90 years ago today - Jan 7, 1931
B. H. Roberts defends his position which favors the theory of evolution and the existence of "preadamites" before a council of the Twelve Apostles. In a letter to Church President Heber J. Grant Roberts had previously criticized a dogmatic anti-evolution pronouncement by Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith: "If Elder Smith is merely putting forth his own position I call in question his competency to utter such dogmatism either as scholar or as an apostle. I am sure he is not competent to speak in such a manner from general learning or special research work on the subject; nor as an Apostle as in that case he would be in conflict with the plain implication of the scriptures, both ancient and modern and with the teaching of a more experienced and learned and earlier apostle [Orson Hyde], and a contemporary of the prophet Joseph Smith-whose public discourse on the subject appears in the Journal of Discourses and was publicly endorsed by president Brigham Young, all of which would have more weight in setting forth doctrine than this last dictum of Elder Smith." Two weeks later Joseph Fielding Smith presents his view, a defense of scriptural literalism: "The doctrine of organic evolution which pervades the modern day sciences proclaiming the edict that man has evolved from the lower forms of life through the Java skull, the Heidelberg jaw, the Piltdown man, the Neanderthal skull and last but not least the Peiping man who lived millions of years ago is as false as their author who lives in hell." The Apostles referred the matter back to the First Presidency noting only Roberts' language is "very offensive . . . failing to show the deference due from one brother to another brother of higher rank in the priesthood.- The First Presidency decides that "Neither side of the controversy has been accepted as a doctrine at all" but cautions that general authorities should be more careful when speaking publicly on controversial topics.