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The Age of the Earth

What science teaches

Science is pretty darn clear about it.  The Earth is roughly 4.54 billion years old.  There is plenty of evidence and scientists are quite sure of it.

What the Mormon church taught before science had a widely accepted consensus

D&C 77:6-7:

Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?

A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.

Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?

A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.

That makes it about six thousand years, stated quite clearly in canonized LDS scipture.

Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 1, page 80:

“Here is a definite statement by revelation to us that this earth will go through 7,000 years of temporal existence.  Temporal, by all interpretations, means passing, temporary or mortal.  This, then, has reference to the earth in its fallen state, for the earth was cursed when Adam, who was given dominion over it, transgressed the law.  Before that time, this earth was not mortal any more that Adam was.  This we learn from other scriptures; for instance, see 2 Nephi 2:22.” .”We can hardly be justified in trying to harmonize the days of creation with the extended periods of millions of years according to the reckoning of the so-called scientists.”

Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 25:9, also The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 8:

“The Lord Almighty never created a world like this and peopled it for six thousand years, as He has done, without having some motive in view.”

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.6, p.307:

“After passing over the ages and generations of the children of men for about six thousand years, we will come to the present congregation and say the right of heirship is the same now that it was in the beginning.”

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five 1842-43 p.252:

“The world has had a fair trial for six thousand years; the Lord will try the seventh thousand Himself;”

What the modern church says

Naturally, the modern church is aware of the problem.  And following their own special tradition, they are nearly silent on the matter.


Again, I am left with a dilemma.  These men claim to be prophets.  They claim to receive revelation and be guided by it.  The scriptures are supposedly the word of God.  But they are clearly wrong.  There is no question, they were dead wrong about the age of the earth and of mankind.  How does one reconcile that fact with statements that the church leaders will never teach false doctrine or will never lead the church astray?

For people who would argue that those prophets simply were speaking their own mind and weren’t saying the word of God, how do we know when they are revealing the word of God?  What about blacks and the priesthood?  There is no revelation to consult, no timing or statement.  The prophet at the time claimed it was because of a lack of valiance in the pre-Existence, but that was later denied by church leaders.  At what point do we question whether or not there really was a revelation about that?

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