Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books. Reprint. Paperback. 216pp. Octavo [21.5 cm] Black and green wrappers. Fine. New Book. Item #18447
The decades framing the turn of the twentieth century constituted a period of progressive optimism, of increasing faith in science and technology, and of character-building education—vividly illustrated in the founding of Christian Science, for example, and in the Latter-day Saint magazine, the Improvement Era.
In keeping with the times, it is not surprising that former professor of chemistry and university president John A. Widtsoe was called to the LDS Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1921. An inheritor and promoter of "reasonable" religion, his popular book, Joseph Smith as Scientist, and his influential LDS Melchizedek priesthood manual (later released as a book), Rational Theology, underscored his and other Mormon leaders’ positivist assumptions about the world—that science was good, that Mormonism would be proven true, and, drawing from Herbert Spencer's application of evolution to ethics, that society would be perfected.
Like Widtsoe's secular books (published nationally and internationally by Macmillan, Webb, and J. Wiley & Sons), Rational Theology would enjoy multiple printings domestically and several foreign translations. Although his other church writings (Evidences and Reconciliations, The Gospel in the Service of Man, Guide Posts to Happiness: The Right to Personal Satisfaction, and others) proved to be influential, none so thoroughly summarized his embrace of science and Mormonism as Rational Theology.