Evolution and Mormonism

First Presidency Statements

The following two statements are the only official comments issued by the First Presidency regarding the origin of man. All other statements, as noted below, can not and should not be held as binding scripture on church members. As one studies these statements, not only does it become clear that there is room for diversity of opinion but that these statements are virtually complete in their transmission. Nothing other than direct revelation revealing the absolute truth on the matter could shed any more light as far as doctrine is concerned.

Understanding this does not alleviate the Lord's charge for us to continually seek knowledge on the matter. Rather, these statements beg for tolerance of opinion and hesitation in recklessly admitting as doctrine those things which are not. As will be shown, statements other than those found in the scriptures and statements issued or endorsed by the First presidency are conjecture. Therefore, statements by Talmage, Roberts and others which advocate reasonable evolutionary assessments regarding the origin of man, assessments in harmony with First Presidency statements must still be considered conjecture. Likewise, statements by Joseph Fielding Smith, McConkie, Packer and others relative to the earth's young age and the origin of man, statements also in harmony with First Presidency writings, fall equally within the realm of conjecture. Publication of these Apostles' statements by Church-owned printing presses does not render such statements as Church doctrine.

As a result, if one refers to statements other than those found below to categorize someone else's opinion as unfit doctrine, they themselves have acted inappropriately and outside the realm of tolerance. The gospel's beauty is that it is indeed malleable on many levels in order that people may come to Christ. Our free agency, our intelligence and our individual right to seek the spirit are vital in this process. Failure to recognize the individuality of these characteristics breeds ignorance and hinders Heavenly Father's desire to further the Plan of Salvation.

Statement One

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 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, 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 (italics added).

excerpt from: Smith, Joseph F. and E.H. Anderson, eds., "The Origin of Man," Improvement Era 13, (1909): 75-81.

Statement Two

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 generation, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin 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 (italics added).

from: Smith, Joseph F. and E.H. Anderson, "Editorial," Improvement Era, 13 (1910): 570.

Statements Clarifying Doctrinal Purity and Diversity of Opinion

Only the Presidency of the Church... has the right... to give authoritative interpretations of the scripture that shall be binding on the Church... When any other person, irrespective of who he is, undertakes to do any of these things, you may know that he is not moved by the Holy Ghost, in so speaking, unless he has the special authorization from the President of the Church (italics added).

from: Clark, J. Reuben, "When are Church leaders' words entitled to claim of scripture?" Church News (July, 31 1954): 9.

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.

Excerpt from: Romney, Marion G., Letter to Joseph T. Brantley, (March 24, 1955), quoted in, Allen, A. Lester, "Divinely Directed Development of the Earth and its Biota: A Dynamic Scenario. How an LDS Biologist Resolves the Evolution Question," in, Hess, W.M. R.T. Matheny, and D.D. Thayer, eds., Science and Religion: Toward a More Useful Dialogue, vol. II, (Geneva, Illinois: Paladin House, 1979): 9-21.

Author's note:

(italics added) means those words were not italicized in the original publications. As I read through these statements I found them to be important. Consider those words as you read them. Contemplate their meaning and the importance of them being chosen for inclusion in the statement.