(by Dennis B. Horne)
Below are a sampling of quotations from President Benson warning members not to believe the theory of evolution:
President Ezra Taft Benson:
This University was built by the consecrated funds of the Church for the purpose that our youth could be taught the truth, both secular and spiritual. That commission places a great responsibility on both teacher and student. Of that unique commission, President Marion G. Romney has said:
The unique commission of the Brigham Young University has always been and now is threefold. First, to help you recognize that there are two sources of learning—one divine, the other human; second, to urge and inspire you students to drink deeply from both sources; and third, to teach and train you to correctly distinguish between the learning of the world and revealed truth, that you may not be deceived in your search.
This unique commission puts peculiar responsibility upon both teachers and students not imposed by any other university on the globe. The teacher at Brigham Young University has an obligation to keep these distinctions clear in his own thinking and in his own heart and to make sure that they are indelibly stamped upon the minds and hearts of his students. The student has the obligation to realize that an acquaintance with the learning of men, as well as a knowledge of the revealed word of God, is essential to the proper discharge of our teaching obligation to the world.
Don’t let anyone persuade you there is anything narrow-minded or provincial or bigoted about this view.
Both the teacher and the student who have been born again, who have been on the mountain top and beheld in vision the mighty mission of this university in saving the souls of men, enjoy here a freedom available in no other university—the freedom to seek learning, both human and divine, “by study and also by faith,” and the freedom to teach without restriction the finite wisdom of men by the glowing light of the infinite wisdom of God, so far as He has revealed it. The spiritually reborn do not have their academic freedom restricted but greatly extended at Brigham Young University.
Equipped with the fruit of an education on this campus, you should continue your quest for truth with the certain knowledge that “the spirit of truth is of God,” with a fixed determination to unceasingly pursue the goal inspired in the promise, “He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” (D&C 93:28.) (“Your Quest for Truth,” Baccalaureate Services, 30 May 1957)
The world worships the learning of man. They trust in the arm of flesh. To them, men's reasoning is greater than God's revelations. The precepts of man have gone so far in subverting our educational system that in many cases a higher degree today, in the so-called social sciences, can be tantamount to a major investment in error. Very few men build firmly enough on the rock of revelation to go through this kind of an indoctrination and come out untainted. Unfortunately, of those who succumb, some use their higher degree to get teaching positions even in our Church educational system, where they spread the falsehoods they have been taught. (Conference Report, April 1969, 15.)
As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. There is more than one reason why the Church is advising our youth to attend colleges close to their homes where institutes of religion are available. It gives the parents the opportunity to stay close to their children; and if they have become alert and informed as President McKay admonished us last year, these parents can help expose some of the deceptions of men like Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin, John Dewey, Karl Marx, John Keynes, and others. . . . If your children are taught untruths of evolution in the public schools or even in our Church schools, provide them with a copy of President Joseph Fielding Smith's excellent rebuttal in his book Man, His Origin and Destiny. (Conference Report, October 1970, 25)
President Ezra Taft Benson:
More recently, one of our Church educators published what he purports to be a history of the Church’s stand on the question of organic evolution. His thesis challenges the integrity of a prophet of God. He suggests that Joseph Fielding Smith published his work, Man: His Origin and Destiny, against the counsel of the First Presidency and his own Brethren. This writer’s interpretation is not only inaccurate, but it also runs counter to the testimony of Elder Mark E. Petersen, who wrote this foreword to Elder Smith’s book, a book I would encourage all to read. Elder Petersen said:
Some of us [members of the Council of the Twelve] urged [Elder Joseph Fielding Smith] to write a book on the creation of the world and the origin of man. . . . The present volume is the result. It is a most remarkable presentation of material from both sources [science and religion] under discussion. It will fill a great need in the Church and will be particularly invaluable to students who have become confused by the misapplication of information derived from scientific experimentation.
When one understands that the author to whom I alluded is an exponent of the theory of organic evolution, his motive in disparaging President Joseph Fielding Smith becomes apparent. To hold to a private opinion on such matters is one thing, but when one undertakes to publish his views to discredit the work of a prophet, it is a very serious matter.
It is also apparent to all who have the Spirit of God in them that Joseph Fielding Smith’s [doctrinal] writings will stand the test of time.
(See blog #19 for more information on Pres. Smith’s book.)