The dictionary defines a belief as: any cognitive content held as true. That is to say, A thought, opinion or idea which you believe to be factual. I am fairly happy with this definition and it seems to work well.
What i want to do today is discuss the difference between the word belief and what is known as a religious belief. The two couldn't be further apart. While a regular everyday belief like the earth goes round the sun, The moon isn't made of cheese and fire burns are perfectly reasonable things to believe, When it comes to religion, belief takes on a whole new sinister twist. In religion a belief give the holder of incorrect opinions a licence to construct elaborate rationalisations in order to carry on believing this belief even in the presence of overwhelming evidence against it. Simply because it's a "belief".
My definition of a religious belief is: The ability to construct illogical and elaborate rationalisations that justify continued belief in something in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary
In these cases the religious person may not entirely reject your evidence, They will simply construct a far fetched rationalisation to explain how your evidence fits in with their belief in a god (you know you have them backed in to a corner when they do this).
I'll give you some examples of situations where far fetched rationalisations may be used by the religious when they are presented with evidence or an argument;
Evidence: The bible says god created the earth in a day, Science says it took millions of years.
Rationalisation When the bible is talking about "days" it isn't talking about the same day as us. A god day may be millions of years in length.
Evidence: The bible speaks about creation, Evolution is a fact.
Rationalisation: The biblical account is a metaphor. God actually created evolution.
Evidence: Why would a loving god help movie stars win awards or you get a raise, But not help millions of starving children in Africa?
Rationalisation: God works in mysterious ways.
What they are doing is basically saying: "Your evidence does contradict what i believe, But i am unable to admit it, So i will construct a rationalisation that allows me to acknowledge that what you are saying is true but at the same time continue to believe in what it contradicts".
To any bystander their rationalisation makes no sense at all, but for the believer looking like an idiot is a lot better than having to admit that you are wrong about god, Even if in thier heart they know how wrong they are.