The biblical account of the creation of the earth is found in Genesis 1 and 2. Accounts of the creation are also found in the Pearl of Great Price. The parallel accounts in Moses 1–3 and Abraham 4–5 contain valuable insights and additions not found in Genesis, so we will be referring to them, too.
The Bible begins at Genesis 1:1, saying: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” But we are going backwards from there before we talk about the creation.
In St. John 1:1-3 it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
In Moses 1:27-33 in the Pearl of Great Price, it says, “And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God. And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore. And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof. And it came to pass that Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them? And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face. And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me. And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth. 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. ”
Later in Moses 1 the Lord says to Moses: “But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.”
Thus we can see that there are so many inhabitable worlds which have been created, which now stand, and which will be created, that they cannot be numbered by man. But all things are numbered and intimately known by God. All of these worlds, including our own, were created by the Word of God’s Power, even Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. These scriptures make clear that God, the Eternal Father, and the eternal Son, Jesus Christ, are two separate beings, but part of the same God or Godhead, with the Holy Ghost being its third member. It also makes clear that God the Father and Jesus Christ have existed for eons and have already created worlds without number, and that their work is never finished.
So back to Genesis 1. It says “In the beginning…” When was the beginning? We know that God is an eternal being, without beginning or end. The beginning referred to in Genesis is the beginning of this earth upon which we stand. Then it says, “God created…”
“You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing: and they will answer, ‘Doesn’t the Bible say He created the world?’ And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. 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 reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end.” ( Teachings, pp. 350–52.)
The Earth was Created Spiritually before It Was Created Physically
In Genesis 2 there are two strange verses: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground” (vs. 4, 5).
How could the Lord have made every plant before it was in the earth, and every herb before it grew? The answer is found in the Pearl of Great Price (Moses 3:4-9): “And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air; But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
“Where did we come from? From God. Our spirits existed before they came to this world. They were in the councils of the heavens before the foundations of the earth were laid. . . . We sang together with the heavenly hosts for joy when the foundations of the earth were laid and when the plan of our existence upon this earth and redemption were mapped out. . . . We were unquestionably present in those councils when that wonderful circumstance occurred . . . when Satan offered himself as a savior of the world if he could but receive the honor and glory of the Father for doing it. . . . We were, no doubt, there and took part in all those scenes, we were vitally concerned in the carrying out of these great plans and purposes, we understood them, and it was for our sakes they were decreed and are to be consummated.” (In Ludlow, Latter-day Prophets Speak, pp. 5–6.)
Thus, all men had existence for an unknown length of time before the world was ever created (see Doctrine and Covenants 49:16–17 ). President Spencer W. Kimball explained:
“Life was to be in three segments or estates: premortal, mortal, and immortal. The third stage would incorporate exaltation—eternal life [as co-heirs with Christ]—for those who would fully magnify their mortal lives. Performance in one estate would vitally affect the succeeding estate or estates. If a person kept his first estate, he would be permitted the second or the mortal life as a further period of trial and experience. [Satan and his followers were cast out of heaven, never to gain mortal bodies.] If he magnified his second estate, his earth experience, eternal life would await him. To that end men go through the numerous experiences of earth life—‘to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them’ ( Abraham 3:25 ).
“We mortals who now live upon this earth are in our second estate. Our very presence here in mortal bodies attests the fact that we ‘kept’ our first estate. Our spirit matter was eternal and co-existent with God, but it was organized into spirit bodies by our Heavenly Father. Our spirit bodies went through a long period of growth and development and training and, having passed the test successfully, were finally admitted to this earth and to mortality” ( Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 4–5).
This “long period of growth and development” must surely have had a great influence on what man is now. For example, President Brigham Young pointed out that all men know there is a God even though some have forgotten that they know. He said:
“I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our Heavenly Father, or the great Elohim. You are all well acquainted with him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in his house and dwelt with him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know.
“There is not a person here to-day but what is a son or a daughter of that Being” ( Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 50).
Go to The Creation 2.