The following is from an email conversation I had with a religious studies professor I had a couple of years ago at the school I was going to (fair warning, its long). He is Hindu and specialized in Hinduism (which is apparent if you read our conversation). It touches on one of the topics which, after studying, led to me accepting Mormonism and getting baptized when I was 21. Unfortunately, time and experience have shown me that this topic, although a large part of what drew me to the Church, is often unknown among members and sometimes actively suppressed, if not opposed, by both members and leaders in the Church. I thought I would post the email conversation here for anyone interested, as well as LDS quotes and material I passed on to my professor and which I mention in the conversation (I joined the Church after extensive personal study and not from interaction with missionaries and only limited discussion with Church members. Therefore, my understanding of Mormonism came from books, which is in stark contrast to the Mormonism I suspect I would have encountered had I investigated the Church through interaction with actual members. Because of this, I started collecting LDS quotes on this topic after I was baptized and quickly found out that my appreciation of Mormon Materialist philosophy was largely not a part of LDS culture or mentioned in modern Mormonism as I had expected).
Obviously, the conversation indicates face-to-face discussion, but unfortunately I don’t have those to reference.
Let me know your thoughts.
My initial email to my professor:
"The reason I brought up Mormon views on the supernatural with you in our brief discussion on campus is that both in the text and in class lectures religion has been defined as belief in the supernatural and I wasn't sure how to point out why I find this flawed, or at least exclusionary of my own faith without going into more detail than I felt I could in a short amount of time. I have made a few comments in class that alluded to the fact that I believe it is possible to be religious and at the same time reject the very existence (or at least the commonly accepted definition) of the supernatural, but I never developed what exactly I meant or where this was coming from. I wanted to express that this idea is not so much my own but stems from my study of the philosophy and theology of my own religion, Mormonism.
I feel that delving into Mormon philosophy and theology provides a peculiar view on several subjects brought up in our class discussions. First, I feel it provides a unique position between Natural Philosophy and Scientific Materialism that incorporates aspects of both without fully adhering to or rejecting the other. Second, in the discussion we had of whether God can be a female or a male, Mormonism holds that God is in fact a human being, at the pinnacle of perfection, but still a human being with the physical body and physical characteristics of a human being and therefore referring to him as male is not simply believed to be a human conception but is accepted as an accurate physical descriptor. This contradicts the idea that God is beyond the human classifications of male or female which was presented, particularly in the video we viewed in class, as a self evident and universally accepted truth. Mormonism does hold that there exists a female counterpart, a heavenly mother, but she is not worshipped and is rarely discussed, at least not in mainstream Mormonism. Third, on the question of evil in the world, there are several peculiar aspects of Mormonism that give interesting prospects for answering this question, namely the belief in the existence of natural laws which are co-eternal with God and characteristic of existence which even a supreme being cannot override, and the idea that human beings, like God, are also eternal and do not derive their free will from God or any other source, but are inherently self possessing of it.
I have attached a collection of teachings that I have accumulated through personal study of the subject and which I someday hope to organize and write about (perhaps in a grad school environment). I have also attached an article written for an official LDS Church publication in the early 190s which discusses the topic (see next blog entry for this article)."
Response from my professor:
"Your points are very intriguing and have raised some questions in my mind.
I am curious about your first point regarding "religion has been defined as belief in the supernatural." In Mormon theology, does God not listen to our prayers? If he does, then would this not be supernatural. If God does not listen to prayers, or observe our actions, in what sense is he God?
I find your point regarding God being "male," in the literal sense of the term, to be interesting and will make a note of this for future classes.
In your message you mention that in Mormon thought God cannot alter the laws of nature. Hindu and Mormon theologies are similar in that both believe that the souls, laws, and God are co-eternal. They are different in that Hindu thought believes that God can alter the laws of nature, but does not under normal circumstances in order to maintain our free-will.
I look forward to your response, and I think you definitely could pursue Mormon theology in grad/undergrad school. That would be awesome."
"Thank you for taking the time to read what I sent you previously and I hope I can answer your questions and requests for clarification.
You asked the following:
"In Mormon theology, does God not listen to our prayers? If he does, then would this not be supernatural?"
The short answer is no, this would not be considered supernatural according Mormon materialist philosophy (which I should point out not all Mormons adhere to or even know about), but that answer requires some explanation. According to a Mormon materialist understanding, God's ability to listen to prayers and observe our actions truly exists, but such abilities are fully in accordance with the natural laws which operate in material reality and therefore cannot, by that definition, be supernatural. The laws that make this possible may not currently be understood, but that does not mean they are supernatural.
The operation of the natural laws which make it possible for God to listen to prayers, observe our actions, or do any other act which is now considered supernatural by mankind requires a level of knowledge which man has yet to achieve. It is only from lack of knowledge that man views the actions of God as being supernatural, but as man advances and obtains further knowledge (whether individually or collectively) what was once considered supernatural becomes known and natural. Early Mormon leader Brigham Young explained this principle using the example of creation, when he said "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 therefrom 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."
In Mormonism, the highest purpose of existence is to attain the knowledge God possesses (which includes knowledge of what human beings differentiate as natural or scientific laws). This would answer your next question, "in what sense is he God?" For Mormons, God is God because of His intelligence more so than any supernatural abilities he may or may not possess, or as one LDS scripture puts it, "the glory of God is intelligence". The powers he possesses stem from his knowledge and intelligence, the application of which gives him the ability to control or influence
existence, not magical or supernatural powers. One Mormon Apostle, John A. Widtsoe, put it this way "God is part of nature, and superior to it only in the sense that the electrician is superior to the current that is transmitted along the wire." In other words, it is not supernatural or magical powers that provide the electrician with the ability to bring light indoors, heat without fire, or otherwise control electricity as he wishes and to make it serve his purposes, it is his knowledge of the laws in operation and how to interact with them that gives him the power to control this natural law. In Mormon philosophy, the same can be said of God, only at an infinitely more advanced level since it is held that God possesses all knowledge of the universe and its laws.
The common understanding of religion is that God is supernatural, meaning he can transcend or operate outside of eternal laws, and therefore the belief is commonly held that certain aspects or doings of God can never be fully understood by man. In Mormon materialist philosophy/theology the reverse is true; because all that God does, or is even capable of doing, must be governed by the operation of eternal laws, it is possible to gain knowledge of these laws little by little so that within an eternal timeframe man individually or collectively is capable not only of understanding them but applying that knowledge to accomplish certain purposes, up to and including creation.
Lastly, you mention that in Hindu theology God is capable of altering the laws of nature. I don't think this is too far from what Mormon theology teaches as well. The main distinction is that Mormon materialist philosophy would hold that what appears to be a complete alteration of natural law (including miracles) is in reality just the application of other or nullifying laws not currently understood by man. This idea is captured in the following teaching from Mormon Apostle James Talmage, “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.”
Who’s who in the quotes below:
Church Presidents (Prophets):
Ezra Taft Benson
Joseph F. Smith
David O. McKay
John A. Widtsoe
Hugh B. Brown
Parley P. Pratt
Quorum of the Seventy members:
B. H. Roberts
Church Employed Educators:
Duane E. Jeffery
Frederick James Peck
Academic Comments on the Subject of Mormon Materialist Philosophy
“The absence of a formal definition in canonical literature and the lack of vigorous philosophical life in the Mormon community have left this (Mormon materialist philosophy) a curiously neglected issue.”
-Max Nolan, “Materialism and the Mormon Faith”
“An interesting and important facet of the Mormon conception of reality is the materialism that is defended so consistently and emphatically by Mormon writers. From very early times materialism has been found in both oriental and occidental thought, but its appearance within the framework of theistic philosophy is quite uncommon.”
-Sterling M. McMurrin, “The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion”
Doctrine & Covenants 93:29-30
“Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.”
Doctrine & Covenants 93:33-36
“For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy. The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.”
Doctrine & Covenants 131:7-8
“There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine and pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.”
Doctrine & Covenants 93:36
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.”
Doctrine & Covenants 29:34-35
“verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.”
- Commentary on above scripture
“Man makes a distinction between temporal and spiritual laws, and some are very much concerned about keeping the two separate. To the Lord everything is both spiritual and temporal, and the laws He gives are consequently spiritual, because they concern spiritual beings. When He commanded Adam to eat bread in the sweat of his brow, or Moses to strike the rock that the people might drink, or the Prophet Joseph to erect the Nauvoo House, or the Saints in Utah to build fences and roads, such laws were for their spiritual welfare, as well as physical. To obey such laws, when given, is a spiritual duty. One who performs his daily labor ‘as to the Lord, and not to men’ (Eph. 6:7) derives spiritual benefit from whatever his duties are.” (Smith, Hyrum M. and Janne M. Sjodahl. Introduction to and commentary on The Doctrine and Covenants. Rev. ed. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, pg. 156.)
“It is necessary for us to have an understanding of God himself in the beginning. If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong we may go wrong, and it will be a hard matter to get right. There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. The great majority of mankind do not comprehend anything, either that which is past, or that which is to come, as it respects their relationship to God… If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.”
“Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming His name, is not trifling with you or me.”
“I will go back to the beginning before the world was, to show what kind of a being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth, for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why He interferes with the affairs of man.”
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man”
“it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. These ideas are incomprehensible to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another, and that He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did”
“How consoling to the mourners when they are called to part with a husband, wife, father, mother, child, or dear relative, to know that, although the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more, but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a god, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. My Father worked out His kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to My Father, so that He may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt Him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take His place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the tracks of His Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all His children.”
“When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave”
“I shall comment on the very first Hebrew word in the Bible; I will make a comment on the very first sentence of the history of creation in the Bible—Berosheit. I want to analyze the word. Baith—in, by, through, and everything else. Rosh—the head, Sheit—grammatical termination. When the inspired man wrote it, he did not put the baith there… It read first, “The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods.” That is the true meaning of the words. Baurau signifies to bring forth. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. Learned men can teach you no more than what I have told you. Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council. I will transpose and simplify it in the English language. Oh, ye lawyers, ye doctors, and ye priests, who have persecuted me, I want to let you know that the Holy Ghost knows something as well as you do. The head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world. The grand councilors sat at the head in yonder heavens and contemplated the creation of the worlds which were created at the time.”
“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted [prepared] a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship. Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer. When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us.”
“You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing, and they will answer, “Doesn’t the Bible say he created the world?” And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end.”
“We say that God Himself is a self-existing being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. (Refers to the Bible.) How does it read in the Hebrew? It does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man. It says, “God made man out of the earth and put into him Adam’s spirit, and so became a living body. The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-eternal with God himself.”
“Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven. I want to reason more on the spirit of man; for I am dwelling on the body and spirit of man—on the subject of the dead. I take my ring from my finger and liken it unto the mind of man—the immortal part, because it had no beginning. Suppose you cut it in two; then it has a beginning and an end; but join it again, and it continues one eternal round. So with the spirit of man. As the Lord liveth, if it had a beginning, it will have an end. All the fools and learned and wise men from the beginning of creation, who say that the spirit of man had a beginning, prove that it must have an end; and if that doctrine is true, then the doctrine of annihilation would be true. But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the housetops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself. Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement. The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with Himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.”
“I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods.”
-All preceding quotes taken from the “King Follett Discourse”
“Berosheit baurau Eloheim ait aushamayeen vehau auraits, rendered by King James' translators, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." I want to analyze the word Berosheit. Rosh, the head; Sheit, a grammatical termination, The Baith was not originally put there when the inspired man wrote it, but it has been since added by an old Jew. Baurau signifies to bring forth; Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God, in the singular number; and by adding the word heim, it renders it Gods. It read first, "In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods," or, as others have translated it, "The head of the Gods called the Gods together."
“If we pursue the Hebrew text further, it reads, "Berosheit baurau Eloheim ait aashamayeen vehau auraits"—"The head one of the Gods said. Let us make a man in our own image." I once asked a learned Jew, "If the Hebrew language compels us to render all words ending in heim in the plural, why not render the first Eloheim plural?" He replied, "That is the rule with few exceptions; but in this case it would ruin the Bible."
“Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God! I say that is a strange God anyhow—three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. "Father, I pray not for the world, but I pray for them which thou hast given me." "Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are." All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism... I want to read the text to you myself—"I am agreed with the Father and the Father is agreed with me, and we are agreed as one." The Greek shows that it should be agreed. "Father, I pray for them which Thou hast given me out of the world, and not for those alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be agreed, as Thou, Father, art with me, and I with Thee, that they also may be agreed with us," and all come to dwell in unity, and in all the glory and everlasting burnings of the Gods; and then we shall see as we are seen, and be as our God and He as His Father… I learned a testimony concerning Abraham, and he reasoned concerning the God of heaven. "In order to do that," said he, "suppose we have two facts: that supposes another fact may exist—two men on the earth, one wiser than the other, would logically show that another who is wiser than the wisest may exist. Intelligences exist one above another, so that there is no end to them. If Abraham reasoned thus—If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine…I want you to pay particular attention to what I am saying. Jesus said that the Father wrought precisely in the same way as His Father had done before Him. As the Father had done before. He laid down His life, and took it up the same as His Father had done before. He did as He was sent, to lay down His life and take it up again; and then was committed unto Him the keys, &c.”
-Preceding quotes taken from “Sermon on the Plurality of Gods”
“When the only begotten Son of God was upon the earth, he understood the nature of these elements… That which to him was no miracle, is called miraculous by the inhabitants of the earth… I have no doubt that men can perform many such wonders by the principles of natural philosophy.”
“With regard to miracles, there is no such thing save to the ignorant… 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.”
“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.”
“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.”
"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."
“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… we do differ in these respects from the Christian world.”
"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."
“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 therefrom 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 anyone 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."
“If an Elder shall give us a lecture upon astronomy, chemistry, or geology, our religion embraces it all. It matters not what the subject be, if it tends to improve the mind, exalt the feelings, and enlarge the capacity. The truth that is in all the arts and sciences forms a part of our religion.”
“Some Classes adore the book of Nature & deny a God. Others profess to adore God and are afraid to contemplate Natural things. But every truth should be acknowledged as from God. A variety is interesting & not always remain in one Channel. One of the most interesting feasts I ever enjoyed was in contemplating the worlds and laws by which they are governed… Some have an idea that it is no matter getting knowledge here thinking that by and by they will enter heaven and that God will fill their minds with all the knowledge of the eternal worlds. But they will be mistaken in this.”
Ezra Taft Benson
“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.”
-Ezra Taft Benson
John A. Widtsoe
“The whole story of man’s progress is the conversion of “miracles” into controlled and understood events.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“It should not hurt my feelings at all if in the wisdom of the Almighty the body of man was prepared according to the principles of evolution, and then that spirit of man, the eternal ego, was placed within the body so prepared.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“The great purpose of man’s existence is a complete understanding of all the mysteries of nature. True, the understanding that will give him full mastery over nature will come little by little. In the end, man shall know all that he desires. Even in that happy day he shall not be able to change one law of nature; only by intelligent control may he apply nature’s laws to desired ends.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“Eternal life is life open-eyed, ready-minded, seeking, accepting and using all knowledge that will assist in man's progress. To continue forever, upward, that is eternal life and the destiny of man.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“Man is of limited power; whatever he cannot understand or duplicate may be called miraculous; and only in that sense can miracles be allowed. The miracles of the Savior were done only by superior knowledge. Nothing is unnatural. All that has been done, man may do as he increases in power. The conception of intelligence guiding the destinies of men, makes it possible that, in our behalf, wonderful things are often done, that transcend our understanding, but which are yet in full and complete harmony with the laws of nature. For ourselves we must discover all of nature that we can. In time of need, when our own knowledge does not suffice, the Master may give his help… Help so obtained is not unnatural. A miracle is simply that which we cannot understand, and at which we marvel.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“Chief among the fallacies of the early ages was the belief that God at will could, and did, cause various phenomena to appear in nature, which were contrary to all human experience… a class of men arose who claimed to be in possession of knowledge which made them also able, at will, to cause various supernatural manifestations. Thus arose the occult sciences, so called,—alchemy, astrology, magic, witchcraft, and all other similar abominations of the intellect. Such beliefs made the logical study of nature superfluous, for any apparent regularity or law in nature might at any time be overturned by a person in possession of a formula of the black art or a properly treated broomstick. While such ideas prevailed among the majority of men, the rational study of science could make little progress. In the march of the ages as the ideas of men were classified, it began to be understood that the claims of the devotees of the mystical arts not only could not be substantiated but were in direct opposition to the known operations of nature. It became clear to the truth seekers, that in nature a given cause, acting upon any given object, providing all surrounding conditions be left unchanged, will always produce the same effect… Forces, relations and laws may exist as yet unknown to the world of science, which, used by a human or superhuman being, might to all appearances change well-established relations of known forces. That would be a miracle; but a miracle simply means a phenomenon not understood, in its cause and effect relations.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“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
“The theology which rests upon the few basic laws of nature in unshakable; and the great theology of the future will be such a one. Mormonism teaches and has taught from the beginning that all knowledge must be included in the true theology. Because of its comprehensive philosophy, Mormonism will survive all religious disturbances and become the system of religious faith which all men may accept without yielding the least part of the knowledge of nature as discovered in the laboratories or in the fields.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“Is it any wonder that workers in science, who have been taught the doctrine of an immaterial God who is able to create something from nothing, and to transcend all laws of nature, depart from the faith of their childhood? 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 A. Widtsoe
“Joseph Smith was strictly scientific. He departed from the notion that God is a being foreign to nature and wholly superior to it. Instead, he taught that God is part of nature, and superior to it only in the sense that the electrician is superior to the current that is transmitted along the wire. The great laws of nature are immutable, and even God cannot transcend them."
-John A. Widtsoe
“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
“The earth was not made from nothing, nor by the fiat of God, except as his will and words determined that the work should be undertaken. In the clumsy way of man, by adding stone to stone or material to material, the earth was not made; rather, great forces, existing in the universe, and set into ceaseless operation by the directing intelligence of God, assembled and brought into place the materials constituting the earth, until, in the course of long periods of time, this sphere was fitted for the abode of man. In the making of the earth, as in all other matters pertaining to the destiny of man, the work was done in complete and orderly harmony with the existing laws of the universe. The Mosaic six days represent successive stages in the earth's construction, each measured by ages of time. The forces of nature act steadily but slowly in the accomplishment of great works.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“It is becoming fairly well demonstrated that the ceaseless changes and transformations in nature cause a greater and greater complexity in nature. This, in other words, means that the earth and all on it are developing and progressing. According to Darwin and his followers, man and animals advance. Only those who progress, persist; those who retrograde, die. Creation as a whole grows and develops, and must of necessity do so. By this law, the purpose of the earth and the universe is explained to be endless growth. The law of evolution is the great cementing law of science. Even so, in the philosophy of Joseph Smith, the doctrine is taught that all things advance; that man shall continue to advance, in intelligence, and all pertaining to it, until he shall become as God is now. Meanwhile, our God will also increase in his fulness, and ever be a God to us. Through this doctrine, all the principles of the Gospel are made coherent. All the requirements of man have in view his eternal growth. Man's presence here on earth is simply that he may better learn to understand the nature of gross matter, and thus to develop and progress more completely. It is remarkable that Joseph Smith taught the law of evolution as an eternal truth, twenty or more years before Darwin published his views.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“The statement that man was made from the dust of the earth is merely figurative, and means that he was made of universal materials, as is the earth. Likewise, the statement that God breathed into man the breath of life is only a figure of the existence of the spirit within the body. The exact process whereby man was placed upon earth is not known with certainty, nor is it vital to a clear understanding of the plan of salvation.”
-John A. Widtsoe
"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
“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
"Control of natural forces is obtained only when their laws are understood. When a certain thing is done in a certain manner, there is a definite, invariable result… The only remedy is to comply with existing conditions, acknowledge the restraint of nature, and gaining further knowledge, put law against law, until the purpose of man has been accomplished. This is the process by which intelligent beings have acquired dominion over nature.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“Mormonism has frequently been charged with accepting the doctrine of materialism. In one sense, the followers of Joseph Smith plead yes to this charge. In Mormon theology there is no place for immateralism.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“God is the organizer of worlds, and all upon them. He is not the Creator of the materials and forces of the universe, for they are eternal; He is the master builder who uses the simple elements of nature for his purposes."
-John A. Widtsoe
"God is in no sense the Creator of natural forces and laws; He is the director of them.”
-John A. Widtsoe
“There are lots of things, of course, that science does not know, but to me the saddest thing I see is people who feel that science threatens them religiously. It could not possibly threaten us religiously, because the same God who ‘made’ our religion, that same God is making the universe. Science might threaten our understanding of religion. I am not doubting that – that some of us, including me, have such a faulty understanding of our religion that almost anything might threaten it. But the thing that is important about that is if we want to influence our sons and daughters, we must get our religion in the kind of shape that it cannot be threatened by anything that science discovers or does not discover.”
“To be understood, the Lord must reveal Himself in a language His Children can understand. Of necessity, many things not necessary for their immediate progress are omitted, to be revealed later, and to be discovered by man's own enterprise. There are some people who throw away the scriptures and restrict themselves to science and related fields. Others use the scriptures to the exclusion of other truth. Both are wrong. Latter-day Saints should seek after truth by all avenues with earnest humility. There is, of course, no conflict in the gospel since it embraces all truth. Undoubtedly, however, science is continually challenging us to think through again our conceptions of the gospel.”
“I am never able to worry along with the people who think science is a threat to their religion. It just is not. It could not be, and if it is, you had better fix your religion or your science, or both."
B. H. Roberts
“It is easy to denounce; so to do is a favorite pastime of ignorance. That scientific theories have been and are being discarded as unworthy because untrue is well known; but no one is more ready to so renounce than the scientist himself. To him a theory is but a scaffolding whereon he stands while placing the facts which are his building blocks; and from these he rears the tower from which a wider horizon of truth is opened to his eye. When the structure is made, the scaffold,- unsightly, shaky, and unsafe, as it is likely to be, is removed. Tis not always possible to judge of the building from the rough poles and planks which serve the temporary purpose of him who builds. Yet how often may we hear from our pulpits, usually however when they are occupied by the little-great men, scathing denunciations of science, which is represented as a bundle of vagaries, and of scientific men, who are but Will-o-the-wisps enticing the traveler into quagmires of spiritual ruin. Would it not be better for those who so inveigh to acquaint themselves with at least the first principles of the doctrines of science? So general has this practice become amongst us, that the most inexperienced speaker feels justified in thus indulging himself, and in the minds of many the conclusion is reached, none the less pernicious in its present effects because unfounded, that the higher development of the intellect is not a part of the Gospel of Christ. Yet revelation is not given to save man from self-effort; if he want knowledge let him ask of God, and prove himself worthy of the desired gift by his own faithful search. Such are the teachings of our Church. The leaders amongst us, those who are acknowledged as prophets and revelators to the people, are not heard in authoritative denunciation of the teachings of science. Yet under the freedom allowed by our liberal Church organization the lay speaker is prone to indulge in unguarded criticism, and the undiscriminating hearer is apt to regard such as the teachings of the Church. The scientist in his self-denying earnest labors is a true child of God; as he is strengthened spiritually will his work be the better. The scientific spirit is divine.”
-B. H. Roberts
“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 ... 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.”
-B. H. Roberts
“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.”
-B. H. Roberts
Joseph F. Smith
“Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of our generation, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin and the partaking of natural foods, in the process of time ...whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God.”
-Joseph F. Smith
Joseph Fielding Smith
“Even the most devout and sincere believers in the Bible realize that it is, like most any other book, filled with metaphor, simile, allegory, and parable, which no intelligent person could be compelled to accept in a literal sense. . . . The Lord has not taken from those who believe in his word the power of reason. He expects every man who takes his “yoke” upon him to have common sense enough to accept a figure of speech in its proper setting, and to understand that the holy scriptures are replete with allegorical stories, faith-building parables, and artistic speech… Where is there a writing intended to be taken in all its parts literally? Such a writing would be insipid and hence lack natural appeal. To expect a believer in the Bible to strike an attitude of this kind and believe all that is written to be a literal rendition is a stupid thought. No person with the natural use of his faculties looks upon the Bible in such a light.”
-Joseph Fielding Smith
David O. McKay
“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.”
-David O. McKay
“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.”
“The scientific spirit… abhors bigotry, denounces the extravagances of the blind zealot, religious or otherwise, and seeks to perfect the faith of its possessor as a purified, sanctified power, pleasing alike mind and heart, reason and soul. In the charges that have been preferred by the theologians against science, and the counter accusations by the scientists against theology, it is evident that in each case the accuser is not fully informed as to what he is attacking. Irrational zeal is not to be commended”
-James E. Talmage
“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!... we have also a vast and ever-increasing volume of knowledge concerning man, his [p.244]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 text-book of geology, archeology, 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
"Science is a discovery of the secret, immutable and eternal laws, by which the universe is governed."
Parley P. Pratt
“On account of the double relationship of Jesus Christ –with God the Father on one hand, and with man on the other, many have adopted the creed, that “Two whole and perfect natures” were blended in the person of Jesus Christ; that he was every way a God, and every way a man; as if God and man were two distinct species. The error came by reason of not knowing ourselves. For just in proportion as we comprehend ourselves in our true light, and our relationships and affinities with the past, present and future, with time and eternity, with Gods, angels, spirits and men, who have gone before us, and who will come after us, so, in proportion, we may be able to benefit by the keys of the mysteries of the Godhead, or, in other words, to know and comprehend Jesus Christ and his Father.”
-Parley P. Pratt
“Gods, angels and men, are all of one species, one race, one great family… The great distinguishing difference between one portion of this race and another, consists in the varied grades of intelligence and purity… An immortal man, possessing a perfect organization of spirit, flesh, and bones, and perfected in his attributes, in all the fullness of celestial glory, is called a God.
An immortal man, in progress of perfection, or quickened with a lesser degree of glory, is called an angel. An immortal spirit of man, not united with a fleshy tabernacle, is called a spirit. An immortal man, clothed with a mortal tabernacle, is called a man. It may then consistently enough be said, that there are, in a subordinate sense, a plurality of Gods, or rather of the sons of God; although there is one Supreme Head, who is over all, and through all, and in all His sons, by the power of His Spirit.”
-Parley P. Pratt
“Jesus Christ and his Father… is subject to the laws which govern, of necessity, even the most refined order of physical existence. All physical element, however embodied, quickened, or refined, is subject to the general laws necessary to all existence… These laws are absolute and unchangeable in their nature and apply to all intelligent agencies which do or can exist. They, therefore, apply with equal force to the great, supreme, eternal Father of the heavens and of the earth, and to His meanest subjects.”
-Parley P. Pratt
“From a general traditional belief in an immaterial hereafter, many have concluded that the earth and all material things would be annihilated as mere temporary structures; that the material body, and the planets it occupies, make no part of eternal life and being; in short, that God, angels, and men, become at last so lost, dissolved, or merged in spirituality, or immateriality, as to lose all adaptation to the uses of the physical elements; that they will absolutely need no footstool, habitation, possession, mansion, home, furniture, food, or clothing; that the whole vast works and beautiful designs of the visible creation are a kind of necessary evil or clog on the spiritual life, and are of no possible use except to serve for the time being, for the home and sustenance of beings in their grosser, or rudimental state. What a doleful picture! With what gloom and melancholy must intelligences contemplate the vast structure, as viewed in this light! What a vastness of design! What a display of wisdom! What a field of labour in execution, do the works of creation present to the contemplative mind! Yet all this wisdom of design, all this labour of execution, after serving a momentary purpose, to be thrown away as an encumbrance to real existence and happiness. All these “spiritual,” “immaterial” vagaries have no foundation in truth.”
-Parley P. Pratt
“Although there are facts in our own existence, which are beyond our present comprehension or capacity… still the limited knowledge we are able to comprehend in relation to ourselves, may at least be rational, and be as clearly conveyed and understood as any other subject. So with our knowledge of Deity.”
-Parley P. Pratt
“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
“Suffice it to say, that the arts and sciences will not come to an end, yet man may have been traditionated to believe that one small book contains all that God ever said or did. Such persons are to be pitied, and not to be reasoned with.”
-Parley P. Pratt
“God, the Father, is material. Jesus Christ is material. Angels are material. Spirits are material. Men are material. The universe is material. Space is full of materiality. Nothing exists which is not material.”
-Parley P. Pratt
“What is God? He is a material intelligence, possessing both body and parts. He is in the form of man, and is in fact of the same species; and is a model, or standard of perfection to which man is destined to attain: he being the great Father, and head of the whole family… What is Jesus Christ? He is the son of God, and is every way like his father, being "the brightness of his father's glory, and the express image of his person." He is material intelligence, with body, parts and passions; possessing immortal flesh and immortal bones. He can and does eat, drink, converse, reason, love, move, go, come, and in short, perform all things even as the Father—possessing the same power and attributes… What are men? They are offspring of God, the Father, and brothers of Jesus Christ. They were once intelligent spirits in the presence of God, and were with him before the earth was formed. They are now in disguise as it were, in order to pass through the several changes, and the experience necessary to constitute them perfect beings. ”
-Parley P. Pratt
“[human beings] are capable of receiving intelligence and exaltation to such a degree, as to be raised from the dead with a body like that of Jesus Christ's, and to possess immortal flesh and bones, in which they will eat, drink, converse, reason, love, walk, sing, play on musical instruments, go on missions from planet to planet, or from system to system: being Gods, or sons of God, endowed with the same powers, attributes, and capacities that their heavenly Father and Jesus Christ possess.
What are all these beings [gods, angels, spirits, and human beings] taken together, or summed up under one head? They are one great family, all of the same species, all related to each other, all bound together by kindred ties, interests sympathies, and affections. In short they are all Gods; or rather, men are the offspring or children of the Gods, and destined to advance by degrees, and to make their way by a progressive series of changes, till they become like their Father in heaven, and like Jesus Christ their elder brother.
Thus perfected, the whole family will possess the material universe, that is, the earth, and all other planets, and worlds, as "an inheritance incorruptible undefiled and that fadeth not away." They will also continue to organize, people, redeem, and perfect other systems which are now in the womb of chaos, and thus go on increasing their several dominions, till the weakest child of God which now exists upon the earth will possess more dominion, more property, more subjects, and more power and glory than is possessed by Jesus Christ or by his Father; while at the same time Jesus Christ and his Father, will have their dominion, kingdoms, and subjects increased in proportion.
Such are the riches, glories, blessings, honors, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, held out by the system of materialism.”
-Parley P. Pratt
“I hold all truth to be both scientific and religious; in other words, true religion embraces all truth, for it emanates from God, who is the fountain head of all truth, or in other words, who is in possession of all truth that is possible for us to reach at least.”
“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.”
“Now, can we, for one moment, suppose that within the comparatively little regions, occupied by our stellar universe, no light existed until six thousand years ago, when we are almost irresistibly compelled to admit that there previously existed in the infinite regions beyond a vast immense ocean of luminiferous fluid? We can come to no other conclusion, but that worlds, and systems of worlds, and universes of worlds existed in the boundless heights and depths of immensity before the foundations of our earth were laid.”
Hugh B. Brown
“There is not enough of the attitude of the sincere investigator among us. When we come into a new field of research that will challenge our due and honest consideration, we should be warned against coming too quickly to a conclusion, of forming a decision too hastily. We should be scientific – that is, open-minded, approaching new problems without prejudice, deferring a decision until all the facts are in.”
-Hugh B. Brown
“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.”
-Hugh B. Brown
“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 nor 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 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.”
-Hugh B. Brown
“I find it very hypocritical for us as members of the Church to sift through the concepts of science selectively, identifying friend and enemies as best fits our narrow purposes… For me there no notions in biological science which violate the principles, both spiritual and practical, which I hold dear as a committed Latter-day Saint.”
Duane E. Jeffery
“There are too many devout religious evolutionists to argue defensibly that a belief in evolution… leads to religious deterioration; indeed, there are many both within the Church and without who will argue from personal experience that the concept of evolution can have precisely the opposite effect: a deepening of religious sentiment and spirituality due to the recognition that God is a God of law, or order, of rational behavior, rather than a deity of mystery, of transcendent and capricious whims.”
-Duane E. Jeffery
Frederick James Peck
“Christian civilization is today divided into two powerfully opposing factions, the supernaturalists and the naturalists. The one believes in an overriding and interposing being, while the other recognizes in nature adequate inspiration without the intervention of the supernatural. The one accounts for the creation of the universe as the result of divine edict; the other can see nothing but obedience to natural law. Thus the warfare between religion and science is being waged… The unending strife between science and religion is very largely the result of this artificial classification of God’s laws into the natural and the supernatural… The term supernatural should become obsolete at once.”
-Frederick James Peck
“The believer claims God’s direct control in mundane affairs; the skeptic maintains the rule of universal law, independent of personal Deity or other controlling personage. Both are right; God rules indeed, but he rules by law. His laws are universal, eternal, undeviating, and inexorable.”
Church Publications without author attributed
“The pressing need of the age is a system of religion that can recognize, at the same time, the truths of demonstrated science and the doctrines… of the Creator; a religion that will reach both the head and the heart – that is, will satisfy both the intellect and the conscience.”