« Practical Apologetics: Help, I want to go back to church | Main | FAIR Jumping Over a Cliff? »

Comments

I dunno. This is still a good place to start.

Wouldn't it be great if essays like this were reprinted in the Ensign?

AMEN.

A friend reminded me that, while not spelled out in the site's tagline, Church members are certainly a welcome audience. Links to Newsroom posts are particularly handy for social media posts, for example. And I am told the Church News uses Newsroom essays regularly (sorry -- I'm not a Church News reader).

I don't know what you are talking about. This kind of sentiment has been printed in Ensign's, Church manuals, and General Conference for a long time.

"Asking questions is essential for learning...in religion, just as in science or anything else worth studying, it’s absolutely essential to ask questions, even difficult ones. It’s the only way you’ll get answers. And answers mean greater knowledge and understanding—and in the case of religion, greater faith and spirituality...Because we choose to press forward in faith even though we don’t have the answer to every question, some people may accuse us of exercising “blind obedience” or of being “anti-intellectual.” Is this a fair claim? Are there some things we aren’t allowed to study or questions we aren’t allowed to ask? Well, no, not really....Asking questions doesn’t need to cause doubt, though. In fact, it can help you build your faith. So keep asking good questions. Keep studying and praying and thinking deeply."
David A. Edwards, New Era, May 2012

"There are two ways to find truth—both useful, provided we follow the laws upon which they are predicated. The first is the scientific method. It can require analysis of data to confirm a theory or, alternatively, establish a valid principle through experimentation. The scientific method is a valuable way of seeking truth."
Richard G. Scott, October 2007 General Conference

“You will hear allegations that the Church is ‘anti-intellectual.’ … You are the greatest evidence to refute such an erroneous statement. Individually, you have been encouraged to learn and to seek knowledge from any dependable source. In the Church, we embrace all truth, whether it comes from the scientific laboratory or from the revealed word of the Lord. We accept all truth as being part of the gospel”
Russell M. Nelson

"Truth is truth, whether discovered through human reasoning or received through revelation from God."
Teachings of the Living Prophets Institute Manual 8-2

"Our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular. You may take geology, for instance, and it is true science; not that I would say for a moment that all the conclusions and deductions of its professors are true, but its leading principles are; they are facts—they are eternal; and to assert that the Lord made this earth out of nothing is preposterous and impossible [see Abraham 3:24; D&C 131:7]. God never made something out of nothing; it is not in the economy or law by which the worlds were, are, or will exist. There is an eternity before us, and it is full of matter; and if we but understand enough of the Lord and his ways we would say that he took of this matter and organized this earth from it. How long it has been organized it is not for me to say, and I do not care anything about it. … If we understood the process of creation there would be no mystery about it, it would be all reasonable and plain, for there is no mystery except to the ignorant. This we know by what we have learned naturally since we have had a being on the earth"
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, Chapter 27.

"If [truths] seem to conflict with the tentative conclusions arrived at through logic or science, we must be patient and exercise faith because time will vindicate revealed truth. However, we must be careful to avoid accepting personal interpretation as revealed truth or drawing unwarranted conclusions from revealed truth."
Teachings of the Living Prophets Institute Manual 8-2

"We believe in all truth, no matter to what subject it may refer. No sect or religious denomination in the world possesses a single principle of truth that we do not accept or that we will reject. We are willing to receive all truth, from whatever source it may come; for truth will stand, truth will endure. No man’s faith, no man’s religion, no religious organization in all the world, can ever rise above the truth"
Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., also quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley, 2001, and also in Teachings of the Living Prophets Institute Manual 8-2

"The Church, the custodian of the gospel on earth looks with full favor upon attempts of men to search out the facts and laws of nature. it believes that men of science, seekers after truth, and often assisted by the Spirit of the Lord in such researches. It holds further that every scientific discovery may be incorporated into the gospel". John A. Widstoe, Evidence and Reconciliations: Aids to Faith in a modern Day, 125.

"Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church." First Presidency Statement, 1931

"All of these wonderful findings in nature should increase our reverence for the omniscient wisdom of the Creator in fashioning this exquisitely complex universe as a school for His children. Since the Gospel embraces all truth, there can never be any genuine contradictions between truth and science and true religion." Henry Eyring, The Faith of a Scientist. (It should be noted that he wasn't a G.A., but he was immensely trusted by the brethren and frequently asked to act officially for the Church and give their scientific viewpoint).

"Every accomplishment, every polished grace, every useful attainment in mathematics, music, and in all science and art belongs to the Saints, and they should avail themselves as expeditiously as possible of the wealth of knowledge the sciences offer to every diligent and persevering scholar." Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 10:224.

"Joseph Smith taught that a day with God was not the twenty-four hours of our day; but that the six days of the creation were six periods of the Lord's time. This he taught half a century ago; it is now generally recognized as a great truth connected with the creation of the world. Geologists have declared it, and religious people are adopting it; and so the world is progressing." George Q. Cannon, Science and Mormonism, 126.

"On the subject of organic evolution the Church has officially taken no position. The book 'Man, His Origin and Destiny' was not published by the Church, and is not approved by the Church. The book contains expressions of the author's views for which he alone is responsible. Sincerely your brother, [signed] David O. McKay". Letter to William Stokes

"No conflict exists between the gospel and any truth... All true principles are a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no principle that we need to fear." Spencer W. Kimball. Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 391

"Mormons have no fear that any discovery of new truths will ever be in conflict with...any fundamental basic principle which we advocate in the Gospel. [I am comfortable with] any new truths, whether discovered in the laboratory, through the research of the scientist, or whether revealed from Heaven through prophets of God." Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1958, 60.

"The gospel embraces all truth. Brigham Young especially emphasized the propriety of seeking all truth. The assumption that because a man understands something about the operation of the Universe, he will necessarily be less faithful is a gratuitous assumption contradicted by numberless examples. God, who understands all about the Universe, is apparently, not troubled by this knowledge. Some people drift when they study, but some people drift when they don't study. If the Church espouses the cause of ignorance, it will alienate more people than if it advises man to seek after truth, even at some risk." Eldon Tanner to Henry Eyring, 16 Oct. 1967, and Henry Eyring to N. Eldon Tanner,
19 Oct. 1967, in possession of Mrs. Winifred Eyring, Salt Lake City, Utah.

And this is from Ensign September, 1987, "I have a question":

Do we know how the earth’s history as indicated from fossils fits with the earth’s history as the scriptures present it?
Morris S. Petersen, professor of geology, Brigham Young University, and stake president, Provo Utah East Stake. There is much we do not know about the creation and early history of the earth. The scriptural record is sketchy, and the record of science is incomplete. Indeed, what we imagine to be true now about the history of the earth may prove to be only partially true in the light of greater knowledge. We are assured, however, that the day will come when the Lord “shall reveal all things—
...
This agreement shouldn’t be surprising because the God who created this earth is the same God who inspired the prophets. A conflict arises only when we assume that God has revealed all he is going to reveal on the subject or forget that scientific theories change as new discoveries are made. We also need to remember both the purposes for which the scriptures were given and the objectives of the scientific method.
...
"The relationship between scripture and what is currently understood in science is ever changing. Science continually learns more about the history of life on earth, and we have every reason to believe that much more will be learned as research continues.
"The struggle to correlate a passage in scripture with a specific portion of scientific research has been a challenge for centuries. But experience has shown that what a person understands today will be modified by tomorrow’s discoveries. Patience and humility will eventually resolve all questions—if not in this life, then in the next.
"Fortunately, we need not know all the details of the Creation to take advantage of the essential saving ordinances of the gospel and conform to divine standards of progression. The scriptures and the inspired counsel of the prophets are sufficient to lead us back to God.
"But this does not mean that science has no place in our eternal pursuit of truth. The more we learn of God’s handiwork, the more we come to know him and love his works. As a Latter-day Saint geologist, I consider myself fortunate indeed to have the opportunity to study rocks and fossils as evidences of God’s creation of our earth. Everything I have learned of the grandeur of the Creation has strengthened my resolve to learn more of our Heavenly Father and live as He would have me live.
-------

"Within the Gospel of Jesus Christ there is room for every truth thus far learned by man, or yet to be made known". James E. Talmage, Talmage Story, 240. Also inscribed on his tombstone.

"The open mind is the sign of growth and progress. To stand before the unknown and undiscovered universe, in full desire for truth, and ready to accept it, insistent only that is must be the truth and nothing else, that has been and ever will be the attitude of those who have done most for the human race. the open mind is ready to accept truth; but more ready to reject error. It tests and tries; it philosophizes and prays, then it goes on its way rejoicing, ready for more truth at the next turn of the road". John A. Widstoe, In Search of Truth, 104

----

The following is from "Solutions from the Scriptures", Elder George R. Hill III, Of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Ensign May 1988:
"It has been my privilege during the forty years prior to last April conference to search for truth through research in the physical sciences, an endeavor which blends some inspiration with a lot of perspiration, but which leads to the discovery of facts and principles which bring much benefit to mankind. I am most grateful for that privilege, as well as for the simultaneous privilege of discovering the principles of truth revealed directly from the Lord to his chosen prophets, as recorded in the scriptures. To the many young people of the Church who have the privilege of discovering truth through the scientific method, let me add my testimony to those of Elders James E. Talmage and John A. Widtsoe (author of a choice book, In Search of Truth) that there is no conflict between the facts and truths of science and those given to us by direct revelation. Rather than conflicting, the facts and truths in each area complement each other, each supplying answers to basic questions which we must know, eventually, if we are to fulfill our destiny as sons and daughters and copartners with our Father in his eternal plan.

"Apparent conflicts arise when the theories of science—which serve as a scaffolding erected to try to understand relationships among observed facts—are mistaken for the experimentally verified facts.

"Occasionally also, some people subject the scriptures to personal interpretation. This can give rise to differences in perception as well. I have learned to say, “I don’t know,” when confronted with choices which seem to be in conflict. No true scientist will say that we have final, exact answers through scientific research; it is an ongoing, learning process. The Articles of Faith teach us that the Lord “will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (A of F 1:9). As members of the Lord’s church our blessing is to believe all that is true and to diligently seek learning “by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118).

It's pretty clear via those quotes that the LDS Newsroom is by no means out in left-field or coming up with new doctrine.

Amen Mike Taylor. One wonders if, ironically, those who wish these kinds of things were said to the general membership actually read LDS Church materials, listen to conference, or even go to or pay attention in church.

Jettboy, master of the subtle barb. It is actually familiarity with curriculum materials and Conference talks that gives rise to the issue and that makes the Newsroom piece so refreshing. If you agree the Newsroom essay is commendable and similar views should be more widely reflected in LDS curriculum and magazines, then we actually agree on the central point.

Thanks for the epic comment, Mike, but I don't think your quote mining really makes your point. Talmage and Widtsoe (your source spelled his name wrong) are particularly relevant -- they spoke forcefully in favor of a role for science in LDS understanding, but since their time career scientists have not been called into senior leadership and, predictably, their approach to faith and science issues has languished.

Elder Nelson is hardly one to quote in favor of science -- his most recent Conference talk clearly if tactfully endorsed Creationism and denounced evolution. It is that mindset that is the problem, taking up ideas borrowed from 20th century fundamentalist Protestant thinkers and repeating them as if they are part of the gospel rather than carrying forward the enlightened approach modeled by LDS apostles like Talmage and Widtsoe.

You ought to devote a few hours to listening to Dan Peterson's interview over at Mormon Stories, where he recounts his frustrations trying to improve LDS curriculum materials when he was on a curriculum committee and states his opinion that CES materials often reflect an explicit anti-intellectual view that serves out youth and our membership poorly. It is certainly not just my view. LDS curriculum materials are in serious need of revision.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Now Reading

Blog powered by Typepad

General Books 09-12

General Books 06-08

General Books 04-05

About This Site

Mormon Books 2013-14

Mormon Books 2012

Science Books

Bible Books

Mormon Books 09-11

Mormon Books 2008

Mormon Books 2007

Mormon Books 2006

Mormon Books 2005

Religion Books 09-12

Religion Books 2008

Religion Books 2004-07