Defending the Faith: Reading the books of scripture and science together

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  • timpClimber Provo, UT
    Oct. 11, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    As a teacher of Science (Chemistry, Biology, Physics) for over 50 years I've seen every major theory in science changed, reorganized and fail to fit the current data. On the other hand I have experienced consistency in the teachings of the scriptures. When questions arise in class about the relationship between religion and science I answer by asking them which book would they search for answers to how to raise a family or how to treat their fellowman, the scriptures or their chemistry text? Then I ask where they would find answers to identifying and unknown substance? What is the logical conclusion? You need both to live a balanced life. PS I read Science News Daily to learn about the latest advances so I can share a few with my students.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Sept. 16, 2013 9:52 a.m.


    ....which was alluded to in Psalm 90:4.

    It would seem that the ancients (or translators of the King James Bible) used the word "day" to mean various different "periods of time", much as we say, on one hand, "today and tomorrow" , but also "Back in the Day" or "in MY day" etc. These different usages are very common in the Bible; the wisest and most reasonable course seems to be to regard the term as meaning a period of time, in this case a creative period, the stages of creation described being very logical and scientific.

    Before you can have land-based plants you must have dry land and water separately, and water both above and below the "firmament", therefore circulating between earth and sky, as clouds, droplets, and bodies of water, and mists also to water the ground as morning dew. When you have land, water and plants, then you can have both fishes and other water-based animals, as well as herb devouring animals.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Sept. 16, 2013 9:41 a.m.

    Regarding the timing of the creation:

    Firstly, as to the age of the earth, Genesis talks of the formation of a pre-existing earth that was previously unformed and empty ("without form and void"). The age of the earth is not addressed or relevant to its organisation as a living, habitable planet.

    Likewise Genesis does not use the term "day" to mean 24 hours as has been suggested or surmised. In the first chapter six days of creation are alluded to, but in the second chapter it is spoken of as one day (verse 4: These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth... in the DAY the Lord God made the earth and heavens.... the next verse is interesting too; check it out).

    Then we have, in other scripture, the statement that:
    "... a thousand years in they sight are but as yesterday when it is past" (Psalm 90:4).

    Back to Genesis, the Lord God warned of the consequences of eating a particular fruit saying:
    In the DAY thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2: 17). Since Adam lived to be 930 years, that "day" must have been the celestial day of 1,000 years....

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 16, 2013 9:08 a.m.

    RE: zoar63, no one can see me and live. (Ex 33: 18-20)… The LORD often appeared but not in His full shekinah glory(divine presence). Gen. 17:1.

    …no one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father's heart. He has revealed God to us.(John 1:8 NIV) man hath seen God at any time, except he hath born record of the Son…. (John 1:19 JST).

    RE: EternalPerspective, John 17:18-24, “That they all may be one;

    We are one=(en)they are one=(en) Jn., 17:20-22. One in unity, true.= (*en 1722, Preposition).

    But(*heis,1520=the#1) different Greek words. i.e..,The Father,the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one (*heis) these three agree as one(en) (1John 5:7,8 KJV translation & JST)
    3 persons one God. "one in substance”. … the express image of his person(substance, 5287).Hebrews 1:3. i.e..,

    The one Sun shows itself as triune, sunlight and heat yet one substance or essence, as its splendid in its unity and oneness.

  • EternalPerspective Eldersburg, MD
    Sept. 16, 2013 3:00 a.m.


    In John 17:18-24, Jesus Christ's Intercessory prayer, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”.

    First, whom the Father has given (foreordination) that accept the Gospel can become "one" in Christ, as He is "one" in the Father. Does this mean they or we are the same being? Not possible.

    Second, Jesus Christ being the great Jehovah of the Old Testament was spirit before mortality with the Father's "glory" before the "foundation" or creation.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    Sept. 14, 2013 3:57 p.m.


    "J S, explains in, Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father?"

    As Joseph grew in faith he also grew in knowledge.

    The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. (D&C 130:22)

    Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
    For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and] there a little: (Isa 28:9-10)

    And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. (Alma 12:10)

    Sept. 14, 2013 2:25 p.m.

    I find it amazing that those few "scientists" who claim that rationalism and empiricism are the only sources of truth would limit themselves in that manner. I've always understood that the discipline of science is open to inquiry, experimentation, and discovery regardless of where the direction takes those of inquisitive minds. But I have to ask: isn’t an absolute refusal to give any credence to the spiritual, emotional, sixth-sense, paranormal, or call-it-what-you-will side of man a sign of close-mindedness? Don’t so-called rationalists tend to deny that anything like that even exists (in spite of common, everyday experiences that show there's much beyond the observable and measureable)? And doesn’t playing the "superstition" card dismiss natural curiosity (which opens the door to pursuit of knowledge)?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 2:23 p.m.

    RE: zoar63"John 4:24 God[is]spirit. Greek.=(*pneuma O theos)."

    There is ‘*no article’ in the Greek text before the word spirit, and that emphasizes the quality or essence of the word. Furthermore, the word spirit occurs first in the sentence for emphasis. The literal idea would be something like, “Absolutely spirit in His essence is God.” God(The Father)= spirit!

    …: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:39) God the Son=flesh.

    (Philip 2:5-6) In context, Verse 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature] of a servant, being made in human likeness.8 And being found in appearance as a man.

    J S, explains in, Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.). What is the son? First, he is a personage of tabernacle.

    (Ex 24:9-10)Always use the N.T. to interpret the O.T. ,i.e., (Hebrews 11:27)By faith he(Moses)left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is Invisible

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    Sept. 14, 2013 12:56 p.m.


    "John 4:24 God[is]spirit. Greek.=(*pneuma O theos)."

    The resurrected Christ declared:

    Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:39)

    And Paul said:
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (Philip 2:5-6)

    If God is a spirit and Christ has a body of flesh and bones, they are not equal.

    Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
    And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
    (Ex 24:9-10)

    Sept. 14, 2013 10:30 a.m.

    I think some like the Provo scientist don't really grok what religion is. I've found through personal experience that changing my life to be more in accordance with the teachings of my religion, including difficult and ongoing change, has been extremely beneficial to me. I experience greater peace, joy, and sense of purpose. I experience inspiration and guidance that comes to me from a source I cannot detect using scientific instruments, but which is very real and beneficial in all aspects of my life. It is, in fact, all about truth, knowledge, and relevance in things that concern my personal welfare. It is both rational and empirical: make a change, experience a result. It is the personal, spiritual application of the scientific method.

  • gcrobmd GADSDEN, AL
    Sept. 14, 2013 8:06 a.m.

    For the last hundred years, the biggest conflict between science and religion is in the details of creation. The conflict centers around whether a day in Genesis 1 is 24 hours or a period of time. Theologians decided that a “day” in Genesis 1 refers to 24 hours because whenever “day” is used in conjunction with a number (e.g. third) in other places in the Bible, then “day” obviously means 24 hours by context. Therefore, following this rule, a day in Genesis 1 must be 24 hours.

    The ironic thing about this is that the theologians used a scientific method to decide what scripture means. Scientific method might tell us that the world is 4 billion years old, but I am not sure it can be applied to interpreting the Bible. The apostle Paul clearly teaches us that man’s ways are not God’s ways. Clearly, the wrong tool was used to interpret scripture. No wonder there has been conflict!

  • factfinder pleasant Grove, UT
    Sept. 13, 2013 7:33 p.m.

    It will be nice to hear sciences such as geology, archeology, and anthropology discussed as legitimate areas of GOSPEL knowledge and study. These are endeavors to explain our world, and they should be taken seriously by anyone who values the world as God’s creation. I hope people understand going in that, as these fields are (as are all sciences) open to change as new information surfaces, so must the fossilized ideas and expectations of their traditional theology be willing to bend. For those who see the biblical account of creation as a figurative representation of God’s use of all natural processes, including evolution, in order to form and people this planet, this will be easy. For those who have always seen it as literal and historical, leave your pitchforks in the barn and extinguish your torches; they won’t help. Try trading in your literal view for a literary view; it will help a lot, and you will see how scripture and science are not contradictory, but support each other quite naturally.

  • Pssst LOGAN, UT
    Sept. 13, 2013 6:38 p.m.

    @ "A Scientist"

    What kind of a scientist are you? All I know is that you write very short, very arrogant, and not very helpful posts. Yes, we know that science means knowledge, but a great deal passes for "science" that is merely theoretical, and would not be called "science" by any one with much knowledge or any humility.

    That is the question I would like to see you, and so many others, address. Contempt for those who have a different opinion and an attempt to reduce everything to a battle with "religion" portrayed as mere superstition is getting really old. What else have you got?

    I would discuss specifics with you but, as usual, you and many others who adopt your approach, appear to have none.

    "A scientist" is not a qualification (so what is your qualification?) that tells me much, and there are so many branches of science you would be hard pressed to present yourself convincingly as an all round repository of knowledge.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Sept. 13, 2013 1:14 p.m.

    The word "science" simply means "knowledge" and "truth" (body of knowledge).

    And religion has been shown by rational and empirical means to be severely lacking in knowledge, truth, and relevance.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Sept. 13, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    Good science and good religious doctrine is totally compatible. The problem is there is so much bad science
    (science falsely so called) and so much bad religious doctrine.

    I value the science that discovered useful things, that created our computers, radio and television transmitters and receivers, things which NO ONE believes were randomly or accidentally brought about, albeit human life and the universe are far more complex than are they.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Sept. 13, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    RE: 1.96 Standard Deviations, The wonder of God's creations, temporal and spiritual, in one way or another bear record of him.

    Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. V. 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human beings…

    John 4:24 God[is]spirit. Greek.=(*pneuma O theos).

    RE: EternalPerspective, *Theologians advocating ex-nihilo.

    Christians, and Jews believe that God created all that exists ex nihilo (out of nothing). Mormonism is quite different in its cosmology, claiming that God fashioned the universe out of preexisting material. God is eternal in some forms of LDS theology, but so is preexisting matter, including the material used by God to create human beings.

    *Paul,”For in him we live and move and have our Being...(Acts 17:28)Creation is dependent on God for it’s very existence.

    In(2Tim 1:9 & Titus 1:2) God existed before time, implying he created time. “

  • EternalPerspective Eldersburg, MD
    Sept. 13, 2013 4:32 a.m.

    I find no greater witness to the grandeur of God than the Universe around us and the infinite expansion of space and worlds that cannot be numbered unto man. Science has revealed many great truths and as another blogger commented, if you understand both Science and Mormon doctrine correctly, you will see much compatibility.

    The views of man are myopic when compared to the majesty of God. Humanity has progressed with worldly understanding of the Universe but unfortunately, this sometimes has a self-limiting effect with minimizing the context and role of God in the creation of all things. The more human intelligence is glorified, the less God exists in the equation. There is absolutely a place for all intelligence, but for humans to believe they are in any degree masters of the universe or even the earth, is gross arrogance.

    How grand and how wonderful are the infinite works of God. How fortunate we are as His children to be enlightened by knowledge as to witness Science progress according to God's will. I am amazed at the intricate organization of matter and dumbfounded by those who say it is all random. Such is like theoligions advocating ex-nihilo.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Sept. 12, 2013 11:10 p.m.

    Just a bit of advice to those who're thinking of coming to Prof. Peterson's lecture: The Joseph Smith Building is at the southern edge of BYU's campus, and there's very little parking around it. So people should allow time to stroll from their cars to the auditorium.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 12, 2013 9:51 p.m.

    Science has to work hard to bring a theory to proof, and even then doubt persists. Religion just has to say, when proven incorrect, "oh, yeah, earth around the sun. God did that."

    Sept. 12, 2013 7:42 p.m.

    Most problems arise when the goal is to prove the other side wrong rather than to find truth.

    As an engineer and devout believer in God, I'm amused at how easily the Second Law of Thermodynamics is rejected by those who claim to be devout followers of science. If you're wandering down a mountain trail and find a random rock, it's pretty easy to conclude, "The shape content of this rock was determined by natural, random processes." Find an iPhone, and the response is, "Look - this was obviously created by humans." But find something significantly more complex than an iPhone, such as perhaps a grizzly bear, and the response is, "Run for your life!" Er, no, what I meant to say was , "This is obviously the result of random, natural processes." In other words, there's a narrow range of complexity that requires intelligence, but anything below or above that range doesn't require intelligence. Go figure.

    The Big Bang depends on a particular interpretation of red shift. If that interpretation is wrong, so is the Big Bang. I wouldn't take it to the bank just yet.

  • Sensible Scientist Rexburg, ID
    Sept. 12, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    I find that when science is accurately understood (which it often is not) and Mormon doctrine is accurately understood (which it often is not), conflicts largely go away. As a Mormon and as a scientist, I find this truly remarkable.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Sept. 12, 2013 12:50 p.m.

    Wow! Dr. Peterson and Spinoza on the same page… who would have thought.

    But fundamentally I agree with Semi-Strong (and Spinoza). The conflicts between religion and science are simply due to our lack of understanding and are rarely conflicts at all… except when they are, and then science wins time and time again.

    As our scientific understanding grows it forces our conceptions of God, religion, sacred books, etc. to either adapt or follow most of the other religions (humans have practiced throughout history) down the road of irrelevance and extinction.

    And if modern science is only 400 years old (in its relative infancy) imagine how much more our conceptions of religion will be forced to change in the future.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 12, 2013 11:09 a.m.


    While most churches believe in a transcendent god, Mormons believe in an immanent god and therefore, if one accepts the concept of multiverses rather than one universe, Mormonism actually can support the big bang theory for the creation of our universe. I am not sure that will do much for the price of rice in China,...but whatever.

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Sept. 12, 2013 10:17 a.m.

    I would also be interested in transcripts of this conference. I'd like to see the topic of the Big Bang addressed by LDS scientists. I know many of them take this evidence very seriously and they also realize that current LDS theology is not compatible with it (indeed, the Big Bang has caused no end of consternation for all materialists in the last century, LDS and atheist alike). In this case, it might be advisable to have an LDS prophet on hand, as well. Perhaps he could abrogate some previous teachings on cosmology in order to bring the LDS Church more in line with traditional Christianity and mainstream science in this respect.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Sept. 12, 2013 9:01 a.m.

    The wonder of God's creations, temporal and spiritual, in one way or another bear record of him. This article reminds me of the scripture in Moses 6:63:

    "And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me."

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Sept. 12, 2013 8:57 a.m.

    It should be interesting hearing Dr. Peterson's common sense side to understanding of god is nature, and nature is God. An appreciation of Paganism always helps for a better understanding of the world and God's work.

  • Dave M Louisville, KY
    Sept. 12, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    Unwieldy Toaster

    "And worlds without number have I created"

    "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 never destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end."

  • Unwieldy Toaster Bluffdale, UT
    Sept. 12, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    It makes sense that religion would want to co-opt science. If you believe in an all knowing Creator it's reasonable that he/she/it could inspire all the discoveries made by science. However, in religion's sacred books is God making scientific discoveries through his prophets? The way things went over with intelligent design also comes to mind.

    I think it would go a long way if the Creator of the Universe was a guest speaker at these lectures.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    Sept. 12, 2013 7:19 a.m.

    I hope a transcript is made of both events, since I'm a bit too far away to attend; but as an active Latter-day Saint, with a Phd in biology (and I teach an evolution class) I'm interested in the interplay between science and religion.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Sept. 12, 2013 6:12 a.m.

    Exactly. The "conflicts" between religion and science are often more imagined than real. Those of us who are religious need to embrace science. It is not a competitor but a help, a useful tool to living our lives.