Creation Accounts Are Initiation Ceremonies
First, the qualifiers:
We have a fragmentary scriptural account - not everything has been included or retained from what might have been included initially.
From reading the text, it is difficult to understand what is literal from what is figurative or symbolic.
We don’t know how much Adam and Eve knew and understood prior to the Fall (i.e. what does “innocent” mean?).
The creation accounts were not given to us as a scientific dissertation by God regarding how He created the universe; while He could have done that, He did not – implying that what we have received from Him in scripture is for a different purpose.
How many accounts of the creation do we have?
Genesis, Moses, Abraham, the Temple Endowment.
Do they differ?
Which one is “right”?
They are all “right”.
Each account can be viewed as a separate revelation - they highlight different teachings.
Why is this the case?
They are not a literal, scientific account of the creation.
They are all initiation or ordinance ceremonies; they are all Temple ceremonies or dramatic presentations. They are ritualized explanations of the origin of human life (this is true of all of the ancient accounts we know of including those from the Egyptians, Babylonians, Israelites, Hopis, etc).
God says to Moses “write the words which I shall speak” (see Moses 2:1) – God is dictating a ritual. From what Moses saw (including every particle of the earth at a sub-atomic level), he could have tried to have written a scientific thesis but did not (or at least we don’t have it) – but it wasn’t the message that God wanted to give Moses for his book.
Quantum physics only describes the unfolding of the universe, it does NOT tell us why or even how the universe was created – that is for God to reveal because that is what really gives meaning and context to our lives.
What differences in perception exist between western and eastern mindsets regarding the scriptures?
Western: scriptures are a history of objectively and chronologically recorded facts.
Eastern/Hebrew: scripture is an attempt to preserve significant truths in meaningful or memorable ways whether or not details are objective facts.
What are these rituals or ceremonies designed or intended teach us?
How we got here? (by a deliberate, planned act of God).
Why are we here? (to gain light through experience/choice and to find our way back to God).
Why are the conditions here difficult? (in order to gain knowledge of good and evil there must be an environment where agency/choices and sacrifice/suffering matter).
How must we live while we are here? (obedient/in alignment with the way God lives/is – the eternal laws of light; submissive to God and serving/loving/sacrificing to each other - Saviors on Mount Zion – perfectly following the example of Christ, the prototype of the saved being).
Where are we going after this life? (back to God’s presence).
What are these ceremonies NOT designed to teach us?
The literal, scientific particulars about HOW the Elohim created the world and universe.
It is not that God doesn’t want us to know these things, but that these creation revelations were not intended to teach them. Moses inquired and was shown every particle of the world (see Moses 1), so God is willing to give us a scientific (quantum) understanding but Moses did not write a scientific paper to us as a result of his new found knowledge.
Scientific Understanding of the Creation
Will God reveal the literal, scientific account of the creation to us?
Yes – He gave Moses and Enoch a comprehensive view of the science at a sub-atomic level (Moses 1:27,32,35; Moses 7:30).
But the intent for a vision and knowledge such as this is different from the insights gained from an initiation or ordinance (it’s about “marveling and wondering” - Moses 1:8; or comprehending all things).
What must we do to receive this level of comprehensive scientific knowledge?
Ask (Moses 1:30).
Seek – including studying as much and as many scientific theory/knowledge as you can find; and always being open to more and willing to change thinking as its proven wrong or incomplete.
Believe that you can receive revelations and knowledge such as this – God wants to make these things known unto us so that we can be sharper tools in His hand (because we understand the science upon which His miracles are accomplished); for instance, would Moses’ faith in parting the Red Sea (which happened after this vision) have been increased if he understood the science behind how it would be done vs blind faith in God’s greatness and mercy? Particularly if he (Moses) was responsible for initiating the miracle with his words and intent.
A fullness of knowledge like Moses received won’t just come from seeking after the scientific knowledge from other mortals (because they don’t know it all or correctly) – it will come in the form of a vision with angelic or divine guidance because 1) we cannot understand all things as mortals - we don’t have the capability (Moses 1:4-6,35,37) so we must be filled with the glory and light of God to comprehend these things and 2) we need a guide or tutor to help us understand what we are seeing when shown it.
Why We Should Understand the Creation
Why study the creation?
We can’t successfully understand the scope and need for the Atonement of Christ without also teaching the Fall.
We can’t understand the Fall without the context of the Creation.
What is the creation?
It is the “transplantation” of man onto this world.
And subsequent to that, the organization of that world and the universe to enable sustained mortal life.
What is the purpose of the creation?
To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man via the creation of a probationary state where choices can be made to follow God while in a mortal state outside the presence and memory of God, that allows us to sacrifice, suffer and die as a consequence of these choices, as well as to inflict these things on others (Moses 1:39).
Was the earth created out of nothing?
No - it was organized from “materials” (Abraham 3:24 and Abraham 4:1).
“The word ‘create’ came from the [Hebrew] 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” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 350–51).
What do we learn from these scriptural accounts/creation ceremonies about how the Earth was created?
It was a three-step process.
First, a Spirit Creation (Moses 3:5) – everything is first created as spirits: man, animals, plants, etc.
Second, a Physical-Spiritual Creation – the six creative periods. A physical, tangible creation, but no blood, death, reproduction, or sin.
Third, a Mortal, Temporal, Fallen World – resulting from the Fall of Man. A physical, tangible world with blood, death, reproduction, and sin. Man, the first to fall, became mortal and the other forms of life became mortal after man.
Now, what is interesting about these three steps is that time as we experience it on earth now is not called out in the narrative (other than the unfortunate use of the word “day” in some accounts); so the question of “when did time begin” is unclear. What is more clear is the difference in energy/matter/frequency of the spiritual vs the physical/spiritual vs the temporal physical worlds – they seem to be a descending level of frequency, light/energy and matter refinement.
Who created the Earth?
The Elohim - Christ and those who were with Him (Abraham 3:24) (the noble and great who were doing the “proving” of the rest of us); it was done through the power of the Priesthood, under the direction of the Father.
It is interesting that Stephen Hawking proved that the Initial Singularity is not in time or space but outside both – in other words, it was transcendent to space and time; the Gods created the universe via intention (word, see Moses 2:5) which set in motion the whole of creation that was to follow – but God sits outside of it – outside of time and space as we experience it here.
Was the earth created in seven days or seven thousand years?
The “periods” do not represent a set number of days or years but are symbolic of completeness (seven).
The various periods don’t even need to be the same length of time – some could be millions of years and others could be done in minutes.
Based on the speed of light and the distance of the farther observable stars, the universe is estimated to be 13.7 billion years old.
The beginning of the world and its universe.
The beginning of energy and matter.
The beginning of time and space.
It describes the Initial Singularity from science’s big bang theory; what is interesting about this theory is while scientists believe they understand how the universe has unfolded from the first unit of time (a Plank unit or 10 to the minus 43 seconds), no one can tell what happened or existed before that moment using any of the scientific equations modern science knows of. That doesn’t mean that there was nothing there – it just means we have no way of figuring it out using the tools of modern science.
The nature of cosmic background radiation means that the “universe was once so dense that it was a single, continuous body in thermal equilibrium, one that can be characterized by a single temperature” (David Schramm, University of Chicago), which means that it started at a single point – it had a “beginning”.
And since it had a beginning in a single point, “certainly there was something that set it off. Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis” (Robert Wilson, co-discoverer of cosmic background radiation).
In the very beginning of the creation, right after the big bang, there was only energy/information – nothing material existed yet.
It is also interesting that all of the accounts put the creation of the heavens before the creation of the earth – “the earth” in this case seems to refer to the physical creation itself – as a whole, not the specific planet upon which we now live.
“Nahmanides, in the year 1250, described the process with uncanny accuracy: the initial creation produced an entity so thin it had no substance to it… As the universe expanded from the size of that initial minuscule space, the primordial substanceless substance changed into matter as we know it” (Gerald Schroeder, “The Science of God”). We would call that “substanceless substance” energy.
None of the accounts name the sun at this point in the narrative – the light is the initial energy of the big bang, as light is energy.
Matter came into existence a few moments later as the superposition of the wavicles (when observed by God) went from energy probabilities to super hot and dense matter.
That initial matter was liquid (quark-gluon plasma), which is why the account uses words like “water” and the “deep”.
It is possible that Moses was trying to describe something he saw using a non-scientific vocabulary that today we have more precise words to describe, in addition to having the theoretical knowledge to fill in some of the blanks.
After the liquid matter formed, there was a rapid expansion (called “inflation”) where quark plasma produced slight variations that eventually led to areas of space that were of higher and lower densities.
“Separating the waters” is a phrase which describes this differentiation in matter.
In liquid universe, it doesn’t likely refer to what we think of as “day” and “night” on earth – at least not yet.
As the matter in space continued to expand and cool, protons and neutrons began to form and atomic nuclei came into being; free electrons were then captured by atomic nuclei creating complete atoms and at this moment the opaque liquid universe immediately became transparent and the light of the cosmic background radiation became visible – separating it from the darkness.
It’s not referring to a universal or single ocean on the earth – there are many oceans.
The first massive stars coalesced from the cooling material and ignited – creating the “firmament” or stars in the heavens.
These burned out quickly and exploded, sending rich dust clouds into space and enabling new stars and life-sustaining planets like our earth to be formed – the “dry land” appeared after the “waters” or liquid matter was gathered together to form the original stars which then went supernova and spread all over the universe in dust clouds of “dry” matter.
It gives me pause – it shows me that God uses natural processes (He abides by eternal laws) in His creations. It implies that Moses was actually shown the scientific creation of the universe and described it as it was dictated to him by God. It tells me that God wanted me to have the narrative because it described what really happened but in a way that focuses me on what is most important to me – that I am part of His work and glory, that He has a work for me to do, and that I can know all of these things for myself if I can get out of my own way and come unto Him to receive it.
Bottom line is that I have a lot of things which I’ve “put a pin in” for later – I’ve decided to not let them derail me from seeking after God and I have faith that God will make them known unto me when the time is right; but seeing the science of the big bang reflected in the scriptural creation ritual narrative helps me to relax a bit over these things that are amazing (and actually now a proof for the existence of God to me) but are not my primary focus today.
READ Moses 2:27-28 and Abraham 4:26-27, 5:12-13
What do we know about the creation of mankind on the Earth?
Created male and female - in Gods’ image.
The Gods are male and female.
Physical bodies were formed and organized from the elements.
What were the conditions of life in the Garden of Eden?
No death for Man or animals (2 Ne 2:22).
No children (2 Ne 2:23).
No sin, until the transgression (ditto).
Lived in God’s presence.
No challenging work.
What commandments were given to man in the Garden of Eden?
Multiply and replenish the earth (Moses 2:28).
Do not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Abraham 5:12-13).
The Heavens Are for Signs
READ Abraham 4:14 and Jeremiah 31:35-36
Why does the Lord use heavenly signs?
Men cannot change the heavenly signs, as they have changed the scriptures.
God uses alignments or intersections of heavenly bodies to mark important points in time to provide markers - not so much for timing but to provide markers for significant events, especially when tied to the Holy Days in God’s Biblical calendar.
For example, the fact that the true Feast of Trumpets in 2017 occurred on September 23 (not the 20-22, as celebrated), on the same day that the sun was in the constellation Virgo (the woman), with the moon at the foot of the constellation and three “stars” or planets as a crown, with a fourth, Jupiter the “King” planet or the one representing God the Father in her “womb” where it had been for the previous 9-10 months, means that this instance of a rare occurrence of heavenly signs together (as there have been other occurrences), is one to take note of – because it takes place on a Holy Day.
How does the Lord use the sun, moon and stars/planets as markers?
The sun and the moon are God’s “two faithful witnesses” (see Psalms 89:37).
The “male” sun is the marker for the seasons; it moves north and south on the horizon, when it dawns and sets – its most northerly dawn happens on the Summer Solstice and its most southerly dawn occurs on the Winter Solstice; the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes mark the middle point, which is why many ancient peoples set up two standing stones for the sun to shine through exactly on those two equinox days on the horizon, so they knew exactly where they were in the year; the Zuni’s used Zuni Mesa for the same purpose.
The “female” moon with its phases is the marker for months and days.
The stars or constellations are tied to years.
Conjunctions of relevant planets (the “coming together” of two planets in the sky from our perspective of those on the earth) creates greater light and speaks to “creation” events; i.e. the coming together of Jupiter the “king planet” with Venus the “virgin planet” for the conception and birth of Christ is what likely formed the “new star” the Wise Men saw.
Eclipses of the sun and moon curtail or lessen or block light and speak to “judgement” events; “black suns” or total solar eclipses and “red” or “blood moons” which are total lunar eclipses, or “new moons” which mark the first day of the new month.
Other alignments like solar system alignments which lead to earthquakes, tidal waves and significant weather events or changes, and planetary alignments like the grand sign of the coming of the Son of Man are a transfer of light and energy, and are tied to either re/creation or judgement.
Additional intersections like massive heavenly bodies entering our solar system (changing orbit paths or relationships) or comets entering our solar system speak to disruption and change and are markers of both re/creation or judgement.
The Lord’s monthly calendar adheres completely to the phases of the moon; every first day of the month is a new moon (no light) and every 15th day of the month is a full moon; we no longer use this calendar, to our condemnation.
READ Exodus 31:13, 17 and Exodus 12:14
What are the Lord’s Holy Days?
They are tied symbolically to a marriage-like relationship with the Bridegroom; we are the bride and Christ is the groom.
They are a part of true worship as they help us remember His redemptive mission for us on each Holy Day (see Moroni 4:3 and 5:2); we fall into idolatry (worshiping something or someone other than the Lord) when we don’t remember and honor the Lord via performances and ordinances He has commanded us to remember (see Mosiah 13:29-30).
They are marked by the heavens in connection with life giving agricultural events (Spring – planting, Fall – harvest, etc) on His calendar and occur on the actual day of the event; Christmas and Easter, for instance, were modified, renamed and moved.
God said they are a sign between He and us through our generations.
They are ordinances on God’s Holy Calendar to be observed forever.
The four Spring Holy Days mark past fulfilled events in His redemptive mission (i.e. Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost).
The remaining three Autumn Holy Days mark future important events tied to His Second Coming in glory (Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles).
The Holy Days will be observed again (correctly and universally) in the Millennium (see Zechariah 14:16-20).
What do each of the seven annual Holy Days represent? (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles)
Passover/Peasach = atonement; liberty; sacrifice the lamb and paint the cross of the doors to the home to protect the first born from the destroying angel; Christ is crucified; the Lamb’s blood provides a release from bondage; the bride is purchased.
Feast of Unleavened Bread/Hag HaMatzah = burial; separation; Israel fled Egypt immediately; the days Christ was in the grave; put away sin (yeast is the symbol).
Offering of First Fruits/Bikkurim = resurrection; rebirth; offer up the first fruits of the season for gratitude (grain; the bread of life or the firstborn); Christ’s resurrection day.
Feast of Pentecost/Shavuot = receipt of the Spirit; betrothal contract; outpouring of the Holy Spirit; God gives His law and covenant at Sinai; day of Pentecost for the New Testament saints and at the dedication of the Kirtland temple; the first trump; engagement and gift or endowment for the bride – promise of eternal life and “earnest” of that inheritance.
Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah = repentance; return; trumpeting for the return of the King; repent for the day of the Coming of the King is near; the last trump; the king is washed and anointed to be king; the marriage or wedding day (first day of the 7th month); (see Matthew 25:6; D&C 133:10, 17-18; D&C 45:57; JST Matthew 7:25; JST Matthew 25:10-11).
Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur = atonement/Judgement; sealing; High Priest makes atonement for Israel in the Holy of Holies; the king’s judgment is sealed; the Great Trump is sounded – no more repentance; holiest solemn fast day; blood of the offering is spilled and the scapegoat is released (10th day of the 7th month).
Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot = kingship; joyous enthronement of the King and Queen; celebrate your marriage to the bridegroom – you are the bride; at-one-ment with Christ; tied to fall harvest of grapes; takes place in the Millennium; celebrate the marriage feast or wedding supper or party for 8 days.
What are the three types of Sabbath Days?
7th day of the week = day of rest (from labor).
7th Sabbatical or Shemitah year = release (from bondage and debts).
7x7 Jubilee Year = restoration (of covenant land to their rightful heirs).
Note: Sabbatical Years of Release are 2001, 2008, 2015, 2022, 2029; 2016 was a Jubilee Year of Restoration.
Case Study: What was the significance of the four Holy Day blood moons from 2014-2015? (for additional help read Adrian Larsen’s series of blog posts “Scripture Overhead” from 2015 on totheremnant.com)
This was the 8th tetrad of Blood Moons on Holy Days in history.
Blood moons are one of the signs foretold of the coming of the Son of Man (see D&C 45:39-42).
The first blood moon (April 15, 2014; first day of Passover): the blood moon appeared in the constellation Virgo (the virgin; drawn with a sheaf of wheat in her hand) with Mars and near Saturn; in this eclipse, the moon was in a direct line between Saturn (civilization and social order) and Mars (war and destruction) but was much closer to Mars; the warning is that the world is headed for the loss of social order and coming widespread war and violence – that the world is ripening in iniquity and waxing old as a garment); the moon was touching the star Spica ( the ear of wheat) to remind us that in preparation for the coming destruction, the Lord will harvest or gather out the wheat from the tares (by angels, see D&C 77:11) and leave the tares to be burned (see D&C 86:7); Christ acts as a hen not a rooster (Virgo is female) when He speaks of gathering His people or “chicks” (see D&C 10:65); the “wheat” will then be gathered to build a holy city of a Terrestrial nature (the Moon); Mars reminds us the constellation Aries the Ram which Mars rules and the promise that the Gentiles will be trodden under foot and destroyed (see 3 Nephi 20:15-19).
The second blood moon (October 8, 2014; on the eve of Sukkot the Feast of Tabernacles): the blood moon appeared in the constellation Pisces, covering the planet Uranus; Pisces is a constellation portrayed as two fish connected by a band or “net” – one fish rises up above the ecliptic while the other remains on it; Uranus is the ruling planet of the constellation Aquarius and represents the “Father Sky” or Father of Heaven; Aquarius is a constellation displayed as a man pouring out a water pot; the warning is that at the end of the world, the angels will come and sort the “catch” that was made in the “gospel net” (see Matthew 13:47-49), severing the wicked from among the just; at the time of the blood moon, Uranus and the moon are positioned to sever the net or bands between the two fish, freeing the one to rise up to where the Father lives in the “sides of the north” (see 2 Nephi 24:13-14; 3 Nephi 20:37; D&C 113:9-10) while the lower fish remains on the ecliptic, forever circumnavigating, round after round (see D&C 132:21-25); so the message is that the bands are cut and the sorting has begun – this is the sifting of wheat and tares referred to in the message of the first blood moon; it is the Father Himself who has a hand in these events (see 3 Nephi 21:9; Joel 2:28-32; 1 Nephi 14:17) because the gathering of Israel is His work (see 3 Nephi 21:26-28) with the aid of His angels (see Moroni 7:29-31); the angels have started gathering those who will come!
The third blood moon (April 4, 2015 on the first day of Passover): like the first blood moon, this moon appeared in Virgo providing a “second witness” to the first message about the wheat and the tares, but this time the moon was placed between the stars Spica and Porrima; in this blood moon, Bootes the Plowman is the constellation directly above the blood moon, preparing the fertile ground (see Isaiah 28:23-24) for when the wheat and tares will be separated and the wheat will be planted in its prepared place; Spica means “ear of wheat”; the Lord sits in judgement (Libra) over the wheat and tares; as Spica is the wheat then Porrima (named for the Roman goddess of prophesy) represent the tares but it is interesting that the star refers to prophesy – in this case the tares are those who follow the prophets who don’t prophesy because they have lost the fullness of the priesthood (see Isaiah 28:1-10; Deuteronomy 18:20; Jeremiah 14:14; D&C 124:27-28; D&C 84:23-27); lastly, there was a straight vertical alignment in the sky from the moon in Virgo to Arcturus (brightest star in the northern sky so it was used for navigation; part of Bootes), to Izar (the veil), to Princeps (the prince); to the left is Corona Borealis (the crown) – symbolizing a pathway laid out in a straight course before us if we will rise up and look to the heavenly light of the brightest star, and follow it through the “veil” to meet the “prince” who waits for us on the other side of the veil with a crown of righteousness – this blood moon sign is both a warning that the tares and wheat will be separated, that the tares follow men who call themselves prophets while the wheat are invited to rise up to rend the veil and meet the Lord
The fourth blood moon (September 27, 2015 on the first day of Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles): this blood moon was made even more special by being a “super moon” where the orbit of the moon was as close as it gets to the earth so it looked much bigger than usual (30% bigger and brighter); this final moon appeared in the eastern sky inside a triangle formed by three planets: Uranus (“Father of Heaven”), Neptune (“ God of living water”) and Vesta (“Goddess of hearth and home” – symbolized by sacred fire)); the moon had moved out of Pisces toward Aquarius and was located at the tail of the constellation Cetus the Sea Monster or Whale; there are several parts to the meaning of this blood moon. Part 1: Sukkot is the celebration of the harvest and it is the “wedding feast” from the New Testament, so the message is that the harvest is soon at hand followed by the great celebration where the Lord will slay a great sea monster or fish called the Leviathan (Cetus) and serve it to the righteous, using its skin as the tent under which the feast will be served (see Jacob 5:62-63, 67-69; Isaiah 27:1; Matthew 22:2-10); Part 2: the moon on Cetus’ tail is reminiscent of Jonah in the belly of the whale on his way to warn the mightiest city in the world, Nineveh, to repent or be destroyed (which they later were); but also of interest is Christ’s statement about the “sign of Jonah” (see Luke 11:29-32) being a sign to the wicked of Jerusalem that their time of repentance was almost over (the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70AD) – this is again a “sign of Jonah” to our wicked generation; Jonah means “dove” in Hebrew, so the “sign of Jonah” is really the “sign of the dove” or the “sign of truth”; Part 3: Zodiacal ages are calculated as the heavens rotate at the Vernal or Spring Equinox through the 12 constellations over 25,800 years but each are different sizes so it’s hard to tell exactly when one ends and another begins; we know that the Age of Pisces began around the time of Christ and ends with the rejection of the gospel by the Gentiles and the giving of it back to the House of Israel in the reverse order of what happened at the beginning of the Age so that the last are first and the first will be last (see 3 Nephi 16:7, 10; D&C 45:28-30; 1 Nephi 15:13-14); the second blood moon (2014) was clearly in Pisces but this fourth blood moon has moved out of Pisces and toward Aquarius – the next “Age” – this signals the fullness of the Gentiles coming in (see JSH 1:41; Joel 2:28-30) with their (our) accompanying destruction as we reach the fullness of iniquity (see Ether 2:9-11) and the Lord being ready to pour out His Spirit (Aquarius the Water Bearer) on Israel again (see JST Luke 21:25); Uranus and Aquarius both symbolize the Father of Heaven pouring out His spirit – the ancient interpretation was a dual outpouring of water and fire, which symbolize a flood (physical afflictions or natural disasters, although some wonder if it might be a “flood” of refugees of Israelite blood escaping from the war-torn Middle East into the Gentile West) and destruction by fire (spiritual warfare or man-made disasters like war, famine and pestilence); sadly for the Gentiles, their “watchmen” will not raise a warning (see Isaiah 56:10-12) because they have lost the High Priesthood and cannot see; but the Waterbearer or Father’s dual outpouring of water and fire also symbolizes cleansing through baptism by water and sanctification through the baptism of fire and Holy Spirit (see 3 Nephi 11:32-35); the invitation to the Wedding Feast is accepted when you come and are “born of water” so that God can fill or baptize you with fire and perform a mighty change upon you, dressing you in a wedding garment of light (see Matthew 22:2-14) so that you might abide the outpouring of fire both natural and man-made, both physical and spiritual, that is coming to destroy the wicked and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Christ and the celebration that will take place upon His return – but few will see this sign for what it is (see D&C 45:36-40).