Ugly Theological Debate Worth Avoiding
"And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (D&C 50:23–24.)”
I like these Hinckley quotes because they leave room for the individual agency that it part of the core of both Mormon theology and culture.
The idea of edification in knowledge and media leaves a great deal up to the recepient. Yes, there are some limits. Pornography does not edify; it is repetitive, has only the goal of stupified pleasure, and presents the most limited world-view possible. Scientific knowledge, on the other hand, opens up the mind to new possibilities. Not only is agency a primary dispensation, but so is reason. This reason should be able to look at scientific evidence directly and glory in the chain of events that brought you and I here. Evolutionary biologists speak in hushed tones of wonder when they consider the process that created humans. They believe in random felicity; Mormons believe in God. I don't really see why the Church couldn't marvel at the wonder of a God who created the world gradually and carefully, nudging along mutations when they fit His purposes, creating a world of which we can only intimate the purpose.
We Mormons--even we jackmormons--believe that being born into material body has an important spiritual purpose. Our submitting ourselves to matter is part of our knowledge on this earth. Material knowledge is therefore essential to our spiritual progression.
Okay, stay with me now. By being born into material bodies into material time, we are also born into social matter and time. Our bodies are not islands of righteousness. The doctrine of tithing--let along the necessity of paying state and federal taxes--should demonstrate the sociality of our creed.
Once one admits that the knowledge of matter is key, and that matter implies social structures, then you're more than halfway to admitting that becoming familiar with the current paragigms of understanding matter and society is good. If we are incarnated to learn and to understand matter, I think we should seek out knowledge about matter, science, change, and bodies.
Our reason is given to us as individuals (a rather Levelling religion, ours) to make up our own minds about what understanding we are to reach between the material information that our religion tends to trust and the spiritual doctrine that our religion in its better moments makes available as suggestions rather than edicts to the free individuals of its congregation.