that a belief can be either true or false. I hold that a belief comes from our degree of certainty of the truth. For example: I believe that the shape of the earth is a sphere (more accurately, an oblate spheroid). I believe this with a high degree of certainty. Have I actually seen the earth with my own eyes from a distance? I wish! If was living in 10th century BC, would I believe the earth was flat? Maybe I would – maybe my certainty of that the earth was flat would have been 90%. My modern belief that the earth is a sphere is based my experiences – I've observed the curvature of the earth when on a cruise ship, so that tells me it's at least not completely flat. I've seen numerous photographs of the earth from a distance that show a spherical object, and I think it would be nearly impossible to fake those photographs. Also, there's not a whole lot of disagreement out there on the matter (even though some people still cling to the belief that the earth is flat).
Faith: I've heard many definitions of faith. Some say that faith is simply believing without doubt, or believing "whole-heartedly". Some have said faith is believing without the requirement for any logical evidence (which I'm not sure is even possible). Honestly, I'm not sure I've settled on a definition for this word. If faith means believing something with zero evidence, or even when there is evidence against that belief, then I guess I have a problem with faith. If faith is simply a function of certainty (e.g, a belief with 80% certainty requires 20% faith), I would be fine with that definition.
Proof: I try to avoid the word proof in discussions such as these, mainly because the word can be so misused. For example, in the case of “Finny vs. Seivers,” Finny argued that because there was no scientific proof for the theory of evolution, it should not be taught in our schools, and that intelligent design should be taught in its place. The suggestion that a scientific theory should have proof of anything is a huge misconception: in the sense that “proof” is used in math and philosophy, there is no scientific proof of anything. Science seeks evidence, not proof, to show truth in its theories.