(by Dennis B. Horne)
Elder/President Boyd K. Packer was an undaunted foe of evolution and a powerful and persuasive teacher of the true doctrine of the origin of man. He often took occasion to speak on the subject with great earnestness and by the power of the Spirit.
Of special consideration is a talk he gave at BYU in the summer of 1988 (at which I was present). His published address contained a disclaimer, which some evolutionists have tried to use to dismiss it entirely from serious consideration. Wave your hand at the disclaimer and Poof!, the talk is gone! Baloney. The idea that Brother Packer would teach 20 thousand BYU students doctrine he knew to be false is ludicrous. He taught truth by the Spirit to his audience. Virtually no BYU Speeches given by apostles at BYU are considered official declarations from the church, but every one of them believes the doctrine they are teaching to be true and inspired. I recommend all readers drink in Brother Packer’s teachings, and ponder and pray about what they are reading. Great is the reward for such diligent study.
Elder Packer saw and handled the resurrected body of the Savior Jesus Christ. He knew true doctrine and taught and testified of it. And of course, Elder Packer taught the same things he said at BYU in his general conference messages and elsewhere. One simply cannot mentally dismiss his profound teachings without reaping a consequence of lost insight and knowledge. Secondly, I have seen evolutionists dismiss some of what Brother Packer taught (“Had there been no Creation and no Fall, there should have been no need for any Atonement, neither a Redeemer to mediate for us. . . .”) as originating with Protestant theologians. President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught the same thing. I haven’t bothered to research this point very much because it doesn’t matter. After hearing (at least) three great apostles teach it, it matters little to me where they got it. It is true nonetheless. We do not go to the sectarian world for truth, but they still have bits and pieces of it anyway, and some old Catholic and Protestant theologians had a measure of the light of Christ and wrote and spoke various degrees of truth along with all their error (think Farrar and Edershiem). President Packer:
Adam and Eve ventured forth to multiply and replenish the earth as they had been commanded to do. The creation of their bodies in the image of God, as a separate creation, was crucial to the plan. Their subsequent Fall was essential if the condition of mortality was to exist and the plan to proceed. . . .
We are taught in Genesis, in Moses, in Abraham, in the Book of Mormon, and in the endowment that man’s mortal body was made in the image of God in a separate creation. Had the Creation come in a different way, there could have been no Fall.
If men were merely animals, then logic favors freedom without accountability.
How well I know that among learned men are those who look down at animals and stones to find the origin of man. They do not look inside themselves to find the spirit there. They train themselves to measure things by time, by thousands and by millions, and say these animals called men all came by chance. And this they are free to do, for agency is theirs.
But agency is ours as well. We look up, and in the universe we see the handiwork of God and measure things by epochs, by aeons, by dispensations, by eternities. The many things we do not know, we take on faith.
But this we know! It was all planned “before the world was” (D&C 38:1; see also D&C 49:17; 76:13, 39; 93:7; Abraham 3:22–25). Events from the Creation to the final, winding-up scene are not based on chance; they are based on choice! It was planned that way.
This we know! This simple truth! Had there been no Creation and no Fall, there should have been no need for any Atonement, neither a Redeemer to mediate for us. Then Christ need not have been.
Know this: Knowledge of the physical universe and of the laws which govern it is cumulative. Thus each generation builds upon and expands the knowledge gained from discoveries of the past. Contributions to scientific and practical knowledge are gathered from one generation to the next. As greater light and knowledge are discovered, tentative theories of the past are replaced. . . .
This apparent imbalance in accumulating knowledge can easily contribute to a spirit of arrogance in students of the physical world, especially in so-called intellectuals. They may feel they have inherited the larger and more valuable legacy of knowledge.
The Book of Mormon warns of “the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good, if they hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:28–29; emphasis and comma added; see also 2 Nephi 9:42, 28:15; Alma 32:23; D&C 58:10). . . .
It is my conviction that to the degree the theory of evolution asserts that man is the product of an evolutionary process, the offspring of animals—it is false! What application the evolutionary theory has to animals gives me no concern. That is another question entirely, one to be pursued by science. But remember, the scriptures speak of the spirit in animals and other living things, and of each multiplying after its own kind. (D&C 77:2; 2 Nephi 2:22; Moses 3:9; Abraham 4:11-12, 24).
And I am sorry to say, the so-called theistic evolution, the theory that God used an evolutionary process to prepare a physical body for the spirit of man, is equally false. I say I am sorry because I know it is a view commonly held by good and thoughtful people who search for an acceptable resolution to an apparent conflict between the theory of evolution and the doctrines of the gospel. . . .
The revelations testify of the separate creation of man in the image of God—this after the rest of creation was finished. When the revelations do not fully explain something (and there is purpose in their not doing so), there is safety in clinging to whatever they do reveal. The creation of man and his introduction into mortality by the Fall as revealed in the scriptures conform to eternal laws governing both body and spirit.
If the theory of evolution applies to man, there was no Fall and therefore no need for an atonement, nor a gospel of redemption, nor a redeemer….
These reasons leave questions yet unanswered. How old is the earth? I do not know! But I do know that matter is eternal. How long a time has man been upon the earth? I do not know! But I do know that man did not evolve from animals….
Here we are, spirit children of God, clothed in flesh, sojourning in mortality for a season. Know that your body is the instrument of your mind, and the foundation of your character. Do not mortgage your soul for unproved theories; ask, simply ask! I have asked, but not how man was created; I have asked if the scriptures are true. And I have a witness and a testimony. (Boyd K. Packer, “The Law and the Light,” in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., The Book of Mormon: Jacob Through Words of Mormon, To Learn with Joy [Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center and Bookcraft, 1990], 21-22, 24, 26.)
No lesson is more manifest in nature than that all living things do as the Lord commanded in the Creation. They reproduce “after their own kind.” (See Moses 2:12, 24.) They follow the pattern of their parentage. Everyone knows that; every four-year-old knows that! A bird will not become an animal nor a fish. A mammal will not beget reptiles, nor “do men gather … figs of thistles.” (Matt. 7:16.)
In the countless billions of opportunities in the reproduction of living things, one kind does not beget another. If a species ever does cross, the offspring cannot reproduce. The pattern for all life is the pattern of the parentage.
This is demonstrated in so many obvious ways, even an ordinary mind should understand it. Surely no one with reverence for God could believe that His children evolved from slime or from reptiles. (Although one can easily imagine that those who accept the theory of evolution don’t show much enthusiasm for genealogical research!) The theory of evolution, and it is a theory, will have an entirely different dimension when the workings of God in creation are fully revealed.
Since every living thing follows the pattern of its parentage, are we to suppose that God had some other strange pattern in mind for His offspring? Surely we, His children, are not, in the language of science, a different species than He is?
There was too much at issue to introduce man into mortality by force. That would contravene the very law essential to the plan. The plan provided that each spirit child of God would receive a mortal body and each would be tested. Adam saw that it must be so and made his choice. “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
Adam and Eve ventured forth to multiply and replenish the earth as they had been commanded to do. The creation of their bodies in the image of God, as a separate creation, was crucial to the plan. Their subsequent Fall was essential if the condition of mortality was to exist and the plan to proceed. “Who is Jesus Christ?” Ensign, March 2008, 16-17.)
In reviewing that history 10 years ago, I went back to the time that George H. Brimhall was president here at Brigham Young University. Having already served 19 years as president of
BYU, he determined to establish a recognized teachers college. He had hired three professors: one with a master’s degree from Harvard, one with a doctorate from Cornell, and the other with
a doctorate from Chicago. They hoped to transform the college into a full-fledged university. They determined that practicality and religion, which had characterized the school, must now give way to more intellectual and scientific philosophies. The professors held that “the fundamentals of religion could and must be investigated by extending the [empirical] method into the spiritual realm,” and they “considered evolution to be a basic, spiritual principle through which the divinity in nature expressed itself.” The faculty sided with the new professors, and the students rallied to them. Horace Cummings, superintendent of Church schools, became concerned because they were “applying the evolutionary theory and other philosophical hypotheses to principles of the gospel and to the teachings of the Church in such a way as to disturb, if not destroy the faith of the pupils.” And he wrote, “Many stake presidents, some of our leading principals and teachers, and leading men who are friends of our schools have expressed
deep anxiety to me about this matter.” (Boyd K. Packer, “Strengthening Children and Youth,” McKay Today Magazine, Fall 2006, 4)