Do Mormons Reject Evolution?

A Mormon evolutionary biologist
”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 generations, 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.” — The Priesthood Quorums’ Table, signed by the First Presidency, in the April 1910 Improvement era.

While President Smith personally believed that the theory of evolution was a “hypothesis” and “more or less a fallacy,” he stated that the Church was “not undertaking to say how much of evolution is true, or how much is false” and that “the Church itself has no philosophy about the modus operandi employed by the Lord in His creation of the world.” — in 1911 (see evolution.pdf)

“The statement made by Elder Smith that the existence of pre-Adamites is not a doctrine of the Church is true. It is just as true that the statement: ‘There were not pre-Adamites upon the earth’ is not a doctrine of the Church. Neither side of the controversy has been accepted as a doctrine at all. Both parties make the scripture and the statements of men who have been prominent in the affairs of the Church the basis of their contention; neither has produced definite proof in support of his views. …Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the people of 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…” — First Presidency Minutes, Apr. 7, 1931, pg. 54

Responding to an inquiry regarding the book “Man, His Origin and Destiny,” by Joseph Fielding Smith, a past president of the Church who took an extremely hard-line stance against the theory of evolution, President David O. McKay said, “Dear Brother S—-: Your letter of February 11, 1957, has been received. 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. Sincerely your brother, David O. McKay (President) ” — Dialogue: A journal of Mormon thought 12(4) [Winter 1979]: 90-92.

David O. McKay, while recognizing that God had not revealed whether or not life on Earth evolved through the process of biological evolution, personally believed it had. He even quoted from Charles Darwin in a talk given at the funeral of May Anderson, explaining that if man had evolved to his current state, it made sense that he would continue to evolve in the life to come. (See David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism.)

“Man became a living soul—mankind, male and female…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.” — Spencer W. Kimball, in “The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood.” 1976, pg. 70-72

“The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how…” — Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, 1992

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