I’ve heard many LDS say that the only evidence that holds any validity to the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel is the testimony of the Holy Ghost. Searching after archeological evidence of the peoples of the Book of Mormon is a waste of time. Emboldening the historical accuracy of the resurrection of Christ is fruitless. The only thing that should matter in a personal testimony is the burning in one’s own bosom.
This line of thinking calls into question the work of a great many educated men. For example, Jeff Lindsay, a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering has developed a rather extensive website exploring the historical credibility of the Book of Mormon. Daniel Peterson, chairman of F.A.R.M.S., an institute run out of BYU, seeks to academically bolster the claims of the LDS church (inspired by the work of the late Hugh Nibley). The work these men (and other like them) do strengthens the faith of a great many LDS. But it would follow, that if the only evidence that has ANY credibility is the testimony of the Holy Ghost then, anyone whose faith is bolstered by any amount of historical evidence has a weaker faith than one who is ignorant. (I don’t think the church has an official position on the matter)
Not being LDS, I don’t really have a stake in that debate. My own Evangelical faith largely promotes and endorses historical and biblical criticism to show the reliability of our claims (perhaps because we believe the facts are on our side).
I would say this is based on a biblical example. In I Corinthians, Paul gives historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ and says that our faith is worthless if it’s not true. He lets early Christians know exactly who they can ask about these events so that they can ask for themselves. (The structure of this passage indicates that it was an early Christian creed that was likely memorized by all believers.)
I have had a great many spiritual confirmations from the Holy Spirit. They have proven to be valuable and important to my walk with Christ. But I don’t rest my faith solely in those experiences. Miracles are evidenced by a great many faiths. Virtually every religion in the world can claim the reality of spiritual experiences in the lives of their believers (despite their many contradictory claims). Many people who have departed from their faith claim they can still manufacture the same spiritual sensations or promptings that they experienced as believers despite centering them on benign objects. A look into the methods used by Scientologist shows that some unscrupulous means can produce these feelings of truthfulness in even the most ridiculous of truth claims.
If all we have is our own feelings on what is true, then we don’t have much opportunity to give an answer for the hope that we have (I Peter 3:15). We’re left debating who has had the more powerful experience. I think our spiritual experiences need to be compared and held up to reality. If they are true, they will stand the test. If they are not true, we are to be pitied above all men. (I Cor. 15:19)