How could God have been a man and have created everything?

For those of you who aren’t sure what the question is referring to, here’s the expanded version:

Q: Mormons believe that God used to be a man, like us, and that we can become gods, like God. But this doesn’t seem to make sense if you read the creation story in Genesis 1:1-19.

  1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
  2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
  3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
  4. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
  5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
  6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
  7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
  8. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
  9. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto bone place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
  10. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
  11. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
  12. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
  13. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
  14. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
  15. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
  16. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
  17. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
  18. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
  19. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

And then in verse 27 it reads “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

First of all, it says “in the beginning” God created the earth. Then in verses 14-15 it says God created the heavens. So if everything was created at this moment, and man isn’t created until later in the chapter, then “man” didn’t exist before this, and therefore to say that God used to be a man doesn’t work, logically, because we see that man didn’t even exist yet when God was already creating all this stuff.

A: The logic of this question is sound…if you make a few assumptions. First, we would have to assume that “the beginning” is referring to the beginning of everything, not just the planet we live on. Second, we would have to assume that “the heavens” means the entire universe. But what else could it mean, you ask? Well, first, let’s think of the word “create” as being a synonym for “organize”. What if this passage of scripture is not talking about the “creation” of the heavens, per se, but rather their organization as we know them? That is, putting earth in its place, putting the other planets in their places and orbits, etc. From our perspective on earth, the “heavens” or the sky as we know it today did not “exist” before because there was no planet where earth currently resides, nor anyone upon it to observe the sky from this vantage point.

This starts to make even more sense when we start reading other Biblical passages, such as 2 Peter 3:13, wherein we read “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Whether you accept my interpretation that “the heavens” is merely the sky from our particular perspective, or the entire universe, apparently God is in the habit of making “new heavens” on a fairly regular basis, so can we assume that the heavens described in Genesis is the first instance?

Finally, regarding the creation of man on the sixth day, after the heavens, who says that Adam was the first man in the universe? Evidently he was the first man on earth, and the first “man” we are concerned with, but there’s nothing here that says that a man had never been created before, somewhere else.

In a nutshell what Mormons believe is this; that we are all children of God, and that God’s plan is for us to become like him. An important step in that process is our mortal life here on earth. This earth, and our forgetting what went before, provide us with a unique experience to be free to choose for ourselves, unconstrained by any knowledge of who we really are. However, this freedom means we make mistakes, or sin. For every mistake there is an eternal consequence, although these consequences are “delayed” due to this space of time we have on earth. Thus the need for a Savior, Jesus Christ, who, in a way I don’t understand, paid for our sins. Now, instead of having to pay for our own sins (which we are incapable of), we merely have to do what Christ commands us to, that is, if we want the eternal life he promises. If we follow him and do what he wants, then after this life we become purified from the mistakes made in this mortal life, and continue progressing until we become like God, at which point the process repeats itself. New worlds are created, new heavens are created, new “men” are created, and the perpetuation of the “species” goes on.

Comments

  1. "Because of this, even as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, so also death passed to all men, inasmuch as all sinned. For sin was in the world until the Law, but sin is not charged where there is no law; but death reigned from Adam until Moses, even on those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a type of the coming one." Rom. 5:12-14 (LITV)

    Here we are told by the mouthpiece of Paul speaking in the power of the Holy Spirit, that Adam was the one through whom sin was introduced into the world, and that death through sin passed to ALL men.

    Paul in another place says by the same Holy Spirit, "So also it has been written, The first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam a life-giving Spirit. But not the spiritual first, but the natural; afterward the spiritual. The first man was out of the earth, earthy. the second Man was the Lord out of Heaven. ! Cor. 15:45-47. (LITV)

    Here we are told by the same mouthpiece speaking in the power of the same Holy Spirit, that Adam was the first man, and he was made out of the earth and was earthy ( from whom all mortals are descended). And that there was a second Adam who was the Lord out of Heaven.

    In these two passages, we are told the origins of both, the first man -' Adam' made from the earth – terra firma, the dust of the sphere called earth; the second Adam – Jesus, the Word who was made flesh (Jn.1:14; Phil.2:5-9) became a man, was from Heaven and was a life giving Spirit (meaning He was given authority to give life to whomsoever He would as the Father directed (Jn. 17:2 and elsewhere).

    Adam the man who sinned was the first man, and in him all men sinned. The second Adam – Jesus Christ who never sinned, was the First among many brethren (Rom. 8:29), and came out from the Father whose dwelling place was always in Heaven.

    God is a Spirit – an eternal Spirit, for He was not created but is the Creator which the prophets testify to. Jesus was so named at His birth but He was eternally with the Father before the creation

    of the cosmos. John says "All things came into being through Him ('the Word' v1,2) and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. " (Jn.1:4)

    Here we are told by John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, that not one created thing exists any where, any how, but that it was created by 'the Word' who was with God and was God, but became flesh.

    Paul writes to the Philippians that Jesus Christ who subsisted in the nature of God, did not think it was robbery to be be equal with God (Phil. 2:6). John says that Jesus stated that He Himself and the Father are one, and, as He also declared in His prayer (ch.17) . On a few occasions He used the phrase I AM – (Jn. 6:20; 8:24,28, 58, which the Greek clearly shows. I AM means the Self-existing One, the everlasting life.

    The Jews knew what Jesus was saying, as did the demons. They knew that Jesus was saying that He Himself was equal with Yahweh the eternally existing One who lived in eternity in His holy Heaven. For this they were wanting to stone Him to death, and finally succeeded in killing Him the Roman way.

    Like it or not, twist it or do whatever you will, but these passages clearly show that Jesus was not originally man and then became God, but that he was God and became man so that man could become new creatures/creation as sons of God. If Jesus was man who became God then John His apostle is a liar and a deceiver. But that idea that Jesus was first man and then became God is the lie and it comes from the mouth of the Deceiver – the Devil.

    Only the sinless God could ever be the perfect sacrifice for sin, to appease the wrath of God against all men for all have sinned and fallen short of His glory. But God who is eternal cannot die, for death only touches that which is earthy, primarily man who was made of the earth; and, because He is absolutely pure – eternally so, He did not deserve death. The Father sent the Word to become clothed with flesh and become fully human, yet still remain God dwelling in a human tent. Jesus took our sins (and our sicknesses) and bore them in His body on the Tree. He became sin for us who knew no sin, that we who were sinners might become the righteousness of God.

    God dwelling in a human form/tent, is what it means by the Most High God dwelling first in the tabernacle in the wilderness under Moses' watch; and in the Temple made by Solomon according to the plans the Spirit of God gave to David, Solomon's father.

    Those things were the natural, now the spiritual has come in which the Lord Most High even Jesus Christ the Eternal Word and His Spirit dwells no longer in temples made by human hands but in vessels that have been sanctified by His most perfect sacrifice for sins, even His own life – blood, in that His blood was shed for the remission of sins. The Scriptures makes these things most profoundly plain, both in prophecy in the old testament/covenant and in fulfillment in the new testament/covenant. And they are there in black and white for all and sundry to avail themselves of these treasures and realities – if they will.

    It is not as you suppose "AFTER this life we become purified from the mistakes made in this mortal life'. (emphasis mine). No. But as Paul says after he first details what kind of persons will NOT inherit the kingdom of God – "And some were these things, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. 6:11) Paul uses not the future tense as you think but the past tense. It was done for them when they first repented, believed and were baptized in water in the name (Matt. 28:19; Acts 19:5), and received the Holy Spirit or as it is said another way, were baptized into the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

    We must be purified now, because if only after we die we are purified, it will be too late. Either we die clean, washed. sanctified and justified before the Lord or we die unwashed, unsanctified, unjustified, which is the same as saying what Paul says in v9 and 10. Those ones die unwashed etc., and in dying in such a state, they cannot enter the kingdom of God, for they die in their sins – unclean and foul before the Most Holy God. The washing etc must be done while we live on this earth, that is why we are even kept alive to this day. If you wait for it to be done after you die, you will find out it was TOO LATE!

    Remember Noah who prepared himself and his family long BEFORE the floods came. Those who waited till the floods had come, to see if what Noah was preaching was correct, found out TOO LATE! Yes, Noah was right, but they were swept away in their sins, and they received their reward for the things done on the earth. Joshua, don't wait till you die to be washed, sanctified and justified, get it done now while you can. Now is the day of salvation. Now is the acceptable time and the year of your release. Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart as they did in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness. (Heb. 3:7, 8).

    Christ says to Repent, for the Kingdom of God (Rom. 14:17; it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost) is at hand! He says to believe in Him fully, in who He is, and in what He has done for you, and in what He continues to do for you. Jesus wept! And He weeps for you and all those who like you are yet without Him. For if you had Him – knew Him intimately, you would know, that this LDS thing is not from God but is one of those doctrines of demons Paul talks about. Do what Jesus says. Don't delay. He says through Paul – this is you sanctification to abstain from fornication (either physical or spiritual; which ever is applicable).

  2. @Ian – We agree on most things. Some of the things you disagree with me on are merely misunderstandings or semantics. Where there is true difference of opinion it's all a matter of interpretation. We Mormons read the Bible and believe it agrees with our doctrine, no twisting required. You and I read the same words in the Bible and understand different things and therefore come to different conclusions that are mutually exclusive. Who is right and who is wrong? The Bible cannot, in and of itself, decide this for us because it is the subject in question. There must be another source, or other sources, of information, external to the Bible, that can clarify its meaning. We Mormons have these other sources in the Book of Mormon, other latter-day scriptures, and most importantly in the existence of living prophets and apostles who talk to and receive revelation from God. These sources explain those parts of the Bible that are confusing or unclear, so that we understand that while God and Christ are two distinct beings, they are "one" in purpose and completely united. To hear from one as as good as hearing from the other. For one to act is as though the other was acting. We understand that Christ created the earth under the direction of God, and that Adam assisted Christ in that work of creation. We understand that Christ is a god, godlike, godly, or in other words, God, because he is the son of God and will become like his father just as all children can grow up to become like their parents. We too will grow up to become like our heavenly parents and become gods, but we are different in this life from Christ in that he is the only begotten of the Father, that is, the only human ever to be conceived by the union of an immortal father and a mortal mother, and so whereas we are mortal, he was half mortal, half immortal, or half man, half God, or you could even say he was as God. We understand that while there can be a temporary or conditional "salvation" here on earth by virtue of obedience to God's laws, that in this life we can slip back and forth between "being saved" and not being saved, and that nothing becomes permanent until we die, thus the importance of enduring to the end in this life and maintaining that salvation we may be granted here on earth so that it might become permanent in the next life. We may be washed, sanctified, and justified in this life, but we may also lose those things in this life after attaining them and have to reattain them through repentance. We do not see our doctrine as being of the demons, but as being the true doctrine of Christ that has been taught since the days of Adam, and which was lost from the earth during the apostasy that occurred after Christ's apostles were killed off, and which was restored again in our day through the prophet Joseph Smith, to whom God and Christ appeared.

    Some who read the Bible interpret things one way. We Mormons read the Bible and interpret things another way. How can one know what is the true interpretation? It can only come through communication with God. If one wants to know if what the LDS Church preaches is true, they need only read the Book of Mormon, ponder it, and pray and ask God if it is true. If one prays with a sincere desire to know the truth and live according to it, the Holy Ghost will confirm to them the truth of the book, and from there they may know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and that the LDS Church is God's church upon the earth–the same church Christ established but which was lost due to wickedness, now restored once more.

  3. 'New worlds are created, new heavens are created, new “men” are created, and the perpetuation of the “species” goes on.'

    Assuming current scientific thinking is correct, that the universe will either keep expanding forever (and freeze) or collapse into a hot "big crunch", then where do God, or the Mormon faithful who become like God themselves, live in eternity?

    I guess this is more of a question of whether Mormons believe God is a part of this universe, or external to it but able to influence as he sees fit? And whether humans exist solely in this universe, or inside and out as well?

  4. @adam – "Assuming current scientific thinking is correct, that the universe will either keep expanding forever (and freeze) or collapse into a hot “big crunch”, then where do God, or the Mormon faithful who become like God themselves, live in eternity?"

    Well, the interesting thing is that although things are moving away from a center, we don't yet know the limits of the universe, because every time we are able to see further into space we see more stuff. Theoretically there must be a an end to it all, but where it is we don't yet know. Interesting, although perhaps irrelevant to this discussion.

    We believe God created everything we can see and then some. Perhaps a relevant scripture comes from Moses 1:33-35:

    33 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.

    34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.

    35 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.

    I believe most Mormons take this to mean that everything we can see or detect is part of God's domain, that he created it all, and that he lives in it. As far as whether there are multiple universes, and whether they are separated by space or by dimension, that would be mere speculation, which is fun to engage in, but not a matter of importance to us in this life. If it becomes important, I'm sure God will let us know.

  5. Technically, there isn't a center that everything's moving away from. The best analogy is to imagine the universe is the 2 dimensional surface of a balloon. As it expands, every point moves away from every other point, but there's no center in that universe (it's outside the universe; you can find it in the 3rd dimension, inside the balloon). If you can figure out how to visualize that for our 3 dimensional universe, with a center somewhere in the 4th dimension, let me know please :)

    Anyway, assuming one of the scenarios I gave is true, then eventually God (and any God-like Mormons given their own distant sections of the universe) is going to have to do a lot of work to do to keep his creation alive. While this doesn't mean Mormonism is wrong, it certainly is a major problem for God (and God-like Mormons) to deal with. They would have to expend considerable energy to keep their section of the universe from expanding too large to support life in the one case, or somehow shield their section of the universe from collapsing to an infinitely dense point in the other case.

    It would be much more convenient if God "existed" outside the entire universe, and the whole thing his creation. And the God-like Mormons given their own universes outside of ours too. Of course, this would be contrary to what I think I read on your site, something to the effect of God not having supernatural powers, but having the knowledge/ability to manipulate the universe using laws that we just don't know about. Any other thoughts on this?

    • Well, the problem is we don't have much information to go on from a scriptural point of view, and our scientific knowledge about the universe is quite limited as well. Heck, we don't even understand why gravity exists and it's been all around us all this time. I suspect once we understand it all we'll see that everything is set up in quite an elegant manner that conforms to natural laws, and that God is God because he knows how all those natural laws work, and has the power whereby to control them without anybody being able to frustrate his plans.

      I kind of like the speculation Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day makes about God when he says "Maybe he's not God, maybe he's just a guy who's been around so long that he knows everything." I think there's a hint of truth in that.

  6. "If one wants to know if what the LDS Church preaches is true, they need only read the Book of Mormon, ponder it, and pray and ask God if it is true. If one prays with a sincere desire to know the truth and live according to it, the Holy Ghost will confirm to them the truth of the book, and from there they may know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and that the LDS Church is God’s church upon the earth–the same church Christ established but which was lost due to wickedness, now restored once more."

    You say this, the church has said it and the missionaries say this. I went through the lessons, talked with the missionaries, attended the church and read the book of mormon as well as the d and c and the pearl of great price. I prayed sincerely and many times, I prayed with the missionaries, as well as with the local LDS president of the church and his wife about it. I discussed it and thought about it and prayed again. I felt the small still voice, I heard the small still voice, it did not tell me that this is the true church, that js was a true prophet nor that the book of mormon or the following texts were true. In fact it told me quite the opposite. I do believe in God the Father, I believe that Jesus was born to the virgin Mary, that He is the Son, The Word Made Flesh, The Savior and that He died on the cross for our sins and rose three days later. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Bible and what it says and teaches. I have felt the Holy Spirit, the small still voice comfort me and confirm this is true. What does this say about me to you? I always hear that if you listen to the message, if you read this book of mormon and if you sincerely pray about it you will know it is true. I did this and I did not find it to be true. I do not mean any of this is in a rude or disrespectful tone (text is hard to communicate through concerning tone) but am sincerely interested in your response.

    • Can you expand a bit on the part where you said you got an answer that was the opposite of the church being true?

  7. What I meant by opposite is that I felt like I was being told that is was not the true way. I was also reading and studying the Bible at the same time and I kept coming across passages that conflicted with the message I was receiving from the mormon books. The more I went foward in the mormon church and the lessons of the books, the prayers to guide me the stronger my feelings became that I should turn from this…and even though I would not direspect someone for their personal belief I felt I was being warned to leave alone. My husband was also involved and had not previously read the Bible. He later pointed out that while this was going on that many of the passages he randomly chose the read were dealing with false prophets. As I stated, if this is your belief that is your business but I am truly interested in your opinion on this. I hope I've explained it well enough now and I look forward to discussing things with you.

  8. Also not to overwhelm you but some things I would like to hear you elaborate on (if you don't mind)

    If God had a father and that father had a father, where did things start up at? From what I gather you believe we all, including God, existed as some essence eternally…where did the occupying planets in the physical form begin or even the call into existence of the spirit beings that existed in the premortal time? Do you have an explanation or belief on that or it considered a mystery not to be understood yet?

    If you believe God once existed as a man, did he sin during this physical existence? How about Jesus, I think I read that you do believe He is without sin. How does this tie into the biblical verses that God always was, always is and always will be. The Alpha and the Omega? Etc.? The Bible also states He exists in spirit form and has eternally? Jesus was without sin because he was the Son of God, God made flesh. Of course God is without sin, He cannot even be around sin which is why Jesus came and died for us. The nature of the flesh is sin, to be human is to sin. This didn't apply to Jesus even though He became flesh because He was the actual Son of God, the rest of us aren't exactly in the same boat so can you explain how they existed without sin even though they were/are flesh and bones? I kinda see where you say Jesus is without because he was the Son, yet how does that make God without? Because He was the son of another god and therefore the son of him and so on? And if this is the case and you believe you will become a god should you not be existing without sin since you'll be in the same boat as where you believe God to be now? How can you become a god without the same lineage as the previous ones (Jesus conceived from mortal mother and immortal father) or will you be somewhat of a lesser type god? All that is very confusing for me so please try to break it down somewhat for me.

    If you will become a god of your own universe, as God himself…will part of that be to send your spiritual children into physical form, to create a savior such as Jesus, to produce scipture to show them the way, to give them the chance to become gods themselves. I guess what I'm asking is will you as a god be required to do as you believe God before you has done or can your universe exist upon one's individual desires?

    You feel as though the Bible has been translated incorrectly at times, correct? Why do you not have the fear that the book of mormon and the other books have not fell victim to this same incorrect translation?

    Can you direct me in the Bible where it mentions the possibility of other doctrines and books that will be part of the scriptures?

    I'll stop there for now…I look forward to your responses…we may not end up agreeing on all things but I do love to understand other's beliefs. Thank you and sorry, I'm a question box.

  9. Where did Josh go? I hope the questions were not giving him a brain cramp. You all were just getting to the good part. I to would like to know the 0000answers to those questions. PEACE AND LOVE~out.

  10. How was Alexander Graham Bell able to invent the telephone? How did Thomas Edison manage to light the world? How were antibiotics discovered? How did Joseph Smith with almost no education write complex texts like the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, ot the Pearl of Great Price? Why are there almost 15 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints right now? Do you suppose God had something to do with it…?

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