Mormon Authorities on Science and Technology
Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants 93: 36, Date?
The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants 130: 18-19, Date?
Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.
Joseph Smith, Doctrine and Covenants 121: 26-33
God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now; Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory; A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest. All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ. And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars — All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months, and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times — According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence and into his immortal rest. How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.
Joseph Smith, "Statement Made by Isaac Decker" 21 September 1870, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah
[The Gentiles] will make wonderful improvements in machinery of every kind, especially implements of husbandry for the working of the land and raising grain, saving a great deal of labor to the saints in building up the kingdom. The Lord will inspire the Gentiles to do this, but they will not acknowledge his hand in it, nor give him the glory ... The benefits of all their ingenuity and inventions will be the means of advancing the building up of Zion with greater speed. The Lord will have the glory.
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 13: 300, Date?
We talk to the Latter-day Saints a great deal, and we wish them to become a thinking people, a people that will reflect and begin to systematize their lives, and know the object of their existence here. This life is as precious and valuable as any life ever possessed, or that ever will be possessed by any intelligent being, and hence the necessity and propriety of understanding its object and using it to the best advantage in every respect, and of understanding principle in all things.
It was observed here by Brother Taylor, this morning, when speaking of the arts and sciences, they are from eternity to eternity. They can neither be increased nor diminished; and the Lord has had to teach the people all that they know, no matter whether it be the wicked who acknowledge Him not, or the righteous, both are alike in that respect-they receive their knowledge from the same source. The construction of the electric telegraph and the method of using it, enabling the people to send messages from one end of the earth to the other, is just as much a revelation from God as any ever given. The same is true with regard to making machinery, whether it be a steamboat, a carding machine, a sailing vessel, a rowing vessel, a plow, harrow, rake, sewing machine, threshing machine, or any thing else, it makes no difference-these things have existed from all eternity and will continue to all eternity, and the Lord has revealed them to His children.
In the infancy of creation the human family commenced down at the bottom of the ladder, and had to make their way upward. How small and frail that commencement looks now; why it is considered almost beneath the notice of the wise of this day to talk of the intelligence of our First Parents. When they waked from their sleep and found themselves in a state of nudity, we are told that they hid themselves, because they were ashamed and mortified and did not wish to expose themselves when the Lord came along. And he picked some fig leaves-what a simple idea! He picked some fig leaves and sewed them together and made aprons of them. I do not know whether he used scissors or His penknife for the cutting out of the garments, or what kind of a needle and thread He used, but he made aprons for the whole human family-Adam and Eve! What a simple idea! It is beneath the notice of the mechanic or artist, or the science of the world now-a-days. Yet simple as it seems now, the Lord had to reveal to our first parents the modus operandi of the manufacture of an apron of fig leaves. And when they wanted a little copper made up, after having found the ore, the Lord had to come along and show them how to do it; and how to manufacture the iron. How simple this is! It is beneath the notice of the intelligence and science that are in the world now; the scientific men of the present time say those were the days of ignorance. Yes, that was in the period of the childhood of the human family, in the infancy of the world. But what does it manifest unto us? Why that there is a Being superior to man, and though we may not know the place where He resides, He has come along occasionally and shown His creatures how to make and work up brass, iron, copper, and in fact has revealed to them everything they know at various stages of their development and progress.
The people of this day think they know more than all who have preceded them-that this is the wisest generation that ever did live on the earth. Perhaps it is in worldly things, and in some of the arts and sciences it may be; but there is no question that many things of great worth known anciently have been lost. Archeological developments and investigations bring to light facts in the mechanical arts which set at defiance the skill of the world in our day. For instance, where is the mechanic now, who can sharpen copper so that it would shave the beard from a man's face, or chop timber like an axe made of steel? The skill to do that is not in existence now; yet it once was, and many other arts, revealed to man anciently, have been lost through the wickedness of the people.
I want to say a few words about our religion, but first I will ask you to remember this prayer which I offered at the commencement of my remarks with regard to the poor. If you will do that, they will be looked after and brought home. Now we will talk a little about our religion. Ask the scientific men of the world how many of the arts can be reduced to a science? When they are so reduced they become permanent; but until then they are uncertain. They go and come, appear and disappear. When they are reduced to science and system their permanency, and stability are assured. It is so with government-until it is reduced to science it is liable to be rent asunder by anarchy and confusion, and caprice and scattered to the four winds. Government, to be stable and permanent and have any show for success must be reduced to a science. It is the same with religion; but our traditions are such that it is one of the most difficult things in the world to make men believe that the revealed religion of heaven is a pure science, and all true science in the possession of men now is a part of the religion of heaven and has been revealed from that source. But it is hard to get the people to believe that God is a scientific character, that He lives by science or strict law, that by this He is, and by law he was made what He is; and will remain to all eternity because of His faithful adherence to law. It is a most difficult thing to make the people believe that every art and science and all wisdom comes from Him, and that He is their Author. Our spirits are His: He begot them. We are His children; He set the machine in motion to produce our tabernacles; and when men discard the principle of the existence of a Supreme Being and treat it with lightness, as Brother Taylor says, they are fools. It is strange that scientific men do not realize that, all they know is derived from Him; to suppose, or to foster the idea for one moment, that they are the originators of the wisdom they possess is folly in the highest! Such men do not know themselves. As for ignoring the principle of the existence of a Supreme Being, I would as soon ignore the idea that this house came into existence without the agency of intelligent beings.
Well, the Latter-day Saints are beginning to comprehend that true religion is a science . . .
Orson Pratt, Deseret News 22: 586
The great temple of science must be erected upon the solid foundations of everlasting truth; its towering spires must mount upward, reaching higher and still higher, until crowned with the glory and presence of Him, who is Eternal.
D H Fowler, "In the Business of the Lord", The Improvement Era 12: 40-42
The world is getting better. One of the greatest evidences of it is the contrivances that men are continually bringing into use for the saving of time and energy.
Only a few years ago the cured can of meat was about the only product of the packing house. Now there are side-products that form a great asset to the business. The sinews and hoofs are made into fertilizers to bless the farmer; the joint-oils, into lubricants for the driver's wheel; certain fats are transformed into a fair substitute for butter, oleomargarine; the horns go to the cutler's, and the hair finds a place in the plasterer and mason's trade. So, too, in the manufacture of most other things that the world needs, as well as in farming, fruit-growing, and the like, a greater or less saving in materials and products is effected.
The same is true in the world of labor. Time was when myriads of hands were employed in making cloth that is now produced by a fraction of the number, by the use of time-saving machinery. In all lines of the world's work, man's will dictates the turning out of man's necessaries through the inventions of genius, whereas toilsome labor used to do it by sheer human strength. Great blocks of stone and other building materials had to be laboriously raised into place by a multitude of human hands; now one human finger presses a button, and harnessed electricity or steam hoists ponderous masses aloft with ease.
A given number of men can now do infinitely more towards the great task of subduing the earth than they could a few decades ago. Which, in the broader sense, is the only business of man, and the one for which the Creator put him on the earth — to subdue it, and make himself in the process.
The reason why I think that this trend of things, this tendency to conserve energy, is an evidence of the world's getting better, is because it is more like the business of the Lord. We see all around us how this invention and that has been made to do wonderful things, how by the use of it three or four, or perchance a hundred, times the amount of time or power can now be saved over the old way, by bringing the new machine to bear. But so few of us, perhaps, ever sense the deeper significance of it all. We do not always look far enough to see the over-shadowing hand of the great Maker of the universe in it. When we do, we must see that the multitude of force-saving devices that are daily being worked out and brought into play upon the business of the world, is making the world gravitate toward the way the Lord has of doing things.
In other words, the Lord is the greatest conserver of energy there is. And his designs and methods of accomplishing things are the most perfect and energy-saving that we know of.
For, in the economy of God there is no waste.
In the economy of men there used to be a multifarious waste, now we have found out more about the nature of God's handiwork, and so can save more time and world-force.
There is mention made in the scriptures, something about the "preparation of the Lord" in the last days. It seems to me that this tendency of the present day to conserve energy in the mighty hum of the world's industries, and in general business, is a very noteworthy phase of "his preparation." And it helps to bring home to our minds the fact that we must be living in that prophetic time when all things are to be "brought together in Christ." For if it teaches anything at all, it tells us that the ways of this world of ours are becoming more like the ways of Christ. It speaks in unmistakable language that as we as earth-people improve more and more in our manner of doing our work, as well as in morals and all other phases of living and of life, we are heading for the time when the Son of God will come down on earth with us and show us a still "more excellent way" to transact our business and accomplish our purposes, as well as a wiser method of governing ourselves.
So we see this earth and its inhabitants are gradually converging toward the status of a celestial sphere. The power-conserving devices and systems that men are all the time discovering and bringing to bear upon world-problems are bringing us steadily closer to the Lord and the means he employs to effect his ends.
John Taylor, Times and Seasons, vol 4, pg 46, Dec 15, 1842
"True science is a discovery of the secret, immutable and eternal laws, by which the universe is governed; and when practically applied, sets in motion the mighty wheels of useful engines, with all the various machinery which genius has invented, or art contrived. It ameliorates the condition of man, by extending the means of intellectual, moral, social, and domestic happiness."
W W Phelps, Times and Seasons, Vol 5, Pg 758, Jan 1, 1844
Well, now, Brother William, when the house of Israel begin to come into the glorious mysteries of the kingdom, and find that Jesus Christ, whose goings forth, as the prophets said, have been from of old, from eternity; and that eternity, agreeably to the records found in the catacombs of Egypt, has been going on in this system, (not this world) almost two thousand five hundred and fifty five millions of years: and to know at the same time, that deists, geologists and others are trying to prove that matter must have existed hundreds of thousands of years; -- it almost tempts the flesh to fly to God, or muster faith like Enoch to be translated and see and know as we are seen and known!
Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, pg. 157, February 12, 1860
The study of science is the study of something eternal. If we study astronomy, we study the works of God. If we study chemistry, geology, optics, or any other branch of science, every new truth we come to the understanding of is eternal; it is a part of the great system of universal truth. It is truth that exists throughout universal nature; and God is the dispenser of all truth -- scientific, religious, and political.
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, pg. 168, January 26, 1862
How gladly would we understand every principle pertaining to science and art, and become thoroughly acquainted with every intricate operation of nature, and with all the chemical changes that are constantly going on around us! How delightful this would be, and what a boundless field of truth and power is open for us to explore!
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, pg. 369, August 31, 1862
Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind, has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. It has been given with a view to prepare the way for the ultimate triumph of truth, and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan. We should take advantage of all these great discoveries, the accumulated wisdom of ages, and give to our children the benefit of every branch of useful knowledge, to prepare them to step forward and efficiently do their part in the great work.
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, pg. 140 - p.141, July 11, 1869
Yet I will say with regard to miracles, there is no such thing save to the ignorant -- that is, there never was a result wrought out by God or by any of His creatures without there being a cause for it. There may be results, the causes of which we do not see or understand, and what we call miracles are no more than this -- they are the results or effects of causes hidden from our understandings.
John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, pg. 224, May 6, 1870
Science reveals the beauty and harmony of the world material; it unveils to us ten thousand mysteries in the kingdom of nature, and shows that all forms of life through fire and analogous decay are returned again to its bosom. It unfolds to us the mysteries of cloud and rains, dew and frost, growth and decay, and reveals the operation of those silent irresistible forces which give vitality to the world. It reveals to us the more wonderful operations of distant orbs and their relations to the forces of nature. It also reveals another grand principle, that the laws of nature are immutable and unchangeable as are all the works of God.
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, pg. 248, September 25, 1870
The origin of life whether human or inferior, must be lodged in some character whom I have not seen! Follow it back, no matter whether it be for six thousand years, six millions, six million millions, or billions of years, the figures and numbers are immaterial, I must have come from some source, my natural philosophy teaches me this. But, leaving the natural philosophy of the child free from false tradition, let us inquire. What does the philosophy of the Christian sects, or many of them, not all, teach? “God made the world in six days, out of nothing!” This is very wrong; no child should be taught any such dogma. God never did make a world out of nothing; He never will, He never can!
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol 14, pg 114-117, May 14, 1871
It is my highest delight and pleasure to serve God and keep his commandments; there is great delight in the law of the Lord to me, for the simple reason-it is pure, holy, just, and true; and those principles which the Lord has revealed are the only correct principles that man possesses on the earth. We may imagine to ourselves that we possess a great deal of human wisdom independent of the Lord, but this is a mistake, for every truth that is in the possession of the children of men upon the earth came from God. The sciences understood by man came from God, and when we demonstrate a truth, we demonstrate a portion of the faith, law, or power by which all intelligent beings exist, whether in heaven or on earth, consequently when we have truth in our possession we have so much of the knowledge of God. I delight in this, because truth is calculated to sustain itself; it is based upon eternal facts and will endure, while all else will sooner or later perish.
It was observed here just now that we differ from the Christian world in our religious faith and belief; and so we do very materially. I am not astonished that infidelity prevails to a great extent among the inhabitants of the earth, for the religious teachers of the people advance many ideas and notions for truth which are in opposition to and contradict facts demonstrated by science, and which are generally understood. Says the scientific man, “I do not see your religion to be true; I do not understand the law, light, rules, religion, or whatever you call it, which you say God has revealed; it is confusion to me, and if I submit to and embrace your views and theories I must reject the facts which science demonstrates to me.” This is the position, and the line of demarcation has been plainly drawn, by those who profess Christianity, between the sciences and revealed religion. You take, for instance, our geologists, and they tell us that this earth has been in existence for thousands and millions of years. They think, and they have good reason for their faith, that their researches and investigations enable them to demonstrate that this earth has been in existence as long as they assert it has; and they say, ‘If the Lord, as religionists declare, made the earth out of nothing in six days, six thousand years ago, our studies are all vain; but by what we can learn from nature and the immutable laws of the Creator as revealed therein, we know that your theories are incorrect and consequently we must reject your religions as false and vain; we must be what you call infidels, with the demonstrated truths of science in our possession; or, rejecting those truths, become enthusiasts in, what you call, Christianity.’
In these respects we differ, from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular. You may take geology, for instance, and it is a 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. 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. As for the Bible account of the creation we may say that the Lord gave it to Moses, or rather Moses obtained the history and traditions of the fathers, and from these picked out what he considered necessary, and that account has been handed down from age to age, and we have got it, no matter whether it is correct or not, and whether the Lord found the earth empty and void, whether he made it out of nothing or out of the rude elements; or whether he made it in six days or in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject. 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. We can now take a hymn book and read its contents; but if we had never learned our letters and knew nothing about type or paper or their uses, and should take up a book and look at it, it would be a great mystery; and still more so would it be to see a person read line after line, and give expression there from to the sentiments of himself or others. But this is no mystery to us now, because we have learned our letters, and then learned to place those letters into syllables, the syllables into words, and the words into sentences.
Fifty or a hundred years ago, if any one had told the people of the East Indies that water could be congealed, and form ice so thick and hard that you could walk on and drive teams over it, they would probably have said, ‘We do not believe a word of it.’ Why? Because they did not know anything about it. A proper reply for all mankind to make under similar circumstances would be, "We do not know anything about what you say, and do not know whether we should have faith in it or not. Perhaps we should, but we have no evidence at present on which to found such a belief." You go down south here among some of our native Indian tribes, where some of the very best of blankets are made, and you will find them twisting their yarn with their fingers and little sticks, and their loom attached to the limbs of trees for weaving purposes. Show them a loom such as white people use, and it would be a perfect mystery to them. Sixty or seventy years ago a loom worked by water power would have been a mystery to an American, but there is no mystery in that to-day, because the process is understood. So it is with the East Indians and ice, for the chemist now, by a chemical process, will congeal the water and make ice of it before their eyes, and it is in this way, by testimony, evidence, and demonstration that ignorance and prejudice are removed, faith implanted and knowledge acquired. It is so with regard to all the facts in existence that we do not understand.
We differ very much with Christendom in regard to the sciences of religion. Our religion embraces all truth and every fact in existence, no matter whether in heaven, earth, or hell. A fact is a fact, all truth issues forth from the Fountain of truth, and the sciences are facts as far as men have proved them. In talking to a gentleman not long ago, I said, ‘The Lord is one of the most scientific men that ever lived; you have no idea of the knowledge that he has with regard to the sciences. If you did but know it, every truth that you and all men have acquired a knowledge of through study and research, has come from him-he is the fountain whence all truth and wisdom flow; he is the fountain of all knowledge, and of every true principle that exists in heaven or on earth.’ The gentleman said that such ideas conflicted with his traditions; but said he, ‘I like to hear such talk and such principles taught, for we do know, from scientific research and investigation, that certain facts exist in nature which those called Christians discard or throw away; they do not want anything to do with them; they say this has nothing to do with religion; but you talk very different to this.’
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 15, pg. 127, August 11, 1872
Our religion embraces chemistry; it embraces all the knowledge of the geologist, and then it goes a little further than their systems of argument, for the Lord Almighty, its author, is the greatest chemist there is. Will any of the chemists tell us what the Lord did with the elements in Wisconsin, and in Chicago, Illinois, last Fall? They made a flaming fire of the heavens, the elements were melted with fervent heat. This was a chemical process, but can any of our chemists tell how it was brought about? I think not. But there were certain elements which lost their cohesive properties, and a change occurred, and the result was this terrible fire. So it will be when, as the Scriptures foretell, "the elements shall melt with fervent heat." The Lord Almighty will send forth his angels, who are well instructed in chemistry, and they will separate the elements and make new combinations thereof, and the whole heavens will be a sheet of fire. Well, our religion embraces this; and we know of no laws, no ordinances, no gifts, no principles, no arts, no sciences that are true, but what are embraced in the religion of Jesus Christ, in this Priesthood, which is a perfect system of government.
John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 15: 167
". . . The world have no idea of God, and they do not acknowledge him. He may develop, through one person, the principle of electricity, but the world will say it is some wise man that did it. He may, through another, develop the power of steam, but they say, Some wise man did it. Through another, God may make known the light-giving power of gas, to another the tapping of the earth to bring forth oils for illuminating purposes; but the world say, 'Some wise man has done this.' Men do not like to acknowledge God; it is just as the Scriptures say: they will not acknowledge him in all their thoughts. They want to get rid of him, and they give the glory to men for doing this, that and the other. Fools that they are! What do they know about these principles? Who organized the principles which they found out? Did man? Did he organize the principle of electricity or give it its vitality and power? Did any of our savants? No, they could not. Who placed the principle of power in steam? Did man? No, he could not do it. They want to throw off God where they can, while we want to bring him in and have him one of our crowd; that is the difference between us and them. They find out something which God has made, just as the little child when it discovers its fingers for the first time. It had them long before, but when they first attracted its attention it seemed to fancy it had made a great discovery. God organized the child and placed its spirit within its body, and it at last found out that it had a hand. And the scientific babies of the world just discover some of the properties matter, some of nature's laws created by God long before, and like Nebuchadnezzar they cry, in the pride of their hearts, 'Is not this great Babylon which I have built?' Yes it is, and it is as much of a Babylon or Babel as the other was. Well, God has commenced to do a work, and he began, in the first place, with the very first principles of the Gospel, and he has led us on gradually, until we find ourselves in our present position, and we have got beautiful land here, haven't we? . . . We are here to do a work; not a small one, but a large one. We are here to help the Lord to build up his kingdom, and if we have any knowledge of electricity, we thank God for it. If we have any knowledge of the power of steam, we will say its from God. If we possess any other scientific information about the earth whereon we stand, or of the elements with which we are surrounded, we will thank God for the information, and say he has inspired men from time to time to understand them, and we will go on and grasp more intelligence, light and information, until we comprehend as we are comprehended of God. This is what we are after. We are here to introduce correct principles upon the earth on which we live; but we cannot do it any more than any of these men can understand the laws of nature, unless God reveals them to us. The world is all confusion, and men need the illuminating influence of the Spirit of God."
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 17: 53
The idea that the religion of Christ is one thing, and science is another, is a mistaken idea, for there is no true religion without true science, and consequently there is no true science without true religion.
Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young 10
My religion is natural philosophy. You never heard me preach a doctrine but what has a natural system to it, and, when understood, is as easy to comprehend as that two and two equal four. All the revelations of the Lord Almighty to the children of men, and all revealed doctrines of salvation are upon natural principles, upon natural philosophy. When I use this term, I use it as synonymous with the plan of salvation; natural philosophy is the plan of salvation, and the plan of salvation is natural philosophy.
Parley P Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, pg. 102, 1891
Among the popular errors of modern times, an opinion prevails that miracles are events which transpire contrary to the laws of nature, that they are effects without a cause. If such is the fact, then, there never has been a miracle, and there never will be one. The laws of nature are the laws of truth. Truth is unchangeable, and independent in its own sphere. A law of nature never has been broken. And it is an absolute impossibility that such law ever should be broken.
Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, pg. 161-162, 1891
The science of geography will then be extended to millions of worlds, and will embrace a knowledge of their physical features and boundaries, their resources, mineral and vegetable; their rivers, lakes, seas, continents and islands; the attainments of their inhabitants in the science of government; their progress in revealed religion; their employments, dress, manners, customs, etc. The science of astronomy will also be enlarged in proportion to the means of knowledge. System after system will rise to view in the vast field of research and exploration! Vast systems of suns and their attendant worlds, on which the eyes of Adam’s race, in their rudimental sphere, have never gazed, will then be contemplated, circumscribed, weighed in the balance of human thought, their circumference and diameter be ascertained, their relative distances understood. Their motions and revolutions, their times and laws, their hours, days, weeks, sabbaths, months, years, jubilees, centuries, millenniums and eternities, will all be told in the volumes of science.
B. H. Roberts, Conference Report, Oct 1903, pg. 73
I believe also that with this flood of knowledge concerning these highly spiritual things, there has come into the world, almost imperceptibly, a more generally diffused and brighter spirit of intelligence than was known before; like collateral rays shooting off to right and left from the more direct light of God’s revelations which ushered in the great work of the last days. By those collateral rays of light men have been led to those great discoveries in the arts and sciences and in mechanics, which make our age so wonderful as an age of progress and enlightenment.
I believe it to be a generally accepted position in our church that no man’s standing is affected by the views which he may honestly hold with reference to the beginning of man’s life on the earth and the organization of the universe, or the processes employed in the working of the miracles of the Bible ... I have said these things because I fear dictatorial dogmatism, rigidity of procedure and intolerance even more than I fear cigarettes, cards, and other devices the adversary may use to nullify faith and kill religion. Fanaticism and bigotry have been the deadly enemies of true religion in the long past ...
B H Roberts, Defense of the Faith, 1912, pages 483-486
My brethren and sisters, I rejoice in the largeness of this work of God -- this dispensation of the fulness of times. I love it, in part, because of its greatness -- in its very bigness there is inspiration. I love to contemplate the puposes of God in their far-reaching possibilities. I rejoice to feel that today the children of men are moving up to a higher and truer conception of the things of God. We talk about, and we sometimes even dare to hope for, the coming of the millennium! I wonder what our sensations will be if some morning we wake up to a realization that the millennium is already on its way, and has been on its way for some time? When I think of the mighty progress that has been made in these modern days, and especially since God opened the heavens and revealed himself unto his servant Joseph Smith; when I take that circumstance as a starting point and contrast conditions as they are today with conditions as they were when that first revelation was given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, it seems to me that the prediction that old things shall pass away and all things shall become new is on the way to a very rapid fulfillment. At that time -- early in the third decade of the nineteenth century -- not a single foot of railroad existed anywhere in the world; today, all civilized nations are a network of railroads and railroad systems. We have moved all the way from the ox-cart and stage-coach to the mighty express train that thunders with lightning speed throughout the land. Distance is discounted -- well nigh annihilated, in comparison with former times. In ocean navigation we have come from the rude vessel that could only be driven by the wind, to the mighty ocean greyhounds that speed across the oceans like express trains; and the oceans, once a dreaded mystery, are now but the convenient highways between the continents, the highways of commerce! Man, within the period we are considering, has not only mastered transportation upon the earth and upon the ocean; but we have recent demonstrations that man has mastered also the element of air; and may navigate the air with as great speed and ease as the land or the water. Within the period named -- 1820-1909 -- we have come all the way from the tallow dip to the electric light. In communication we have come from the pony express to the telegraph, and to the wireless telegraph, and the telephone; so that now we are in instant communication with all portions of the earth. No event of any moment may happen tonight that will not be spread upon the pages of tomorrow morning's press, which will await us upon our breakfast tables! Then in the way of advancements that give promise of peace -- so mighty have become the engines of destruction; so revolutionary the promises of this recent mastery of the air, that it would seem that war must be an impossibility in the near future; and it becomes imperative that men devise -- statesmen must devise, philanthropists must devise, patriots must devise -- some means by which the international questions that arise may be settled without allowing nations to go to the dreadful arbitrament of war for a settlement. The time when swords shall be beaten into plow-shares, and spears into pruning hooks seems not far distant, even the time when nations shall learn war no more -- the vision of the prophets! These are the conditions in the midst of which we live: A time when property is more secure than it ever was before in the world; a time when personal liberty is more secure than ever it was before in the world; a time when the comforts of life among the masses of mankind well nigh equal conditions that only kings could enjoy in ages that are past! When I see all these blessings, and realize that year by year they are increasing with accelerated speed -- when I see the sentiment of universal brotherhood enlarging -- when I see great and mighty intellects pushing far out upon the frontier of Christian thought, grasping the truths of God and weaving them into systems of practical philosophy, tending to make ready the inhabitants of the earth for that fulness of truth that God, through his prophets, has decreed should be poured out upon the nations of the earth in the last days, -- when I see these evidences of man's progress within the last three-quarters of a century, since God spoke from heaven to Joseph Smith, I can not help but believe that there is some connection between the re-opening of the heavens to restore the gospel, and this wider diffusion of knowledge by which the comfort and enlightenment of men as to material things has been brought to pass -- the golden age that prophets dreamed of, that prophets sang about -- the golden age -- the millennium -- has at last dawned upon the earth! And right here, in the midst of it, God has established his Church. He has given to it the knowledge of the means of salvation. He has given to the Church divine authority to administer in the ordinances of the gospel, and the coming forth of this work is the herald of the modern world's awakening! For when the Book of Mormon came forth, by that token Israel might know, and the world might know, that God had set his hand to fulfil and accomplish the things that he had decreed concerning the gathering of Israel, and concerning all the inhabitants of the earth -- their happiness and peace and glory and security. (II Nephi 30, and III Nephi 21.) This is our part of the work; to make proclamation of these things; to exemplify the law of God and the excellence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; to proclaim to the children of men that God is not a God afar off -- One who transcends the world; but God imminent in the world, and that men may connect their lives with the life of God; and feel the inspiration of his life vibrating in their lives, uplifting, purifying, exalting -- until man, the individual, and communities of men, nations -- may walk with God in this great age now dawning on the world! And yet, great as our conceptions may be of the things of God -- divine things -- be assured that the divine things themselves are infinitely greater than our conceptions of them can be -- then how great indeed they must be! The prophet spoke truly when he said of God: "His thoughts are not as your thoughts; his ways are not as your ways; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his thoughts above your thoughts, and his ways above your ways." But while we are under the necessity of conceding the truth of that, may we not share in and enjoy in some measure a knowledge of divine things and therein rejoice, as I feel we do this day by this brief glimpse of some of the things of God?
B H Roberts, The Truth, the Way, the Life, originally written 1931, published by Smith Research Associates, 1994, pg. 364
On the other hand, to limit and insist upon the whole of life and death to this side of Adam’s advent to the earth, some six or eight thousand years ago, as proposed by some, is to fly in the face of the facts so indisputably brought to light by the researcher of science in modern times, and this as set forth by men of the highest type in the intellectual and moral world; not inferior men, or men of sensual and devilish temperament, but men who must be accounted as among the noblest and most self-sacrificing of the sons of men -- of the type whence must come the noblest sons of God, since “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36); and that too the glory of man. These researchers after truth are of that class. To pay attention to and give reasonable credence to their research and findings is to link the church of God with the highest increase of human thought and effort. On that side lies development, on the other lies contraction. It is on the former side that research work is going on and will continue to go on, future investigation and discoveries will continue on that side, nothing will retard them, and nothing will develop on the other side. One leads to narrow sectarianism, the other keeps the open spirit of a world movement with which our New Dispensation began. As between them which is to be our choice?
B H Roberts, "Divine Immanence and the Holy Ghost", in The Seventy's Course in Theology — Fifth Year, as rendered in The Essential B.H. Roberts, Brigham H. Madsen, ed. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999), 260–64.
Mental Laziness is the vice of men, especially with reference to divine things. Men seem to think that because inspiration and revelation are factors in connection with the things of God, therefore the pain and stress of mental effort are not required; that by some means these elements act somewhat as Elijah’s ravens and feed us without effort on our part. To escape this effort, this mental stress to know the things that are, men raise all too readily the ancient bar — "Thus far shalt thou come, but no farther." Man cannot hope to understand the things of God, they plead, or penetrate those things which he has left shrouded in mystery. "Be thou content with the simple faith that accepts without question. To believe, and accept the ordinances, and then live the moral law will doubtless bring men unto salvation; why then should man strive and trouble himself to understand? Much study is still a weariness of the flesh." So men reason; and just now it is much in fashion to laud "the simple faith;" which is content to believe without understanding, or even without much effort to understand. And doubtless many good people regard this course as indicative of reverence — this plea in bar of effort — "thus far and no farther". . . .
I maintain that "simple faith" — which is so often ignorant and simpering acquiescence and not faith at all — but simple faith taken at its highest value, which is faith without understanding of the thing believed, is not equal to intelligent faith, the faith that is the gift of God, supplemented by earnest endeavor to find through prayerful thought and research a rational ground for faith — for acceptance of truth; and hence the duty of striving for a rational faith in which the intellect as well as the heart — the feeling — has a place and is a factor.
But to resume: This plea in bar of effort to find out the things that are, is as convenient for the priest as it is for the people. The people of "simple faith," who never question, are so much easier led, and so much more pleasant every way — they give their teachers so little trouble. People who question because they want to know, and who ask adult questions that call for adult answers, disturb the ease of the priests. The people who question are usually the people who think — barring chronic questioners and cranks, of course — and thinkers are troublesome, unless the instructors who lead them are thinkers also; and thought, eternal, restless thought, that keeps out upon the frontiers of discovery, is as much a weariness to the slothful, as it is a joy to the alert and active and noble minded. Therefore one must not be surprised if now and again he finds those among religious teachers who give encouragement to mental laziness under the pretense of "reverence," praise "simple faith" because they themselves, forsooth, would avoid the stress of thought and investigation that would be necessary in order to hold their place as leaders of a thinking people. . . .
Surely in the presence of [the] array of incentives, instructions and commandments to seek for knowledge, taken from the revelations and other forms of instruction by the Prophet of the New Dispensation — taking into account also the scope of the field of knowledge we are both persuaded and commanded to enter — whatever position other churches and their religious teachers may take, the Church of Jesus Christ in the New Dispensation can do no other than to stand for mental activity and earnest effort to come to a knowledge of truth up to the very limit of man’s capacity to find it, and the goodness and wisdom of God to reveal it.
James E Talmage, “The Earth and Man,” address delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, Aug. 9, 1931
According to the conception of geologists the earth passed through ages of preparation, to us unmeasured and immeasurable, during which countless generations of plants and animals existed in great variety and profusion and gave in part the very substance of their bodies to help form certain strata which are still existent as such. . . .
Geologists say that these very simple forms of plant and animal bodies were succeeded by others more complicated; and in the indestructible record of the rocks they read the story of advancing life from the simple to the more complex, from the single-celled protozoan to the highest animals, from the marine algae to the advanced types of flowering plant -- to the apple-tree, the rose, and the oak. What a fascinating story is inscribed upon the stony pages of the earth’s crust! . . .
This record of Adam and his posterity is the only scriptural account we have of the appearance of man upon this earth. But we have also a vast and ever-increasing volume of knowledge concerning man, his early habits and customs, his industries and works of art, his tools and implements, about which such scriptures as we have thus far received are entirely silent. Let us not try to wrest the scriptures in an attempt to explain away what we cannot explain.
The opening chapters of Genesis, and scriptures related thereto, were never intended as a textbook of geology, archaeology, earth-science or man-science. Holy Scripture will endure, while the conceptions of men change with new discoveries. We do not show reverence for the scriptures when we misapply them through faulty interpretation.
James E Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 143
Miracles cannot be in contravention of natural law, but are wrought through the operation of laws not universally or commonly recognized. Gravitation is everywhere operative, but the local and special application of other agencies may appear to nullify it—as by muscular effort or mechanical impulse a stone is lifted from the ground, poised aloft, or sent hurtling through space. At every stage of the process, however, gravity is in full play, though its effect is modified by that of other and locally superior energy. The human sense of the miraculous wanes as comprehension of the operative process increases.
James E Talmage, 1966
Miracles are commonly regarded as occurrences in opposition to the laws of nature. Such a conception is plainly erroneous, for the laws of nature are inviolable.
James Talmage, "Science in the Associations"
In conclusion, let it be said that science is undoubtedly entitled to a place in the curriculum of Association studies; it should have its right, but at the expense of nothing else that is good. Among our young people I consider scientific knowledge as second in importance only to that knowledge that pertains to the Church and Kingdom of God; such information is of greatest worth to us, because of greatest use. It is superior to science, to art, to literature. Nature as we study it, is but the temple of the Almighty--wonderful, imposing, awe-inspiring structure though it is, and the duty of science is to conduct us through the portals, and lead us to the altar where we will acknowledge, with reverential sincerity, 'In Him we live and move and have our being.'
James Talmage, Articles of Faith 222–23
Some of the latest and highest achievements of man in the utilization of natural forces approach the conditions of spiritual operations. To count the ticking of a watch thousands of miles away; to speak in but an ordinary tone and be heard across the continent; to signal from one hemisphere and be understood on the other though oceans roll and roar between; to bring the lightning into our homes and make it serve as fire and torch; to navigate the air and to travel beneath the ocean surface; to make chemical and atomic energies obey our will—are not these miracles? The possibility of such would not have been received with credence before their actual accomplishment. Nevertheless, these and all other miracles are accomplished through the operation of the laws of nature, which are the laws of God.
David O. McKay, remarks at the funeral of May Anderson, June 14, 1946
Among the generalizations of science, evolution holds foremost place. It claims: 'Man is a creature of development; that he has come up through uncounted ages from an origin that is lowly.' Why this vast expenditure of time and pain and blood? Why should he come so far if he is destined to go no farther? A creature which has traveled such distances, and fought such battles and won such victories deserves, one is compelled to say, to conquer death and rob the grave of its victory. Darwin said ... 'Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued, slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.'
David O McKay, “Gospel Ideals -- Life’s Surest Anchor,” address delivered at BYU, Oct. 30, 1956
Whatever the subject may be, the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ may be elaborated upon without fear of anyone’s objecting, and the teacher can be free to express his honest conviction regarding it, whether that subject be in geology, the history of the world, the millions of years that it took to prepare the physical world, whether it be in engineering, literature, art -- any principles of the gospel may be briefly or extensively touched upon for the anchoring of the student who is seeking to know the truth.
David O McKay interview with Ted Jacobsen, quoted in "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism", pp. 385
[President McKay] said, 'Brother [Ted] Jacobsen, the United States is trying to put a man on the moon. How would you like to be the first one to fly to the moon?' I [Jacobsen] had never thought about that question. I said, just quickly, 'President McKay, I think maybe I'd rather be the second man to fly to the moon, so the first one would have some experience.' He spoke right up and he said, 'You know, I'd love to be the first man to fly to the moon. How do you suppose we are going to travel from one planet to another in the hereafter unless we learn how to do some of it on this earth?' Then he quoted the old song in the hymnbook called 'If You Could Hie to Kolob.' He quoted every word from memory, all verses of that song to me. And he said, 'Now this is just not a figment of imagination. There's a lot of truth in what this man has put in this song.' ... He [McKay] was a kind of forward-looking man, and he was not one who didn't think that it was possible for us to go to the moon. He wanted to be there also.'
Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny 484
There are thousands of miracles performed today, wonders that would astound our grandfathers could they suddenly see them. These miracles are as great as turning water into wine, raising the dead or anything else. A miracle is not, as many believe, the setting aside or overruling natural laws. Every miracle performed in Biblical days or now, is done on natural principles and in obedience to natural law. The healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, giving eyesight to the blind, whatever it may be that is done by the power of God, is in accordance with natural law. Because we do not understand how it is done, does not argue for the impossibility of it.
John A Widtsoe, Joseph Smith as Scientist, originally published in 1908, Bookcraft, 1964, pg. 156
Truth is truth forever. Scientific truth cannot be theological lie. To the sane mind, theology and philosophy must harmonize. They have the common ground of truth on which to meet.
John Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations 1: 129
The Church supports and welcomes the growth of science . . . The religion of the Latter-day Saints is not hostile to any truth, nor to scientific search for truth.
John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Bookcraft, 1960, pg. 101
We may go further. Every person born into the earth has claim upon the assistance of the Spirit of God. That is a species of revelation. Consequently, all good achievements of man, in science, literature, or art, are the product of revelation. The knowledge and wisdom of earth have so come.
John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Bookcraft, 1960, pg. 129
A miracle is an occurrence which, first, cannot be repeated at will by man, or, second, is not understood in its cause and effect rela- tionship. History is filled with such miracles. What is more, the whole story of man’s progress is the conversion of “miracles” into con- trolled and understood events. The airplane and radio would have been miracles, yesterday.
John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Bookcraft, 1960, pg. 139
The Church, the custodian of the gospel on earth, looks with full favor upon the attempts of men to search out the facts and laws of nature. It believes that men of science, seekers after truth, are often assisted by the Spirit of the Lord in such researches. It holds further that every scientific discovery may be incorporated into the gospel, and that, therefore there can be no conflict between true religion and correct science. The Church teaches that the laws of nature are but the immutable laws of the Creator of the universe.
John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Bookcraft, 1960, pg. 149
Every person must decide for himself, on the basis of the evidence produced, which of these three opinions as to the age of the earth, before Adam, seems most reasonable to him, whether (1) six days, or (2) six thousand years, or (3) may millions of years. Clearly it does not matter to one’s daily welfare or ultimate salvation which view he adopts, except that every Latter-day saint must seek and cherish truth above all else.
John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Bookcraft, SLC, 1960, pg. 150
Just what forces were brought into operation, or what process was used, to organize the “elements” into an earth is not known. Latter-day Saints are inclined to hold that forces about us, known in part through common human experience, especially in the field of physical science, were employed in the formation of the earth. The progress of science may yet shed much light on the origin of the earth.
John A Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Bookcraft, 1960, pg. 171
By recognizing our universe as one of law, order, and intelligence, science has driven fear from the hearts of men. Intelligence acts in intelligent ways. The intelligence at the head of all things may be trusted to act intelligently. There arises therefrom a trust in the things about us. The age-old horror, called fear, which has so long distracted humanity, vanishes. Superstition is laid low. Men come to understand better the love of God, and his offerings of goodness. Certainly, in so doing, science has contributed to religious faith.
John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Bookcraft, 1960, pg. 178
As science advances and increases, as new discoveries are made, as more complete command is obtained over the forces of nature, the more necessary it becomes that we have a religion to guide us in employing these discoveries. To save the world from science, and to make science the builder of a good world, we must hasten our progress towards the fuller acceptance of God. So, the answer to the question at the head of this article is very simple. In an age of science we have greater need than ever before of religion. A conscience of science is a present need.
Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1966, pg. 129
Religion and science have sometimes been in apparent conflict. Yet the conflict should only be apparent, not real, for science should seek truth, and true religion is truth. There can never be conflict between revealed religion and scientific fact. That they have often occupied different fields of truth is a mere detail. The gospel accepts and embraces all truth; science is slowly expanding her arms and reaching into the invisible domain in search of truth The two are meeting daily -- science as a child, revealed religion as the mother. Truth is truth, whether labeled science or religion. There can be no conflict. Time is on the side of truth -- for truth is eternal.
David O McKay, "A Divine Plan for Finding Security and Peace of Mind", General Conference, October 1966
I appreciate and realize the accomplishments, to a certain degree, of this wonderful atomic age in which we are living. Scientific discoveries of today stagger the imagination. Nearly every day we read of almost unbelievable accomplishments. The age of the atom has only begun, and no one knows what exciting developments may yet unfold when the atomic research now in progress is completed. Its potential for good far outweighs its potential for destruction. The discoveries and inventions of this age are unequaled by any previous period in the world's history, discoveries latent with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings, as to make man's responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands.
Hugh B Brown, Conference Report, April 1967, pg. 49
With the tremendous strides that science is making in our day, there is dawning upon this age what might termed a scientific spirituality -- a new type of mind that studies the truths of faith with the care and caution and candor of science, yet keeping the warmth and glow and power of faith. Spiritual insight is as real as scientific insight. Indeed, it is but a higher manifestation of the same thing. The saint as well as the scientist has witnessed the truth of reality. One may redeem his knowledge revelation, and the other, intellectual conclusion, but in both cases it is insight -- the conviction reality.
Spencer W Kimball, "When the World Will Be Converted", General Conference, April 1974
Third, I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse.
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: “The truth of God will go forth boldly, till it has penetrated every continent, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished.”
A significant revelation states: “For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature. …” (D&C 58:64.)
I am confident that the only way we can reach most of these millions of our Father’s children is through the spoken word over the airwaves, since so many are illiterate. We have proved the ability of our young men to learn other languages.
President David O. McKay, speaking in the October 1966 conference of the Church, said of the scientific discoveries of recent years which will make possible the preaching of the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and people: “They stagger the imagination.”
And further: “… discoveries latent with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings as to make men’s responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands. … This age is fraught with limitless perils, as well as untold possibilities.”
King Benjamin, that humble but mighty servant of the Lord, called together all the people in the land of Zarahemla, and the multitude was so great that King Benjamin “… caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them.” (Mosiah 2:7.)
Our Father in heaven has now provided us mighty towers—radio and television towers with possibilities beyond comprehension—to help fulfill the words of the Lord that “the sound must go forth from this place unto all the world.”
Even though there are millions of people throughout the world who cannot read or write, there is a chance to reach them through radio and television. The modern transistor radio can be mass produced by the thousands in a size that is small and inexpensive. We can preach the gospel to eager ears and hearts. These should be carried by people in the marketplaces of South America, on the steppes of Russia, the vast mountains and plains of China, the subcontinent of India, and the desert sands of Arabia and Egypt. Some authorities claim that this tiny miracle will be recorded by future historians as an event even greater than the invention of the printing press. The transistor is an eloquent answer to the illiteracy and ignorance which reign supremely over the earth. The spoken voice will reach millions of hearers who can listen through a $3 or $4 transistor but could not read even an elementary treatise.
There are over 7,000 AM and FM radio stations in the United States, with thousands more in other parts of the world. There are innumerable opportunities for us to use these stations overseas, if we only prepare the message in the native languages.
Also, missionaries could be supplied with small portable cassette tape players and go into the homes with prepared messages to humble family groups all around the globe. Millions of people are anxious and willing to learn, if only they can hear the “sound” in their own language and in a manner that they can grasp and understand.
Just think what can be accomplished when we broadcast our message in many languages over numerous radio stations, large and small, around the world, and millions of good people listening on their transistors are being indoctrinated with the truth.
The Lord has blessed the world with many Early Bird satellites. They are stationed high in the heavens, relaying broadcast signals back to almost every corner of the earth’s surface. Today there are 67 earth receiving stations operating in 50 countries of the world. Certainly these satellites are only the genesis of what is in store for the future of worldwide broadcasting.
With the Lord providing these miracles of communication, and with the increased efforts and devotion of our missionaries and all of us, and all others who are “sent,” surely the divine injunction will come to pass: “For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature. …” (D&C 58:64.) And we must find a way.
Hugh B Brown, “A Final Testimony”, from The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown: An Abundant Life, Signature Books, 1988
Both science and religion beget humility. Scientists and teachers of religion disagree among themselves on theological and other subjects. Even in our own church men and women take issue with one another and contend for their own interpretations. This free exchange of ideas is not to be deplored as long as men and women remain humble and teachable. Neither fear of consequence or any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity of thought in the church. People should express their problems and opinions and be unafraid to think without fear of ill consequences.
We should all be interested in academic research. We must go out on the research front and continue to explore the vast unknown. We should be in the forefront of learning in all fields, for revelation does not come only through the prophet of God nor only directly from heaven in visions or dreams. Revelation may come in the laboratory, out of the test tube, out of the thinking mind and the inquiring soul, out of search and research and prayer and inspiration. We must be unafraid to contend for what we are thinking and to combat error with truth in this divided and imperiled world, and we must do it with the unfaltering faith that God is still in his heaven even though all is not well with the world.
We should be dauntless in our pursuit of truth and resist all demands for unthinking conformity. No one would have us become mere tape recorders of other people’s thoughts. We should be modest and teachable and seek to know the truth by study and faith. There have been times when progress was halted by thought control. Tolerance and truth demand that all be heard and that competing ideas be tested against each other so that the best, which might not always be our own, can prevail. Knowledge is the most complete and dependable when all points of view are heard. We are in a world of restlessness and skepticism, where old things are not only challenged but often disappear, but also a world of miraculous achievement, undreamed of accomplishment, and terrifying power.
Science offers wonderful tools for helping to create the brotherhood of humanity on earth, but the cement of brotherhood does not come from any laboratory. It must come from the heart and mind and spirit of men and women.
Peace and brotherhood can be achieved when the two most potent forces in civilization -- religion and science -- join to create one world in its truest and greatest sense. We should continue to become acquainted with human experience through history and philosophy, science and poetry, art and religion.
Every discovery of science reveals clearly the divine plan in nature. The remarkable harmony in the physical laws and processes of the universe, from the infinitesimal to the infinite, surpasses mortal understanding and implies a supreme architect, and the beauty and symmetry of God’s handiwork inspire reverence.
One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong, but generally more thinking is the antidote for the evils that spring from wrong thinking.
More thinking is required, and we should all exercise our God-given right to think and be unafraid to express our opinions, with proper respect for those to whom we talk and proper acknowledgment of our own shortcomings. We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything. In this age of speed there seems to be little time for meditation.
While speaking of independence and the right to think, to agree or disagree, to examine and question, I need to remind myself not to forget that fixed and unchanging laws govern all God’s creation, whether the vastness of the starry heavens or the minute revolving universe of the atom or human relationships. All is law. All is cause and effect, and God’s laws are universal. God has no favorites; no one is immune from either life’s temptations or the consequences of his or her deeds. God is not capricious.
Hugh Brown, Continuing the Quest, p.205
It seems obvious that the scriptures were not intended as texts in biology, anthropology, geology or any other of the sciences.
Elder Boyd K. Packer, April 1, 1977, Regional Representatives Seminar
“When the servants of the Lord determine to do as He commands, we move ahead. As we proceed, we are joined at the crossroads by those who have been prepared to help us. They come with skills and abilities precisely suited to our needs. And, we find provisions; information, inventions, help of various kinds, set along the way waiting for us to take them up. It is though someone knew we would be traveling that way. We see the invisible hand of the Almighty providing for us. For instance, inventions in the fields of travel and communication have come along just as we were ready for them… The airplane did not come as an accidental discovery… Revelation was involved. It came precisely when we could use it to move across the world to restore the Gospel… When we are ready, there will be revealed whatever we need—we will find it waiting at the crossroads.”
Ezra Benson, September 1979, New Era, "Your Charge: To increase in wisdom and favor with God and Man"
"Religion and science have sometimes appeared in conflict. Yet, the conflict can only be apparent, not real, for science seeks truth, and true religion is truth. There can never be conflict between revealed religion and true science. Truth is truth, whether labeled science or religion. All truth is consistent. There is no conflict—only in the interpretation of fact."
Russell M. Nelson, in “Computerized Scriptures Now Available,” Ensign, Apr. 1988, 73
God is inspiring the minds of great people to create inventions that further the work of the Lord in ways this world has never known.
Howard W Hunter, March 1995, Ensign
"In recent years we have begun using information technology to hasten the sacred work of providing ordinances for the deceased. The role of technology in this work has been accelerated by the Lord himself, who has had a guiding hand in its development and will continue to do so. However, we stand only on the threshold of what we can do with these tools. I feel that our most enthusiastic projections can capture only a tiny glimpse of how these tools can help us—and of the eternal consequences of these efforts."
Gordon B Hinckley, Conference Reports, April 1999
But in a larger sense this has been the best of all centuries. In the long history of the earth there has been nothing like it. The life expectancy of man has been extended by more than 25 years. Think of it. It is a miracle. The fruits of science have been manifest everywhere. By and large, we live longer, we live better. This is an age of greater understanding and knowledge. We live in a world of great diversity. As we learn more of one another, our appreciation grows. This has been an age of enlightenment. The miracles of modern medicine, of travel, of communication are almost beyond belief. All of this has opened new opportunities for us which we must grasp and use for the advancement of the Lord’s work.
Jeffrey Holland, CES Fireside, September 2004
Add the miracle of the computer, which helps us document our family histories and systematically perform saving ordinances for the redemption of our dead. Add modern transportation, which allows the First Presidency, the Twelve, and other General Authorities to circle the globe and personally bear witness of the Lord to all of the Saints in all of the lands. Add that where we cannot go we can now “send,” as the scriptures say, with satellite broadcasts like the one we are using tonight.
Add all the elements of education, science, technology, communication, transportation, medicine, nutrition, and revelation that surround us, and we begin to realize what the angel Moroni meant when he said repeatedly to the boy prophet Joseph Smith, quoting the Old Testament prophet Joel, that in the last days God would pour out His spirit upon “all flesh” and that the whole world, all humankind, would be blessed by the light coming in all fields of endeavor as part of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Gordon B Hinckley, April 2007 LDS Church General Conference, Priesthood Session
Joseph F. Smith was the son of Hyrum Smith, who was the brother of the Prophet Joseph and was martyred with him in Carthage. Joseph F. was born at Far West, Missouri, on November 13, 1838. He came out of Missouri as an infant. As a lad not yet six years of age, he heard a knock on the window of his mother's home in Nauvoo. It was a man who had hurriedly ridden from Carthage and who told Sister Smith that her husband had been killed that afternoon.
When he was 9, he drove an ox team with his mother across the plains to this valley. At the age of 15 he was called on a mission to Hawaii. He made his way to San Francisco and there worked in a shingle mill to earn enough money to buy passage to the islands.
Hawaii was not a tourist center then. It was populated by the native Hawaiians, who were, for the most part, poor but generous with what they had. He learned to speak their language and to love them. While serving there he experienced a remarkable dream. I quote from his narrative concerning this. Said he:
"I was very much oppressed [when I was] on a mission. I was almost naked and entirely friendless, except [for] the friendship of a poor, benighted . . . people. I felt as if I was so debased in my condition of poverty, lack of intelligence and knowledge, just a boy, that I hardly dared look a . . . man in the face.
"While in that condition I dreamed [one night] that I was on a journey, and I was impressed that I ought to hurry—hurry with all my might, for fear I might be too late. I rushed on my way as fast as I possibly could, and I was only conscious of having just a little bundle, a handkerchief with a small bundle wrapped in it. I did not realize . . . what it was, when I was hurrying as fast as I could; but finally I came to a wonderful mansion. . . . I thought I knew that was my destination.
"As I passed towards it, as fast as I could, I saw a notice [which read B-A-T-H], 'Bath.' I turned aside quickly and went into the bath and washed myself clean. I opened up this little bundle that I had, and there was [some] white, clean [clothing], a thing I had not seen for a long time, because the people I was with did not think very much of making things exceedingly clean. But my [clothing was] clean, and I put [it] on. Then I rushed to what appeared to be a great opening, or door. I knocked and the door opened, and the man who stood there was the Prophet Joseph Smith. He looked at me a little reprovingly, and the first words he said: 'Joseph, you are late.' Yet I took confidence and [replied]:
"'Yes, but I am clean—I am clean!'
"He clasped my hand and drew me in, then closed the great door. I felt his hand just as tangible as I ever felt the hand of man. I knew him, and when I entered I saw my father, and Brigham [Young] and Heber [C. Kimball], and Willard [Richards], and other good men that I had known, standing in a row. I looked as if it were across this valley, and it seemed to be filled with a vast multitude of people, but on the stage were all the people that I had known. My mother was there, and she sat with a child in her lap; and I could name over as many as I remember of their names, who sat there, who seemed to be among the chosen, among the exalted. . . .
"[When I had this dream,] I was alone on a mat, away up in the mountains of Hawaii—no one was with me. But in this vision I pressed my hand up against the Prophet, and I saw a smile cross his countenance. . . .
"When I awoke that morning I was a man, although only [still] a boy. There was not anything in the world that I feared [after that]. I could meet any man or woman or child and look them in the face, feeling in my soul that I was a man every whit. That vision, that manifestation and witness that I enjoyed at that time has made me what I am, if I am anything that is good, or clean, or upright before the Lord, if there is anything good in me. That has helped me out in every trial and through every difficulty" (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 542–43).
. . . The world of opportunity lies ahead of you, and education is the key that will unlock that door. It will be the door of the mansion of which Joseph F. Smith dreamed when he was a boy sleeping on a mountain in Hawaii.
Richard G Scott, “Truth: The Foundation of Correct Decisions”, General Conference, October 2007
What have we learned from the scientific approach to discovering truth? An example will illustrate. Try as I might, I am not able, even in the smallest degree, to comprehend the extent, depth, and stunning grandeur of what our holy Heavenly Father, Elohim, has permitted to be revealed by the scientific method. If we were capable of moving outward into space, we would first see our earth as did the astronauts. Farther out, we would have a grandstand view of the sun and its orbiting planets. They would appear as a small circle of objects within an enormous panorama of glittering stars. Were we to continue the outward journey, we would have a celestial view of our Milky Way spiral, with over 100 billion stars rotating in a circular path, their orbits controlled by gravity around a concentrated central region. Beyond that, we could look toward a group of galaxies called the Virgo Cluster, which some feel includes our Milky Way, estimated to be about 50 million light years away. Beyond that, we’d encounter galaxies 10 billion light years away that the Hubble telescope has photographed. The dizzying enormity of that distance is suggested by noting that light travels 700 million miles an hour. Even from this extraordinary perspective there would not be the slightest evidence of approaching any limit to God the Father’s creations. As awe inspiring as this incredible view of the heavens would present, there is another consideration equally capable of confirming the unfathomable capacities of our Father in Heaven. Were we to move in the opposite direction to explore the structure of matter, we could get a close-up view of a double helix molecule of DNA. That is the extraordinary, self-duplicating molecular structure that controls the makeup of our physical body. Further exploration would bring us to the level of an atom, composed of the protons, neutrons, and electrons we’ve heard about. Were we to penetrate further into the mysteries of the most fundamental makeup of creation, we would come to the limit of our current understanding. In the last 70 years much has been learned about the structure of matter. A Standard Model of Fundamental Particles and Interactions has been developed. It is based on experimentation that has established the existence of fundamental particles designated as quarks and others called leptons. This model explains the patterns of nuclear binding and decay of matter, but it does not yet provide a successful explanation for the forces of gravity. Also, some feel that even more powerful tools than those used to acquire our current understanding of matter might reveal additional fundamental particles. So there are yet more of Father in Heaven’s creations to be understood by the scientific method. We can see the scientific method has brought about an extraordinary expansion of our understanding as the Lord has inspired gifted men who may not understand who created these things nor for what purpose. Many of these may not even recognize such inspiration or give credit to God for the origin of their contributions. I was comforted recently as President Henry B. Eyring shared an experience that his gifted father had in a meeting with other outstanding scientists. He asked them if their research indicated the existence of a superior organizing intelligence. They all confirmed their conviction that such an intelligence exists. Limited as it is, our understanding of our Father’s creations indicates that it is mostly vacant space. Even those things we consider as solid, firm, tangible, when viewed at enormous magnification in the heavens or in minute matter, are mostly vacant space that God, our Father, perfectly controls and uses for His exalted purposes.
Dallin Oaks, "Healing the Sick", General Conference, April 2010
The use of medical science is not at odds with our prayers of faith and our reliance on priesthood blessings. When a person requested a priesthood blessing, Brigham Young would ask, “Have you used any remedies?” To those who said no because “we wish the Elders to lay hands upon us, and we have faith that we shall be healed,” President Young replied: “That is very inconsistent according to my faith. If we are sick, and ask the Lord to heal us, and to do all for us that is necessary to be done, according to my understanding of the Gospel of salvation, I might as well ask the Lord to cause my wheat and corn to grow, without my plowing the ground and casting in the seed. It appears consistent to me to apply every remedy that comes within the range of my knowledge, and [then] to ask my Father in Heaven … to sanctify that application to the healing of my body.”