(by Dennis B. Horne)
The below are some selections from the teachings of Elder Whitney on the origin of man:
I believe that when God made man in His own image, He made a man, and not a monkey, nor any other animal out of which man has evolved. I do not believe that the first of our race was a savage, or a cave man, who courted his wife with a club and carried her off by force. Such creatures there may have been, and there may be now. I do not dispute the findings and the facts of science—real science—which is knowledge, not guess-work. But I do deny that the great father of the human family was a creature of that kind.
Adam was no ordinary character. How could he be, with such a mission and such antecedents as were his? In the heavens, before this earth was formed, he was Michael the Archangel, leader of the loyal spirit hosts that vanquished Lucifer and his rebellious legions, winning the right to take bodies upon this planet, to become "souls" capable of endless increase and advancement. What Latter-day Saint can doubt that Adam was among "the noble and great," referred to in the Book of Abraham as "rulers," chosen before they were born into this world to play leading parts in the divine drama having as its purpose the uplift and promotion of "the lesser intelligences" who became God's sons and daughters—the end designed by the all-wise, all-benevolent Creator from the beginning?
Bear in mind that the Gospel of Christ is not a mere lifeboat or fire escape—a way out of a perilous situation. It is all this and more. It is the path to endless glory and exaltation, the plan of eternal progression, designed by the wisdom of the Gods before the foundation of the world. Adam's fall was a part of the great plan. It brought death, spiritual and temporal death—for Divine Justice demands a penalty for every transgression,—but it also produced the human race, so far as mortal booties are concerned, a race redeemed by the great Atoning Sacrifice, which paid Adam's debt, mended the broken law, repoised the unbalanced scale, and restored the equilibrium of right. Thenceforth man, by pursuing the path marked out for him, might go on to perfection. It was Adam's mission to bring us into this world. It is Christ's mission to lift us up out of this world, when the object of our sojourn here is accomplished.
Adam was the first to receive and obey the Gospel, revealed to him out of Eternity at the very beginning of Time. Since his day it has been upon the earth repeatedly, in a series of dispensations, of which this is the greatest and the last. Adam presides over all the gospel dispensations, including the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times—he presides over them all, just as the President of the Church presides over all the Stakes of Zion and all the outside Missions, though each has its own immediate presiding authority. Joseph Smith is the immediate head of this dispensation, and Adam is the general head of all. Standing next to Christ in the Priesthood, whenever that divine power is revealed from heaven to earth, "it is by Adam's authority." So says Joseph Smith.
The world has not seen the last of Father Adam. He is coming again, as the Ancient of Days, to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel. He will come to the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, where of old he blessed his posterity, foretelling what should befall them to the latest generation. He will call a council and assemble his righteous descendants, to prepare them for the glorious advent of the King of Kings.
This is a part of the divine program, as made known by modern revelation.
Dismiss from your minds, my hearers—if any of you entertain the notion—that Adam, the Ancient of Days, the great Prince and Patriarch of our race, was ever a jungle-inhabiting ape, or even an unenlightened cave man. He knew more about religion than all the theologians of the world combined. He knew more about science—the sources of science—than any evolutionist has ever dreamt of knowing. How can anyone whose soul has been fed with the revelations of God, whose mind has been illumined by the spirit of the Gospel, the gift of the Holy Ghost, conceive of Adam, the first of the human race, as anything less than the Bible represents him to be—a man formed in the image of his Maker?—which is tantamount to saying that the Maker is in the form of man. (Conference Report, October 1925, 100-102.)
We cannot safely substitute anything for the Gospel. We have no right to take the theories of men, however scholarly, however learned, and set them up as a standard, and try to make the Gospel bow down to them; making of them an iron bedstead upon which God's truth, if not long enough, must be stretched out, or if too long, must be chopped off—anything to make it fit into the system of men's thoughts and theories! On the contrary, we should hold up the Gospel as the standard of truth, and measure thereby the theories and opinions of men. What God has revealed, what the prophets have spoken, what the servants of the Lord proclaim when inspired by the Holy Ghost, can be depended upon, for these are the utterances of a spirit that cannot lie and that does not make mistakes; while the teachings of men are often based upon sophistry and founded upon false reasoning. (Conference Report, April 1915, 100.)
Man is, in the most literal sense, a child of God. This is not only true of the spirit of man, but of his body also.…
One of the important points about this topic is to learn, if possible, how Adam obtained his body of flesh and bones. There would seem to be but one natural and reasonable explanation, and that is, that Adam obtained his body in the same way Christ obtained his—and just as all men obtain theirs—namely, by being born of woman. (“Divine Mission of the Savior,” Course of Study for the Quorums of the Priesthood, 1910, 35, 37.)
Elder Whitney was one of the greatest and most productive poets of the Restored Church. In this instance he used his literary skills to humorously ridicule evolution:
“A Problem in Eve-olution”
How big was Adam’s apple, pa,
That halted in his throat,
To show all down the centuries,
Beneath his billy-goat?
How happened it that Eve could gulp
And swallow all o’ hern,
While Adam could not get his down
By any twist or turn?
The reason is, my little lad,
That Adam was a frog,
In throttle just about the size
Of yonder polly-wog.
The apple was not over large,
But froggie’s throat was small—
No wonder modern science doubts
He got it in at all;
While Eve was woman from the first,
She’d swallow anything—
Apples, gossip, sweets galore,
Whatever luck might bring.
This Adam was a rib of hers
(A ribbon, it should read;
It beats the deuce how Bible words
Get changed as times proceed).
There’s been an Eve-olution, but
It’s all in Adam’s race;
Frog-like he rose by leaps and bounds—
She could not keep the pace.
So finally she fell behind,
And, crowding to the van,
This frog became the king of beasts,
And called himself a “man.”
(Voices in the Mountains, 63-64)
“The Germ Ubiquitous”
I’m a nimble little microbe
But I think I know my place;
My mission is to “whoop ‘er up,”
And hoist a fallen race.
I light upon a lover’s lip,
While courtin’ of his Miss;
And when they go to osculate,
I kill ‘em with a kiss.
I drop into a bowl of soup,
And turn it into ink—
Unless it turn into a man
Afor I’ve time to think.
I hang around the washee house
Where Wun Lung doth preside;
And pretty soon he lays that lung
The other lung beside.
Appendicitis, coddling moth,
Mosquitoes, bed-bugs, fleas—
I S’pose I’m held responsible
For Darwin’s theories.
The higher criticism cult
O’erlook the likes of me;
If they can’t see a Jonah whale,
What can they hope to see?
They overlook; I undertake;
I’ll give ‘em all a chase.
Just watch me while I decimate
This doomed Adamic race.
(Voices in the Mountains, 65-66)