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.
- In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
- 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.
- And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
- And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
- And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
- And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
- 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.
- And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
- 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.
- And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
- 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.
- 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.
- And the evening and the morning were the third day.
- 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:
- And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
- 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.
- And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
- 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.
- 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.