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Commentary

Can the scientific worldviews of Darwinism or NeoDarwinism be harmonized with the doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Many seem to feel that Darwinian evolution has been proven to be a scientific fact. These are the base assumptions of NeoDarwinism:

  1. All life originated and diversified through chance
  2. All organisms are descended from a single common ancestor in the distant past
  3. An unguided process of natural selection has the power to produce fundamentally new forms of life through random mutations
  4. Uniformitarianism or the principle that the present is the key to the past should be used in understanding the earth and all things in the universe
  5. There is no purpose or design in the universe

PEW_evolution_graph.gif

This FAQ compilation provides statements from presidents of the Church and the standard works to show that each of these foundational principles of NeoDarwinism is in direct conflict with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Additional tenets of Darwinism that are in conflict with the Gospel are:

  1. Life originated many millions of years ago
  2. Death has been a part of this world for millions of years
  3. The earth is billions of years old
  4. Spirit matter does not exist
  5. Intelligence does not exist
  6. Miracles were not involved in the origin of the universe
  7. Miracles were not involved in the origin of this earth
  8. There are no laws beyond the physical laws that science can comprehend

Darwinism and NeoDarwinism are in complete opposition to the doctrines involving God’s intervention through priesthood power in the history of the universe and life on this earth. For a great example of this please see the Humanist Manifesto. Excerpts can be found here. Darwinian concepts lead to philosophies diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Gospel. Many presidents of the Church have testified of this fact.

President Joseph Fielding Smith has made this statement regarding compromise between the theories of Darwinism and the Gospel:

I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory 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 so. [1]

Additionally, President Smith taught that the author of Darwiniam evolution was the adversary of man:

Organic evolution is Satan’s chief weapon in this dispensation in his attempt to destroy the divine mission of Jesus Christ. It is a contemptible plot against faith in God and to destroy the effective belief in the divine atonement of our Redeemer through which men may be saved from their sins and find place in the Kingdom of God. There is not and cannot be any compromise between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the theories of evolution. Were evolution true, there could be no remission of sin.” [2]

President Smith also taught that one must choose between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the philosophies of Darwinism:

If life began on the earth, as advocated by Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel (who has been caught openhanded perpetrating a fraud), and others of this school, whether by chance or by some designing hand, then the doctrines of the Church are false. Then there was no Garden of Eden, no Adam and Eve, and no fall. If there was no fall; if death did not come into the world as the scriptures declared that it did—and to be consistent, if you are an evolutionist, this view you must assume—then there was no need for a redemption, and Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, and he did not die for the transgression of Adam, nor for the sins of the world. Then there has been no resurrection from the dead! Consistently, logically, there is no other view, no alternative that can be taken. Now, my brethren and sisters, are you prepared to take this view?” [3]

Clearly President Smith felt that compromise was impossible and very dangerous. Some feel that this was just one man’s opinion. Perhaps, they say, President Smith took the scriptures a little too seriously. They feel that Darwinism is a proven fact and that therefore there must be some way to reconcile the Gospel with Darwinism. If indeed President Smith was the only witness then this discussion could be open to debate. But note that nearly every President of the Church has taught that Darwinism is destructive and/or has taught doctrines that completely contradict those found in the evolutionary worldview. In support of Joseph Fielding Smith’s words in denunciation of evolution, Ezra Taft Benson stated:

It is . . . apparent to all who have the Spirit of God in them that Joseph Fielding Smith’s writings will stand the test of time.” [4]

President Benson felt that those who live worthy of the Spirit of the Lord will know that the witness of Joseph Fielding Smith regarding Darwinian evolution is inspired of the Lord. President Benson advised members of the Church who became confused by evolutionary teachings while attending Church schools or otherwise to read President Joseph Fielding Smith’s book, Man, His Origin and Destiny. President Benson added further that the Church was under condemnation for treating lightly the words of the Lord as contained in the Book of Mormon.

Surely the Book of Mormon is a sacred thing, and yet many trifle with it, or in other words, take it lightly, treat it as though it is of little importance. . . .If the early Saints were rebuked for treating the Book of Mormon lightly, are we under any less condemnation if we do the same? The Lord Himself bears testimony that it is of eternal significance. Can a small number of us bring the whole Church under condemnation because we trifle with sacred things? What will we say at the Judgment when we stand before Him and meet His probing gaze if we are among those described as forgetting the new covenant? [5]

Mormon1830signature--300x225.jpg
President Benson then added that one way the Church was not using the book of Mormon correctly dealt with Darwin and evolution. He felt that the Book of Mormon should be used to expose the false doctrines promoted by Darwin and his followers:

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, and so forth.” [6]

As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions . . . if [parents] become alerted and informed, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like . . . Charles Darwin and others.” [7]

Clearly President Benson is a second witness that Darwinian evolution cannot be harmonized with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to President Benson, President Harold B. Lee taught that there can be no compromise with Darwinism. President Lee was always very supportive of President Joseph Fielding Smith and used the book, Man, His Origin and Destiny while teaching. President Lee additionally taught throughout his life that there was no death before the Fall of Adam and Eve. Additionally, in a First Presidency message, while President of the Church, President Lee taught that a belief in pre-Adamites could be equated with weak faith.

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. I asked, What about the pre-Adamic people?” 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….’” [8] 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 .” [9]

President Lee made it very clear that we can not and should not reconcile false scientific ideas such as pre-Adamites with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Clearly President Harold B. Lee is a third witness that the Gospel cannot be harmonized with Darwinian evolution. In our day President Boyd K. Packer has added his witness of the dangers of compromise with Darwinism.

No greater ideal has been revealed than the supernal truth that we are the children of God, and that by virtue of our creation we differ from all other living things [10]. All flesh,” the scriptures teach, is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts” [11]

…The knowledge that we are the children of God is a refining, even an exalting truth. On the other hand, no idea has been more destructive of happiness, no philosophy has produced more sorrow, more heartbreak, more suffering and mischief, no idea has contributed more to the erosion of the family than the idea that we are not the offspring of God, but only advanced animals. There flows from that idea the not too subtle perception that we are compelled to yield to every carnal urge, are subject to physical but not to moral law.

The man-from-animal theory…is widely taught and generally accepted as the solution to the mystery of life.

I know there are two views on the subject. But it is one thing to measure this theory solely against intellectual or academic standards, quite another to measure it against moral or spiritual or doctrinal standards.” [12]

The witnesses against Darwinism are clear and numerous. The Prophets of God have warned that there can be no compromise with this false philosophy of origins. Still many say, But evolution has been proven to be a scientific fact.” In answer to these assertions, President Spencer W. Kimball had this to say to those who stack false science against the word of God:

The Gods organized the earth of materials at hand, over which they had control and power. This truth is absolute. A million educated folk might speculate and determine in their minds that the earth came into being by chance. The truth remains. The earth was made by the Gods…opinions do not change that. The Gods organized and gave life to man and placed him on the earth. This is absolute. It cannot be disproved. A million brilliant minds might conjecture otherwise, but it is still true.” [13]

Despite the rhetoric, science has not proven Darwinian evolution to be true. There are many scientists who can provide evidence against Darwinian assumptions. For scientific witnesses that show evidence that the Prophets of God are indeed correct please visit our online store.

For additional statements of the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints please visit this FAQ.

Prophetic Statements

First Presidency Message

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. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was ‘the first man of all men’ [14], and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race.” [15] [16]

George Albert Smith

No matter if scientists and great men of the world shall proclaim that we have evolved from the lower order of animals, the witness of the Spirit to you, my brethren and sisters, is that you are the offspring of the Lord . . . [17]

Joseph Fielding Smith

We now come to this vital point. My fellow believers in the mission of Jesus Christ, in Joseph Smith and the restoration of the Gospel, as I have said, you are entitled through faithfully keeping the commandments of the Lord, to individual guidance. It is your right under these conditions to know the truth which makes us free. You cannot be a true member of the Church and reject Jesus Christ. You cannot be a faithful member and reject the scriptures—Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price—for these are the standards of our faith. If you accept them you cannot accept organic evolution, for they are diametrically opposed. [18]

Now let us reason together on what is here presented:

  1. Worlds without number have been created.
  2. They have been created as habitations for the children of God.
  3. The great work and glory of our Father is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
  4. Inhabitants of other worlds are begotten sons and daughters of God.
  5. When one earth passes away to its exaltation another comes.
  6. The making of earths is a glorious work which has been carried on eternally.

This being true, then does it not appear to you that it is a foolish and ridiculous notion that when God created this earth he had to begin with a speck of protoplasm, and take millions of years, if not billions, to bring conditions to pass by which his sons and daughters might obtain bodies made in his image? Why not the shorter route and transplant them from another earth as we are taught in the scriptures? Surely to any reasonable mind, the Lord would not have to start with an amoeba, pass through the stage of lower fish to higher fish to reptiles to apes and to man! When we stop to consider how perfect are the workings of God; how thorough he is and orderly, surely these theories flatten out and are without substance. [19]

CANNOT BELIEVE BOTH GOSPEL AND EVOLUTION. I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory 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 so. If you believe in the doctrine of the evolutionist, then you must accept the view that man has evolved through countless ages from the very lowest forms of life up through various stages of animal life, finally into the human form. The first man, according to this hypothesis known as the “cave man,” was a creature absolutely ignorant and devoid of any marked intelligence over the beasts of the field.” [20]

Organic evolution is Satan’s chief weapon in this dispensation in his attempt to destroy the divine mission of Jesus Christ. It is a contemptible plot against faith in God and to destroy the effective belief in the divine atonement of our Redeemer through which men may be saved from their sins and find place in the Kingdom of God. There is not and cannot be any compromise between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the theories of evolution. Were evolution true, there could be no remission of sin.” [21]

IF EVOLUTION IS TRUE, THE CHURCH IS FALSE. If life began on the earth, as advocated by Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel [22], and others of this school, whether by chance or by some designing hand, then the doctrines of the Church are false. Then there was no Garden of Eden, no Adam and Eve, and no fall. If there was no fall; if death did not come into the world as the scriptures declared that it did—and to be consistent, if you are an evolutionist, this view you must assume—then there was no need for a redemption, and Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, and he did not die for the transgression of Adam, nor for the sins of the world. Then there has been no resurrection from the dead! Consistently, logically, there is no other view, no alternative that can be taken. Now, my brethren and sisters, are you prepared to take this view?” [23]

These modernists, who are instructing and leading astray the people of this and other lands, reject the doctrine of the atonement of Christ; they reject the resurrection of the Son of God and consequently the resurrection of all mankind. They have discarded entirely the miracles of the scriptures and make light of the saving ordinances of the gospel which the Lord declared to be so essential to our salvation; and in the stead thereof they have accepted the theories and notions advanced by modern scientists which are evidently false, and have taken to their hearts and hugged to their bosoms the falsehoods set forth in the theories of evolution and of higher criticism of the scriptures. And why have they done this thing? Because the simple truth, which is understood by the Spirit of God and not understood and comprehended by the spirit of man, does not appeal to their reason.” [24]

Darwin…lost his religion when he lost confidence in [William] Paley’s evidences. He says: “The old argument from design in Nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man.” “At the present day,” he continues, “the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feeling which are experienced by most persons.” Formerly he was led by feelings such as those just referred to, to the firm conviction of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul. The grandeur of the Brazilian forest, he says, used to inspire him with religious awe. “But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to arise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become color-blind.” In another passage he mentions the fact that his love for poetry has gradually disappeared—a proof of the withering effect which continual scientific investigation may exert upon the soul! His state was, however, evidently preconditioned by the original intellectualistic bent of his religious convictions, formed by his early instruction. He has a feeling of having been cheated by false theories and proofs, and therefore looks with distrust upon the entire church. This is an every-day occurrence.

Consequently it is a vital question for the church to assume a proper attitude towards science. The mutual distrust existing between science and the church is fatal to her. [25] The quotations in relation to the loss of faith of Charles Darwin is taken from the book, Charles Darwin’s Life, by his son, Francis Darwin, page 63. One who follows the theories of Darwin, will eventually, like Darwin, lose all faith in God the Eternal Creator. A person cannot believe that bivalve shells come by chance and hinges of a door have to come by the act of an intelligent being, and be sound in his thinking. Verily, those who insistently follow the evolutionary theories, cannot at the same time accept and worship an intelligent anthropomorphic God!” [26]

Question asked of Joseph Fielding Smith: “Since reading your book, Man: His Origin, and Destiny, I have been troubled by your difference in view of organic evolution and the age of man and the teachings of some of our most outstanding scientists who maintain that scientific evidence prove the earth and man to be much older than you claim. Your statements are contrary to what I have been taught and believe.”

President Smith’s Answer: If what I have written is in criticism of the present theories in relation to organic evolution and the age of man upon the earth, in which you believe, then I can readily see why you disagree with what I have taught. I will state frankly and positively that I am opposed to the present biological theories and the doctrine that man has been on the earth for millions of years. I am opposed to the present teachings in relation to the age of the earth which declare that the earth is millions of years old. Some modern scientists even claim that it is a billion years old. Naturally, since I believe in modern revelation, I cannot accept these so-called scientific teachings, for I believe them to be in conflict with the simple and direct word of the Lord that has come to us by divine revelation.” [27]

EVOLUTIONARY THEORY FALSE. This idea that everything commenced from a small beginning, from the scum upon the surface of the sea, and has gradually developed until all forms of life, the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, the fishes of the sea, and the plants upon the face of the earth, have all sprung from that one source, is a falsehood absolutely. There is no truth in it, for God has given us his word by which we may know, and all who are led by the Spirit of God can understand through that Holy Spirit, the truth of these things.” [28]

APOSTASY COMES WHEN TRUTH NOT TAUGHT. Modern education declares that there never was such a thing as the fall of man, but that conditions have always gone on in the same way as now in this mortal world. Here, say they, death and mutation have always held sway as natural conditions on this earth and everywhere throughout the universe the same laws obtain. It is declared that man has made his ascent to the exalted place he now occupies through countless ages of development which has gradually distinguished him from lower forms of life.

Such a doctrine of necessity discards the story of Adam and the Garden of Eden, which it looks upon as a myth coming down to us from an early age of foolish ignorance and superstition. Moreover, it is taught that since death was always here, and a natural condition prevailing throughout all space, there could not possibly come a redemption from Adam’s transgression, hence there was no need for a Savior for a fallen world.

Is it any wonder, under such circumstances, that churches are deserted; that more than half of the population of this country has become indifferent, if not antagonistic, to religion? This, also, is just as true of other lands.
[29]

Harold B. Lee

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. I asked, What about the pre-Adamic people?” 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….’” [30] 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 .” [31]

Spencer W. Kimball

The Gods organized the earth of materials at hand, over which they had control and power. This truth is absolute. A million educated folk might speculate and determine in their minds that the earth came into being by chance. The truth remains. The earth was made by the Gods…opinions do not change that. The Gods organized and gave life to man and placed him on the earth. This is absolute. It cannot be disproved. A million brilliant minds might conjecture otherwise, but it is still true.” [32]

Ezra Taft Benson

I know one noble father who reviews with his children regularly what they have been taught, and if they have been taught any falsehoods; then the children and the father together research out the truth…If your children are taught untruths on evolution in the public schools or even in our Church schools, provide them with a copy of President Joseph Fielding Smith’s excellent rebuttal in his book Man, His Origin and Destiny.” [33]

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, and so forth.” [34]

. . . it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. ‘Even in the Church,’ . . . Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. . . . Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. . . How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.” [35]

Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His Prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. . . . We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember, if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet, and you’ll be blessed and time will vindicate you.” [36]

As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions . . . if [parents] become alerted and informed, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like . . . Charles Darwin and others.” [37]

In 1829, the Lord warned the Saints that they are not to trifle with sacred things [38]. Surely the Book of Mormon is a sacred thing, and yet many trifle with it, or in other words, take it lightly, treat it as though it is of little importance.

In 1832, as some early missionaries returned from their fields of labor, the Lord reproved them for treating the Book of Mormon lightly. As a result of that attitude, he said, their minds had been darkened. Not only had treating this sacred book lightly brought a loss of light to themselves, it had also brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon” [39].

Has the fact that we have had the Book of Mormon with us for over a century and a half made it seem less significant to us today? Do we remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon? In the Bible we have the Old Testament and the New Testament. The word testament is the English rendering of a Greek word that can also be translated as covenant. Is this what the Lord meant when He called the Book of Mormon the new covenant”? It is indeed another testament or witness of Jesus. This is one of the reasons why we have recently added the words Another Testament of Jesus Christ” to the title of the Book of Mormon.

If the early Saints were rebuked for treating the Book of Mormon lightly, are we under any less condemnation if we do the same? The Lord Himself bears testimony that it is of eternal significance. Can a small number of us bring the whole Church under condemnation because we trifle with sacred things? What will we say at the Judgment when we stand before Him and meet His probing gaze if we are among those described as forgetting the new covenant?
[40]

Howard W. Hunter

The Old Testament unfolds the story of the creation of the earth and mankind by God. Should we now disregard this account and modernize the creation according to the theories of the modernists? Can we say there was no Garden of Eden or an Adam and Eve? Because modernists now declare the story of the flood is unreasonable and impossible, should we disbelieve the account of Noah and the flood as related in the Old Testament? Let us examine what the Master said when the disciples came to him as he sat on the Mount of Olives. They asked him to tell them of the time of his coming and of the end of the world. Jesus answered: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” [41]. In this statement the Master confirmed the story of the flood without modernizing it. Can we accept some of the statements of the Lord as being true and at the same time reject others as being false? When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, and they discussed the matter of the death of her brother and the resurrection. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” [42] Both of these statements, the one regarding Noah and the fact of the flood and the one in which he declared himself to be the resurrection and the life, were made by the Lord. How can we believe one and not the other? How can we modernize the story of the flood, or refer to it as a myth, and yet cling to the truth of the other? How can we modernize the Bible and still have it be a guiding light to us and a vital influence in our beliefs? There are those who declare it is old-fashioned to believe in the Bible. Is it old-fashioned to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God? Is it old-fashioned to believe in his atoning sacrifice and the resurrection? If it is, I declare myself to be old-fashioned and the Church to be old-fashioned. In great simplicity, the Master taught the principles of life eternal and lessons that bring happiness to those with the faith to believe.” [43]

Gordon B. Hinckley

When I was a college student there were many discussions on the question of organic evolution. I took classes in geology and biology and heard the whole story of Darwinism as it was then taught. I wondered about it. I thought much about it. But I did not let it sway me, for I read what the scriptures said about our origins and our relationship to God.” [44]

Darwinist and Neo-Darwinist

The Humanist Manifesto spearheaded by John Dewey and other leading academics explains very clearly that Darwinian evolution is the foundation of secularism and humanistic ideals. Note these statements made in Humanist Manifesto I:

Humanist Manifesto I

There is great danger of a final, and we believe fatal, identification of the word religion with doctrines and methods which have lost their significance and which are powerless to solve the problem of human living in the Twentieth Century.

. . .

We therefore affirm the following:

FIRST: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.

SECOND: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.

THIRD: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.

FOURTH: Humanism recognizes that man’s religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage. The individual born into a particular culture is largely molded by that culture.

FIFTH: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist that the way to determine the existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assessment of their relations to human needs. Religion must formulate its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and method.

SIXTH: We are convinced that the time has passed for theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of “new thought”.

. . .

TENTH: It follows that there will be no uniquely religious emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the supernatural.

ELEVENTH: Man will learn to face the crises of life in terms of his knowledge of their naturalness and probability. Reasonable and manly attitudes will be fostered by education and supported by custom. We assume that humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene and discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking.

. . .

So stand the theses of religious humanism. Though we consider the religious forms and ideas of our fathers no longer adequate, the quest for the good life is still the central task for mankind. Man is at last becoming aware that he alone is responsible for the realization of the world of his dreams, that he has within himself the power for its achievement. He must set intelligence and will to the task.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: There were 34 signers of this document, including Anton J. Carlson, John Dewey, John H. Dietrich, R. Lester Mondale, Charles Francis Potter, Curtis W. Reese, and Edwin H. Wilson.]

Humanist Manifesto II

As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds look to other means for survival.

. . .

Faced with apocalyptic prophesies and doomsday scenarios, many flee in despair from reason and embrace irrational cults and theologies of withdrawal and retreat.

Traditional moral codes and newer irrational cults both fail to meet the pressing needs of today and tomorrow. False “theologies of hope” and messianic ideologies, substituting new dogmas for old, cannot cope with existing world realities. They separate rather than unite peoples.

. . .

We believe, however, that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species. Any account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence; in our judgment, the dogmas and myths of traditional religions do not do so.

. . .

As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity. Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than we now know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our knowledge of the natural. Some humanists believe we should reinterpret traditional religions and reinvest them with meanings appropriate to the current situation. Such redefinitions, however, often perpetuate old dependencies and escapisms; they easily become obscurantist, impeding the free use of the intellect. We need, instead, radically new human purposes and goals.

. . .

Traditional religions often offer solace to humans, but, as often, they inhibit humans from helping themselves or experiencing their full potentialities. Such institutions, creeds, and rituals often impede the will to serve others. Too often traditional faiths encourage dependence rather than independence, obedience rather than affirmation, fear rather than courage. More recently they have generated concerned social action, with many signs of relevance appearing in the wake of the “God Is Dead” theologies. But we can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is much that we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.

SECOND: Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful.

. . .

Modern science discredits such historic concepts as the “ghost in the machine” and the “separable soul.” Rather,science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces. As far as we know, the total personality is a function of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context. There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body.

. . .

THIRD: We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction.

. . .

We strive for the good life, here and now.

. . .

SIXTH: In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized. . . . a civilized society should be atolerant one.

. . .

Moral education for children and adults is an important way of developing awareness and sexual maturity.

. . .

It also includes a recognition of an individual’s right to die with dignity, euthanasia, and the right to suicide. We oppose the increasing invasion of privacy . . .

. . .

NINTH: The separation of church and state and the separation of ideology and state are imperatives.

. . .

We believe in the right to universal education.

. . . population growth must be checked by international concord.

. . .

We urge that parochial loyalties and inflexible moral and religious ideologies be transcended.

[45]

Sigmund Freud

In his Autobiographical Study, Freud would recall that “Darwin’s doctrine, then in vogue, was a powerful attraction, since it promised to provide an extraordinary thrust to understanding the universe” (1925d).

From then on Darwin joined Hannibal in Freud’s personal pantheon and he dreamed of becoming his equal. In “A Difficulty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis,” he described the three wounds inflicted on humanity’s pride: when Copernicus established that the earth was not the center of the universe, when Darwin proved that mankind developed in an unbroken line from other animal species, and when he, Freud, showed that man did not have control over the most important aspects of his own mental processes (1917a).

“the theories of Darwin, which were then of topical interest, strongly attracted me, for they held out hope of an extraordinary advance in our understanding of the world” [46]

Charles Lyell

Charles Lyell desired to destroy belief in the scriptural record: If we don’t irritate, which I fear that we may . . . we shall carry all with us. If you don’t triumph over them, but compliment the liberality and candor of the present age, the bishops and enlightened saints will join us in despising both the ancient and modern physico-theologians . . . I conceived the idea five or six years ago, that if ever the Mosaic geology could be set down without giving offence, it would be in an historical sketch . . . Let them feel it, and point the moral.” [47]

Charles Darwin

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. 1

*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 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. Where the edited version stated simply that he had come to see “that the Old Testament was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos,” the original added: “or the beliefs of any barbarian.” It also specified what it was in the Old Testament that be found so objectionable: “its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow as a sign, etc., etc.”

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. 2

Scripture

Supporting Statements

Louis Agassiz

In our study of natural objects we are approaching the thoughts of the Creator, reading his conceptions, interpreting a system that is His and not ours. [48]

Boyd K. Packer

No greater ideal has been revealed than the supernal truth that we are the children of God, and that by virtue of our creation we differ from all other living things [49]. All flesh,” the scriptures teach, is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts” [50]

…The knowledge that we are the children of God is a refining, even an exalting truth. On the other hand, no idea has been more destructive of happiness, no philosophy has produced more sorrow, more heartbreak, more suffering and mischief, no idea has contributed more to the erosion of the family than the idea that we are not the offspring of God, but only advanced animals. There flows from that idea the not too subtle perception that we are compelled to yield to every carnal urge, are subject to physical but not to moral law.

The man-from-animal theory…is widely taught and generally accepted as the solution to the mystery of life.

I know there are two views on the subject. But it is one thing to measure this theory solely against intellectual or academic standards, quite another to measure it against moral or spiritual or doctrinal standards.” [51]

Henry Morris

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.  3


  1. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:141.
  2. Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny, 184-185
  3. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:143.
  4. Ezra Taft Benson, This Nation Shall Endure [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 27.
  5. Ezra Taft Benson, The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov 1986, 4
  6. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 60-61.
  7. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], p. 307
  8. Moses 3:7
  9. Harold B. Lee, First Presidency Message: Find the Answers in the Scriptures,” Ensign, Dec. 1972, 2
  10. Moses 6:8-10, 22, 59
  11. 1 Corinthians 15:39
  12. Boyd K. Packer, Things of the Soul, pp. 109-111
  13. Spencer W. Kimball, Absolute Truth”, Ensign, September 1978, p. 3
  14. Moses 1:34
  15. First Presidency of the Church, The Origin of Man, Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 75–81
  16. see also Ensign, February 2002, p. 26
  17. George Albert Smith, Conference Reports, April 1905, p. 61
  18. Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 276.
  19. Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 276
  20. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:141.
  21. Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny, 184-185
  22. who has been caught openhanded perpetrating a fraud
  23. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:143.
  24. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:289-290.
  25. Introduction to Philosophy, by Dr. Friedrich Paulsen, pp. 159-160.
  26. Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny, p. 83.
  27. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5: 112.
  28. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:140.
  29. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:315.
  30. Moses 3:7
  31. Harold B. Lee, First Presidency Message: Find the Answers in the Scriptures,” Ensign, Dec. 1972, 2
  32. Spencer W. Kimball, Absolute Truth”, Ensign, September 1978, p. 3
  33. Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, p. 227.
  34. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 60-61.
  35. Ezra Taft Benson, Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, BYU devotional, February 26, 1980
  36. Ezra Taft Benson, Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, BYU devotional, February 26, 1980
  37. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], p. 307
  38. D&C 6:12
  39. D&C 84:54–57
  40. Ezra Taft Benson, The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov 1986, 4
  41. Matthew 24:36-39
  42. John 11:25
  43. Howard W. Hunter, That We Might Have Joy, p. 23.
  44. Gordon B. Hinckley, Faith: The Essence of True Religion, p. 18.
  45. http://www.answers.com/topic/darwin-darwinism-and-psychoanalysis
  46. http://www.pep-web.org/document.php?id=apa.013.0499a
  47. Letter written to George Poulette Scrope in 1830, then published in Life, Letters and Journal of Charles Lyell, Mrs. Charles Lyell, ed. (London: John Murray, 1881), pp. 270-271
  48. Louis Agassiz
  49. Moses 6:8-10, 22, 59
  50. 1 Corinthians 15:39
  51. Boyd K. Packer, Things of the Soul, pp. 109-111

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  1. Hugh Nibley, “Archaeology And Our Religion
  2. “Darwin And The Darwinian Revolution,” Gertrude Himmelfarb, 1962, pp. 383 386
  3. Henry M. Morris, “The Twilight of Evolution”

2 thoughts to “20) HARMONIZE: Should the Gospel and evolution be harmonized? Are the conflicts between evolution and statements made by the Prophets caused by terminology misuse?

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