A core issue in controversies between religion and science is miracles verses materialism. Materialism is the belief that nothing exists beyond the physical universe known to mankind through our own senses or extensions of them using scientific instruments such as telescopes. While science cannot prove materialism, it uses it as a working hypothesis to avoid controversy and concentrate effort on what science is compent to do.

Materialism directly opposes belief in the reality of fundamental religious events such as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and past and present communication between God and people He selects to give His word to the rest of us. The Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith’s account was produced as a result of a long string of miraculous interventions by God and His angels into human affairs. It has a lot to say about both sides of the miracles verses materialism controversy.

On the miracles side the prophets who wrote the Book of Mormon foresaw our times when there would be widespread disbelief in miracles. The first of them, Nephi, said:

And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance. And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men; Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work. (2Nephi 28:4-6)

Nephi affirms that God does perform miracles in all ages, but only among those who have faith in him:

. . . he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith. (2Nephi 26:13)

Moroni, the final prophet of the Book of Mormon elaborated on what Nephi had taught[1] as he concluded the “mighty wonder” for our times: The Book of Mormon.

The history of Book of Mormon people  teaches that a side effect of materialism, the love of material things such as money, clothes, and social position, leads to conflict, abandonment of morality, and ultimately in the cases of the Jaredite and Nephite nations, the end of their civilization. As with them, our individual choices in this area are of great consequence.


[1]  Mormon 9:15-21 Ether 12:12,15-16 Moroni 7:27-29,35-37 Moroni 10:23-25

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