Saturday, July 07, 2012

Faith and intellect: Commentary from Mormon Newsroom

Excerpts of Mormon and Modern, Mormon Newsroom, no author listed
Latter-day Saints believe that men and women bear the divine gifts of intellectual reasoning and moral intuition. Devoted followers of many of the world's faith traditions cultivate both. Mormon doctrine stresses the need and responsibility to engage both head and heart in decision making, in learning, in relationships and in worship.

While it was once an integral part of the landscape of society, the place of religious belief in public space is now frequently contested by polarized ideological camps. But the categories of faith and reason, scripture and science, religious and secular do not have to be mutually exclusive. These spheres overlap and can benefit from one another when approached with fair-mindedness, humility and wisdom. Mormons welcome truth from whatever source and take the pragmatic view that where religion and science seem to clash, it is simply because there is insufficient data to reconcile the two. Latter-day Saints approach such tensions as challenges to learn, not contradictions to avoid.

This productive tension can enrich both mind and heart. All understanding, whether spiritual or rational, is worked out in constant questioning and discovery. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "By proving contraries, truth is made manifest." Latter-day Saints do not expect God to simply hand down information. He expects us to wrestle with the complications of life through prayerful searching and sound thinking. "You must study it out in your mind," Mormon scripture teaches, and then answers will come. This pattern of inquiry opens Mormons to expanding spiritual possibilities.

While the ultimate aims of religious and secular life do not always align, Mormons "follow the admonition of Paul" by seeking after anything that is "virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy," whatever the source may be. Embracing a world full of truth and meaning, Latter-day Saints aspire to heed the call of Joseph Smith to "gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up." President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has encouraged "a harmonious combining of both the intellect and the spirit." Mormons, therefore, do not compartmentalize one truth from another.

The Latter-day Saint belief in continuing revelation reinforces the process of learning and integration. The windows of heaven are not closed. According to Mormon scripture, learning has lasting significance because "whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life" will follow us in the hereafter. Indeed, Mormons believe that God "will yet reveal many great and important things" to His children.