The 6,000 year old temporal earth in LDS theology
I have received numerous messages from educated LDS members who take offensive to the few references on this site that indicate that Mormons believe in a six thousand year old earth or an earth that had no death before 6,000 years ago. These members are well aware of the reality of evolution and seek to reconcile this knowledge with their faith.
The first problem with showing that Mormonism is only compatible with creationism is defining what exactly is “Mormon doctrine”. There is a wide range of views amongst Mormons as to what constitutes doctrine. Some say that only LDS scriptures contain doctrine. Anything else is opinion at best. Others state that only what the modern day prophet states is “official doctrine” can be claimed as such (even if this contradicts early prophets and/or scripture). Some claim that anything said in a General Conference of the church can also be called doctrine. The current church president recently said,
His church will not be misled. Never fear that. If there were any disposition on the part of its leaders to do so, He would remove them. (Hinckley, Gordon B. “Our Testimony to the World”, Ensign, May 1997, page 83)
and Brigham Young once said,
I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 13, page 95)
In any event, one thing is sure; no matter what one claims doctrine is, they will quickly change that view when something they don’t agree with happens to fall into the previously defined parameters. Such is the case with a 6,000 year old “temporal” earth, evolution, and other areas which science continues to gather mounting evidence.
With regard to evolution, the famous line is that the church has no official position. While some Mormon leaders have stated that the church has no official position, others have said and done things to indicate that the opposite is true. For instance, at least 3 professors have been fired from BYU for teaching evolution, but no one has been fired for teaching creationism. When I was at BYU, the subject of evolution was glossed over quickly.
The church has a difficult task asserting that there is no official position and at the same time including D&C 77 as part of the canon of scripture. In a declaration done by an entire First Presidency on the subject these words were included: “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.” This is similar to the consessions that the Catholic Church has made although the Pope has gone much further than any official LDS proclamation.
A popular theory today in Mormon circles is that both creationism and evolution are true. The reasoning is that for some reason God used evolution to create the human shell and 6,000 years ago he put a spirit into this shell. The first spirit-filled person was Adam. One wonders what Adam must have then thought of his parents or why this God didn’t bother putting a spirit into Adam’s parents? Others speculate (in direct opposition to the evidence) that there was no death until 6,000 years ago. Sure the earth may be billions of years old but nothing could die until Adam and Eve finally “fell”. I’ve heard some say that although life was evolving on this earth, God transported Adam and Eve to this planet in order to raise up his seed. Why God would bring creatures with DNA so similar to the species already living here is a mystery I suppose. The theories that seek to justify faith could go on forever. The biggest problem with them is that they assume what they are trying to explain. Are the two theories compatible? I don’t think so. If you do, please answer Bruce R. McConkie’s questions in the final quote on this page and let me know exactly how the two are in harmony. Before doing so, you may also wish to read the section in President Joseph Fielding Smith’s book Doctrines of Salvation entitled “Evolution and Religion Cannot be Harmonized” beginning on page 141. The rest of this page will quote what a few LDS General Authorities have said on the subject.
This first one is my favorite. If the current church really did not “clash with or contradict the facts of science” as Brigham Young claims, it would contain far fewer confusing and impossible doctrines.
Science and Religion — I am not astonished that infidelity prevails to a great extent among the inhabitants of the earth, for the religious teachers of the people advance many ideas and notions for truth which are in opposition to and contradict facts demonstrated by science, and which are generally understood. You take, for instance, our geologists, and they tell us that this earth has been in existence for thousands and millions of years. They think, and they have good reason for their faith, that their researches and investigations enable them to demonstrate that this earth has been in existence as long as they assert it has; and they say, “If the Lord, as religionists declare, made the earth out of nothing in six days, six thousand years ago, our studies are all vain; but by what we can learn from nature and the immutable laws of the Creator as revealed therein, we know that your theories are incorrect and consequently we must reject your religions as false and vain; we must be what you call infidels, with the demonstrated truths of science in our possession; or, rejecting those truths, become enthusiasts in, what you call, Christianity.” In these respects we differ from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.258)
The quotes go downhill after that first one. The rest are typical 6,000 year old earth statements.
The Lord Almighty never created a world like this and peopled it for six thousand years, as He has done, without having some motive in view. (Journal of Discourses 25:9, January 6, 1884. The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 8)
After passing over the ages and generations of the children of men for about six thousand years, we will come to the present congregation and say the right of heirship is the same now that it was in the beginning. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.6, p.307, Brigham Young, April 8, 1853)
Let us ask what the nations of the earth have accomplished for the last six or seven thousand years. What great work have they achieved? What have the greatest warriors and statesmen that have existed from the beginning done? What good have they accomplished for the world? What boon have they handed down to posterity, and how much better are we off because they lived, because they moved upon the earth, and because they possessed a certain power upon it? They have accomplished a solemn nothing. Where are those mighty conquerors and bright geniuses now? Where are some of the mightiest men? and what has become of the nations and cities where they flourished? It has become a matter of doubt where even the foundations of Babylon and Nineveh were laid. Egypt, it is true, has preserved some of its ancient monuments, kings, and princes unto the present day. What are those men? Loathsome mummies. What are they doing with them? The great Potiphars, Ptolemies, and Pharaohs are now being used for fuel to make steam to drive railway cars. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, p. 2, John Taylor, February 19, 1860)
The world has had a fair trial for six thousand years; the Lord will try the seventh thousand Himself; (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five 1842-43 p.252)
We know the root and foundation of this hatred. It comes from the pulpit, from corrupt priests. Say they, “These people possess a union and a power that we do not possess, and if we let them alone, they will come and take away our place and nation, and we shall lose our fat livings.” There is where it originated–with priests and deacons, with hounds professing to be Christians, but who are no better than the devils in hell. From the pulpit it has spread into political society, and they all hate us. Why? Because the priesthood of the Son of God is among this people, and they know that if we are let alone we shall convert the world and bring it into subjection to the law of Christ. The devil says, “I have had power over the earth for six thousand years, and do you think I am going to loose my grasp upon it? No, I will hold it, and before ever the Latter-day Saints obtain one foot of inheritance upon it they will have to contest it inch by inch.” But we will contend with him until we gain power and influence sufficient to convert the world. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 12, p. 271, Brigham Young, August 16th, 1868)
We are living in the dispensation and generation to which Jesus referred–the time appointed by God for the last six thousand years, through the mouths of all the prophets and inspired men who have lived and left their sayings on record, in which his Zion should be built up and continue upon the earth. These prophecies will have their fulfilment before the world; and all who will not repent will be engulfed in the destructions which are in store for the wicked. If men do not cease from their murders, whoredoms, and all the wickedness and abominations which fill the black catalogue of the crimes of the world, judgment will overtake them; and whether we are believed or not, these sayings are true, and I bear my testimony as a servant of God and as an Elder in Israel to the truth of the events which are going to follow very fast on each other. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, p. 5, Wilford Woodruff, January 1, 1871)
We know, according to the declaration of the Scriptures, that our earth was made some few thousands years ago. How long the progress of formation lasted we do not know. It is called in the Scriptures six days; but we do not know the meaning of the scriptural term day. It evidently does not mean such days as we are now acquainted with–days governed by the rotation of the earth on its axis, and by the shining of the great central luminary of our solar system. A day of twenty-four hours is not the kind of day referred to in the scriptural account of the creation; the word days, in the Scriptures, seems oftentimes to refer to some indefinite period of time. The Lord, in speaking to Adam in the garden, says, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;” yet he did not die within twenty-four hours after he had eaten the forbidden fruit, but he lived to be almost a thousand years old, from which we learn that the word day, in this passage, had no reference to days of the same duration as ours. Again, it is written, in the second chapter of Genesis, “In the day that He created the heavens and the earth;” not six days, but, “in the day” that he did it, incorporating all the six days into one, and calling that period “the day” that He created the heavens and the earth. When this world was formed, no doubt, it was a very beautiful creation, for God is not the author of anything imperfect. If we have imperfections in our world God has had nothing to do with their introduction or origin, man has brought them upon himself and upon the earth he inhabits. But however long or short may have been the period of the construction of this earth, we find that some six thousand years ago it seems to have been formed, something after the fashion and in the manner in which it now exists, with the exception of the imperfections, evils, and curses that exist on the face of it. Six thousand years, according to the best idea that we have of chronology, are now about completed; we are living almost on the eve of the last of the six millenniums–a thousand years are called a millennium–and to-morrow, we may say, will be the seventh; that is the seventh period, the seventh age or seventh time; or we can call it a day–the seventh day, the great day of rest wherein our globe will rest from all wickedness, when there will be no sin or transgression upon the whole face of it, the curses that have been brought upon it being removed, and all things being restored as they were before the Fall. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, p. 234, Orson Pratt, August 20, 1871)
As there is one day out of seven set apart, sanctified and ordained as a day of rest, so there is one thousand years set apart as a day of rest out of the seven thousand which will constitute the temporal existence of our earth. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, p. 350, Orson Pratt, March 10, 1872)
Now, if I have not already occupied too much time, I desire to dwell a little upon the subject of the chronology of our world. We have no dates on which we can depend as to the period or history of our globe from the creation down to the present time. Chronologists differ in regard to the history and age of the world. Some make the age of the world, from the creation to the coming of Christ, to be four thousand years. Archbishop Usher has introduced this chronology into King James’ Bible; and in that you will find all the dates adapted to that particular reckoning; and according to his reckoning you will find that Christ came in the year of the world 4004. Is this to be depended upon? Not at all. Many chronologists equally as learned, and who have made deeper researches than he has on this subject, differ with him materially. There are many who place the birth of Christ at 5500 years from the creation; others place it at 5490, others at 5508 or 9 years. There are about two hundred chronologists who all differ in regard to this matter. Many Jewish chronologists make it over six thousand years from the creation till the birth of Christ, so that you see when we attempt to take up the subject on the learning of the world, we are in the midst of confusion–no person knows anything about it. It is not really necessary that we should know, but we have some little light on this subject. We know that it was not six thousand years from the creation to the birth of Christ. How do we know this? God has told us in new revelation that this earth is destined to continue its temporal existence for seven thousand years, and that at the commencement of the seventh thousand, he will cause seven angels to sound their trumpets. In other words, we may call it the Millennium, for the meaning of the world millennium is a thousand years. Six thousand years must pass away from the creation till the time that Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven, and he will not come exactly at the expiration of six thousand years. When the Prophet Joseph asked the Lord what was meant by the sounding of the seven trumpets, he was told, “That as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth; even so in the beginning of the seventh thousand years, will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power when he shall have sealed all things unto the end of all things, and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels is the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years; to prepare the way before the time of his coming.” This quotation will be found in the Pearl of Great Price. Neither of these trumpets have sounded yet, but they shortly will; and this gives us a little clue to the period and age of our world. We know that six thousand years have not yet elapsed since the creation, but we know that they have very nearly expired.
But how long that morning had existed we do not know, unless we appeal to the Book of Abraham, translated by Joseph Smith from Egyptian papyrus. That tells us in plainness that the way the Lord and the celestial host reckoned time, was by the revolutions of a certain great central body called Kolob, which had one revolution on its axis in a thousand of our years, and that was one day with the Lord, and when the Lord said to Adam, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” the Book of Abraham says it was not yet given unto man the true reckoning of time, and that it was reckoned after the Lord’s time that is one thousand years with us was a day with him, and that Adam, if he partook of the forbidden fruit, was to die before that day of a thousand years should expire. Hence when we go back to the history of the creation, we find that the Lord was not in such a great hurry as many suppose, but that he took indefinite periods of long duration to construct this world, and to gather together the elements by the laws of gravitation to lay the foundation and form the nucleus thereof, and when he saw that all things were ready and properly prepared, he then placed the man in the Garden of Eden to rule over all animals, fish and fowls, and to have dominion over the whole face of the earth. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.15, p.263, Orson Pratt, December 29, 1872)
I do not know but what I am occupying to much time, I will briefly say, however, before closing, that certain records which God has promised to bring to light in his own due time, will far exceed anything that has been revealed through the Book of Mormon or the Bible, or that which has come to us through the Abrahamic record taken from Egyptian papyrus, or that which is contained in the vision of Moses, revealing to him the history of the creation of the world. All these will be as a drop in the bucket in comparison with the eternal knowledge that will yet flow down from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints before this generation shall pass away. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the great deep, and the things of all nations will be revealed. The records of old that were kept by the people of Asia, who have since dwindled into savages by reason of the transgressions of their fathers; and those that have been kept by the ten tribes of the north countries, where they have lived for over 25 centuries; and those records that have been kept by the people of the City of Enoch, giving an account of the dealings of God with ancient Zion, will all come forth to help fill the earth with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the great deep. And John, when upon the Isle of Patmos, saw things in vision, which were commanded to be sealed up, and they are yet to be unsealed; and in this way we shall receive knowledge upon knowledge, revelation upon revelation, concerning not only the six or seven thousand years of the earth’s temporal existence, but concerning the materials of the earth before it was made, and the elements and materials, and all things pertaining to the future earth that is to be created when the elements of this earth shall be dissolved and pass away into space. (George Q. Cannon, April 6, 1878)
How different was the second or temporal work, that existed in the beginning of the great work of creation, from the present order of things! Now we see, and according to history we learn, that all creation are at enmity one with another in their natural state. Hence we find the lions with teeth, probably constructed since the fall, and adapted to devour their prey. I do not believe they had such teeth in the beginning. They had teeth with which they ate “straw like the ox.” But everything was changed in a great measure, in this beautiful temporal creation; and the beasts began to fight, and quarrel and devour each other; and man began to be ferocious, like the beasts, desirous to kill his fellow man. We see him at this early stage in our race, seeking the blood of his fellows, and entering into secret combinations to kill, and destroy, and rob one another of their position and property, and to be at enmity one against another. The Lord in the midst of this fallen condition of his temporal work, has permitted it to continue for about 6,000 years. Enmity prevails, and has prevailed, for the last 6,000 years, with the exception of now and then a dispensation, being introduced, wherein this fallen nature of ours becomes, in a great measure, changed through obedience to the plan of salvation which God has revealed; and then we begin to love our fellow-men, are filled with love and kindness like, in some measure, our heavenly Father, going forth and proclaiming to them the Gospel of peace, and trying to do them good, and redeem them, and reclaim them; and we succeed, now and then, in bringing some to a higher stake; they are born of God, and become new creatures in Christ, being filled with that superior power, that exists in that celestial world, where we formerly resided. While this earth existed in its more perfect temporal form, Adam and Eve were placed upon it, and they were immortal, just like all the beasts and just like the fishes of the sea; death had not yet come upon any of them; all things were immortal so far as this creation was concerned. The first pairs, the beginning of his temporal work, were not subject to death. We are now living near the close of 6000 years during which time evil and wickedness have prevailed. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.21, p.202, Orson Pratt, November 12th, 1879)
I might occupy your time citing evidences almost innumerable to show how the Christian world have departed from the teachings of this sacred Book. I might appeal to it, also, to confirm the teachings of the Latter-day Saints. It is an old story, many times told, and perhaps I had better not dilate upon it this afternoon. We believe that we are living in the evening of history, that we are closing the Saturday of the great week, each day of which is a thousand years, the period preordained in which this earth should accomplish the purpose appointed by its creator. We believe that when God spake to Adam and told Him he should die in the day that He partook of the forbidden fruit, that He kept His word, and that Adam did die within the day; but it was not a day of twenty-four hours, one revolution of our little earth; the day of which He spake was based upon a revolution of the planet upon which God dwells, which we are taught revolves once in a thousand years. This world was appointed a probation through which to pass, six working days, before it should have a rest, or sabbath. We believe we are living in the Saturday night of this world’s history, that we are closing the six thousand years of its mortal probation, and that the dawn of the seventh day, or the seventh thousand years, now nearly upon us, will be the millennium, the reign of peace, when Christ the Ruler and Lord of this world, who labored and suffered and died to redeem its inhabitants from death, will be here in His glory to reign upon the earth King over His people and over the human race. These simple truths, most of which are plainly spoken of in this holy word of God, the Bible, are distorted by the enemies of the Saints to indicate that they are treasonable to the government under which they live. They say we are traitors because we speak of the Kingdom of God; that a kingdom cannot exist within a republic; that it is imperium in imperio; that there is no room in this broad land for the Kingdom of our God. They might as well say there is no room in Christianity for the love of God. Why, this great government was established for the very purpose of introducing this work. Inspired men like Washington and Jefferson were raised up to frame a Constitution liberal in its provisions, extending the utmost freedom to all men, Christian or heathen, who desired to make this glorious land their home; that they might have the unrestricted right to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences. We believe that God raised up George Washington, that He raised up Thomas Jefferson, that He raised up Benjamin Franklin and those other patriots who carved out with their swords and with their pens the character and stability of this great government which they hoped would stand forever, an asylum for the oppressed of all nations, where no man’s religion would be questioned, no man would be limited in his honest service to his Maker, so long as he did not infringe upon the rights of his fellow men. We believe those men were inspired to do their work, as we do that Joseph Smith was inspired to begin this work; just as Galileo, Columbus, and other mighty men of old, whom I have no time to mention, were inspired to gradually pave the way leading to this dispensation; sentinels, standing at different periods of down the centuries, playing their parts as they were inspired of God; gradually freeing the human mind from error, gradually dispelling the darkness as they were empowered by their Creator so to do, that in culmination of the grand scheme of schemes, this great nation, the Republic of the United States, might be established upon this land as an asylum for the oppressed; a resting place, it might be said, for the Ark of the covenant, where the temple of our God might be built; where the plan of salvation might be introduced and practiced in freedom, and not a dog would wag his tongue in opposition to the purposes of the Almighty. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.26, p.199, Orson F. Whitney, April 19, 1885)
The following relate more to evolution than to the 6,000 year old temporal earth.
The First Presidency has given the doctrine of the Church in these words: “It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human was a development from 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,’ and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of the race.”
Joseph Smith has given us this statement: “Commencing with Adam, who was the first man, who is spoken of in Daniel as the `Ancient of Days,’ or in other words, the first and oldest of all, the great, grand progenitor of whom it is said in another place he is Michael, because he was the first and father of all, not only by progeny, but the first to hold the spiritual blessings, to whom was made known the plan of ordinances for the salvation of his posterity unto the end.” (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.93)
…do not mortgage your soul for unproved theories…[the notion that] god used an evolutionary process to prepare a physical body for the spirit is…false. (Boyd K. Packer, The Law and the Light, 21, 24-26, 1988 address to church educators)
Heresy 3: Organic evolution is the process whereby all life on earth came into being, and man, as now constituted, is the end product of this process.
Commentary: This is the false view of many self-designated scientists. The tendency among them is to present Darwinian theories as established realities. These theories postulate the evolvement of all forms of life from lower orders over astronomically long periods of time. They assume death has always been present and that there never was a fall, and they make no provision for a plan of redemption and a resurrection of all forms of life.
Heresy 4: Evolution is the process God used to create all forms of life except Adam, who came by special creation; or Adam was the end product of an evolutionary system used by the Lord for his own purposes.
Commentary: These false notions, together with whatever variations of them happen to be in vogue at any given time, are simply an attempt, on the part of those whose faith falls short of the divine standard, to harmonize the specious theories of men with the revelations of the Lord. They pledge a superficial allegiance to religious truth and allow for a form of divine worship without forsaking the theories of men. They, of necessity, assume that death has always existed on earth, that it did not have its beginning with the fall of Adam, and that there must be some other explanation for all the revelations which say that the atonement ransoms man from the effects of the fall. When those who espouse this view talk of a fall and an atonement, they falsely assume such applies only to man rather than to the earth and all forms of life, as the scriptures attest.(Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.99)
Refusing to acquiesce to their leaders’ demands (of forbiding the teaching evolution at BYU), the three professors in question, Henry and Joseph Peterson and Ralph Chamberlin, were dismissed or fired for being out of harmony with the authorities of the church. When students and faculty protested, they were chastised for ‘dictating’ to ‘the prophets.’ (Dan Erickson, Dialogue 30:2, page 9)
And here is another truth stated by another great thinker, Robert Blatchford. He says: “But — no Adam, no Fall: no Fall, no Atonement; no Atonement, no Savior. Accepting Evolution, how can we believe in a Fall? When did man fall; was it before he ceased to be a monkey, or after? Was it when he was a tree man, or later? Was it in the Stone Age, or the Bronze Age, or in the Age of Iron? . . . And if there never was a Fall, why should there be any Atonement?”
Those are pertinent questions that Mr. Blatchford asks. “No Adam, no Fall; no Fall, no Atonement.” That is just as true as it is that we are here. If death was always here, then Adam did not bring it, and he could not be punished for it. If Adam did not fall, there was no Christ, because the atonement of Jesus Christ is based on the fall of Adam. And so we face these problems.
If there is anybody here that believes that death has always been going on, and that sin was always here, he will have a difficult time to explain Adam and the fall, or the atonement. (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.93)
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. (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign 5/1975:63-65, this was said and written in numerous places including the period of time after he was sustained as President and Prophet)
Babylon is the almighty governmental power that takes the saints of God into captivity; it is the false churches that build false temples and worship false gods; it is every false philosophy (as, for instance, organic evolution) that leads men away from God and salvation. (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, p.424)
If life began on the earth, as advocated by Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel (who has been caught openhanded perpetrating a fraud), and others of this school, whether by chance or by some designing hand, then the doctrines of the Church are false. (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.143)
The living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. (Ezra Taft Benson, Fourteen Fundamentals In Following The Prophet, February 26, 1980)
Heresy two concerns itself with the relationship between organic evolution and revealed religion and asks the question whether they can be harmonized. There are those who believe that the theory of organic evolution runs counter to the plain and explicit principles set forth in the holy scriptures as these have been interpreted and taught by Joseph Smith and his associates. There are others who think that evolution is the system used by the Lord to form plant and animal life and to place man on earth. Is there any way to harmonize the revealed religion that has come to us with the theoretical postulates of Darwinism and the diverse speculations descending therefrom? Should we accept the famous document of the First Presidency issued in the days of President Joseph F. Smith and entitled “The Origin of Man” as meaning exactly what it says? Is it the doctrine of the gospel that Adam stood next to Christ in power and might and intelligence before the foundations of the world were laid; that Adam was placed on this earth as an immortal being; that there was no death in the world for him or for any form of life until after the Fall; that the fall of Adam brought temporal and spiritual death into the world; that this temporal death passed upon all forms of life, upon man and animal and fish and fowl and plant life? Can you harmonize these things with the evolutionary postulate that death has always existed and that the various forms of life have evolved from preceding forms over astronomically long periods of time? Can you harmonize the theories of men with the inspired words that say: 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 [meaning Adam and Eve] 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. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. [2 Ne. 2:22-26] My reasoning causes me to conclude that if death has always prevailed in the world, then there was no fall of Adam that brought death to all forms of life; that if Adam did not fall, there is no need for an atonement; that if there was no atonement, there is no salvation, no resurrection, and no eternal life; and that if there was no atonement, there is nothing in all of the glorious promises that the Lord has given us. I believe that the Fall affects man, all forms of life, and the earth itself, and that the atonement affects man, all forms of life, and the earth itself. (The Seven Deadly Heresies, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, June 1, 1980, BYU)
Another post regarding this page. The poster feels this page is one sided so he provides lengthy quotes from Elder James Talmage.
Other pages on the topic include:
An article from the BYU Daily Universe
Selected LDS quotes on evolution
An alt.religion.mormon discussion on the issue
A soc.religion.mormon discussion on evolution
An attempt to harmonize the two theories by William Bradshaw of BYU
Several books and articles dealing with evolution