Flat Lander wrote:
Faith should be used to go the “extra mile” to believe something supportable and probable . . . not to support a belief in something the evidence utterly contradicts[.]
This is a more useful view of "faith," IMO, though it is not the type of faith practiced by probably about 98% of believers in the world. When I was on my way out of Mormonism, my former-bishop father kept plugging away (and still does, during moments when he is in reactivation mode) about how "faith" is all part of the plan, and about how the test of life is whether we will rely on "faith" rather than evidence. Well, "faith," as it is practiced by most, is nothing short of "the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved" (to steal a line from Tim Minchen)--and this can't be what any sort of respectable God intended or requires in my view (though I don't believe in any God, be it respectable or not).
Of course, this revised type of faith you are promoting means that one is ultimately stuck exercising "faith" in a "God of the Gaps," because our limited human observations are continuously filling in more and more of the picture. Right now God might have clapped its hands (or swirled its ethereal mists, depending on what you think God is like) to start the Big Bang, but it's not really necessary for much of the picture from that point on. I suppose our current observation doesn't rule out the possibility of a capricious God who works in a very haphazard manner--in that it just might allow rampant evil to go unchecked in certain parts of the world, yet it might help other people find car keys, and that it might just be unnaturally obsessed over whether homosexuals are given the legal right to a civil marriage--but strangly this isn't the type of God that most believers posit.