The Bible and the Book of Mormon

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Jesus said: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!"  Pilate asked,  "What is truth!"  Truth is the knowledge of things "as they were, as they are, and as they will be." In other words it is the knowledge of "reality."

In an old book, entitled, "Science, Saints, and Sense,: by R. Kenneth Walter,  I have found a very good explanation of several interesting and important words which give a better definition of  what  truth is. He writes,  "There is a large set of words which are used in science to describe the concepts men form to describe the world about them. The first and most honest of these words is hypothesis, which signifies a guess or supposition. All science begins with a hypothesis. If after further investigation a hypothesis agrees well with experience and is confirmed by other investigations, it is elevated to the status of theory. Note that in the scheme of things a theory is only an extended supposition and should not be considered as more than this. There exists much misunderstanding among those who should be most familiar with these terms concerning their use, and often scientific theory is thrown about as if the term implied ultimate truth. When a theory of science has been found to hold without exception by all those of the scientific community who wish to test it, it becomes a law. That is, the concept is now a statement of experience considered to be invariable under unchanging conditions. Finally, when the law is felt to be basic and to encompass all other laws of the same nature, it receives the maximum respect which the scientist can give and acquires the designation "principle", an idea which is assumed to be of universal application.

"There is no guarantee that a law or even a principle will not be replaced eventually by a more comprehensive law or principle. Newton's laws of motion have in fact been found to be insufficient to predict the motions of bodies traveling at very high speeds and are replaced in that case by Einstein's relativity theory. Hypothesis, theory, law and principle are all used interchangeable. Properly they indicate varying degree of comprehensiveness; however, none of these words refer to a concept which is absolutely assured to be correct and infallible."

To better define the words "real," "reality," and "truth" let's see what the scriptures say. In  D&C 84:45 the Lord explains,  " For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ."  And in  D&C 93:23-30 we're told,  "Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;  And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;  And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.  The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fullness of truth, yea, even of all truth;  And no man receiveth a fullness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things. Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.  All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence."

Science can answer some questions, but it never will be able to answer ALL questions. Many times we hear people ask, " Why is this?" and the answer is often, "Because, that's just the way things are." Or  sometimes the answer is merely someone's theory. It is equally true that not even religion has all the answer. But science and religion shouldn't be in opposition to each other.  The goal of science is to explain the visible things of our world. The goal of  religion is very different They seek to explain why we were created, the purpose for our existence, and what our destiny is. Science helps us to understand our environment while religion helps us to understand ourselves and our relationship with God.

In my opinion science and religion are about explaining two very different things, and therefore concern themselves with two very different fields of knowledge. As such, they shouldn't be compared to one another. Science is based on proving theories about tangible, physical things in our environment. Religion, on the other hand, is based on faith about invisible, spiritual matters. The scriptures were never intended to be a scientific manual.

In my talk Science, religion or both I show there is evidence that science and religion can agree, but if there are occasions when they seem to disagree, it shouldn't present a problem because their goals and purposes are different. For instance when the scripture refer to when the sun stopped, science has proven that it is the earth which moves around the sun. But this doesn't explain what it means when the Bible tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stop. Although we can't explain this in scientific terms, God didn't violate the laws of nature and astronomy when He performed this miracle.

When God explained the creation to Moses, He wasn't trying to provide man with a manual on geology. That was not the purpose of His account. What is important for us to know is that He did it. God spent just two pages in describing the earth's creation and thousands of pages in helping us understand who we are, why we are here, and the atonement of Jesus Christ. He told us in Moses 1:35,39 "But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. . For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." He give us no more details than this.

By the light of Christ mankind can find the answers to questions regarding our environment and the laws of nature, and this should be the purpose of science. Even so, as many scientists find out, when you open one door it often leads to another one that's closed behind it. Science alone will never satisfied our answers but religion one day will. In D&C 101:32 we are told, "Yea verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, He shall reveal ALL THINGS." But until the Lord comes, both science and religion will not be able to answer all of our questions.

But God has not left us totally without understanding. He has given man gifts to help him learn and grow. In  D&C 46:12-26  he tells us, "To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.  To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.  To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.  And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.  And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.  And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.  To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge. 1 And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;  And to others it is given to have faith to heal.  And again, to some is given the working of miracles;  And to others it is given to prophesy;  And to others the discerning of spirits. And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;  And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.  And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God." All of these are just for spiritual things.

To know our environment is important but not essential. God in His love many times gives us information about health, our environment, and other aspects of life, but, in my opinion, He did this just in the beginning.  As it says in Genesis 3:21 "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." In Genesis 4:1,2 "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground." Clearly God helped Eve in her delivery and taught her the technique of that and surely gave them the basic knowledge of how to manage flocks and to have a harvest

In Genesis 4:17-22 we learn,  "And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.  And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech. And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.  And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.  And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain was Naamah."

>From these verses it is evident that the basic knowledge of how to build tents and use brass and iron was given to man from God in the very beginning. When God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden into the lone and dreary world, He didn't leave mankind by themselves, but gave them the basic knowledge they needed to survive. In turn, they built upon the knowledge God had given them. This is always the way God deals with man. He furnishes help in the beginning, and then afterwards man learns to develop the talents and knowledge God has given him. If  we still need help, we can always go to God in prayer to receive further light and knowledge

It is interesting that sometimes science needs help from religion to explain what they can't explain.  "The expression NATURAL LAW has two definitions, which often give a double meaning to statements involving its use. At the level of scientific investigation, a natural law is simply a hypothesis concerning the relationships between experiences. The word law could well be replaced by theory. However, the theologian and even the scientist in some instances assigns a deeper meaning to this term when he is contemplating the universe about him. Then an ultimate guiding force is assumed to be at work and natural laws, or the laws or nature, are the principles by which the universe is governed. In the first instance a natural law is only a supposition; in the latter case it becomes truth. Natural laws in the latter sense are the laws of God."

"The word miracle also has two commonly used meanings. In the physical world a miracle is an effect which does not follow from the known natural laws, or theories. For example, to people living in 1873, Jules Verne's new novel, "From the Earth to the moon", was a far fetched romance. Could they have foreseen that within a century men would actually travel to the moon and back, they would have called it a miracle, an event which transcended their wildest dreams."

The second definition of miracle is a demonstration of the power of God in an act which men cannot perform by their own power. These are the gifts of the Spirit which are wrought by the power of the priesthood. From the book "Science, Saints and Sense," on page 78 we read, "The two definitions of miracle are directly related to the two meanings of natural law. The flight to the moon miracle is an event which can be explained by natural theory at some time after the conception of the event. Healing the sick by the power of the priesthood can only be explained in terms of the laws of God. The distinction between the two is often not recognized, and men expend considerable effort in the attempt to reduce the gifts of the spirit to the level of a trip to the moon.

"Descriptions of the world in terms of the supernatural are taboo in modern science, and of course this restriction allows men to perform their experiments without fear that they will reach a conclusion which they cannot explain. Sometimes in the discussion of philosophy one must rule out reference to the scriptures. When the philosophies and theories of men are being argued, nothing stops the discussion so cold as the statement, "But the scripture say...." How can a group discuss and argue if everyone knows the truth? It is sometimes more fun to postulate, reason, and argue; and of course the Lord has not revealed His will on every matter, so that experiment and logic are an interesting if often fruitless method of attempting to understand reality."

However, any attempt to classify all miracles under the explanation of some natural law has its dangers. How can someone classify the works of God in terms of the theories of men? Men understand so little about God's laws that they often cannot even describe the most common experiences.  For instance, the story of the Battle of Jericho is well known. In Joshua 6:20  we read, " So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."

Dr. Keller relates: "In the investigation of the ruins of the wall ( of Jericho) Garstang ( an archeologist) noticed something quite interesting. The outer wall had fallen outward and the inner wall inward. There were also great gaps and holes in the wall.

"These observations led to the conclusion that an earthquake must have shaken the city. As geophysical maps show, Jericho lies in an earthquake zone which cuts across Asia over Himalayas into Tibet.

"Now consider this, in Exodus 14:21-22 "And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left."

The scientific explanation is  "In the early ages pilgrims assumed that the flight of Israel led through the Red Sea. They thought it was the north end of the gulf near the city "es suwes, the Suez of today. Now and then strong northwest winds drive the water in the northern tip of the gulf of Suez back so far that one can wade through on foot.

In Exodus 17:5 it says,  "And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel."

The scientific explanation is " Major C.S. Jarvis, who was British governor of the Sinai region in the thirties....writes:" The smiting of the rock at Raphidim by Moses and the coming forth of the water sounded like a true miracle, but this writer has actually seen it. A few members of the Sinai camel crops had stopped in a dry valley and began to dig in the coarse sand, which had collected at the foot of the cliff. They wanted to reach the water which slowly seeps through the limestone rocks. The men worked slowly, and Bash Shawish, the native Sergeant, said: "Give it to me!" Wherewith he took the shovel away from one of the men and began to dig vigorously.... One of his hefty strokes struck the rock. The smooth, hard surface which always forms on weathered limestone broke and fell away. The soft stone underneath was exposed, and out of the pores came a large spout of water..... That is very enlightening explanation of that which happened to Moses when he smote the rock at Raphidim."

There are many more such explanations of miracles in Keller's book and in others. These descriptions are interesting and enlightening, and they may even be what actually happened, but they still require the direction of the Lord to make them happen when they did. Scientists use the word "miracle" when something happens out of their control, such as healings by the power of priesthood, but all these things are under the control of God.

The idea that science can prove the truth of the scriptures and the existence of God is just the opposite of what is really possible. Science cannot teach men how to live, nor can it create a religion with a set morals. The gospel provides a reason for studying science, so we can learn about the creations of God, but scientific investigation does not prove the truth of anything. Rather the gospel gives us some measure of how well the theories of science relate to reality.
Truth exists and is eternal it doesn't matter if man comprehends it or not. The philosophies of men cannot be preached as facts. Sooner or later such opinions are subject to change.


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