16) DAVID O. MCKAY: Was President David O. McKay a supporter of the theories of evolution?

Commentary

david_mckaySee Gary Shapiro’s excellent blog for additional information on this topic. Also, see Gary Shapiro’s explanation of the famous President David O. McKay letter on evolution. To see President McKay’s feelings toward Joseph Fielding Smith see the FAQ on this subject.

Prophetic Statements

David O. McKay

“Youth need religion to comply properly with the purposes of creation. There is a purposeful design permeating all nature, the crowning event of which is man. Here, on this thought, science again leads the student up to a certain point, and sometimes leaves him with his soul unanchored. For example, evolution’s theory of the creation of the world offers many perplexing problems to the inquiring mind. Inevitably, a teacher who denies divine agency in creation, who insists that there is no intelligent purpose in it, undoubtedly impresses the student with the thought that all may be chance.

I say that no youth should be left without a counterbalancing thought. Even the skeptical teacher should be fair enough to say that Charles Darwin himself, when he faced the great questions of eventual annihilation, if creation is dominated only by chance, wrote: “It is an intolerable thought that man and all other sentient things are doomed to complete annihilation, after such long-continued, slow progress.” [1]

There is a perpetual design permeating all purposes of creation. On this thought, science again leads the student up to a certain point, and sometimes leaves him with his soul unanchored. Miliken is right when he says “science without religion obviously may become a curse rather than a blessing to mankind; but science dominated by the spirit of religion is the key to progress and the hope for the future. ” For example, evolution’s beautiful theory of the creation of the world offers many perplexing problems to the inquiring mind. Inevitably a teacher who denies divine agency in creation, who insists that there is no intelligent purpose in it, will impress the student with the thought that all may be chance. I say that no youth should be so left without a counterbalancing thought…

…In the Brigham Young University and every other Church school the teacher can say “God is at the helm.” God is the Creator of the earth. He is the Father of our souls and spirits. No question about it. You have your testimony (if you haven’t you shouldn’t be on the faculty) that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, and the purpose of Creation is theirs…

…The world needs religion, TRUE religion. It’s the world’s greatest need, and the responsibility of proclaiming that need and supply it rests upon The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and every student in the Brigham Young University should be imbued with that truth, and be inspired with a desire to proclaim it. God help us to teach the true religion as revealed in this dispensation by the Lord Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith. [2]

The second thing from which the world needs to be saved is ignorance of its relationship to God. In their lack of knowledge of the existence of Deity, many men agnostically say, “I don’t know.” Others bombastically say, “There is no God; life came to earth by chance and man was developed through evolutionary processes of ten or fifteen millions or billions, of years.” Paul, James, Cephas, John, and Joseph Smith, and a host of others knew, and so have testified, that we are sons and daughters of our Father in heaven. He is our God, and Jesus Christ came to the world to prove that great truth. From the very beginning He established our relationship with Deity; namely, that we are sons and daughters of God.

Oh, what that truth means to young people, particularly, who, in moments of discouragement, wonder what they are going to do and how they are going to live, to be inspired with the idea that they are truly of divine origin! Being of divine heritage, there is no limit to their achievement. [3]


  1. President David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1968, General Priesthood Meeting 92
  2. David O. McKay, “A Message for LDS College Youth”, BYU Devotional Address, Oct. 10, 1952, pg. 6-7
  3. David O. McKay, “The World Needs to Be Saved from Dominating Animal Instincts,” Instructor 97:181-82, June 1962

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