The very first words in the Bible tells us, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void" (Genesis 1:1,2). The apostle John explained, "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3).
Because of what the scriptures tell us about God, we rightly refer to Him as the Creator. Not only has he created the earth, but also every plant and every animal on it. And the variety of life which he has created is infinite. But His work of creation is not limited to just this earth, and neither is it limited to just the mortal, physical realm of existence in which we presently find ourselves. Indeed, the creations of God are beyond measure.
As Latter-day Saints we believe that, after the resurrection, those who inherit all that the Father has will also be able to have the same powers of creation and will likewise use those powers as our Father now does. But we also believe that we are here on earth to learn to become as God is. Therefore, to help us in that learning process, our Father has given us the opportunity to practice using those godly powers which we someday hope to inherit.
The most common power of Godhood we think of is usually the priesthood, which is the power God uses to accomplish His work. Another obvious power of Godhood is the ability to beget children. As we teach and raise our children, we further get to practice the power of godhood in the way we behave toward them. But God has created worlds without number and has created creatures of infinite variety to inhabit those worlds. Surely, there is nothing we can do now to practice using that great power. Or is there?
God has begotten an inconceivable number of spirit children, but we get to practice begetting children in numbers that can often be counted on no more than two hands. Even though we get to practice using the priesthood, the functions we can perform with it are severely restricted in comparison to what God can do with His priesthood. Hence, we see that although God allows us to practice Godhood here on earth, yet He gives us an extremely limited range within which to operate. If we prove ourselves worthy of handling the godly powers we now have at our disposal, then we will be given the opportunity to exercise even more powers in the eternities.
Thus, earth life is like a school of the gods. While here on earth we are being prepared to handle the powers which are associated with Godhood. If we learn our lessons well, our reward will be to move onto higher and more glorious realms of responsibility. If, on the other hand, we demonstrate that we are not capable of properly handling the limited amount of power we've been entrusted with, then we will be denied such opportunities throughout all eternity.
And one of the great endowments of Godhood is the ability to create; to form something where a void once existed. It would therefore seem reasonable that we should also have the opportunity to learn to use this great power of creation if we are suppose to be practicing for Godhood. However, it would also seem just as reasonable that such an opportunity would be very small in comparison to God's capability. And that is exactly what God has done. He has allowed each of us the right to create just one world, and one creature, so that we may have the opportunity to practice this particular attribute of Godhood.
But before we look at how we take advantage of this opportunity, we must first understand what it takes to be a creator.
In mortal life, there are many types of human creations. There is the creation of visual art in the form of paintings and sculptures. In the theater we see the creative ability displayed in acting, choreography, set-design, music, and in story telling. In agriculture, we see the ability to create new breeds of animals, and new strains of plant life. In business, we see the creation of an wide variety of products and new and inventive ways of marketing those products. Especially in these modern times, in the realm of science, we are witnessing an explosion of creative products that, only a few short years ago, were unimaginable. Whatever endeavor of human behavior we wish to discuss, whether it be machinery, clothing, mountain climbing, ship building, or anything else, we see man's ability to be creative and to form or fashion something new where there was nothing before.
But how does man do this? What are the common steps which produce any new creation?
There are several. First must come the idea. The major difference between those who have creative talents and those who do not, is that creative people have creative ideas. Thus, without an idea, there can be no creation. Ideas are the fertile ground in which creations grow. If the ground is unfertile, then there is nothing upon which to create something new. But ideas are merely thoughts. Therefore, it is our thoughts which influence our creations more than any other single factor.
The idea may start out as just the smallest or simplest of thoughts, but if it is to become a live creation, then the creator must infuse life into the thought. So the second step of any creation is to take that thought, no matter how large or how small, and expand it until it becomes all encompassing. That thought must be developed to the point where it includes every detail, every aspect, and every conceivable possibility of the finished product. Even though it's only in the realm of imagination, it nevertheless must become real to the creator's mind.
It has been said, that the difference between a dream and reality, is what we do with the dream. Therefore, the third aspect of creation involves work. There are so many people who take steps one and two, but then go no further. Therefore, such a creation exists only in their mind, but nowhere else. Obviously, this is not one of the characteristics of God. Imagine where the earth and our salvation would be if God was just a dreamer. God is a doer. God, the creator, is a worker. And often times, that work is hard and laborious, but without such efforts, a dream simply remains a wish.
But work alone is not sufficient to convert a dream to reality. The fourth aspect of creation requires knowledge coupled with skill. For centuries man had a dream of going to the moon, but until the technology (a fancy word for knowledge coupled with skill) was available, that dream could never become a reality. A person may work hard to build a dream house, but without the proper skills and knowledge of home construction, their strenuous efforts alone will never produce the results they desire.
To illustrate these four principles of creation, let's take the often used example of a potter and a lump of clay. Unless the potter has an idea of what to do with the clay, it will continue to remain a shapeless mass of material. Yet, it takes more than just a vague idea even to start forming the clay. The potter has to determine exactly what kind of a creation he wants to make, how big he wants it to be, which shape he wants it to have, and what kind of detail he wants to include in it.
Then, once all these particulars have been decided upon, the potter can begin work on his creation. But unless he possess the knowledge and skills of how to accomplish his goal, the lump of clay will never look like the image he has in mind.
And these are the same four steps which our Father in heaven uses to create worlds without number and creatures of infinite variety.
But how do we create a world? And how do we form even one creature?
Lehi explained, "And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon... Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other" (2 Nephi 2:14,16).
It has often been said that God is the potter and we are the lump of clay. That is true if viewed from a certain perspective. But if viewed from the perspective that we have been given the power to act for ourselves, then it can also be said that we are not only the clay but the potter as well. From this viewpoint it can be said that the one creature that we are allowed to create is ourselves. We have been given the latitude to make of ourselves anything we want. We can create a creature who is either an angel or a devil. We can create a creature who is industrious or lazy. We can create a creature who is honest or untrustworthy. In short, we can become whatever kind of creature we imagine ourselves to be because we have been given the freedom to act for ourselves.
The first step in this creation is to have an idea of what kind of a creature we want to make. When we are born, we have no idea what kind of a person we want to be, therefore we initially are guided and influenced (i.e., enticed) by our parents to conform to the image they have of us. As we begin to grow slightly older, however, we are enticed by our friends to become like them. And this process of people enticing us to become the type of person they think we should be continues all along our path to adulthood. It's sort of like we are the potter looking at a lump of clay, not quite sure what to do with it, while listening to the opinions of many people telling us how they think we should form the clay.
One of the voices we hear is God who seeks to influence us with His Spirit as well as through others who follow His direction. Satan also seeks to influence us through similar means. Yet, as much as both parties would like to make us do their bidding, we have been given the right to act for ourselves and to create whatever kind of creature we want to turn ourselves into. Although the creative ideas come from a variety of sources, each person slowly, but inevitably begins to develop and refine their own image of the kind of creature they want to create for themselves. We can decide to follow God's idea of what we should be like, or we can listen to Satan's suggestions, or we can create a creature that is a mixture of the two. And since no two people are alike, each one of us creates a creature that is unlike anyone else's.
The scriptures tell us, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). It is our thoughts which influence our creations more than any other single factor. What we think, what we choose to listen to, what we choose to read, and what we choose to fill our mind with provides the fertile material from which the creative ideas will influence the type of creature we desire to create. Then the more we dwell on those thoughts, the more we develop them, and the clearer and more detailed they become, the more those ideas are infused with life and become real in our minds.
But whatever creature we decide to create, it takes work to form and fashion it into the kind of being we have imagined. Many times people wish they would behave and act a certain way, but unless they put forth the effort to make that wish become a reality, it will remain only a dream. Those who have a specific idea in mind of what they want to become have to work hard to create a creature who will resemble the image that's in their mind. However, even for those who just follow the crowd, and who don't have any idea of what they want to become, they are still working on their creature one day at a time, but the end result is often one they aren't really happy with
The nice thing about clay is that as long as it hasn't become hardened, the potter still has the ability to change it's shape. As both the potter and the clay, we have the ability to change ourselves from one creature to another anytime we want. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the changeover is an easy task to accomplish. And, in fact, too often it's not. Most of the time, the attempt to change takes greater effort than what was needed to make the original creation. But there comes a time when the clay eventually hardens and when that happens, it becomes almost impossible to make any changes.
Yet, as hard as we may work on our creation, we must have the knowledge, coupled with the necessary skill to turn a lump of clay into a creature of beauty. There are those who have a dream of becoming a famous person, or a wealthy business man, or a great parent, or a godly individual, but unless the creator possesses the knowledge and the skill to properly form such a creature, their results will not match the desired goal. Thus, energy must also be expended to gain the knowledge and develop the skills necessary to achieve such lofty creations. Those who wish to imitate the creations of God, must study the Master potter and learn of His ways and seek His guidance as they build and form their own creature, for without such help, they will never achieve the desired results.
But once the creature is developed, the next step is to create a world for it to live in. Therefore, we must also create a world that will provide the creature everything it needs to remain alive and active. In order for the creature to flourish and grow, we must decide what kind of an environment we want to surrounded it with, what kind of other creatures we want it to associate with, what kind of food we want to provide for it, and many other details necessary for the creature's comfort and survival. We have been given the ability to create any kind of a world we want for ourselves. We are the ones who decide whether our world is to be a hostile one, or a peaceful one, a world of light and beauty or one that is ugly and filled with darkness. We are the creators and we can make our creature and the world it lives in according to the ideas that fill our thoughts.
To illustrate this, let's say someone wants to create a creature called the "successful business man." In order for this creature to remain alive and to grow, it must live in a world that provides it with the opportunity to fulfill its intended purpose. Therefore, it needs to be placed in a world of enterprise. This world must have an environment where it can thrive and advance toward its goals. This world must provide the necessary time allowed for the creature to accomplish its work. In this world, there must be other business men who also are seeking success in the same field of endeavor, who act as protectors and allies, as well as predators and competitors. This is the type of world a "successful business man" creature needs in order to survive.
However, for "farmers", or "engineers" or "scientists" there is a different world needed for each of these creatures, because each one has needs which are different from the others. A "farmer" needs a different environment in order to succeed than that of the "successful business man", or "engineer" or "scientist". Therefore, the person who creates a "farmer," must also create a world that will provide this creature everything it needs to develop their potential and be happy.
A "lazy" creature has its own particular needs. In order for it to survive as a "lazy" creature, it needs a place where it is not compelled to work, or to put forth much physical or mental energy. Therefore, a world must be created where there are few demands put upon it and where it can be content while doing very little. If it lived in a world of high responsibility, then this creature would either be forced to change its habits or it would perish.
The same is also true of those creatures called "god-fearing." They have different needs from those creatures called "worldly". Since "worldly" creatures very rarely congregate with "god-fearing" creatures, therefore they each must live in a different world which contains different atmospheres, different environments and different food if they are to survive according to the design of their creator.
But the choice is ours to create whatever kind of creature we want and whatever kind of world we want our creature to live in. We make all the decisions. We decide all the details. We put forth the energy to form and fashion something that is new and unique according to the ideas, dreams, desires and wishes of our own heart. These are truly our own creations. But both creations have to go hand in hand. What we do to the one affects the other. If we want to be an "celestial" creature, then we need to create a world for ourselves where such a creature can thrive and grow. But if we desire to form a "celestial" creature, we can't choose to create a "materialistic" world for it to live in and still expect our creature to survive.
One of the unique qualities of Godhood is the ability to create. As children of God, we have been given the power to create of ourselves any creature we want. And along with that capability, we are also given the power to create the kind of a world we want that creature to inhabit. Those who learn how to create creatures and worlds of righteousness will some day be given the expanded opportunity to create similar worlds and creatures without number throughout eternity. For those who have only learned how to build terrestrial or telestial creations, they will inherit for all eternity the world they have created and the creature they have made for themselves.