The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

Lesson 1

Experiment Upon the Words ofAlma

As you search for reasons to believe that the LDS approach to faith is an effective truth-distilling technique, the arguments of Alma 32 is certain to come up. This chapter is particularly interesting to people with sympathy for empiricism because of a single word in verse 27, experiment. This is the Mormon’s best explanation of the alleged close relationship between faith, the spirit and knowledge—at least it is the best explanation to be found within the scriptures.

This chapter also contains the Book of Mormon’s definition of Faith in verse 21, comparable to the Bible’s definition in Hebrews 11:1 (Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen).

Personally, I find the reasoning in this remarkably tenuous. My biggest problem with it is the way that it proposes an "experiment" that is based on the mirror opposite of scientific principles. Consider:

  • The scientist tries to prove his hypothesis is false, while Alma tries to prove his hypothesis true.
  • The scientist is urged to be skeptical. Alma urges that you have faith.
  • The scientist can only arrive at tentative conclusions, while Alma arrives at absolute conclusions.
  • The scientist searches for competing explanations of the data, while Alma insists there can only be one explanation.

But it is still a pretty good chapter of scripture and if you are investigating the Church it is worth reading.

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