Thus, when we read in Moses’ version of the creation in the Pearl of Great Price, the imagery makes perfect sense.
“And again, I, God, said: Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and it was so, even as I spake; and I said: Let it divide the waters from the waters; and it was done; And I, God, made the firmament and divided the waters, yea, the great waters under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so even as I spake. And I, God, called the firmament Heaven; ….”
The above creation event from Moses was not to be confused with the next in that the former had occurred in the “heaven” while what is spoken of next involved the Earth we now stand upon.
“And I, God, said: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and it was so; and I, God, called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, called I the Sea; … And I, God, said: Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit, after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed should be in itself upon the earth, and it was so even as I spake.”
So, thanks to the clarifications of Joseph Smith and our revised view of the creation accounts, we find that the Moses account is far more accurate and much less confusing than the Genesis account, even though it maintains the symbolic imagery of ancient tradition.
These verses speak eloquently for the validity of our claims. They conform to the proposed model outlined above as well as clarifying the more laconic Old Testament account. This is no coincidence. Rather, it is a direct result of the comparison of creation accounts from all ancient cultures to flesh out the original intent of the Genesis author. Only allowing the accounts to speak for themselves rather than forcing them into some preconceived model of our own invention or from popular convention produces this amazing result.
At the same time, that knowledge allows us to understand revealed scripture as never before. Thanks to the perspective provided by an unorthodox view of ancient history and the resulting imagery, Latter-day Saints can fully comprehend the imagery of this account, as revealed in these latter days. What was once a bit puzzling and confusing in this account, due to our formerly flawed paradigm, now becomes crystal clear detail with astounding accuracy. This realization will only become more profound as we proceed with this analysis.
This ‘gathering’ process, into what Cardona calls the “placental cloud,” that is, the swirling plasma that looked like a whirlpool or a tornado in the northern sky, allowed the first glimpse of the glowing ball of light at the center of the ‘waters’ to more fully emerge. This also allowed what had been only a dim glow in the whirlpool of clouds to now cast much more light on our planet. So, the scriptures relate that then “there was light” to follow what had been “darkness.”
The ‘creation’ had begun, and mankind was there to watch it happen.
Of course, in this ‘darkness’ there was never a total absence of light, as one might believe from reading the scriptural accounts without further corroboration. Though it was probably dim, there was enough light to make out these features in the sky and to simply maneuver about.
If our parent planet, Saturn, were actually a brown dwarf star, as Thornhill speculates, then the light from Saturn that reached the Earth in this earliest epoch was probably much dimmer than the white light we receive from the Sun, our captor star, today. Hence the reference in many accounts to significantly reduced light, which can only be described from our perspective as a diffuse glow, akin to our twilight.
The spectrum of light was probably quite different than what we experience today. It was probably more shifted toward the infrared spectrum, which accelerated plant growth but also gave a very different, darker look to our world. Also, there was no day/night cycle, as is the case today, and the Earth would have been equally warm at the poles as at the equator. These two factors would have provided a very different environment than that which exists today, making the entire world a “Garden of Eden.”
Thanks to that wholesome environment, all humans needed was provided for them without any effort on their part. This is implied in the creation accounts following Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden when they are told that the Earth is “cursed,” that in place of the easily obtained foodstuffs there would now be “thorns and thistles” Thereafter they will be required to work to eat, “… in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” They are told, “By the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread ….”
Even more significantly, the accelerated aging process, which we now endure, was not a problem for them. The environment, dramatically different as it was, proved beneficial to life rather than harmful, as it is now.
Thus, statements from other cultures about that first epoch provide us, again, with much more information. Hesiod, the Greek philosopher wrote: “First of all the deathless gods who dwell on Olympus made a golden race of mortal men who lived in the time of Kronos when he was reigning in heaven. And they lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief; miserable age rested not on them … The fruitful earth, unforced, bear them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace upon their lands with many good thing, rich in flocks and loved by the blessed gods.”
© Anthony E. Larson, 2008