I completely agree that using the words "I believe in evolution" is just asking for trouble if you are talking to an opportunistic creationist, but then again belief is not really the dirty word that they like to pretend it is. They believe, they just believe irrationally in an ideology without evidence.
One can hold reasonable, rational beliefs too such as believing that Mount Everest is the highest peak in the Himalayas - without having measured it myself, without even knowing the exact height, without being able to identify it on sight I can believe quite reasonably that this is a fact. I think the same goes for a lot of people who accept the theory of evolution to be a fact. Dan Dennett gave a very interesting talk on different types of belief
I myself also try to be careful about using the word "belief" for the very reasons you have pointed out, but in the end I doubt it makes a difference. Examine what theists are trying to do when they raise this line of argument:
- saying that belief is wrong? No - they believe themselves. Faith is in fact the heart of why they do what they do.
- saying that your belief is equal to their belief? No - they think their belief is better than yours
- proving that there is no evidence for evolution? No.
- proving that evolution has some major problems? No.
- proving there is evidence for creationism? No.
So what does the Creationist argument really boil down to?
A: evolutionists believe the same way that fundamentalist Christians believe
B: therefore Creationism is an equal theory to Evolution
C: therefore Creationism wins
The argument doesn't make any logical sense. A & B are demonstrably wrong because of all the evidence for evolution, and zero evidence for any alternative "theory". C is a non-sequitur based on wishful thinking. You're not going to convince Creationists. But you can convince people who may not have examined the evidence or arguments themselves. They are far more likely to respond to evidence & logic though