How did God Create the World?
The debate rages on between scientists and religionists over the creation timeline, but it can all be easily explained when we understand LDS theology and how creation was a 2-step process.
Spiritual vs. Physical Creation
In Hebrews 11:3 we read:
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
What does that mean? In the LDS book of scripture known as the Doctrine & Covenants, there are a few verses which help expand this concept.
31 For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal-
32 First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work-
The Lord declares here that there are two different types of creation at work. One was spiritual, and the other was temporal. In the beginning of God’s work, he created all things spiritually before they were created physically. At the end of the world, he will transform the temporal or physical things into spiritually perfected creations to endure through eternity (ie. resurrected, immortal joining of spirit and physical matter)
Genesis 2:4-5 expresses the creation concept in this way:
4 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,
5 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.
So was it 7 days or millions of years for the earth to be created?
In the LDS faith, we have another book of scripture we use called the Pearl of Great Price, and in it there are two accounts of the creation story. The first one is in the book of Moses and gives us an account of the spiritual creation, while the second account from the book of Abraham is an account of the physical creation.
In the book of Moses, each period of creation is called a “day,” which Peter informs us that God’s days are like 1,000 of our years ( 2 Peter 3:8).
However, in the book of Abraham, it does not identify the creation periods as days, but as “times.” So things happened in the first time, second time, and so on.
Now this part isn’t something I’ve been taught as official church doctrine but it’s a way for me to mesh these concepts in what seems a logical way. God is a being that is not limited by linear time such as we are. Imagine that after planning the creation out during the spiritual creation, God then stepped into our temporal time line and initiated the gathering of star dust to form the earth, or even brings a massive star from another dimension and causes it to explode here in our universe. He then steps back out of the temporal timeline and as a multi-dimensional being, a moment later steps into the temporal timeline millions or billions of years after initiating this action. He observes the gathering of the atoms and particles and gives his next set of instructions from the spiritual creation plan and again steps out of the timeline. He then re-enters millions of years later on that timeline but to him it is just a short moment. Angels and servants of God could step into the work at important points to assist in beautifying and populating the earth by creating rivers, valleys, plants, trees, creatures, and eventually man was placed on the earth to begin the temporal existence of man on the earth. Each object has it’s spiritually created form placed within the physical form to give it life and a connection to God. It becomes a soul.
Now I don’t know that that’s exactly how things worked, but I do know from the scriptures that there was a spiritual and temporal creation and that someday all things will be revealed to us in a way that makes perfect sense. Knowing that all things are before God (D&C 88:41), and that he is not a being constrained by time, it make sense to me that he can influence things in lower dimensions as needed and at will much like we can turn to any page in a book and read or write on that page because we exist outside of that linear book. What makes sense to me is that there was a spiritual blueprint phase of creation, and then a temporal phase of actually making the stuff from the blueprint. God didn’t have to be here babysitting creation for millions or billions of years for the earth and universe to age. His time could have been 6 days of creation to get everything accomplished according to his time.
I realize this is speculative, but it’s sort of how I make sense of things until I get to watch “the movie” on how God created everything.