Before I begin my response, I'd like to thank Watt for giving us a lot to think about. I'm grateful for his willingness to post here and thank him for his insightful comments, wit, and sincere engagement of difficult topics.
I'll begin with where we agree. I believe that the essential task of morality is to try as hard as you can to be as good as you can. My own belief is that God cares less about what your answer is than how hard you tried to engage the question. In this sense, the quotation offered by Watt is quite illustrative. As the obligation of the shipowner is to take all care to ensure that the ship is safe, the obligation of the believer is to be sure that his or her faith is well founded in reasons that make sense. I would argue that this realization helps us to avoid undue judgment of others by recognizing that effort and good intentions matter absent outcomes. If a well-constructed ship is wrecked in a hurricane, nobody blames the owner. If a well-constructed ship takes much longer to reach a safe port due to unfavorable winds, the owner is not blamed. Likewise, if a good person that works hard to be good has trouble finding the port that you want him to find, you can recognize that he's still working hard. If crisis destroys faith, there is no reason to presume that the architect of that faith is a failure. This is why my blood boils when I mention a good person that does good works who is not a member of the Church and someone says "sounds like a good terrestrial person". I swear, that line will get someone's jaw broken some day. Thanks to Watt for expressing this point in a more civilized way.
With that said, I do disagree with a few of the basic assumptions and arguments implicit in the post. Initially, I would challenge the idea of a "right to believe". The essential point of liberty is that one may chart one's own path to the extent that it does not infringe upon anyone else's liberty. For me, personal religious beliefs fall firmly within this domain. You can think whatever you want without being accountable to anyone else except possibly God. Now, this calculation changes dramatically when you try to convince someone else. Once that happens, your reasons for belief are a legitimate target for anyone to attack/defend/criticize at will. This is not to say that we cannot have persuasive discourse or that we cannot attempt to engage the values of others. I do think that it means that we can say that "your reasons are good enough/not good enough for me" but not "your reasons are not good enough for you". While we can criticize the reasons, I don't believe that we can make a judgment about what is or should be persuasive to another. This is not because we cannot know what is right, but because it is a hegemonic discourse to be the definer of the terms of debate and a participant in it. Of course, it would be perfectly legitimate for individuals to agree upon terms, were they so inclined. Beyond this problem, I simply think that it's more effective in creating meaning to engage reasons than conclusions.
A related concern is best exemplified in Clifford's quotation. As he states that the shipowner "had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him", he implies that there can be such a thing as a dispassionate analysis of "evidence". The problems with this assumption abound. First, we can't agree on what constitutes evidence. How many "evidence points" does my belief in a specific personal revelation from the Spirit count for? How many points get docked for an argument's reification through socialization? Second, we can never separate ourselves from our position in evaluating evidence. We can and should try. But that doesn't change the fact that Clifford's shipowner is, in fact, a shipowner. There are very powerful incentives for him to think that his boat is safe. There are lots of incentives for D-Train, Mormon, Esquire to be right about Mormonism. Same for the Baptists, same for the communists, same for the neo-cons. This doesn't imply that people consciously exclude or include evidence based on their world view (although many do), but that people actually see the evidence differently. We can create intersubjective meaning in these cases, but we're limited to doing so with the understanding that individuals still will disagree and that evaluating "evidence" is not a perfect process.
I agree that we Mormons have a lot on the shelf. But so does everyone else. I can't think of anyone that has reached a transcendental harmony between all of their views, all of their actions, and their social relationships. These issues are often profound doubts about our faith. Sometimes these can be the cause of great discomfort. However, this discomfort only comes about as a result of the process of sincere inquiry that Watt and I agree to be essential to real, living faith. While there may be issues unique to Mormons on the table, the phenomenon of doubt and "shelf issues" is experienced by all. Indeed, it may be that the process of inquiry places items on the shelf intentionally in order to place effort elsewhere. I know I've done that. I've written about it here. I have some serious doubts about Mormonism, Christianity, theism, etc. Despite these, I perceive that my questions can be answered more effectively by doing other things than by worrying about those directly (at least some of the time).
So, at the end of the day, I can say that effort is the most important thing. I must also say that our ability to evaluate the evidence before us is highly subjective and depends on our roles, ascribed, earned, and imagined. Above all, I must assert our right as thinking beings to determine the evidentiary standards that will determine our own actions.