(by Dennis B. Horne)
As a result
of the BYU Modernism controversy, but mainly the scopes monkey trial of
evolution vs Biblical creationism, President Smith gave this October
1925 general conference talk:
Now to this vast audience I could ask that question without hesitation, with the assurance that most of you would say, Why, there were two creations referred to. In the first place God created all these things. He formed the earth that was without form and void. He caused light to appear, he caused the waters to take their place, and the dry land to appear. He created spiritually, everything that dwells upon the earth; and after he had done that, the statement is made that there was not yet man to till the earth. Man in his spiritual condition was not prepared to till the earth, and so God formed his body for him. He prepared his physical being, and then the spirit that had been prepared before was placed in that body and he became a living soul. It seems to me that a splendid opportunity was lost to say to all the world, read the first and second chapters of Genesis carefully, and, to a very may as large degree it will settle any doubt that be in your mind to the possibility of the various forms of life gravitating from one to the other, because we are told, “every tree and every seed bearing fruit after its kind.”
the Latter-day Saints have another witness, and I am reminded to read to you,
just briefly, the testimony of something that the world has not yet received,
but which, to my mind, is the truth as contained upon papyrus, and I will read
the heading of this:
translation of some ancient records, that have fallen into our hands, from the
catacombs of Egypt; the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the
Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.” The Latter-day Saints
accept the statement at face value, as contained in the first and second
chapters of Genesis. Yea, we believe the Bible, all the Bible, to be the word
of God, as far as it is translated correctly, and in addition we find in this
translation that has been given to us from papyrus, by the Prophet Joseph Smith
this statement by Abraham:
Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before
the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he
said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits.”
Let us keep
that in mind: “For he stood among those that were spirits.”Not the physical
tabernacles that we now possess.
“And he saw
that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou
wast chosen before thou wast born.
stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with
him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these
materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord
their God shall command them;
who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their
first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their
first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon
their heads for ever and ever.
Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here
am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord
said: I will send the first.
second was angry, and kept not his first estate, and, at that day, many
followed after him.”
there is a great similarity between this and the Old Testament.
Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that
is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.
earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed
anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the
Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.
(the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.
(the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the
light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.
Then I will
skip several passages:
Gods called the expanse, Heaven. And it came to pass that it was from evening
until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from
morning until evening that they called day; and this was the second time that
they called night and day.”
phraseology. Whether it was a period of twenty-four hours or whether it was a
period of hundreds of years was not explained, but it was a period of time. And
this record that is given as the words of Abraham, having been revealed to him
by his heavenly Father, specifies it as a time. And so after each creation it
is referred to as a first time, a second time, a third time, and so on.
Gods ordered, saying: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto
one place, and let the earth come up dry; and it was so as they ordered;
Gods pronounced the dry land, earth; and the gathering together of the waters,
pronounced they, great waters; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.
Gods said: Let us prepare the earth to bring forth grass.”
they were to prepare the earth to bring forth grass.
yielding seed; the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind, whose seed in
itself yieldeth its own likeness upon the earth; and it was so, even as they
Gods organized the earth to bring forth grass from its own seed, and the herb
to bring forth herb from its own seed, yielding seed after his kind; and the
earth to bring forth the tree from its own seed, yielding fruit, whose seed
could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind; and the Gods saw
that they were obeyed.
came to pass that they numbered the days; from the evening until the morning
they called night; and it came to pass, from the morning until the evening they
called day; and it was the third time.”
We will now
pass over a few paragraphs, telling of the preparation for bringing forth
whales, winged fowl, creeping things, etc., then we read:
Gods prepared the earth to bring forth the living creature after his kind,
cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind; and it
was so, as they had said.
Gods organized the earth to bring forth the beasts after their kind, and cattle
after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind;
and the Gods saw they would obey.
Gods took counsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our
image, after our likeness; and we will give them dominion over the fish of the
sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth,
and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to
form they him, male and female to form they them.
Gods said: We will bless them. And the Gods said: We will cause them to be
fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and to have
dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every
living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Gods said: Behold, we will give them every herb bearing seed that shall come
upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it;
yea, the fruit of the tree yielding seed to them we will give it; it shall be
for their meat.”
will pass over a few passages:
Gods came down and formed these the generations of the heavens and of the
earth, when they were formed in the day that the Gods formed the earth and the
to all that which they had said concerning every plant of the field before it
was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Gods had
not caused it to rain upon the earth when they counseled to do them, and had
not formed a man to till the ground.
went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
Gods formed man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit (that is, the
man's spirit), and put it into him; and breathed into his nostrils the breath
of life, and man became a living soul.
Gods planted a garden, eastward in Eden, and there they put the man, whose
spirit they had put into the body which they had formed.”
another testimony to me of the origin of the species. It is to me the simplest
explanation of the preparation of this earth for the habitation of animal and
vegetable life that has ever been prepared. It has been my privilege to read
the theories and to listen to the solutions of this problem by some of the
wisest men of the world, but wherein they have differed from this plain
statement of facts, as revealed by our Father in heaven to his servants, who
were his mouthpieces to the children of men, the arguments of my Father's sons,
my brethren if you will, whom I love, every one of them has been feeble indeed,
to bear to my mind a comprehension of the origin of man.
come again to the story contained in the Book of Mormon, which adds also to the
testimony we have of where we came from. Then we have the testimony of the
Prophet Joseph Smith in our day, who has supplemented these things by
revelations, that to me are beautiful explanations of the purposes of God
toward his children, and his preparation of their peace and happiness
throughout the ages of eternity.
grateful that in the midst of the confusion of our Father's children there has
been given to the members of this great organization a sure knowledge of the
origin of man, that we came from the spirit world where our spirits were begotten
by our Father in heaven, that he formed our first parents from the dust of the
earth, and that their spirits were placed in their bodies, and that man came,
not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, from some of
the lower walks of life, but our ancestors were those beings who lived in the
courts of heaven. We came not from some menial order of life, but our ancestor
is God our heavenly Father. I am grateful that we are not laboring under a
handicap such as I feel that some men are who feel that they have grown up and
evolved from some unknown condition; but, on the contrary, standing as we do,
facing the problems of life, believing as we do that we were first created in
the image of God, that he is the Father of our spirits, and that he created
this earth for us that we might dwell hereon, under his wise counsel and
direction, we may be happy, to rejoice in life and to prepare ourselves to go
back into his presence, to live forever, when our life here upon this earth has
some of the things that have come into my mind during this conference, and I
stand here, my brethren and sisters, again to say to you: grateful am I that
there is no doubt in my mind as to our ancestry, and I believe, as I believe
that I live, that if we will keep the commandments of God, as they have been
handed down to us through his prophets from age to age, if we will avail
ourselves of this glorious truth as it has been promulgated among the children
of men, our lives upon this earth will be filled with joy and satisfaction and
assurance, and in the end there will come to us the joy of eternal life and
eternal companionship with those we love throughout the ages of eternity.
This is a
part of your mission, ye men of Israel, to evidence by your lives, to teach by
word of mouth, this truth, as also the other truths that are essential for men
and women to dwell in the celestial kingdom of our heavenly Father. Gathered
together as we are today under the roof of this building that has been
dedicated to the worship of the Lord our God, how grateful we ought to be that
there has been removed from us the doubt that exists in the minds of so many of
our Father's splendid sons and daughters, that there has come to us that
abiding assurance that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that he is our
elder brother, and that if we are faithful, in his own due time he will cleanse
and purify this earth on which we dwell, and it will be celestialized, and
those who have prepared themselves for the celestial kingdom will have the joy
of dwelling hereon, to be directed, to be counseled, to be taught, and advised
by the Lord of lords and King of kings, throughout the ages of eternity. What a
wonderful promise, my brethren and sisters, has been given to the children of
men, and oh, how I pray that there may come into the souls of the thousands and
millions of God's children a knowledge of the purpose of their being, that they
may prepare, while there is yet time before their final summons, for the time
when we will be classified and placed in whatever kingdom we have earned the
right to dwell in, when we go to the other side. (Conference
Report, October 1925, 28-33.)