From: Duwayne Anderson
To: All Nov-28-93 12:45PM
Subject: Books on Evolution \ Mormons on Evolution
Organization: Tektronix, Inc., Redmond, OR, USA
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Duwayne Anderson)
Over the last few months I have posted several requests for
information regarding evolution, the universal flood myth,
and evidence for accelerated seismic activity. I have
requested this information in order to counter some of the
things my 14 year-old son is being taught at the Mormon
church he attends. I appreciate the many suggestions and
comments that have been forwarded to me in response to these
requests. I recently placed an order for over 25 books,
many of which were recommended by contributors to this news
In response to my requests some have suggested that the
Mormon church does not have an official position regarding
evolution, or such Old Testament myths as the universal
flood. At least one poster suggested I handle the situation
by basically telling these folks they are out of line, and
asking them to keep their opinions to themselves.
Although I am grateful to those who have offered this
advice, I cannot accept it. The reasons are really quite
simple. First, I believe the church's position on the
theory of evolution (at least as far as its leaders are
concerned) is non-ambiguous, and generally encourages a
literal reading of Old Testament mythology. In support of
this assertion I have attached several quotes from high
Mormon officials at the end of this post.
Second, its not possible to expect a religious zealot to be
quiet. We have seen more than enough evidence of this on
T.O. Asking them to keep their opinions to themselves would
be a waste of time.
Third, I think this is an ideal learning opportunity. Too
often children grow up thinking its wrong to question
religious leaders (or any leaders, for that matter). An
incredible guilt complex is programed into children early
on, to the effect that questioning church leaders is
tantamount to questioning God. By letting these folks
demonstrate just how wrong they are, I hope to demonstrate
that religious leaders are anything but infallible. Their
advice, like anyone else's, (and that of ancient legends and
books of mythology as well) should be examined critically
and, when wrong, should be discarded.
I find it curious, however, that there are people who are
under the impression that Mormonism is neutral about
evolution and such myths as the Noachian flood. This is
certainly not consistent with my own experience. I don`t
have a complete explanation for this, but I will offer
suggestions for a few possibilities.
First, Mormons specifically state that they only believe the
Bible "as far as it is translated correctly" (from the
thirteen articles of the Mormon faith). To some, this might
imply that Mormons are less likely to place a literal
interpretation on some of the myths in the Old Testament.
Perhaps reasonable people simply assume that since Mormons
place restrictions on what they believe in the bible, they
must not believe in the more ludicrous parts, like a 6,000
year-old earth, or a universal flood.
Another possibility is that many fine Mormon scholars are
superb apologists for the church. Some Mormon scholars
(Hugh Nibly, for example) are far less literal when
interpreting the Old Testament than are many Mormon leaders.
These scholars, I believe, can see the predicament the
church is headed for as the evidence supporting evolution
mounts. Unfortunately, they lack the ecclesiastical
authority to establish church doctrine.
Finally, there is the "milk before meat and potatoes"
syndrome. This syndrome suggests that potential converts
should not be exposed to controversial doctrines until they
have first accepted other, more basic, Mormon doctrines.
Mormons that tell you the church has made no official
statements about evolution may just be trying to protect you
from things "you're not ready to hear yet".
I really don't want to get into a protracted argument about
what does or does not constitute Mormon doctrine (or
doctrine in any church for that matter). It could be
abstractly defined in terms of official pronouncements. But
I don't find that definition particularly satisfying. The
real soul of any church, it seems to me, is defined not by
committee, but by the collective beliefs of its members. In
that respect I suppose that among well educated Mormons
evolution might not be contrary to church doctrine, while
among more illiterate congregations it is.
In spite of the fact I don't believe church doctrine is
necessarily or completely established by edict, the
importance of official pronouncements and the opinions of
high ranking church officials cannot be ignored. Given
their extreme emphasis on authority, I believe this is
especially true of the Mormon church. At the end of this
post I have listed several quotes from notable Mormons, and
Mormon scripture, that strongly support a literal
interpretation of the Genesis flood myth, or that denounce
the theory of evolution. Since Mormonism is among the most
centralized and authoritarian religions in America I believe
these quotes do establish at least some justification for
stating that Mormons, in concert with their "general
authorities", do not believe in evolution, and do believe in
such Old Testament myths as the universal flood and tower of
babel. Also of significance is the fact I could find no
statements by Mormon "general authorities" that supported
evolution, or that even suggested those "general
authorities" that ridicule evolution are not speaking for
the church. This is not to say such statements do not
exist. But it does illustrate a significant imbalance of
opinion that, I believe, supports the reasonable assumption
that among the leadership of the church evolution is
considered false doctrine. If anyone is aware of any
statements by Mormon general authorities that supports
evolution I would very much appreciate a reference.
Regardless of any statements by Mormon leaders, however, I
am under no illusions that members of the church universally
denounce the theory of evolution, or accept the many myths
in the Old Testament. Among Mormons, as with other
churches, there are widely held opinions. For me, the more
interesting question is the direction the church is headed.
Unfortunately, with the church's recent declaration that
intellectuals represent a threat to the church, I expect
they will increase, rather than decrease, their opposition
to the theory of evolution. This is unfortunate because it
will further the evolutionary trend of the church, itself,
toward a membership that is increasingly superstitious and
"Noah was born to save seed of everything, when the earth
was washed of its wickedness by the flood; and the Son of
God came into the world to redeem it from the fall." Joseph
Smith, founder of Mormonism (1).
"The construction of the first vessel was given to Noah by
revelation. The design of the ark was given by God, "a
pattern of heavenly things."" Joseph Smith, founder of
"It will be remembered that the Lord set the rainbow as a
token to Noah of his covenant that the earth would never
again be destroyed by flood. Evidently, this same token
will serve as a sign to warn us of the nearness of Christ's
coming so that we may make necessary preparations." Gerald
Lund, Mormon scholar (3).
"The gathering of this people is as necessary to be observed
by believers, as faith, repentance, baptism, or any other
ordinance. It is an essential part of the Gospel of this
dispensation, as much so as the necessity of building an ark
by Noah for his deliverance, was a part of the Gospel in his
dispensation. Then the world was destroyed by a flood, now
it is to be destroyed by war, pestilence, famine,
earthquakes, storms, and tempests, the sea rolling beyond it
bounds, malarious vapors, vermin, disease, and by fire and
the lightnings of God's wrath poured out for destruction
upon Babylon." Joseph F. Smith, Sixth President of the
"There we no pr-Adomites. Any assumption to the contrary
runs counter to the whole plan and scheme of the Almighty in
creating and peopling this earth" Bruce R. McConkie, member
of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles (5).
"Thus the period during which birth, and life, and death
have been occurring on this earth is less than 6,000 years"
Bruce R. McConkie, member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles
"Obviously there never will be a conflict between truths
revealed in the realm of religion and those discovered by
scientific research. Truth is ever in harmony with itself.
But if false doctrines creep into revealed religion, these
will run counter to the discovered truths of science; and if
false scientific theories are postulated, these ultimately
will be overthrown by the truths revealed from Him who knows
all things" Bruce R. McConkie, Quorum of the Twelve
"There is no harmony between the truths of revealed religion
and the theories of organic evolution." Bruce R. McConkie,
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (8).
"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'
(Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard
him as the primal parent of the race." Formal pronouncement
by the First Presidency of the Church regarding the theory
of evolution, Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H.
"In the days of Noah the Lord sent a universal flood which
completely immersed the whole earth and destroyed all flesh
except that preserved on the ark. ... There is no question
but what many of the so-called geological changes in the
earth's surface which according to geological theories took
place over the ages of time, in reality occurred in a matter
of a few short weeks incident to the universal deluge."
Bruce R. McConkie, Member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles
The Book of Mormon states that the earliest inhabitants of
the Western Hemisphere came from the middle east just prior
to "the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the
language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they
should be scattered upon all the face of the earth".
According to the Book of Mormon these people built barges
which they sailed to America and the Book of Mormon gives
tacit approval to the story of Noah (as well as
corroborating approval of the Tower of Babel) when it
describes their barges as being "tight like unto the ark of
"For this, the waters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn
that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so
have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee." (12)
"Wherefore Enoch saw that Noah built an ark; and that the
Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand; but upon
the residue of the wicked the floods came and swallowed them
up. ... And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from
Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; ..." (13)
"The theory of evolution as presently taught posits that
higher forms of life arose gradually from lower stages of
living matter. Inheritable genetic changes in offspring are
assumed to be spontaneous rather than the result of directed
forces external to the system."
"This theory conflicts with a basic law of chemistry, the
second law of thermodynamics, which states in part that it
is not possible for a spontaneous process to produce a
system of higher order than the system possessed at the
beginning of the change." Elder George R. Hill, former
general authority and member of the Quorum of Seventy (14).
(1) Teachings Of The Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by
Joseph Fielding Smith, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City,
Utah. Copyright 1976, page 12.
(2) Teachings Of The Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by
Joseph Fielding Smith, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City,
Utah. Copyright 1976, page 251.
(3) The Coming of the Lord, Gerald N. Lund, Bookcraft
Publishers, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1971, page 7.
(4) From an 1877 speech by Joseph F. Smith, son of patriarch
Hyrum Smith, and later president of the Church, as quoted in
The Coming of the Lord, Gerald N. Lund, Bookcraft
Publishers, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1971, pages
(5) - (8) Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R. McConkie of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bookcraft Publishers, Salt
Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1966, pages 247-256.
(9) Formal pronouncement by the First Presidency of the
Church (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H.
Lund), November, 1909, titled "The Origin Of Man", as
reprinted in Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R. McConkie of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bookcraft Publishers, Salt
Lake City, Utah. Copyright 1966, page 249.
(10) Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles, Bookcraft Publishers, Salt Lake City,
Utah. Copyright 1966, page 289.
(11) Book of Mormon, Ether 1:33 and Ether 6:7.
(12) Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 22:9
(13) Revelation to Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon
church, December 1830, printed in The Pearl of Great Price,
(14) June 1993 issue of the "Ensign", official publication
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
Disclaimer: Hey! these are just my ideas. Nobody else's.