Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Seven Myths and Truths about the Creation, and Why they Matter

I have never studied as deeply about the Creation as I did in the past week. And I never expected it to move me so much.

Today in seminary we learned about the grandeur of the Creation (see Moses 2). I found myself in tears as I watched the students in their seven silent rotating "creation stations." They studied, marked scriptures, and dug deeper into what Heavenly Father and the Savior did for them during each "day" of creation. What they did for us fills me with awe, gratitude, and love. 

This is our class room set up with the tables as "matter unorganized" before starting our seven rotating stations. (Activity idea adapted from The Red Headed Hostess, who is full of amazing ideas.) I brought a snack of Costco organic animal crackers to make the point that to make cookies we must have ingredients. Unlike most of the Christian world which believe God created everything from nothing, we believe God created everything from matter that was already there. (See Tachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 350-52). 

Why does understanding the truth about the Creation matter? 

Because it answers some of life's big questions, gives us perspective, helps us know our purpose, and defeats modern myths about the creation that are causing a lot of problems. Here are some myths, or false doctrines, that are widely accepted in the world today, along with the contrasting truths that we learn from Moses chapter two. This would be a good FHE discussion, because young people today are being taught these myths as truths in schools all across America (except myth 2 because God isn't taught at all).

Myth 1 - The earth was created by an accident from a big bang, and there is no God. 

The truth is that we DO have a Heavenly Father, and He DID create the earth through His Son Jesus Christ (see Moses 2:1). I love Elder Nelson's classic response about the big bang theory. "Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary? [Even]... if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own newer editions!" (Ensign, May 2012). As a former heart surgeon, Elder Nelson (now President Nelson) has great respect for God's creation of the human body, "I testify that the earth and all life upon it are of divine origin. The Creation did not happen by chance. ... The Creation itself testifies of a Creator" (Ensign, May 2000).
Just for fun, see how many phrases you can count in Moses chapter two where God is telling us that HE created the earth, to make sure we know it was not an accident. Mine are marked in yellow above. I counted 48 times in one chapter!  

Myth 2 - God is a mist without a body or feelings.  

The truth is that God created us in His image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26-27 and Moses 2:26-27). It would be hard for me to have faith in, rely on, or feel nurtured by a God who didn't have feelings, experiences, or understanding of what I'm going through. How grateful I am to know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ both have resurrected bodies (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:22-23) and they understand and know how to support us through our challenging earthly experiences. 

Myth 3 - Animals are more valuable than humans. 

The truth is that God created man as His crowning creation (see Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, June 1982). Up until it was time to create humans, Heavenly Father delegated the creation work to His Son. But when it came to creating man and woman, Heavenly Father stepped in and took the lead (see Moses 2:26). It's because "We are the offspring of God" (Elder Mark E. Petersen, Moses: Man of Miracles, p. 163). And God told Adam and Eve to have dominion over the animals (see Moses 2:26), not the other way around. 

I do not believe in killing animals for fun or sport. Neither did President Kimball, who said, “I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food" (General Conference, Oct. 1978, quoting Pres. Joseph F. Smith). However, I do believe there is a problem when we get the value of humans and animals backwards, like in the meme below.  Mixed up priorities? Indeed. 
Correction for the above meme: My husband, an attorney, looked up the law and said the fine would actually be up to $15,000. Still the point is the same.  Human life being valued less than a bird's life? Mixed up priorities. 

Myth 4 - A baby's life doesn't start until he or she is born.

The truth is that God created our spirits long before we were born on the earth and are of great value (see Moses 3:5). And anyone who has seen a pregnant mother's ultrasound can attest that the unborn baby is alive and well, moving around like a newborn. It's interesting that endangered animals' eggs are protected by law because their lives are valued, but unborn human babies are not protected or even valued as much as these animals. Definitely mixed up priorities here. 

Myth 5 - Gender is random and doesn't matter. 

The truth is that "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

Gender is not an easy issue for many people, including an LDS friend of mine who was born male but his whole life has felt that his spirit is a female. It may not be until the next life that we have answers to those challenges that can make life excruciating for some people. All I know is that while I live what I believe, I also must be kind, compassionate, and respectful to others. 

Myth 6 - I'm not dependent on a God. I make all my own success.  

Believing that is like the fish in a tank who think they aren't dependent on anyone else. Who feeds them? Who cleans the tank? Who gave them the tank or who gave them life to begin with? 

Elder Nelson said, "...the Creation—of planet Earth and of life upon it—undergirds all other creative capability. Any manmade creation is possible only because of our divine Creator. The people who design and build are given life and capacity by that Creator. And all materials used in the construction of an edifice are ultimately derived from the rich resources of the earth" ("The Creation," Ensign, May 2000). So yes, we do work hard for our successes in life like raising a family and providing financially for them, but it's God who gave us bodies, the earth, our talents, capacity, brains, and everything else we need to be able to work hard to succeed. It's all from Him. We are nothing without Him. 

Myth 7 - The purpose of life and our bodies is self-centered pleasure. 

The truth is our lives on earth have great purpose, which is a wonderful reassurance during this challenging time away from our heavenly home. One of the purposes is that God wants us to form eternal families, like He commanded Adam and Eve to do when He told them to "multiply and replenish the earth" (see Moses 2:28). President Kimball said that God was the one who married Adam and Eve, helping them start their eternal family (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 192). 

Elder Nelson said, "Grand as it is, planet Earth is part of something even grander-- that great plan of God. Simply summarized, the earth was created that families might be" (Ensign, May 2000). 

Why does it matter if we believe these myths or false doctrines about the creation? 

Because if we believe them, life would not be as precious or as sacred as it really is. Life would be temporary, not eternal. Life would be an accident, not on purpose from an all-powerful, all-loving God. If life is temporary and un-sacred, it would be natural and easy to justify things like immorality, dishonesty, abortion, suicide, addiction, and simple meanness to others. If life didn't have purpose beyond our own desires, it would be natural to sin all the time to serve one's every whim. If we don't believe we are dependent on something more powerful than ourselves, a great Creator, then we have nothing to set our morals, virtues, and laws of right and wrong, which again creates a self-serving, ultimately self-destructive life. 

The blessing of understanding the truth about the Creation is just the opposite. Even though earth life is challenging, these truths give us purpose, perspective, faith, and a higher power to rely on, trust, and ask for help. We have strength beyond our own to become better than we ever could on our own. We honor our own life and the lives of those around us as sacred and precious. 

Here is a 5 minute video clip of "The Creation" by Elder Russell M. Nelson. Click here for his whole talk. 

I invite you to write a thank you letter in your journal to Heavenly Father for all that He and His Son have created for you and me, and for the truths you know. 

Click here to see Seven Keys of Overcoming Evil Influence from Moses chapter one. 

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