(by Dennis B. Horne)
Elder James E. Talmage:
Science, if properly taught in our associations, cannot fail to add to the testimony and devotion of the members. If false science be taught it will tend to lead astray. A very proper question is, “How may success be acquired and danger avoided?” See that a clear line of distinction be drawn between fact and theory. Truth is of divine origin; theories are man-made. I would urge that no discussion of the latter be introduced under the name of science in our associations. Theories are invented to explain mysteries, and they do so oftentimes mysteriously, and mysteries are not easily assimilated in the human mind. To the members of the associations I would say, for the present, let us leave such matters alone, and deal only with the things about us. To be informed upon the things with which we are personally brought in contact is the characteristic of a useful education. . . .
It is natural for the human mind to seek for a solution of the problems presented to it. And the book of nature is filled with such problems; of problems so abstruse that they cannot be read aright except under the direct instruction of the Great Teacher through His voice of inspiration and revelation. None but the inspired traveler can pick his way successfully through the tangled undergrowth of half-discovered truth, mixed and mingled with theory and fancy, as it is to-day in what we call “Science.”. . .
The words of a prophet are comprehended in their fullness only by the assistance of the spirit of the prophets; and the meaning of the great Creator is understood by those alone upon whom the light of his power is resting at the time of their investigation and study. Again, whenever the voice of the divine lawgiver is heard, let other tongues be forthwith silenced, from our minds let every idea be effaced which is found to be in conflict with the words of God as spoken through revelation.
And it is clear that the teachings of revealed truth are ahead of those of human wisdom in all things. . . .
Before the prophet, with his heaven-given powers, the philosopher cannot stand. The inspired words of the prophet are truth, those of the purely human thinker are too often theory and fancy only. The former are always to be accepted; the latter may be right, but should be held provisionally until substantiated. . . .
Among our young people I consider scientific knowledge as second in importance only to that knowledge that pertains to the Church and Kingdom of God; such information is of greatest worth to us, because of greatest use. It is superior to science, to art, to literature.
“Science in the Associations,” Collected Discourses 1, June 2, 1888.
Elder James E. Talmage:
When I see how often the theories and conceptions of men have gone astray, have fallen short of the truth, yea, have even contradicted the truth directly, I am thankful in my heart that we have an iron rod to which we can cling—the rod of certainty, the rod of revealed truth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welcomes all truth, but it distinguishes most carefully between fact and fancy, between truth and theory, between premises and deductions; and it is willing to leave some questions in abeyance until the Lord in his wisdom shall see fit to speak more plainly.
As the result of the combined labors of wise men I learn that man is but the developed offspring of the beast; and yet I read that God created man in his own image, after his likeness; and again, I stand on the word of God, though it be in contradiction to the theories of men.
Conference Report, October 1916, 75-76.
There is, no doubt, an element of truth in these theories; still, they mislead and have a wrong effect upon the mind. For God does ask us to have faith in Him, to believe in Him, and to appeal to Him; and He gives us the promise that if we do so in faith He will interpose in our behalf, and He will bless us in ways that are unknown to men and by means which are invisible to mortal sight. He gives us this encouragement in the Gospel, and He calls upon us to exercise faith in Him and in His word; and we have proved His words to be true upon these points. But it is a difficult thing in the midst of this widespread unbelief, and these false doctrines and theories which come to us and to our children in the guise of science, to prevent the spirit of unbelief from influencing us. This also is one of the great obstacles in the way of the education of our children. The books which are in our schools, and from which our children are taught, contain theories that are unsound; they are based upon false premises, and that lead to wrong conclusions; and it requires the utmost care on the part of parents and teachers to prevent bad effects following education based upon such text books. Hence it is that when our young men go east to obtain education they are exposed to dangers that are more terrible, according to my view, than a contagious disease. I would rather my sons and daughters should run the risk of some infectious disease than be exposed to the influences that prevail in some of the schools of the land and in the text books that are used therein. . . .
Our young people are full of desire to obtain knowledge and to qualify themselves for the duties and labors that are likely to devolve upon them. But while giving them education there is danger of their losing their faith in the eternal truths of heaven. Although we have taken pains to organize our young men who go east to school, and to have them hold regular meetings, partake of the sacrament and bear testimony, yet the information comes to us that there is an inclination in the minds of some of our young men to adopt the false theories that are taught and to yield to the spirit of unbelief that is prevalent in these institutions of learning.
“Building Zion through Righteousness,” Collected Discourses 4, October 7th, 1894.
President Charles W. Penrose:
In sending out of the State for books of instruction for our children, let us be careful that we don't bring in too much of the nonsense that is incorporated in some of the textbooks of the times, the ideas and notions of men, the theories and inferences and reasonings of men, not real, solid, substantial facts or the actual truth. God is the Author of all things in the universe that have been organized for progress and for salvation and for blessing. . . .
I have heard some of my brethren say, “Well, do you want to stop men from thinking?” Not at all. Liberty to think and liberty to act upon the thought if you don't infringe the rights of others. Liberty to think, liberty to read, liberty to have theories and notions and ideas; but, my brethren, it isn't your province nor mine to introduce theories into the Church that are not in accordance with the revelations that have been given. Don't forget that. And if any change in policy is to be introduced, it is to come through the proper channel. The Lord said only his servant Joseph should do that while he lived, and then after he died others were to be called to occupy the place, and the key is in the hands of the man who stands at the head, if any change is to be introduced in our Church. Don't let us fix our minds too much on the ideas and notions that are called science. If it is really science that they produce, something demonstrated, something proved to be true, that is all right, and there is not a doctrine of our Church that I can find that comes in direct conflict or contradiction to the sciences of the times if they are sciences, but a great deal of that which is called science is only philosophy, and much of it speculative philosophy, and these ideas change with the ages, as we can see by reference to what has been called science in times that are past. . . .
The boundless universe is before us all to learn and to live and to come up to the standard occupied by our Eternal Father and to be fit for his society. Let our minds enlarge, our understanding increase and let everything that is proved to be true and established and demonstrated come in to us as part of our belief, but the theories and notions of men that are in contradiction to the revelations of Almighty God are not to be considered in the light that some people view them. Let us be very careful about these things.
Elder Mark E. Petersen
I do not believe that the classrooms or the pulpits of our Church are for laboratory purposes in which to experiment with new doctrines and speculative notions. They are exclusively for the use of those who are willing to convert men and women and boys and girls to the truth.
There is only one man in all the world who has the right to introduce a new doctrine to this Church, and that man is the President of the Church. So teachers, until you become the President of the Church, will you be willing to content yourselves with the present officially accepted doctrines of the Church?
I do not believe that we can escape the responsibility of starting someone off on the wrong way if we teach wrong principles. I do not believe that any of us can afford to take that responsibility.
I do not believe, therefore, that we can bring into our classes or our sermons views and doctrines which are not accepted and officially advocated by the Church.
Conference Report, April 1953, 83.
Elder Harold B. Lee
To one who has high spirituality, faith in the gospel and in the doctrines of the Church supersedes scientific theories and the philosophies of men. (Conference Report, October 1942, 72.)