Main Idea: While the scriptures don’t tell us much about how God created the earth, they do outline general principles concerning the purpose and origin of the earth. The earth was created by Jesus, under the direction of the Father, to fulfill the plan of salvation designed to advance the development of God’s children.
1. The Purpose of the Creation
Through modern revelation, we learn that the ultimate purpose of the creation of this earth was to fulfill the Plan of Salvation that God had outlined in the pre-mortal council in heaven. The Plan of Salvation is a plan for granting immortality and eternal life to those who would comply with that plan. In Moses 1: 39 we learn of God’s major purpose: “For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
Immortality refers to the quantity of the afterlife while eternal life refers to the quality of that after life. The sacrifice of Jesus ensured that all would have immortality and live forever (quantity). However, not all of God’s children will inherit eternal life but only those who obey God’s commandments. (D&C 59:23)
2. Jesus created all things under the direction of the Father
In the Gospel of John, we learn that all things were created by Jesus under the direction of the Father. Paul also taught this truth to the Ephesians when he wrote: “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” (Eph 3:9)
Paul further taught the Corinthians that all things owe their existence to Christ: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Col 1: 16-17)
And finally, Paul taught this doctrine yet again to the Hebrews when he wrote: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” (Hebrews 1: 1-2)
Joseph Fielding Smith also taught the doctrine that Adam and other great souls helped Jesus create this earth. He wrote: “Adam helped to form this earth. He labored with our Savior Jesus Christ. I have a strong … conviction that there were others also who assisted them. Perhaps Noah and Enoch; and why not Joseph Smith, and those who were appointed to be rulers before the earth was formed?” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:75.)
3. The History of the Earth was foreseen and preordained. This is one earth amongst many of God’s creations.
The history of man on this earth was planned and foreseen by God. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord teaches us that the seven seals in Revelation represent the seven 1000 year periods that were planned by God. D&C 77: 6-7 records: “What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals? 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? 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.” (D&C 77:6-7)
Modern revelation confirms that Jesus created many worlds. In the Pearl of Great price we learn that Jesus created so many worlds they can’t be counted: “Worlds without number have I created; … and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33).
In D&C 88 we learn of the Parable of the Laborers in the field which teaches us about the many worlds that Jesus created. In this parable, a master sends out 12 servants into the field and says he will visit each one at the appointed hour with the joy of His countenance. The master then visits them all during the hour they were appointed to serve but then withdraws and moves on to the next when the hour ends. This is done so that all will be glorified together eventually.
Hyrum L. Andus, explains what this parable means: “In this parable, the field represents the universe with twelve servants in twelve different areas representing twelve inhabited planets of our universe. Our earth is one of these twelve worlds. That is, each kingdom, or planet, and the inhabitants thereof, were blessed with the visits and presence of their Creator, in their several times and seasons….Two points in the above parable seem to indicate that the worlds which Christ is depicted as visiting are temporal spheres in need of redemption to glory: First, He visits these spheres that He might be glorified in the inhabitants thereof, and that they might be glorified in Him. It appears, therefore, that these worlds and their inhabitants are passing through a mortal state at the time of His visitation and are not at that time glorified. The fact that He visits them to extend the power of His glory unto them indicates that His atonement operates in their behalf, for it is only on the basis of the atonement that man is glorified in Christ. “The second point of evidence that these are temporal spheres is that Christ is portrayed as withdrawing from one sphere in order to visit the next.” (Hyrum L. Andus, God, Man and the Universe)
4. The Heavens and all of Creation testify of the Creator God and His love for us.
The Psalmist wrote: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” (Psalms 19:1) The scriptures also teach us that everything on the earth was created to satisfy our needs and testify of the love God has for us. In D&C 59: 18-19 it is written: “Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.”
Even though God’s creations are many, He knows and loves them all.He said, “All things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them” (Moses 1:35).
5. The Process of Creation
A.) The earth was first created spiritually before it was physically created.
Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The account of the creation of the earth as given in Genesis, and the Book of Moses, and as given in the temple, is the Creation of the physical earth, and of physical animals and plants. … There is no account of the Creation of man or other forms of life when they were created as spirits.” (Doctrines of Salvation,3 vols., comp. Bruce R. McConkie, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 1:75.)
B.) God created everything on the earth and then created man in his own image to rule over the earth.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we learn that the earth was created by God for those He made in His image to rule over. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen 1-2)
C.) God created the earth out of pre-existing materials and not ex nihilo.
While many Christian sects believe that God created the earth out of nothing (ex nihilo) but modern revelation reveals that God used pre-existing materials to create the earth. Keith Meservy explains:
“Many Christian writers have defined the Creation as creation from nothing but the book of Abraham clarifies that God “organized” the worlds out of unorganized matter. To those who were with him, God said, “We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell.” (Abr. 3:24.) And since all life came from the earth’s elements, all things came from existing material. This insight in no way diminishes the significance of the Lord’s creation, but rather gives us a glimpse into the nature of eternal law.” (Keith Meservy-Four Accounts of the Creation, Ensign Jan. 1986)
Richard R. Hopkins further explains that the original Hebrew translation supports the account in Abraham. He says:
“The word translated “formless” or “without form”, is tohu, which means “a ruin,” or “that which is wasted, laid waste. Scientists who claim that dinosaurs were wiped off the face of the earth when the sea was partially vaporized by a great asteroid hitting the earth millions of years ago may find some vindication of their theory in this description. What appears is that this planet has had a longer history than that given in the Old Testament, and the creation account clearly describes work done on pre-existing materials. The beginning of the existence of the world, does not imply the beginning of the existence of matter. The Book of Job speaks of the morning stars singing together and the sons of God shouting for joy when the “cornerstone” was laid for the “foundations of the earth” (Job 38:4-7) This passage gives the impression that the universe, at the time of the earth’s beginning, was widely inhabited with a variety of life and matter. The Bible does not teach creation ex nihilo.” (Richard R. Hopkins-How Greek Philosophy Corrupted Christianity)
D.) The earth was created in “time periods” not “days.”
The account of the creation is not scientific but is simply designed to teach general principles. Robert J. Woodford explains: “In the book of Abraham, the phases of creation are not called the “day” (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13) but “the second time,” “the third time” (Abr. 4:8, 13; emphasis added), and so forth. We therefore learn that periods of time for the Creation may have lasted 24 hours each, 1,000 years, or even millions of years. The periods of time are indeterminate in length; as one phase of the creation was finished, the next began. Therefore the age of the earth before Adam and Eve could have been great indeed. (Robert J. Woodford-In the Beginning, a Latter Day Perspective, Ensign, Jan. 1998)
E.) God simply spoke to achieve the creation.
In describing how the Creation was accomplished, the scriptures teach us that God spoke and the work was done (Moses 2:3, 5–6, 9). We know that Jesus created the earth under the direction of the Father, so God’s words may have been directions to Jesus and those other “noble and great ones” who helped prepare the earth.
6. The Order of Creation
In the 1982 Ensign Article called: “Christ and the Creation” the order of creation is laid out for us. The following is a summary of that article:
A.) The First Day- Day and Night.
“Elohim, Jehovah, Michael, a host of noble and great ones—all these played their parts. “The Gods” created the atmospheric heavens and the temporal earth. It was “without form, and void”; as yet it could serve no useful purpose with respect to the salvation of man. It was “empty and desolate”; life could not yet exist on its surface; it was not yet a fit abiding place for those sons of God who shouted for joy at the prospect of a mortal probation. The “waters” of the great “deep” were present, and “darkness reigned” until the divine decree: “Let there be light.” The light and the darkness were then “divided,” the one being called “Day” and the other “Night.” Clearly our planet was thus formed as a revolving orb and placed in its relationship to our sun. (See Moses 2:1–5; Abr. 4:1–5.) (Christ and the Creation, Ensign, Jun. 1982)
B.) The Second Day- Sky created and water separated from oceans to sky.
On this day “the waters” were “divided” between the surface of the earth and the atmospheric heavens that surround it. A “firmament” or an “expanse” called “Heaven” was created to divide “the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse.” Thus, as the creative events unfold, provision seems to be made for clouds and rain and storms to give life to that which will yet grow and dwell upon the earth. (See Moses 2:6–8; Abr. 4:6–8.) (Christ and the Creation, Ensign, Jun. 1982)
C.) The Third Day- Dry land, plants and vegetables.
This is the day when life began. In it “the waters under the heaven” were “gathered together unto one place,” and the “dry land” appeared. The dry land was called “Earth,” and the assembled waters became “the Sea.” This is the day in which “the Gods organized the earth to bring forth” grass and herbs and plants and trees; and it is the day in which vegetation in all its varied forms actually came forth from the seeds planted by the Creators. This is the day when the decree went forth that grass, herbs, and trees could each grow only from “its own seed,” and that each could in turn bring forth only after its own “kind.” And thus the bounds of the plant and vegetable kingdoms were set by the hands of those by whom each varied plant and tree was made. (See Moses 2:9–13; Abr. 4:9–13.) (Christ and the Creation, Ensign, Jun. 1982)
D.) The Fourth Day- Days and Seasons created
They then “organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven” so there would be “seasons” and a way of measuring “days” and “years.” We have no way of knowing what changes then took place in either the atmospheric or the sidereal heavens, but during this period the sun, moon, and stars assumed the relationship to the earth that now is theirs. At least the light of each of them began to shine through the lifting hazes that enshrouded the newly created earth so they could play their parts with reference to life in all its forms as it soon would be upon the new orb. (See Moses 2:14–19; Abr. 4:14–19.) (Christ and the Creation, Ensign, Jun. 1982)
E.) The Fifth day- ocean life and birds.
Next came fish and fowl and “every living creature” whose abode is “the waters.” Their Creators placed them on the newly organized earth, and they were given the command: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the sea; and let fowl multiply in the earth.” This command—as with a similar decree given to man and applicable to all animal life—they could not then keep, but they soon would be able to do so. Appended to this command to multiply was the heaven-sent restriction that the creatures in the waters could only bring forth “after their kind,” and that “every winged fowl” could only bring forth “after his kind.” There was no provision for evolvement or change from one species to another. (See Moses 2:20–23; Abr. 4:20–23.) (Christ and the Creation, Ensign, Jun. 1982)
F.) The Sixth day- beasts and then man.
The crowning day of creation is at hand. In its early hours, the great Creators “made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything which creepeth upon the earth after his kind. And, then, finally, that his purposes shall roll everlastingly onward, God blesses the “male and female” whom he has created and commands them: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” As the “sixth day” closes, the Creators, viewing their creative labors with satisfaction, see that “all things” which they have “made “are “very good.” (See Moses 2:24–31; Abr. 4:24–31.) (Christ and the Creation, Ensign, Jun. 1982)
G.) The Seventh Day- The Lord Rests.
The Lord then rests on the “seventh day.” (See Moses 3:1–3.) (Christ and the Creation, Ensign, Jun. 1982)
The Four Accounts of the Creation
1. The Genesis Account (Gen. 1–2). This is the common account shared by all Bible readers. Latter-day Saints regard it as the remnant of an account originally given to Moses.
2. The Book of Moses Account (Moses 1–3; JST, Gen. 1–2). After Joseph Smith had translated the Book of Mormon and learned that many plain and precious truths had been taken from the Bible, the Lord commanded him to “translate” the Bible. In doing so, he used neither Hebrew nor Greek documents but drew upon revelation and inspiration as the source of the text. Moses had been shown a vision depicting something of the breadth and depth of the Lord’s creations. When Moses asked for more information about the origin of this earth, the Lord responded: “Moses … I will speak unto thee concerning this earth; … write the things which I shall speak.” (Moses 1:40; italics added.) Moses then wrote his account, which is the basis for the account appearing in the Joseph Smith Translation (JST, sometimes called the Inspired Version).The text now known as the Book of Moses was extracted from the Joseph Smith Translation and published in the Pearl of Great Price in 1851. (Keith Meservy-Four Accounts of the Creation, Ensign Jan. 1986)
3. The Book of Abraham Account (Abr. 3–5). This account was recorded by Abraham. A form of it was discovered in an Egyptian tomb and later sold to the Latter-day Saints. By revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith produced the text of the Book of Abraham and published it in the Times and Seasons. In 1851 it was reprinted in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price. (Keith Meservy-Four Accounts of the Creation, Ensign Jan. 1986)
4. The Temple Account. Using the power of drama and group participation, this account teaches, so far as possible within the limits of dramatic structure, the various steps involved in the Creation, the sequence of events, and the roles of those involved. (Keith Meservy, “Four Accounts of the Creation,” Ensign, Jan. 1986, 50)
Common Maladaptive Beliefs
- Any belief that denies Jesus Christ as the creator of the earth and all things in it.
- Any belief that denies that the history of the world was foreseen and preordained by God.
- Any belief that dismisses the account of the Fall and how death and sin came into the world.