Question: Do Mormons believe that if there is a conflict between science and religion, that the science is incorrect?

Table of Contents

Question: Do Mormons believe that if there is a conflict between science and religion, that the science is incorrect?

Critics claim that the Church teaches that science is something "evil" to be discarded when it conflicts with religion

Secular critics charge that Mormonism and science are incompatible. In fact, Dr. Simon Southerton, in his book Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church devotes 66 pages to a section titled "The Troubled Interface between Mormonism and Science." Critics point out that elements found in the scriptures are incompatible with current scientific beliefs. Southerton's work argues the Church considers science something "evil" which ought to be arbitrarily discarded whenever Church leaders speak.

Latter-day Saints in many ways have a more liberal view of science than some of their traditional Christian brethren

In reality, Latter-day Saints in many ways have a more liberal view of science than some of their traditional Christian brethren. We believe 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 there are scientific laws at work which are beyond our current understanding. The state of science is constantly changing. What science declared to be "true" in the 19th century is not "true" in the 21st century. It is reasonable to expect that some things that we consider to be scientifically "true" now may be revised according to additional knowledge that is gained in the future. Brigham Young recognized this when he said,

We differ very much with Christendom in regard to the sciences of religion. Our religion embraces all truth and every fact in existence, no matter whether in heaven, earth, or hell. A fact is a fact, all truth issues forth from the Fountain of truth, and the sciences are facts as far as men have proved them. [1]

Latter-day Saints are content to accept that they do not understand everything God is capable of doing. The Lord has promised that these things will someday be revealed to us:

Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things—Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.(DC 101:32-34)

Issues of a perceived incompatibility between science and religion are hardly unique to Mormonism. These issues are shared by all faiths. Failure to resolve scientific and religious contradictions in one's mind can bring into doubt one's very belief that there is a God. Complicating the issue for Latter-day Saints is the fact that living prophets have sometimes expressed their own views on scientific matters, thus causing some to doubt whether or not they could truly be prophets.

Notes

  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 14:117.