I would like to introduce Madam Curie which many of you know her by on her replies at Mormon Matters she also has her own blog Third Wave Mormon . She has shared with us what I think is a very interesting and thought provoking article.
Is a “believing heart” really a positive attribute?
“Blessed are those that have not seen, and yet have believed.” – John 20:29
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1
Having a “faithful” or “believing” heart is greatly prized among the religious. Those who uncover less savory aspects of LDS history are frequently told to “Just have faith,” even in the face of opposing evidence. As I have pondered the question of faith, I have begun to question whether a “believing heart” is really a positive attribute, or where and when it should be applied.
From a scientist’s perspective, faith is about the worst thing you can have; the scientific method entirely depends on an ability to be objective, and to rationally and logically question what you see. This seems absolutely antithetical to the idea that we should have a “believing heart”. From the perspective of a smart shopper, you should never take a product’s claims on their word only. And in terms of internet safety, there is an army of Nigerian princes waiting for you to have “faith” in them.
Is there a requirement that the thing we have faith in be a “true” principle? For example, I can have faith that my son will one day win the Nobel Prize in Medicine, but that doesn’t not make it so. In fact, that faith may lead me to make potentially detrimental decisions in my son’s upbringing: for example, stressing science over any other talent he may have, and giving him unrealistic and unattainable goals. Goal setting is incredibly stressed in the LDS church. In the Single’s ward we were told that all we had to do was set a date for when we wanted to be married; if we had enough faith, God would provide the man.
Even if we constrain the practice of faith to the spiritual realm, it is still not entirely clear what religious teachings we should have faith in. I have heard strong, compelling testimonies of faith from Jews, Muslims, polygamous FLDS, Mormons, Catholics, and born-again Christians. Each of them had a “believing heart”. Furthermore, am I required to have faith in the doctrine alone, or must I also have faith in the leaders of these individual religions? What if I am asked to do something that is illegal, or morally wrong? (An immediate example is Joseph Smith’s commandment to enter into polygamous marriages, something that was both illegal and was considered a moral aberration). Are faith and obedience to be prized above courage and conscience?
What about when your faith in something is at the expense of another? For example, Pres. Monson told the CA Saints to give their time and money to pass Prop. 8, which overturned the ability of homosexual Californians to marry. For many of those individuals, they had faith that Pres. Monson was speaking directly for God on the matter. If they had not, they may have acted differently.
If you apply the criterion that the thing you have faith in must “enlarge your heart,” well, even that is unclear. I have found equally strong spiritual emotions in the practice of Paganism and Buddhism as I have had as a Mormon, and I find great joy in attending Catholic Mass. Does that make all of these faith traditions “true”? Yet, they contradict one another in doctrinal teachings, so how is that possible? And several of them contend to be the “only true church”.
Where is the value in faith for faith’s sake?