Elder Nelson and the Big Bang

In his April 2012 conference talk, Elder Russell M. Nelson refers to the “big bang”:

Apostle Russell M. Nelson

Yet some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes [of the human body] happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere.  Ask yourself, “Could an explosions in a printing shop produce a dictionary?”  The likelihood is most remote.  But if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own new editions!

This statement seems decidedly anti-science and it is disappointing coming from a Mormon apostle, particularly one with Elder Nelson education.  Science can certainly explain a lot about the creation of the earth and the evolution of man.  And this in no way demeans God.  The old “printing shop” question is a tired chestnut and unworthy of Elder Nelson.

Elder Nelson goes on to preach:

We know that prophets of many dispensations, such as Adam, Noah, Moses, and Abraham, all taught of the divinity of our Heavenly Father and of Jesus Christ. . .

As more and more LDS Church members come to realize that Genesis 1-3 is a metaphor, referring back to early prophets will become increasingly problematic.  We Mormons need to rethink our literal interpretations of the early books of the OT.

Since the death of Apostle John A. Widtsoe in 1952, there has not been a Church leader willing to step up and help the membership with issues related to science and Mormonism.  We need such a leader, more now than ever before.  The progress in science and technology is accelerating.  We need leaders who can deal with a rapidly changing world.

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10 Responses to Elder Nelson and the Big Bang

  1. -Michael says:

    I don’t see this as anti-science. Elder Nelson is saying that God created man. If you think this all happened because of a big bang you are wrong. Marvelous attributes did not happen by chance.

    • rogerdhansen says:

      I’m not totally sure what Elder Nelson means by the “big bang.” If he is talking about the astrophysics’ “Big Bang”, then I think he is wrong for discounting it and is anti-science (mocking Hawking, so to speak). If he is talking about God waving a wand and creating man (a sort of big bang), then I don’t disagree with him. But I suspect that Elder Nelson is referring to astrophysics’ version.

      Individuals who believe in God (including Mormons), believe that God had a hand in the Creation. But that doesn’t preclude studying and learning how he did it. In addition, there are elements at work in the Creation besides God, there is randomness, evolution, etc. I don’t think any church should stake out a position that excludes the wonders of science.

  2. Allen says:

    The scriptures tell why God created the earth, but they don’t tell how He did the creation. The Big Bang is the current explanation by scientists who are trying to understand how the earth (and the cosmos) was created.

    Science does not address the question, Is there a God. That question, as far as science is concerned, is thus an open question. Religion addresses that question but does not, at least should not, address the question how the cosmos was formed. Thus, science and religion go hand in hand to give us a greater understanding of why and how things were created.

    Science and religion have very different approaches to gaining truth. Not all scientists agree with conclusions reached by other scientists, and not all religionists agree with conclusions reached by other religionists. Time, and further research by scientists and further revelation given to religionists, will eventuallyt bring out what is the truth about the creation.

  3. rogerdhansen says:

    Steve Huthman had the following published (as part of a letter to the editor) in the sltrib (21 Apr 2012):

    “Nelson is certainly entitled to his opinion, but when it comes to science, not all opinions are equal.

    For the truth about the physical world, we will come closer to it by listening to the scientists who meticulously examine the evidence and apply methodologies designed to discern the good evidence from the meaningless.”

  4. rogerdhansen says:

    D. Ray Thomas M.D. (retired pediatrician) had the following published (as part of a letter to the editor) in the sltrib (25 Apr 2012):

    “For decades, I have observed the miraculous complexities and physical marvels that belong to the human body–from eyeball to toenail. I and many other physicians think that there is no way that pre-birth, newborn or fully matured bodies could have been the result of a lightning-bolt hitting a rock.

    Nelson’s presentation was right on!”

  5. I believe that God created man. Perhaps, elder Nelson refers to those who are still waiting for proof of its existence, and cling to theories like the Big Bang or evolution and deny the existence of God in the creation process.

    I do not disapprove the theory of the big bang, an explosion often used to obtain raw materials. Man uses dynamite, maybe God used a big bang, then He had disorganized matter. He organized that matter, and now we have the Earth.

    • Allen says:

      I think the Big Bang theory supports our belief in God. The BB infers a beginning, not a beginning of matter or energy, but a beginning of existent material into the Cosmos that we know. The scriptures tell us why God created the Cosmos, and science, I believe, is telling us how God did it. As some of our General Authorities have said, they focus on their mission to bring people to Christ, and they leave science to the scientists.

      • rogerdhansen says:

        Allen, I’m just not so sure that Elder Nelson hasn’t crossed the line. I’m not sure he is leaving “science to the scientist.”

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