Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. — Hebrews 11:1
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. — Hebrews 11:6
Do you know the difference between correlation and causation? If you do, you are ahead of most folks, and you're also ahead of many so-called experts.
I made a single mistake in the design of my house. In my office, I have a half-bath, which is fine. If I had made it a three-quarter, with even the simplest shower, I could have avoided exposure to all kinds of evil. For example, the other night I needed a shower, and I had to cross the master bedroom as my wife was watching the day's Oprah re-run. Oprah had some experts on telling people how to increase their wealth (for most Oprah-watchers, getting a job would be a good start). The final suggestion was to buy a house, since, the "expert" claimed, people who own their homes are something like 34 times wealthier than renters. I could not help myself. "That dumbass is no expert if he/she doesn't know the difference between a cause and a correlation!" I exclaimed.
The problem is that what the idiot said is probably actually the case. People who own homes no doubt have more wealth/net-worth than renters. The expert implied — and likely believes — that owning a home causes a person to be wealthier. The truth is that owning a home — for most people — correlates with having more wealth. Right now, there are millions of people who believed in the causation theory living in mortgaged houses that have actually decreased their wealth because they owe more on the mortgage than the house is worth or will be worth in the foreseeable future. There are also a large number of people for whom home ownership is sucking out most of their resources. They were led to believe that owning a home equaled increasing their net-worth, so owning a bigger, more expensive home meant they had more wealth. They are saddled with monthly payments that eat up over half their disposable income, and they are living, not just from paycheck to paycheck, but off their credit cards. Every day they are, as TEF most famously said, "Another day older and deeper in debt."
The confusion is also seen quite often in medical science and probably other branches of science. The false prophets of anthropogenic global warming see the correlation between increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and increasing temperatures and claim that "carbon emissions" cause planetary warming. In fact, increases in CO2 lag increases in temperature, so it could hardly be the cause. Carbon dioxide causes global warming in the same way that the hole in the window caused you to pull the trigger on your BB gun.
Obesity, cholesterol levels, arterial plaque, and heart attacks correlate. I am not convinced that there is a direct cause-effect relationship. I am personally convinced that, for most people, dietary cholesterol does not cause heart attacks or strokes. Rather, it seems plausible to me that obesity itself is an effect instead. Note: I am not offering medical advice to anyone. I'm just saying what I think. I am as completely ignorant and unqualified with regard to medical science and human physiology as I am most other subjects, including finance and politics. I do, however, believe that a reasonable amount of physical activity along with having a vocation or avocation that gives you real joy will cause you to have a healthier and higher quality life, if not a longer life. And what do you really want?
Faith can correlate rather than cause as well. In my work, I often have to come up with solutions to problems. Sometimes, I just know I'm right about a fix or a solution. Other times, I have a little twinge of doubt that tells me all is not as it should be. If I were a name-it-and-claim-it type of faith person, I would try to quell the doubt and strengthen my faith. As it is, I have learned to re-examine my code. The other approach — thinking will make it so — is rooted in a childish mindset of magical thinking. Too often faith is equated with or devolves into such idolatry.
When the Bible talks about the faith of Abraham, it speaks of him "believing God". Isaiah asks, "Who has believed my report?" In Romans 10, Paul explains that the path to salvation is to "believe in your heart". What does the heart believe? The truth. The truth that Christ was raised from the dead. Faith does not cause the truth to be true. Doubt does not mean that Jesus has not been raised. My refusal to believe causes me to miss salvation, but it doesn't make anything untrue. Faith causes me to experience the benefits of the truth. But faith correlates, you might say, with the truth. It would be far more appropriate to say that the truth causes faith on my part. Faith is the result not the cause.
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves. It is God's gift ... (Ephesians 2:8).
So faith comes from what is heard ... (Romans 10:17)