Evolution is a beautiful thing. I like to think that the Creator finds joy in putting life forms on earth and then watching how they change and develop new characteristics without any divine input or influence. That is what I would do if I were the god of worlds without number.
“Look! I put a feline mammal on the planet orbiting alpha centuari a few million years ago and just look at the characteristics it developed without my intervention.”
“Look! I put finches on the planet earth long ago, and look how it’s body shape and beak size changed without my intervening.”
“Look! I put some Trilobites on the earth during the Cambrian explosion to help prepare the earth for the arrival of larger species. Notwithstanding their having evolved different characteristics, they were not able to endure changes in the seas during the Devonian period, and were thus wiped out.”
However, the best example of evolution is humankind. We have been given agency, which means that we are capable of choosing our path through life and the eternities. Don’t you think that God is very interested in how we use our agency to learn and grow? You bet. He is watching with great interest at how we evolve spiritually. If we become like Him, we will be like him in terms of righteousness, yet our personalities and spiritual characteristics will be unique, a product of personal evolution.
So I think that evolution is a divine concept, and one that is supported by scripture. Contrary to Einstein’s assertion that nothing in the universe is left to chance, Ecclesiastes 9:11 tells us that “time and chance happeneth to them all.” That is to say, all of God’s creations are subject to events that occur as a result of the passage of time, and they are also subject to events that occur as a result of chance processes (e.g., random mutations). He is in control, yet He allows things to change and develop on their own.
Thus far I have referred to what many call microevolution. Microevolution is a scientifically proven fact, a fact that is entirely consistent with the doctrines of the gospel, as shown above. But what has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the scientific community is macroevolution. Macroevolution is the idea that life is capable of evolving from one life form to another. Sure, there is evidence suggesting that macroevolution may have occurred (the fossil record comes to mind), yet there is no conclusive evidence proving that it does occur. Macroevolution remains an inductive generalization or best guess at what might have happened in the past.
That scientists have not been able to confirm macroevolutionary changes across life forms is not surprising given that it appears wholly inconsistent with fundamental doctrines in the restored gospel. Here are 3 fundamental truths from the gospel that contradict the theory of macroevolution and its concomitant assertion that mankind, including Adam and Eve, evolved from lower species (aka, common descent).
1. We are created in the image of God. By definition, evolution refers to unguided events. If God had left the creation of Adam’s body to chance, there are so many possible outcomes that it is inconceivable that the final outcome would have looked like God. Some claim that God could have used evolution and that it just appears as though it is random to us humans. Fine, but if it just appears random - meaning that it is not - then it is not evolution, is it? I can safely say that your chances of winning the lottery, being struck by lightning, and being elected president of the USA all in one day are better than the chances of unguided evolutionary processes creating an entity in the image of our Heavenly Father.
2. God commanded all life forms to reproduce after their own kind. According to divine law, living things can only produce their own kind. This verse also refers to mankind. Mark E. Peterson wrote, “[Adam] could bring forth only after his kind according to the law of God, and he was "after the kind" or order of his Eternal Father in Heaven. No lower forms were involved” (Adam: Who Is He? p.54.). Reproduction becomes an issue when we consider that hybridization may lead to a new species and, in some cases, closely related species are unable to produce a fertile offspring, as in the case of a horse and donkey producing a sterile mule.
3. Life forms remain in the sphere in which God created them. Speaking of lower life forms, the Lord said, “And it became a living soul also. . . . for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God, created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man” (Moses 3:9). Mark E. Peterson again provides an apt interpretation of this doctrine. He wrote that this verse indicates that “all forms of life remained in the sphere in which he created them. There was no transfer from one species to another” (Ibid).
As you know, some scriptures may be considered allegorical in the sense that they are just symbolic representations of actual events. This may certainly be the case with the creation of the world, the creation of Adam’s physical body, and the Fall of Adam. I don’t know how the earth and Adam’s body were created, neither do I know how the Fall and the subsequent transformation to a telestial world took place. We are largely left to guesswork on these matters.
What I do know is that the aforementioned 3 doctrines are not allegorical. They are statements of fact that should leave no doubt in a reader’s mind as to their true message. They are as straight forward and undeniable in meaning as are the doctrines: “Men will be punished for their own sins and not Adam’s transgressions” and “Surely the Lord God will do nothing except he reveals his secrets unto his servants, the prophets.”
What more is there to say that might allow for an alternative understanding of these doctrines? Nothing. In my opinion, attempts to rationalize these doctrines in ways that allow for alternative interpretations are simply unabashed intellectualizations of the plain and simple truths of the gospel.