I have had a lot of discussions with Mormons over the years about evolution.   One reason for this is that during my Masters and Ph.D. studies, a considerable amount of my research was focused on Evolution.  In fact, the title of my PhD dissertation was “Evolution and the Vertebrate Gut” (sounds terribly interesting, huh?).  One of the consistent and surprising responses in my discussions with Mormons is the number of intelligent, educated Mormons (including my parents) who doggedly hold onto the Joseph F. Smith/Bruce R. McKonkie view that evolution is evil and of the devil and that there is no place for it in the faith/doctrine of Mormonism.   The summary of the argument is the well used phrase “I am not descended from an ape.”  This trivializes the entire concept of evolution since the descent/origin of man is a very small, albeit, important piece of the evolution pie (disclosure – I really don’t care if I am descended from an ape – they are beautiful, noble creatures). 

Many people (although not all) who think evolution is of the devil tend to be uninformed about it, thus, making it difficult to have a discussion about the topic.  For those seeking to learn more, one of the best books on evolution for Mormons is “Evolution and Mormonism” by Trent Stephens (my former Master’s Degree mentor at Idaho State University) and Jeffrey Meldrum.  It does a great job of laying out the data for evolution as well as discussing the somewhat tumultuous relationship Mormonism has had with evolution.  It is a good read for any Mormon who wants to understand the issues.  For me, the Biblical creation lays out “Who created everything and Why”, while evolution tells me “How it could have been created”.  They are not mutually exclusive concepts to me. This marriage of the two concepts is wonderful and, IMHO, gives us some real insight into how God may have created the world.  I think evolution is one of the most inspired (by God), scientifically valid concepts that has been posited.