The First Presidency of the Latter-day Saint Church has never made a direct statement in response to Darwin, his book, or his theory of evolution. Yet, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the church did respond indirectly. Less formally, certain leaders openly attacked Darwin’s ideas, while other church officials and lay members disliked transmutation but contemplated other forms of evolution. Various personalities and their corresponding works exemplify these responses. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith adamantly opposed Darwin’s ideas most of his life, best evidenced in his Man, His Origin and Destiny (1954). Smith held that “one who follows the theories of Darwin, will eventually, like Darwin, lose all faith in God the Eternal Creator.” Yet, in the late nineteenth century, James E. Talmage wrote in his journal that very few religious thinkers understood Darwin, and consequently misconstrued his ideas as an attack on religion and theology. His son Sterling Talmage followed his father in seeking to understand Darwinian thought, and explain why it was not antithetical to Mormonism. Other examples exist, each providing differing perspectives and ways of either rejecting or assimilating Darwinian evolutionary thought with Mormon doctrine. Yet, the nature of the publications opposing Darwin led to a quasi-authoritative view which was perceived as mostly anti-Darwinian. As Gene A. Sessions and Craig J. Oberg have explained,
By the last decade of the twentieth century few members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would doubt the truth of the following statement: The ideas of organic evolution, particularly as they apply to the development of humankind, are false.
If the foregoing statement is true, how is it explained? Is this simply a case of a specific voice (Joseph Fielding Smith) in a particular position (Apostle) outliving others who advocated different views? What other variables are at work in deciding the general memberships’ views on evolution? I find these questions intriguing because they certainly relate to other issues. For example, is their an officially held view regarding how the atonement works? Or, is there a quasi-authoritative atonement theory that certain individual leaders have promulgated which is generally accepted? This opens the door to many questions, but I like open doors.
The foregoing is a short summary of a paper I will present at MHA.
 Joseph Fielding Smith, Man, His Origin and Destiny (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1954), 84-85.
 James P. Harris, The Essential James E. Talmage (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 5
 Sessions and Oberg, “The Mormon Retreat from Science,” in The Search for Harmony: Essays on Science and Mormonism, edited by Gene A. Sessions and Craig J. Oberg (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1993), v.