The following is a collection of historical LDS (Mormon) quotes on evolution. These quotes are in no way to be construed as official positions on the subject, and are only provided to hilight the wide range of LDS opinions on it.
These quotes are divided into two collections. Section 1 is the collection of quotes from the official BYU packet on the Church position on evolution. Section 2 is a collection of "unofficial" quotes ommitted by the packet for one reason or another, but are quite important in their own right.
Editors' comments have been put in italics and surrounded with [square brackets]. Editors' comments that are directly ascribable to ME (Sean Luke) are followed with a '---Sean'. All other comments are from the packets or collections, not from myself. Errors or typos should be brought to the attention of email@example.com--I may have blown it.
...This packet contains, as far as could be found, all statements issued by the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the subject of evolution and the origin of man, and a statement on the church's attitude toward science. [Not quite true--there is in fact at least one more, in the "unofficial" Section 2--Sean] .... Although there has never been a formal declaration from the First Presidency addressing the general matter of organic evolution as a process for development of biological species, these documents make clear the official position of the Church regarding the origin of man....
....Various views have been expressed by other church leaders on this subject over many decades; however, formal statements by the First Presidency are the definitive source of official Church positions. It is hoped that these materials will provide a firm foundation for individual study in a context of faith in the restored gospel.
...It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from the lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was "the first man of all men" (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our Heavenly Father.
True it is that the body of man enters upon its career as a tiny germ or embryo, which becomes an infant, quickened at a certain stage by the spirit whose tabernacle it is, and the child, after being born, develops into a man. There is nothing in this, however, to indicate that the original man, the first of our race, began life as anything less than a man, or less than the human germ or embryo that becomes a man.
Man, by searching, cannot find out god. Never, unaided, will he discover the truth about the beginning of human life. The Lord must reveal Himself, or remain unrevealed; and the same is true of the facts relating to the origin of Adam's race--God alone can reveal them. Some of these facts, however, are already known, and what has been made known it is our duty to receive and retain....
....Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God.
Diversity of opinion does not necessitate intolerance of spirit, nor should it embitter or set rational beings against each other. The Christ taught kindness, patience, and charity.
Our religion is not hostile to real science. That which is demonstrated, we accept with joy; but vain philosophy, human theory, and mere speculations of men, we do not accept nor do we adopt anything contrary to divine revelation or to good common sense. But everything that tends to right conduct, that harmonizes with sound morality and increases faith in Deity, finds favor with us no matter where it may be found.
"God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them."
In these plain and pointed words the inspired author of the book of Genesis made known to the world the truth concerning the origin of the human family....All who have since spoken by divine authority upon this theme have confirmed his simple and sublime proclamation. Nor could it be otherwise. Truth has but one source, and all revelations from heaven are harmonious one with the other.
...The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. By his Almighty power God organized the earth, and all that it contains, from spirit and element, which exist co-eternally with himself.
The position of the Church on the origin of man was published by the First Presidency in 1909 and stated again by a different First Presidency in 1925:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, declares man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. . . . Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes (see Appendix, "Doctrinal Expositions of the First Presidency").
The scriptures tell why man was created, but they do not tell how, though the Lord has promised that he will tell that when he comes again (D&C 101:32-33). In 1931, when there was intense discussion on the issue of organic evolution, the First Presidency of the Church, then consisting of Presidents Heber J. Grant, Anthony W. Ivins, and Charles W. Nibley, addressed all of the General Authorities of the Church on the matter, and concluded,
Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church. . .
Upon one thing we should all be able to agree, namely, that Presidents Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund were right when they said: "Adam is the primal parent of our race" (First Presidency Minutes, Apr. 7, 1931). WILLIAM E. EVENSON
....These are the authentic statements of the scriptures, ancient and modern, and it is best to rest with these, until the Lord shall see fit to give more light on the subject. whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin and the partaking of natural foods, in the process of time; whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God.
...If our Church schools would confine their so-called course of study in biology to that knowledge of the insect world which would help us to eradicate the pests that threaten the destruction of our crops and our fruit, such instruction would answer much better the aims of the Church school than theories which deal with the origin of life.
These theories may have fascination for our teachers and they may find interest in the study of them, but they are not properly within the scope of the purpose for which these schools were organized.
Some of our teachers are anxious to explain how much of the theory of evolution, in their judgment, is true, and what is false, but that only leaves their students in an unsettled frame of mind. They are not old enough and learned enough to discriminate, or put proper limitations upon a theory which we believe is more or less a fallacy....On the other hand we have abundant evidence that many of those who have adopted in its fullness the theory of evolution have discarded the Bible, or at least refused to accept it as the inspired word of God....Even if it were harmless from the standpoint of our faith, we think there are things more important to the daily affairs of life and the practical welfare of our young people. The Church itself has no philosophy about the modus operandi employed by the Lord in His creation of the world, and much of the talk therefore about the philosophy of Mormonism is altogether misleading...
Dear Brother Stokes,
...On the subject of organic evolution the Church has officially taken no position. The book "Man, His Origin and Destiny" was not published by the Church, and is not approved by the Church.
The book contains expressions of the author's views for which he alone is responsible.
...The Church has issued no official statement on the subject of the theory of evolution.
Neither "Man, His Origin and Destiny" by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, nor "Mormon Doctrine" by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, is an official publication of the Church.
Evolution is a theory. You say that biologists would agree on the general lines of what happened, although there may be less agreement about just how it happened. While scientific people themselves differ in their interpretations and views of the theory, any conflicts which may seem to exist between the theory and the truths of revealed religion can well be dealt with by suspending judgment as long as may be necessary to arrive at facts and at a complete understanding of the truth.
...[regarding age of the earth, its creation, etc.] I am directed to say to you that, as you will perceive on a little reflection, until either the Lord speaks directly upon the matter, or until the scientists are able to say that they have the ultimate truth covering these matters, it would only be confusing for the First Presidency to make any statement regarding such things.
..."And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him: male and female created I them. (The story of the rib, of course, is figurative.)
"And I, God, blessed them (Man here is always in the plural. It was plural from the beginning.) and said unto them: Be fruitful..."...
...The Creators breathed into their nostrils the breath of life and man and woman became living souls. We don't know exactly how their coming into this world happened, and when we're able to understand it the Lord will tell us.
[Note: Shortly after becoming President of the Church, Pres. Benson re-read on at least one occasion his speech given 11 years earlier (in the Ensign). It contains the critical passage:]
"Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book (Book of Mormon) to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, etc." (p. 65 ibid)
[By May 1987 (e.g. Wilford Regional Conference, SLC, unpublished) two of these items had been dropped from the list. In January 1988, the speech, in this amended form, was published as the formal message from the President of the Church (Ensign Jan 1988:3-5):]
"Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, rationalism, etc." (p. 5)
[On at least one occasion since, he has delivered the speech (unpublished) in virtually its original form.]