Strolling across the BYU campus with a non-religious co-worker, I mentioned that I majored in physics and loved science. Her reply betrayed a widespread prejudice..

“It must have been hard to be religious and study science at the same time.”

My reply startled her. I said: “Not at all. I’ve found that truth is truth, wherever it is found. Truth in science never contradicts truth in religion. Conflicts only come from things we falsely assume to be true—false science or false religion.”

“Things as They Are”

When Pilate examined Christ, he asked: “What is truth?” The Bible then implies that he immediately turned and left, not waiting for an answer. (John 18:38.) What could he have learned if he had listened?

That question is central to the purpose of this blog. Here I intend to address truth—”every good thing”—not only from my personal experiences and religious principles, but also from related scientific and technical topics.

Does this seem an unusual assortment? Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and first latter-day prophet (according to LDS teachings and my personal conviction), said this:

One of the grand fundamental principles of “Mormonism” is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 313.

This is my sentiment and probably the central philosophy of my life. Truth, which Christ in modern times defined as “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24) is simply knowledge of reality, “things as they really are” (Jacob 4:13). This embraces and encompasses all frames of reference at once, whether scientific, cultural, or religious.

Higher Truths

We certainly can’t know all truth ourselves in this life, but we can come to know some truths with certainty. Still, not all truth is equally valuable, and not all sources are equally reliable. Scientific principles that once seemed clear according to best evidence turn out to be incomplete or mistaken as additional data comes to light. That’s simply the scientific process, iteratively getting a better grasp of testable reality.

However, in my experience the purest and surest source of essential truth is direct from God himself, and in fact there are certain truths that can be discerned through no other means. For example, Elder Bruce R. McConkie pointed out:

God is and can be known only by revelation; he stands revealed or he remains forever unknown. BYU Devotional Address, 2 March 1982.

In other words, some higher truths cannot be tested according to terms we dictate from our frame of reference. Instead, they must be projected into our existence from a higher plane (“looking “down”). When knowledge is communicated from that higher plane to this one, it is called revelation.*

Knowing for Sure

I’ve discovered for myself that this channel of truth—personal, individual revelation from God—remains open. (See James 1:5.) It is a reality that by “the power of the Holy Ghost,” we can “know the truth of all things.” (See Moroni 10:5.) This makes it possible to know all essential truth with certainty. However, “there are certain bounds also and conditions” to obtaining that type of knowledge (D&C 88:38). We must comply with the laws that govern it, or it remains undiscerned.

That truth which I have found and believe to be of more than passing value, I intend to discuss here. I invite you to join the journey.

*To me, one-way discernibility of higher truths is not only spiritually but mathematically and scientifically sound. We are like beings in a Flatland who cannot see beyond their two-dimensional existence to the ultimate three-dimensional reality. They (and we) lack power even to peer into some higher dimensions unaided. However, to a three-dimensional being, the entire two-dimensional flatland is laid bare to the minutest, innermost detail. Nothing is “hidden.” Communication from that realm to the flatland is not only possible but simple.

2 thoughts on “Science and Religion: “What Is Truth?”

  1. Good point. I’ve been intrigued by the depth of the parallels between the physical world, the laws of nature, and eternal spiritual principles. But that shouldn’t be a surprise, I guess, because Christ said: “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.” (Moses 6:63. See also Alma 30:44.)

    For example, at the center of each galaxy, we now understand, it seems there is a supermassive black hole, which is literally responsible for the formation of the galaxy, maintaining it in its order, and “giving light” to the other stars (causing their formation through its interaction with the other matter in that region of space). I intend to write about this in the future. As I pondered this recent understanding and its description in the Book of Abraham, I suddenly realized that this object is an excellent type and symbol of Christ. Even its measure of time, as described by Abraham, reinforces this concept and the nature of God and man beautifully, in ways that only make sense in the context of General Relativity.

    This probably overcomplicates what you’re saying, but I keep finding these parallels and they enhance my understanding of both temporal and spiritual things. (Consider, for example, the Uncertainty Principle and its implications on agency, faith, and action. A discussion for yet another day.) The creation is an intricate wonder!

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