The BYU Packet on evolution and the origin of man

David H. Bailey
1 Jan 2017 (c) 2017

In 1992, in an effort to quell numerous disputes on the BYU campus as to the LDS Church's views on evolution, a group of faculty assembled what is now called the "BYU Packet" on evolution. The packet consisted of four items: the 1909 First Presidency statement, the 1910 Improvement Era article, the 1925 First Presidency statement, and the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article on evolution. The latter item was selected because of its quotation from the 1931 First Presidency letter and also because of Pres. Hinckley's role in drafting it. The packet was subsequently approved by the BYU Board of Trustees, which included senior general authorities and members of the First Presidency.

The continuing importance of the packet was underscored in 2005. With the news of the impending Dover, Pennsylvania intelligent design case, the Deseret News ran an article on evolution and the teaching of evolution in Utah. The reporter inquired to the LDS Church headquarters on the issue and was given the following information (see Article):

According to Randy Hall, assistant superintendent of the LDS Church Educational System, seminary teachers are told to refer to church statements included in what is known as the "BYU packet," a collection of four official statements on evolution made between 1909 and 1992. The statements are somewhat vague but do include sentences such as "Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes," and "Adam is the primal parent of our race." The packet does not include more clearly anti-evolution -- and oft-quoted -- unofficial statements such as those made by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1988.

In 2007, BYU administrators directed that the packet be referred to as the "BYU Packet on the Evolution and the Origin of Man." Its role remains the same, namely as an authoritative source of the LDS Church's views on evolution.

The four components of the BYU packet are available online here: BYU site.

The packet is also published in the following book:

[Evenson2006] William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffery, Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements, Greg Kofford Books, Salt Lake City, UT, 2006.