(by Dennis B. Horne)
An April 1910 Improvement Era editorial is often used by theistic evolutionists to give support to their evolution-gospel harmonization attempts. The editorial, after referencing the three main scriptural accounts found in the standard works (the books of Genesis, Moses, and Abraham), reads: “These are the authentic statements of the scriptures, ancient and modern, and it is best to rest with these, until the Lord shall see fit to give more light on the subject. Whether the mortal bodies of man evolved in natural processes to present perfection, through the direction and power of God; whether the first parents of our generations, Adam and Eve, were transplanted from another sphere, with immortal tabernacles, which became corrupted through sin and the partaking of natural foods, in the process of time; whether they were born here in mortality, as other mortals have been, are questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God.” The author of this editorial didn’t seem to know his scriptures very well.
Only the year before (as this Improvement Era source notes) the First Presidency had already specifically given more light on the subject and indicated what “the revealed word” taught, in their declaration on “The Origin of Man,” (partially quoted below). Since then, other prophets and apostles have also shed more light on these scriptures—meaning we have access to more knowledge than just the figurative scriptural expressions describing the creation of Adam. That is, unless someone needs to use the first mentioned Improvement Era option for support of theistic evolution. These may be “questions not fully answered in the revealed word of God” but they are doctrines better answered in the revealed word than the first two options account for, and they are better clarified by many authoritative scripture expounders. None of the three options account for the doctrine of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and therefore do not harmonize with many scriptures.
As far as the authorship of this editorial goes, it is unsigned and therefore only carries such doctrinal weight as any church-sponsored magazine item of that era, which is not a lot. Some have pointed out that President Joseph F. Smith was the editor of the Improvement Era and therefore argue that he wrote the editorial. For the following reasons it is highly unlikely that President Smith wrote or approved of the editorial. It is much more likely to have been written by someone else, such as Edward H. Anderson.
[i] Wilkinson, ed., Brigham Young University, 1:429.