(by Dennis B. Horne)
One of the best and strongest reasons to interpret the First Presidency document “The Origin of Man” (see #12 & 13) as it is written, being a clear refutation of evolution and superb teachings about the origin of Adam and Eve, is because when you look at everything else President Smith taught on the subject, it all agrees and harmonizes. President Joseph F. Smith knew the true doctrine of the origin of man and the falseness of evolution—and often said so.
I believe, too, that the most of the Latter-day Saints are wise enough, that they have sufficient intelligence and a sufficient portion of the Spirit of the living God in their hearts, to decide between truth and error, between right and wrong, and between light and darkness; and I will say I believe they have sense enough to abide by the simple, pure, truthful principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in preference to all the vagaries of philosophers, or of scientists, or of anybody else. There is no science, nor philosophy that can supersede God Almighty's truth. The Lord has said, "My word is truth," and indeed it is and I believe that the Latter-day Saints know enough about the word of God to know it is His word when they see it and shun whatever is not; and that they will abide by the word of God, for it is truth. As the Savior said, "If ye will abide in my word, then are ye my disciples, indeed; ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." I believe that the Latter-day Saints, and especially the leading men in Israel, have sufficient knowledge and understanding of the principles of the gospel that they know the truth, and they are made free by its possession—free from sin, free from error, free from darkness, from the traditions of men, from vain philosophy, and from the untried, unproven theories of scientists, that need demonstration beyond the possibility of a doubt. We have had science and philosophy through all the ages, and they have undergone change after change. Scarcely a century has passed but they have introduced new theories of science and of philosophy that supersede the old traditions and the old faith and the old doctrines entertained by philosophers and scientists. These things may undergo continuous changes, but the word of God is always true, is always right. (Conference Report, April 1911, 7-8.)
President Joseph F. Smith wrote an editorial in a Church magazine in reaction to the campus controversy in which, among other things, he said: “Some of our teachers are anxious to explain how much of the theory of evolution, in their judgment, is true, and what is false, but that only leaves their students in an unsettled frame of mind. They are not old enough and learned enough to discriminate, or put proper limitations upon a theory which we believe is more or less a fallacy.”
President Joseph F. Smith wrote his son and said “For my sake, my son, as well as your own, eschew the [BYU professors’] evolution and all such things.”
Joseph F. Smith:
Our young people are diligent students. They reach out after truth and knowledge with commendable zeal, and in so doing they must necessarily adopt for temporary use, many theories of men. As long, however, as they recognize them as scaffolding useful for research purposes, there can be no special harm in them. It is when these theories are settled upon as basic truth that trouble appears, and the searcher then stands in grave danger of being led hopelessly from the right way….
The Church holds to the definite authority of divine revelation which must be the standard; and that, as so-called "Science" has changed from age to age in its deductions, and as divine revelation is truth, and must abide forever, views as to the lesser should conform to the positive statements of the greater, and, further, that in institutions founded by the Church for the teaching of theology, as well as other branches of education, its instructors must be in harmony in their teachings with its principles and doctrines….
There are so many demonstrated, practical, material truths, so many spiritual certainties, with which the youth of Zion should become familiar, that it appears a waste of time and means, and detrimental to faith and religion to enter too extensively into the undemonstrated theories of men on philosophies relating to the origin of life, or the methods adopted by an All-wise Creator in peopling the earth with the bodies of men, birds and beasts. Let us rather turn our abilities to the practical analysis of the soil, the study of the elements, the productions of the earth, the invention of useful machinery, the social welfare of the race, and its material amelioration; and for the rest cultivate an abiding faith in the revealed word of God and the saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which give joy in this world and in the world to come eternal life and salvation.
Philosophic theories of life have their place and use, but it is not in the classes of the Church schools, and particularly are they out of place here or anywhere else, when they seek to supplant the revelations of God. The ordinary student cannot delve into these subjects deep enough to make them of any practical use to him, and a smattering of knowledge in this line only tends to upset his simple faith in the gospel, which is of more value to him in life than all the learning of the world without it.
The religion of the Latter-day Saints is not hostile to any truth, nor to scientific search for truth. "That which is demonstrated, we accept with joy," said the First Presidency in their Christmas greeting to the Saints, "but vain philosophy, human theory and mere speculations of men we do not accept, nor do we adopt anything contrary to divine revelation or to good common sense, but everything that tends to right conduct, that harmonizes with sound morality and increases faith in Deity, finds favor with us, no matter where it may be found."
A good motto for young people to adopt, who are determined to delve into philosophic theories, is to search all things, but be careful to hold on only to that which is true. The truth persists, but the theories of philosophers change and are overthrown. What men use today as a scaffolding for scientific purposes from which to reach out into the unknown for truth, may be torn down tomorrow, having served its purpose; but faith is an eternal principle through which the humble believer may secure everlasting solace. It is the only way to find God..—Improvement Era, Vol. 14, p. 548.
and philosophy through all the ages have undergone change after change.
Scarcely a century has passed but they have introduced new theories of science
and philosophy, that supersede the old traditions and the old faith and the old
doctrines entertained by philosophers and scientists. These things may undergo
continuous changes, but the word of God is always true, is always right. The
principles of the gospel are always true, the principles of faith in God,
repentance from sin, baptism for the remission of sins by authority of God, and
the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost—these principles are
always true, and are always absolutely necessary for the salvation of the
children of men, no matter who they are and where they are. No other name under
heaven is given but that of Jesus Christ, by which you can be saved or exalted
It is to be feared…that in some places there is a growing disposition to involve our religious ideas and instructions in all sorts of speculations. In religious technicalities there is always a distinct danger—a danger in which men undertake to solve the relation which we bear to God through the medium of human reasoning. There are some who love to argue for argument’s sake—as willing to argue on the side of error as of truth—and it is very easy for such people to fall into the spirit of contention. There are others who are prone to mysticism, and become easy victims of all sorts of sophistries. There are people who are always in search of hidden meaning they imagine they see in the Scriptures, and they waste their lives on trivial and unimportant matters.
There are facts enough in the history of God’s dispensation to man to occupy thoughtful minds, and there are always peculiar conditions to be found in the history of religion that can be made applicable to our social needs and individual wants; and the great fundamental truths of Holy Writ are the simplest and most easily understood. If they have become difficult to human understanding, it is because religious speculators of the day have involved them in systems of philosophy that are not necessary to their appreciation or understanding. (Editorial Thoughts, “Simplicity in Religion,” The Juvenile Instructor, vol. XLVI [May 1911], no. 5, 268.)
Our methods in speculation and reasoning about the things of God may often be harmless; but if we depart from the simplicity of God’s word into a spirit of rationalism, we become the victims of a vanity which endangers the true spirit of worship in the human heart. It is not easy for men to give up their vanities, to overcome their preconceived notions, and surrender themselves heart and soul to the will of God that is always higher than their own. The dangers of religious speculations are as great today as they were in the days of Christ, and if we would avoid their dangers we must adhere to the simplicity of our religious belief and practices. When men and women realize they are getting into deep water where their footing is insecure, they should retreat; for they may be sure that the course they have been taking will lead them more and more away from their bearings which are not always easy to regain. The religion of the heart, the unaffected and simple communion which we should hold with God is the highest safeguard of the Latter-day Saints. It is no discredit to our intelligence or to our integrity to say frankly in the face of a hundred speculative questions, “I do not know.”
One thing is certain, and that is, God has revealed enough to our understanding for our exaltation and for our happiness. Let the Saints then utilize what they already have; be simple and unaffected in their religion, both in thought and word, and they will not easily lose their bearings, and be subjected to the vain philosophies of man.
What we need in our religious faith and manner of life is more simplicity and less ostentation. Some people get their religion so mixed with foreign matters that it changes according to the passing moods and speculations to which they are subjected. Our reason has been given us for a wise purpose—to support the faith that comes through the revelations of God. The fallacy of all attempts to evolve a perfect religious system out of human reasoning is apparent to the Latter-day Saints, and should be to all men. (Editorial Thoughts, “Simplicity in Religion,” The Juvenile Instructor, vol. XLVI [May 1911], no. 5, 269.)
I know that God is a being with body, parts and passions and that His Son, Jesus Christ, grew and developed into manhood the same as you or I, as likewise did God, His Father, grow and develop to the Supreme Being that He now is. Man was born of woman; Christ, the Savior, was born of woman, and God, the Father, was born of woman. Adam, our earthly parent, was also born of woman into this world, the same as Jesus and you and I. (Deseret Evening News, Dec. 27, 1913, Sec. 3, 7.)
God was and is our Father, and his children were begotten in the flesh of his own image and likeness, male and female. . . .
God originated and designed all things, and all are his children. We are born into the world as his offspring; endowed with the same attributes. The children of men have sprung from the Almighty, whether the world is willing to acknowledge it or not. He is the Father of our spirits. He is the originator of our earthly tabernacles. (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 25, 62.)
 Wilkinson, ed., Brigham Young University, 1:429.
 Joseph F. Smith to Andrew Smith, 25 February 1911; cited in Ernest L. Wilkinson, ed., Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975), 4 vols, 1:426.