Mormonism and science

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    Mormonism and science

This page is a summary or index. More detailed information on this topic is available on the sub-pages below.

QUESTIONS


  • It is claimed that Mormons believe that if there is a conflict between science and religion, that the science is incorrect.
  • It is claimed that Mormonism reserves the right to identify scientific truth.

To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

CONCLUSION


Latter-day Saints are not required to discard science in favor of religion. Many Latter-day Saints are heavily involved in scientific research without suffering a loss of faith. Not only do we believe that science is continually being updated, but that Gospel knowledge will be updated as well. As the 9th Article of Faith states:

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

We acknowledge that we do not understand everything regarding the manner in which God created the earth, but we have been assured through revelation that at some future time we will be allowed to understand these things. Neither religion nor science knows everything, but revelation provides us with sufficient knowledge to obtain salvation. In religion, as in science, all should be constantly seeking for the "further light and knowledge" that comes from God.

DETAILED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Is there any conflict between science and religion? There is no conflict in the mind of God, but often there is conflict in the minds of men.[1]
—Henry Eyring, developer of the Absolute Rate Theory of chemical reactions: One of the most important developments of 20th-century chemistry.
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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...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.
—Brigham Young, (May 14, 1871) Journal of Discourses 14:116.
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Latter-day Saints should strive to use both science and religion to extend knowledge and to build faith. But those who do so must guard against the significant risk that efforts to end the separation between scientific scholarship and religious faith will only promote a substandard level of performance, where religion and science dilute one another instead of strengthening both.

For some, an attempt to mingle reason and faith can result in irrational scholarship or phony religion, either condition demonstrably worse than the described separation.
—Dallin H. Oaks, Life's Lessons Learned: Personal Reflections (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 2011), 58-59.
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TOPICS


Determining truth

  • Are Mormonism and science compatible?
    Brief Summary: Secular critics charge that Mormonism and science are incompatible, and that any Latter-day Saint who actually believes is "intellectually dishonest." In reality, however, Latter-day Saints in many ways have a more liberal view of science than some of their Christian brethren. We believe that God operates according to certain laws. If there are things that God can do which seem to contradict what we know through current science, we assume that there are scientific laws that are beyond our current understanding. (Click here for full article)
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  • Faith versus knowledge
    Brief Summary: It is important to keep in mind the difference in purpose between science and the Gospel. The purpose of science is to examine the characteristics of the world around us in order to more fully understand it. A main purpose of the Gospel is to teach us to develop faith. Unfortunately, the acquisition of scientific knowledge is sometimes perceived to destroy faith. The purpose of faith is to help us understand spiritual things, just as science helps us to understand physical things. (Click here for full article)
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  • Burning in the bosom
    Brief Summary: Critics are known to mockingly refer to the LDS imagery of a "burning in the bosom." While the phrase is used in the LDS community to express the intense feelings of receiving spiritual witnesses, some claim it is simply the result of an electro-chemical process that occurs in the brain. (Click here for full article)
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Latter-day Saint approaches to science

  • Archaeology and the Book of Mormon
    Brief Summary: Critics charge that what is known about ancient American archaeology is not consistent with the Book of Mormon account. Sectarian critics often add the claim that the Bible has been "proven" true by archaeology, unlike the Book of Mormon. (Click here for full article)
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  • Evolution
    Brief Summary: How does the Church reconcile the theory of evolution with the story of Adam? (Click here for full article)
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  • Pre-Adamites
    Brief Summary: There is scientific evidence of human habitation for many thousands of years. How do we reconcile this with the idea that Adam lived approximately 6,000 years ago? (Click here for full article)
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  • Death before the Fall
    Brief Summary: Does LDS doctrine hold that there was no death before the Fall of Adam? (Click here for full article)
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  • Procreation before the Fall
    Brief Summary: Did procreation exist before the Fall of Adam? (Click here for full article)
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  • Global or local Flood
    Brief Summary: How do we deal with the fact that there is no scientific evidence of a worldwide flood? How can the scriptures and prophets teach of a worldwide flood, when this contradicts the evidence? The biodiversity of plants and animals on the earth could not have occurred within the span of a few thousand years. Did the continents separate during the flood of Noah? Doctrine and Covenants 133:23–24 seems to imply that they did. How do we reconcile this to scientific fact? Didn't Brigham Young, John Taylor and Orson Pratt teach that the Flood was the baptism of the Earth? (Click here for full article)
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  • Age of the Earth
    Brief Summary: Do Latter-day Saints believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old? Why does Doctrine and Covenants section 77 say that the history of the earth covers only seven thousand years? (Click here for full article)
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  • Dinosaurs
    Brief Summary: How do dinosaurs fit into God's plan? (Click here for full article)
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  • Book of Mormon and DNA evidence (Click here for full article)
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  • Free will in Mormonism
    Brief Summary: Science demonstrates that all interactions of matter--including all events in the human brain--are sufficiently caused by previous events. If we know enough about the laws that govern these interactions and the current state of the universe, we would be able to exactly predict any future event. Does this mean that the doctrine of "agency" or "free will" is false, since all human choices are predetermined by the laws of physics? (Click here for full article)
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  • Alleged "discovery" of cold fusion by Utah researchers
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that the mistaken "discovery" of cold fusion in Utah reflects on either LDS gullibility, inability to do science, or dishonesty. (Click here for full article)
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Science and LDS scripture


The Book of Abraham makes several references to astronomy which draw criticism. These articles address specific issues related to Book of Abraham astronomical concepts. (Click here for full article)

  • Kolob
    Brief Summary: What is Kolob? I've heard that Mormons believe God lives there. (Click here for full article)
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  • Relationship between Kolob and the Sun
    Brief Summary: The Book of Abraham states that “the sun [is said] to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power (Abraham Fac 2,Fig 5),” while astrophysics has shown that “The Sun shines ... because of thermonuclear fusion. It does not get its light from any other star.” (Click here for full article)
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  • Revolution Time
    Brief Summary: Critics of Mormonism claim that "LDS doctrine regarding astronomy is permeated with references to time being measured, or 'reckoned' according to a star's or planet's rate of rotation. Furthermore, this 'reckoning of time' is a prime distinguisher in terms of 'greatness.' From the standpoint of modern cosmology, this makes no sense at all. Rates of rotation are largely arbitrary, and of little comment or concern from a fundamental point of view." (Click here for full article)
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Latter-day Saint attitude toward science

Church leaders' statements related to science


Endnotes

  1. [note]  Henry Eyring, Reflections of a Scientist (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983), 2.


Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims

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