Last week, eager listeners crowded into a classroom until it overflowed, all of them anticipating Dr. John W. Welch’s lecture on science and religion.
Welch has practiced and taught law for over thirty years and has extensive experience in religious research. The Summerhays Lecture, which is dedicated to strengthening the relationship between religion and science, featured Welch’s insights on the subject.
During his lecture, which was titled, “Forging a Friendly Alliance between Mormonism and Science,” Welch spoke about the success of numerous LDS scientists, and how science and religion have worked together in their lives and pursuits.
“Forging a successful alliance often means putting two things together that really seem to have nothing to do with each other but in the end are necessary in order for both to advance,” Welch said.
Welch also is the editor-in-chief of BYU Studies, a journal that publishes articles where professors connect their academic disciplines with their religious beliefs. He used examples from BYU Studies along with other examples from recent publications from several faith traditions.
While some religions teach concepts contrary to scientific theories, Welch suggests religion and science have strong common grounds, so that “true religion” and “true science” are not actually antithetical.
“A lot of times, contradictions are only apparently so,” Welch said. “When you step back a little bit from contradictions you can often find common ground or synergy.”
According to Welch, many religions have difficulties with science because they teach that God does not have a body and therefore does not exist in space or time. The LDS faith teaches that God does have a body of flesh and bone. Welch says this belief allows God to exist in time and space, and therefore is not irrelevant to scientific interests.
“We have always had strong encouragement as Latter-day Saints to have every reason to believe that science and religion coexist and work together in certain ways in this world that can be both religious and scientific at the same time,” Welch said.