(by Dennis B. Horne)
We now conclude the posting of 58 blogs meant to refute and correct the false teachings of some misguided and mistaken BYU faculty, among others, regarding macro-evolution. These posts have been seen by many thousands of readers over some 5 months. The first introductory blog ran April 6, and we conclude with this one as August comes to a close.
What has been found?—that the formal, official and settled doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is clear that God created mankind/Adam and Eve in His image; that He is the original progenitor, of both body and spirit, of all “who belong to the family of Adam” (2 Nephi 9:21) and that Adam’s family includes “all men [and women]” (2 Nephi 9:22). Adam and Eve are therefore mankind’s ultimate mortal ancestor (after the fall) and that God is Adam’s father and Heavenly Mother is his mother and Eve’s mother (Moses 6:22; Luke 3:38). Not only do the scriptures teach this, that we sustain as doctrinally binding upon us, but prophet after prophet and apostle after apostle have also taught this truth. (None of this doctrine is taking a position on the scientific theory or theories of macro-evolution, which the Church does not do and would be imprudent to attempt—since it changes with the next study or journal article.)
It has not yet been openly revealed by scriptural text (and I do not know) where dinosaurs and so-called Neanderthals fit into the scheme of things relating to our earth. I do not know how past or current or future scientific interpretations of fossilized findings fit with the fact that all things were created first as spirits and then in an un- or imm- or amortal state where they could have existed forever, before the fall. But I know God knows and I know that some of the greatest prophets from past (and the present) dispensations have known. I believe the Prophet Joseph Smith knew but was not permitted to give this knowledge to the Church and hence the world (see D&C 76:114-117 and 3 Nephi 26:6-11).
Elder Marion G. Romney had this to say to the Church about people trying to place anything but God our Heavenly Father before Adam, or the first man, in his ancestral line:
I have an assignment from the First Presidency to serve on the Church publications committee. This committee is expected to read and pass upon the literature proposed for use in the study courses of our auxiliary organizations. It would please me immensely if, in the preparation of this literature, we could get away from using the language of those who do not believe in the mission of Adam. I have reference to words and phrases such as "primitive man," "prehistoric man," "before men learned to write," and the like. We sometimes use these terms in a way that offends my feelings; in a way which indicates to me that we get mixed up in our understanding of the mission of Adam. The connotation of these terms, as used by unbelievers, is out of harmony with our understanding of the mission of Adam.
"Adam fell that man might be." (2 Nephi 2:25.) There were no pre-Adamic men in the line of Adam. The Lord said that Adam was the first man. (Moses 1:34, 3:7; D. & C. 84:16.) It is hard for me to get the idea of a man ahead of Adam, before the first man. The Lord also said that Adam was the first flesh (Moses 3:7) which, as I understand it, means the first mortal on the earth. I understand from a statement in the book of Moses, which was made by Enoch, that there was no death in the world before Adam. (Moses 6:48; see also 2 Nephi 2:22.) Enoch said: . . . death hath come upon our fathers; nevertheless we know them, and cannot deny, and even the first of all we know, even Adam.
For a book of remembrance we have written among us, according to the pattern given by the finger of God; and it is given in our own language. (Moses 6:45-46.)
I understand from this that Enoch could read about Adam in a book which had been written under the tutelage of Almighty God. Thus there were no prehistoric men who could not write because men living in the days of Adam, who was the first man, wrote.
I am not a scientist. I do not profess to know anything but Jesus Christ, and him crucified, and the principles of his gospel. If, however, there are some things in the strata of the earth indicating there were men before Adam, they were not the ancestors of Adam.
Adam was the son of God. He was our elder brother, not older than Jesus but he was our brother in the same sense that Jesus was our brother, and he "fell" to earth life. He did not come up through an unbroken line of organic evolution. There had to be a fall. "Adam fell that men might be." (2 Nephi 2:25.)
The sealed portion of The Book of Mormon, which has not yet been translated and given to the Church, has full particulars of the creation of the earth and mankind/Adam and Eve, as revealed to the brother of Jared.
We have quoted prophet after prophet and apostle after apostle, and general authority after general authority, and a few highly-regarded BYU religious educators. We have quoted the scriptures and these doctrinal authorities interpretations of those scriptures. All of it has dismissed evolution as accounting for the origin of man. We have reviewed why the Church doesn’t take a position on evolution, but why it does on the origin of man. We have reviewed the teachings of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in detail. We have seen how strong they feel about this doctrine and how strong and persuasively they speak against an amoeba being mankind’s common ancestor, and instead bear witness that Adam is our common mortal ancestor (and Eve) and that Almighty God is his Father (“we are of the race of the Gods”) and not some animal or monkey or ape or neanderthal.
We expect no BYU biologist to be persuaded by these scriptural truths; they are too locked into the false theories of men. BYU Studies may well still publish a journal promoting evolution (or theistic evolution) and the theories of men, whether those theories originate with Latter-day Saints or not. Such is so very sad; but when a person spends their career studying and pushing something, it is hard to accept the word of the Lord over their own field. Some seek any speck of hope they can find anywhere in church literature to say the Church is not against evolution providing for mankind, or that President McKay believed in evolution (or Elder Talmage or Widstoe), or other such nonsense, and come up with schemes to support their theories. How anyone could buy that bunk, after reading all these blogs, is beyond me—but some will. (A correlation to this is Book of Mormon Geography. Some people at BYU have spent their entire career promoting certain geographic locations for Book of Mormon events in the western hemisphere. Then the Church released a formally approved statement stating neutrality—that made those theories irrelevant.)
Others dismiss everything President Joseph Fielding Smith or Elder Bruce R. McConkie or President Boyd K. Packer or President Marion G. Romney or Elder Mark E. Petersen or President Harold B. Lee or President Ezra Taft Benson taught (whether in private/commercial books or approved church manuals) about the origin of man with a wave of their hand; they call these men dismissive political names and then suppose they don’t have to deal with true doctrine that opposes their views. Another tactic that I have seen used is to contextualize matters related to evolution and the origin of man as history, and being historical, they figure they don’t have to deal with it as gospel truth. I guess that is one way to do things.
One defender of evolution said he found no church leader declaring their teachings about the origin of man to be revealed to them. His homework and research was insufficient—I found three that had; plus, all of them based their teachings on scripture.
Neither God the father, nor our Heavenly Mother, nor Adam and Eve, nor their descendants (the family of all the earth) are products of macro-evolution, but are parents and children of the race of the Gods. Such is the doctrine of the Church. Such has now been thoroughly conveyed by 58 blog posts of varying length, all filled with quotations teaching the truth doctrine; all refuting and correcting BYUs false teachings.
Elder Holland Rebukes BYU Faculty and Staff (August 23, 2021)
I thought it remarkable that as I was in the midst of writing this concluding piece refuting and correcting BYUs false doctrinal teachings on the origin of man, that Elder Holland visited BYU and in his powerful address rebuked all of the misled activist faculty and staff who push all kinds of false doctrines and philosophies while being paid by tithing. He mostly concentrated on rebuking LGBT rebellion and activism at BYU, but his words also cover the teaching of macro-evolution as fact and truth instead of as unproved man-made theory/philosophy/postulate in contradiction with the scriptures. (“while I have focused on this same-sex topic this morning more than I would have liked, I pray you will see it as emblematic of a lot of issues our students and community face in this complex, contemporary world of ours.”) And he also talked about how such teachings have cost some students their faith. From his inspired address:
Then, imagine the pain that comes with a memo like this one I recently received. These are just a half-dozen lines from a two-page document:
“You should know,” the writer says, “that some people in the extended community are feeling abandoned and betrayed by BYU. It seems that some professors (at least the vocal ones in the media) are supporting ideas that many of us feel are contradictory to gospel principles, making it appear to be about like any other university our sons and daughters could have attended. Several parents have said they no longer want to send their children here or donate to the school.
“Please don’t think I’m opposed to people thinking differently about policies and ideas,” the writer continues. “I’m not. But I would hope that BYU professors would be bridging those gaps between faith and intellect and would be sending out students that are ready to do the same in loving, intelligent and articulate ways. Yet, I fear that some faculty are not supportive of the Church's doctrines and policies and choose to criticize them publicly. There are consequences to this. After having served a full-time mission and marrying her husband in the temple, a friend of mine recently left the church. In her graduation statement on a social media post, she credited [such and such a BYU program and its faculty] with the radicalizing of her attitudes and the destruction of her faith.”
Fortunately, we don’t get many of those letters, but this one isn’t unique. Several of my colleagues get the same kind, . . .
Now, Elder Holland did not specify the department and faculty that caused this young person to lose their faith, but the Biology Department has shown itself to be right in the mix of the worst offenders. And BYU Studies is moving in that direction also, having recently published issues trying to redefine and alter the established narrative of the great apostasy, and do the same with the restoration of the priesthood. And soon it seems they will do so with a number promoting macro-evolution as compatible with the gospel—which we have so thoroughly shown is not.
And so Elder Holland further taught:
I said then and I say now that if we are an extension of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taking a significant amount of sacred tithes and other precious human resources, all of which might well be expended in other worthy causes, surely our integrity demands that our lives be absolutely consistent with and characteristic of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. At a university there will always be healthy debate regarding a whole syllabus full of issues. But until “we all come [to] the unity of the faith, and . . . [have grown to] the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” our next best achievement will be to stay in harmony with the Lord’s anointed, those whom He has designated to declare Church doctrine and to guide Brigham Young University as its trustees.
In 2014, seven years ago, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson came to campus in this same setting. His remarks were relatively brief, but tellingly he said:
“With the Church growing more rapidly in the less prosperous countries, we . . . must conserve sacred funds more carefully than ever before.
“At BYU we must ally ourselves even more closely with the work of our Heavenly Father. . . .
“A college education for our people is a sacred responsibility, [but] it is not essential for eternal life.”
A statement like that gets my attention, particularly because just a short time later President Nelson chairs our Board, holds our purse strings, and has the final “yea” or “nay” on every proposal we make from a new research lab, to more undergrad study space, to approving a new pickup for the physical facilities staff! Russell M. Nelson is very, very good at listening to us. We who sit with him every day have learned the value of listening carefully to him.
Three years later, 2017, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, not then but soon to be in the First Presidency where he would sit, only one chair — one heartbeat — away from the same position President Nelson now has, quoted our colleague Elder Neal A. Maxwell who had said:
“In a way[,] [Latter-day Saint] scholars at BYU and elsewhere are a little bit like the builders of the temple in Nauvoo, who worked with a trowel in one hand and a musket in the other. Today scholars building the temple of learning must also pause on occasion to defend the kingdom. I personally think,” Elder Maxwell went on to say, “this is one of the reasons the Lord established and maintains this university. The dual role of builder and defender is unique and ongoing. I am grateful we have scholars today who can handle, as it were, both trowels and muskets.”
Then Elder Oaks said challengingly, “I would like to hear a little more musket fire from this temple of learning.” He said this in a way that could have applied to a host of topics in various departments, but the one he specifically mentioned was the doctrine of the family and defending marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Little did he know that while many would hear his appeal, especially the School of Family Life who moved quickly and visibly to assist, some others fired their muskets all right, but unfortunately didn’t always aim at those hostile to the Church. A couple of stray rounds even went north of the point of the mountain!
My beloved brothers and sisters, “a house divided against itself . . . cannot stand,” and I will go to my grave pleading that this institution not only stands but stands unquestionably committed to its unique academic mission and to the Church that sponsors it.
So no matter what the vain and false philosophy or scientific theory or worldly doctrine that some at BYU promote, we can rest assured and comforted that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are aware of and are trying to correct the error so prevalent in some places at BYU (BYU Studies, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, the Biology Department, a few in the Religion Department—thankfully only a few, and all the LGBT activists on campus). Most of those teaching and promoting false things will try to continue doing so, since they will take no correction from the Brethren. But that is their problem and also their consequences. Those that listen to and learn from Church leaders are eternally benefitted. An Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ has spoken; let us heed his words and be blessed thereby.
And let us hope that those, normally mostly good people, that simply must push macro-evolution on others, can take the continual and constant direction and correction heaped on BYU by the prophets and apostles every year, and repent and change and correct themselves and their course. But I do not hold out much hope. Again and lastly from Elder Holland: “My Brethren have made the case for the metaphor of musket fire, which I have endorsed yet again today. There will continue to be those who oppose our teachings and with that will continue the need to define, document, and defend the faith.” So I have now done 58 times; do what is right, let the consequence follow.