Thursday, October 05, 2006

Church's stand on man's origin reiterated

"Does evolution correctly explain man's origin?"  This question has been asked often in the LDS Church.  The Church's official answer was first issued by the First Presidency in 1909.  That answer has not changed, although the question has been answered unofficially many times since.


Here is the Church's official answer to the question, "Does evolution correctly explain man's origin?":

"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 declared that Adam was  ' the first man of all men.' "  ("The Origin of Man,"  Ensign, Feb. 2002, p. 30; emphasis added; see also a thorough discussion of this paragraph here.)

The introduction to the Church's 2002 reprint of this 1909 statement emphasizes that this is the Church's current "doctrinal position on these matters":

"In the early 1900s, questions concerning the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution became the subject of much public discussion.  In the midst of these controversies, the First Presidency issued [a formal statement] in 1909, which expresses the Church’s doctrinal position on these matters."  (Ibid., p. 26.)


Elder B. H. Roberts:  "The theory of evolution as advocated by many modern scientists lies stranded upon the shore of idle speculation.... If the hypothesis of evolution be true, if man is only a product evolved from the lower forms of life,... 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, in order to reconcile him to God; then the mission of Jesus Christ was a myth, the coinage of idle brains, and Jesus himself was either mistaken, or one of the many impostors that have arisen to mock mankind with the hope of eternal life.  Such is the inevitable result of accepting the philosophy of evolution, after which all the world is now running—it is destructive of the grand, central truth of all revelation." (The Gospel and Man's Relationship to Deity, 7th edition, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1928, pp. 265-267.)

Elder James E. Talmage:  "Man is the child of God.... He is born in the lineage of Deity, not in the posterity of the brute creation."  ("The Earth and Man,"  1931 pamphlet, p. 14.)

Elder John A. Widtsoe:  "One of the theories of evolution based largely upon the work of the great scientist, Charles Darwin, was that man was only a product of changes in organic life, throughout long periods of time....  Today,...  ' we are more keenly aware than in Darwin's day of our ignorance as to the origin and affiliation of the greater classes.'  Clearly the theory of evolution has added nothing to our understanding of the beginning of things.  The ancient view that God is the Creator of all things is still the best, because it is true."  (The Improvement Era, July 1951, p. 531; emphasis in the original.)

President Harold B. Lee:  "Claims that contradict the word of the Lord as pertaining to the creation of the world [and] the origin of man ... are but the theories of men."  (Stand Ye In Holy Places, pp. 72-73.)


Elder Russell M. Nelson:  "Through the ages, some without scriptural understanding have tried to explain our existence by pretentious words such as ex nihilo (out of nothing).  Others have deduced that, because of certain similarities between different forms of life, there has been an organic evolution from one form to another.  Many of these 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!"  (Ensign, Jan. 1988, p. 68.)

Elder Russell M. Nelson:  "It is incumbent upon each informed and spiritually attuned person to help overcome such foolishness of men who would deny divine creation or think that man simply evolved."  (Ensign, Jan. 1988, p. 68.)

President Boyd K. Packer:  "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."  (Ensign, Nov. 1984, p. 66.)

President Boyd K. Packer:  "No idea has been more destructive of happiness, no philosophy has produced more sorrow, more heartbreak and mischief; no idea has done more to destroy the family than the idea that we are not the offspring of God, only advanced animals."  (Ensign, Jan. 2005, p. 48; emphasis in the original.)

President Boyd K. Packer:  " ' Children are an heritage of the Lord '  (Psalms 127:3).  Each is a child of God.  He is not a monkey; neither were his ancestors."  ("Children of God,"  BYU Women's Conference, May 5, 2006, p. 5.)


President Gordon B. Hinckley (reprinted by the Church two years ago):

"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.  Since then I have become acquainted with what to me is a far more important and wonderful kind of evolution.  It is the evolution of men and women as the sons and daughters of God, and of our marvelous potential for growth as children of our Creator."  (New Era, May 2004, p. 37.)

President Gordon B. Hinckley (published two years after he became Prophet):

"I believe in evolution, not organic evolution, as it is called, but in the evolution of the mind, the heart, and the soul of man.  I believe in improvement.  I believe in growth."  (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 298.)

These and many other public statements reiterate the Church's official 1909 stand on the origin of man.


Earlier this month, the Church's stand on the origin of man was again reiterated by Elder Larry W. Gibbons of the Seventy:

"As someone trained in medicine, understanding the complexity and the order and the harmony of the human body reinforces my faith in a creator.  I believe in God.  I believe He created us.

"The alternative to a belief in a creator is to believe that life arose somehow spontaneously by accident.  I do not believe that."  ("Wherefore, Settle This in Your Hearts,"  176th Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Sunday Afternoon Session, Oct. 1, 2006; see also Ensign, Nov. 2006, p. 102.)

The fact is that the prophets, apostles, and seventies of this dispensation have demonstrated a remarkable unity in their public teachings about the origin of man.

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