Ptolemy, the Egyptian astronomer who lived about the second century A.D., set forth a theory that was accepted for centuries as irrefutable truth. He theorized that Earth was the center of our planetary system.

Copernicus, an astronomer who lived 1473-1543, had a theory that the planets revolved around the sun and that the turning of the earth on its axis from west to east accounts for the apparent rising and setting of the stars. Since Ptolemy's "truth" had been taught for centuries, few believed or accepted the Copernican theory.

Then came Galileo, who lived from 1542-1642. The renowned astronomer, mathematician and physicist, made improvements upon the telescope and, with that instrument, demonstrated the truth of the Copernican theory. But Galileo's evidence wasn't embraced immediately. Quite the opposite: a religious tribunal, part of the Inquisition of 1633, condemned him for heresy.

Church President Heber J. Grant noted that Galileo's teachings nearly cost him his life. "When Galileo announced that the Earth revolved, (members of the tribunal) passed the sentence of death upon him. . . . They concluded to let him off if he would pledge himself not to teach this doctrine. But he could not keep the truth back and quietly taught it. So they arranged to make him lie down in front of the church where they were worshiping God on this stationary earth and let everybody step on him to show their contempt, and when they all had stepped on him, he got up and said, 'Well, it goes around just the same' " (Gospel Standards, pl. 321).

Establishing or restoring truth often comes in the face of opposition. However, while theories and the learning of man often wither in the light of new knowledge, truth of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ stand the test of time.

The fulness of the truth of God is lost when people rely more upon the learning and wisdom of man than upon the Spirit and word of God. As demonstrated through the experience of Galileo, truth isn't always popularly embraced.

Even with their great wisdom and mortal insight, Galileo and his successors — including the great minds of science today — have received merely a glimpse of the heavens. Much more has been — and can be learned — through spiritual tutoring and insight than through scientific knowledge and instruments.

President Joseph Fielding Smith said: "No modern astronomer, with the aid of all the improvements and inventions at his command, has seen the heavens and comprehended their vastness as did Abraham of old. What Abraham saw, the patriarchs before him saw and understood, even from the beginning. Written in 'the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs,' which were handed down to Abraham, was knowledge 'of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers' (Abraham 1:31). The ancients were not ignorant of these things, as is so generally supposed" (The Way to Perfection, p. 93).

Moses recorded much about this and other worlds, but because of the unbelief and apostasy from truth, such teachings were eliminated from the Bible. (See Moses 1, and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Notes. p. 118.)

As in Galileo's day, unbelief and apostasy might mold popular opinion in society at large. But no matter how hard man tries to obliterate God's truths, those truths still stand. While they might not be known or spoken of for thousands of years, they never change.

There are many kinds of truth. There are those that pertain to physical science, historical events, mathematical formula, to name a few. Knowledge derived from these and other truths often benefits humanity. The highest of all truth is that which concerns the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

We often hear converts testify that, before they learned of the gospel, they had been taught only portions of the truth, or that the doctrines of a particular faith seemed to change in accordance to popular trend. Once introduced to gospel truths, these converts increased their knowledge and gained a better understanding of the scriptures. Through the light and spirit of the gospel, they came to understand precepts that were once only mysteries.

Learning continues throughout our lives. We are blessed as we seek God's eternal knowledge so that we can recognize truth in all aspects of our lives. In doing so, we won't stumble blindly amid the theories of men, no matter how tested or time-proven they appear to be.