First of all, some might read this title as “Moron Faith”. I don’t actually blame them! My sense of humor in combination with my new outlooks on the use of rational, critical thought might seem to support this notion! Now, please do not be offended! I mean no offense. But let’s instead apply some critical thinking.
Let’s begin with the LDS idea of faith. This can be found here. The LDS idea of faith is twofold. First is the idea proposed by Paul in the New Testament, Hebrews 11:1. Second, this faith must be centered on Jesus, Acts 4:10-12, Mosiah 3:17, Moroni 7:24-26, and Articles of Faith 1:4.
For the first part, LDS teachings follow the Great Experiment on Faith as described in Alma 32. This supposedly helps us determine if a “seed” or idea is “good” (it produces good fruit after sprouting, being nurtured, and growing). Verses 33 and 34 are key, making clear that faith becomes dormant in that particular thing in which your faith was exercised and you then can be assured your knowledge is perfect, in that same thing. In other words, regarding anything in which you exercise faith sufficient to gain knowledge, your faith goes dormant regarding that thing. Faith leads to knowledge.
Some in the LDS Church say this procedure is the equivalent of the secular Scientific Method. It just might seem so, at first blush, but is it? A question arises from observation and a hypothesis is created and tested. Results are obtained that give knowledge. It succeeds or it fails. Isn’t this the Scientific Method?
In a word, no!
Most of the parts are there, i.e.:
Of course, based on the results observed, the hypothesis is supported or not or variations between. Modification of the hypothesis may be required, more tests may need to be designed or the original modified. Eventually, a hypothesis is supported, maybe not the original. This seems to be Alma’s procedure but there are two steps missing.
Alma’s procedure is individualistic. Your own results are not given to others to repeat, although the Church has its own dogma ready to be supported by the prescribed one size fits all experiment to obtain results. Study, ponder, pray, “feel” the answer or, upon observing events potentially in answer, interpretation can be given those events based on feelings.
While repeatable, the results are not peer-reviewed. Individuals can request and get answers without consulting ecclesiastical leaders. There is potential for members to run afoul of their leaders. All one needs to do is observe how many variant religions are based on the “testimony” of the Book of Mormon. They all cannot be “true”, can they? What kind of god would be cruel enough to foist this kind of method on his children/subjects? One would think there would be a more sure way.
So, to me, faith seems a backward tack to take. To exercise faith in something implies, in my mind, that the person already hopes the answer is correct! It involves a faulty methodology to arrive at a conclusion. It is not peer-reviewed, unless the person discusses the whole matter with someone else, like family members. Instead of objectivity, the ideology the person developed over a lifetime exerts an influence on how to interpret results. And so the final action taken is individual and is usually based on their own “feelings of truth” obtained by this faulty method.
The scientific method is the best method mankind has offered for advancing knowledge. The best. Nothing else has been invented that is better.
Here, then, is where choice enters. Here is where I differ with those faithful members who have studied the materials I have, and even more than I have. This is where the rubber meets the road.
They choose to believe in spite of knowledge (those things they have learned but push off to some future afterlife where a better explanation is supposedly forthcoming, an attitude due to faith). I choose to disbelieve because of knowledge (trust is placed in data that can be verified and by an attitude that accepts that ducklike characteristics indicate a duck). Faith pushes them over the cliff. I stand at the edge and watch, helpless.
Addendum: For an example of what faith offers, read this.