What religion can learn from science

by Rusty Lindquist on January 25, 2011 · 0 comments

Appetite.  That’s what seems so prevalent in the world of science and so often lacking in religion, the appetite to constantly learn more, to not be satisfied with what we have, to continuously search, ponder, and strive to increase our knowledge and understanding.

It’s clearly not always the case- there are true spiritual giants among us, who set the example for the rest of us.  But by in large, it seems that more often than not, religion is often taken for granted, as though it’s a side-note to our lives.  As though it’s something that we think about on Sunday, or at Christmas and Easter, and not something that constantly occupies our minds, as we yearn for more.

But the world of science is constantly asking questions, trying to understand why, trying to get to the fundamental principles that lie behind the things that they observe.  They experiment, observe, take notes, draw conclusions, and then test those conclusions with more experiments. 

How often do we experiment upon the word of God?  How often do we take those experiments so seriously that we make a study of them?  How often do we strive to test our knowledge, and how unquenchable is our desire to further our understanding?

It’s so easy to let the urgent aspects of our life dominate our thoughts and monopolize our time, as the more important and everlasting side of us, that spiritual side, suffers the pains of disuse and apathy.

But we must learn, we must engage ourselves, we must seek learning, we must grow in knowledge and understanding.  Only then, will we be truly ready for the trials of life, and ready to stand firm amidst the buffetings, and the fiery darts of the adversary.  Only then shall our confidence wax strong in the presence of God, and shall the doctrines of the priesthood distill upon our souls as the dew from heaven.  Only then shall our foundation be so firm as to withstand the cunning craftiness of the adversary as he seeks to shake us from our testimony.

Joseph Smith once said “Thy mind, oh man, if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into, and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanses of eternity.  Thou must commune with God… None but fools will trifle with the souls of man”.

Truth is light, and if it be in you it shall abound, and if your eye be single to the Glory of god your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.  (D&C 88:67)  What a glorious promise. 

As leaders, as parents, as friends, and as individuals, let us all find ourselves a bit more engrossed in the gospel of Christ, and a bit more anxiously engaged in our study.

Rusty

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lincoln Cannon July 21, 2008 at 5:01 PM

I enjoyed this post, Rusty. Thanks.

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2 Martin Voelker July 22, 2008 at 9:48 AM

Be careful what you ask for. In my observation that scientific appetite leads many to come to conclusions religious folks won’t like. Once you start demanding evidence (or even just plain logic) for religious claims it tends to get pretty rough.

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3 henry July 22, 2008 at 12:30 PM

I don’t understand why this is posted under science? Not to be rude, but science stands in direct opposition to everything that the book of Mormon says, no?

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4 Rusty Lindquist July 22, 2008 at 2:31 PM

Education doesn’t negate religion, nor does it challenge it or dilute it. Rather, if one starts with sufficient faith, and then expands his mind through a neverending quest for knowledge, his endeavor only sharpens that faith, defines it, and makes it tangible.

The problems come when one seeks education to the exclusion of religion, or when one who has faith, but stops feeding that faith with added light. Science and religion are not mutually exclusive, but can live in perfect harmony.

That’s not to say that they never disagree, but finding instances of incompatibility is an indication that one or the other are wrong, and indicate areas in need of further thought, prayer and research. But abandoning one or the other because there are problems entwining the two is a lousy approach.

This is fitting under science for the similar reason that there is much science can learn from religion. Principles are usually (if not always) universal, and have implications well beyond the scope of whatever particular field in which they moct commonly occur. This is to say that while religiously inclined seekers of knowledge can derive great spiritual insight from scientific principles and laws, so too can science find guidance and enlightenment from religious pricuples and doctrine.

I may do a post about this to expound further, as it’s an unlikely companionship that has always interested me.

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5 Ed Darrell July 22, 2008 at 5:19 PM

I don’t understand why this is posted under science? Not to be rude, but science stands in direct opposition to everything that the book of Mormon says, no?

Not in my experience, no. There have been some inroads into Mormonism by nonscience types in recent years, but Mormonism has a long tradition of support for science, and benefit from it. Think of the great chemist Henry Eyring. Think of the physicist Harvey Fletcher, and his son James Fletcher, who headed NASA. Think of Terrel Bell and his support for education of all things, especially science.

What do you find in the BoM that opposes science?

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6 Mayra July 22, 2008 at 5:30 PM

Rusty, I partly agree with what you’re saying, however, religion as it stands and what most people know is not a science. And as someone mentioned you are never going to convince people to believe there is a God. That is a personal experience that one must want to pursue and prove to the self. In the absence of any proof, there is no doubt in my mind that there is a God not because anyone told me about but because I proved it in my own life. However, I am ok with allowing others to believe as they wish. They have a right to that as their belief is irrelevant to whether God exists or not and by no means a requirement for their existence and wellbeing on the planet. I think that once we all learn to believe and let believe people will be more apt to trust their own answers. The convincing, the coercing, the judging and the pushing takes all credibility religion could have once had.

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7 htwilson July 22, 2008 at 7:22 PM

Ed, I didn’t mean to imply that the BoM contains passages against science — what I meant was that science has debunked everything in the BoM. The supposed history of a Jewish tribe arriving around 650 BC, claims of wars between peoples who had metallurgy, the claims of grand (western) civilizations existing in the America, the idea of “reformed” hieroglyphs, and so on, and so on … the BoM says one thing, and science, says, “Uh, no.”

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8 Rusty Lindquist July 22, 2008 at 7:49 PM

Actually that’s not true. There is abundant evidence (and growing), of the factuality of the Book of Mormon. I invite you to research it afresh.

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9 archie July 22, 2008 at 9:17 PM

Not hell no. Just hell.

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10 ryan July 22, 2008 at 9:49 PM

Please allow me to share a personal experience that shares light on the subject.

A couple years ago I got to tour the Galapagos Islands. I saw first hand the Darwinian Institute and the conclusions Darwin made. I saw amazing things there, like birds (the blue-footed booby, for instance) whose ancestors never had any large mammalian predators. They’re instincts taught them to build nests on the ground. They allowed humans to get within feet of them without getting frightened. I saw first-hand the difference in finches’ beaks and read the conclusions Darwin made. Very scientifically sound conclusions that ring true to any reasoning human.

My brother was with me on the trip. With this experience he supported his belief that religion is hogwash and science has disproved the existence of a divine being.

The evening of our discussion I had time to ponder and think about the things I learned. I was in solitude on the top deck of the cruise ship and watched the sun set. Brilliant colors filled the sky as the sun kissed the horizon. In response to my prayer, I heard the words, “I am behind all this.” I learned then and there the simple fact that my belief in God and what I learn scientifically can co-exist quite nicely.

Ryan

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11 Rusty Lindquist July 22, 2008 at 10:07 PM

Absolutely. In my estimation, science is nothing more than the eventual discovey by man of the eternal workings of God. The works of God are not conducted through any ammount of hocus-pocus, but rather by excercising principles and laws that have existed thoughout all eternity. As man struggles to understand the universe and the principles and laws that govern it, they, in their own right, are drawing close unto God, but are focusing more on the how, rather than the why.

As such, religion has much to learn from science. The Doctrine and Covenants, a canonized compilation of latter-day revelation discusses how in all physical laws there are spiritual shadows. I’ve posted before about the spiritual implications of the laws of Gravity, inertia, thermodynamics, and entropy, and I have many other physical laws that I’m anxious to expound upon in discussing their spiritual shadows.

But by the same token, science can also learn from religion. Take for instance the Pearl of Great Price, or even as mentioned earlier, the Book of Mormon. An archeologist with the spiritual flexibility to allow himself to study, pray, and gain a testimony of it’s truthfulness on a spiritual level, would quickly find himself equipped with leads and clues that his peers are starved for.

The universal, sweeping nature of principles transcends all the various and specific fields of study, and all truth can be merged into one all-encompassing whole that describes the nature, existance, and laws of all things.

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12 htwilson July 23, 2008 at 11:48 AM

ryan, it sounds like you had a really deep and euphoric experience … I’ve been there, so I empathize … My problem with attributing it to GOD is that it makes no sense … “I am behind all this”, says a voice and you assume it was GOD … how do you know it wasn’t telepathic finches? Maybe, just maybe, it was you.

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13 htwilson July 23, 2008 at 11:54 AM

ryan, you also say, “I learned then and there the simple fact that my belief in God and what I learn scientifically can co-exist quite nicely.” Two things about that … you didn’t learn anything, you convinced yourself of something without evidence. Secondly, there is no “simple fact” when it comes to reconciling God and science … I’ve been trying for thirty years with no success. It’s only simple if you ignore the TRUTH.

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14 Unknown July 24, 2008 at 11:43 PM

Rusty, thanks for this post. It has instilled an even deeper desire for me to “grow in knowledge and understanding” I firmly believe that all truth IS ETERNAL AND COMES FROM GOD. I especially appreciated the scripture you quoted in D&C 88:67. Which also adds to my conviction that it is through the Spirit that we are able to comprehend all things.

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