Henry J. Eyring discusses Joseph Fielding Smith's teachings and assumptions concerning evolution and the age of the earth and "it required scientific findings contrary to scripture to be disregarded" notes the Church took no position on these issues.

Henry J. Eyring

Henry J. Eyring, Mormon Scientist: The Life and Faith of Henry Eyring (Salt Lake City: Desert Book, 2007) 45-46

Deseret Book
J. Reuben Clark, Henry J. Eyring, Joseph Fielding Smith
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Some Church leaders, though, felt the need to go further. One, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, sensed that intellectualism—both within and without the Church—would only increase, and that science might produce discoveries more threatening to faith even than evolution. For instance, given the pace of exploration of invisible phenomena such as the working of the atom, it was perfectly reasonable to assume that scientists might soon explore and explain away spiritual phenomena, or even the human spirit itself.

Elder Smith was a member of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, subordinate to President Clark but recognized nonetheless as a prophet, seer, and revelator. His father had been President of the Church, and his grandfather, Hyrum Smith, was the brother of the Church’s founder, Joseph Smith. At the time President Clark gave his 1938 speech. Elder Smith had already served as an Apostle for twenty-eight years and was the Church’s official historian. He was also a master of scripture and Church doctrine.

The Church had taken no official position on either evolution or the age of the earth. Elder Smith, though, felt the necessity of claiming the strategic high ground relative not only to these challenges, but also to any others that science might present. He did this by advocating scriptural literalism. In other words, all scriptural accounts—including those of the creation=-were to be read literally, regardless of contrary evidence of opinions. The advantage of this position was that it preempted threats not only from existing scientific theories inimical to faith. The scriptures would be taken as authoritative, come what may. The drawback of this position, of course, was that it required scientific findings contrary to scripture to be disregarded.

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