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Prophetic Statements

Joseph Smith

We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desvire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same. [1]

As far as we degenerate from God, we descend to the devil and lose knowledge, and without knowledge we cannot be saved, and while our hearts are filled with evil, and we are studying evil, there is no room in our hearts for good, or studying good. Is not God good? Then you be good; if He is faithful, then you be faithful. Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, and seek for every good thing. [2]

Brigham Young

God has revealed all the truth that is now in the possession of the world, whether it by scientific or religious.  The whole world are under obligation to him for what they know and enjoy; they are indebted to him for it all, and I acknowledge him in all things.  1

When we have faith to understand that he must dictate, and that we must be perfectly submissive to him, then we shall begin, to rapidly collect the intelligence that is bestowed upon the nations, for all this intelligence belongs to Zion. All the knowledge, wisdom, power, and glory that have been bestowed upon the nations of the earth, from the days of Adam till now, must be gathered home to Zion. [3]

John Taylor

If there is anything good and praiseworthy in morals, religion, science, or anything calculated to exalt and ennoble man, we are after it. But with all our getting, we want to get understanding, and that understanding which flows from God. [4]

. . . nothing, as I said before, but the Spirit which organized the creations of God can reveal those principles and give us a knowledge of that fitness of things as they exist in the mind of the Creator . .. Nothing but superhuman intelligence, even the inspiration of the Almighty, can reveal these things. [5]

In regard to principle of science, mechanism, etc., they possess a great deal of information; but they do not know that ‘every good and perfect gift’ proceeds from God, and they won’t acknowledge it or him; and hence the little light they enjoy relative to religious matters, in relation to eternity, to their present real position and destiny, and to the things God has communicated to us. [6]

David O. McKay

Education to be complete must include spiritual growth. In this sense, youth need religion. . . . Youth should have religion in order to stabilize society. Goethe has rightly said that “the destiny of any nation at any given time depends on the opinions of its young men under five and twenty.”

On this same thought, Roger W. Babson many years ago had the foresight to comment as follows:

“Although the airplane opens up boundless opportunities, it also threatens limitless perils. All depends upon whether we can match this flood of new material powers with an equal gain in spiritual forces. The coming generation can see in a minute more than the former generation could see in a week. The coming generation can out-hear and out-travel the former generation. Horsepower has expanded beyond all dreams. But what about man power? What about spiritual power, and the power of judgment, discretion, and self-control? Unless there is a development of character equal to this enlargement of physical forces, there is sure trouble ahead. Twenty-five years ago, an intoxicated man might tip the buggy over, but commonly the old horse would bring him home. Today, a driver under the influence of liquor, maims and kills. Tomorrow, therefore, is something to ponder over. Without moral progress, in pace with physical progress, the airplane will merely make dissipation more disastrous, immorality more widespread, and crime more efficient. As one result of the automobile has been to put hell on wheels, the airplane will put hell on wings unless righteousness, too, is speeded up. On the development of character depends whether the airplane shall bring prosperity or calamity.” [7]

Science, says Millikan, “without religion obviously may become a curse rather than a blessing to mankind. But science dominated by the spirit of religion is the key, to progress and the hope of the future.

Hayden gives a similar warning, as follows: “Today, as seldom if ever before, human society is threatened with disintegration, if not complete chaos.” Why? “All the ancient evils of human relationships, injustice, selfishness, abuse of strength, become sinister and terrible when reinforced by the vast increase of material power. The soul of man cowers, starved and fearful, in the midst of a civilization grown too complex for any mind to visualize or to control. Joy and beauty fade from human living. Yet life abundant, beauteous, laughing life has been our age-long labor’s end. What other conceivable worth has the mastery of the material world, the exploitation of the resources of nature and the creation of wealth, except as a basis for the release of the life of the spirit?” And then he adds: “We are witnessing either the crumbling of civilization under the weight of its material mechanism, or the birth of a new organization with a spiritual ideal.”

So much for the relation of religion to the stabilizing of society. [8]

Joseph Fielding Smith

Think of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was without training or education, only in the simple grades, so far as the learning of the world is concerned. Yet the Lord called him and educated him and he has confounded the entire religious world and brought to naught their false doctrines. [9]

Harold B. Lee

I plead with you, do not in your search for truth, allow yourselves to become severed from the vine. In all your learning, measure it and test it by the white light of truth revealed to the prophet of God and you will never be led astray. [10]

Spencer W. Kimball

We should be knowledgeable. When we talk of godhood and creatorship and eternal increase, we have already soared far out beyond the comprehension of most men. To attain those great accomplishments, one would need to know all about astronomy, biology, physiology, psychology, and all of the arts and sciences. The obtaining of all this knowledge will come largely after our earth life. The question is often asked, “Why a doctrine-teaching, a character-building university?” “Why not let men do, think, and move as they please?”

Millikan said, “…that science has gone ahead so fast, man can spend fifty to a hundred years just learning how to use wisely what he already knows.” It is stated further that the western world has in the past hundred years seen more changes in the external conditions under which the average man lives, and also his fundamental conceptions, than occurred during all the preceding four thousand years.

Our own Brigham Young said: Learn everything that the children of men know, and be prepared for the most refined society upon the face of the earth. Then improve on this until we are prepared and permitted to enter the society of the blessed–the holy angels, that dwell in the presence of God. [11]

Ezra Taft Benson

President Joseph F. Smith declared that some “read by the lamp of their own conceit; who interpret by rules of their own contriving; who have become a law unto themselves” [12]. Yes, it is intellectual pride that leads one to think he is self-sufficient in matters of mind and of spirit. Let us ever realize the difference that exists between a discoverer of the truth and the Lawgiver of all truth. The first is human; the other divine. [13]

It was once thought, and still is in some places, that when a young man or woman set out upon a quest for academic knowledge, his faith in God would soon be destroyed. You yourselves are living proof to the contrary. It is not the search for knowledge—or knowledge itself-that costs a man his faith. It is rather the conceit of small minds proving anew that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. It is intellectual pride that leads one to think he is self-sufficient in matters of mind and of spirit. [14]

Opposing Statements

Scriptures

Supporting Statements

Erastus Snow

The greatest of all the gifts of God is the gift of eternal life; and eternal life is only attainable by a true knowledge of God, through obedience to his laws and commandments. Therefore, study the Scriptures; acquaint yourselves with the Book of Mormon. Read them in your Sunday Schools; read them at your firesides; let them always be found upon your tables, and never permit your families to be without them; and if you are poor sell your coat and buy them; for you are far better without a coat than without the word of God to teach your children. Let our Bishops, and Elders and Teachers attend to it; and enquire whether you are surrounded by those milk-and-water Saints who love fine dress more than the love of God, and who love to furnish their children with musical instruments and toys, and who neglect to furnish them the words of life; if you are, labor with them and teach them in all sincerity the duties of a Latter-day Saint, a Saint of the living God; and God will bless you in your labors, and you will have more joy in doing this than anything else you could do. 2

Bruce R. McConkie

Education is gained primarily from the Spirit of the Lord by revelation and secondarily by study, research, and investigation. [15]

Alvin R. Dyer

Scientific, religious, and educational thought that is bent on revising and supposedly amplifying man’s knowledge and that does not keep alive the fundamental concept of the eternal nature of God and his Beloved Son and their relationship to man in eternity creates only secular concepts and mere rationalization. Such indoctrination imposes false direction, retarding man’s natural response to the truth. [16]

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

Science and worldly knowledge must question every demonstration, every experiment, every conclusion, every phenomenon that seems a fact, for only by this method may the truths of the natural law become known to us, save by specific revelations. But we shall also expect you to know that in matters pertaining to our spiritual lives, God’s revealed Will, His laws, His commandments declared not only directly by Himself… but by and through His servants must be taken unquestioned, because they are ultimate truths that shape and control our destinies. [17]

George Q. Cannon

I consider our false tradition upon this subject one of the greatest evils at the present time that exists upon the earth. It has come down to us from the Greeks and Romans, than whom a more abominable lot of people never lived upon the earth. To read their books is enough to make a man with the least feeling of modesty blush and be ashamed of his race. Yet they are introduced into our literature. Whoever reads Horace, Sallust, and numbers of those authors, well knows how full of corruption they are. Not only crimes, but crimes against nature were justified by some of the best and most noted of Greek philosophers, and were practised by Sophocles, Socrates, and others; and yet this is the philosophy that has come down to us. They had a class of women in their midst who were regularly compensated and sustained as courtesans; they were maintained in order that the purity of the domestic circle might be unpolluted. And this has come down to us in Christendom, in Europe and America to the present time. The fairest of Earth’s daughters fall yearly sacrifices to the abominable lusts of men. How is the domestic circle preserved in monogamous countries to-day? It is only preserved at the expense of this class to which I have referred, by those priestesses of humanity, blasted for the sins of the people, living short lives and carrying with them the effects of man’s abominable lust. [18]


  1. Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News Press, 1938), p. 51
  2. Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News Press, 1938), p. 217
  3. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 245
  4. John Taylor
  5. John Taylor
  6. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 5:147. August 23, 1857
  7. Forum, April 1931.
  8. David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1968, p. 90-94
  9. Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, vol. 1: p. 149
  10. Harold B. Lee
  11. Spencer W. Kimball, Education for Eternity, speech given at BYU Annual Faculty Conference, Sep. 12, 1967
  12. Gospel Doctrine, p. 373
  13. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 303; “Your Charge: To Increase in Wisdom and Favor with God and Man,” New Era 9 [September 1979]: 40
  14. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 304; So Shall Ye Reap, p. 93
  15. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 214
  16. Alvin R. Dyer, Conference Report, April 1966, p.127
  17. President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
  18. George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses 20:201
  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:162
  2. Erastus Snow, Journal of Discourses 23:294-302

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