First Presidency

Adam, our 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…. The doctrine of the pre-existence… pours a wonderful light upon the otherwise mysterious problem of man’s origin. It shows that man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents… prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body.

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 our 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 in 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 embryo, which becomes an infant, quickened at a certain stage by the spirit whose tabernacle it is…. 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.

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 Diety. By his Almighty power God organized the earth, and all that it contains, from spirit and element, which exist co-eternally with himself. 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 man, so that undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God.

(Joseph F. Smith, et al., 1909, "The Origin of Man," quoted in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, v. 4, pp. 1665-1669)

(Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, Charles W. Nibley, " ‘Mormon’ View of Evolution," Improvement Era, v. 11, pp. 1090-1091, September 1925; also see Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Appendix 5)

(Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund, as cited in Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, v. 4 p. 205)

Joseph F. Smith

[The theory of evolution only left the young people of the Church] in an unsettled frame of mind. They are not old enough and learned enough to discriminate, or put proper limitations upon a theory which we believe is more or less a fallacy. … In reaching the conclusion that evolution would be best left out of discussions in our Church schools we are deciding a question of propriety and are not undertaking to say how much of evolution is true, or how much is false. The Church itself has no philosophy about the modus operandi employed by the Lord in His creation of the world. … God has revealed to us a simple and effectual way of serving Him.

Joseph Smith, Jr.

God has made certain decrees which are fixed and immovable … for instance, the oak of the forest, the fruit of the tree, the herb of the field—all bear a sign that seed hath been planted there; for it is a decree of the Lord that every tree, plant, and herb bearing seed should bring forth of its kind, and cannot come forth after any other law or principle.

Brigham Young

We have enough and to spare, at present in these mountains, of schools where young infidels are made because the teachers are so tender-footed that they dare not mention the principles of the gospel to their pupils, but have no hesitancy in introducing into the classroom the theories of Huxley, of Darwin, or of Mill and the false political economy which contends against co-operation and the United Order. This course I am resolutely and uncompromisingly opposed to, and I hope to see the day when the doctrines of the gospel will be taught in all our schools, when the revelations of the Lord will be our texts, and our books will be written and manufactured by ourselves and in our own midst. As a beginning in this direction I have endowed the Brigham Young Academy at Provo.

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 …. 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 the Maker. … [Man] did not originate from a chaotic mass of matter, moving or inert, but came forth possessing, in an embryonic state, all the faculties and powers of a God.

(Mediation and Atonement, pp. 160-161)

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, etc.

("The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God," General Conference, April 1975.)

Heber C. Kimball

Where did the earth come from? From its parent earths.

(Heber C. Kimball, JD 6:36, 11/8/1857)

Ezra Taft Benson

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. 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 become alerted and informed, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like … Charles Darwin.

Brigham Young

In these respects we differ from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of [true] science in any particular.

(Journal of Discourses, v. 14, p. 116)

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie

There is no harmony between the truths of revealed religion and the theories of organic evolution.

(Mormon Doctrine, p. 185, 256)

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie

Evolutionary theories assume that hundreds of millions of years were involved, first in the creation of the earth as a habitable globe, and again in the evolution of spontaneously generated, single celled forms of life into the complex and multitudinous forms of life now found on its face. We have rather specific scriptural indications that the creative period was of relatively short duration.

(Mormon Doctrine, p. 184)

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie

There were no pre-Adamites. Any assumption to the contrary runs counter to the whole plan and scheme of the Almighty in creating and peopling this earth.

(Mormon Doctrine, p. 184)

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie

Adam and Eve and all forms of life, both animal and plant, were created in immortality; that is, when first placed on this earth, all forms of life were in a state of immortality. There was no death in the world; death entered after the fall.

(Mormon Doctrine, p. 183)

Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith

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.

I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory [of evolution] 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….

… 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 [of evolution], 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?

(Doctrines of Salvation, v. 1, pp. 141-42)

(Old Testament Student Manual – Genesis-2nd Samuel, Church Educational System, p. 34, 1980)

Prophet Joseph F. Smith ***

The dividing of the earth [Genesis 10:25] was not an act of division by the inhabitants of the earth by tribes and peoples, but a breaking asunder of the continents, thus dividing the land surface and creating the Eastern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere. By looking at a wall map of the world, you will discover how the land surface along the northern and southern coast of the American Hemisphere and Europe and Africa has the appearance of having been together at one time. Of course, there have been many changes on the earth’s surface since the beginning. We are informed by revelation that the time will come when this condition will be changed and that the land surface of the earth will come back again as it was in the beginning and all be in one place. This is definitely stated in the Doctrine and Covenants.

(Answers to Gospel Questions, v. 5, pp. 73-74)

Apostle John A. Widtsoe

Any theory that leaves out God as a personal, purposeful Being, and accepts chance as a first cause, cannot be accepted by Latter-day Saints…That man and the whole of creation came by chance is unthinkable. It is equally unthinkable that if man came into being by the will and power of God, the divine creative power is limited to one process dimly sensed by mortal man.

(Evidences and Reconciliations, v. 1, p. 155)

Apostle George Albert Smith

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 we came from the spirit world where our spirits were begotten by our Father in heaven, that he formed our first parents from the dust of the earth, and that their spirits were placed in their bodies, and that man came, not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, from some 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)

Apostle James E. Talmage

What is a man in this boundless setting of sublime splendor? I answer you… he is greater and grander, more precious in the arithmetic of God than all the planets and suns of space. For him they were created. They are the handiwork of God. Man is his son. In this world man is given dominion over many things…. Incomprehensibly grand as are the physical creations of the earth and space, they have been brought into existence as a means to an end.

(Quoted in Brown, LDS Conference Reports, p. 50)

Official LDS Statement on Evolution

Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles…; whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God.

(Improvement Era, v. 13, p. 570, "Priesthood Quorum’s Table, April 1910)

First Presidency Minutes

The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how, though the Lord has promised that he will tell that when he comes again (D&C 101:32-33). In 1931, when there was intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution, the First Presidency of the Church, then consisting of Presidents Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, and Charles W. Nibley, addressed all of the General Authorities of the Church on the matter, and concluded,

Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church….

Upon one thing we should all be able to agree, namely, that Presidents Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund were right when they said: ‘Adam is the primal parent of our race.’

[First Presidency Minutes, Apr. 7, 1931]

(WILLIAM E. EVENSON, BYU Daily Universe, November 12, 1991)

Prophet Brigham Young

As for the Bible account of the creation we may say that the Lord gave it to Moses, or that Moses obtained the history and traditions of the fathers, and from them picked out what he considered necessary, and that account has been handed down from age to age, and we have got it, no matter whether it is correct or not, and whether the Lord found the earth empty or void, or whether he made it out of nothing or out of the rude elements; or whether he made it in six years or in as many millions of years, it will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject.

(Journal of Discourses, v. 14, pp. 115-117)

Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr.

Where was there ever a father without being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way.

(History of the Church, v. 6, p. 476)

Apostle George Q. Cannon

[Brigham Young] unmistakably declare[d] man’s origin to be altogether of a celestial character – that not only is his spirit of heavenly descent, but his bodily organization too, – that the latter is not taken from the lower animals, but from the originally celestial body of the great Father of Humanity…. ‘Look at this picture’ – Man, the offspring of ape! ‘An on this’ – Man, the image of God, his Father.

(Millennial Star, October 1861, p. 654)

Apostle George Q. Cannon

Adam was no gorilla, no squalid savage of doubtful humanity, but a perfect man in the image of God. When placed on the earth, he was immortal. Eve was no degraded loathsome creature, but a lovely admirable being – a suitable partner for an immortal man…. The most perfect men and women on earth today are physically far beneath their great progenitors, Adam and Eve. We are not the offspring of monkeys, but are the children of God, and Jesus is our brother.

(Juvenile Instructor, quoted in Bankhead, The Fall of Adam, p. 30)

Apostle Orson Pratt

We have the general characteristics of the human form, and we do not look like the original of man according to Darwin’s idea; we do not look like the monkey or baboon from which Darwin said we originated.

(Journal of Discourses, v. 17, p. 32)

Apostle Erastus Snow

The theory of evolution, that man in our present state upon the earth is but a sequence and outgrowth of steady advancement from the lowest order of creation till the present type of man… [is] in short that our great-grandfathers were apes and monkeys. And how much satisfaction these philosophers have in the contemplation of their grandfather monkeys, we are left to conjecture…. But we find nothing on the earth, or in the earth, nor under the earth, that indicates that any of these monkeys or apes… ever accomplished any great exploits. So far as the history of the earth is known, whether written or unwritten… or whether found impressed in the rocks, neither geologist nor any other scientists have ever been able to show us any great exploits of any of these inferior grades of being… as to develop in their future progress the present order of beings we call man.

(Journal of Discourses, v. 19, pp. 270-271)

Apostle George Q. Cannon

Doubt has been thrown upon the Mosaic account of the creation, the whole religious world has been agitated and in many instances faith in the scriptures has been destroyed by this theory of the eminent philosopher [not scientist], Charles Darwin.

(Collected Discourses, p. 5)

Joseph F. Smith

There are speculations which touch the origin of life and the relationship of God to his children. In a very limited degree that relationship has been defined by revelation, and until we receive more light upon the subject we deem it best to refrain from the discussion of certain philosophical [not scientific] theories…. Some of our teachers are anxious to explain how much of the theory of evolution… is true, and what is false, but that only leaves their students in an unsettled frame of mind. They are not old enough and learned enough to discriminate, or put proper limitations upon a theory which we believe is more or less a fallacy. In reaching the conclusion that evolution would be best left out of discussions in our Church schools we are deciding a question of propriety and are not undertaking to say how much of evolution is true, or how much is false…. The Church itself has no philosophy about the modus operandi employed by the Lord in His creation of the world, and much of the talk therefore about the philosophy of Mormonism is altogether misleading.

(Juvenile Instructor, v. 46, pp. 208-209)

Apostle James E. Talmage

The decision reached by the First Presidency, and announced to this morning’s assembly, was in answer to a specific question that obviously the doctrine of the existence of races of human beings upon the earth prior to the Fall of Adam was not a doctrine of the Church; and, further, that the conception embodied in the belief of many to the effect that there were no such Pre-Adamite races, and that there was no death upon the Earth prior to Adam’s fall is likewise declared to be no doctrine of the Church.

(April 7, 1930, as quoted in Stephens and Meldrum, Evolution and Mormonism, p. 45)

Apostle James E. Talmage

… I’d not regard Adam as related to – certainly not as descended from – the Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, the Peking, or the Piltdown man. Adam came as divinely directed, created and empowered, and stands as the patriarchal head of his posterity…. He is born in the lineage of Deity, not in the posterity of the brute creation.

(Deseret News, November 21, 1931, pp. 7-8)

Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith

It has been truthfully said that organic evolution is Satan’s chief weapon in this dispensation in his attempt to destroy the divine mission of Jesus Christ.

(Man: His Origin and Destiny, p. 184)

Prophet Harold B. Lee

I somewhat sorrowed recently to hear someone, a sister who comes from a church family, ask, ‘What about pre-Adamic people?… Aren’t there evidences that people preceded the Adamic period on the earth?’ I said, ‘Have you forgotten the scripture that says, ‘And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also…’ (Moses 3:7)… She wondered about the creation because she had read the theories of the scientists, and the question that she was really asking was: How do you reconcile science with religion? The answer must be, If science is not true, you cannot reconcile truth with error.

("First Presidency Message," Ensign, December 1972)

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie

Heresy #2… There are those who say that revealed religion and organic evolution can be harmonized. This is both false and devilish.

(June 1, 1980, BYU fireside address; quoted in Stephens and Meldrum, Evolution and Mormonism, p. 520)

Apostle Bruce R. McConkie

The Lord has revealed enough about the creation so that we can understand the Fall and he has revealed enough about the Fall so that we can understand the Atonement. Beyond this, we don’t know. We do know that Adam was the first man upon this earth and that he was created by God and is the image of God, he did not descend from an inferior being.

("Elder McConkie Addresses BYU Stakes," 7th East Press)

Apostle Boyd K. Packer

If man is but an animal, then logic favors freedom without accountability or consequence. Had man evolved from animals, there could have been no fall, no law broken, no penalty, no need for a mediator. The ordinance of baptism would be an empty gesture since it is for the remission of sins. Many who perceive organic evolution to be a law rather than theory do not realize they forsake the atonement in the process.

And, I am sorry to say, the so-called theistic evolution, the theory that God used an evolutionary process to prepare a physical body for the spirit of man, is equally false. I say I am sorry because I know it is a view commonly held by good and thoughtful people who search for an acceptable resolution to an apparent conflict between the theory of evolution and the doctrines of the gospel. An understanding of the sealing authority with its binding of the generations into eternal families cannot admit to ancestral bloodlines to beasts.

(The Book of Mormon: Jacob Through Words of Mormon, p. 1-31)

B. H. Roberts

Accepting this statement of Joseph Smith relative to our planet in its present state being created or formed from the fragments of a planet which previously existed, one may readily understand how the supposed differences between scientists and believers in revelation have arisen. Scientists have been talking of the earth’s strata that were formed in a previously existing planet; they have considered the fossilized flora and fauna imbedded in those strata…. If scientists shall claim that the fossilized remains in the different strata of the earth’s crust reveal the fact that in the earlier periods of the earth’s existence only the simpler forms of vegetation and animal life are to be found, both forms of life becoming more complex and of a higher type as the earth becomes older, until it is crowned with the presence of man – all that may be allowed. But that this gradation of animal life owes its existence to the processes of evolution is denied…. The claims of evolution as explained by the philosophers [not scientists] of the Darwin school, are contrary to all experience so far as man’s knowledge extends.

(The Gospel and Man’s Relationship to Deity, pp. 281-282)

Elder Boyd K. Packer

[E]ven a four-year-old knows that a chick will not be a dog, nor a horse, nor even a turkey. It will be a chicken. It will follow the pattern of its parentage. She knew that without having had a course in genetics, without a lesson or a lecture.

A bird will not become an animal nor a fish. A mammal will not beget reptiles, nor "do men gather figs of thistles." (Matt. 7:16.)

In the countless billions of opportunities in the reproduction of living things, one kind does not beget another. If a species ever does cross, the offspring cannot reproduce. The pattern for all life is the pattern of the parentage.

This is demonstrated in so many obvious ways, even an ordinary mind should understand it. Surely no one with reverence for God could believe that His children evolved from slime or from reptiles. (Although one can easily imagine that those who accept the theory of evolution don’t show much enthusiasm for genealogical research!) The theory of evolution, and it is a theory, will have an entirely different dimension when the workings of God in creation are fully revealed.

Since every living thing follows the pattern of its parentage, are we to suppose that God had some other strange pattern in mind for His offspring? Surely we, His children, are not, in the language of science, a different species than He is?

("The Pattern of Our Parentage," General Conference, October 1984.)

President Gordon B. Hinckley

I remember when I was a college student there were great discussions on the question of organic evolution. I took classes in geology and biology and heard the whole story of Darwinism as it was then taught. I wondered about it. I thought much about it. But I did not let it throw me, for I read what the scriptures said about our origins and our relationship to God.

("God Hath Not Given Us the Spirit of Fear," First Presidency Message, Ensign, October 1984.)

Elder Russell M. Nelson ***

Others have deduced that, because of certain similarities between different forms of life, there has been a natural selection of the species, or organic evolution from one form to another. Many of these people have concluded that the universe began as a "big bang" that eventually resulted in the creation of our planet and life upon it.

To me, such theories are unbelievable! Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary? It is unthinkable! Even if it could be argued to be within a remote realm of possibility, such a dictionary could certainly not heal its own torn pages or renew its own worn corners or reproduce its own subsequent editions!

We are children of God, created by him and formed in his image.

("The Magnificence of Man," Ensign, January 1988.)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

This same knowledge is contained in the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. For aught we know the two sealed books are one and the same. Of this much we are quite certain: When, during the Millennium, the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon is translated, it will give an account of life in the premortal existence; of the creation of all things; of the Fall and the Atonement and the Second Coming; of temple ordinances, in their fulness; of the ministry and mission of translated beings; of life in the spirit world, in both paradise and hell; of the kingdoms of glory to be inhabited by resurrected beings; and many such like things.

As of now, the world is not ready to receive these truths. For one thing, these added doctrines will completely destroy the whole theory of organic evolution as it is now almost universally taught in the halls of academia. For another, they will set forth an entirely different concept and time frame of the creation, both of this earth and all forms of life and of the sidereal heavens themselves, than is postulated in all the theories of men. And sadly, there are those who, if forced to make a choice at this time, would select Darwin over Deity.

"The Bible, a Sealed Book," Teaching Seminary Preservice Readings Religion 370, 471, and 475, (2004), 123-32. Supplement, A Symposium on the New Testament, 1984?(1984), 1-7.

David O. McKay

Dear Brother Stokes,

On the subject of organic evolution the Church has officially taken no position. The book "Man, His Origin and Destiny" was not published by the Church, and is not approved by the Church.

The book contains expressions of the author’s views for which he alone is responsible.

(Letter, February 15, 1957, David O. McKay, President, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

David O. McKay

Dear Brother:

The Church has issued no official statement on the subject of the theory of evolution.

Neither "Man, His Origin and Destiny" by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, nor "Mormon Doctrine" by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, is an official publication of the Church.

Evolution is a theory. You say that biologists would agree on the general lines of what happened, although there may be less agreement about just how it happened. While scientific people themselves differ in their interpretations and views of the theory, any conflicts which may seem to exist between the theory and the truths of revealed religion can well be dealt with by suspending judgment as long as may be necessary to arrive at facts and at a complete understanding of the truth.

(Letter to Dr. A. Kent Christensen, February 3, 1959)

 


3 Official Church Statements on Evolution

  1. Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund, "The Origin of Man," Improvement Era, v. 13, pp. 75-81, November 1909; reprinted in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Appendix 4; also Messages of the First Presidency, v. 4, pp. 199-206; also Ensign, February 2002.
  2. "Origin of Man," from the Priesthood Quorum’s Table," Improvement Era, v. 13, April 1910, p. 570.
  3. "‘Mormon’ View on Evolution," Improvement Era, v. 11, September 1925, pp. 1090-1091; also Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Appendix 5

About Jacob Householder

Jacob is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-day Saints. He is the senior intern over Development and External Relations at the Madison Liberty Institute, the Director of Outreach for the Columbus Center for Constitutional Studies, and a senior at BYU-Idaho studying Financial Economics.

Copyright © 2019 | Jacob Householder — All Rights Reserved.

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