Mormon Authorities on Evolution

The Bible, Genesis 1: 24

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.

The Bible, Genesis 2: 7

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The Bible, Genesis 5: 2

Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2: 11-16 [some say there was no death before the fall; and, to the extent that's true, it's also true that there was no life before the fall -- the fall is the emergence of the conceptualization of life and death, and moral agency, both for humanity as an evolving species and for each maturing individual]

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God. And 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. And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon. And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1: 34

And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.

The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6: 9

In the image of his own body, male and female, created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created and became living souls in the land upon the footstool of God.

The Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 5: 7

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.

Brigham Young, "What do we do when God's word in the Bible is contradicted by God's words in the rocks?" Henry Eyring, Reflections of a Scientist

You believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth. This I do not believe, though it is supposed that it is so written in the Bible; but it is not, to my understanding. You can write that information to the States, if you please -- that I have publicly declared that I do not believe that portion of the Bible as the Christian world do. I never did, and I never want to. What is the reason I do not? Because I have come to understanding, and banished from my mind all the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child.

Brigham Young, General Conference, October 1854

Now about the rib: as for the Lord taking a rib out of Adam's side to make a woman of, he took one out of my side just as much. 'But, Brother Brigham, would you make it appear that Moses did not tell the truth?' No, not a particle more than I would that your mother did not tell the truth when she told you that little Billy came from a hollow toadstool. I would not accuse your mother of lying any more than I would Moses. The people in the days of Moses wanted to know things that were not for them, the same as your children do when they want to know where their little brother came from; and he answered them according to their folly, the same as you did your children.

First Presidency (Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, Charles W. Nibley), "Memo from the First Presidency to the Council of the Twelve, the First Council of Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric", 1931-04-05; reprinted in William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffrey (2005). Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books) pp. 54–67; and quoted in President Hinckley's article on Evolution in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism

The position of the Church on the origin of man was published by the First Presidency in 1909 and stated again by a different First Presidency in 1925: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, declares man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. . . . Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes (see Appendix, “Doctrinal Expositions of the First Presidency”). 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). In 1931, when there was intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution, the First Presidency of the Church, then consisting of Presidents Heber J Grant, Anthony W Ivins, and Charles W Nibley, addressed all of the General Authorities of the Church on the matter, and concluded, Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to 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. . . . Upon one thing we should all be able to agree, namely, that Presidents Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund were right when they said: “Adam is the primal parent of our race.”

Stephen L Richards, “An Open Letter to College Students,” Improvement Era, vol. 36 (June 1933), pg. 451-453, 484-485

The time of creation has ever been a subject of much comment and dispute. Yet I challenge anybody to produce from the Bible itself any finite limitation whatsoever of the periods of creation. By strained inferential references and interpretations men have sought to set the time in days or periods of a thousand years, but I feel sure that no justification of such limitations is warranted by the scriptures themselves. If the evolutionary hypothesis of the creation of life and matter in the universe is ultimately found to be correct, and I shall neither be disappointed nor displeased if it shall turn out so to be, in my humble opinion the Biblical account is sufficiently comprehensive to include the whole of the process.

John A. Widtsoe, Joseph Smith as Scientist

One of the leading doctrines of the Church resembles the spirit of the law of universal growth so nearly that one is forced to believe that the great truth embodied by this doctrine [eternal progression] is the truth shadowed forth by the law of evolution ... Joseph Smith taught [with regard to humans] a doctrine of evolution which in grandeur and in extent surpasses the wildest speculations of scientific evolutionists.

David O McKay, "David O McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism" p. 46

‎I would like to know just what it is that a man must be required to believe to be a member of this Church. Or, what it is that he is not permitted to believe, and remain a member of this Church. I would like to know just what that is. Is it evolution? I hope not, because I believe in evolution.

David O. McKay, "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism"

The thing you need to remember about evolution is that the Lord has never revealed anything about the matter. People have their opinions but the Lord has not revealed the details of how He created the Earth.

David O. McKay, "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism", p. 46 -- This is from an address by David O. McKay in 1946 at the funeral of May Anderson, general president of the Primary Association for children (1925-39). Using evolution as an argument in favor of resurrection in the same manner that St. Paul had used baptism for the dead (1 Cor. 15:29), McKay went so far as to borrow from Charles Darwin to make his point

Among the generalizations of science, evolution holds foremost place. It claims: "Man is a creature of development; that he has come up through uncounted ages from an origin that is lowly." Why this vast expenditure of time and pain and blood? Why should he come so far if he is destined to go no farther? A creature which has traveled such distances, and fought such battles and won such victories deserves, one ts compelled to say, to conquer death and rob the grave of its victory. Darwin said ... "Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued, slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful."

David O McKay, Letter to Professor William Lee Stokes, Feb. 15, 1957

On the subject of organic evolution the Church has officially taken no position. The book “Man, His Origin and Destiny” was not published by the Church, and is not approved by the Church. The book contains expressions of the author’s views for which he alone is responsible.

David O. McKay, President, February 3, 1959

Dear Brother: ... The Church has issued no official statement on the subject of the theory of evolution. Neither "Man, His Origin and Destiny" by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, nor "Mormon Doctrine" by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, is an official publication of the Church.

David O. McKay, "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism", p. 49 and Bertrand F. Harrison, "The Relatedness of Living Things," The Instructor 100 (July 1965)

In 1965 McKay authorized a BYU scientist to write a pro-evolution article that was published in the church magazine for teachers, The Instructor.

David O McKay, “A Message for LDS College Youth”, BYU devotional talk, Oct 10, 1952, pg. 6-7. See also Conference Report, Apr. 1968, pg. 92

But science, dominated by the spirit of religion is the key to progress and the hope of the future. For example, evolution’s beautiful theory of the creation of the world offers many perplexing problems to the inquiring mind. Inevitably, a teacher who denies divine agency in creation, who insists there is no intelligent purpose in it, will infest the student with the thought that all may be chance. I say, that no youth should be so led without a counter balancing though. Even the skeptic teacher should be fair enough to see that even Charles Darwin, when he faced this great question of annihilation, that the creation is dominated only by chance wrote: “It is an intolerable thought than man and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long, continued slow progress.” And another good authority, Raymond West, said, “Why this vast expenditure of time and pain and blood?” Why should man come so far if he’s destined to go no farther? A creature that travels such distances and fought such battles and won such victories deserves what we are compelled to say, “To conquer death and rob the grave of its victory.”

Spencer Kimball, 3/1976, 70-72, The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood (parenthetical quotes his)

... "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. (The story of the rib, of course, is figurative.) "And I, God, blessed them (Man here is always in the plural. It was plural from the beginning.) and said unto them: Be fruitful ..." ... The Creators breathed into their nostrils the breath of life and man and woman became living souls. We don't know exactly how their coming into this world happened, and when we're able to understand it the Lord will tell us.

Gordon B Hinckley, from Larry A Witham, Where Darwin Meets the Bible, Oxford University Press, 2002, pg. 176-177

Few American theologies are more complex than that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but its flagship Brigham Young University teaches off-the-shelf, industry-standard evolution. That has been the case since 1931, when the church officially said: “Leave biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research.” . . . What the church requires is only belief “that Adam was the first man of what we would call the human race,” says Gordon Hinckley, the church’s living prophet. Scientists can speculate on the rest, he says, recalling his own study of anthropology and geology: “Studied all about it. Didn’t worry me then. Doesn’t worry me now.”