Science - Introduction

The problem Mormonism encounters is that so many of its claims are well within the realm of scientific study, and as such, can be proven or disproven. To cling to faith in these areas, where the overwhelming evidence is against it, is willful ignorance, not spiritual dedication.

CES Letter, Page 111

Latter-day Saint authorities reject the fundamental basis for a conflict between science and religion.

Some scientists and secular scholars are outspoken opponents of modern religion because it cannot be measured through replicable means. They may argue that religion is fundamentally irrational and even harmful. However, both science and religion are part of a fundamental quest for truth.

The most succinct definition of science is probably the one given by the National Academy of Science: The use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process.[1] If explanations are based on forces that are described as being outside of nature, scientists have no way of either confirming or disproving those explanations.”[2] 

Scientists can only affirm that religion is not science and that it does not conform to scientific method. However, scientists cannot affirm that religion is not true.

Brigham Young declared: “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.”[3]

James E. Talmage, who later became an apostle, was even more explicit: “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. However, as human understanding of these laws is at best but imperfect, events strictly in accordance with natural law may appear contrary thereto. The entire constitution of nature is founded on system and order.”[4]

Joseph Smidt explained:

The world is like a play and science tells you who the actors are, what they said/did and when. But what science cannot not tell you is... why those actors and those actions? What does any of it mean and what meaning and value are we supposed to derive from what took place? What are the main themes and how are we to interpret them?

And anyone who has seen a play like Hamlet knows, these latter questions are by far the most important to ask. Where Hamlet is specifically standing is relatively meaningless but the meaning and purpose behind what Hamlet is does is what makes the play worth reading.

And the other major flaw with science is, since it can't detect these later things, it leads fanatical people to foolishly conclude maybe they don't exist. Maybe there is no meaning or purpose or value to life since science doesn't see any. But concluding this makes as much sense as saying the sky is not blue simply because a metal detector doesn't see blue. Science is like a metal detector that can't "see" these things, that doesn't mean they are not there or that they aren't of upmost significance.

[1] National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Science, Evolution, and Creationism (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008), 10, italics added.

[2] National Academy of Sciences, Science, Evolution, and Creationism, 10.

[3] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 141 (July 11, 1869).

[4] James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith (1899; rpt., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966), 220 (from a 1931 address).

Additional Resources:

Science Meets Religion by D. H. Bailey

FAIRMORMON: Mormonism and Evolution

Evolution and Latter-day Saint Theology: The Tree of Life and DNA (2003 FAIR Conference) by Trent D. Stephens

Creation by Evolution? –  by Frank B. Salisbury

Science vs. Mormonism: The Dangers of Dogmatism and Sloppy Reading –  by Robert R. Bennett

Science, Pseudoscience, and Religious Belief –  by Allen R. Buskirk

The Big Bang: What Does It Mean for Us? –  by Hollis R. Johnson

FAIR Conversations, Episode 12: Steven L. Peck on Evolution (part 1 of 2), Steven L. Peck, 0:46:52

FAIR Conversations, Episode 13: Steven L. Peck on Evolution (part 2 of 2), Steven L. Peck, 1:02:37

FAIR Issues 19: Imperfect Scriptures, Michael R. Ash, 0:05:51

FAIR Issues 41: Real Science, truth coincide, Michael R. Ash, 0:07:47

Mormon FAIR-Cast 146: Science and Religion, Martin Tanner, 0:19:43

Reconciling Evolution and Religion part 2- Dr. Steven Peck- Fair Podcast, ,

Reconciling Evolution and Religion part 1- Dr. Steven Peck- Fair Podcast, ,

Articles of Faith 9: Greg L. Smith on FairMormon Wiki and Evolution, Greg L. Smith, 0:40:49

Mormon FAIR-Cast 220: Research regarding religion, Martin Tanner, 0:19:48

David H Bailey on Science vs Religion Can This Marriage Be Saved

Steven L Peck on Why Evolution and LDS Thought are Fully Compatible

Jeffrey M Bradshaw on Science and Genesis A Personal View

pt 1 Evolution and Latter-day Saint Theology: The Tree of Life and DNA

pt 2 Evolution and Latter-day Saint Theology: The Tree of Life and DNA

pt 3 Evolution and Latter-day Saint Theology: The Tree of Life and DNA

pt 4 Evolution and Latter-day Saint Theology: The Tree of Life and DNA

Scott Gordon’s introductory remarks at Science & Mormonism Conference

Life Sciences Panel Discussion at Science & Mormonism Conference

John S Lewis on The Scale of Creation in Space and Time

Jani Radebaugh on The Outer Solar System A Window to the Creative Breadth of Divinity

Daniel C Peterson introductory remarks at Science & Mormonism Conference