Thanks to Greg Geiger
The creation of the Earth, as understood by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a pivotal event In our Heavenly Father’s plan for the growth and development of his children. The means of creation, the purposes behind it and the role that men and women play in fulfilling God’s purpose pose questions for which every religious tradition seeks answers. Latter-day Saints look to the Bible, and other latter-day Scriptures such as the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price for answers to these questions.
One of the puzzling aspects of the Biblical accounts of creation is that there is not one, but two accounts, differing in important details such as whether man and woman were the first of God’s creations or the last. These two accounts are linked together with a cryptic explanation in Genesis 2:4-5. Following the well-known narrative of the seven day creative period, the author wrote “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.”
Although various explanations have been advanced for the existence of these two accounts, the text itself and other latter-day revelations teach us that there were not one, but two separate creations. Prior to the physical creation of the earth by Jesus Christ under the direction of his Heavenly Father, there was a period In which “I, the Lord God, created all things in which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” (Moses 3:5).
This pre-earth life, or preexistence, included all of God’s creations. We lived with our Heavenly Father before we came to earth as spirit sons and daughters. We had the opportunity to learn and grow in His presence and to develop our capacity to choose intelligently. We sat in the Council of Heaven and chose to accept or reject God’s plan for the further development of his children through the creation of the earth, the fall of Adam and Eve, and the atonement of Jesus Christ which together make up the great plan of salvation and happiness that God had prepared for all of his children. One third of God’s children rejected that plan and so “kept not their first estate” (Jude 1: 6). The balance of God’s children receive the blessing of coming to this earth, fulfilling its, and their own, purpose. Latter-day Saints believe that “men (and women) are that they might have joy”. (Moses 1:39)
The Christian doctrine of the preexistence was known and taught among early Church leaders, including Origen and Clement (see Ancient Documents by Hugh Nibley), but was cited as heretical following the fifth century A.D. Understanding and acceptance of this doctrine of the restored church of Jesus Christ helps us to make sense of our lives on earth, and appreciate our eternal nature. As the poet Wordsworth said,
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home: