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Belief, knowledge, and faith


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I swear I have made a dozen threads on this topic across a few different Latter-day Saint forums. It is a concept I don’t ever really settle and it has come up again in my studies.

I came up on Alma 32 today in my studies and it just triggered more thoughts and questions.

I am going to hold those till the end. I find that when I make such statements at the front, it persuades people to focus on disproving or approving what my total post is about rather then just analyzing the content.

Now… I’m going to try really hard to not turn this into a “well what does it really mean to know” conversation… those get boring really fast… however, I understand that it is likely necessary in such a topic.

After Alma talks about being compelled to be humble vs choosing humility, he goes on to compare belief and knowledge.

blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe. Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believeNow I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nayfor if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (v16-18)

This is the first time Alma mentions faith in the sermon. However, he seems to be using it as a synonym of “belief” and not something with a differing meaning. I’m going to move forward with the assumption that Alma is using them interchangeably. If someone disagrees with this assertion, please let me know and explain why. (I recognize traditional definitions don’t match this, but Alma seems to be using them to mean the same thing).

And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (v21)

Now, admittedly I have never really understood what this verse means. Primarily because everyone seems to disagree with the literary assumption here that we can’t know something until we see it. Alma seems to be defining “knowledge” as something that can be observed and tested. I think back to his encounter with Korihor, which was perhaps only a few weeks earlier where he asserted that Alma could not know the things he prophesied about. Korihor’s whole thing was about how you cannot know what you do not see.

O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come. Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers. How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ…Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true… And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ… I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God;” (Alma 30)

I feel like a lot of Alma’s sermon in chapter 32 is a direct response to Korihor’s preaching. Perhaps Korihor came from Antionum and that is why he went back there after he was struck dumb?

anyway…

Alma goes on to testify that he knows there is a God (which I suppose he would since he had an experience where he saw an angel with his own eyes). Korihor demands a sign so he can know too (which I also find interesting since the only reason Alma is the Prophet was because he was compelled to be humble through a sign… yet seems to chastise Korihor for demanding the very same thing that saved Alma) and God obliges and strikes him dumb.

Korihor then rights 

I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.
But behold, the devil hath deceived me
;” (Alma 30)

Did he know there was a God though? To me, this is most likely just a differing definition from Alma’s of what it means to “know” something.

Back to Alma 32

as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.”

Alma is again doubling down on the synonymity of “belief” and “faith”. They are one in the same as it relates to his sermon.

He goes on to give the parable of the seed and explains that we can, through our faith, test things and develop perfect knowledge in “things”, but not a perfect knowledge in the whole of our faith (v27-36) I compare this to the commandments. I know that if I live a certain way, I feel joy in my life. I KNOW that when I am kind and taking care of myself and others, I feel joy. I have a perfect knowledge in this… but I do not know there is a God. That is something I still act on faith with.

Alma then goes on to finish that once we plant the seed and see that it is good, we nourish it until the end when we can pluck the fruit of the tree of life. This I am also not sure about as to the timeline. It seems to suggest that the climax of it all doesn’t come till death (or perhaps if our calling election is ever made sure (whatever that looks like)). That perfect knowledge that there is a God does not come in this life, but the things he teaches can be experimented on and found to be true.

 

So here is my question.

Can we know there is a God, this is his chisen church upon the earth, and that our prophets are all his servants called in these latter days?

I would argue no. We cannot. Those things seem to be the factors that are meant to remain a faith based things and not a knowledge based thing.

A little anecdotal example. I have a good friend that says he “knows there is a God”. Yet I have also heard him say on multiple occasions that if he found out it was all a lie, he would not regret being a member because the church had been so good to him. This is a sign to me that he really doesn’t know. I have never heard him once say “Hey Fether, if I found out tomorrow that you were fake, I would not regret being your friend.” He doesn’t say that because he knows I’m not fake.

so ya… I’m just going to take the hard stand that we should stop saying “I know there is a God” (excluding those that have actually seen God or other angelic beings) and see where that takes the discussion.

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41 minutes ago, Fether said:

I swear I have made a dozen threads on this topic across a few different Latter-day Saint forums. It is a concept I don’t ever really settle and it has come up again in my studies.

I came up on Alma 32 today in my studies and it just triggered more thoughts and questions.

I am going to hold those till the end. I find that when I make such statements at the front, it persuades people to focus on disproving or approving what my total post is about rather then just analyzing the content.

Now… I’m going to try really hard to not turn this into a “well what does it really mean to know” conversation… those get boring really fast… however, I understand that it is likely necessary in such a topic.

After Alma talks about being compelled to be humble vs choosing humility, he goes on to compare belief and knowledge.

blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe. Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believeNow I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nayfor if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (v16-18)

This is the first time Alma mentions faith in the sermon. However, he seems to be using it as a synonym of “belief” and not something with a differing meaning. I’m going to move forward with the assumption that Alma is using them interchangeably. If someone disagrees with this assertion, please let me know and explain why. (I recognize traditional definitions don’t match this, but Alma seems to be using them to mean the same thing).

And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (v21)

Now, admittedly I have never really understood what this verse means. Primarily because everyone seems to disagree with the literary assumption here that we can’t know something until we see it. Alma seems to be defining “knowledge” as something that can be observed and tested. I think back to his encounter with Korihor, which was perhaps only a few weeks earlier where he asserted that Alma could not know the things he prophesied about. Korihor’s whole thing was about how you cannot know what you do not see.

O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come. Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers. How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ…Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true… And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ… I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God;” (Alma 30)

I feel like a lot of Alma’s sermon in chapter 32 is a direct response to Korihor’s preaching. Perhaps Korihor came from Antionum and that is why he went back there after he was struck dumb?

anyway…

Alma goes on to testify that he knows there is a God (which I suppose he would since he had an experience where he saw an angel with his own eyes). Korihor demands a sign so he can know too (which I also find interesting since the only reason Alma is the Prophet was because he was compelled to be humble through a sign… yet seems to chastise Korihor for demanding the very same thing that saved Alma) and God obliges and strikes him dumb.

Korihor then rights 

I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.
But behold, the devil hath deceived me
;” (Alma 30)

Did he know there was a God though? To me, this is most likely just a differing definition from Alma’s of what it means to “know” something.

Back to Alma 32

as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.”

Alma is again doubling down on the synonymity of “belief” and “faith”. They are one in the same as it relates to his sermon.

He goes on to give the parable of the seed and explains that we can, through our faith, test things and develop perfect knowledge in “things”, but not a perfect knowledge in the whole of our faith (v27-36) I compare this to the commandments. I know that if I live a certain way, I feel joy in my life. I KNOW that when I am kind and taking care of myself and others, I feel joy. I have a perfect knowledge in this… but I do not know there is a God. That is something I still act on faith with.

Alma then goes on to finish that once we plant the seed and see that it is good, we nourish it until the end when we can pluck the fruit of the tree of life. This I am also not sure about as to the timeline. It seems to suggest that the climax of it all doesn’t come till death (or perhaps if our calling election is ever made sure (whatever that looks like)). That perfect knowledge that there is a God does not come in this life, but the things he teaches can be experimented on and found to be true.

 

So here is my question.

Can we know there is a God, this is his chisen church upon the earth, and that our prophets are all his servants called in these latter days?

I would argue no. We cannot. Those things seem to be the factors that are meant to remain a faith based things and not a knowledge based thing.

A little anecdotal example. I have a good friend that says he “knows there is a God”. Yet I have also heard him say on multiple occasions that if he found out it was all a lie, he would not regret being a member because the church had been so good to him. This is a sign to me that he really doesn’t know. I have never heard him once say “Hey Fether, if I found out tomorrow that you were fake, I would not regret being your friend.” He doesn’t say that because he knows I’m not fake.

so ya… I’m just going to take the hard stand that we should stop saying “I know there is a God” (excluding those that have actually seen God or other angelic beings) and see where that takes the discussion.

If the rule you impose on this discussion is that no one can say, “I know there is a God” unless they have actually seen (visually / with quickened, spiritual eyes) seen God or other angelic beings (I see a flaw here in that seeing an angelic being isn’t the same as seeing God) …then yes, we can still know there is a God, this is His Church upon the earth, and that our prophets are all his servants called in these latter days.

Alma was compelled to be humble through an angelic warning, not by an external sign that he was demanding as a condition for reversing his long-held decision to destroy the church, as Korihor was doing.

I see belief, faith and knowledge as different forms of the same spiritual/mental state. Alma 32 speaks to the dynamic that converts each form into the other(s).

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5 hours ago, Fether said:

I swear I have made a dozen threads on this topic across a few different Latter-day Saint forums. It is a concept I don’t ever really settle and it has come up again in my studies.

I came up on Alma 32 today in my studies and it just triggered more thoughts and questions.

I am going to hold those till the end. I find that when I make such statements at the front, it persuades people to focus on disproving or approving what my total post is about rather then just analyzing the content.

Now… I’m going to try really hard to not turn this into a “well what does it really mean to know” conversation… those get boring really fast… however, I understand that it is likely necessary in such a topic.

After Alma talks about being compelled to be humble vs choosing humility, he goes on to compare belief and knowledge.

blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe. Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believeNow I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nayfor if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (v16-18)

This is the first time Alma mentions faith in the sermon. However, he seems to be using it as a synonym of “belief” and not something with a differing meaning. I’m going to move forward with the assumption that Alma is using them interchangeably. If someone disagrees with this assertion, please let me know and explain why. (I recognize traditional definitions don’t match this, but Alma seems to be using them to mean the same thing).

And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (v21)

Now, admittedly I have never really understood what this verse means. Primarily because everyone seems to disagree with the literary assumption here that we can’t know something until we see it. Alma seems to be defining “knowledge” as something that can be observed and tested. I think back to his encounter with Korihor, which was perhaps only a few weeks earlier where he asserted that Alma could not know the things he prophesied about. Korihor’s whole thing was about how you cannot know what you do not see.

O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come. Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers. How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ…Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true… And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ… I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God;” (Alma 30)

I feel like a lot of Alma’s sermon in chapter 32 is a direct response to Korihor’s preaching. Perhaps Korihor came from Antionum and that is why he went back there after he was struck dumb?

anyway…

Alma goes on to testify that he knows there is a God (which I suppose he would since he had an experience where he saw an angel with his own eyes). Korihor demands a sign so he can know too (which I also find interesting since the only reason Alma is the Prophet was because he was compelled to be humble through a sign… yet seems to chastise Korihor for demanding the very same thing that saved Alma) and God obliges and strikes him dumb.

Korihor then rights 

I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.
But behold, the devil hath deceived me
;” (Alma 30)

Did he know there was a God though? To me, this is most likely just a differing definition from Alma’s of what it means to “know” something.

Back to Alma 32

as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.”

Alma is again doubling down on the synonymity of “belief” and “faith”. They are one in the same as it relates to his sermon.

He goes on to give the parable of the seed and explains that we can, through our faith, test things and develop perfect knowledge in “things”, but not a perfect knowledge in the whole of our faith (v27-36) I compare this to the commandments. I know that if I live a certain way, I feel joy in my life. I KNOW that when I am kind and taking care of myself and others, I feel joy. I have a perfect knowledge in this… but I do not know there is a God. That is something I still act on faith with.

Alma then goes on to finish that once we plant the seed and see that it is good, we nourish it until the end when we can pluck the fruit of the tree of life. This I am also not sure about as to the timeline. It seems to suggest that the climax of it all doesn’t come till death (or perhaps if our calling election is ever made sure (whatever that looks like)). That perfect knowledge that there is a God does not come in this life, but the things he teaches can be experimented on and found to be true.

 

So here is my question.

Can we know there is a God, this is his chisen church upon the earth, and that our prophets are all his servants called in these latter days?

I would argue no. We cannot. Those things seem to be the factors that are meant to remain a faith based things and not a knowledge based thing.

A little anecdotal example. I have a good friend that says he “knows there is a God”. Yet I have also heard him say on multiple occasions that if he found out it was all a lie, he would not regret being a member because the church had been so good to him. This is a sign to me that he really doesn’t know. I have never heard him once say “Hey Fether, if I found out tomorrow that you were fake, I would not regret being your friend.” He doesn’t say that because he knows I’m not fake.

so ya… I’m just going to take the hard stand that we should stop saying “I know there is a God” (excluding those that have actually seen God or other angelic beings) and see where that takes the discussion.

This aligns with my understanding as well.  The scriptures make clear that anyone who has faith cannot claim "perfect knowledge".  I think that distinguishing a "perfect knowledge" lends itself to allowing for different degrees of knowledge though.   So, while we cannot claim a perfect knowledge of God, I think the experience of the seed growing and swelling, and tasting of the fruit gives us a certain kind of experiential knowledge with the word of God to know that the seed is good, which is an assurance, or imperfect knowledge of God.  Our very understanding/interpretation of that seed, or word, has room to grow too until we have and experience all seeds in relation to the whole. 

I embrace a holistic epistemology, which philosophy is basically spelled out in Alma 32.  It is the idea that one can't have "perfect knowledge" of anything, without knowing every possible thing related to it.  Or in other words, "every X of an appropriate kind, which is part of a relevant whole W, cannot be legitimately separated or taken in isolation from W".  This naturally leads to perspectivism, where each individual is left to interpret each X in the context of his/her own perspective of other X's and in his/her limited and imperfect perspective of W.  This is spelled out in the parable of the elephant.  Each person's interpretation of each X in relation to W is their individual truth (relative truth).  It is imperfect and mostly likely out of sink with W "as it is" (absolute truth - God's truth/perspective).  But as we palpate more of the elephant and are introduced to more X's, our understanding and interpretation of previous X's evolve and get closer in-line to W as it is - the whole elephant.    

Line upon line, precept upon precept or "knowledge" expands and evolves and grows.   We see through a glass darkly - that will always be the case until our perspective is WHOLE like God's, and we understand how each X relates with all other X's. 

We live by faith, hope, and assurances via experiential knowledge of the seed.  

 

Edited by pogi
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3 hours ago, Fether said:

I swear I have made a dozen threads on this topic across a few different Latter-day Saint forums. It is a concept I don’t ever really settle and it has come up again in my studies.

I think the topic may be of such a sacred nature and character that study of it is best suited to an environment other than online (and often adversarial) venues.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

I came up on Alma 32 today in my studies and it just triggered more thoughts and questions.

I am going to hold those till the end. I find that when I make such statements at the front, it persuades people to focus on disproving or approving what my total post is about rather then just analyzing the content.

Now… I’m going to try really hard to not turn this into a “well what does it really mean to know” conversation… those get boring really fast… however, I understand that it is likely necessary in such a topic.

After Alma talks about being compelled to be humble vs choosing humility, he goes on to compare belief and knowledge.

blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe. Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believeNow I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nayfor if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (v16-18)

This is the first time Alma mentions faith in the sermon. However, he seems to be using it as a synonym of “belief” and not something with a differing meaning.

I wonder if this 2001 Ensign article may be helpful in illuminating the meanings of "faith" and "belief":

Quote

Faith, belief, and hope are often used interchangeably, and it may be difficult to distinguish between these words. There is a difference, however. Although we cannot have faith without belief and hope, we can believe without having faith. Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “Belief, in one of its accepted senses, may consist in a merely intellectual assent, while faith implies such confidence and conviction as will impel to action.” The Savior taught, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” The Apostle James said it another way: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” So-called faith without works is not faith at all!

Faith is interwoven with other gospel attributes, especially hope and charity. All three help bring us to Christ. Feelings of doubt, fear, despair, or discouragement are the opposite of faith, hope, and charity. Faith requires action, and action is inhibited by fear and doubt. Doubt and fear diminish as one’s faith increases. In the parable of the talents, the slothful servant’s underlying problem was lack of faith. On the day of reckoning, he rationalized, “And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth.” The two servants who were given five and two talents, respectively, multiplied them through faith and personal effort. They were rewarded, while the faithless, fearing servant lost what he had received. Shakespeare described the negative effects of little faith, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

(Emphasis added.)

See also this "MormonWiki" article:

Quote

Faith vs. Belief

 

Belief is defined as “an opinion or conviction, confidence in the existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof” [1].

A person can believe in something that is ultimately proved false—for example: the earth is flat or the earth is the center of the solar system.

Faith is defined as “belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion” [2]. Through revelation, the prophet Joseph Smith identified three components necessary for true faith.

Faith Is a Principle of Action

 
[F]aith is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen, and the principle of action in all intelligent beings . . .
Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
First, the idea that [God] actually exists.
Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.
Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to [God’s] will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.[1]

Neglecting any of these principles relegates one’s conviction to belief only, not faith.

Another important differentiation between belief and faith, is that faith leads to salvation and thus convicts to action.

The terms faith and belief are sometimes regarded as synonyms; nevertheless each of them has a specific meaning in our language, although in earlier usage there was little distinction between them, and therefore the words are used interchangeably in many scriptural passages. Belief, in one of its accepted senses, may consist in a merely intellectual assent, while faith implies such confidence and conviction as will impel to action.
 
Dictionary authority justifies us in drawing a distinction between the two, according to present usage in English; and this authority defines belief as a mental assent to the truth or actuality of anything, excluding, however, the moral element of responsibility through such assent, which responsibility is included by faith. Belief is in a sense passive, an agreement or acceptance only; faith is active and positive, embracing such reliance and confidence as will lead to works. Faith in Christ comprises belief in Him, combined with trust in Him. One cannot have faith without belief; yet he may believe and still lack faith. Faith is vivified, vitalized, living belief.
 
Neither belief nor its superior, actual knowledge, is efficient to save; for neither of these is faith. If belief be a product of the mind, faith is of the heart; belief is founded on reason, faith largely on intuition.[2]

Jesus Christ clearly defined the path of salvation which requires a person to act in faith: repentance, baptism by immersion by one with proper authority, receipt of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endurance throughout life by obeying God’s commandments and making and keeping sacred covenants.

 

"Belief," then, appears to be something of an ingredient in, or a precursor towards, "faith."  It is "intellectual assent," largely passive or latent in nature.

"Faith," meanwhile, is "belief" of such a meaning and degree that it impels positive action congruent with that belief.

"Knowledge" is "superior" to "belief," but not to "faith" because a person can "know" something without accepting and internalizing and acting in accordance with it.  Without faith, neither belief nor knowledge is sufficient.  "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."  (James 2:19.)

3 hours ago, Fether said:

I’m going to move forward with the assumption that Alma is using them interchangeably.  

If someone disagrees with this assertion, please let me know and explain why. (I recognize traditional definitions don’t match this, but Alma seems to be using them to mean the same thing).

And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (v21)

I'm not sure that is a safe assumption.  Verse 27: "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words."

I think he is here describing more than simply "belief," but "belief" that is of such "a manner" that the individual "give{s} place for a portion of {prophetic words}."  That is, the individual is more than simply aware of X, but also willing to accept and adopt and internalize and act in accordance with X.

By way of example: I know that I will be healthier if I eat healthy and exercise.  But knowing that is not enough.  I must actually act in accordance with these things in order for them to be efficacious and meaningful.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

Now, admittedly I have never really understood what this verse means. Primarily because everyone seems to disagree with the literary assumption here that we can’t know something until we see it.

Well, no.  I "know" Joseph Biden is the current POTUS.  There is no reasonable dispute about that.  And yet I have never seen him, I did not watch his inauguration, etc.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

Alma seems to be defining “knowledge” as something that can be observed and tested. I think back to his encounter with Korihor, which was perhaps only a few weeks earlier where he asserted that Alma could not know the things he prophesied about. Korihor’s whole thing was about how you cannot know what you do not see.

O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come. Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers. How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ…Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true… And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ… I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God;” (Alma 30)

I feel like a lot of Alma’s sermon in chapter 32 is a direct response to Korihor’s preaching. Perhaps Korihor came from Antionum and that is why he went back there after he was struck dumb?

anyway…

Alma goes on to testify that he knows there is a God (which I suppose he would since he had an experience where he saw an angel with his own eyes).

I think there are more ways to "know" this than being an eyewitness.  I know my wife loves me, even though this is not something that is empirically testable.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

Korihor demands a sign so he can know too (which I also find interesting since the only reason Alma is the Prophet was because he was compelled to be humble through a sign… yet seems to chastise Korihor for demanding the very same thing that saved Alma) and God obliges and strikes him dumb.

Korihor then rights 

I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.
But behold, the devil hath deceived me
;” (Alma 30)

Did he know there was a God though? To me, this is most likely just a differing definition from Alma’s of what it means to “know” something.

I think Korihor typifies an extreme manifestation of knowing something but not internalizing and acting in accordance with it.  

There are plenty of reasons why a person may let other factors override his knowledge of something.  A person may "know" that eating too much is unhealthy, and he may want to be healthy, but due to habit and lack of self-discipline he eats too much anyway.  

I am involved in a case where the defendant's whereabouts from December 2020 to April 2021 were very important.  She swore in an affidavit that she was in California during the entirety of this time, and that she never traveled to Utah during this time.  She also had her parents each swear out affidavits saying the same thing.  And yet a few months later I was contacted by the defendant's landlord (for a property in Utah), and he showed me texts establishing that she definitely was in Utah for most of February 2021.  I presented these texts to the court, and the defendant executed a second affidavit in which she admits that she was in Utah for much of February.  She offered no explanation for the contradiction between the two affidavits.  

The defendant knew she was in Utah, but she lied anyway - probably because she thought she could get away with it.  Or because she really really did not want to go along with the ramifications of admitting the truth (it would have been bad for her in the lawsuit).  Or some combination of both.  Perhaps the same combination of factors were in play for Korihor.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

Back to Alma 32

as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.”

Alma is again doubling down on the synonymity of “belief” and “faith”. They are one in the same as it relates to his sermon.

I don't think he is.  See verse 27.  

3 hours ago, Fether said:

He goes on to give the parable of the seed and explains that we can, through our faith, test things and develop perfect knowledge in “things”, but not a perfect knowledge in the whole of our faith (v27-36) I compare this to the commandments. I know that if I live a certain way, I feel joy in my life. I KNOW that when I am kind and taking care of myself and others, I feel joy. I have a perfect knowledge in this… but I do not know there is a God. That is something I still act on faith with.

Okay.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

Alma then goes on to finish that once we plant the seed and see that it is good, we nourish it until the end when we can pluck the fruit of the tree of life.

Faith + Right Action.  I think that is what he is describing.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

This I am also not sure about as to the timeline.  It seems to suggest that the climax of it all doesn’t come till death (or perhaps if our calling election is ever made sure (whatever that looks like)).  That perfect knowledge that there is a God does not come in this life, but the things he teaches can be experimented on and found to be true.

I think the timeline varies according to the economy of God.  Some may arrive at "knowledge" of foundational truths in this life.  Others may not.  But those who do not attain "knowledge" will, I think, not be at any particular disadvantage.  If knowledge is the destination, we will all arrive there sooner or later provided that we have faith and act in accordance with it.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

So here is my question.

Can we know there is a God, this is his chisen church upon the earth, and that our prophets are all his servants called in these latter days?

Yes, I  think we can.

We can also have faith in these things.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

I would argue no. We cannot. Those things seem to be the factors that are meant to remain a faith based things and not a knowledge based thing.

I dunno.  I feel very different about these things than I did when I was a child, or even right after my mission.  Is what I have "knowledge," or just really strong "faith?"  I don't know.  I'm not sure I need to parse that out.  I instead need to focus on my behavior as being congruent with what I believe and have faith in.

3 hours ago, Fether said:

A little anecdotal example. I have a good friend that says he “knows there is a God”. Yet I have also heard him say on multiple occasions that if he found out it was all a lie, he would not regret being a member because the church had been so good to him.  This is a sign to me that he really doesn’t know. I have never heard him once say “Hey Fether, if I found out tomorrow that you were fake, I would not regret being your friend.” He doesn’t say that because he knows I’m not fake.

I wonder if his use of "I know" is unintentionally ideosyncratic.  I think members of the Church have, over time, equated "knowledge" with fervent faith.  Perhaps that is accurate, or not.  I have commented on it previously here:

Quote

We should ditch the "I know" paradigm.  "I'd like to bear my testimony.  I know this church is true..."  Well, actually, no.  Most of us, I think, have faith that God lives, that Jesus Christ is His Son, that the Church is what it claims to be, etc.  "I know" has become an affectation, and an inaccurate one at that.  Just as people use "literally" to mean "figuratively" ("I was so bored yesterday, I was literally climbing the walls..."), I think members of the Church use "I know" to mean "I believe."  And in so doing we've set up an incorrect perception of things.  "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  (2 Cor. 5:7).  "{I}f a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it."  (Alma 32:17-18).  "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."  (AoF 1:9).

We are supposed to not have a sure knowledge.  We are supposed to be proceeding in faith.  But we've made it seem like anything short of a pulpit-thumping "I know..." just isn't good enough.  But "I know" seems too rigid.  Too fragile.  Too glass-jawed.  "I believe...", on the other hand, gives us some room.  Some time and some space to absorb challenging/difficult things.  

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."  (2 Cor. 5:7.)  "That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."  (D&C 50:24.)  The "perfect day" of "sure knowledge" may come in this life, or it may not.  While I aspire to achieve it, I'm content to operate on faith. 

3 hours ago, Fether said:

so ya… I’m just going to take the hard stand that we should stop saying “I know there is a God” (excluding those that have actually seen God or other angelic beings) and see where that takes the discussion.

I have said something similar, but for different reasons.

Thanks,

-Smac

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I would add a fourth term as perhaps even more significant or important than any of your three. That is "wisdom." Wisdom is the ability to know and acknowledge the difference between faith, belief, and knowledge and the limitations of each. A person can be full of faith, belief, and knowledge and still be empty. A person full of wisdom is truly full. See Proverbs 4:7.

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26 minutes ago, Navidad said:

I would add a fourth term as perhaps even more significant or important than any of your three. That is "wisdom." Wisdom is the ability to know and acknowledge the difference between faith, belief, and knowledge and the limitations of each. A person can be full of faith, belief, and knowledge and still be empty. A person full of wisdom is truly full. See Proverbs 4:7.

Quote

 

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

T.S Elliot

 

That rings truer today than ever before! 

And yet without charity, it all profits us nothing ;)

I suppose there is charity in wisdom, and wisdom in charity - it is hard to distinguish them in practical application, I suppose. 

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Faith has power, to build an ark , to move mountains, to heal the sick. Does mere belief have such power? Does knowledge for that matter? 

The demons Christ cast out exclaimed that they 'knew ' He was the Son of God . What good did that do them ?

Edited by strappinglad
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8 hours ago, Fether said:

I swear I have made a dozen threads on this topic across a few different Latter-day Saint forums. It is a concept I don’t ever really settle and it has come up again in my studies.

I came up on Alma 32 today in my studies and it just triggered more thoughts and questions.

I am going to hold those till the end. I find that when I make such statements at the front, it persuades people to focus on disproving or approving what my total post is about rather then just analyzing the content.

Now… I’m going to try really hard to not turn this into a “well what does it really mean to know” conversation… those get boring really fast… however, I understand that it is likely necessary in such a topic.

After Alma talks about being compelled to be humble vs choosing humility, he goes on to compare belief and knowledge.

blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe. Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believeNow I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nayfor if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (v16-18)

This is the first time Alma mentions faith in the sermon. However, he seems to be using it as a synonym of “belief” and not something with a differing meaning. I’m going to move forward with the assumption that Alma is using them interchangeably. If someone disagrees with this assertion, please let me know and explain why. (I recognize traditional definitions don’t match this, but Alma seems to be using them to mean the same thing).

You are correct: the Hebrew word for "faith, belief" is ʼemuna  אמונה .  No matter how vague the source of such faith or belief may be, it is always a personal testimony.  We may speak of it as theoretically from the light of Christ, with which we are born, or via the Holy Spirit, which we may have actively sought.  Some may speak of it in definite terms, others like the will-o-the-wisp.

8 hours ago, Fether said:

.......................................

Now, admittedly I have never really understood what this verse means. Primarily because everyone seems to disagree with the literary assumption here that we can’t know something until we see it. Alma seems to be defining “knowledge” as something that can be observed and tested. I think back to his encounter with Korihor, which was perhaps only a few weeks earlier where he asserted that Alma could not know the things he prophesied about. Korihor’s whole thing was about how you cannot know what you do not see......................

I feel like a lot of Alma’s sermon in chapter 32 is a direct response to Korihor’s preaching. Perhaps Korihor came from Antionum and that is why he went back there after he was struck dumb?..............................

Yes, indeed, based on the antion-gold-measure (Alma 11), the Zoramite Antionum may be taken metonymously as “El Dorado; Gold-land,”[1] from where Korhihor may have come, and to which he returned.  Others have frequently made this suggestion about an avaricious Zoramite source.


[1] Thomasson, “What’s in a name? Book of Mormon Language, Names, and [Metonymic] Naming,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3/1 (Spring 1994):1-27.

8 hours ago, Fether said:

..........................

Back to Alma 32

as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.”

Alma is again doubling down on the synonymity of “belief” and “faith”. They are one in the same as it relates to his sermon.

He goes on to give the parable of the seed and explains that we can, through our faith, test things and develop perfect knowledge in “things”, but not a perfect knowledge in the whole of our faith

Correct.  It is best to think of the experimental knowledge of Alma 32 set over against Moroni 10:5, two very different modes of understanding.  One may also think of the assumed premises of Euclidean geometry which are so important to practical engineering.  We cannot establish or know the ultimate truth of those axioms, but we can see that they actually work in practice.

8 hours ago, Fether said:

 .................................so here is my question.

Can we know there is a God, this is his chisen church upon the earth, and that our prophets are all his servants called in these latter days?

I would argue no. We cannot. Those things seem to be the factors that are meant to remain a faith based things and not a knowledge based thing.

.............................

Ancient Egyptian religion was a powerful and long-lived faith.  The Egyptians built magnificent temples in which they celebrated various aspects of their faith on a regular basis.  They held a deep belief in the efficacy of their rites to show them the path to immortality, based on the merits of their own lives (in which they should have clothed the naked, fed the hungry, etc., and have had their hearts weighed in the balance at the judgment) by following the path set out by the dying and rising god Osiris.  St Paul said that those who do not have the Christian faith are a law unto themselves, and that they would be judged on the basis of their adherence to their own traditions.  Does this extend to faithful Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims?  How about a good Methodist or observant Roman Catholic parishioner?  The Latter-day Saint faith is in a minuscule category in the world of faith.

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12 hours ago, Fether said:

I swear I have made a dozen threads on this topic across a few different Latter-day Saint forums. It is a concept I don’t ever really settle and it has come up again in my studies.

I came up on Alma 32 today in my studies and it just triggered more thoughts and questions.

I am going to hold those till the end. I find that when I make such statements at the front, it persuades people to focus on disproving or approving what my total post is about rather then just analyzing the content.

Now… I’m going to try really hard to not turn this into a “well what does it really mean to know” conversation… those get boring really fast… however, I understand that it is likely necessary in such a topic.

After Alma talks about being compelled to be humble vs choosing humility, he goes on to compare belief and knowledge.

blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe. Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believeNow I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nayfor if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” (v16-18)

This is the first time Alma mentions faith in the sermon. However, he seems to be using it as a synonym of “belief” and not something with a differing meaning. I’m going to move forward with the assumption that Alma is using them interchangeably. If someone disagrees with this assertion, please let me know and explain why. (I recognize traditional definitions don’t match this, but Alma seems to be using them to mean the same thing).

And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (v21)

Now, admittedly I have never really understood what this verse means. Primarily because everyone seems to disagree with the literary assumption here that we can’t know something until we see it. Alma seems to be defining “knowledge” as something that can be observed and tested. I think back to his encounter with Korihor, which was perhaps only a few weeks earlier where he asserted that Alma could not know the things he prophesied about. Korihor’s whole thing was about how you cannot know what you do not see.

O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come. Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers. How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ…Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true… And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ… I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God;” (Alma 30)

I feel like a lot of Alma’s sermon in chapter 32 is a direct response to Korihor’s preaching. Perhaps Korihor came from Antionum and that is why he went back there after he was struck dumb?

anyway…

Alma goes on to testify that he knows there is a God (which I suppose he would since he had an experience where he saw an angel with his own eyes). Korihor demands a sign so he can know too (which I also find interesting since the only reason Alma is the Prophet was because he was compelled to be humble through a sign… yet seems to chastise Korihor for demanding the very same thing that saved Alma) and God obliges and strikes him dumb.

Korihor then rights 

I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.
But behold, the devil hath deceived me
;” (Alma 30)

Did he know there was a God though? To me, this is most likely just a differing definition from Alma’s of what it means to “know” something.

Back to Alma 32

as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.”

Alma is again doubling down on the synonymity of “belief” and “faith”. They are one in the same as it relates to his sermon.

He goes on to give the parable of the seed and explains that we can, through our faith, test things and develop perfect knowledge in “things”, but not a perfect knowledge in the whole of our faith (v27-36) I compare this to the commandments. I know that if I live a certain way, I feel joy in my life. I KNOW that when I am kind and taking care of myself and others, I feel joy. I have a perfect knowledge in this… but I do not know there is a God. That is something I still act on faith with.

Alma then goes on to finish that once we plant the seed and see that it is good, we nourish it until the end when we can pluck the fruit of the tree of life. This I am also not sure about as to the timeline. It seems to suggest that the climax of it all doesn’t come till death (or perhaps if our calling election is ever made sure (whatever that looks like)). That perfect knowledge that there is a God does not come in this life, but the things he teaches can be experimented on and found to be true.

 

So here is my question.

Can we know there is a God, this is his chisen church upon the earth, and that our prophets are all his servants called in these latter days?

I would argue no. We cannot. Those things seem to be the factors that are meant to remain a faith based things and not a knowledge based thing.

A little anecdotal example. I have a good friend that says he “knows there is a God”. Yet I have also heard him say on multiple occasions that if he found out it was all a lie, he would not regret being a member because the church had been so good to him. This is a sign to me that he really doesn’t know. I have never heard him once say “Hey Fether, if I found out tomorrow that you were fake, I would not regret being your friend.” He doesn’t say that because he knows I’m not fake.

so ya… I’m just going to take the hard stand that we should stop saying “I know there is a God” (excluding those that have actually seen God or other angelic beings) and see where that takes the discussion.

It’s important to understand that Alma 32 instructs us that knowing doesn’t happen all at once at the very end of the process of spiritual growth and enlightenment. Rather, not only does our faith grow throughout the process but an ever expanding sure knowledge of particular aspects of the mysteries of God also mark the path to the final revelation of God’s reality that can only be experienced by those who obtain the highest degree of glory within the celestial kingdom. (Please note the highlighted expressions of knowing found in the following verses from Alma 32)

30 But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I KNOW that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.
31 And now, behold, are ye SURE that this is a good seed? I say unto you, YEA; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.
32 Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.
33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs KNOW that the seed is good.
34 And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? YEA, YOUR KNOWLEDGE IS PERFECT IN THAT THING, and your FAITH IS DORMANT; and this because YOU KNOW, for ye KNOW that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also KNOW that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.
35 O then, is not this REAL? I say unto you, YEA, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? (Alma 32)

 

Edited by teddyaware
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3 hours ago, strappinglad said:

Faith has power, to build an ark , to move mountains, to heal the sick. Does mere belief have such power? Does knowledge for that matter? 

The demons Christ cast out exclaimed that they 'knew ' He was the Son of God . What good did that do them ?

I really appreciate this insight. I think faith is greater than knowledge. That seems to be the message Alma is conveying. I think we are too quick to announce what we know rather than what we have faith in. 

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12 hours ago, CV75 said:

If the rule you impose on this discussion is that no one can say, “I know there is a God” unless they have actually seen (visually / with quickened, spiritual eyes) seen God or other angelic beings (I see a flaw here in that seeing an angelic being isn’t the same as seeing God) …then yes, we can still know there is a God, this is His Church upon the earth, and that our prophets are all his servants called in these latter days.

Alma was compelled to be humble through an angelic warning, not by an external sign that he was demanding as a condition for reversing his long-held decision to destroy the church, as Korihor was doing.

I see belief, faith and knowledge as different forms of the same spiritual/mental state. Alma 32 speaks to the dynamic that converts each form into the other(s).

Sorry, I wasn’t compelling a rule on the discussion. I was simply making a statement of belief. No one can know there is a God without seeing him.

I agree they are all different, but during his sermon, Alma doesn’t distinguish between faith and belief

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11 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The Latter-day Saint faith is in a minuscule category in the world of faith.

I often enjoy reading Robert Smith's posts because they demonstrate a lot of knowledge combined with an ability to accurately inject realism. At the same time he is able to diminish the blind spots that so often hinder conversations about differing beliefs and faiths. All in all, I appreciate his wisdom.

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I had a lot of faith, based on my knowledge gained from having watched every Liberty football game over the last several years that Malik Willis would be drafted in the first or very early second round. I watched every pick on Thursday evening in the belief that he would be next. My belief was bolstered by some experts who had him going from number two to number 22.

I gave up and went to bed last night as number 72 came and went. How could every NFL team be so wrong, so short-sighted, so incorrect in their conclusions? I got up this morning to learn that he was drafted at number 86! My personal faith, belief, and knowledge led me to see that as a disaster, not as something that absent my bias might have been a cause to celebrate!

Now how will I react? Well, I will probably start rooting for the Tennessee Titans for the first time in my life! My faith in him is still strong . . . Incorrect according to the experts, but still strong! Not to worry, my wife says I will look good in pale blue! Well, she has a lot of faith too . . . and if she thinks I will look good in any color, a lot of blind spots as well!

 

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10 hours ago, Fether said:

Sorry, I wasn’t compelling a rule on the discussion. I was simply making a statement of belief. No one can know there is a God without seeing him.

I agree they are all different, but during his sermon, Alma doesn’t distinguish between faith and belief

I think he does distinguish between them at some point in his teaching, as follows:

He says that to believe in the word is not to know the word, and that seeking a sign, or being compelled to know the word, is not productive, which we learn later when he describes faith as a distinct power. While at first he seems to use the two words synonymously, in verse 22 we see that believing in His name, and in the word, constitute faith (because these things are true per verse 21). Otherwise it is merely belief, which we can have in anything and which he is not inviting them to experiment with.

He uses the word "believe" differently, in a more neutral sense, in verse 25 (it can mean think, guess, suppose, trust, imagine, feel, hold, suppose...) as he transitions into using the word "faith" exclusively in verse 27, where he begins to distinguish and qualify belief, when he says to believe in a manner to give place to the word. This kind of belief is faith. Thereafter, he uses faith instead of belief. Faith is increased, strengthened, exercised, nourished, etc., not belief. Faith is forward-looking in the work to gain knowledge (verse 40, further described in vs. 41-43), while belief is focused more on the present, from which we begin to act in faith once we hear and believe, or desire to believe, the word.

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Perhaps it might be useful to talk about faith as a prediction. It seems to me that Alma uses "knoweth" and "perfect knowledge" to say something like "direct observation" or "has observed directly." If you have observed something directly, then you have a perfect knowledge of it in Alma's terminology. He clearly communicates that faith and perfect knowledge cannot exist in the same person regarding the same thing. They are exclusive. 

I think his connection of "faith" with "hope" is telling. Verse 21 has Alma telling us that if we have faith, we hope for things which are not seen but are true. I see "hope" as being an expectant state of mind about a future state - a state in which we will have perfect knowledge. We hope for things which have yet to be realized. Mormon makes the same point in Moroni 7:42: if we have faith we "must needs have hope." Moroni doubles down on it in Moroni 10:20. Hope is always present in faith, and since hope is mainly concerns future states, then faith must concern future states. Faith is a form of prediction. 

In which case, the question is; when is it appropriate to use the term "I know" with regards to a prediction? It seems that it must be appropriate on some occasions; we know the sun will rise tomorrow, after all, even though we have not directly observed that rising yet. Clearly not all predictions could be appropriately described with "I know," but some could be. I think the same is true when it comes to faith.

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27 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

Perhaps it might be useful to talk about faith as a prediction. It seems to me that Alma uses "knoweth" and "perfect knowledge" to say something like "direct observation" or "has observed directly." If you have observed something directly, then you have a perfect knowledge of it in Alma's terminology. He clearly communicates that faith and perfect knowledge cannot exist in the same person regarding the same thing. They are exclusive. 

I think his connection of "faith" with "hope" is telling. Verse 21 has Alma telling us that if we have faith, we hope for things which are not seen but are true. I see "hope" as being an expectant state of mind about a future state - a state in which we will have perfect knowledge. We hope for things which have yet to be realized. Mormon makes the same point in Moroni 7:42: if we have faith we "must needs have hope." Moroni doubles down on it in Moroni 10:20. Hope is always present in faith, and since hope is mainly concerns future states, then faith must concern future states. Faith is a form of prediction. 

In which case, the question is; when is it appropriate to use the term "I know" with regards to a prediction? It seems that it must be appropriate on some occasions; we know the sun will rise tomorrow, after all, even though we have not directly observed that rising yet. Clearly not all predictions could be appropriately described with "I know," but some could be. I think the same is true when it comes to faith.

There are several meanings to "know" the future, such as being aware or certain of the future through prior observation, inquiry, or deduction. I think we can have perfect knowledge of the future, e.g., I know that 1+1 will = 2 tomorrow as well as it was (or as I knew it) yesterday and (as I know it) today.

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My personal preference is to rarely say I know anything, and regarding the spiritual things I lean on in life I present them as hopes.  Hope for me drives a lot of my positive behaviors, spiritual decisions and actions notwithstanding. 

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Is the only way to know something by seeing? What about by hearing only? I know someone who confided in me of a very special experience he had. He heard the voice of God speak directly to him. Would that constitute knowing that God lives and loves us?

We have more senses than just the five that get the most attention. Sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. We also the the sense balance, hunger, thirst, among many others.

What about those senses that let us feel emotionally? How do we know when we love someone? When we have anger? Can we “know” that we love somebody? I believe we can. Does a member of the godhead have the ability to work on those emotions? Yes. Can we recognize when those emotions are ours and when they are from the Holy Spirit? This is where it gets trickier. But I believe with more experience with the Holy Ghost, the better we get at differentiating between the two. Until we get to the point where we know.

I will take it one step further. I also believe that with time, we can forget things based solely on emotions. That is why it is important that we maintain a relationship with the Holy Ghost.

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22 hours ago, filovirus said:

Is the only way to know something by seeing? What about by hearing only? I know someone who confided in me of a very special experience he had. He heard the voice of God speak directly to him. Would that constitute knowing that God lives and loves us?

We have more senses than just the five that get the most attention. Sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. We also the the sense balance, hunger, thirst, among many others.

What about those senses that let us feel emotionally? How do we know when we love someone? When we have anger? Can we “know” that we love somebody? I believe we can. Does a member of the godhead have the ability to work on those emotions? Yes. Can we recognize when those emotions are ours and when they are from the Holy Spirit? This is where it gets trickier. But I believe with more experience with the Holy Ghost, the better we get at differentiating between the two. Until we get to the point where we know.

I will take it one step further. I also believe that with time, we can forget things based solely on emotions. That is why it is important that we maintain a relationship with the Holy Ghost.

Research estimates that about 80-85% of our information is mediated through sight, thus "sight" gets used as a metaphor for sensory experience. That being said, I think I personally do have a bias towards sight as being more reliable than hearing, even though the preeminence of sight is merely a quirk of my biology and not logically superior to any of my other senses. 

I agree with the forgetting part and the importance of the ongoing communication with the Holy Ghost.

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