Science and religion go hand in hand

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Science and Mormonism have far too much in common to continue to behave as embittered enemies, BYU law professor John Welch said at the 12th annual Summerhays lecture last Thursday.

Welch, the Robert K. Thomas professor of law and editor-in-chief at BYU Studies, spoke of the importance of staying current on topics where science and religion intersect and of building bridges between science and religion in addition to his comments on the similarities between modern Mormon and scientific belief.

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Jack Welch speaks on religion and science on Thursday, September 22, 2011 in the Harold B. Lee Library.

“It is time for us to call a peace treaty,” Welch said. “If there is a war between religion and science, it has gone on long enough.”

Welch pointed out that both Mormonism and science strive to obtain truth, giving the two a common goal.

“Anyone who shares this principal with us is our friend,” he said.

But, Welch said there is a need for humility in both Mormonism and science as well. Neither knows all truth, but must admit that some truths have yet to be revealed or understood. According to Welch, both science and religion attempt to answer old problems with new thinking, but use different tools to do so — with religion relying on revelation from the spirit and science on experimentation.

“Because no one tool can know all truth, no tool should be discarded,” Welch said.

Because these similarities are more important than the differences between the two, Welch said Mormons must work to bridge the gap between science and religion.

“Our ongoing task is to be building bridges,” he said, “even if it means laying ourselves down as a bridge over troubled waters, taking fire from both sides.”

To do so, Welch said Mormons must stop “shooting [them]selves in the foot with bad arguments,” and read current publications on the connection between LDS beliefs and modern science. Each of those in attendance received a list of recommended readings compiled by Welch.

Summerhays lectures, each of which deal with topics that intersect scientific and religious issues, take place annually at BYU. The series is sponsored by the Summerhays family, and is hosted by the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

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