Abraham Chapter 4 The Physical Creation of the Earth
Abraham 4 The Great Council of the Gods Wherein the Creation of the Earth is Planned
Abraham 4:18 And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.
Abraham 4 is likely the scriptural account of the creation or organization of the physical earth, the so-called "preparatory physical creation" (for a summary of the three creative periods or epochs, see the introductory commentary for Moses 2).
As previously stated Abraham 4:1-25 is likely more an account of the "minutes" of the fourth Grand Council in the heavens, but since all of the items on the agenda were in fact accomplished, we consider it to be an account of the physical preparatory creation of the earth, the second creation epoch.
We will learn that the physical earth was brought forth in seven great "times" or periods of time. The purpose of this physical creation was to begin to prepare the earth for the eventual placement of modern life forms, an event which would occur millions of years hence.
In Abraham 5, Abraham will describe the placement of modern life forms on the earth.
The Second Creative Epoch: The Physical Creation of the Earth - the Preparatory Creation
The First Creative Period or Time (verses 1-5): The Birth of the Physical Earth and its Exposure to light and dark.
According to the dating techniques of earth scientists, the physical earth was first formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
1 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.
verse 1 "the Lord said: Let us go down." The Lord is Jehovah, the pre-existent Christ. The "Gods" "went down" from the place of their Great Council, the fourth Grand Council of the Gods which may have been on the celestial planet, to the spirit earth to begin the process of physical creation. We should be reminded that during the physical creation the earth was not located in our present solar system. Rather it was located in the region of space near Kolob. It did not leave this location until after the fall of Adam and Eve.
"And they went down at the beginning" The antecedent for "they" in this phrase is "the noble and great ones" in Abraham 3:23. They are given the title "Gods." This accords with our knowledge concerning the plurality of gods in the organized universe. It also tells us that some exceptionally worthy spirit children are given the title and responsibility of being gods (called to be part of the process of creation) even before they are born into mortality. This is obviously true of the Savior. It also turns out to be true of all those called "noble and great ones."
The physical creation began under the direction of the presiding quorum of the physical creation, the Father, Jehovah, and Michael.
"they . . . organized and formed the heavens and the earth" If one reads this phrase carefully, one might conclude that the heavens were "organized," and the earth was "formed." What is the difference? The word organized seems to emphasize that the solar system was not created ex nihilo but was organized from pre-existent unorganized matter. The word translated as "created" in Genesis is bara' which means "to make," without any connotation of creation out of nothing. "Form" or "formed" is a key word used throughout the creation story and means "birth." So far as we know, only two types of beings can give birth to another body. These are celestial eternal beings and mortal physical beings. Thus, the earth was "formed," that is it did not simply condense out of some dusty and gaseous nebula. It was born of a mother planet, in this case a celestial eternal planet.
What are the "heavens"? The term "heavens" seems to represent all of the organized bodies of the cosmos-the planets, the moons, and the stars-that can be seen from earth (Moses 1:37). In addition to creating the earth which was located near Kolob during its creation, the Gods had to organize a place in the cosmos which the physical earth might inhabit during its sojourn in the solar system. This sojourn may have lasted millions or even billions of years through the preparatory creation until the fall of Adam and Eve. Likely the creation or "forming" of some of these myriad heavenly bodies had taken place long before the earth's creation, and their creation stories are separate and not included in the creation account that Abraham saw.
2 And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.
verse 2 "the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate" Shortly after its birth as a physical mortal planet, the earth was "empty and desolate" and dark. It was a sterile and bleak environment, hostile to plant and animal life. This is the beginning of the preparatory process where this empty and desolate earth will become, over millions of years, a fertile, fecund, and delightful place, fully capable of providing "enough and to spare" (D&C 104:17) to the family of Adam and the modern life forms over the millennia which they will inhabit the earth.
"the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters" The word from which brooding is translated also means "fertilizing". This seems clearly to be describing the life-giving and life-sustaining power of the light of Christ that makes possible all life, not only on this earth but throughout all of God's creations. The light of Christ "proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space. It is also "the light which is in all things, which given life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed" (D&C 88:11-13).
3 And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.
verse 3 Light from the great governing stars was allowed to flood over the newborn earth. Keep in mind that at this point in time, the earth was not in our present solar system, but rather was near the great governing star Kolob.
4 And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.
verse 4 "they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness" The earth was given the power of rotation. Thus began its cyclical exposure to day and night.
5 And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night. And it came to pass that from the evening until morning they called night; and from the morning until the evening they called day; and this was the first, or the beginning, of that which they called day and night.
The Second Creative Time (verses 6-8): The Creation of the Earth's Atmosphere
6 And the Gods also said: Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and it shall divide the waters from the waters.
verse 6 "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters" To this point in the physical creation, the physical earth was a solid body covered with water. Now the Gods needed to create a gaseous atmosphere or "expanse." It was created "in the midst of the waters," that is it was placed between two layers of the embryonic waters that surrounded the physical earth at its birth. It divided these waters into two layers: (1) the water that would remain in contact with the earth's solid surface-later to be known as the "sea" and (2) what remained of the embryonic waters-the "waters above."
Just what exactly was this layer of water "above the expanse"? We addressed this same topic during the story of the spirit creation of the earth (see the commentary for Moses 2:7). It has been suggested that this was a liquid canopy which enveloped the earth until after the great Flood of Noah's day. This seems most unlikely. Others have suggested that the "waters above" represent the clouds and other water vapor in the earth's atmosphere. This is also unlikely since almost all of the atmosphere's water vapor resides in the lowest regions of its atmosphere. So just what are these waters "above the expanse" and where are they today? It seems likely that this part of the earth's embryonic waters which were separated from the earth's seas by the atmosphere was soon removed-the earth was removed from its watery womb. Abraham never refers to this layer of water again in his account of the creation.
Most scientists today accept the idea that the atmosphere came to exist very early in the earth's creative story, about 4.0 billion years ago, but initially it contained mostly methane, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and little in the way of oxygen. About 3.5 billion years ago, photosynthesis by cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae-primitive one-celled organisms without a distinct nucleus) began to release oxygen into the atmosphere. However, prior to 2 billion years ago, there seems to have been little free oxygen in the earth's atmosphere. Sometime between 2.0 and 1.5 billion years ago, levels of oxygen increase because of the biologic activity of the cyanobacteria. About 1.5 billion years ago, green algae, the first eukaryotes (organisms with nuclei in their cells), began to appear. Green algae are very efficient photosynthesizers, and they added more oxygen to the atmosphere until about 800 million years ago when it reached about 5 percent of the present value (Emiliani, Cesare, The Scientific Companion, [New York: John Wiley & Sons], 1988, 156).
Another important element of the atmosphere also formed during this period-the ozone layer. Ozone is O3, consisting of three molecules of Oxygen. Energetic ultraviolet photons began to dissociate water molecules in the atmosphere. The hydrogen escaped into space, and the oxygen atom was left behind. The oxygen molecules in turn combined to form molecular oxygen (O2). As O2 accumulated in the upper atmosphere, it was again dissociated into free oxygen atoms, which in turn combined with other O2 molecules to form ozone-O3. The disassociation-association process eventually stabilized, forming the ozone layer. This layer filtered out the harmful ultraviolet light, preventing further dissociation of water and allowing life to flourish, since ultraviolet light is lethal to most organisms (Shu, Frank H., The Physical Universe, An Introduction to Astronomy, [Mill Valley, California: University Science Books], 1982, 492).
The earth's magnetic field, produced by its rotating liquid nickel-iron core, also helps protect life on the earth's surface. This field deflects the potentially harmful stream of charged particles coming from the sun, called the solar wind, and forms the well-known Van Allen radiation belts (Zeilik, Michael, Stephen A. Gregory, and Elske V. Smith, Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics, 3d ed., [New York: Saunders College Publishing], 1992, 72-74).
7 And the Gods ordered the expanse, so that it divided the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so, even as they ordered.
verse 7 "the Gods ordered the expanse" Note that the Gods directed their command to the expanse itself, indicating that the elements composing the expanse were the embodiment of intelligences which maintained their full agency and prerogatives. The Gods then had to wait to see if the command would be obeyed. Eventually "it was so, even as they ordered" (see Abraham 4:18).
8 And the Gods called the expanse, Heaven. And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and this was the second time that they called night and day.
verse 8 This verse suggests that the creation of the earth's "expanse" or atmosphere occurred during the second complete rotation of the earth. That, of course, is unlikely. It is more likely that the second creative period during which the atmosphere was created lasted much longer than one rotation of the earth. In fact, the events of the second period, in which the present atmosphere of the earth was formed, seem to have occurred from around 4.0 billion to 600 million years ago, thus overlapping with both the first and third periods.
The Third Creative Time (verses 9-13): Land Appears Surrounded by the Ocean. The land is prepared to receive modern plant life such as grass, herbs, and fruit trees.
9 And the Gods ordered, saying: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the earth come up dry; and it was so as they ordered;
verse 9 "the Gods ordered" Again, the Gods set out to accomplish their purposes by ordering or commanding (actually requesting) that the appropriate intelligences carry out their desires.
Eric Skousen has pointed out that this separation of the waters and the earth was accomplished by the Gods commanding a "chemical separation in the upper layers of the earth's globe so that a portion of it would rise above the global sea" (Earth in the Beginning, 88). The solid parts of the earth vary in density. In order for a part of the solid mass of the earth to rise above sea level, the less dense materials of the solid earth had to rise to the top of the earth's solid mass.
"Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place" Abraham's account suggests that all the earth's water was concentrated into one single ocean. This would, of course, suggest that the first dry land consisted of one single continent.
"let the earth come up dry" Four-fifths of the earth's surface is underwater. If the solid surface of the earth were all at the same level, the entire land mass of the earth would be completely underwater. The only way dry land exists is for there to be deep ocean basins and mountains. The initial sculpting of ocean basins by the impacts of large meteors, and later by plate tectonics, so fashioned the surface of the earth as to allow for both seas and dry land. In one version of the Egyptian creation stories, one of the first things to happen is dry land in the form of a "primeval hill" rising out of the primeval waters (Bonnet, Hans, Realxikon der agyptischen Religionsgeschichte, [Berlin: Walter de Gruyter], 1952, 847).
With the cooling of the earth's crust about 3.7 billion years ago, the major continental plates formed and the process known as plate tectonics began. As the various continental plates collided with each other, mountain ranges emerged, a process that continues to the present time. The weathering of the earth by rain and wind also caused major changes over time.
10 And the Gods pronounced the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, pronounced they, Great Waters; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.
11 And the Gods said: Let us prepare the earth to bring forth grass; the herb yielding seed; the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind, whose seed in itself yieldeth its own likeness upon the earth; and it was so, even as they ordered.
12 And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth grass from its own seed, and the herb to bring forth herb from its own seed, yielding seed after his kind; and the earth to bring forth the tree from its own seed, yielding fruit, whose seed could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.
verses 11-12 "Let us prepare the earth" Abraham's description of the creation of plant life differs markedly from the account of the spirit creation of plant life given by Moses. Moses's account suggests that God placed all varieties of plant life on the spirit earth without any preparatory period: "Let the earth bring forth [plant life] and it was so even as I spake" (Moses 2:11). In these two verses, Abraham is not describing the placement of modern varieties of plant life on the physical globe. Rather he is describing the preparation of the earth to receive the modern plant varieties. In its initial state, the physical earth was hostile to plant and animal life. There was an atmosphere of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, sulfur, and methane, but it was lacking any free oxygen. Plants are the obvious thing to place first on the earth. Their ability to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen would in turn prepare the earth for animal life. The oldest fossils, called stromatolites, consist of cyanobacteria dating back some 3.5 billion years, and they remained the dominant form of life until about 1.5 billion years ago (Emiliani, 151), although in Precambrian rocks found in South Africa, from the oldest age of the earth, there are also fossil remains of tiny rod-shaped forms resembling living bacteria in their cell-wall structure (Rich, Patricia V., Thomas Hewitt Rich, Mildred Adams Fenton, and Carroll Lane Fenton, The Fossil Book, A Record of Prehistoric Life, 2d rev. ed. [Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc.], 1996, 91). This means that life appeared on the earth very soon after the crust solidified.
In an interesting side note: Carl Sagan first proposed "terraforming" the planet Venus (converting it to an earthlike environment) by seeding its clouds with cyanobacteria, which would convert the predominantly carbon dioxide atmosphere to oxygen. The reduction of carbon dioxide would in turn reduce the greenhouse effect, and the temperature would drop. Eventually, water vapor in the atmosphere (which contains enough water to cover the entire surface of Venus with 100 inches of water) would condense and fall as rain. Over time, the surface temperature of Venus would drop to 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit with oceans forming in the depressions ("The Planet Venus," Science, 133, 24 March 1961).
Conditions on the physical earth had to be modified over millions of years to produce an environment conducive to life. We will later learn that modern botanical systems were not brought to the earth until the third creation epoch-millions of years after the extensive preparation and development of the earth's crust had been completed. All modern life forms were placed on the earth at the time of the Garden of Eden.
Land plants appeared much later, some 420 million years ago, and did not become common until about 360 million years ago. The first appearance of flowering plants (angiosperms) was not until about 120 million years ago. Grasses are not found until around 57 million years ago (Rich, 67, 33-35). The progressive appearance of plant life on the earth thus stretched over an enormously long period of time-from about 3.5 billion years ago to 57 million years ago.
13 And it came to pass that they numbered the days; from the evening until the morning they called night; and it came to pass, from the morning until the evening they called day; and it was the third time.
verse 13 "and it was the third time" Beginning with this verse, Abraham will use the word time to describe the creative periods. This word does not necessarily imply a fixed time period, or time periods of the same length.
verses 14-19 These verses describe the creation of the solar system in which our earth now resides. The spiritual and physical creations of the earth took place while the earth was in orbit near Kolob and did not fall into our present solar system until after the fall of Adam. Our sun and moon and stars were created for our earth well in advance, in preparation for the earth's eventual arrival. Thus, Genesis 1:14-19; Moses 2:14-19; and Abraham 4:14-19 all describe the same thing-the spirit and physical creation of our present solar system, minus our earth.
The Fourth Creative Time (verses 14-19): The Sun, Moon, and Stars are Organized
14 And the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven, and caused them to divide the day from the night; and organized them to be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years;
verse 14 "the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven" It is obvious that the earth was destined to inhabit a region of space that had been prepared according to several stringent requirements. The sun and the moon have been placed in relation to the rotating earth so as to produce proper days, months, years, and the seasons of the earth (see also the commentary for Moses 2:14).
15 And organized them to be for lights in the expanse of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so.
16 And the Gods organized the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; with the lesser light they set the stars also;
verses 14-16 Here Abraham describes the organization of the solar system in which the earth will eventually reside, our present solar system.
It also seems likely that both the sun and the moon were created in the solar system in which they now reside. It is also possible that originally the moon was orbiting the sun alone, some ninety-three million miles from the sun, before the arrival of the earth.
verse 16 "to rule" The sun and moon "rule" the day and the night in the sense that they are the brightest objects in the day and night skies, respectively.
17 And the Gods set them in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to cause to divide the light from the darkness.
verse 17 The pronoun "them" refers to the sun and the moon. The stars had been previously organized and operate independently of our solar system. Note that Abraham uses the phrase "expanse of the heavens" to describe the star-filled cosmos which would later be seen from the earth's surface. He will later use the phrase, "the open expanse of heaven" to refer to the earth's atmosphere (verse 20).
18 And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.
verse 18 Again, we are reminded that the Gods do not compel or coerce the intelligences which are embodied by the elements of the earth. These intelligences maintain their agency and it is given unto them to choose whether or not they will choose to obey. Because they collectively love and honor the pre-existent Christ and those called to work with him in the creation of our earth, they are inclined to obey.
19 And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that it was night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that it was day; and it was the fourth time.
The Fifth Creative Time (verses 20-23): The oceans and atmosphere are prepared, so that they may one day receive aquatic and aerial life.
20 And the Gods said: Let us prepare the waters to bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life; and the fowl, that they may fly above the earth in the open expanse of heaven.
verse 20 "Let us prepare the waters to bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life" Even now, more than 90 percent of all life on earth is found in the oceans.
21 And the Gods prepared the waters that they might bring forth great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters were to bring forth abundantly after their kind; and every winged fowl after their kind. And the Gods saw that they would be obeyed, and that their plan was good.
22 And the Gods said: We will bless them, and cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas or great waters; and cause the fowl to multiply in the earth.
verses 20-22 Again, we see in these verses that the earth is simply being prepared for the later placement of modern life forms upon it. No modern aquatic and aerial life forms are actually placed on the earth as yet, though many prehistoric aquatic and aerial life forms will eventually be placed in the waters and in the air during the second creation epoch. Abraham does not really give an account of the "creation" or placement of early life forms on the earth which we know were here in abundance. He only records a preparation of the waters and the atmosphere for modern life forms. However, the placement on the earth of all of the earthly life forms-plants and animals-was a vital part of the "creation" or preparation of the earth as these early forms each played vital roles in the preparation of this physical globe to serve as a place of abode for all modern life forms.
This second creative epoch account-Abraham's account of the preparatory physical creation-is much different than Moses's first creative epoch account, his account of the spirit creation. Note Moses's wording: "let the waters bring forth [aquatic life] and every winged creature . . . and I, God, saw that all things which I had created were good (Moses 2:20-21).
One cell organisms appeared in the oceans of the earth about 1.5 billion years ago. Only when oxygen levels reached about 5 percent of the present value, some 800 million years ago, did more complex multicellular life appear. About 600 million years ago, there was a rapid increase in the variety of higher life forms. Around 590 million years ago, exoskeletal animals such as trilobites, brachiopods, and shelled mollusks appeared. By 550 million years ago, the first vertebrates, such as jawless fish and graptolites, appeared (Rich, 33-35). It is not until 145 million years ago that birds first appear. Why birds are included with sea animals rather than land animals is not clear, but as we stated before, the separation into periods is, in a sense, artificial since the creative process was a continuous one.
23 And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and it was the fifth time.
The Sixth Creative Time (verses 24-31): The land is prepared to eventually receive modern animal life.
24 And the Gods prepared the earth to bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind; and it was so, as they had said.
25 And the Gods organized the earth to bring forth the beasts after their kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind; and the Gods saw they would obey.
verses 24-25 "the Gods prepared the earth" "the Gods organized the earth" Again, we see the type of creative process necessary in the preparatory creation of the earth. Contrast this with the direct and simple spirit creation process described in Moses 2:24-25.
The cattle and "creeping things" referred to in these verses are part of the modern life forms that will inhabit the earth millions of years hence. When they arrive they will propagate "after their kind."
"the Gods saw they would obey" Who is they? They either refers to the intelligences which inhabited the inanimate things of the earth which were involved in the preparatory creation process or it refers to the spirit animals and their willingness to eventually take upon themselves physical bodies when the time arrives for them to come to earth. This suggests that all animal life, as well as all humans, have come to this earth voluntarily.
The fossil records show that about 370 million years ago, amphibians first appeared. By 340 million years ago the earliest reptiles were present, and by 320 million years ago mammal-like reptiles were found. Winged insects appeared around 310 million years ago. By 220 million years ago, there was a large variety of mammal-like reptiles, but it was not until about 90 million years ago that marsupials (animals with pouches like the kangaroo) and placentals (animals in which the young develop in a womb or placenta) appeared (Rich, 33-35).
Around 65 million years ago, there was a period of mass extinction in which dinosaurs and many other kinds of life disappeared. This may have been caused by the impact of a giant asteroid producing so much debris in the air that a situation analogous to a "nuclear winter" developed (Rich, 33-35). The fossil record also shows other major extinction events, such as the Permian period around 250 million years ago (Rich, 247). Sixty-two million years ago, the first primates appeared, and by 60 million years ago, there was a great diversity of mammal types. Rodents first arrived on the scene about 45 million years ago, and hominids (man-like creatures) arrived about 19 million years ago (Rich, 33-35).
verses 26-31, plus Abraham 5:1-3 These verses contain an account of the fifth Grand Council of the Gods convened on the celestial planet. It was during this council that the war in heaven occurred. Since the beginning of the physical creation, Lucifer had been plotting and planning to gain control over the planet earth. We know that when he was rejected as the overseer for the construction of the physical earth, he became "angry," and "many followed after him" (Abraham 3:27-28).
The forces of righteousness who opposed Lucifer and his followers from the beginning of his rebellion were led by Michael, the archangel (Revelation 12:7). This is, of course, the same Michael who would soon descend through the veil of forgetfulness and become Adam, the first father of the human family on the physical earth. The culmination of this ideological confrontation was a "war in heaven" (Revelation 12:7), and "heaven," as we may recall, refers to the spirit earth (Moses 3:5).
Now that the physical earth was prepared for modern life, and Adam and Eve were about to be placed on it, the time had come to choose a savior for all mankind. This is best described by the prophet Moses in his account of the fifth Grand Council which had begun on the celestial world. In this forum, Lucifer brazenly approached the throne of the Father and demanded: "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor" (Moses 4:1). Jehovah, who was close at hand, approached the Father's throne and simply said: "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever" (Moses 4:2). The Father then announced that Jehovah would be our Savior. The Father then turned to Lucifer and his followers and thrust them out of the celestial realm and cast them down to earth (Moses 4:3; JST Revelation 12:4; Revelation 12:6-8). Lucifer and his followers were fully deserving of their awful fate. They had openly rebelled against the plan of the Father and against his Firstborn Son (D&C 76:25; Abraham 3:27). Lucifer had attempted to rob the Father's spirit family of their agency, that is, their God-given capacity to choose for themselves (Moses 4:3). Or at least he had attempted to greatly curtail their freedoms so they had little choice left but to obey him. He had also openly coveted God's own power-the honor from a cosmos of intelligences by which God rules and reigns (D&C 29:36-37). Lucifer and his followers were not simply asked to leave the celestial realm. Rather they were "thrust" down to a specific region on the spirit earth to which they had been condemned. This is "hell," where the former Lucifer has become Satan; where he and his angels reign; and which was prepared "from the beginning" (D&C 29:38). This is also the region which is largely bereft of the Lord's comforting Spirit to which the disobedient are condemned to suffer because they would not partake of the gift of the Savior's atonement (D&C 19:16-20). Since the time of their condemnation, these rebellious spirits have unremittingly made "war with the saints of God and encompassed them round about" (D&C 76:29). Furthermore, Satan has not accepted defeat. He is still attempting to regain his former status as Lucifer-and more (see Isaiah 14:13-14). The immediate reaction in heaven to Lucifer's rebellion and eviction was one of shock and dismay (see Isaiah 14:12; D&C 76:26-27).
Now that the celestial home planet was cleansed of its rebellious inhabitants, it was time to prepare the physical earth for the arrival of modern life forms. The grand councilors left the celestial realms and reconvened their Grand Council on the earth. Abraham's account of the remainder of this council consists of only nine verses (Abraham 4:26-5:3) and is but a partial agenda of the work of the council. It is apparent that the council had to accomplish the following work:
1. They would remove all remaining preparatory life forms from the earth.
2. Then they would "sanctify" the earth, that is, elevate it to a translated state in which no death, decay, or dissolution could take place.
3. The Gods would then return to their celestial residence and rest from all their labors.
4. Following their rest, the Gods would come down again to the physical earth to modify its crust one last time in order to prepare it for the arrival of modern life forms from other planets.
5. Then they would bring the parental stock of modern life forms to the physical earth from other planets-first vegetation and then animal life.
6. Then the first parents of the human race, Adam and Eve, would be brought to the earth-actually, more likely born here.
7. A special garden would be planted and prepared for Adam and Eve for their use and enjoyment.
As stated previously, the creation quorum of the earth consisted of three individuals, namely Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael (JD, 1:51). The power of creation is delegated through the eternal priesthood. Adam seems to have functioned as "construction foreman." He did not work alone. Rather he functioned "with the help of his brethren" (Brigham Young, speech of June 8, 1873, Deseret News, 22:308). Joseph F. Smith indicated that these assistants included Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Nephi, Joseph Smith and others of the "noble and great ones" who had been foreordained in their pre-mortal state to become the spiritual leaders of each gospel dispensation (Abraham 3:22; D&C 138:53-56). Under the direction of the quorum of creation, the Gods and their associates went down to the newly prepared physical earth. They would first organize its environment and then bring in a host of modern life-including man.
Possible Chronology of the Events of Creation **
Formation of solar system
Earliest meteorites formed
Solar system formed
Oldest lunar rocks
Oldest terrestrial rocks
Formation of Atmosphere
First (original) atmosphere
Volcanic activity formed second atmosphere
Blue-green algae begins to produce O2 in atmosphere
Oxygen level reaches 5% of present value
Formation of continents and ocean plant life
Plate tectonics begins
Appearance of sun, moon and stars
Light pressure from the sun clears out residual gas and dust
4.5 to 4.4 billion
Sea birds and animals
Cambrian explosion of complex life forms
Marsupials and placentals
** The dating of the events listed in this table and in the commentary are science's best estimates of when these things occurred. These dates are not to be taken as church doctrine. They could be completely wrong. God may have ways of accomplishing his works that are far beyond our present (or even future) scientific understanding.
26 And the Gods took counsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness; and we will give them dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
verse 26 "And the Gods took counsel among themselves" This is the fifth Grand Council of the Gods. This council begins on the celestial planet but is concluded on the earth during the seventh time. This is the Grand Council in which plans were made for the third creative period, the placement of man and modern life forms upon the earth.
27 So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them.
verse 27 Here we are still in the sixth creative period. Adam and Eve were not actually placed upon the earth until the seventh creative period. In this verse, the Gods had simply come to earth to do it.
Note carefully here a most profound truth. The physical bodies of the human race have been made in the general image of the Master Creators of the universe. We know that the Gods have created many other intelligent beings in an innumerable variety of forms. John the Revelator saw some of these intelligent creatures in vision (Revelation 4:6-9; Revelation 5:6-14; Revelation 6:1-8; Revelation 7:11; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 15:7; Revelation 18:13; Revelation 19:4). Nevertheless, the Gods have reserved to themselves and their offspring the human form. Those who have speculated as to the appearance of the dominant life forms on other earth-like planets should make careful note of this fact.
28 And the Gods said: We will bless them. And the Gods said: We will cause them to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
verse 28 Here the Gods state their intent to admonish the human family to:
1. "be fruitful, and multiply" This commandment is to be obeyed only under the conditions of the sacred order of marriage. Those capable of bringing children into mortality through marriage and family, but refuse to do it for any reason, are guilty of disobedience of this important command.
2. "replenish the earth" The Hebrew word in Genesis translated as "replenish" (male') means "to fill," without the implication of "refilling" which "replenish" suggests in modern English. This is an extension or expansion of the first commandment. We are not just to "multiply," that is, to have children, but to have as many as our circumstances will permit. This ensures that earth will be filled with the spirit inhabitants of heaven who are anxiously awaiting their turn to receive a physical body.
Some of those who refuse to raise up a family complain that we are already suffering from a "population explosion" that will surely exhaust the earth's capacity to sustain them all. The Lord has revealed that the earth's resources are more than sufficient to comfortably sustain all the human beings assigned to it: "I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork . . . For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves" (D&C 104:14, 17).
3. "subdue it [the earth]" This means to render the physical earth usable and useful for the human race. This would include farming the soil and domesticating the animal life of the earth to bring forth the necessary resources for humanity's food and clothing. It would also include drilling and mining out the mineral resources from the earth's crust. It would also include building highways and railways for the transportation of people and resources. It might also include employing the earth's river systems for transportation and the generation of energy.
4. "have dominion . . . over every living thing" This is the Lord's command for man to take control of and maintain dominion or lordship over the earth's plant and animal life. This dominion must be a "righteous" and wise one. Perhaps "stewardship" best describes this dominion of man over the rest of creation. There should be no wanton or purposeless destruction of animal or plant life. The Lord has warned: "And wo be unto that man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need" (D&C 49:21). He has also cautioned that animal life is to be taken "only for meat, and to save your lives." Further, "the blood of every beast [killed otherwise] will I require at your hands" (JST Genesis 9:11). The antithesis of those who would wantonly abuse the earth's life forms is those who would elevate the plants and animals of the earth above the needs of the human race. Motivated by the dogmas of heathen religions or popular movements of the day, some have sought to deify non-human life forms, both in the name of "religion" or "the environment." These are also apostate doctrines.
These are the same commandments the human family received on the spirit earth.
29 And the Gods said: Behold, we will give them every herb bearing seed that shall come upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it; yea, the fruit of the tree yielding seed to them we will give it; it shall be for their meat.
verse 29 "it shall be for their meat" The Grand Council plans to provide vegetables and fruit for the "meat" of man. The Hebrew word translated as "meat" is 'oklah, which is better translated as "food; eating." In King James English, "meat" had the broader sense of "food" rather than just "flesh" as it now does.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, behold, we will give them life, and also we will give to them every green herb for meat, and all these things shall be thus organized.
verses 29-30 Here the Gods declare in their fifth Council that man and animal life will be given herbs and fruits for food once they have been placed on the earth. This modern plant life, which included vegetables and fruits, was not yet upon the physical earth, but after it arrived, they said, "it shall be for their meat." Note that this vegetarian diet was limited to the sanctified conditions that prevailed before Adam's fall. It will again apply to humans and animals when the earth returns to its sanctified state during the Millennium. Brigham Young wrote: "When men live to the age of a tree, their food will be fruit" (JD, 8:63).
31 And the Gods said: We will do everything that we have said, and organize them; and behold, they shall be very obedient. And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and they numbered the sixth time.
verse 31 "We will do everything that we have said, and organize them" Again, we are now reading the minutes of the fifth Grand Council of the Gods which is planning for the introduction of modern life forms (plants, animals, and man) into the earth.
"they shall be very obedient" The antecedent of the pronoun they is "every beast of the earth, and . . . every fowl of the air, and . . . every thing that creepeth upon the earth." It would seem that the animals and fowls of the earth have more of a natural tendency to be obedient to the laws under which they are placed than do the human family.
This verse concludes the sixth creative period. The fifth and final Grand Council of the Gods will continue into the seventh period of creation.