The fact that the primary dictionary definition, the popular understanding, and the biblical meaning are no longer in agreement leads me to believe that the meaning of this word is in transition. I suggest that it is time to consider revising our speech and Bible translations to better reflect the biblical intent, rather than risk misleading our audience (or deluding ourselves).
Certainly our enemy would prefer to have people believe that Christianity is based on a belief without evidence and not a conviction based on evidence over time, that the word of God is trustworthy.
The distinction between the contemporary understanding and the biblical intent is seen quite clearly in the well know verse, John 14:1:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.”
In the popular understanding of “belief” this verse seems backwards. Why would Jesus have based believing on Himself whom His audience could see, on a God who they could not see? Shouldn’t it have been the other way around? Does it make sense to understand this verse as saying “You believe in God without evidence, therefore accept me without examining my claims?”
Of course not. Jesus is saying “You have placed your confidence in God because He has repeatedly proven Himself to Israel. Likewise I have demonstrated to you over and over again that I am the christos—the king God ordained to deliver you—now rely on me in the same way.”
It is this meaning that we see in the Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith here should not be understood as acceptance without proof, but as confidence based on the evidence of God’s past dealing with his people. A history which the author proceeds to delineate. It is this that engenders the loyalty which the rest of the chapter demonstrates. It is also this type of confidence which the demons hold without leading to loyalty. Which leads us to our next point.