Positions of the LDS church
is 2.55 Billion years old ( WW Phelps, Joseph Smith? )
is 2.55 Billion years old ( WW Phelps, Joseph Smith? )
More Material: http://eyring.hplx.net/Eyring/faq/evolution/
And even more material: More and more
My dear brothers and sisters,
I have been concerned over the past several years about a
matter being taught to my children by some misguided members of this church.
I have vigorously researched the topic, and you will find the results of
that research in this packet.
The topic is evolution. I know, probably more than any of
you, that this topic is very controversial in our religion, as well as other
religions. However, the First
Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have issued five statements on the
topic, the last four of them stating neutrality ( the first was a long
discourse, and somewhat ambiguous on the exact topic at hand ).
I ask each of you to read the statements (see enclosures), then ponder
and pray about them. My suspicion is that most of you are not aware of the
Official First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve
statements are relatively rare. The
most recent is the Proclamation to the World on The Family, issued on September
23, 1995. Sometimes, such
statements find themselves canonized and part of our official scriptures.
This is precisely what occurred with Official Declaration 1 (the
Manifesto on Polygamy) and Official Declaration 2 (giving all men the right to
hold the Priesthood). It
should be considered quite informative that the First Presidency and Quorum of
the Twelve have addressed the issue of evolution five times, three of them in
It is also of some interest that the First Presidency and
Quorum of the Twelve published and copyrighted a pro-evolutionary pamphlet
written by James E. Talmage, and this stands as the only church publication on
the topic. Basically, for much of
our church’s first hundred plus years, our church was mostly pro-science, and
considered quite liberal on the topic of how man came to be.
One of Joseph Smith’s strongest push was to educate his people in
languages and the sciences, particularly the children in his church.
I have written and enclosed a summary on the history of evolution and the
church to allow you to understand the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve
statements in their historical context.
Often, some in the church teach that the LDS Church stand
is against evolution, usually in quite negative emotional language.
I do not wish to fight on this, for there are far more important issues
to deal with in the Lord’s kingdom. I
only wish that we teach our children what the First Presidency and Quorum of the
Twelve teach by their proclamations, i.e.: that the church stand is neutral as
regards to evolution. I want each
of you to know that it does not bother me what you personally believe on this
issue, as I hope each of you do not care what I or my family believe, but I do
care when our teachers label those who believe differently than them in negative
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)… Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the people of 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... May I ask each of you who teach our young ones to do the same, to teach them of Christ, and not your (or my ) personal belief in any scientific topic, specifically including evolution.
The rest of this package will be attachments.
I have attached the First Presidency statements, plus a history of the
topic in the church. For those of
you who want more information, I have in my files many quotes from General
Authorities and books on the topic, on both sides of the issue. I have read and
collected well over 2000 pages on this topic alone in the past year, with a
similar reading rate for the past many years.
You should also note that not one time on this page have I
told you my personal stand on evolution, nor will I, for my view is not
important. I simply wish that the
First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve statements of neutrality be taught to
Your brother in the gospel,
Some general authorities, notably Joseph Fielding Smith,
Bruce R. McConkie and Boyd K. Packer, have on occasion been critical of science
in general and geology and evolution in particular. But other General Authorities, including Brigham Young, B.H.
Roberts, James E. Talmage and David O. McKay, have expressed positive views.
In any event, none of these comments constitutes the official view of the
In 1909, the church made an official statement, and it is a
rather long, wide-ranging discourse on the nature of man.
With regards to evolution, it includes the passage,
“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....”
Shortly after this appeared in 1909, the church received a
number of inquiries asking if this passage should be interpreted as an official
condemnation of the scientific theory of evolution. In response, in an editorial in the Improvement Era (the equivalent of the Ensign at the time), emphasized that evolution
was one of the three permitted views on the means used by God to achieve the physical
In 1925, the Scopes trial focused national attention on
evolution. At this time the Church
issued the statement "Mormon View of Evolution”. This statement was an abridgment of the 1909 statement, but
with the above passage conspicuously omitted.
It is rather open-minded, quite in contrast to the shrill comments of
many other denominations at the time.
The fact that there were disagreements on these issues even
among the Brethren during this period is indicated by the Roberts-Talmage-Smith
dispute of 1930. B.H. Roberts
sought permission to have his manuscript "The Way, the Truth, the
Light" published by the Church. Joseph Fielding Smith objected to it for
its acknowledgment of "pre-Adamites", ie,: living things, including
human-like beings, which have been on the earth for many years before Adam.
Talmage, a learned geologist who openly acknowledged the great antiquity
of the earth in his conference address "Earth and Man", tried to
mediate. The matter ended when the
first presidency issued the short statement mentioned in the Encyclopedia of
Mormonism's article on evolution (which is essentially the same as the Church's
current "official" position on evolution):
... 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...
With regards to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article on
evolution, its author William Evenson reports that the Church's review committee
(which included members of the Quorum of the Twelve), considered and rejected
three much longer earlier drafts, two of which were rather negative towards
evolution. Gordon B. Hinckley then provided Evenson with the 1931 statement from their archives and instructed
him to prepare a very brief article, one that would not reflect greater closure
on the issue than is reflected in these few lines.
So as you can see, it is hard to claim that the Church now, or ever in the past, officially condemns evolution. Instead, it seems clear that the Church recognizes that such issues are outside its purview, and are best left to scientific research to sort out.
Several have questioned my language above concerning the 1910 statement. For that reason, I put it here in its entirety
Editorial in the Improvement Era 13:570 April 1910
"In just what manner did the mortal bodies of Adam and Eve come into existence on this earth?" This question comes from several High Priests quorums.
Of course, all are familiar with the statements in Genesis 1:25, 27; 2:7; also in the Book of Moses, Pearl of Great Price, 2:27; and in the Book of Abraham 5:7. The latter statement reads: "And the Gods formed man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit [ that is, the man's spirit ] and put it into him; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul."
These are the authentic statements of the scriptures, ancient and modern, and it is best to rest with these, until the Lord shall see fit to give more light on the subject. 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, which became corrupted through and the partaking of natural foods, in the process of time;
whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been
are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God.
President Joseph Fielding Smith said in Juvenile Instructor 46:208-209 "The church itself has no philosophy about the modus operandi employed by the Lord in His creation of the world." He opposed teaching biology in church schools ( again JI 46:208 - 209 ) because it was not appropriate - he said that we should "emphasize the industrial and practical side of education".
This page last updated
02/15/05 05:23 PM
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with
questions or comments about this web site.