Alongside statements from previous church president Joseph Fielding Smith that if evolution is true, the church is false and current church president Russell M Nelson that he finds evolution unbelievable because “Man has always been Man,” “it’s just the way genetics works,” we have other leaders offering their “inspired” views on evolution.
Can we dismiss whole fields of credible, evidence-based research and science because church leaders can’t understand it? Are they speaking for God or just as men?
Origin of Man
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…
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 asons, of evolving into a God.The Origin of Man, by The First Presidency of the Church, 1909
“Mormon” View of Evolution, Statement by the First Presidency, 1925
No Harmony Between Religion and Evolution
There is no harmony between the truths of revealed religion and the theories of organic evolution.Elder Bruce R McConkie (1958)
Mormon Doctrine, p. 185
Falsehood of Evolution
Now, 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. 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.President Ezra Taft Benson, The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God, April 1975
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.Old Testament Student Manual – Genesis-2nd Samuel, Church Educational System, p. 34, 1980
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 soJoseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, v. 1, pp. 141-42
Even an Ordinary Mind Should Understand It
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?Elder Boyd K Packer, The Pattern of Our Parentage, October 1984
Those who believe that our bodies are nothing more than the result of evolutionary chance will feel no accountability to God or anyone else for what they do with or to their body. We who have a witness of the broader reality of premortal, mortal, and postmortal eternity, however, must acknowledge that we have a duty to God with respect to this crowning achievement of His physical creation.Elder D Todd Christofferson, Reflections on a Consecrated Life, October 2010
Literal Fall of Adam and Eve in a literal Garden of Eden
In our increasingly secular society, it is as uncommon as it is unfashionable to speak of Adam and Eve or the Garden of Eden or of a “fortunate fall” into mortality. Nevertheless, the simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death—in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter—without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it.
I do not know the details of what happened on this planet before that, but I do know these two were created under the divine hand of God, that for a time they lived alone in a paradisiacal setting where there was neither human death nor future family, and that through a sequence of choices they transgressed a commandment of God which required that they leave their garden setting but which allowed them to have children before facing physical death. To add further sorrow and complexity to their circumstance, their transgression had spiritual consequences as well, cutting them off from the presence of God forever. Because we were then born into that fallen world and because we too would transgress the laws of God, we also were sentenced to the same penalties that Adam and Eve faced.Elder Jeffrey R Holland, Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet, April 2015
Why The Mormon Church Opposes Evolution?
Many members of the LDS Church accept the theory of evolution as a scientific explanation for the development and diversity of life on Earth while still believing in the existence and involvement of a divine creator. They see no inherent conflict between their faith and the scientific understanding of evolution. But many Mormons find evolution “unbelievable” as does President Russell M Nelson. Why is this? Here are a few reasons:
- It conflicts with a literal interpretation of the creation story and the age of the earth as found in the scriptures.
- It conflicts with the story of Adam and Eve found in the scriptures which states that they were created directly by God in the Garden of Eden (Missouri).
- It conflicts with the doctrine that there was no death before the fall of Adam and Eve.
- They think it conflicts morally or ethically and associate the theory of evolution with a purely naturalistic worldview, devoid of any divine purpose or guidance.
- They may wonder how the concept of human evolution aligns with the belief in the divine creation of humanity or the idea of a divine purpose or plan for human existence.
What are your thoughts on the theory of evolution and how it sits within a Mormon context? Share your story today.