A Creative Retelling of Genesis by a Young Mormon in the 21st Century
IN THE BEGINNING
is that space of time that the earliest and most primal memories can take us. Beyond that belong the whispers and dying gasps of gods and space dust.
Matter—chaotic, formless, unorganized, monolithic—with only the ability to be, and, to be influenced by others, existing, devoid of purpose. Within this expanse of matter, and over unknown periods of time came association, grouping, collection, and unification. Particles of matter being bound together randomly while obtaining increased capability to influence other groupings began to form; developing into collective bodies until their capacity to interact and influence crossed into a state of being with some base semblance of what can be considered primitive and naked sentience.
Intelligence— raw and natural—is both what these agents grew the capacity to have and to exercise, being called such themselves. These intelligences were separate and distinct from the finer matter that they were made of, in the sense that they could store, process, and exchange information in such a way so as to gain a greater capacity to influence and act. Because of this, intelligences that gained influence and exercised it in such a way so as to enter into associations with others were able to enter into contracted relationships of authority over them, exercising control or influence contingent on that which the lesser intelligences granted them. Such relationships were not established on any grounds of coercion, given that all intelligences carried the ability to maintain autonomy and had not the ability to harm or threaten the being of other intelligences so as to compel them on negative grounds to act; for every intelligence always had the ability to act for themselves, else they could not exist.
And God was with them, the intelligences, for both were related to each other on grounds of being and becoming. God was God as They were more intelligent than all others, composed of intelligence in the most advanced form. Just as the other intelligences had the ability to offer and enter into states of relation with each other based off the exercising of their own free wills as free and independent agents, so too did God exercise with them the same, albeit the key difference was in the kind of relationship proffered by Them. Such a relationship offered increased meaning and purpose to both parties—intelligence and God—as one could become the other, and the other could grow in its state of Oneness. Such was the way it had always been, the eternality of matter and its progression through the eternities.
And God, in Their goodness, assisted the intelligences in their development and progression through relationships bound by, covenanted through, and sealed by selfless love.
This was the first covenant: that by entering into a relationship with God, the intelligences could eventually become as God, and God—by enabling such progression—could be and remain, God, for outside of relationships, there is no God, neither can there be.
So God was and would remain and the intelligences were and would become, God.
And God and the intelligences saw this first covenant, this first relationship, and it was good and there was Light. And over time—for those intelligences that desired—God gave them the means to progress to a higher state, that of spirit.
By becoming spirit, the intelligence could obtain a higher state of sentience, a higher capacity to receive and process truth and light, and the increased capacity to influence and dictate reality. A more refined realization of libertarian free-will, a heightened similitude with God, and the development of distinct individual identities was also obtained.
And so the intelligences were born anew or given the means to develop into spirits, which formalized and actualized their relationships with God.
And God was the Father.
And God was the Mother.
And God was the Sustainer.
And God was the Creator.
And God was All.
And God was One.
And the spirits were the glory,
and the Children of God.
And God was their Parents.
And it was good.
The spirits continued to progress, growing and advancing in understanding and refinement, as Time, which was and was not, passed.
God and spirits, coexisting, cohabiting, and cooperating together in Light and Truth, with God imparting on Their children the means, knowledge, and instruction necessary to advance in similitude with Them. But there was one great inequality between them and it was in their physicality; the spirits: being more refined intelligences which had their origin in unorganized matter, and God: being matter perfected, ordered, unified, and completely refined. The spirits of God could only continue to progress contingent on the depth, intensity, and purity of the relationship of love they had with God, of which was actualized within further covenants. Such were of a nature that could only be validated in a changed state of materiality, the same which would then be perfected so as to mirror, reflect, and be that of God.
The exact conditions and process through which such would take place was yet to be established, and so all the spirits chose to heed the influence of God to assemble together, so that such could be decided. And this gathering in preparation to receive further instruction was the Grand Council.
And it was good.
At this Grand Council, God presided, and all the spirits as always could respond freely. And God presented what must be, if—for the spirits who desired—were to progress further. Another change was to be made for them, in terms both material and spiritual; which are but different forms of the same unit of existence. They would have to become more like God in their creative capacities, but such would have to be tempered by the opposite capacity to destroy. They would have the greater capacity to exercise agency, but also to interfere, impair, subdue, and forfeit it. Their capacity to experience joy would grow, as would their capacity to suffer. They would more fully experience and exist by a higher law: The Law of Opposition in All Things.
The state of being in which they would enter into this law was mortality, where they would take upon themselves a physical form called a body, in which their individual spirits would reside. While having a body would enable them to eventually be perfected like God, in mortality, it would be subject to weakness, ailment, corruption, imperfection, and destruction. Mortality would be a transient or preparatory state, with a physical body being the key to entering into further covenants and a deeper relationship with God. As it had always been, the Children of God would have the full ability to accept or reject the offer of God to enter into a deeper relationship, though if they rejected it, they would remain in a corrupted, lesser, imperfect state and thus be unable to return to the presence of God. Upon their mortal bodies being subjected to death, their spirits would be separated from them, being called physical death. Likewise, having agency, they would have the ability to make choices which would deepen or inhibit their relationship and nearness to God, and continue or damn their progress. This spiritual separation would come as a result of sinful choices: ones that harmed oneself, those around them, lacked qualities of Light and Virtue, and did not progress oneself further; a separation being called spiritual death. These two deaths needed to be overcome in order to return to live with God.
Being in a corrupted state both physically and spiritually, the Children of God who chose to enter mortality would be unable, of themselves, to return to live with God. They had not the understanding nor capacity to do so. They would require the assistance from one who did, who would save them from a state of impeded progress or damnation—a separation from God—by giving them power to overcome sin and death, and by teaching them the only way to exist that would allow them to return to and become as God is.
And one came forward in the midst of the Council who expressed the desire to fulfill this role, adding that if chosen, not a single spirit present would risk damnation, on the condition that they would acquiesce their free agency and be compelled to return to God. Their covenantal relationship would be centered not on God then, but on the one who desired such glory and authority to belong to them alone. In contrast to the Plan of God, this plan was characterized by compulsion, loss of agency, and the ascension of the self above God; devoid of a relationship of love.
In this, the Law of Opposition in All Things was to be subverted, the promise being the avoidance of suffering.
Another then came forward, who desired to fulfill the role detailed earlier by God, expressing that they would suffer for all so that none need suffer alone. By this vicarious and mutual suffering on their behalf, the Children of God would be given the means to transform the result of suffering from something purely destructive to something that could be constructive; able to assist them in their progression to become reunited with and as God. Contrary to the one who proposed the alternative plan, the covenantal relationship and center point would not be on the Self but on the Other: God.
The one who desired to fulfill this role in the Plan of God would give the Children of God the capacity to understand, the ability to empathize, and the example of how to live, suffer, die, and live again for others—and so be reconciled to, one with, and as, God.
The Law of Opposition in All Things was to be embraced and experienced fully; and ultimately understood and mastered. As it had always been, the choice to progress would remain at all times, theirs.
And so it was left to all present to choose freely between plans: between that offered by God— which included the continuation of agency, exposure to suffering, the embrace of the higher law, and the eternal positioning of the Other before the Self—or that offered contrary, which replaced agency with compulsion, promised the avoidance of suffering, subverted the Higher Law, and glorified the Self before the Other.
To some, the thought of suffering was too foreign, affronting, or undesirable to actively consider experiencing it; especially when the promise of definite progression and the avoidance of suffering seemed so easier and pain-free. In their view, by choosing the alternative plan, theirs was an effort of self-preservation and prioritization.
And so a host of the spirits there did opt in favor if the alternative plan.
Most of the spirits though maintained their desire to remain and progress in a loving and covenantal relationship with God: even if the growth and progression necessary to advance in such would mean pain, suffering, and temporary separation from God. They understood that agency had always been the grounds for their progression, that God already had the means and knowledge that they could progress by, and that they had only come this far because of the covenantal relationship that they had entered into. To turn differently now towards one who was not God and wanted to restrict their agency and relationship with God, would mean severing that covenant and rejecting true principles that had brought them this far.
It was at this juncture though that the Children of God became divided.
And it was as if a war had taken place in the heavens.
And it was not good.
Upon seeing that most of the Children of God had chosen the original plan, the one who proposed the alternative learned that the Law of Opposition in All Things could not be subverted or denied, for it was eternal and God was not above it. This was learned with the rejection of most of the Children of God towards the alternative plan, being instead in favor of the Plan of God.
This caused the one who had proposed otherwise to feel hurt, envy, regret, and anger.
Hurt— at being rejected by so many.
Envy— for the authority which others gave to God.
Regret— for acting so rashly without certitude that the extended promises could be delivered.
Anger— at the reality that the state of being God required one to experience suffering and remain subject to eternal laws.
So it was a fear of suffering that caused the one who proposed the alternative plan, as well as those who favored it, to reject the Plan of God. They preferred instead to remain as spirits and continue to seek preservation from suffering and progression on their own terms.
And they withdrew from the presence of God and the remainder of the Children of God, to fruitlessly attempt to override their damned progress, and to suffer alone, outside of God’s presence.
And God saw that the Children of God were divided, and it was not good, but God respected the agency of those who followed after the one who was angered, and they who were separated were Satan.
And the Heavens wept.
And the Plan of God moved forward for all those who chose to accept it, and the Grand Council was again convened, so as to prepare and instruct those entering mortality that which it would entail. And the spirits that were present gained for themselves a quality that made them more like God. And it was the power to create.
And under the instruction of and in cooperation with God, the Children of God—led, by the one who was to save them—began to organize and create, using the chaotic matter that existed. By establishing and ordering the conditions by which the matter would be governed, creation was ready to be organized so that the spirits could enter mortality and dwell therein.
And so when all was finally prepared, the expanse of the chaotic matter was taken and condensed to fit upon a point of singularity the size of a needle’s head, with room still to spare.
And the darkness was, and the spirits of God hovered over the expanse.
And God said, “Let there be Light.” and in an instant, the point of singularity expanded in a single moment of unprecedented heat, energy, pressure, force, and light so as to fill the expanse with the totality of matter: now baptized and purified through sacred fire so as to set apart its use in creation.
And the Light was, and God saw the Light, and it was good.
This was the first day, and the day when Time began.
In the time that followed, God and the spirits continued to oversee the progression of their work, as matter—white hot and combusting—continued to hurtle through the expanse of space, cooling over the course of aeons, forming bonds and combining into elements, and filling the measure of its creation.
And the matter collected into bodies, greater and lesser, which were classified by their composition.
Stars, planets, moons, pulsars, comets, nebulas, all coloring the expanse of the black canvas of space.
And stars were born, while others aged, while still others died, collapsing eventually into themselves, only to be born anew.
And the Light remained, and matter was, and existence progressed closer to the time when it would be suitable for the spirits to dwell therein. And out of the host of bodies in the expanse, only a small number had the conditions necessary for mortality. And of them, only a few were chosen.
And God and the spirits watched one of the bodies, and it was called Earth.
And great fires raged upon it, and gases combined upon its face, and the waters came, and the fires were quenched, and there was land where the waters were not, and there were seas where the earth was not, and it was good.
And in this time, God gathered the spirits, and together—with the one who was to save them—said, “Let there be Life.” and in a moment, there was Light again, and from the Light, was made Life.
And thus God taught the spirits how Life might be created, promising them that they too would be granted this ability and power in mortality within established conditions. Mortality would be for them a time to develop, study, harness, use, and sustain this ability properly so as to not hinder their progression.
And Life was to be sacred, for it was the Power of God.
And the Children of God watched, and they understood, and as more time passed, life began to fill the measure of its creation.
And Life was in the waters,
and Life was on the land,
and Life was in the skies.
Diverse expressions of Life in various forms and kinds.
And Life grew more complex and continually struggled to sustain itself against Death, its opposite.
Wherever Life was, Death followed.
All Life, in its various forms and kinds, were equal in this regard,
as Death was inevitable.
And as long as Life—as well as its opposite in Death—was, they danced underneath the lights in the expanse above, that had been there since long before. And when the greater light was, it was day, and when the lesser light was, it was night. And the greater light was the sun, and the lesser light was the moon, and the still lesser lights were the stars, as numerous as the Children of God themselves.
And because there was Light, there continued to be Life, and it was good.
And Life continued to flourish within the conditions and measure it had filled. And there were times in which Death ruled because of changes in the conditions. But Life remained and would always progress and endure through times of Death. Life continued to grow and evolve, changing to sustain and preserve itself against the conditions it was placed in, changing to keep itself longer from Death, changing so as to produce more Life.
And God and the Children of God watched and waited, until the time had come when Life was prepared to receive and host their spirits.
And God said, “Let Us make humanity in Our image, after Our likeness,” and into the first bodies did God begin to place the spirits of the Children of God.
And Life was distinguished, between those that had the spirits of the Children of God and those that did not.
Yet they were Life,
and Life was sacred,
for it was of God.
END PART I
*Note: While the transliteration from the Hebrew בְּרֵאשִׁית is typically rendered “bereshit”, I have chosen the less common rendering used in the printed transcript of Joseph Smith’s “King Follett Sermon” as first published in the 15 August 1844 Times and Seasons, accessible here.