Vectors – Faith and Doubt are Incompatible in the LDS Church

It has long been popular among certain self-identified Mormon intellectuals to argue that, contrary to what one might suppose, doubt is not inimical to faith. Some even claim that doubt and faith are not only compatible, but even interdependent faces of the same coin.

Oh Brother!

Oh Brother!

I first heard arguments along these lines well over a decade ago from a BYU English professor who, when he taught the about deconstruction as a theory of literary criticism, liked to deconstruct the binary of faith and doubt to demonstrate that they really are the same thing.

Even at that time it was a well-worn chestnut.

And yet now, years later, this argument is still regularly brought out of the stables and trotted around the intellectual show-room as if it were a new and exciting concept, instead of being put out to pasture (or maybe put down and sold to a glue factory) as the reductionist, derivative, sloppy thinking it really is.

The claim that doubt is compatible with faith relies on a simple, obvious reductionist error that goes something like this:

Faith = Not having a sure knowledge

Doubt = Not knowing for sure

Therefore, doubt and faith are really the same thing.

Or therefore, doubt is the path to faith.

Nonsense.

Yes, it is true that doubt and faith both involve a lack of knowledge. But saying doubt and faith are essentially the same because they both involve a lack of knowledge is like saying that falling and flying are really the same thing because both of them involve moving through the air without touching the ground. These words are not just expressions of position but of trajectory. They are vector values with both magnitude and direction.

Faith and doubt are both dispositions toward to a lack of knowledge or information, but they are incompatible opposite dispositions.

Faith = Trust despite insufficient information or knowledge

Doubt = Distrust because of insufficient information or knowledge

Insofar as you distrust (doubt) you cannot trust (have faith). That is why doubt is inimical to faith. Like flying or falling, they are mutually exclusive, inversely proportional dispositions.

It's a TRAP!

It’s a TRAP!

Doubt is normal. Most people in the church experience periods of doubt. But doubt is something to be overcome, not cultivated and paraded around the ring like a lame horse.

As Elder Holland said in the previous conference of the church:

“When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your “unbelief.” That is like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak! Let me be clear on this point: I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle.”

 

So let’s put this lame argument that doubt and faith are compatible out of its misery. Let’s aspire to Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the church that he has organized, and in the Prophets and Apostles he has called and authorized to guide and direct us.

See also: Watchmen on the Tower – On the Limits of Prophetic Fallibility

 

Category: lds
Tagged: , , , , , ,
Bookmark: link

14 Responses to Vectors – Faith and Doubt are Incompatible in the LDS Church

  1. I like this for the most part – but I prefer the biblical definition of faith. Hebrews says that faith is the evidence of things not seen.

    Doubt = distrust because of insufficient knowledge.
    Faith = trust because of spiritual evidence.

  2. While doubt may be associated with distrust, the first definition I encounter when Googling “define doubt” is “a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction”. This seems compatible with faith, and I think is a primary way those who make the argument you reference intend “doubt”. I don’t think many mean “distrust”. I agree with you that faith is roughly equivalent to trust (I think this is probably the best way to think about faith), so naturally if you define “doubt” as “distrust”, they are incompatible. But if we take doubt to principally mean “uncertainty”, the case is far less clear.

  3. J. Max Wilson

    You may be right, Christopher, that some people are using the word “doubt” in the way you suggest. But I submit that if such is the case, they are using the word wrongly. A survey of definitions from various sources makes it fairly clear that the kind of “uncertainty” referred to is not at all compatible with faith. It means a kind of uncertainty that prevents decision or action and encourages hesitation, skepticism, and remaining undecided on a matter, leaning toward disbelief. That is why the derivative word “dubious” means highly questionable.

    Trust results in decision and action. A lack of conviction is at its heart a lack of trust.

  4. Great post. Seems pretty simple to me. If doubt and faith were the same thing, then we’d only have one word for them. Faith is acting on a belief, or moving forward, despite unanswered questions; doubt is suspending belief, even becoming paralyzed, because of unanswered questions.

  5. I think the nature of language is such that there can be multiple correct uses of a word (this is not to say that anything goes, just that there can be more than one legitimate use). I also think that, with regard to the compatibility of faith and doubt, it is possible to exercise faith in one area while having doubts (even of the skeptical kind you describe) in a different area. This is a different kind of compatibility than the one your post addresses, I think, but an important one. In a sense, it reflects the kind of distinction in Alma 32:24 in which faith grows into knowledge “in that thing” (but not in all things): we can have faith “in that thing” (but not in all things due to other doubts).

  6. J. Max Wilson

    I see what you are saying, Christopher.

    A similar idea was raised in the comments on Facebook. As I said there, if you look at doubt as a transitive verb, it is not a neutral expression, it expresses active disbelief or suspicion of its object. “I doubt that he is sincere” does not mean “I don’t know if he is sincere” it means “I suspect that he is not sincere”. As a verb it is an expression of distrust.

    Like you there seem to be a number of people who use the noun form to describe issues or items or principles that they do not yet understand or accept fully yet. But look at the idiom “I have my doubts”. It is clearly a statement that you find some assertion to be dubious. Look at related words like dubious. They aren’t neutral statements. They are tentative assertions of distrust or disbelief.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/doubt

  7. Brit

    I really like the vector application – it touches on something that’s legitimately right about the concept of faith, I believe.

    However, as stated above in #2, doubt doesn’t mean distrust, it means uncertainty. Check any dictionary – people aren’t using it incorrectly. True, ‘doubt’ as a verb does imply more than mere uncertainty (like suspicion, etc.), but ‘doubt’ in contrast with ‘faith’ is a noun, and has the noun’s sense. Thus, it’s completely plausible to have faith and doubt (uncertainty) simultaneously. Perhaps people that say this aren’t as off as you think, as having faith =/= being completely certain. In fact, it might be that faith ends as certainty is acquired.

    Oh, and inverse proportionality has no meaning in this context, as it’s a relationship between two extant variables. You’re arguing that doubt and faith cannot coexist, so there can be no relationship between them. What you probably mean to say is that they are simply ‘opposite’ – the correct term for vectors that are of equal magnitude but opposite directions. It’s a little less erudite of a term, but much more accurate.

  8. I’m interested in your opinion of Givens’ “Letter to a Doubter”. Specifically, in his admonition to “Be grateful for your doubts.”

    http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/letter-to-a-doubter/

  9. I can’t speak for J. Max, but I am not overly smitten with Givens (nor his wife). He and his wife certainly enjoy a kind of celebrity status these days, and it is truly hip among the Mormon intelligentsia crowd to talk about your doubts as if it’s a badge of honor and humility.

    I’ve never heard any Apostle get up and say, “Be grateful for your doubts”. I go by Apostles, not best selling authors of personal interpretation of doctrines.

    Regarding all the nitpicking over the meaning of “doubt”, I believe that J. Max’s fundamental thesis of this essay is sound and correct. You cannot have faith and doubt coexisting together at the same time. They are mutually antagonistic properties, not two sides of the same coin. They are matter and antimatter, particularly with respect to spirituality.

    Doubters are folks who haven’t received a spiritual “witness” — the Greek is martyrion, the same word that we get our English martyr from. The Oxford English describes a witness as “knowledge” or “understanding”. Clearly, speaking along the lines of epistemology of course, if you know or understand something, you don’t doubt it.

    What the doubters need is to get a witness or testimony — heavenly proof.

  10. Brit

    Yes and no, Michael Towns.

    Doubt (n) – uncertainty
    Faith (n) – belief

    These most certainly can coexist. In fact, I submit that this is the state most of the church finds itself in at any given moment. We all have doubts (uncertainties) at some point or another, and they need not necessarily destroy faith. This includes prophets or others who may have received a witness (certainty/knowledge) on certain aspects of the gospel.

    Rather than doubt and faith being incompatible, I think that doubt is the *required* environment for faith to exist, for when there is no doubt (uncertainty), there is certainty (knowledge) and hence faith is no longer necessary.

  11. J. Max Wilson

    Brit,

    I think you are oversimplifying the definition of “doubt”. First of all, neither doubt nor faith are only a noun as your definition suggests. They are verbs.

    Secondly, you have cherry-picked your one-word definition of doubt.

    Here is a quick survey of the definition of “doubt” from various sources (with emphasis added by me):

    Merriam-Webster:

    doubt verb \ˈdau̇t\
    : to be uncertain about (something) : to believe that (something) may not be true or is unlikely
    : to have no confidence in (someone or something)

    transitive verb
    1. archaic a:fear b:suspect
    2. to be in doubt about [he doubts everyone’s word]
    3. a:to lack confidence in : distrust [find myself doubting him even when I know that he is honest — H. L. Mencken] b:to consider unlikely [I doubt if I can go]

    intransitive verb
    : to be uncertain

    doubt noun
    : a feeling of being uncertain or unsure about something

    1. a: uncertainty of belief or opinion that often interferes with decision-making b: a deliberate suspension of judgment
    2. a state of affairs giving rise to uncertainty, hesitation, or suspense [the outcome is still in doubt]
    3 a:a lack of confidence : distrust
    b : an inclination not to believe or accept [a claim met with doubt]

    thefreedictionary.com

    doubt (dout)
    v. doubt·ed, doubt·ing, doubts

    v.tr.
    1. To be undecided or skeptical about: began to doubt some accepted doctrines.
    2. To tend to disbelieve; distrust: doubts politicians when they make sweeping statements.
    3. To regard as unlikely: I doubt that we’ll arrive on time.
    4. Archaic To suspect; fear.

    v.intr.
    To be undecided or skeptical.

    n.
    1. A lack of certainty that often leads to irresolution. See Synonyms at uncertainty.
    2. A lack of trust.
    3. A point about which one is uncertain or skeptical: reassured me by answering my doubts.
    4. The condition of being unsettled or unresolved: an outcome still in doubt.

    Dictionary.com

    doubt [dout]

    verb (used with object)
    1. to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.
    2.to distrust.
    3.Archaic. to fear; be apprehensive about.

    verb (used without object)
    4. to be uncertain about something; be undecided in opinion or belief.

    noun
    5. a feeling of uncertainty about the truth, reality, or nature of something.
    6. distrust.
    7. a state of affairs such as to occasion uncertainty.
    8. Obsolete. fear; dread.

    Macmillan Dictionary verb noun

    VERB [TRANSITIVE] American English pronunciation: doubt /daʊt/

    1 to think that something is probably not true or that it probably does not exist
    Some people doubt my story but I will prove them wrong.
    No one doubts the need for improvement.
    doubt (that): I don’t doubt you’re right, but I still disagree.

    2 to think that something is unlikely
    “Do you think they’ll win?” “I doubt it.”
    doubt (that): He promised to come but I doubt he will.
    doubt whether/if: I doubt very much whether we can change it now.

    3 to feel that you cannot trust or believe someone
    How could you have doubted me?

    NOUN [COUNTABLE/UNCOUNTABLE] American English pronunciation: doubt /daʊt/

    a feeling of not being certain about something
    doubt about/as to: There seems to be some doubt as to whether this is legal.
    have no/little doubt that: I have no doubt that he will succeed.
    there is little/no doubt that: There’s little doubt that the measures will be extremely unpopular.
    raise doubts (=make you have doubts): The accident raised doubts about (=makes people have doubts about) the safety of the aircraft.
    nagging/lingering doubts: Nagging doubts about her story do remain.
    grave/serious doubts: I have serious doubts about whether this system will work.

    Oxford Learners Dictionary verb noun

    VERB

    1. to feel uncertain about something; to feel that something is not true, will probably not happen, etc
    doubt something There seems no reason to doubt her story.
    ‘Do you think England will win?’—‘ I doubt it.’
    doubt (that)… I never doubted (that) she would come.
    doubt whether, if, etc… I doubt whether/if the new one will be any better.

    2. doubt somebody/something to not trust somebody/something; to not believe somebody
    I had no reason to doubt him.

    NOUN
    [uncountable, countable] a feeling of being uncertain about something or not believing something
    a feeling of doubt and uncertainty
    doubt (about something) There is some doubt about the best way to do it.
    The article raised doubts about how effective the new drug really was.
    doubt (that…) There is no doubt at all that we did the right thing.
    doubt (as to something) If you are in any doubt as to whether you should be doing these exercises, consult your doctor.
    New evidence has cast doubt on the guilt of the man jailed for the crime.
    She knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was lying to her.
    Whether he will continue to be successful in future is open to doubt.

    Cambridge Dictionary verb noun

    verb [T] /daʊt/

    B2 to not feel certain or confident about something or to think that something is not probable:
    I doubt whether/if I can finish the work on time.
    [+ that] They had begun to doubt that it could be done.
    He may come back tomorrow with the money, but I very much doubt it.
    I don’t doubt his abilities.
    doubt sb/doubt sb’s word

    C1 to not trust someone or believe what they say:
    He’s never lied to me before, so I have no reason to doubt his word.

    noun [C or U] /daʊt/

    B1 (a feeling of) not being certain about something, especially about how good or true it is:
    I’m having doubts about his ability to do the job.
    If there’s any doubt about the rocket’s engines, we ought to cancel the launch.
    The prosecution has to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt (US beyond a reasonable) doubt.
    This latest scandal has raised doubts about his suitability for the post.
    [+ (that)] I never had any doubt (that) you would win.
    He’s the most attractive man in the room, no doubt about that/it.
    no doubt

    C1 used to emphasize that what you are saying is true or likely to happen:
    We will, no doubt, discuss these issues again at the next meeting.
    No doubt you’ll want to unpack and have a rest before dinner.
    cast doubt on sth

    C2 to make something seem uncertain:
    Witnesses have cast doubt on the suspect’s innocence.
    in doubt

    B2 If the future or success of someone or something is in doubt, it is unlikely to continue or to be successful:
    The future of the stadium is in doubt because of a lack of money.
    without (a) doubt

    B2 used to emphasize your opinion:
    She is without (a) doubt the best student I have ever taught.

    Wiktionary

    Verb
    doubt (third-person singular simple present doubts, present participle doubting, simple past and past participle doubted)

    (transitive, intransitive) To lack confidence in; to disbelieve, question, or suspect.
    He doubted that was really what you meant.
    Hooker: Even in matters divine, concerning some things, we may lawfully doubt […]
    Dryden: To try your love and make you doubt of mine.

    (archaic) To fear; to suspect.
    1819, Lord Byron, Don Juan, I.186: He fled, like Joseph, leaving it; but there, / I doubt, all likeness ends between the pair.

    (obsolete) To fear; to be apprehensive of.
    R. of Gloucester: Edmond [was a] good man and doubted God.
    Shakespeare: I doubt some foul play.
    Spenser: I of doubted danger had no fear.

    (obsolete) To fill with fear; to affright.
    Beaumont and Fletcher: The virtues of the valiant Caratach / More doubt me than all Britain.

    Noun

    doubt (countable and uncountable, plural doubts)
    Uncertainty, disbelief.
    There was some doubt as to who the child’s real father was.

    A look at synonyms is also helpful (from Thesaurus.com)

    hesitation disbelief apprehension confusion
    uncertainty reluctance mistrust misgiving
    difficulty distrust suspicion ambiguity
    qualm suspense skepticism fear problem
    vacillation hesitancy dilemma incredulity
    diffidence quandary disquiet indecision
    incertitude faithlessness discredit rejection
    wavering irresolution perplexity dubiety
    dubiousness scruple demurral faltering
    agnosticism lack of confidence

    It seems clear to me that “doubt” is not simply “uncertainty” but uncertainty with a bias toward lack of belief in a way that “interferes with decision making.” The simplest way to express this is as a lack of trust that prevents action.

    Faith is a principle of action. It is choosing to act even without sufficient information to know for sure that your decision is correct. You act out of trust instead of knowledge. Because doubt consists of uncertainty that interferes with one’s ability to make decisions and act out of trust. It is not compatible with faith.

    You may be interested in this treatment of the same subject by Steve Densley:

    Putting Doubt in Perspective

    President Benson said of the word “Pride”:

    “In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby.”

    I think that the same is true of “doubt”. I think that if you will search for the word doubt in the scriptures and the words of the prophets you will find that it almost always carries the connotation of “disbelief” and is incompatible with faith.

  12. J. Max Wilson

    Christian John,

    I think the article by Steve Densley, linked to near the end of my previous comment, expresses very well what I think about Brother Givens “Letter to a Doubter”.

    Here it is again, just in case you can’t find it in the lengthy comment above. It is a MUST READ on this topic:

    http://www.fairblog.org/2013/10/16/putting-doubt-in-perspective/

  13. Brit

    @J. Max Wilson,

    ‘Faith’ is only a noun. Of course ‘doubt’ can be a verb or noun, but when contrasted with ‘faith’, we’re talking about the noun sense. Otherwise it’s as wacky as discussing ‘sight and hear’, for example.

    And I cherry-picked my one-word definition? Hardly. I got it from the OED. Since reproducing lengthy dictionary entries is apparently in vogue this season, I’ll copy and paste it here:

    1.a. The (subjective) state of uncertainty with regard to the truth or reality of anything; undecidedness of belief or opinion. With pl.: A feeling of uncertainty as to something. spec. Uncertainty as to the truth of Christianity or some other religious belief or doctrine (freq. pl. and occas. personified).

    1.b. The condition of being (objectively) uncertain; a state of affairs such as to give occasion for hesitation or uncertainty.

    Nowhere in this entry or in any of the entries you listed is ‘distrust’ given as a definition of doubt as a noun. Doubt as a verb can (but not necessarily) imply a certain amount of willful mistrust, but this sense is *not* carried over into the noun and isn’t even always implicit in the verb form.

    Now, I’m not arguing that doubt and faith are the same thing. I don’t think they are. But you’re wrong about them being non-synchronous (which I think is the word you’re looking for when you say ‘incompatible’), and I think you make your errors by incorrectly defining the two terms. I’ve already talked about where you’ve gone wrong with ‘doubt’, but let’s look at your definition of ‘faith’ also.

    You said: “Faith is … choosing to act even without sufficient information to know for sure that your decision is correct. You act out of trust instead of knowledge.”

    This is incorrect. Faith, at least as it is taught in the LDS church, is not acting without knowledge. It is not blindly making a choice. Faith is acting on knowledge that comes from ways differently from most ordinary knowledge, ways other than our senses, such as a prompting or spiritual confirmation. In essence, faith is a validation that knowledge can be gained in ways beyond what we sense or ways that are observable by others.

    I don’t have faith that there’s a computer keyboard in front of me because I can see and feel it with my hands, and so can anyone else around. I’ve never seen, heard, or touched God, though. I have faith that He exists because of personal knowledge I’ve gained through other means (prayer, promptings, confirmations) that is not observable to others. Exercising faith means counting those feelings and confirmations as valid knowledge to act upon.

    Similarly, missionaries teach investigators to seek knowledge about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the restoration of the church through research, study, prayer and spiritual confirmation – we don’t tell investigators to take any steps without some level of knowledge as well we shouldn’t.

    If you’re looking at faith being exercised from a basis of insufficient information, then I could exercise that sort of ‘faith’ to try illegal drugs. I could exercise ‘faith’ by trying to have multiple sexual partners. That’s ludicrous, of course, and not how it works. I take it as a basic tenet of the Plan of Salvation that God *always* gives sufficient information and knowledge, whether it be through science, observation, or internal confirmation. Of course, ‘sufficient information’ often isn’t all the information we want or think we need, but it’s enough to serve as a firm basis of knowledge upon which we can act.

    And believe me, I’ve searched the scriptures on these topics and I see no support for your argument. Furthermore, I think that anyone who claims to have no doubt (uncertainty) is either 1) not being honest or 2) hasn’t thought about their belief system sufficiently. Doubt is not evil, it’s not even moral. It’s a feature of limited beings. And I still contend that it’s only amid doubt that faith can exist.

  14. J. Max Wilson

    Brit,

    I appreciate what you are trying to say. I think we agree on quite a number of things.

    You say “‘Faith’ is only a noun. Of course ‘doubt’ can be a verb or noun, but when contrasted with ‘faith’, we’re talking about the noun sense.

    Your reductionist approach to language compartmentalizes language too much. Language doesn’t fit so easily into discrete boxes of siloed meaning and function.

    For example, your comparison to discussing “sight and hear” is an artificial construction in which you have purposefully chosen to use a noun and and verb with incorrect grammar so that it sounds awkward. But it is your contrived grammar that makes it seem “wacky”, the concepts to which the words refer, however, make perfect sense discussed together. Simply by using the correct gerund form of the word “hear” to remedy your contrived grammar and there is nothing wacky about discussing “sight and hearing”. It works equally well by changing the noun “sight” to its corresponding verb and discussing “seeing and hearing”. So your comparison is both manufactured and irrelevant.

    I don’t currently have access to the OED (if I did than I certainly would have consulted it as well), so I appreciate your quoting it here.

    However, as I said, language is not compartmentalized in the way you are trying to delineate it. The meaning of the verb influences the meaning of the noun and vice versa. And in addition to the word’s denotation, there are additional connotations attached to words, and etymologies that shed light on their meaning.

    You have to look at the constellation of words and meanings instead of erroneously trying to box them up into neat little packages of independent meaning.

    My purpose in quoting from the numerous definitions and also synonyms was to help draw attention to the connotations of the word “doubt” and how the verb and noun influence each other. The synonyms and antonyms shed light on the meaning. The noun and verb are both pointers to a collection of interrelated concepts. To try to treat the noun and verb as wholly separate and unrelated words is itself “wacky”.

    You said: “Nowhere in this entry [of the OED definition of the noun Doubt] or in any of the entries you listed is ‘distrust’ given as a definition of doubt as a noun.

    Look again. You must not have read very carefully, because the noun definition from the Merriam-Webster entry I quoted very clearly says “a lack of confidence: distrust”. I even bolded it for you.

    The noun entry from The Free Dictionary also says “A lack of trust” (also bolded for you).

    The dictionary.com noun entry clearly says “distrust” (again, bolded for your convenience).

    “Distrust” and “faithlessness” are also explicitly listed among the synonyms for “doubt” in the thesaurus, where it also lists “faith” and “trust” as antonyms for “doubt”.

    You say “you’re wrong about them being non-synchronous (which I think is the word you’re looking for when you say ‘incompatible’)“.

    No. That is no the word I am looking for.

    As for your analysis of my definition of Faith, you’ve misread it. I never said that faith is acting “without knowledge” or “blindly making a choice” as you have misconstrued my meaning. I said that faith is “choosing to act even without sufficient information to know for sure that you decision is correct.”

    You point to answers to prayer, spiritual promptings and confirmations as sources of knowledge. And I agree with you. But you have to choose to act on the promptings in order to validate the information. You choose to trust the prompting of the Holy Spirit as a source of correct information. And it is only after you have trusted the prompting enough to act upon it that it is validated. Which increases your trust in that source of information.

    You say “Exercising faith means counting those feelings and confirmations as valid knowledge to act upon.

    You are exactly right. And that is exactly what I mean when I say that faith is trust. We choose to trust our promptings and act upon them. As our experience with following promptings from God increases our trust in them as a source for accurate information from God increases. That is faith. It is trust.

    It is the same for the missionary example you point to. The missionaries act as witnesses testifying of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. Of course the person investigating the gospel must gain some information about what Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon claim and teach. But praying about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith is an act of trust: trust in the testimonies of the missionaries; trust in the promptings that accompany the Holy Spirit that the missionaries bring. And small acts of trust, like praying, reading, going to church, bring confirmations that increase trust, permitting greater acts of faith like giving up smoking, or paying tithing. Trust in Jesus Christ as a savior is fundamental to the Gospel. That trust is what leads us to submit to His will, even unto death, with the trust that he we raise us again through his Atonement.

    Faith is Trust. That is the plain meaning not just in the scriptures, but in the definition and etymology of the English word “faith” all the way back to it’s Indo-European roots. And if you look up the word “trust” in the scriptures, you will find that it is consistently and often an expression of faith. In fact, I would submit that “to trust” is the proper corresponding verb for the noun “faith”.

    You say: “I take it as a basic tenet of the Plan of Salvation that God *always* gives sufficient information and knowledge, whether it be through science, observation, or internal confirmation. Of course, ‘sufficient information’ often isn’t all the information we want or think we need, but it’s enough to serve as a firm basis of knowledge upon which we can act.

    I agree to a large extent with what you are saying here. He gives us sufficient information to permit us to choose to TRUST Him, even though we may not know why or how or even what he is trying to accomplish– only what we are prompted to do or not do. But we still act out of accumulated faith (trust) in Him.

    It is a cyclical feedback loop of trust -> action -> validation -> increased trust -> action -> validation -> &c.

    You insist that “doubt” means only “uncertainty”. But “uncertainty” itself doesn’t just mean “not knowing for sure”. It is strongly related to skepticism, lack of confidence, and distrust. It implies a degree of hesitancy to act until more information is given.

    Doubt eats away at and undermines trust. You are right that “doubt” is not by itself moral. It becomes moral or immoral depending on the object at which it is directed; on what it is you have doubts about. Doubting something that is not true is good and moral because trusting in something that is not true may hurt you and others because it is not trustworthy and will lead you wrong. But doubting something that is true is negative and immoral. It hinders action based on faith. Doubt is a normal part of human existence. But doubt about things that are true is something to be overcome, not cultivated and defended.

    You say “I’ve searched the scriptures on these topics and I see no support for your argument.

    Based on your assertion that none of the definitions of the noun “doubt” that I quoted define it using “distrust”, when they very plainly do exactly that, I suggest that you might want to take a closer look at the scriptures and study what they are saying. If you can be so careless in reading a few paragraphs of definitions, there is reason to doubt (ha ha) whether your your declaration that there is zero support for my argument in the scriptures is accurate.

    There is plenty of support for my argument: Look up all the occurrences of the word “doubt” in the scriptures. Read them in context. Look up all the instances of the word “trust” in the scriptures. Read them in context. Look up all the instances of the word “faith” in the scriptures. Compare them to “trust”.

    Finally, you declare: “Furthermore, I think that anyone who claims to have no doubt (uncertainty) is either 1) not being honest or 2) hasn’t thought about their belief system sufficiently.

    Goodbye, Brit. I welcome polite disagreement, but suggesting that the people with whom you disagree must be either dishonest or shallow gets you dis-invited from the discussion.

    Good day.

Leave a Reply

Be sure you are familiar with the Comment Policy before commenting.

Anyone who wishes to comment here must register for a sixteensmallstones.org login or connect using their Facebook account. Registration is simple and fast.

Once you have activated your account, you must log in to post comments. The first time you comment will still be moderated, but once I have approved your first comment you should be able to continue to add additional comments on any article without further impediment as long as you are logged in.