The Lord has said that to be learned is good, if one hearkens unto the counsels of God (2 Nephi 9:29). This divine statement indicates that there are pitfalls to secular learning, and that the key to avoiding these pitfalls is to cleave unto gospel teachings. 

Recently pitfalls to secular learning have been discussed on Mormon-themed science blogs. One pitfall is that scientific theory which appears to contradict gospel teachings may create a faith crisis in some believers. In other words, seemingly contradictory doctrines from science and LDS theology lead some members to question the doctrines of the restoration. They think: “If science gets so much right, then how could it be wrong when it is at odds with gospel teachings?” Such questioning leads them to question their faith. I believe that this happens, albeit infrequently. 

A second pitfall is that some scientists who are ardent disbelievers have crossed the theology-science divide and are pushing their own theology – atheism. Cloaked in the robes of scientific authority, they fashion themselves as experts on whether or not there is a god, even though science is unable to prove or disprove the existence of God. These so called authority figures may persuade some latter-day saints to question their faith. 

A third pitfall is a weakening of spirituality among believers who are swept away by materialistic theories of science. These people let go of the iron rod of their childhood faith and allow themselves to be carried away by the secular mist of atheistic darkness. They wander off into the mists of darkness because they do not hearken unto the counsels of God. This is what happened to Charles Darwin.

In his own words, here are excerpts from the “Life and Letter of Charles Darwin”.

During these three years (1836-1839) I was led to think much about religion. Whilst aboard the Beagle I was quite orthodox [in Christian belief] and remember being laughed at by several of the officers for quoting the Bible as an…authority on some point of morality.

He was once a believer.

But I had gradually come by this time to see that the Old Testament was no more to be trusted than sacred books of the Hindoos…. By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported, and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature, the more incredible do miracles become…I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation.

The atheistic influences of materialistic science worked on him gradually.

I was unwilling to give up my belief,…but I found it more and more difficult…to invent evidence that would suffice to convince me [to believe in God]. This disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never doubted for a single moment that my conclusion was correct.

The demons of disbelief slowly built a flaxen cord around his neck and pulled him away from the Lord.

[T]he most unusual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward convictions and feelings which are experienced by most persons…. Formerly I was led by such feelings…to the firm conviction of the existence of God.

The Holy Spirit once led him to God...

The old argument from design in nature…which formerly seemed so conclusive, fails now that the law of natural selection has been discovered.

…and natural selection led him away from God.

[Once] I deserved to be called a theist,…[now] I must be content to remain an agnostic.

Poor Charles. I feel sorry for what happened to him. You see, his problem was not that he developed the theory of evolution. His problem was not hearkening unto the counsels of God as he developed his theory. Put differently, evolution was not to blame for his slide into agnosticism. (Note that many devout believers accept evolution.) Not holding fast to his spiritual convictions is largely to blame. Evolution was merely a catalyst for his disbelief, the same way any other scientific theory can lead believers astray if they do not hearken unto the counsels of God. 

To be learned is good – this includes scientific theories which are all flawed. If you see a book titled “Perfect Scientific Theories”, pick it up and take a look inside; you will find only blank pages. There are no perfect scientific theories, yet this should not stop us from studying them. The Lord wants us to study scientific theories (D&C 88:78), as long as we hearken unto the counsels of God.

Continue reading at the original source →