The Infinite Creation: Unifying Science and Latter-day Saint Theology
Author: Trent Stephens
In a speech given at BYU in 1981, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, described what he called, The Three Pillars of Eternity, "The three pillars of eternity, the three events, preeminent and transcendent above all others, are the creation, the fall, and the atonement. These three are the foundations upon which all things rest. Without any one of them all things would lose their purpose and meaning, and the plans and designs of Deity would come to naught." Elder McConkie said of these three pillars, "If we can gain an understanding of them, then the whole eternal scheme of things will fall into place, and we will be in a position to work out our salvation. If we do not build our house of salvation on a true foundation, we will never make the spiritual progress that will prepare us to enter the Eternal Presence."
In a 1991 Ensign, article, the then apostle, Elder Russell M. Nelson, stated, "…before one can comprehend the atonement of Christ, one must first understand the fall of Adam. And before one can comprehend the fall of Adam, one must first understand the Creation. These three pillars of eternity relate to one another." As we seek to understand each of those three pillars of eternity, as admonished by our now President Nelson, we can conclude that the first pillar is the eternal or infinite Creation, the second is the eternal or infinite Fall, and the third is the eternal or infinite Atonement.
The Infinite Creation, the first of the three pillars, examines the creation of the universe, from our premortal life, through the Big Bang, to the ascent of Homo sapiens. The science is uncompromising and the religion is analyzed as to that with scriptural foundation vs that which is non-scriptural, added philosophy. Elder James E. Talmage, who was an Apostle from 1911 to 1933, stated, “The opening chapters of Genesis, and scriptures related thereto, were never intended as a textbook of geology, archaeology, earth-science, or man-science…We cannot sweep aside all the accumulated knowledge in geology, archeology, or any other branch of science simply because our interpretation of some isolated passage of scripture may seem to be opposed thereto.” It is my experience that the perceived conflict between science and religion is the result of philosophy and interpretation superimposed onto one or both fields of magisteria. This book has been over sixty years in the making, beginning with my enquiries into this subject when I was an 11-year-old boy. I am a biologist with over fifty years’ experience conducting research and teaching. I also have been an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my entire life. For me, there is no separation between science and religion – truth is truth no matter where it is discovered.