A COLLECTION OF STATEMENTS BY GENERAL AUTHORITIES ON THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION

Compiled by Michael T. Griffith

Expanded on 01/08/2002

Heber J. Grant

[NOTE: William Jennings Bryan argued for the creationist position in the Scopes trial in Tennessee.]

The publishing house of Revell & Co. have published a book containing the last address of William Jennings Bryan, which address was prepared for the celebrated evolution case in Tennessee, but was never delivered. I have had the privilege of reading and re-reading the book. It shows that he had perfect faith in God our Heavenly Father, and in my judgment it is a very strong defense of the divinity of Christ and of the Godhood of our Father in heaven.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Mr. Bryan after his remarks following our conference. He said that he was expected to deliver three speeches in California before leaving, but that he believed the world at large would get more benefit from what he had learned in our conference than the people would have received had he remained in California and delivered those three speeches. He promised to send me a little pamphlet containing his ideas about God. After reading it I remember saying to my family that William Jennings Bryan ought to be a Latter-day Saint, because many of his views were in perfect harmony with our faith. (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 221)

Joseph Fielding Smith

ADAM NOT END PRODUCT OF EVOLUTION. Adam was placed here, not a wild, half-civilized savage, but a perfectly-developed man, with wonderful intelligence, for he helped to create this earth. He was chosen in pre-existence to be the first man upon the earth and the father of the human race, and he will preside over his posterity forever. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 94)

And here is another truth stated by another great thinker, Robert Blatchford. He says: "But -- no Adam, no Fall: no Fall, no Atonement; no Atonement, no Savior. Accepting Evolution, how can we believe in a Fall? When did man fall; was it before he ceased to be a monkey, or after? Was it when he was a tree man, or later? Was it in the Stone Age, or the Bronze Age, or in the Age of Iron? . . . And if there never was a Fall, why should there be any Atonement?"

Those are pertinent questions that Mr. Blatchford asks. "No Adam, no Fall; no Fall, no Atonement." That is just as true as it is that we are here. If death was always here, then Adam did not bring it, and he could not be punished for it. If Adam did not fall, there was no Christ, because the atonement of Jesus Christ is based on the fall of Adam. And so we face these problems. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 119-120)

THEORY OF SPONTANEOUS GENERATION. The theory which prevails today regarding the origin of man is that all life has developed from some common origin, spontaneously; that man, fish, fowl, and beast and even the vegetation upon the earth, all have sprung from the same original germ, which formed itself out of the sea, millions of years ago, in the vague and distant past. . . .

This theory assumes as a fact that life, millions of years ago, originated itself spontaneously. This is the foundation of the theory of evolution. The question naturally arises, if spontaneous generation could be possible then, is it possible now? If not, why not?

LIFE TRANSPLANTED FROM OTHER EARTHS. I tell you, life did not commence upon this earth spontaneously. Its origin was not here. Life existed long before our solar system was called into being. The fact is, there never was a time when man-made in the image of God, male and female -- did not exist. The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the truth that man was also in the beginning with God. . . .

The Lord has given us the information regarding his creations, and how he has made many earths, for there never was a beginning, never was a time when man did not exist somewhere in the universe, and when the time came for this earth to be peopled, the Lord, our God, transplanted upon it from some other earth, the life which is found here. Man he created in his own image. If it were our privilege to go out and visit some of the other creations, other worlds in space, we should discover that they are peopled with beings who look like us, for they, too, are the offspring of God, and of the same race from whence we came. Perhaps they would be more exalted, but, nevertheless, they would be in the image of God, and so are we. Adam was not a "cave man," but perhaps the most nearly perfect man in form and feature to our Father and Creator.

EVOLUTIONARY THEORY FALSE. This idea that everything commenced from a small beginning, from the scum upon the surface of the sea, and has gradually developed until all forms of life, the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, the fishes of the sea, and the plants upon the face of the earth, have all sprung from that one source, is a falsehood absolutely. There is no truth in it, for God has given us his word by which we may know, and all who are led by the Spirit of God can understand through that Holy Spirit, the truth of these things, . . .

How foolish, how narrow, how contemptible it is for men professing to be men of intelligence and possessing scientific knowledge and wisdom, to declare that all life upon this earth is spontaneous, and to confess that they know nothing of any life upon any other world, and, moreover, to declare that the life here has all developed from the same single, simple source.

GOD SOLE SOURCE OF LIFE. It is true that all life does come from the same source, but that is not the scum of the sea, a jellyfish or a pollywog. God, our Father, is the creator of life, and he placed life on this earth in varied forms, and also on other worlds. He will continue his work on this earth and upon other planets, or worlds, which will take the place of this earth when it has been exalted and gone on to its celestial glory. He will continue to bring to pass his purposes by peopling worlds and bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of his children.

Now I think this is a noble thought. I think it is something that will enlighten the minds of men and buoy them up. It will strengthen our faith and give us encouragement to continue on in well doing, because it gives us hope of better things, even immortality and eternal life as the sons and daughters of God. But this false theory, which prevails in the world so extensively, is one that is debasing and not ennobling nor uplifting.

EVOLUTION AND RELIGION CANNOT BEHARMONIZED

ADAM DID NOT EVOLVE FROM LOWER FORM OF LIFE. Do you think that Adam, this great and important prince, the archangel before the presence of God, was a half-breed monkey? In other words, that he had just developed gradually from the animal kingdom, from some animal form, so that the Lord could put a spirit in him and call him a man? Do you think that? There are people who do believe that. That is why I ask you that question.

Of course, I think those people who hold to the view that man has come up through all these ages from the scum of the sea through billions of years do not believe in Adam. Honestly I do not know how they can, and I am going to show you that they do not. There are some who attempt to do it but they are inconsistent -- absolutely inconsistent, because that doctrine is so incompatible, so utterly out of harmony, with the revelations of the Lord that a man just cannot believe in both.

CANNOT BELIEVE BOTH GOSPEL AND EVOLUTION. I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory of the origin of man, and at the same time accept the plan of salvation as set forth by the Lord our God. You must choose the one and reject the other, for they are in direct conflict and there is a gulf separating them which is so great that it cannot be bridged, no matter how much one may try to do so.

If you believe in the doctrine of the evolutionist, then you must accept the view that man has evolved through countless ages from the very lowest forms of life up through various stages of animal life, finally into the human form. The first man, according to this hypothesis known as the "cave man," was a creature absolutely ignorant and devoid of any marked intelligence over the beasts of the field.

THEORY OF EVOLUTION DENIES CHRIST. Then Adam, and by that I mean the first man, was not capable of sin. He could not transgress, and by doing so bring death into the world; for, according to this theory, death had always been in the world. If, therefore, there was no fall, there was no need of an atonement, hence the coming into the world of the Son of God as the Savior of the world is a contradiction, a thing impossible. Are you prepared to believe such a thing as that? Do you believe that the first man was a savage? That he lacked in the power of intelligence? That he has been on the constant road of progression? These are the teachings of such theorists. . . .

ALL MAY KNOW ORIGIN OF LIFE ON EARTH. From whence came man? What is his destiny? It is to me exceedingly strange that men will travel so far, following a will-o-the-wisp until they are overcome in the quagmire, and reject the truth at their door. For an answer to these questions, why not accept the statement of the One who knows? This knowledge is within the reach of all. The story is a simple one, but its grandeur is as far above the doctrine of the evolutionist as the heavens are above the depths of hell.

DILEMMA OF THE THEISTIC EVOLUTIONISTS. It is true that the school of evolutionists is divided into the two great classes, the Theistic and the Atheistic branches.

But the Theistic evolutionist is a weak-kneed and unbelieving religionist, who is constantly apologizing for the miracles of the scriptures, and who does not believe in the divine mission of Jesus Christ.

Again I repeat, no man can consistently accept the doctrine of the evolutionist and also believe in the divine mission of our Redeemer. The two thoughts are in absolute conflict. You cannot harmonize them and serve both masters.

IF EVOLUTION IS TRUE, THE CHURCH IS FALSE. If life began on the earth, as advocated by Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel (who has been caught openhanded perpetrating a fraud), and others of this school, whether by chance or by some designing hand, then the doctrines of the Church are false. Then there was no Garden of Eden, no Adam and Eve, and no fall. If there was no fall; if death did not come into the world as the scriptures declared that it did -- and to be consistent, if you are an evolutionist, this view you must assume -- then there was no need for a redemption, and Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, and he did not die for the transgression of Adam, nor for the sins of the world. Then there has been no resurrection from the dead! Consistently, logically, there is no other view, no alternative that can be taken. Now, my brethren and sisters, are you prepared to take this view?

EVOLUTIONISTS REJECT FATHERHOOD OF GOD. The modern world is fulfilling the scriptures which say that in the last days men would be "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." Today the world has discarded the great truth concerning the Fatherhood of God and has turned to fables. It has adopted and is promulgating in textbooks and schools the debasing doctrine that man is not the offspring of God, but a natural development through countless ages from the lowest forms of physical life to his present form and intelligence.

Such a doctrine is an insult to our Father in whose Image we were created, and yet in this teaching vast multitudes seem to glory. Paul saw our day and by prophetic vision declared that such conditions would prevail in this dispensation and the Lord should "send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 139-144)

EVOLUTION, HIGHER CRITICISM PART OF APOSTASY. These modernists, who are instructing and leading astray the people of this and other lands, reject the doctrine of the atonement of Christ; they reject the resurrection of the Son of God and consequently the resurrection of all mankind. They have discarded entirely the miracles of the scriptures and make light of the saving ordinances of the gospel which the Lord declared to be so essential to our salvation; and in the stead thereof they have accepted the theories and notions advanced by modern scientists which are evidently false, and have taken to their hearts and hugged to their bosoms the falsehoods set forth in the theories of evolution and of higher criticism of the scriptures. And why have they done this thing? Because the simple truth, which is understood by the Spirit of God and not understood and comprehended by the spirit of man, does not appeal to their reason. . . . (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 289)

Ezra Taft Benson

We have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth. Our missionaries are not as effective unless they are "hissing forth" with it. Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains. Our Church classes are not as spirit-filled unless we hold it up as a standard. And our nation will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of the God of this land, Jesus Christ, and quit building up and upholding the secret combinations which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of both previous American civilizations. (A Witness and a Warning, p. 6.) (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp. 60-61) [Incidentally, this statement, with the condemnation of organic evolution included, was reprinted in the Ensign, Dec. 1992, pp. 8-9.]

Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on. (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 139)

As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. There is more than one reason why the Church is advising our youth to attend colleges close to their homes where institutes of religion are available. It gives the parents the opportunity to stay close to their children; and if they have become alert and informed as President McKay admonished us last year, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others. . . .

President Joseph Fielding Smith has stated that in public schools you cannot get a textbook, anywhere that he knows of, on the "ologies" that doesn't contain nonsense. (Take Heed to Yourselves, p. 32.)

I know one noble father who reviews with his children regularly what they have been taught; and if they have been taught any falsehoods, then the children and the father together research out the truth. If your children are required to put down on exams the falsehoods that have been taught, then perhaps they can follow President Joseph Fielding Smith's counsel of prefacing their answer with the words "teacher says," or they might say "you taught" or "the textbook states."

If your children are taught untruths on evolution in the public schools or even in our Church schools, provide them with a copy of President Joseph Fielding Smith's excellent rebuttal in his book Man, His Origin and Destiny.

Recently some parents paid for space in a newspaper to run an open letter to the school principal of their son. The letter in part stated:

"You are hereby notified that our son, _________ is not allowed by his undersigned parents to participate in, or be subject to instruction in, any training or education in sex, human biological development, attitude development, self-understanding, personal and family life, or group therapy, or sensitivity training, or self-criticism, or any combination or degree thereof, without the consent of the undersigned by express written permission. ...

"We intend to retain and exercise our parental rights to guide our child in the areas of morality and sexual behavior without any interference or contradiction imposed by school personnel.

"[Our son] has been taught to recognize the format of sensitivity training, group therapy, self-criticism, etc., as it is being broadly applied, lowering the standards of morality and replacing American individual responsibility with the dependency on, and conformity to, the `herd consensus' concept of collectivism.

"He has been instructed to promptly remove himself from any class in which he is exposed to the aforementioned indoctrination and to report to us any such disregard of this letter.". . . .

God bless us to strengthen our families by avoiding the crafty designs of the adversary and following the noble ways of the Lord, so that in due time we can report to our Heavenly Father in his celestial home that we are all there, father, mother, sister, brother, all who hold each other dear. (Ezra Taft Benson, Improvement Era, December 1970, pp. 46, 49)

Bruce R. McConkie

See ADAM, ATONEMENT OF CHRIST, CREATION, EARTH, EARTHS, FALLEN MAN, FALL OF ADAM, FIRST MAN, GOD, MILLENNIUM, PRE-EXISTENCE. Of the several theories, postulated in one age or another to explain (without the aid of revelation) the origin of man and the various forms of life, none has taken such hold or found such widespread acceptance as the relatively modern so-called theory of organic evolution. Stated generally, this theory assumes that over long periods of times, and through a series of changes, all present living organisms or groups of organisms have acquired the morphological and physiological characters which distinguish them. The theory assumes that all present animals and plants have their origin in other pre-existing types, the distinguishable differences being due to modifications in successive generations. One or more common origins for all forms of life are assumed.

From the day of their first announcement, these theories of organic evolution found themselves in conflict with the principles of revealed religion as such are found recorded in the scriptures and expounded by inspired teachers. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 139-151.)

PRESIDENT JOHN TAYLOR wrote as follows: "The animal and vegetable creations are governed by certain laws, and are composed of certain elements peculiar to themselves. This applies to man, to the beasts, fowls, fish and creeping things, to the insects and to all animated nature; each one possessing its own distinctive features, each requiring a specific sustenance, each having an organism and faculties governed by prescribed laws to perpetuate its own kind. So accurate is the formation of the various living creatures that an intelligent student of nature can tell by any particular bone of the skeleton of an animal to what class or order it belongs.

"These principles do not change, as represented by evolutionists of the Darwinian school, but the primitive organisms of all living beings exist in the same form as when they first received their impress from their Maker. . . . If we take man, he is said to have been made in the image of God, for the simple reason that he is a son of God; and being his son, he is, of course, his offspring, an emanation from God, in whose likeness, we are told, he is made. He did not originate from a chaotic mass of matter, moving or inert, but came forth possessing, in an embryotic state, all the faculties and powers of a God. And when he shall be perfected, and have progressed to maturity, he will be like his Father -- a God; being indeed his offspring. As the horse, the ox, the sheep, and every living creature, including man, propagates its own species and perpetuates its own kind, so does God perpetuate his.

"Paul, in speaking on the resurrection, refers to the different qualities of flesh as follows: `But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, and another of fishes, and another of birds.' (1 Cor. 15:38-39.)

"These different qualities seem to be inherent in the several species, as much so as the properties of silver, gold, copper, iron, and other minerals are inherent in the matter in which they are contained, whilst herbs, according to their kind, possess their specific properties, or as the leading properties of earth, air, and water, are distinct from one another; and hence, on physiological grounds, this principle being admitted, and it cannot be controverted, it would be impossible to take the tissues of the lower, or, indeed, of any order of fishes, and make of them an ox, a bird, or a man; as impossible as it would be to take iron and make it into gold, silver, or copper, or to produce any other changes in the laws which govern any kind of matter. And when the resurrection and exaltation of man shall be consummated, although more pure, refined and glorious, yet will he still be in the same image, and have the same likeness, without variation or change in any of his parts or faculties, except the substitution of spirit for blood." (Mediation and Atonement, pp. 160-161.)

This aptly expressed and plainly worded statement from President John Taylor expresses the same views and perspective found in the writings and sermons of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, Charles W. Penrose, and many of our early day inspired writers. (Man: His Origin and Destiny, pp. 1-563.)

The First Presidency of the Church (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund), in November, 1909, issued a formal pronouncement under the title, "The Origin of Man," in which, as they expressed it, is set forth "the position held by the Church" upon the subject of evolution. After explaining the scriptural passages relative to the creation and pre-existence, this document concludes:

"Adam, our great progenitor, `the first man,' was, like Christ, a pre-existent spirit, and like Christ, he took upon him an appropriate body, the body of a man, and so became a `living soul.' The doctrine of the pre-existence, revealed so plainly, particularly in latter-days, pours a wonderful flood of light upon the otherwise mysterious problem of man's origin. It shows that man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body to undergo an experience in mortality. It teaches that all men existed in the spirit before any man existed in the flesh, and that all who have inhabited the earth since Adam have taken bodies and become souls in like manner.

"It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was `the first man of all men' (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of the race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our heavenly Father.

"True it is that the body of man enters upon its career as a tiny germ or embryo, which becomes an infant, quickened at a certain stage by the spirit whose tabernacle it is, and the child, after being born, develops into a man. There is nothing in this, however, to indicate that the original man the first of our race, began life as anything less than a man, or less than the human germ or embryo that becomes a man.

"Man, by searching, cannot find out God. Never, unaided, will he discover the truth about the beginning of human life. The Lord must reveal himself or remain unrevealed; and the same is true of the facts relating to the origin of Adam's race -- God alone can reveal them. Some of these facts, however, are already known, and what has been made known it is our duty to receive and retain.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. God himself is an exalted man, perfected, enthroned, and supreme. By his almighty power he organized the earth, and all that it contains, from spirit and element, which exist co-eternally with himself. He formed every plant that grows, and every animal that breathes, each after its own kind, spiritually and temporally -- `that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal, and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual.' He made the tadpole and the ape, the lion and the elephant; but he did not make them in his own image, nor endow them with Godlike reason and intelligence. Nevertheless, the whole animal creation will be perfected and perpetuated in the hereafter, each class in its `destined order or sphere.' and will enjoy `eternal felicity.' That fact has been made plain in this dispensation. (D. & C. 77:3.)

"Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God." (Man: His Origin and Destiny, pp. 354-355.)

Obviously there never will be a conflict between truths revealed in the realm of religion and those discovered by scientific research. Truth is ever in harmony with itself. But if false doctrines creep into revealed religion, these will run counter to the discovered truths of science; and if false scientific theories are postulated, these ultimately will be overthrown by the truths revealed from Him who knows all things. (Bruce McConkie, MORMON DOCTRINE, pp. 247-250)

The wisdom of the world results from the uninspired reflections, research, and discoveries of men. It is composed of partial and fragmentary truths mixed with error. Theorizing and hypothecating commonly accompany it. This type of wisdom includes the philosophies and learning of men which are destructive of faith. Astrology, organic evolution, the so-called higher criticism which denies the divinity of Christ, and any supposed knowledge which rules God out of the picture, falls in this category. (McConkie, MORMON DOCTRINE, p. 839)

John Taylor

The animal and vegetable creations are governed by certain laws, and are composed of certain elements peculiar to themselves. This applies to man, to the beasts, fowls, fish and creeping things, to the insects and to all animated nature; each one possessing its own distinctive features, each requiring a specific sustenance, each having an organism and faculties governed by prescribed laws to perpetuate its own kind. So accurate is the formation of the various living creatures that an intelligent student of nature can tell by any particular bone of the skeleton of an animal to what class or order it belongs.

These principles do not change, as represented by evolutionists of the Darwinian school, but the primitive organisms of all living beings exist in the same form as when they first received their impress from their Maker. . . . If we take man, he is said to have been made in the image of God, for the simple reason that he is a son of God; and being his son, he is, of course, his offspring, an emanation from God, in whose likeness, we are told, he is made. He did not originate from a chaotic mass of matter, moving or inert, but came forth possessing, in an embryotic state, all the faculties and powers of a God. And when he shall be perfected, and have progressed to maturity, he will be like his Father -- a God; being indeed his offspring. As the horse, the ox, the sheep, and every living creature, including man, propagates its own species and perpetuates its own kind, so does God perpetuate his.

Paul, in speaking on the resurrection, refers to the different qualities of flesh as follows: `But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, and another of fishes, and another of birds.' (1 Cor. 15:38-39.)

These different qualities seem to be inherent in the several species, as much so as the properties of silver, gold, copper, iron, and other minerals are inherent in the matter in which they are contained, whilst herbs, according to their kind, possess their specific properties, or as the leading properties of earth, air, and water, are distinct from one another; and hence, on physiological grounds, this principle being admitted, and it cannot be controverted, it would be impossible to take the tissues of the lower, or, indeed, of any order of fishes, and make of them an ox, a bird, or a man; as impossible as it would be to take iron and make it into gold, silver, or copper, or to produce any other changes in the laws which govern any kind of matter. And when the resurrection and exaltation of man shall be consummated, although more pure, refined and glorious, yet will he still be in the same image, and have the same likeness, without variation or change in any of his parts or faculties, except the substitution of spirit for blood. (Mediation and Atonement, pp. 160-161.)

Marion G. Romney

Adam was the son of God. He was our elder brother, not older than Jesus but he was our brother in the same sense that Jesus was our brother, and he "fell" to earth life. He did not come up through an unbroken line of organic evolution. There had to be a fall. "Adam fell that men might be." (2 Nephi 2:25.) (Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, April 1953, p.124)

Morality in general and chastity particularly are outmoded. Man -- so our children are told -- is an animal, the product of biological evolution; his generative powers are not sacred and God-given for the purpose of bringing God's spirit children into mortality, and therefore to be exercised within the limits divinely prescribed, as the gospel teaches, but they are playthings to be exploited and prostituted for the gratification of sensual and lustful desires. Courage, honesty, loyalty, patriotism, law and order -- these and other elements of the divine nature are no longer revered as virtues. (Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, April 1969, p.110)

. . . the following response of Elder Marion G. Romney to a question on the beliefs of the General Authorities makes explicit what might readily be inferred. A student asked, "Are the General Authorities of the Church in one accord on the subject of evolution?" Elder Romney replied: "I don't suppose that any two minds in the world understand exactly alike any statement on any subject. The General Authorities of the Church are, of course, like all other men, different in their personalities. However, on the fundamentals they are in accord, and one of those fundamentals upon which they are in accord is that Adam is a son of God, that neither his spirit nor his body is a product of biological evolution which went on for millions of years on this earth." (Personal letter written by Elder Romney. Used by permission.) (Keith Meservy, "Evolution and the Origin of Man," n.d.)

Mark E. Petersen

I said, "It is incredible to me to believe that the earth could, ,be made by chance, without a Creator."

Then I took from my bookcase a little book called, Man Does Not Stand Alone, by Cressy Morrison. Cressy Morrison is past-president of the New York Academy of Science, past-president of the American Institute of New York, member of the Executive Board of the National Research Council, a Fellow of the American Museum of Natural History, a life member of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. He wrote this little book to prove from the standpoint of an up-to-date scientist that it would have been impossible for the earth to be made by chance. I read this:

"Suppose you take ten pennies and mark them from one to ten. Put them in your pocket and give them a good shake. Now try to draw them out in sequence, from one to ten, putting each coin back in your pocket after each draw. Your chance of drawing number one, is one to ten; your chance of drawing one and two in succession would be one in a hundred; your chance of drawing one, two, and three in succession would be one in a thousand. Your chance of drawing one, two, three, and four in succession would be one in ten thousand, and so on until your chance of drawing from number one to number ten in succession would reach the unbelievable figure of one chance in ten billion."

Then Morrison goes on to say:

"The object in dealing with so simple a problem is to show how enormously figures multiply against chance. So many essential conditions are necessary for life to exist on our earth, that it is mathematically impossible that all of them could exist in proper relationship by chance, on any one earth at any one time. Therefore, there must be in nature some form of intelligent direction. If this be true, then there must be a purpose."

Then he reviewed the intricacy of creation, the intricacy of our own lives, of our bodies, the bodies of other living things, even of little plants. He talked about evolution and said that Darwin's theory was concocted before science had learned about the genes. "The genes," he says, "keep all forms of life within their own spheres. Life produces creations," he said, "of varied designs in the image of its predecessors and gives them the power to repeat themselves for untold generations."

Then he asked the question whether it is really incredible to believe what the Bible says about everything having been formed originally to bring forth after its own kind:

Then he writes,

"No oak tree ever bore chestnuts. No whale ever gave birth to a fish, and waving fields of wheat in every grain are wheat, and corn is corn. Law governs the atomic arrangement in the genes which absolutely determine every genus of life from beginning to extinction."

Then he makes this startling statement:

"The first chapter of Genesis contains the real story of creation, and its essence has not been changed by knowledge acquired since it was written. The differences have arisen over details, which are not worth controversy."

He says that even the chronological arrangement in the story of the creation as given in Genesis fits into the modern scientific knowledge, and then he asks the question, "Can science pick a flaw in this briefest story ever told, the world's history in a few lines of print?" With regard to the story of creation, he again asks whether we should consider it incredible.

Finally, as he closes his book, he says:

"The existence of a Supreme Being is demonstrated by infinite adjustments without which life itself would be impossible. Man's presence on earth and the magnificent demonstrations of his intellect are a part of a program being carried out by the Supreme Intelligence. Let us then hold fast to our belief in a Supreme Intelligence, the love of God and the brotherhood of man, lifting ourselves closer to him by doing his will."

I was certainly happy, recently to read a graduation address delivered at the commencement exercises of one of our large universities, by Dr. Joseph W. Barker, president and chairman of the Research Corporation of America and formerly dean of the engineering school of Columbia University.

He explained in his address that the scientists of the nineteenth century had been misled by certain of their observations and as a result came to conclusions which definitely were atheistic, but now he says:

Even the most pragmatic materialist in the face of present-day scientific knowledge, is led to the inevitable conclusion that the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmaments showeth his handiwork.

As the children of Israel foreswore the worship of the golden calf and returned to the faith of Jehovah, so have we foresworn the crass mechanistic materialism and returned to that faith in God, of which the Psalmist of old sang: "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." (Psalm 24:1.) (Mark E. Petersen, Conference Report, October 1955, pp.60-62)

George Q. Morris

I hope this young man can hold to that principle, and I am concerned for all of our young people as they go into the field of higher education and meet all the ideas that are so prevalent, which are in sharp conflict with the revelations of God that we know to be true. I suppose he had been taught something about the origin of man according to the theory of organic evolution. I presume he might have been told what I remember reading in some man's writings, that we would have to look for our origin in some minute life in the ocean, perhaps, or in some amoeba-like organism-the simplest form of life. That, he said, was man's beginning.

But we know better than that. The Lord says we were in the beginning with him.

Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;

Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. (D & C 93:23, 29.)

We know beyond all doubt that we existed with God in the eternities and that we existed with him in the heavens as his sons and daughters. (George Q. Morris, Conference Report, October 1956, pp. 45-46)

Brigham Young

Three years after Brigham made his observation, the Origin of Species appeared, putting the unimpeachable seal of science on the lunch-grab as the Supreme Law of Life and Progress. And it was expressly to refute that philosophy on which Brigham Young founded the BYU in 1875:

We have enough and to spare, at present in these mountains, of schools where ... the teachers ... dare not mention the principles of the gospel to their pupils, but have no hesitancy in introducing into the classroom the theories of Huxley, or Darwin, or of Miall and the false political economy which contends against cooperation and the United Order. This course I am resolutely and uncompromisingly opposed to. . . . As a beginning in this direction I have endowed the Brigham Young Academy at Provo and [am] now seeking to do the same thing in this city [Salt Lake City] . (From Keith Meservy, "The Origin of Man and Evolution," n.d.)

George Albert Smith

At the time of the Scopes trial in Tennessee, Elder George Albert Smith said, "I am grateful that in the midst of the confusion of our Father's children there has been given to the members of this great organization a sure knowledge of the origin of man, . . . that man came, not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, frm sme of the lower walks of life, but our ancestors were those beings who lived in the courts of heaven. We came not from some menial order of life, but our ancestor is God our heavenly Father." (Conference Report, Oct. 1925, p. 33.)

James Talmage

If any man appreciated the evidence of the geologic record as well as the import of the scriptures, it was Elder James E. Talmage, a trained Ph.D. geologist, who showed his appreciation of the value of geology in his famous 1931 talk in the Tabernacle. However, when he referred to man then, he, just as Brigham Young did, separated himself from the conclusions of many in the field of geology by denying in so many words that man had evolved. Said he, "I do not regard Adam as related to--certainly not as descended from--the Neanderthal, the Cro-Magnon, the Peking or the Piltdown man. Adam (name as divinely created, created and empowered, and stands as the patriarchal head of his posterity--a posterity, who, if true to the laws of God are heirs to the Priesthood and to the glories of eternal lives." ("The Earth and Man," Church News, 21 Nov.1931, p. 8.) The fact that Elder Talmage refused to accept Adam's descent from or relation to the standard evolutionary types recognized by scientists in 1931 clearly shows he rejected the evolutionary explanation of man's origin.

B. H. Roberts

Elder B. H. Roberts, who is recognized by many as an erudite writer in the Church, explicitly expressed his disbelief--in evolution. "The claims of evolution....... are contrary to all experience so far as man's knowledge extends. The great law of nature is that every plant, herb, fish, beast and man produces its kind." (The Gospel, an Exposition of Its First Principles and Man's Relationship to Deity, 8th ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1946], p. 282.) If scientists can show that the earliest strata of the earth have the simplest foms and the latest the most complex, "until it [the earth] [was] crowned with the presence of man--all that may be allowed. But that this gradation of animal and vegetable life owes its existence to the process of evolution is denied." (Gospel, p. 282.) But what about the evidence for prehistoric man, or pre-Adamic races? Scientists "have hung the heaviest weights on the slenderest of threads; and I am inclined to the opinion that Adam was the progenitor of all the races of men whose remains have yet been found." (pp. 283-84). He concluded that Adam was "brought forth by the natural laws of procreation in some older world" (Gospel, p. 280) and was a "son of God" (Luke 3:38). He noted that "one other objection" could be "urged against the theory of evolution........ ; it is contrary to the revelations of God. the revelations which speak of the atonement of Jesus Christ . . . . if the hypothesis of evolution be true, if a man is only a product evolved fran lower forms of life, better still producing better....... then it is evident that there has been no 'fall,' such as the revelations of God speak of; and if there was no fall, there was no occasion for a Redeemer to make atonement for man....... ; then the mission of Jesus Christ was a myth, the coinage of idle brains." (Gospel, p. 266.) He concluded that the Christian religion can be harmonized with evolution "on the same principle that the lion and the lamb harmonize, or lie down together--the lion eats the lamb" (Gospel, p. 267). (From Meservy, "The Origin of Man and Evolution")

John A. Widtsoe

Many of the Brethren have explicitly opposed a theory that makes man less than from divine origins. I have not attempted to be exhaustive in citing those who have expressed themselves this way. Many sermons by past and present leaders, many editorials in the Church News over the years, the writings of Elder John A. Widtsoe in Evidences and Reconciliations, pp. 153-169). (From Meservy, "The Origin of Man and Evolution")

Facts never change, but the inferences from them are changeable. … The careful man does not become so enamored of an hypothesis or a theory that he cannot distinguish it from a fact. … Theories of science can no more overthrow the facts of religion than the facts of science. … One cannot build a faith upon the theory of evolution, for this theory is of no higher order than any other inference, and is therefore in a state of constant change. (In Search of Truth: Comments on the Gospel and Modern Thought, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1930, pp. 41, 46, 110.)

George Q. Cannon

It cannot be a question with any person of faith in our Church as to the origin of man. We did not have monkeys for ancestors, nor any inferior order of beings. We have not grown up to our present position as human beings through various stages of development from a very low order of creation. (The Juvenile Instructor, vol. 27, 1892, p. 720, quoted in Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, vol. 1, p. 1)

George R. Hill III

The theory of evolution as presently taught posits that higher forms of life arose gradually from lower stages of living matter. Inheritable genetic changes in offspring are assumed to be spontaneous rather than the result of arranged or directed forces external to the system.

This theory conflicts with a basic law of chemistry, the second law of thermodynamics, which states in part that it is not possible for a spontaneous process to produce a system of higher order than the system possessed at the beginning of the change.

An example of a spontaneous process is a boulder that dislodges from a mountaintop and rolls down the mountain. The only way to get the boulder back up the mountain (thereby increasing its height, or the order of the system) is for energy outside the system to be expended—such as someone directing the process by seeing that the rock is carried up the mountain.

One of the current explanations of the improvement in plant and animal species over time is that cosmic [page 22] radiation caused genetic changes resulting in a higher order of offspring survivability than the parent possessed.

A number of years ago, a renowned biologist and geneticist told of an experiment he had directed in which grasshoppers in their various stages of growth had been subjected to radiation levels greater than that insect family had received during its existence. He said the experiment caused many genetic changes, including the loss of a foreleg, an antenna, or some other inheritable change. However, not one of those changes gave the offspring a greater viability or survivability than that of the parent.

Many Latter-day Saints recognize that the processes involved in evolution are valid. We see improved strains and varieties of plants and animals developed through judicious selection of their parents. But we would have to agree with those who understand the limitation defined in the second law of thermodynamics that such changes can only occur if guided or if outside energy is available to improve the system.

We are in the very fortunate position of understanding that the Lord is in charge of the universe and that positive genetic changes can in fact occur under his direction. On the other hand, spontaneous improvements of the type hypothesized by devotees of current evolutionary theory remain an unsupported supposition.

We are also blessed with the knowledge that Adam and Eve, our first parents, were not subject to death until they partook of the forbidden fruit. They and all of their descendants are spirit children of God, created in his image, and are thus different from all other forms of life on earth. As literal children of God, we possess the inherent capability of becoming as he is. (Ensign, June 1993, pp. 21-22)

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Michael T. Griffith holds a Master’s degree in Theology from The Catholic Distance University, a Graduate Certificate in Ancient and Classical History from American Military University, a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College, and two Associate in Applied Science degrees from the Community College of the Air Force.  He also holds an Advanced Certificate of Civil War Studies and a Certificate of Civil War Studies from Carroll College.  He is a graduate in Arabic and Hebrew of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and of the U.S. Air Force Technical Training School in San Angelo, Texas.  In addition, he has completed an Advanced Hebrew program at Haifa University in Israel.  He is the author of five books on Mormonism and ancient texts, including How Firm A Foundation, A Ready Reply, and One Lord, One Faith.