I've been curious about this mismatch before, so I took the opportunity to study it further.Curt Sunshine wrote: ↑18 Jan 2019, 11:35We tend to equate doubt with questioning or not believing fully - of keeping an open mind.
Church leaders tend to equate doubt with sign seeking - which is seen as having a closed mind. "Doubting Thomas" wasn't criticized for questioning; he was criticized for rejecting the other disciples' testimonies and demanding to see for himself. (Ironically, Jesus is recorded as granting that sincere request, so criticizing Thomas for it is a retroactive judgment in and of itself.)
The etymology of doubt is interesting. It started in Latin, where it meant little more than uncertainty - being of two minds. (Compare duo.) It took two routes into English, arriving from both around 1200-1300. Its direct route from Latin is seen in the word dubious, which connotes just uncertainty. Its indirect route was through Old French, where it picked up the additional connotation of fear or mistrust.
If faith is trust and confidence, then with the additional connotations from Old French, doubt is obviously its opposite.
It's more complicated than that, though. Doubt never lost its neutral meaning from Latin. Even the KJV uses it to mean just uncertainty, as in the phrase "no doubt," or when Peter "doubted in himself" the implications of a vision. The Old French meaning of "fear or dread" shows up almost as-is in the KJV too, when Jesus tells the disciples that someone would betray him and they "looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake," and when Jewish leaders "doubted [...] whereunto this would grow."
These days, doubt still often carries the connotation of fear or mistrust when used in the context of religion, relationships, and capabilities (e.g. "self-doubt"). It seems to have been shifting meaning, though, possibly beginning with the rise of science, in which even intentional doubt is a good thing. Now, we often use it to mean just "uncertainty," and the Old French meaning of "fear or dread" seems to be completely gone.
As far as understanding each other, where does that leave us?
Most leaders and members seem to have settled into a dichotomous mode of thought and speech where faith is always pitted against doubt. (I appreciate the fact that some buck the trend, such as Elder Uchtdorf.) With the most common scriptural definitions, that's perfectly fair because the dichotomy is definitional. There is still plenty of room to talk about their strength (i.e. strong vs. weak), and to apply them in a fine-grained way. Some people here, for example, have faith in God but doubt the Church's claims to exclusive authority (i.e. mistrust the claims for what they judge as good reasons).
The most glaring omission from the discourse is the idea of faithful uncertainty. ("Having questions" doesn't cover this.) To a lot of leaders and members, that state of mind or spiritual orientation either doesn't make sense or is undesirable - or at least, staying in it is undesirable. But without it, the "faith vs. doubt" dichotomy sorts all members into "faithful" and "doubter" buckets based on how strongly they believe or the direction their beliefs move. There's no apparent way to be both faithful and epistemically humble, and everyone who becomes less certain of the Church's claims is judged to have also become less loyal.
I suspect that trying to argue the definition of doubt isn't going to help, at least in the short term. The scriptures can too easily be used to argue against it. Further, for now, Church leaders have fixed the definition at "uncertainty with connotations of fear or mistrust" by so consistently contrasting it with faith.
Maybe we need to use a different word. I like "uncertainty," with and without the modifier "faithful."