Webster’s Dictionary defines the word faith as follows:
1. a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>
In the context of modern-day religious usage of the word, I believe that faith can be more accurately defined as:
A) Belief in something for which their is either no evidence of bad evidence.
B) Belief in something in the face of evidence to the contrary of your position.
With regards to modern scientific knowledge, religious faith is akin to definition B. Choosing to believe in the doctrine of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Scientology, Mormonism, Hinduism, or any other faith-based system of belief is choosing to believe in something even though all known evidence points to the claims being made as false. Belief in the teachings of the Christian bible is no different than choosing to believe that Star Wars or Lord of the Rings is real, simply because one chooses to believe it is. God, in the sense of deism or pantheism cannot be disproved any more than Thor or Zeus can be disproved, but individual claims made by specific religious sects can, and in many cases have been for some time. For example, biblical creationism, at least in the literal interpretation, has been roundly disproved by evolutionary biology to the point that it is almost universally recognized as absurd that people still choose to believe in it. Faith of this kind is something that should neither be encouraged nor respected. In fact, it seems the only appropriate response to an otherwise rational and mentally stable person who holds a belief such as this is to openly mock and ridicule them. To truly respect someone’s intelligence, you must be willing to refuse to respect their irrationally held beliefs, if only on the grounds that they’re capable of much better.