Doctrinal Fortifications against Darwinian Evolution
The theory that all life in this world can be traced to a single-celled organism through a series of evolutionary steps is often referred to as “Darwinism” or “Darwinian Evolution”, named after the primary originator of this theory, Charles Darwin. “Organic evolution” or just “evolution” are more common terms. Before Darwin, going back through antiquity as far back as recorded history can take us, the majority of scientists and philosophers believed in a Supreme Creator and believed that the order seen in the heavens and the beauty of life on Earth attested to this belief. Even though Charles Darwin was not the first to promote this idea that man evolved from lower orders of life, he was the first to provide what was thought to be a plausible mechanism for making it happen, that of “natural selection.” This brought about a dramatic shift in the science community, moving away from belief in a Supreme Creator to an attempt to explain the creation through unaided natural means.
This paradigm shift has continued from Darwin’s day to the present. The metaphysical implications of this new paradigm immediately resulted in conflict with the religious community, particularly with those believing in the Biblical account of the creation. This conflict has worked its way into every Christian religion including among the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and has created a division among church members who have sufficient understanding to give them an awareness of the contradicting metaphysical implications of evolutionary theory and the belief that God created all things through the process revealed to his prophets and recorded in both ancient and modern scriptures.
Many LDS scientists and other LDS church members who are proponents of evolutionary theory have mistakenly believed that Joseph Fielding Smith is one of the few Church leaders who was out spoken against evolution. Because of this there has been an effort by some of these proponents of evolution to disregard President Joseph Fielding Smith’s words and pass them off as having been stated when he was “speaking as a man” and not “as a prophet.” In particular, President Smith’s work, “Man: His Origin and Destiny,” has come under “fire”. The presiding church leaders, however, are unified on doctrinal issues and Joseph Fielding Smith did not stand alone in his quest against evolutionary theories. After becoming Prophet and President of the Church, he said the following in General Conference, October 1970 (italics and underlining are added):
As I ponder the principles of the gospel, I am struck forcibly by the uniform manner in which I and all the Brethren have taught them over the years. The truths of the gospel are everlastingly the same. Like God himself, they are the same yesterday, today and forever. What I have taught and written in the past I would teach and write again under the same circumstances.
And what I say of myself should be true for all the Brethren and for all the elders of the Church. We are all called to preach the gospel, to be ministers of Christ, to raise the warning voice, and to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.”
Statements by President Gordon B. Hinckley such as the following have not been uncommon in conference proceedings:
I am pleased to report, my brethren, that there is harmony, there is total unity, among the General Authorities and among Church officers and leaders throughout the world wherever the work is organized. 1
A notable and powerful defense of Joseph Fielding Smith was offered by President Ezra Taft Benson in a BYU Twelve‑Stake Fireside speech where he said:
More recently one of our Church educators published what he purports to be a history of the Church’s stand on the question of organic evolution. His thesis challenges the integrity of a prophet of God. He suggests that Joseph Fielding Smith published his work “Man: His Origin and Destiny,” against the counsel of the First Presidency and his own Brethren. This writer’s interpretation is not only inaccurate, but it runs counter to the testimony of Elder Mark E. Peterson, who wrote this foreword to Elder Smith’s book, a book I would encourage all of you to read:
“…Some of us [members of the Council of the Twelve] urged [Elder Joseph Fielding Smith] to write a book on the creation of the world and the origin of man… The present volume is the result. It is a most remarkable presentation of material from both sources [science and religion] under discussion. It will fill a great need in the Church and will be particularly invaluable to students who have become confused by the misapplication of information derived from scientific experimentation.” 2
When one understands that the author to which I alluded is an exponent for the theory of organic evolution, his motive in disparaging President Joseph Fielding Smith becomes apparent. To hold to a private opinion on such matters is one thing, but when one undertakes to publish his views to discredit the work of a prophet, it is a very serious matter.
It is also apparent to all who have the Spirit of God in them that Joseph Fielding Smith’s writings will stand the test of time. 3
Although not explicitly stated by President Benson, it can be deduced that the article to which he was referring was written by Duane Jeffrey and published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 8, no. 3-4(1974), p.41, and entitled, “Seers, Savants and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface.”
Elder A. Theodore Tuttle stated that many LDS members have been deceived by the theory of organic evolution. When speaking at Brigham Young University, he said:
These false ideas have run counter to the truth of the Prophet’s teachings. Unfortunately, they have been far more popular ‑ judging from the numbers of people who have believed them. Mistakenly, these theories have been widely accepted as fact and have blinded many people because they seem to have an aura of some kind of science about them.
The theory of organic evolution, popularized by Darwin, has deceived even the members of this Church. Unfortunately, in spite of a multitude of irrefutable facts to the contrary, it still continues today with weakened, though widespread, influence. 4
One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to warn us of false doctrines that can ensnare us and lead us carefully away from the purposes of the Lord. Along with the Book of Mormon we have the modern prophets and other teachings of the Standard Works to provide insights and warnings. This paper provides a doctrinal approach to organizing scriptural evidence against Darwinism along with supporting statements by the prophets. Scriptures and statements by the prophets quoted herein represent only a small part of the information available from these sources on the subject of the creation. However, even with this limited amount of information, one cannot help but be impressed by the strength of the position of the Brethren and clarity of the scriptures on this matter.
Additionally, statements by some of the early proponents of organic evolution which reveal some of their underlying attitudes about religionists and the ancient prophets of the Old Testament along with statements by some of the scientific community who oppose evolutionary theory are quoted.
The Creation: Man was Created in the Image of God
Ancient and modern scripture contain many references that clearly state that man (the whole man, that is, man and woman) were created in the image of God. The following are included among these references:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen 1:27)
By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting, the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them;
And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them… (D&C 20:17–18)
And it came to pass that when Aaron saw that the king would believe his words, he began from the creation of Adam, reading the scriptures unto the king—how God created man after his own image, and that God gave him commandments, and that because of transgression, man had fallen. (Alma 22:12)
And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image. (Ether 3:15)
And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them. (Moses 2:27)
So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them. (Abraham 4:27)
Implicit in these statements is the underlying consideration that God is our creator, that is, he is our Father. It is also clear from the above verses that man was created in the image of God from the beginning, even all men from the beginning were created in the image of God. Elder Russell M. Nelson said the following:
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! 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. At least 55 verses of scripture attest to our divine creation. 5
The Creation: Adam was the First Man
There is no hint in scripture of any possibility of there being a pre-Adamic population on this earth. The following are a few examples that make it clear that Adam was the first man and the first flesh also, and that Adam and Eve were our first parents, that is, the parents of the whole human race.
…Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; And from Noah till Enoch, through the lineage of their fathers; And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commands of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man… (D&C 84:14‑16)
…I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.
It[the priesthood] was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me. (Abr. 1:2–3)
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; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.” (Moses 3:7)
And he beheld that they [brass plates of Laban]did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents; (1 Ne. 5:11)
Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all. And our glorious Mother Eve… (D&C 138:38,39)
President Harold B. Lee tells an interesting story about one who asked him about the “pre-Adamic” people. His answer included the important statement that the answers are in the scriptures if we will search them out.
I was somewhat sorrowed recently to hear someone, a sister who comes from a church family, ask, “What about the pre‑Adamic people?”
Here was someone who I thought was fully grounded in the faith.
She replied, “Well, aren’t there evidences that people preceded the Adamic period of 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.) I asked, “Do you believe that?”
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…
I say that we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. If only each of us would be wise enough to say that we aren’t able to answer any question unless we can find a doctrinal answer in the scriptures! And if we hear someone teaching something that is contrary to what is in the scriptures, each of us may know whether the things spoken are false ‑ it is as simple as that. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think that therein is one of our biggest dangers of today. 6
These comments by President Lee make it clear that he did not subscribe to evolutionary theory and believed that the scriptures support that position. He also believed that many members of the Church were not familiar enough with the scriptures to defend these teachings.
The Creation: The meaning of “Day” in the Creation Context.
A point of seeming confusion and contention among many members of the church is the meaning of the word “day” in context with the accounts of the creation in the books of Genesis and Moses. Peter provides a reasonable hint at the meaning of day when he said:
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (II Pet. 3:8)
This scripture doesn’t fully answer the question of the meaning of “day” in context with the creation accounts. However, Joseph Fielding Smith provides some clarification in the following commentary on Abraham’s account of the creation:
When this earth on which we dwell was created it was according to the eternal plan of the Father, and likewise in accordance with his reckoning. This he definitely declared to the knowledge and understanding of all those who are, through their faith, willing to accept what he has given by revelation to his prophets. Abraham was among other things an astronomer. He knew more about the heavens, when they were created, and the purpose of their creation, than all the astronomers in the world today put together. The Lord revealed these things to him by Urim and Thummim and also talked to him, “face to face, as one man talketh with another,” and told him “of the works which his hands had made,” and they were multiplied before Abraham’s eyes and he could not see the end thereof.
The Lord made known to him the following facts: That Kolob is the first creation, and is nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. It is the first in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. This measurement is according to celestial time. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which by the Egyptians was called Jah‑oh‑eh. Oliblish, so called by the Egyptians, stands next to Kolob in the grand governing creation near the celestial, or place where God resides. This great star is also a governing star and is equal to Kolob in its revolutions and in its measuring of time. Other grand governing stars were also revealed to Abraham, and the Lord said to him:
“These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
“And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob…” (Abr. 3:3,4)
From this revelation given to Abraham in relation to the heavenly bodies, we have discovered that the governing star of the universe is Kolob, “the first creation,” and the Lord’s time is the time of Kolob, “which is celestial time.”
We also learn that Peter understood this fact when he said: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) Here is the information which throws light upon the days of creation, and again the Lord revealed to Abraham that the creation was according to God’s time, and he wrote regarding the commandment given to Adam:
“But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the time that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. Now I, Abraham, saw that it was after the Lord’s time, which was after the time of Kolob; for as yet the Gods had not appointed unto Adam his reckoning.” (Abr. 5:13)
Here again we have the information that the creation of this earth was according to Kolob’s time, which is celestial time…
Early in March 1832, while the Prophet Joseph Smith was revising the scriptures by revelation, the Lord gave him answers concerning certain things in the Revelation of John. Among these questions and answers are the following:
6. Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
Question Twelve and answer are as follows:
1. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
2. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years ‑ the preparing of the way before the time of his coming. (D&C 77:6,12)
This revelation confirms the fact that the days of creation were celestial days, and this earth is passing through one week of temporal (mortal) existence, after which it will die and receive resurrection. 7
In the account of the creation found in the Book of Abraham, the term “time” is used the same way “day” is used in Moses’ account. Joseph Fielding Smith, in the above quote, implies that these terms are synonymous. This interpretation can be further supported by comparing the following two scriptures – the first from the Book of Abraham and the second from the Book of Moses:
But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the time that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. Now I, Abraham, saw that it was after the Lord’s time, which was after the time of Kolob; for as yet the Gods had not appointed unto Adam his reckoning. (Abr. 5:13)
Compare this statement from Abraham with the equivalent statement from Moses.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Moses 3:17)
Evidently, “time” and “day” in these accounts have the same meaning, that is, one thousand years as explained thoroughly by President Joseph Fielding Smith.
The Creation: Man was physically created and placed in the Garden on the seventh day
At the end of the sixth day of creation, man was not yet physically present on the face of the earth. It was at the beginning of the seventh day that god planted the Garden of Eden and placed man, that is man and woman, upon the earth.
Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
A. We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years ‑ the preparing of the way before the time of his coming. (D&C 77:12)
Moses chapter 3 also provides a summary of the things that were accomplished on the seventh day:
Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
And on the seventh day I, God, ended my work, and all things which I had made; and I rested on the seventh day from all my work, and all things which I had made were finished, and I, God, saw that they were good;
And I God, blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it I had rested from all my work which I, God, had created and made.
And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and earth;
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;
But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
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; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.
And I, the Lord God, planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there I put the man whom I had formed.
And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it. And it became also a living soul. For it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God, created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man; and man saw that it was good for food. And I, the Lord God, planted the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and also the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten, that it was not good that the man should be alone; wherefore, I will make an help meet for him.
And I, the Lord God, caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and he slept, and I took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof;
And the rib which I, the Lord God, had taken from man, made I a woman, and brought her unto the man. (Moses 3:1‑7)
The Creation: All living creatures produce after their own kind
The narrative in the book of Moses, and in Genesis lead one to assume that plants and animals are limited to reproduce after their own kind. This places a significant restriction on evolutionary theories that assume that all life has a common ancestor. In Genesis, God said,
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:20–25)
Similarly, in the Book of Moses, God said,
And I, God, said: Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed should be in itself upon the earth, and it was so even as I spake.
And the earth brought forth grass, every herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed should be in itself, after his kind; and I, God, saw that all things which I had made were good; (Moses 2:11–12)
Many of the Church leaders from this dispensation back to the Prophet Joseph Smith reinforce this interpretation of Genesis 1 and Moses 2 as an indication that God limited the reproduction of species to that of their own kind.
Elder Boyd K. Packer stated:
Some years ago I returned home to find our little children were waiting in the driveway. They had discovered some newly hatched chicks under the manger in the barn. When they reached for them, a protective hen rebuffed them. So they came for reinforcements.
I soon gathered a handful of little chicks for them to see and touch.
As our little girl held one of them, I said in a teasing way, “That will make a nice watchdog when it grows up, won’t it?” She looked at me quizzically, as if I didn’t know much.
So I changed my approach: “It won’t be a watchdog, will it?”
She shook her head, “No, Daddy.” Then I added, “It will be a nice riding horse.”
She wrinkled up her nose and gave me that “Oh, Dad!” look. For even a four‑year‑old knows that a chick will not be a dog, nor a horse, nor even a turkey. It will be 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.
No lesson is more manifest in nature than that all living things do as the Lord commanded in the Creation. They reproduce “after their own kind.” (See Moses 2:12,24.) They follow the pattern of their parentage. Everyone knows that; every four‑year‑old knows that! 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 generally 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’s 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? 8
Elder Mark E. Peterson observed:
This law appears to be violated in the plant world, but this is primarily a result of the plant classification schemes developed by botanists which have to be considered as subjective and, sometimes, arbitrary. In the animal and human world, this law is not violated.
And he put this seed in animals, likewise, so that animals can reproduce after themselves. The same is true in vegetable life. An apple will only bring forth an apple, and it will not bring forth a cucumber. Now, I’m being a little extreme, but I think you get the point. God placed in every one of his creations, as it says here in Moses 2, the seed within itself to reproduce after its own kind.
Of course it was a great discovery when the scientists discovered genes, the genes which keep the species true. And who made the genes? It was this same God, our Eternal Father, who decreed in the first place that everything would reproduce only after its own kind. Genesis sustains the Book of Moses in this, and it also says that every plant was made “before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew,” and so on (Genesis 2:5). 9
John Taylor also understood that there were laws and limitations that govern reproductive processes. He said:
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; each one possessing its own distinctive features, each requiring a specific sustenance, each having an organism and faculties governed by prescribed laws to perpetuate its own kind. So accurate is the formation of the various living creatures that an intelligent student of nature can tell by any particular bone of the skeleton of an animal to what class or order it belongs.
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 their Maker… If we take man, he is said to have been made in the image of God, for the simple reason that he is a son of God; and being his son, he is, of course, his offspring, an emanation from God, in whose likeness, we are told, he made. He 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 God… 10
Joseph Smith explained:
God has set many signs on the earth, as well as in the heavens; 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. 11
The Fall and Atonement: The fall affected more than Adam
The most concise scriptural statement of the doctrine that the Fall of Adam had universal impact on God’s creations is in the Book of Mormon.
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. (2 Ne 2:22,23)
These words of Father Lehi indicate that the earth and all life were immortal before the fall. This is supported by the Doctrine and Covenants which teaches that the earth will exist in a temporal state for only seven thousand years.
Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
12 Q. What are we to understand by the sounding of the trumpets, mentioned in the 8th chapter of Revelation?
We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming. (D&C 77:6,12).
Parley P. Pratt provides a broad description of the effects of the fall:
First man fell from his standing before God by giving heed to temptations, and his fall affected the whole creation as well as man and caused the various changes to take place. He was banished from the presence of his Creator and the veil was drawn between them, and he was driven from the Garden of Eden, to till the earth, which was then cursed for his sake. 12
With the approval of the editorial staff of the Times and Seasons an article was written stating:
The earth no longer (at the transgression of Adam) retained its standing in the presence of Jehovah; but was hurled into the immensity of space; and there to remain till it has filled up the time of its bondage to sin and Satan. It was immediately cursed, and Adam and Eve were obliged to procure their food and raiment by the sweat of the brow. The beasts became ferocious, and went prowling about the wilderness seeking the inferior animals for a prey.
But says one, Wherein did the sin of man affect the whole creation? We answer, that Adam was placed in the garden or capitol of the whole earth, and power was given unto him to sway his sceptre over all things upon the earth; therefore, when he fell from the presence of the Lord, the whole of his dominions fell also… 13
Joseph Fielding Smith adds further insight to the impact of the fall of Adam:
When Adam fell, the earth and all things upon it partook of the fall, and were henceforth subject to mortal, or temporal, conditions. The Lord said to Adam, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life (Moses 4:23)”; and so the earth became suited to Adam’s condition and became a temporal earth, or subject to all the conditions of mortality and death. After it has filled the measure of its temporal existence it will die and since it and all creatures upon it have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ, it will rise again, receiving the resurrection and will become a glorious celestial habitation for the righteous. 14
Mark E. Peterson provides a doctrinal argument, based on the Fall of Adam that precludes the possibility of man evolving through a Darwinian process:
You believe in our Articles of Faith. One of them says, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” Do you believe there was an Adam, described in the scripture as the first man? Do you believe there was such a thing as Adam’s transgression, sometimes called the Fall? Now I ask you, can you believe in Adam and in Darwinian evolution at the same time? Our religion teaches that there was no death in the world before the Fall. Do you believe that? And if you do, how can you accept Darwinism, which says there was death before Adam ‑ or before the first human being, as some will accept it? This then becomes one of the great hurdles for LDS anthropologists, doesn’t it? 15
In summary, when Adam fell, the whole creation, the earth and all things therein, fell from an immortal state to a mortal or temporal state and initiated the process of procreation, birth, and death of all the generations of mankind, and all other forms of life. The Fall of Adam, then, becomes a stumbling block to Darwinian evolution.
The Fall and Atonement: If we deny the Fall we must also deny the Atonement
The fall of Adam placed all mankind in a mortal probationary state, a fallen state where it was necessary for a redeemer to be provided in order to retrieve mankind and bring them back into the presence of God. The redeemer was needed to extend mercy to those who meet the requirement of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, otherwise man would again be cast out of the presence of God. Thus, the fall and the atonement are intimately connected and denying the one constitutes denial of the other. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:
In Eden we will see all things created in a paradisiacal state ‑ without death, without procreation, without probationary experiences.
We will come to know that such a creation, now unknown to man, was the only way to provide for the Fall.
We will then see Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman, step down from their state of immortal and paradisiacal glory to become the first mortal flesh on earth.
Mortality, including as it does procreation and death, will enter the world. And because of transgression a probationary estate of trial and testing will begin.
Then in Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death that came to us because of the Fall.
And finally, before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave.
Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; and by Christ came immortality and eternal life.
If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life.” 16
Mark E. Peterson provided this insight:
There has developed in recent years what almost amounts to a cult in certain fields. This is a cult which also points the finger of scorn at believers and would have us reject the doctrine of a special creation and accept the unproven but time‑worn theory that all life evolved from lower forms, that worms and microbes were our ancestors, and not God. It teaches that God is not our father, but that our first progenitors were microscopic forms which came into existence spontaneously, without cause, without reason, and without purpose.
According to this theory of primordial life, man at one time developed from an ancestor which, as one writer described him, was “a hairy, four‑legged beast which had a tail and pointed ears and lived in trees.” I ask you, which requires more faith, to believe that God is our father, or that some monkey‑like ape gave us birth? And which would you rather have as your father, a creeping ape or Almighty God?
…According to our doctrine, the fall of Adam and the process of death are inseparable; the fall of Adam and the atonement of Christ are inseparable; Adam and Christ are inseparable. If there was no Adam, there was no fall. If there was no fall of Adam there was no atonement by Christ. If there was no atonement by Christ our religion is in vain, for if there was no Adam, there was no Christ either. If there is no Christ, where are we? Are you ready to reject your inspired religion, your faith in God and Christ, to accept the questionable philosophy that may be thrust upon you by some unbelieving, even atheistic, professor of an unproved hypothesis? This is certainly a case in point where we must do as Joshua of old said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). 17
The relationship between the Fall and the Atonement are simply summarized in the following Book of Mormon scripture:
Behold he created Adam, and by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man. (Mormon 9:12)
The doctrine of the Fall is in conflict with evolutionary theory because this doctrine declares that there was no death before the fall, therefore, to accept Darwin, the Fall must be rejected. It should be clear, now, that to deny the Fall constitutes denial of the Atonement, thus, Darwinian evolution becomes a doctrine that can be described as “anti-Christ” and falls in line with the philosophies of men like Korihor who denied the Christ (Alma 30).
The Fall and Atonement: The atonement applies only to the family of Adam
Book of Mormon scriptures indicate that the Christ’s sacrifice and his resurrection only apply to the family of Adam. The implication is that there were no other people than Adam and his posterity. Adam was literally the first man and there were none that lived before him on this earth. The following are a few supporting scriptures:
And behold again it hath been spoken, that there is a first resurrection, a resurrection of all those who have been, or who are, or who shall be, down to the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Now, we do not suppose that this first resurrection, which is spoken of in this manner, can be the resurrection of the souls and their consignation to happiness or misery. Ye cannot suppose that this is what it meaneth.
Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but it meaneth the reuniting of the soul with the body, of those from the days of Adam down to the resurrection of Christ. (Alma 40:16‑18)
And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. (2 Ne. 9:21)
I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long‑suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body ‑
I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world. (Mosiah 4:7)
And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all. And for this cause I write unto you, that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, yea, every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam; and ye must stand to be judged of your works, whether they be good or evil; (Mormon 3:20)
Language and Knowledge Did Not Evolve
Darwinian evolution not only teaches that man evolved physically, but his mental capacity evolved and his language also evolved from a primitive form of communication. Neither the scriptures not the presiding church leadership teach this, but rather that God gave Adam his language in the beginning. Consider these scriptures in the Book of Moses:
The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them: and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; (Moses 7:32)
And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of Inspiration;
And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled. (Moses 6:5,6)
Elder Mark E. Peterson provides great insight:
A mid-western newspaper, in its editorial columns, defined the origin of language and said that primitive man was able to communicate only through facial expressions and bodily movements. It claimed that the spoken language came much later and was part of man’s evolution to his present state. This, of course, is in line with other false hypotheses being foisted upon an unwary public, many of whom are willing to believe that if we developed from lower forms of life, we also had to develop language from lower forms. They say we learned to speak as we also learned to stand erect or to think, hunt, and eventually cultivate the ground. But how foolish is this notion in the light of revelation. The first man, Adam, could speak eloquently. He could write. He could talk, not only with other men but with God, who was his teacher, who likewise gave him his language and his intelligence. The earliest men, according to the scriptures, kept books of remembrance, and they wrote the scriptures themselves, under inspiration from the Almighty. Has there ever been more beautiful language than is found in the scriptures? Has any writing been as uplifting and enduring? Language did not evolve from lowly origins. It was beautiful to begin with. It suffered from the same retrogression that centuries ago made cavemen out of intelligent beings and turned pure religion into superstition, as early men apostatized from God. 18
The scriptures and statements by prophets and apostles of the Lord given above provide compelling doctrinal arguments against organic evolution. This doctrinal approach is presented with the intension of arming those who believe in Christ and do not accept the theory of organic evolution with information that can be used to influence those who have gone astray following after the philosophies of men. The prophet Nephi prophesied that our generation would have a problem with false doctrine and speaking of our day, he said that “they have all gone astray save it be a few who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” (2 Ne 28:14)
The key to avoid getting deceived by the philosophies of men is to not only know what the prophets have said, but to have a deep understanding of the underlying and relevant doctrines from the Plan of Salvation. Doctrinal arguments have tremendous strength, because either the doctrines are true, or evolution is true. You can’t have it both ways and if one has a testimony of the doctrines, the answer to which is true becomes crystal clear.
Why is Darwinian Evolution So Enticing?
It is curious that so many people who identify themselves as Christians, and particularly LDS scientists, believe that Darwinian Evolution is the mechanism by which God created mankind. In an attempt to combine their religious beliefs with these teachings of the world, they acknowledge their belief in God, but say he used Evolution to accomplish the task of creating man. Aside from the doctrinal problems with this belief, an additional problem is that the primary promoters of Darwinism, including Darwin himself, did not believe in God, but rather, were looking for a way to explain the existence of life on earth that excluded the need for a divine creator.
Sir Julian Huxley stated the following at the Darwinism Centennial Celebration at the University of Chicago (1954):
“Darwinism removed the whole idea of God as the creator of organisms from the sphere of rational discussion. Darwin pointed out that no super‑natural designer was needed; since natural selection could account for any known form of life, there was no room for a supernatural agency in its evolution…
“There was no sudden moment during evolutionary history when “spirit” was instilled in you… I think we can dismiss entirely all idea of a supernatural overriding mind being responsible for the evolutionary process.” 19
Darwin’s family sought to obscure his complete feelings regarding the Bible’s explanation of the history of the world:
It was only in his autobiography that Darwin gave free expression to his religious opinions. And it was when his son prepared to publish the autobiography in the Life and Letters that Emma Darwin [Charles Darwin’s wife] revealed the true measure of her conventionality. Having succeeded in maintaining a modicum of discretion in his lifetime, she objected to having the floodgates of scandal opened after his death, and solemnly warned her son that unless he deleted some of the franker passages, her life would be made unendurably miserable… The full extent of Darwin’s disbelief, therefore, can be seen neither in his published work nor even in his published autobiography, but only in the original version of that autobiography. 20
In his original autobiography Darwin said,
I had gradually come, by this time, to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindus, or the beliefs of any barbarian… By further reflecting that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become ‑ that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible to us… This disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted for a single second that my conclusion was correct. (Hugh Nibley, “Archaeology and Our Religion)
If he found the Bible an untrustworthy source, neither could he be persuaded of the existence of God by “the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons.” He himself, he confessed, had once had such feelings; in the grandeur of the Brazilian forest he had been possessed by the conviction that there must be more in man than “the mere breath of his body.” But later even the grandest scenes could not evoke such thoughts in his mind. It might be argued, he realized, that he was like a man who had become color‑blind and who alone among his fellow men could not see red when confronted with it. Such arguments, however, failed to move him…
For himself, Darwin preferred a morality independent of religion and untainted by the moral defects of Christianity. In an addendum to his autobiography, he spelled out the derivation and implication of a naturalistic ethics:
“A man who has no assured and no present belief in the existence of a personal God or a future existence with retribution and rewards, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones. A dog acts in this manner, but he does so blindly. A man, on the other hand, looks forwards and backwards, and compares his various feelings, desires, and recollections. He then finds, in accordance with the verdict of the wisest men, that the highest satisfaction is derived from following certain impulses, namely the social instincts. If he acts for the good of others he will receive the approbation of his fellow‑men and gain the love of those with whom he lives; and this latter gain undoubtedly is the highest pleasure on this earth. By degrees it will be more intolerable to him to obey his sensuous passions rather than his highest impulses, which when rendered habitual may be almost called instincts. His reason may occasionally tell him to act in opposition to the opinion of others, whose approbation he will then not receive; but he will still have the solid satisfaction of knowing that he has followed his innermost judge or conscience. 21
Here we see Darwin explaining his questionable principles of moral conduct and how they were generated by various mental gymnastics. Darwin, in his own words made it clear that he had rejected Christianity as the basis for anything relating to the origin of mankind. Darwin is expressing his “world view” which excludes God as the designer and creator of all things.
There are two fundamentally different and diametrically opposed world views – one, a true Christian world view, that considers God as the creator, the source of all truth, and the establisher of commandments, covenants, ordinances, and principles of moral conduct that govern our lives. The other is based in the principles of secular humanism as described below.
One of the most articulate spokesmen for secular humanism is Corliss Lamont. In a lucid textbook entitled “The Philosophy of Humanism,” he outlines the ten tenets on which modern secular humanism rests. Paraphrased, they are listed below…
1) All reality is what we perceive ‑ there is no super natural.
2) Man is a product of evolution and has no soul after death.
3) Humanity must solve its own problems using only reason and the scientific method.
4) Human beings are, within certain scientifically defined limits, masters of their own destiny.
5) All ethics and morality are derived from the experiences of the human race.
6) The “good life” is obtained by working for self‑development and the welfare of the community.
7) The works of nature are to receive the adoration of mankind.
8) Only through a global democracy will mankind obtain peace and prosperity.
9) Reason and the scientific method should pervade all aspects of the human life.
10) Humanism is still a developing philosophy. 22
A belief in evolution has a direct impact on an individual’s world view, in fact, it becomes part of that individual’s world view and is what he/she considers to be the ultimate reality beyond what can be seen or observed. One’s world view affects how facts are interpreted and what sources are used to find truth. If the world view is not based in correct principle, anything that doesn’t fit is either swept under the rug, or discounted in some manner. If an individual’s world view is based in truth, conflicts are resolved by further study of truth containing sources and through faith in the word of God.
Some do not quite side with either of these philosophies, but rather, they try to build a philosophy made up of a combination of both sides. For example, there are many that claim that God used evolution as his method for creating life. This type of compromise seems to be common among LDS scientists and other who are trying to mingle the philosophies of men with teachings of the scriptures. They want to be “in the world, but not of the world” and yet still of the world. Dr. Melvin A. Cook (Science and Mormonism, p.325) boldly states:
…Be it therefore fully realized that the evolution of many LDS scientists is not the same as the evolution of the modern world. As well stated by a non-Mormon, Dr. Henry M. Morris, head of Civil Engineering, VPI:
“The leaders of evolutionary thought in the intellectual world, and most of their followers, are not to be satisfied with any such shallow compromise as that which regards evolution as ‘God’s method of creations.’” 23
The world view of those who accept evolution puts them in the “camp’ with the secular humanists. It is interesting how secular humanism parallels the teachings of Korihor, the great Anti-Christ of the Book of Mormon. His teachings are summarized in the following excerpts from the Book of Alma:
“Why do ye look for Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come” (Alma 30:13)
“Ye cannot know of things which ye do not see” (Alma 30:15)
“Every man prospered according to his genius” (Alma 30:17)
“Whatsoever a man did was no sin” (Alma 30:17)
“When a man was dead, that was the end thereof” (Alma 30:18)
Many are drawn to evolutionary theory because it provides for a mechanism to eliminate God and his judgments from their world view, and thereby eliminating accountability for their actions. If man is no different than any other animal on the earth, and if there is no supreme governing being in the universe, there is no one to whom we are accountable.
Darwin’s theories are essential to the success of all secular anti‑Christian philosophies and is at the root of all systems intended to over-through the freedom of mankind.
I think it is highly important to emphasize…that all of the anti‑Christian systems of modern times have found their quasi‑scientific basis in the supposed scientific fact of evolution. This has been true of communism and for various varieties of socialism, for modern militarism, and even for the anti‑Christian aspects of modern capitalism and colonialism. In fact, it seems that the advocates of any doctrine or system overtly or covertly espousing covetousness or selfishness, in any form have appealed to evolutionary science as warrant for their opinions… The racism and militarism of Hitler and Mussolini were in large measure built upon the philosophical base established in the 19th Century by Friedrich Nietzsche and Ernest Haechel, both of whom were rabid promulgators of Darwinism among human societies. 24
Karl Marx also, evidently, needed Darwin’s Evolution:
…And when Marx proposed to dedicate to him [Charles Darwin] Das Kapital, he firmly refused the honor, explaining that it would pain certain members of his family if he were associated with so atheistic a book. 25
Elder Boyd K. Packer supports the position that Darwinism is used to support doctrines that attempt to eliminate the accountability of man to God.
It is on the premise that law controls both the moral and spiritual, and the physical natures of man that I have established my conviction on his origin. All laws, even those devised by man, are established under the assumption that violation carries penalties. If man is no more than a highly specialized animal, there are substantial questions as to whether moral laws can apply to him.
“If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away. (2 Ne 2:13).
Moral law assumes accountability; no accountability, no penalties! …Moral law regulates the behavior of human beings and sets man apart from, and above, the animal kingdom. If moral law is not an issue, then organic evolution is no problem. If moral law is an issue, then organic evolution as the explanation for the origin of man, is the problem. 26
Not only does Darwinism conflict with basic doctrines of the Church, but it is also used as a means to explain away the need for religion and even the existence of a Divine Creator. It is an essential tenant of the philosophy of secular humanism which promotes values that exclude accountability and justifies all manner of sinful behavior and the tyranny of oppressive and unjust behavior. Without the availability of evolution as a replacement for God, the world view of secular humanism would probably collapse. There is no better way to explain the elegance and complexity of life, the beauty of the natural world, and the order in the heavens than as part of the creations of a loving Father in Heaven who created this world for our benefit and accomplished this task through means that are higher than man’s guesses, as he implied with these words, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa 55:8,9). Those grounded in scripture-based Christian doctrine with its high moral values are not drawn away into the deceptions and delusions of the world, but rather would agree with the Psalmist who said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalms 19:1)
Latest posts by Joseph Smith Foundation (see all)
- Doctrinal Fortifications against Darwinian Evolution - February 20, 2017
- Questioning the Comma in Verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom - December 13, 2016
- Carbon Dating: How old is it really? - August 13, 2016
- General Conference, October 1985 ↩
- Mark E. Peterson, foreword, Man: His Origin and Destiny,” Salt Lake City, Deseret Book Company, 1954, p. v. ↩
- President Ezra Taft Benson, BYU Twelve‑Stake Fireside, March 28, 1976 ↩
- A. Theodore Tuttle, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1971 ↩
- Russell M. Nelson, “The Magnificence of Man,” New Era, October 1987. Quoted in General Conference, April 2012, in “Thanks Be To God,” by Russell M. Nelson. ↩
- President Harold B. Lee, Ensign, December 1972 ↩
- “Man: His Origin and Destiny,” Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 461‑465 ↩
- Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, Oct 1984. ↩
- Elder Mark E. Peterson, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1973. ↩
- John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement ↩
- Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 198 ↩
- Parley P. Pratt, “Voice of Warning”, pp. 91‑92. ↩
- Times and Seasons, III, February 1, 1842, p. 672 ↩
- “Man: His Origin and Destiny”, Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 465‑466 ↩
- Elder Mark E. Peterson, BYU Speeches Of The Year, 1973 ↩
- Elder Bruce R. McConkie, April 1985 General Conference. ↩
- Elder Mark E. Peterson, BYU Speeches Of The Year, 1973 ↩
- Editorial from local newspaper quoted by Mark E. Peterson in BYU Speeches Of The Year, 1973. ↩
- M.A. Cook and M.G. Cook, “Science and Mormonism” ↩
- “Darwin And The Darwinian Revolution,” Gertrude Himmelfarb, 1962, pp. 383‑386 ↩
- “Darwin And The Darwinian Revolution,” Gertrude Himmelfarb, 1962, pp. 383‑386 ↩
- Eric N. Skousen, The Power People, 1980 ↩
- H. M. Morris. “The Twilight of Evolution”, 1963. ↩
- Henry M. Morris, “The Twilight of Evolution” ↩
- “Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution,” Gertrude Himmelfarb, 1962, p. 383 ↩
- Boyd K. Packer, “The Law and the Light,” Given at the Book of Mormon Symposium, Brigham Young University, 30 Oct 1988. ↩