See also: Genesis 1; Abraham 4; Moses; Genesis 1-2
We hold the authority to dispose of, alter and change the elements; but we have not received authority to organize native element, to even make a spear of grass grow.
We have no such ordinance here. We organize according to men in the flesh. By combining the elements and planting the seed, we cause vegetables, trees, grains, etc., to come forth. We are organizing a Kingdom here according to the pattern that the Lord has given for people in the flesh, but not for those who have received the resurrection, although it is a similitude. Another item: We have not the power in the flesh to create and bring forth or produce a spirit; but we have the power to produce a temporal body; the germ of this, God has placed within us. And when our spirits receive our bodies, and through our faithfulness we are worthy to be crowned, we will then receive authority to produce both spirit and body. But these keys we cannot receive in the flesh. Herein, brethren, you can perceive that we have not finished, and cannot finish our work, while we live here, no more than Jesus did while he was in the flesh. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, p. 397
I have looked at majestic mountains rising high against the blue sky and thought of Jesus, the Creator of heaven and earth. I have stood on the sand of an island in the Pacific and watched the dawn rise like thunder – a ball of gold surrounded by clouds of pink and white and purple – and thought of Jesus, the Word by whom all things were made and without whom was not anything made that was made. I have seen a beautiful child – bright-eyed, innocent, loving and trusting – and marveled at the majesty and miracle of creation. What then shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ?
This earth is his creation. When we make it ugly, we offend him. Our bodies are the work of our Creator. When we abuse them, we abuse him. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “What Shall I Do Then With Jesus Which Is Called Christ?” Ensign, December 1983, p. 4
Years ago a scientist named A. Cressy Morrison tried to dispel the notion that the earth was created by pure chance. In his book, Man Does Not Stand Alone, he itemized a number of factors that, had they been different, would have made life impossible on the world. If the earth’s crust were 10 feet thicker, there would be no oxygen, or if the oceans had been a few feet deeper, oxygen and carbon monoxide would have been absorbed. If it were not tilted at 23 degrees, we would have had no seasons and water vapor would have moved to the poles. If the moon were closer, tides would have been so enormous that lowlands would be submerged. The planet’s atmosphere is just thick enough to let in the solar rays needed for vegetation, but not enough to kill life. Essential elements exist in just the right proportions for life, he wrote, citing many other factors that argue against a haphazard creation. — Church News, June 15, 1996, p. 16
I would like to share a remarkable quotation I found in a rare book in London one day while searching through the library of the British Museum. It was published as a 20th-century English translation of an ancient Egyptian text. It was written by Timothy, Archbishop of Alexandria, who died in A.D. 385. This record refers to the creation of Adam; premortal Jesus is speaking of His Father:
“He . . . made Adam according to Our image and likeness, and He left him lying for forty days and forty nights without putting breath into him. And He heaved sighs over him daily, saying, ‘If I put breath into this [man], he must suffer many pains.’ And I said unto My father, ‘Put breath into him; I will be an advocate for him.’ And My Father said unto Me, ‘If I put breath into him, My beloved Son, Thou wilt be obliged to go down into the world, and to suffer many pains for him before Thou shalt have redeemed him, and made him to come back to his primal state.’ And I said unto My Father, ‘Put breath into him; I will be his advocate, and I will go down into the world, and will fulfil Thy command.’” (“Discourse on Abbation,” in E. A. Wallis Budge, ed., and trans., Coptic Martyrdoms etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt , brackets appear in printed text; see Moses 3:7; 6:8-9, 51-52, 59.) — Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Jesus the Christ, Our Master and More,” Ensign, April 2000, p. 13
The whole visible creation, as it now exists, is the effect of faith. It was faith by which it was framed, and it is by the power of faith that it continues in its organized form, and by which the planets move round their orbits and sparkle forth their glory. — Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, 72-73; see also Matthew 17:20; Jacob 4:6, 9; The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 7
Six days is a mere term, but it matters not whether it took six days, six months, six years, or six thousand years. The creation occupied certain periods of time. We are not authorized to say what the duration of these days was, whether Moses penned these words as we have them, or whether the translators of the Bible have given the words their intended meaning. However, God created the world. God brought forth material out of which he formed this little terra firma upon which we roam. How long had this material been in existence? Forever and forever, in some shape, in some condition. — Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, p. 100; see also Alma 40:8; The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 7
A day is a specified time period; it is an age, an eon, a division of eternity; it is the time between two identifiable events. And each day, of whatever length, has the duration needed for its purposes. . . .
There is no revealed recitation specifying that each of the “six days” involved in the Creation was of the same duration. — Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “Christ and the Creation,” Ensign, June 1982, p. 11; The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 7
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have affirmed: “All human beings – male and female – are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” — “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, November 1995, p. 102; The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 8
In the physical creation, man became a “living soul” (see Moses 2:26-27; also D&C 88:15). This means his spirit body gained a physical body of flesh and bones. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that the bodies of Adam and Eve were at first “quickened [made alive] by spirit and not by blood. . . . After the fall, which came by a transgression of the law under which Adam was living, the forbidden fruit had the power to create blood and change his nature and mortality took the place of immortality, and all things, partaking of the change, became mortal” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:77). Thus, in the Fall, Adam and Eve became the first beings upon the earth who were mortal flesh, or subject to death. — The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 9
The physical Creation itself was staged through ordered periods of time. In Genesis and Moses, those periods are called days. But in the book of Abraham, each period is referred to as a time. Whether termed a day, a time, or an age, each phase was a period between two identifiable events – a division of eternity.
Period one included the creation of atmospheric heavens and physical earth, culminating in the emergence of light from darkness.
In period two, the waters were divided between the surface of the earth and its atmospheric heavens. Provision was made for clouds and rain to give life to all that would later dwell upon the earth.
In period three, plant life began. The earth was organized to bring forth grass, herbs, trees, and vegetation – each growing from its own seed.
Period four was a time of further development. Lights in the expanse of the heaven were organized so there could be seasons and other means of measuring time. During this period, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the earth were placed in proper relationship to one another. The sun, with its vast stores of hydrogen, was to serve as a giant furnace to provide light and heat for the earth and life upon it. (Gen. 1:29)
In period five, fish, fowl, and “every living creature” were added. (Gen. 1:31) They were made fruitful and able to multiply – in the sea and on the earth – each after its own kind.
In the sixth period, creation of life continued. The beasts of the earth were made after their kind, cattle after their kind, and everything which “creepeth upon the earth” – again, after its own kind. (Gen. 1:33) — Elder Russell M. Nelson, “The Creation,” Ensign, May 2000, p. 85
God set the sun, the moon, and the stars in the heavens and gave them their laws, conditions, and bounds which they cannot pass except by his command. They all move in perfect harmony in their sphere and order and are as wonders, lights, and signs unto us. — Joseph Smith, Discourse of 20 March 1842, recorded by Wilford Woodruff; WJS, 107
What was the design of the Almighty in making man? It was to exalt him to be as God . . . God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves. [He] who holds this world in its orbit and upholds all things by his power – if you were to see him today you would see him a man. For Adam was a man in fashion and image like unto him. Adam walked, talked, and communed with him as one man talks and communes with another. — Joseph Smith, Discourse of 27 August 1843, recorded by James Burgess; WJS, 247
After God had created the heavens and the earth, he came down and on the sixth day said, “Let us make man in our own image.” In whose image? In the image of Gods created they them, male and female: innocent, harmless, and spotless, bearing the same character and the same image as the Gods. And when man fell he did not lose his image but his character, still retaining the image of his maker, Christ, who is the image of man [and] is also the express image of his Father’s person. . . . And through the atonement of Christ and the resurrection and obedience in the gospel, we shall again be conformed to the image of his Son Jesus Christ. Then we shall have attained to the image, glory, and character of God. — Joseph Smith, Discourse of 9 July 1843, recorded by James Burgess; WJS, 231
Was Adam “Created” or “Born”?
Adam was created from the dust (or elements) of the earth. We also are made from these elements. Within a mother’s womb the elements of the original cells are joined by other earthly components until a developed baby is born. Adam was “born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which [God had] made, and so became of dust a living soul.” (Moses 6:59.)
The prophets Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Joseph Fielding Smith taught that Adam was created by the same natural means as we were created. (See HC 6:476; JD 7:285-86; 11:122; MOD, pp. 276-77; DS 1:139-40.)
For example, Brigham Young stated: “I believe that the declaration made in these two scriptures is literally true. God has made His children like Himself to stand erect, and has endowed them with intelligence and power and dominion over all His works, and given them the same attributes which He Himself possesses. He created man, as we create our children; for there is no other process of creation in heaven, on the earth, in the earth, or under the earth, or in all the eternities, that is, that were, or that ever will be. . . . There exist fixed laws and regulations by which the elements are fashioned to fulfill their destiny in all the varied kingdoms and orders of creation, and this process of creation is from everlasting to everlasting.” — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:122
In other words, that Jesus Christ, under the direction of His Father, was the organizer and builder of this world; that out of the elements that existed in space, He, the great Master, compounded, produced and materialized this substantial world upon which you and I live; that we are indebted to Him, and to our Father in heaven, for this life that we are enjoying, the bodies that we have, the beautiful world that we inhabit. We sometimes wonder where our heaven will be, that is, the people of the world wonder. We Latter-day Saints have no reason to doubt where our heaven will be, for the Lord has made known to us, that this splendid world that has been provided for us will ultimately be redeemed, having obeyed the laws of its being, and become celestialized, the home of celestial beings; so that if we shall ever come into heaven, or heavenly conditions, it will be, ultimately, upon this redeemed world. Jesus Christ has been the organizer and the builder of it, possessed with power to do all that. — Elder Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, April 1914
This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broken up and remodeled and made into the one on which we live. The elements are eternal. . . . The word “created” should be “formed” or “organized.” — Joseph Smith, Discourse of 5 January 1841, recorded by William Clayton; WJS, 60
Translated beings are “held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets” and are messengers of specific tasks [see 3 Nephi. 28: 26-28 for example of activity] requiring mortal bodies. — Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 171, 191
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: “In the ultimate and final sense of the word, the Father is the Creator of all things. That he used the Son and others to perform many of the creative acts, delegating to them his creative powers, does not make these others creators in their own right, independent of him. He is the source of all creative power, and he simply chooses others to act for him in many of his creative enterprises” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 63). — Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, Abr. 4:1, p. 40
The belief of traditional Christianity is that God created all things ex nihilo, which means “out of nothing.” The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “there is no such thing as immaterial matter” (D&C 131:7), and the Lord said that “the elements are eternal” (D&C 93:33). The word create, as found in the Genesis account of the Creation, is from a Hebrew word that means “to organize” (see Genesis 1:1, footnote c; see also Abraham 3:24). Joseph Smith likened the creative activity to the building of a ship (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 350–51). Just as a shipbuilder needs materials to create the ship, the Creator made the heavens and the earth out of existing materials. –– Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, Abr. 4:1, p. 40
How Old Is the Earth? Even when it is realized that chapter 1 of Genesis does not describe the beginning of all things, or even the starting point of mankind, but only the beginning of this earth, it cannot be said definitively when that beginning was. In other words, the scriptures do not provide sufficient information to accurately determine the age of the earth. Generally speaking, those who accept the scriptural account subscribe to one of three basic theories about the age of the world. All three theories depend on how the word day, as used in the creation account, is interpreted. . . .
A third theory says that the word day refers to a period of an undetermined length of time, thus suggesting an era. The word is still used in that sense in such phrases as “in the day of the dinosaurs.” The Hebrew word for day used in the creation account can be translated as “day” in the literal sense, but it can also be used in the sense of an indeterminate length of time (see Genesis 40:4, where day is translated as “a season”; Judges 11:4, where a form of day is translated as “in the process of time”; see also Holladay, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, pp. 130–31).
Abraham says that the Gods called the creation periods days (see Abraham 4:5, 8).
If this last meaning was the sense in which Moses used the word day, then the apparent conflict between the scriptures and much of the evidence seen by science as supporting a very old age for the earth is easily resolved. Each era or day of creation could have lasted for millions or even hundreds of millions of our years. . . .
While it is interesting to note these various theories, officially the Church has not taken a stand on the age of the earth. For reasons best known to Himself, the Lord has not yet seen fit to formally reveal the details of the Creation. Therefore, while Latter-day Saints are commanded to learn truth from many different fields of study (see D&C 88:77–79), an attempt to establish any theory as the official position of the Church is not justifiable. — Old Testament Student Manual, pp. 28-29
Let me mention one more thing. While we are in the mortal body we cannot “fashion kingdoms [or] organize matter, for [that is] beyond our capacity and calling, beyond this world. In the resurrection, men who have been faithful and diligent in all things in the flesh, [who] have kept their first and second estate, and [are] worthy to be crowned Gods, even the sons of God, will be ordained to organize matter. How much matter do you suppose there is between here and some of the fixed stars which we can see? Enough to frame many, very many millions of such earths as this, yet it is now so diffused, clear and pure, that we look through it and behold the stars. Yet the matter is there. Can you form any conception of this? Can you form any idea of the minuteness of matter?” (JD, 15:137)
Can you realize even slightly how relatively little we know? As Paul said, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9) — President Spencer W. Kimball, “Our Great Potential,” Ensign, May 1977
Faith is a foundation building block of creation. I am confident that the Savior Jesus Christ uses faith in His capacity to act under the direction of Father in Heaven. The Master used it to create the most remote galaxies as well as to compose quarks, the smallest elements of matter we know of today. Yet I have faith that there are yet smaller building blocks in the wonder of creation. — Elder Richard G. Scott, “The Transforming Power of Faith and Character,” Ensign, November 2010, p. 43
The whole object of the creation of this world is to exalt the intelligences that are placed upon it, that they may live, endure, and increase for ever and ever. — Discourses of Brigham Young, 57
A few weeks ago, on a cold, dark winter’s night, my wife, Barbara, and I looked in awe up at the sky. The millions of stars seemed exceptionally bright and beautiful. I then turned to the Pearl of Great Price and read again with wonder what the Lord God said to Moses: “And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33).
In our day the Hubble deep-space telescope has confirmed the magnitude of what Moses saw. Hubble scientists say the Milky Way galaxy, of which our earth and sun are just a tiny part, is estimated to be only one of over 200 billion similar galaxies. For me it is difficult to comprehend, impossible to fathom, so large and so vast are God’s creations. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, “This Is My Work and Glory,” Ensign, May 2012, p. 18
In His Own Image
In recent years, with advanced telescopes and other instruments, scientists have begun to search not just for stars but also for planets around those stars. The number of planets discovered is growing rapidly. As of March 2013, the number surpassed 900, and some appeared to lie in the same habitable zone as our earth. The number of planets in our galaxy alone could easily be in the hundreds of billions. Considering that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the visible universe, the number of planets is so large as to be incomprehensible – truly worlds without number (see Moses 1:33–35).
And scattered among them, as the Prophet Joseph Smith testified, are worlds whose “inhabitants . . . are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24; see also Joseph Fielding Smith, “Out of the Darkness,” Ensign, June 1971, p. 2). — R. Val Johnson, “Worlds Without Number,” Ensign, August 2013, pp. 41-47
This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation – worlds without end – within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it. — President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “We Are Everything to God,” Ensign, August 2013, p. 44