Improvement Era 1909 regards an ancient earth as consistent with scripture

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Improvement Era 1909 regards an ancient earth as consistent with scripture

The editor of the Improvement Era wrote:

Several students have asked to know whether the ideas contained in the seventh Y. M. M.I.A. Manual lesson are in harmony with the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith as found in section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants. A careful reading of the 7th lesson, also of the Book of Abraham, and the section referred to in the Doctrine and Covenants will demonstrate that there is no conflict. The Manual, as I understand it, simply gives the scientific deductions concerning the geological age of the earth. It does not pretend to say how old the earth is, but points out the scientific conclusions on this subject. The Book of Abraham in the 3rd and 4th chapters, very distinctly points out, or conveys, the idea that the creative days or periods included long periods of time. This is plainly set forth on pages 56 to 59 in the Manual. We are not told how long these periods were. It is only demonstrated in the Manual that science declares the creation to have covered very long periods of time; and that Joseph the Prophet, through the Book of Abraham, also declared that long periods of time were consumed in the preparation of the earth for man; which the prophet did before the scientists or religious leaders had announced this truth. It seems to me unnec- essary to discuss. much less try to decide, in class, the length of the time. The prophet declares it was long periods. Science, as is stated, gives millions of years as the length of time. There is positively and absolutely no definite solution of the problem given either in science or in revelation; but the fact is clearly expressed, and that is all that is sought to be done, that both science and the Prophet Joseph ascribe long periods of time to the formation of the earth....

The idea to be obtained out of our Manual in regard to these matters is not to settle upon things that are not revealed, and to decide things that cannot be decided; but it is the purpose of the Manual to show that, in a general way, Joseph Smith the Prophet, by the inspiration of God, announced truths then generally unknown but which have since been declared by men of science.[1]

The editor concludes by introducing remarks by Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve on the age of the Earth.


  1. Edward H. Anderson, "Editors Table: Age of the Earth," Improvement Era 12 no. 6 (April 1909), 489-91.