The scientific spirit acknowledges without reserve the laws of God, but discriminates between such and the rules made by man. It abhors bigotry, denounces the extravagances of the blind zealot, religious or otherwise, and seeks to perfect the faith of its possessor as a purified, sanctified power, pleasing alike mind and heart, reason and soul. In the charges that have been preferred by the theologians against science, and the counter accusations by the scientists against theology, it is evident that in each case the accuser is not fully informed as to what he is attacking. Irrational zeal is not to be commended; and the substitution of theory for fact, though often declared to be the prevailing weakness of the scientist, is wholly unscientific.
But it is easy to denounce; so to do is a favorite pastime of ignorance. That scientific theories have been and are being discarded as unworthy because untrue is well known; but no one is more ready to so renounce than the scientist himself. To him a theory is but a scaffolding whereon he stands while placing the facts which are his building blocks; and from these he rears the tower from which a wider horizon of truth is opened to his eye. When the structure is made, the scaffold,- unsightly, shaky, and unsafe, as it is likely to be, is removed. Tis not always possible to judge of the building from the rough poles and planks which serve the temporary purpose of him who builds. Yet how often may we hear from our pulpits, usually however when they are occupied by the little-great men, scathing denunciations of science, which is represented as a bundle of vagaries, and of scientific men, who are but Will-o-the-wisps enticing the traveler into quagmires of spiritual ruin. Would it not be better for those who so inveigh to acquaint themselves with at least the first principles of the doctrines of science? So general has this practice become amongst us, that the most inexperienced speaker feels justified in thus indulging himself, and in the minds of many the conclusion is reached, none the less pernicious in its present effects because unfounded, that the higher development of the intellect is not a part of the Gospel of Christ.
James E. Talmage ("The Methods and Motives of Science") This address was delivered in the Logan Temple about 12 years before he became an apostle. It also was published in The Improvement Era 1900, Volume 3.