GOD’S PLAN FOR US
To help us grasp the importance of the creation, Elder Burce R. McConkie declared:
God himself, the Father of us all, ordained and established a plan of salvation whereby his spirit children might advance and progress and become like him. It is the gospel of God, the plan of Eternal Elohim, the system that saves and exalts, and it consists of three things. These three are the very pillars of eternity itself. They are the most important events that ever have or will occur in all eternity. They are the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. (Ensign, June 1982, 9)
As with so many important gospel subjects, a wonderful resource here is Chapter 7, “The Creation” in the Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Student Manual (found at the web site “institute.lds.org”). There is found this quote from Joseph Fielding Smith:
In the pre-existence we dwelt in the presence of God our Father. When the time arrived for us to be advanced in the scale of our existence and pass through this mundane probation, councils were held and the spirit children were instructed in matters pertaining to conditions in mortal life, and the reason for such an existence. In the former life we were spirits. (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Student Manual, 14)
Effective discussion may center with the questions, “Since we were only spirits, and did not have a body and all that would accompany that body, what could we be taught and what could we not yet be taught?”
JESUS CREATED THE EARTH
The plan for this earth was the Father’s, as taught in the previous section. However, as this section teaches, Jesus Christ created this earth. This is taught so very well in the scriptures in this section, as well as those “Additional Scriptures” at the end of the lesson.
The term “divine investiture” is important to understand as to how Jesus acted in the role of creator. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains:
He [Jesus Christ] is the Father by what has aptly been termed divine investiture of authority. That is, since he is one with the Father in all of the attributes of perfection, and since he exercises the power and authority of the Father, it follows that everything he says or does is and would be exactly and precisely what the Father would say and do under the same circumstances. (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Student Manual, 10)
A great discussion on the idea if divine investiture, as well as how the Father and the Son are “one” is found in the article, “I Have a Question,” (Ensign, Dec 1989, 52–53).
This section quotes from D&C 76:24 (also found in the document The Living Christ) that Jesus created “worlds.” This is clarified a bit further in Moses 1:33 in which the Father declares:
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.
The concept of “worlds without number” and the potential we have to become like God and create as well was powerfully illustrated for us by a guide at the museum at NASA Ames Research Center near Palo Alto, California.
He showed a slide of one of the latest photos from the Hubble telescope on a wall about 6 feet by 10 feet and asked the audience how many stars they could see. Guesses were taken until he helped arrive at the “answer” of 10,000. But then he told us that it was a trick question. There was not a star in the bunch. Each point of light was in fact a galaxy.
The guide then explained about a theory originated by Dr. Frank Drake which postulated that our galaxy (the Milky Way) has the potential to contain about 10,000 planets that could be other “earths” (capable of supporting life). Thus we were looking at a potential of one hundred million earths in that slide.
As if the above was not mind-blowing enough, the guide then explained that what we saw on the screen would be blotted out by a grain of sand held between the finger and thumb held arms length away from our eye.
CARRYING OUT THE CREATION
Both scriptures quoted in this section concerning the creation of man (Abraham 3:24 and Moses 2:26) mention a plurality of Gods involved in the creation. Two of the Gods are named in Moses 2:26 - - God the Father and God the Only Begotten. That another God is involved can be found in pondering Genesis 1:26-27:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
In this verse, as with many other verses about God in the Old Testament, King James’ scholars apparently caved in to political correctness to agree with the false doctrine of the Trinity. The Hebrew word for God here, translated to Elohim, is plural. We also use this word for the name of God the Father (Bible Dictionary, 681). Those scholars rendered an English translation for the plural noun for “Gods” into the singular “God.” Some of the struggle these translators had can be seen in the fact that they translated the pronouns (“us” and “our”) to be plural.
So a correct translation of this verse would be something like:
“So the Gods created man in their own image…male and female…”
Now the question can be asked, “In whose image were women created?” Two prophets help us with that question:
God made man in his own image and certainly he made woman in the image of his wife-partner. (Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 25)
Is it not feasible to believe that female spirits were created in the image of a “Mother in Heaven”? (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 3:144)
We do sing of Mother in Heaven in verse 3 of Hymn 292, “O My Father.”
When The First Presidency issued a statement on the origin of man in 1909, they stated:
…man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents…
All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 961)
As President of the Church, President Harold B. Lee said:
We forget that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and that influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us when we do all we can. (Ensign, Feb 1974, 77)
However, we really do know so very little about Mother in Heaven. Since the prophets seldom mention Her, it is therefore wise that we do not mention Her very often. In conjunction with this scripture may be one of the very few times it is appropriate.
It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith may have not yet understood about the role of Mother in Heaven in the creation of man when he translated the Book of Moses, since Moses 2:27 (quoted in this section of the lesson) also uses a singular “God.” But later, when the prophet Joseph translated Abraham 4:27, this verse reads:
So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them.
This brings up another principle Joseph taught about the creation. In this verse he changed the verb “create’ (found in Genesis and Moses) to “organize.” In Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Student Manual (p. 16) is found the following quote by Joseph Smith:
Now, the word create came from the word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 350–52)
Also from Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Student Manual (p.14) comes a quote by Joseph Smith:
In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 349)
Joseph’s use of the word “concoct” seems confusing today. However, in the American Dictionary of the English Language by Daniel Webster in 1828, the second meaning of the word is “To purify or sublime; to refine…”
All of this helps us understand wonderful words Joseph Smith used in Abraham 4-5 (“Additional Scriptures’ at the end of this lesson) to describe the creation.
There is a terrific principle taught in this section - - “…the greatest creation of all—mankind” - - that should not be overlooked.
Concerning this, Joseph F. Smith proclaimed:
...man, the crowning work of God, on this earth, the masterpiece, if you please...
(Journal of Discourses, 15:326)
In a past Priesthood/Relief Society manual, President David O. McKay taught:
Although God has created the universe and all therein, “man is the jewel of God.” This is just another way of saying that the earth was created for man and not man for the earth.
Yet, God’s greatest creation—man—often is content to grovel on the animal plane. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 205
Elder Russell M. Nelson explained:
…after the earth had been created, divided, beautified, and inhabited with plant and animal life, the crowning achievement of the Creation was to be man—the human being. (Ensign, Nov 1987, 86)
President Gordon B. Hinckley said it this way:
You are a child of God, His crowning creation. (Ensign, Mar 1997, 58)
From Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Student Manual (p.17), here is how the First Presidency stated it in their wonderful statement on the origin of man in 1909:
He (God) made the tadpole and the ape, the lion and the elephant but He did not make them in His own image, nor endow them with Godlike reason and intelligence.
Not the banana, not the baboon, but only man and woman did the Gods create in their own image.
Since the false doctrine of the Trinity includes the concept that God does not have a body, there is much confusion about what “image” means. Most of those who believe in the Trinity believe that “image” is really more like the “reflection” behind a mirror. Man is no more like God than a reflection is not really like the tangible object in front of the mirror.
In a Hebrew class for seminary and institute teachers I attended in the summer of 1981 at BYU, Dr. David Noel Friedman taught the scholarly truth about this idea. At that time, Dr. Friedman was one of the very top Biblical Hebrew scholars in the world. He told us he was Jewish by tradition and agnostic by faith. Because of friends at BYU, he took a sabbatical to teach this class to amateurs in Biblical Hebrew. We spent eight hours a day for eight weeks studying every detail about the Biblical Hebrew translation of Genesis and never made it all the way through chapter one. I am so glad we made it to the word “image” in verse 26. I will never forget that day. Dr. Friedman obviously knew we were all LDS, but did not have an LDS agenda. When he came to the word “image” he said something like the following:
I know that there are many who want this word to translate to something akin to the reflection of a real object in a mirror, or something like that. But I am here to tell you that the writer of this verse used a Hebrew word that has corporeal, physical, tangible and three-dimensional characteristics in its meaning. The writer who used this Hebrew word in this verse to describe Adam being made in the image of God also used exactly the same Hebrew word in Genesis 5:3 to describe Seth being made in the image of Adam. Dr. Friedman went on and on for what seemed like fifteen minutes saying the same things in different ways. Then he concluded with, “But I know you Mormons know all about that” and went on to another subject.
As Brigham Young emphatically stated:
When Moses wrote and said that man was formed precisely in the image of God he wrote the truth. We are the children of our father,—his offspring, of the same family; we belong to him by birthright, and we are his children and Jesus is our brother. Does the Bible tell all this? Just as plain as words can tell anything. (Journal of Discourses, 14:280)
There are many misconceptions about the creation which arise from the so-called “conflict” between science and religion. This conflict had historical roots in the stand taken by the Catholic Church which interpreted the Bible to show that the sun must revolve around the earth. Nickolaus Copernicus presented findings opposite to that belief. Galileo Galilei (Galileo for short) supported Copernicus and was tried by the Catholic Church and found guilty of heresy. Ever since then a gap has widened to where today many scientists cannot tolerate religion and many religious people will not trust scientists. First, think how silly all of this must have seemed to the second Nephi, supposing he was able to view all of this from the spirit world, who wrote some 1,640 years earlier in Helaman 12:15:
…and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun.
Some of the problems in this supposed conflict (there is no conflict if real facts and theories are kept separate) come from misinterpretations of the Bible. James E. Talmage (another first-rate scientist) stated:
The opening chapters of Genesis, and scriptures related thereto, were never intended as a textbook of geology, archaeology, earth-science, or man-science. Holy Scripture will endure, while the conceptions of men change with new discoveries. We do not show reverence for the scriptures when we misapply them through faulty interpretation. (The Talmage Story: Life of James E. Talmage--Educator, Scientist, Apostle, 232)
One such “faulty interpretation” of the Bible is that the six “days” of creation should be taken literally. An important change Joseph Smith was made as he translated the Book of Abraham. There, instead of using the word “day,” as he did in Moses, he changed the word to “time” (Abraham 4:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31). The word “time” is a much more indefinite measure than is “day.”
In conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson taught:
Whether termed a day, a time, or an age, each phase was a period between two identifiable events -- a division of eternity. (Ensign, May 2000, 85)
Brigham Young stated:
How long it [the earth] has been organized it is not for me to say, and I do not care anything about it. whether he [God] made it in six days or in as many millions of years, is and will remain a matter of speculation in the minds of men unless he give revelation on the subject. (Journal of Discourses, 14:116)
Elder Russell M. Nelson, who, before he was called to the Apostleship, was a physician and a first-rate scientist, counseled us on two points:
Compared with the omniscience of our Creator, we know relatively little about dinosaurs or the details of the Creation, for example (footnote 39). (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 33)
Whether truth comes from a laboratory of science or directly by revelation, truth is embraced by the gospel. (Ensign, Nov. 1993, 35)
First, there is so much we do not know but hope to learn. President Kimball explained:
It is obvious that before one can take of the materials in existence and develop them into a world like our own, he must be master of geology, zoology, physiology, psychology, and all the others. It is obvious, also, that no soul can in his short mortal life acquire all this knowledge and master all these sciences, but he can make a beginning and with the foundation of spiritual life and controls and mastery, and with the authorities and powers received through the gospel of Christ, he is in a position to begin this almost limitless study of the secular. (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 53)
Second, as LDS, we should never fight with truth. Elder James E. Talmage taught:
Evolution is true so far as it means development of and progress and advancement in all the works of God; but many of the vagaries that have been made to do duty under that name are so vague as to be unacceptable to the scientific mind. (“Earth and Man” Salt Lake Tabernacle, August 9, 1931)
Many of these “vagaries” have to do with theories which have without merit become labeled as “facts.”
Concerning this, Brigham Young explained:
You may take geology, for instance, and it is a true science; not that I would say for a moment that all the conclusions and deductions of its professors are true, but its leading principles are; they are facts—they are eternal. (Journal of Discourses, 14: 116)
It is interesting to note that the Theory of Evolution has become one of the most explosive and divisive wedges in the science/religion conflict. In 1909, some 50 years after Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species, in 1859 and 17 years before this battle would explode in the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Tennessee (to determine whether evolution could be taught in public schools) in 1926, the First Presidency, well aware of the swirling evolution controversy, published a statement as follows:
Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God. (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Student Manual, 17)
Note their use of the word “evolving.”
One thing is certain. The Church teaches without reservation that Adam did not evolve from animals. The previously mentioned statement by the First Presidency was repeated by a different First Presidency in 1925. Then in 1931, amidst further discussion and cussin’ of evolution, still another First Presidency proclaimed:
Upon the fundamental doctrines of the Church we are all agreed. Our mission is to bear the message of the restored gospel to the world. Leave geology, biology, archaeology, and anthropology, no one of which has to do with the salvation of the souls of mankind, to scientific research, while we magnify our calling in the realm of the Church…
Upon one thing we should all be able to agree, namely, that Presidents Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund were right when they said: “Adam is the primal parent of our race” [First Presidency Minutes, Apr. 7, 1931]. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 478)
President Boyd K. Packer also stated this well when he said:
What application the evolutionary theory had to animals gives me no concern. That is another question entirely, one to be pursued by science (Fourth Annual Book of Mormon Symposium at BYU, 1988)
Evolution is indeed “evil”ution if the following occurs, as stated by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
Now, here are some doctrines that weaken faith and may damn. It depends on how inured a person gets to them, and how much emphasis he puts on them, and how much the doctrine begins to govern the affairs of his life. Evolution is one of them. Somebody can get so wrapped up in so-called organic evolution that he ends up not believing in the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. Such a course leads to damnation (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, 338.)
Personally, I like the stand taken by President Hinckley:
People ask me every now and again if I believe in evolution. I tell them I am not concerned with organic evolution. I do not worry about it. I passed through that argument long ago. (Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, 379)
The list which follows may help to summarize some of what we have covered.
First a quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie as found in Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Student Manual (p.16) to set the stage.
“The Lord expects us to believe and understand the true doctrine of the Creation—the creation of this earth, of man, and of all forms of life” (Ensign, June 1982, 9).
Many problems come from TLI’s (Too Little Information) from both science and religion. Too many scientists as well as religious people do not know or accept the truths of the restoration.
The “WHAT” for this list is the Creation.
TLI*s & TRUE DOCTRINE OF CREATION
(* Too Little Information)
FIRST - - WHO
RELIGION WITH TLI
“Trinity” - - the universal “false” god
SCIENCE WITH TLI
For Atheistic Scientists: There is no God
“…they (the Gods)…” (Abraham 4:3)
SECOND - - WHEN
RELIGION WITH TLI
6 days - - each 24 hours long
SCIENCE WITH TLI
Empirical Only - - geological record & scientific discovery
“…time…” (Abraham 4)
THIRD - - HOW
RELIGION WITH TLI
“ex nihilo” (meaning “from nothing”) creation
SCIENCE WITH TLI
Theory of Evolution no longer a “theory” - - now a FACT
Planned - - spiritual then physical. Plants & animals organized
“…after…kind…” (9 times in 5 verses)
FOURTH - - WHY
RELIGION WITH TLI
False concept of “image” - - just a “reflection”
SCIENCE WITH TLI
Theory of Evolution no longer a “theory” - - now a FACT
Literal “image” Moses 1:39
GOD’S CREATIONS SHOW HIS LOVE
That the love of God is from within Him is illustrated by the quote by Heber C. Kimball:
Often when I have been in the presence of brother Brigham, we would feel such a buoyant spirit that when we began to talk we could not express our feelings, and so, "Hallelujah," says Brigham, "Glory to God," says I. I feel it and say it.
Some of the brethren kind of turn their noses on one side at me when I make such expressions, but they would not do it if they knew God. Such ones do not even know brothers Brigham and Heber; if they did they would not turn a wry face at us. I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured when I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is--the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, "I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance." That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.4, p.222)
Perhaps a great example we have in this lesson to illustrate how God shows His love for us is the following scripture chain (remembering promises made in the temple):
Abraham 3:22 (see “Additional Scriptures”)
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father…
They [celestial] are they who are priests and kings…
[list of prophets]
…temples and the performance of ordinances…
I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God.
Moses 1:39 (see “Additional Scriptures”)
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
From Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Student Manual (p.16-17):
. . . It is true that Adam helped to form this earth. He labored with our Savior Jesus Christ. I have a strong view or 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? . . .