Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol. 5:112-117, ‘Organic Evolution and the Age of Man’:
Question: “Since reading your book, Man: His Origin, and Destiny, I have been troubled by your difference in view of organic evolution and the age of man and the teachings of some of our most outstanding scientists who maintain that scientific evidence prove the earth and man to be much older than you claim. Your statements are contrary to what I have been taught and believe.”
Answer: If what I have written is in criticism of the present theories in relation to organic evolution and the age of man upon the earth, in which you believe, then I can readily see why you disagree with what I have taught.
I will state frankly and positively that I am opposed to the present biological theories and the doctrine that man has been on the earth for millions of years. I am opposed to the present teachings in relation to the age of the earth which declare that the earth is millions of years old. Some modern scientists even claim that it is a billion years old. Naturally, since I believe in modern revelation, I cannot accept these so-called scientific teachings, for I believe them to be in conflict with the simple and direct word of the Lord that has come to us by divine revelation.
MANY CAPABLE SCIENTISTS DO NOT AGREE
If you have the idea that all capable and intelligent professors and scientists hold to these evolutionary doctrines, let me tell you that there are many who do not do so, and they are just as renowned and capable in their fields. I hold membership in the Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain. This society is largely composed of members who are opposed to the theories so prevalent in the educational world today. I have the official proceedings of this organization covering many years in which these theories are not approved. This, however, is not the matter for present consideration. I merely mention this in defense of the truth that not all the great thinkers and men of science are evolutionists and not all of them believe in these fantastic ages of the mortal earth.
I regret that modern education in this country and largely in other countries, is dominated today by men holding these views. Having said this, permit me to say that I am not going to engage in a controversy over these so-called scientific views. I think it must be admitted, after all is said, that they are only theories. It is my purpose merely to call your attention to some of the revelations from the Lord and ask you to carefully consider them, to give me your explanation and show me how you can harmonize them with your evolutionary theories. I will quote a few passages that have been accepted as doctrine by the body of the Church.
And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created, and made according to my word. (Moses 3:7)
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE OF ADAM’S TIME
We have historical evidence that Adam lived and that our method of reckoning the story of man on the earth begins with him. We read that Christ came in the meridian of time, or about 4,000 years after the fall of Adam when modern time began, and that time will continue until after the millennium and a little season, when the earth will be celestialized. If Jesus came in the meridian of time, then the end of time must be somewhere near 4,000 years since his time. We have passed through nearly 2,000 years of the second period, or from the time of our Lord. We have the millennium to come and then a season which is rather indefinite when Satan will be loosed and will gather his forces to fight the great last battle, then the end will come. If Adam was the first man, how could there be men before him?
Will you kindly explain, according to your theories, what is meant by verse six in Section 77, Doctrine and Covenants, which is as follows:
6. Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals.
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence. (D. & C. 77:6, Question and Answer.)
If the earth is to have only seven thousand years of temporal existence how do you account for the existence for millions of years of death and mortal change on the earth? Then kindly explain the meaning of the seven seals, each representing a day (i.e.) one thousand years each in verse 12, wherein the Lord, who made the world in six days, will finish his work?
STATEMENT IN THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM
Let me call your attention also to the statement in the Book of Abraham 5:13, which tells us that until the time of Adam this earth was on celestial time, and Adam had not received his time of reckoning until the fall. Before that this earth was governed by celestial time. What are we told is celestial time? Kindly read Abraham, Chapter 3:4. Compare verse 9. Then turn to the explanation on the preceding page and read Fig. 1, and Fig. 2. There we are informed in relation to celestial time, which is God’s reckoning.
We are also informed that the fall of Adam brought death into the world; that there was no death before his time, but everything was pronounced good and could have existed in the same state in which they were, without death, forever. Kindly read 2 Nephi 2:22-25. I think I will save you the time to look it up by quoting it.
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. (2 Nephi 2:22-25.)
APPROVED BY THE LORD
According to this—and it must have been approved by the Lord or it would not be in the Book of Mormon—there was no death of any living creature before the fall of Adam! Adam’s mission was to bring to pass the fall and it came upon the earth and living things throughout all nature. Anything contrary to this doctrine is diametrically opposed to the doctrines revealed to the Church! IF there was any creature increasing by propagation before the fall, then throw away the Book of Mormon, deny your faith, the Book of Abraham and the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants! Our scriptures most emphatically tell us that death came through the fall, and has passed upon all creatures including the earth itself. For this earth of ours was pronounced good when the Lord finished it. It became fallen and subject to death as did all things upon its face, through the transgression of Adam.
Here is another thing for you to ponder over. We read in the Pearl of Great Price, in the Book of Moses and in the Book of Abraham, that there was a great council held in heaven where the plan of earth-life and redemption was discussed, and a Redeemer chosen to come to restore the earth and man from the fall. Now in your calmer and more serious judgment do you think we were called in this council and then required to wait for millions of years before the earth was prepared? Evidently, we discover from the reading of these scriptures, this council was held before the earth was formed, for the Lord said the intelligences were organized “before the world was.” It will take a wonderful stretch of the imagination for one to think that after the council was held the spirits who were organized had to wait millions of years, according to our time, before they were permitted to come here to partake of their mortal existence.
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones. (Abraham 3:22.)
Perhaps time will tell us many things that will correct the foolishness of men. Just one more quotation and I will close.
Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
And on the seventh day I, God, ended my work, and all things which I had made; and I rested on the seventh day from all my work, and all things which I had made were finished, and I, God, saw that they were good. (Moses 3:1-2.)