The Book of Mormon 14/18
There are a few passages in the BOM that basically say that faith and knowledge are mutually exclusive. You can only have faith as long as you don't have knowledge, and once you know something, you can no longer exercise faith in it.
Alma 32:17-18 "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 believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it."I thought this was an interesting passage because the New Testament seems to teach that faith is necessary for salvation. But Alma 32:17-18 says that if you have signs, then you have knowledge, and if you have knowledge, then you cannot have faith; it follows that if you have signs, then you cannot have faith. But Jesus performed many signs for his apostles, including rising from the dead. It would seem to follow that the apostles did not have faith. And also the Nephites saw many signs in the sky indicating that Jesus had been born, and then had died, and then he even appeared to them. I went to Yahoo Answers and asked, "Did this nullify their faith, and if so, did it ruin their salvation? Or is faith not necessary for salvation?" Unfortunately, I didn't get any straight answers. One person said it required faith in the first place to recognize the signs, and that the signs didn't nullify their faith; they only strengthened their faith.
That brings us to the next passage:
Alma 32:26-34 "Now, 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. 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 your, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves--It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge. 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, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness. Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away. 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. 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."Let me summarize that for people who don't want to read the whole thing. Basically, it's saying that you can do an experiment where you entertain an idea, either exercising a small degree of faith or at least wanting it to be true. If the object of your faith is good or true, then your faith will grow. It will get stronger and stronger. Eventually, you will reach certainty, at which point you no longer have faith or belief; rather, you have knowledge. So knowledge is epistemological certainty.
When I talked to the Bishop, he read this whole passage to me. Before he got to the end, I was on the edge of my seat, and I said, "That's one of the passages I wanted to ask you about!" Remember, I didn't know I was going to meet with the Bishop that day, so I didn't have my notes with me. Earlier in the conversation, I had asked the Bishop whether he believed Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Book of Mormon was an ancient document translated by Joseph Smith, and the LDS Church was the true church of Christ restored by Joseph Smith. He said, "I don't believe it; I know it." So I questioned him on what he meant by saying he knew it. What did he mean by "know"?
We went back and forth because he wasn't really giving me straight answers, but after a little frustration, we finally arrived at his definition of knowledge. He simply equates knowledge with epistemological certainty. To believe something means to have some degree of doubt, but to know something means to have no doubt at all.
Words are defined by their use, so I suppose I can't quibble with the way the BOM uses the word, "knowledge," but I don't think that is what people usually mean by the word. After all, it's possible to be absolutely certain about something and still be wrong. And it hardly seems possible to know something that isn't true. You can't know that the earth is flat if the earth is not really flat. It seems to me that before you can know something, it has to at least be true.
And to believe something means to think it's true. You'd be contradicting yourself if you said, "I believe my cat is pregnant, but I know she is not." So before you can know something, it has to be true, and you have to think it's true.
But it's possible for something to be true, for you to think it's true, and you still don't know it. A person might think they will win the lottery, and maybe they will win the lottery, but that doesn't mean they knew it. They are just an optimistic person who made a lucky guess. It's not really knowledge unless you have some sort of reason or justification for thinking it's true. Justification is what connects the belief inside your mind with the reality outside your mind. Without that connection, any correspondence between your mental states and the external world is merely a coincidence.
So knowledge is justified true belief. I think that's how most people use the word, whether they've thought about what they mean by it or not. Since knowledge is justified true belief, knowledge and belief cannot be mutually exclusive. Belief is necessary for knowledge.
Here is one last passage from the BOM about faith and knowledge:
Ether 3:18-19 "And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him. And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting."I think this is a good example of why you have to be careful to define your terms when you're talking with people. Any Christian might say they know the gospel is true, but when Mormons say they know it's true, they mean they have absolute certainty.
Since I had that discussion with the Bishop, I have noticed that a lot of Mormons will say they know their religion is true, rather than merely believing it to be true. The next time a Mormon tells me that, I think I'll question them on the issue of faith and say, "Does that mean you don't have any faith?"