Here is a thoughtful post I wrote back on 9/21/07 over at CARM:
Our LDS scriptures, including the bible, teach us very clearly that we are to learn eternal truths by the spirit. The problem I believe is that not everyone understands exactly what that means.
Most LDS are just like most Evangelicals and Catholics in this regard, they believe what they are told by their leaders, and they are not terribly interested in applying any sort of critical test to their beliefs. I don’t think it means they are bad, it just means that they are not the kind of people to explore the meaning of things.
Sometimes we get caught up here in our little online world and forget that most of the people in our respective ranks are not naturally inclined to seek out debate, discussion, or to dig deep into the meaning of things. They believe deeply that they are on the right path so they see no need for it. We internet buffs are here precisely because we are naturally inclined to constantly be exploring, perfecting, and sharpening our knowledge base and apologetic skills. Besides that it is fun for us. God has given different gifts to each person, and some don’t need to do what we do in order to feel comfortable.
The LDS prophets constantly harp on us to not only pray and harken unto the spirit, but to read our scriptures daily. We are intensely encouraged to seek answers in the scriptures, and work things out for ourselves if we can. But ultimately we do rely on the spirit to guide us, and I think that is correct.
I for one do not believe that we experience the Holy Spirit strictly through “feelings”. To me “feeling” is too much of a carnal sensation for this sort of thing. I believe the Spirit communicates to my spirit, and I can somehow “sense” it. We often employ the word “feeling” however for two reasons: lack of a better word and habit.
I also believe that engaging in rigorous study and seeking to find answers intellectually is part of discovering truth. I don’t think the spirit is as willing to teach us if we haven’t tried on our own yet. Having said that, the various methods for discovering truth do have an order of importance. Communication from God the Spirit should always take precedence over every other method.