What do you believe and why?
I use to define faith as a confidence or a trust in the things you believe in. Regardless of evidence to the contrary, your faith was sufficient to discover if something is true or not. First, you have faith then you gain knowledge. This works great in Mormonism. You can take an unusual or extraordinary claim, tell someone to just have faith that it's true, and if they pray hard enough and believe that they'll receive an answer, an answer is revealed through feelings of joy and comfort. That's how you can know something is true. Your confidence grows with your faith and you learn to trust this pattern more and more because you feel happier and happier.
Similar to most other Christian based religions, Mormons have a tendency to defend their belief in God or other claims based on personal revelation and experience. Faith is just the starting point. In order to KNOW something is true, you have to receive a personal answer or witness. The process by which to receive these answers is to search, ponder, and pray. But still, in order for these steps to work, you must first have faith or at least a desire to have faith.
However, when I consider the fact that everyone else in every other religion uses faith as their own tool to defend their beliefs, there seems to be a problem. If God is not the author of confusion, wouldn't faith and prayer be a fail proof system by which to figure out what he wants? It shouldn't matter at all if you were raised Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or anything else. If God truly wants to reveal truth to you, that truth should be the same across the board. So why so many conflicting beliefs and claims?
On The Atheist Experience, a common response to claims of faith is asking the caller if there is anything they COULDN'T believe by faith? Meaning, couldn't someone just say they believe something outrageous and then claim they believe it is true because of faith. Then there wouldn't be anything someone couldn't justify by using faith as their reason. If that is the case, then doesn't faith go out the window? I could say that God considers white people to be the superior race. I could then say that I believe that's true because of faith and I would be completely justified in the realm of faith claims. This is the problem. Faith only works for personal beliefs or truths and is not a reliable tool in discovering truth for all.
Faith is an excuse for lack of evidence.
- Charles Darwin
Faith is the excuse people give for believing something when they don't have good reason. Faith is not a reliable pathway to knowledge or understanding.
- Matt Dillahunty
If faith is not reliable in discovering actual truth, then it fails as a principle in finding religious truth.-Me
My struggles with accepting faith as a good reason to believe anything began during my mission. After my mission, I still tried to believe the claims of the church and hold a belief in God based on faith, but eventually I realized that faith simply wasn't a good enough reason to justify my beliefs.