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.