(by Dennis B. Horne)
Dr. Josiah E. Hickman was a well-educated college professor that taught several disciplines over his lifetime at both BYU and Utah State University (before either were universities). He was a prominent teacher with considerable influence in church education. He was also Elder Orson F. Whitney’s best friend, as was his sister, Laura Hickman.
Josiah watched what we would today call troubling liberal/progressive influences infiltrate both universities to various extents, and he fought hard against these encroachments. He became so discouraged that he eventually left the teaching profession to sell insurance. In his early years, as he was obtaining his education, he became so frustrated with evolution in particular that he prayed with great faith and the Lord sent an angel to him to show him a vision about evolution. Josiah kept a diary in which he recorded many particulars of his life, of which the below relate to the subject at hand, including a lengthy narration of his vision, which, as far as I know, if virtually unknown in the Church—but needs to be known:
Logan, Utah, Feb. 16, 1896:
Last Sunday I was called on to speak in the tabernacle. I was led to speak of the sleep that came with mortality and whenever man was inspired with spirit of the Lord he had partially awakened from that sleep. I pointed out the difference of the conception of life between Darwin and apostles [proponents] of evolution and the teachings of the gospel.
May 23, 1897:
I lectured before the Literary Society of the O. S. Academy last Sun. evening on the "Origin of Man in America." We had a large audience and very appreciative; for comment refer to scrap journal. In my lecture I also located the Garden of Eden from the knowledge we get from geology agreeing with the revelation given to Joseph Smith. I also produced an argument against evolution.
June 10, 1909, Beaver:
Myself and seven of my teachers attended the Church school convention in Salt Lake from June 7 to 12. I delivered a talk or discussed the changes needed in the Book of Mormon outline. Many of the teachers do not agree with me in my methods in teaching Book of Mormon yet I know of no one who has better success in teaching it. In the night session it was moved that we recommend to the First Presidency that a committee of 2 or 3 be chosen to go and study Central America and South America to see if we can find a land that fits the description given in Book of Mormon. It was suggested that Joel Ricks, myself, and Tony Ivins be sent there. Supt. Cummings was offended because myself and others took issue with Apostle Ivins on his ideas of Book of Mormon. Yet Ivins drew me in discussion by his personal questions to me. Br. Ivins assured Bro. Cunnings there was no offense and he had urged me to do what I did. The convention was a success, I felt.
July 3, 1910, Beaver.
Since last writing I have been to Salt Lake again. All the Principals and Presidents were called to Salt Lake to talk over matters concerning the policy and workings of our schools. We discussed (1) the value of church schools and the part they were playing in the redemption of Zion. (2) The necessity of seeing the value of the whole school system rather than being sectional. There was danger of us becoming sectional and working for our respective schools and having no interest in the others, etc. (3) We discussed the work and mission of the Religion classes. We all felt they were a part of the Church School System and as such should be directly under the direction of the church schools. I made a motion that it be the sense of our convention that the Board of Examiners (Supt. Cummings, George H. Brimhall, Linford & Young) present the matter to the 1st Presidency of the Church and that the Religion class Board be made aids to the General Board. I do not know what will be the results. We also discussed the danger in our schools of teaching Evolution in Theology.
Feb 22, 1911: Trouble is now on thru the Petersons and Chamberlain teaching evolution and doubting the scriptures. It will cost them their standing it seems. Never since the days of the apostasy in Nauvoo has there been such a commotion and strife.
Feb 26, 1911, Beaver: I referred to the attitude taken by some of our L.D.S. Educators (Drs. Joseph and Henry Peterson, and Chamberlain) on the evolutionary thought. They feel that the Bible is unreliable in its miracles and visions, etc. They have tinctured a great many students. Their cases have been investigated by the apostles and these teachers will probably be removed from their places. I referred to the dream or vision God gave me while I was a student in Ann Arbor concerning the relation of Evolution to our gospel. To me that was one of the greatest visions or dreams of my life.
December 7, 1914, Logan, Ut:
I have decided to teach no more. I am not pleased with the situation in our College. The President (Dr. C. N. Jensen) is deceitful, dishonest, and has about him some teachers who are skeptical as to our doctrine and our present leaders. They accept the evolutionary ideas in preference to God's revealed word. He himself believes our church doctrines not wholly true. He tells me on the "q.t." that man sprang from the monkey and that our church has got to accept it within 12 or 15 yrs. He is jealous of those who are as learned as himself. He has a skin as thin as an oyster's, and he is as venomous as a hornet, while he treats everyone else as though their skin was as thick as an elephant’s. Most of the teachers feel towards him as I do, and I learn from leading students that he is hated by nearly every student in the school. I have known this for 2 and 3 years but have tried to hold him up to them. He has knifed nearly all the leaders of the church as well as a number of our most prominent educators to me time and again. He plays the part of a demagogue and I do not care to have my feelings harassed by being around him, so I will leave at the end of this school year. I may be making a mistake to leave the profession, but time will tell. Until recently I could not make up my mind to leave the teaching profession. Pres. Jensen will not keep big men around him and every year the faculty is losing one or more of their best teachers.
Oct 14, 1917, Logan, Ut: Since last writing school has begun. I am busy with my classes in the B.Y.C. (Divine Evidences of Book of Mormon, General Psychology, and Genetic Psychology) and Agricultural College--General Psychology and Principles of Education. In order to hold my classes without confliction the Agricultural College has their chauffeur ready two days in the week at the college door to run me to the Brigham Young College in 6 minutes.
I went to the Semi-Annual conference at Salt Lake. I do not know whenever I enjoyed a conference more. The spirit of God rested upon both speaker and audience. I never attended a conference before where the speakers quoted and read so much scripture. We are realizing that God has spoken and he is fulfilling his promises.
But I am troubled over the faith of some of our teachers in the B.Y.C. They are holding more to the voice of science than to God's revelation concerning the origin of man. Even Pres. Jensen thinks the church will have to accept Evolution and reject the old scripture of God's forming Adam, etc. Even a number of our teachers are denying the account of the sea dividing and children of Israel passing thru and Egyptians being drowned. They deny the life of Job; the flood as general [world-wide], account of Jonah, yet Christ gives it a stamp of authenticity by saying as Jonah was in the whale's belly 3 days and 3 nights, so should the son of man be in the heart of the earth 3 days and 3 nights or words to that effect (Matt.12:39). Some do not believe the lost tribes will come out of the north countries as is told in the D&C 133. . . . Some believe our leaders are grafters and looking after self than following God's commandments. These and other things they disbelieve and criticize. These things grieve me because I know they are wrong. I feel we are losing out spiritually and our students in many instances are losing faith while in our college. Our college is not filling its destiny in this regard. I sometimes almost feel I stand alone in this effort to lift up our students into a higher spiritual life.
August 31, 1925, Logan: I spoke Sunday night in 1st ward on the stir in the nation over the teaching of evolution in the schools—the trial of Prof. Scopes of Tennessee.
I said it was a protest of millions of Americans over the fact that every theory or science, philosophy, etc. has full swing and freedom to be taught in our schools which in the main throws doubt on God and his revelations, but God and the Bible are rigidly excluded from our schools. I claimed that to exclude God, the author of the universe, from the youth of the nation is a travesty unparalleled. A nation that tried for 100 years to get God and the Bible in their constitution, then exclude them from the education of the youth of the nation was a crime. Then I reviewed in brief the harmony of Science and religion and wherein they varied. My brief address has produced much comment and praise from those who were there.
Oct 7, 1925: I went to Salt Lake and attended the semiannual Conference Monday and Tuesday. Martha went 2 or 3 days before to attend other conventions. The main themes were the belief and keeping of God's commandments; the error of evolution in thinking man came from some lower animal.
Feb 16, 1926 [journal date of 1925 is typo], Logan: Last Sunday I went to Preston by appointment to speak in the 4th ward. When I got there I found that it was quarterly conference in the Oneida stakes. I got there at 2 p.m. and the conference started at 1 p.m. so Apostle Whitney could leave on the 3:15 train. I was asked to take a seat on the stand though I was an hour late. After Apostle Whitney was through speaking he asked that I be given the rest of the time—35 minutes. I hitched on the theme he had spoken on—God's revelation and science. I said that God had sent into the earth great spirits to discover his truths as to his work and creations on this earth. Man tries to build a religion from earth to heaven through what he has discovered and thought out. Of a necessity this man-made religion must be changed as the decades roll on, but God reveals the truth of things from heaven which truths never needed to be changed only to be added up. Scientists discovering truth, verifies what God has revealed and of a necessity such truths as they discover cause men to change their philosophies of life, hence a modifying of their conceptions of religion. Our people need to worry less over the discrepancies between science and theory for we have the revealed word of God continually coming to us. In the very nature of these things, our Gospel will forever lead and science must follow. But whenever science discovers a truth it will agree with our Gospel. Science in time will probably prove every truth God has revealed. I reviewed my experience while a student in University of Michigan and God's answer finally given me thru continued prayer. During most of a night I was in a vision back to my father's home. It was given me in somewhat of a figurative way. Then when I awoke and was told that there was my answer to my request, I could not interpret it and asked for the meaning. I had no sooner asked for the meaning than I was immediately back (in vision) to my father's home and a heavenly visitor stood by my side and explained the science to me as it again was repeated. I suppose I should take the time to write out this favored vision for it was a
mighty revelation to me. In brief it was this: At the time I was in and under constant fire over evolution. At that time the evolutionists were quite of the opinion that God was not needed in the scheme of creation for natures laws could do it all. That life was spontaneous, etc. At that time I was studying Ast [?]. Geology, Paleontology, Biology, Zoology, Botany, psychology, etc. and everything was interpreted from the standpoint of blind evolution. I felt I knew our gospel was true and had read our standard works, our history, etc., but being bombarded from every side by superior minds with what appeared to be facts and truths strongly fortified by rib-bound theories. I was a little like Lehi, I found myself hanging to a rod of iron passing through a valley of darkness. I often asked God to explain to me the relation between my religion and the theories of men. On that special occasion I had been reading all day on the history of education. It was then late on a September afternoon. For a rest I got up and walked the floor for I was alone then as my family were not with me. I was reliving in my mind my religion and the conflict with the philosophies of men. While so meditating I was impressed to pray over the matter for light. I then knelt by my bed and prayed earnestly for God to show me the truth of things so I should not be led estray. I had asked Him if there was anything lacking in what He had revealed which caused this difference between the revelations and his gospel. I asked Him if anything He had revealed would ever be modified so that they (science and religion) would be harmonized. When through my prayer I arose and walked my room again in calm meditation pondering these things over again. I was again impressed to pray which I did and I noticed my phraseology was being framed much as my first prayer. It almost seemed as the same force was guiding me what to ask for. When through my second prayer I arose and walked my room again in quiet meditation. After some 15 or 20 minutes of thought I was impressed to pray for the third time. On doing so I was conscious of my thoughts and words again being guided as before. I then seemed quite satisfied in my mind. That night I went to bed about my usual time some time near 11 p.m. I awoke next morning just at daylight. No sooner had I opened my eyes when a voice said to me there is your answer. I thought “What answer. I have asked no question.” Then I immediately remembered I had been praying the afternoon before, asking for God to reveal the truth of things and explain the relations of science and religion. Then I said to myself, where is the answer? Then there burst upon my mind that I had been in a dream or vision all night. I had been to my parents' home in Benjamin, Ut. I had stood across the street—east, looking at our home. I could see the end of the home rather than the side. While looking at it, a few well-dressed gentlemen, calm in speech and manner, approached me. They were highly educated. One of them seemed to do the talking. He pointed to my parents' home and said: “Your parents take in roomers and boarders as an accommodation” (which they did for no one else in the village did so). “Why don't you enlarge your home so you or they can take in all travelers for they will come here from all over the earth. You can't accommodate but a small amount who will come here. The people from all over the earth will come and desire to stay in your father's home, but they can't be accommodated. It is too small.” I replied that I could not think of seeing my father's home entirely changed to accommodate travelers. I said it would not be home any more to me. It would destroy the very spirit and soul of the home. “Well,” said he, “if you are so particular about keeping the home as a home so that the spirit of the home would remain, take down the walls and leave the foundation untouched (you would still have the home or the foundation) then you can build up the walls flaring thus, then every story you build on above the other there would be more rooms than on the story below and so on until when several stories had been builded you would have any amount of rooms and so on as you needed until all the world could be accommodated.” I immediately replied that that could not be done for the walls would fall and destroy the building. He, the spokesman, said in a most pleasant and assuring tone of voice that the walls would not fall for said he: “Science has proved that the walls can be so built that they will never fall”; but I could not believe it. Without my consent I saw the walls of my father's home taken down and only the foundation remained. Then workmen in a most rapid manner began to rebuild the flaring walls as the scientist had declared they could be with perfect safety. All the while the learned men—quiet, serene, deeply sincere—and I stood across the street and watched the building go up with almost incredible swiftness. To my surprise the walls endured on and on up to several stories and I was full of wonderment and had said to myself “Is it possible I am deceived after all?,” but while looking on in half perplexity, the walls of a sudden fell with a crash to the ground. A great dust arose as one would expect. When the cloud of dust cleared away I saw that every brick had fallen from the foundation of my father's home, but that the foundation was not injured at all. I then turned to these scientists and said, “It is just as I told you.” “Now, what of your demonstrated science?” Those men were so confused and perplexed to find all their life's theories and demonstrated facts were false after all and proved to work havoc, they were almost speechless. They could make no answer to my question but departed one by one in confusion without reply. They seemed to just melt away or disappear. Then, standing there alone, I saw my father's home rebuilt as it was at first. It looked good to me. I then saw other fine buildings built on either side of our home just a rod or so way. They were of white brick while my father's home was of red brick (for that is their real color). No matter how high those buildings were reared my father's home was still higher and larger. I said to myself, “I never knew my father's home was so tall and magnificent before.” Then I tried to see just how tall my father's home was. I raised my eyes to the height I had looked before but the home was still higher. Then I raised my eyes still higher and lo, my father's home extended to the clouds and still I could not see the top. I thought how strange, I helped to build that home and had never known such height. This was the vision of the night and when the memory of all this vision was on me again I could see no relation to what I had asked the afternoon before. “Father,” I said, “if this is my answer will you explain it to me as I do not understand the figurative meaning?” I no sooner had asked this than I was back in the vision of the night. I stood in the same place on the east side of the street from my father's home. An angel or a messenger stood by my side. (May I digress a moment to say I had seen him before in a vision and once since in a glorious vision of the future). He explained all I had seen and every step I beheld again. He said: “Your father's home is the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the faith of your fathers. The red brick symbolizes that it is ancient. The learned men who talked with you represented the great scholars of the earth—scientists and philosophers. They wanted to have your father's faith so changed that it would accept all conclusions of science and theories of men. You rightly objected because that would destroy the perfectness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “You beheld that the change of your father's home brought destruction; all except the foundation which was not changed. That had not been changed. It symbolized the gospel which is perfect and if it is changed it will destroy the truth as God has revealed to the earth again.” “The new white brick buildings built on either side of your father's home were the truths and theories of men as by homes in which the learned might lodge. Being builded on their own foundations if they fall, they fall from their own foundations and do not affect the gospel or your father's home. What is true will stand. It can and will stand on its own foundation. Truth can stand alone. It needs no prop.” “As the new buildings extended story after story you beheld that your father's home was taller than them all. As you looked you saw no limit to its height. So with the gospel of Jesus Christ: you can't behold its height for it extends into heaven. It is limitless.” This rehearsal of my night's vision was but for a few minutes for soon I was out of it back in my bed and the day seemed about as early as when I first awoke. The vision was not a sleep; it was an awakening but a change. It seemed that the consciousness of the vision was as perfect an awakened state as my present consciousness is as I write this account. I forgot to say that I was informed that the side buildings of science would be as a protection to the gospel when storms of evil beset the gospel of Christ, etc. I made a brief mention of this dream or vision in my journal at the time, but failed to write in full. See Journal B, pp. 87-89. I was also informed by the angel that when God wished to give new revelation it would be added from above and a modification of the structure already builded.
It was this revelation I related in brief to the conference. I assured them God gave that to me for me. It was no one else's guide. It was to protect me from error; to vindicate me in my belief for my faithfulness. I told them that from that hour I have never been disturbed in my feelings. When men come out with new theories or purported facts and they go counter to God's revealed word, I then put a question mark up on their revelation or findings and not upon God's. The mistake of some of our young scholars is when they find science conflicting with what God
has revealed they question God's revelation. “That,” I said, “is fatal to them, in their true progress.” This was the 1st time, I told them, I had ever related this vision in public but had told it a few times to my most intimate friends. One may wonder how I can remember so accurately these many years (1894). A vision is clearer and more enduring than waking experience. It does not seem to fade with the years. I have discussed this point in my former journal (B) or two very briefly.
and for all the journals:
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