The Bible tells us that "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said Let there be light and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness" (Genesis 1:1-4).
Since this scripture states that in the beginning the earth had no form and was void traditional Christianity understands this to mean that nothing existed until God created all things both in the heavens and on earth. And they also understand this to include the existence of even time and space itself. Therefore, when the Bible says "in the beginning" traditional Christianity understands this to mean that point in time when God caused everything (except Himself) to come into existence.
Of course that clearly implies that before this beginning event occurred nothing existed except God. And since the Bible teaches in numerous places and in various ways that God is eternal and that there is only one God, Christians conclude that God had existed all by Himself for untold eons of eternity before deciding at some point to create out of nothing everything that now exists.
However, this concept of God raises some interesting and perplexing questions. One such question is, what was God doing throughout eternity all by Himself before He decided to create something? After all, if there was nothing or no one else around but Himself for untold eons of time what was there for Him to do? And did He ever get lonely or bored?
This then leads to the question of what kind of Being God is. Most Christians cite John 4:24 which states that "God is a Spirit" and then conclude from this that a spirit is an indescribable kind of Being who has no bodily shape with parts such as a face, arms, legs, hands, feet, etc. Based on this definition they further conclude that God is some kind of an undefined essence that is so large He can fill the entire universe yet is so small that He can fit inside the human heart. Therefore, it is argued by some that since God is a Spirit that means He doesn't possess human emotions, which would therefore make it impossible for Him to become bored or lonely.
But if God doesn't have any shape then why does the Bible says He made us in His image (see Genesis 1:26)? The traditional answer is that that this verse doesn't mean God made our physical bodies to resemble what He looks like but rather it means that God made us in the image of His attributes such as love, hate, kindness, jealousy, patience, anger, compassion, mercy, and other passions that the Bible describes God as having. But if that is true then we would have to conclude that God can become bored and lonely because He created us with the same attributes He has.
However, there are others who say that God is in and part of everything He has created. If this is true then it can be said that God hasn't really created anything new because everything is, in reality, an extension of Himself. But this then raises another problem. The Bible tells us that in the beginning God said "Let us make man in our image." Who was God talking to when He made this statement? Some Christians say He was talking to His Son and to the Holy Ghost, while others say He was talking to the angels.
If God was talking to His Son and to the Holy Ghost that would seem to indicate there are three Gods. But that contradicts one of Christianity's most basic doctrines which teaches there is only one God. The way most Christians try to resolve this dilemma is by claiming there is indeed only God but that He is composed of three Persons. However, they can't really explain how that can be. They merely accept this premise by contending that it is a mystery which is beyond man's ability to understand. If we assume that such a belief is true, that means the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost could at least talk to each other when nothing existed but that still leaves unanswered the question of what did this three-in-one God talked to each other about for all eternity before they created everything in the beginning, seeing there was nothing to talk about?
There are some Christians who teach that God was talking to the angels when He said, "Let us make man in our image" but that explanation also has its own problem because the Bible indicates that angles are also spirits. If that is true then they must look just like God does since He too is a Spirit. Yet the Bible indicates that angels have a human form, which contradicts the assertion that God has no human form precisely because He is a spirit.
Traditional Christians counter this argument by saying that while angels are indeed spirits and do have human form yet they are not the same kind of Spirit that God is. The problem with this explanation is that it is not based on any verse of scripture found in the Bible. So what Christians do to resolve this problem is to rely on reasoning rather than on scripture to explain this contradiction. They conclude that since there is only one God who is eternal and since God created angels out of nothing then it is only logical to infer that angels must somehow be different than God. They further reason that since angels can only be in one place at a time yet God is omnipresent (meaning He is everywhere) that this is additional proof that angels do not look like God.
But this answer creates yet another problem for traditional Christians because it is not based on anything found in the Bible. So, while nearly all Christians firmly declare that what they believe is based only on what is contained in the Bible yet they nonetheless teach for doctrine things that are not found in the Bible.
But assuming their interpretation of the Bible may be correct, their explanation of angles raises more questions, such as, why did God create angels and when did He do it? Was it "in the beginning" of the physical creation of the earth and stars or, since they are spirits, were they created before physical matter was made? The Bible tells us there was a war in heaven where the rebellious angels were cast out (Revelation12:7-9) but was this before the beginning of creation or afterwards?
Although some may say such questions are unimportant, that is not entirely true. As we look at the story of creation as found in the Bible there is no mention of how, when, where, or why angels were created but in Genesis 1:1 it specifically states that we are about to be told how God not only created the earth but also the heavens. This would presumably include not only the universe of stars but also the place where God and angles live. However, the account in Genesis only tells us about the creation of the earth and the creatures who live on it, without making one mention of the creation of heaven where God lives nor about the creatures who live there. Therefore, we can rightly wonder why that is.
And this raises yet another intriguing question. When did God create the heaven where He lives? And did He create this place before or after He created the angels? According to the account in Genesis, the first thing God created was the earth. So did He create His own dwelling place after He made a place for man to live?
While the Bible gives us no answer to this question it does give us some idea of what heaven looks like. It tells us that God sits on a throne and that angels surround His throne singing praises to His name (Rev. 7). But how can God sit on a throne in the presence of angels if He has no form or shape and is omnipresent? The Bible further tells us that the place where God lives is a magnificent temple city where the throne of God is made of something that looks like emerald (Rev. 4:3), where the streets are paved with gold (Rev. 21:21), and is surrounded by a wall that has twelve foundations made out of twelve different precious gems with twelve gates made out of pearl (Rev. 21:12,14,19-21). Furthermore, Christians believe that this is where the saved will go to live with God forever for the rest of eternity.
If this is true, it raises another perplexing question. If neither heaven nor angels existed before God began His act of creation, then where did God live prior to the beginning of creation? If nothing existed before the "beginning" then obviously, God must have lived in nothingness. More than that, if He has always existed, then it is just as obvious that He was content to live in nothingness before He created heaven. However, the fact that God intends to live eternally in heaven after its creation seems to suggest He likes living there more than He did living in nothing, which further suggests that God has improved upon His own living condition. But if that is the case then that contradicts another belief that Christians have about God which is that He is perfect. If something is perfect then it is impossible to improve upon it. Therefore, if God has always been perfect then it was perfect for Him to live in nothing. However, if God has decided to live forever in a place He Himself has created "in the beginning" then such a place must be a better environment for Him than where He once lived before the beginning. If that were not true then God wouldn't need a heaven to live in.
But that then leads to another troubling question. The Bible mentions that before the beginning of creation there was nothing but darkness and that the first thing God created was light. From this we learn that God not only existed in nothingness before the beginning of creation but that He must have also existed in darkness. If this is not true then light must have existed before the beginning, in which case it would be untrue to say that God created light "in the beginning." Therefore, if God is perfect, then darkness is the perfect environment for Him to live in.
But the Bible tells us that when God saw this light that He created "in the beginning" He declared it to be "good." However, nowhere in the Bible does God call darkness "good." In fact, just the opposite is true. Throughout the Bible light is synonymous with goodness and righteousness while darkness is synonymous with evil or wickedness. Furthermore, the fate of the wicked is to be "cast out into outer darkness" (Matt. 8:12, see 22:13, 25:30). Yet, to follow the logic of most Christians they have to believe that God always existed in darkness before He created light. If darkness was an acceptable environment for a perfect God then it should be the perfect environment for everyone. Yet, according to the Bible, this is where the most imperfect people will be sent as punishment.
But the problem becomes more confusing when we realize that not only will God no longer live in nothingness but in a glorious heaven which He created for Himself but that this heaven will be filled with light. In speaking of heaven the scriptures tell us, "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof" (Rev. 21:23). If what traditional Christians believe about God is true, then it would seem that a perfect God lived in darkness from all eternity until He created light and then decided He would rather live in light for the rest of eternity and consigned the wicked to live in darkness.
Then there is another question. If a perfect God was content to live in nothingness from all eternity, then why did He feel the need to create anything in the first place? In other words, what was His purpose in creating the stars, moon, and earth with its plants and animals, including man?
When it comes to our sun and moon the answer is found in Genesis 1:14 which reads, "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years."
One of the purposes God had for creating the sun and the moon was so we could tell time. We determine the length of a year according to the revolutions of the earth around the sun and we determine months by the phases of the moon. We also determine days by the rising and setting of the sun and we can even determine the hours of a day by the height of the sun in the sky. The sun also provides warmth and therefore makes it possible for us to live on earth. If there was no sun or if it was too far away or to close to us then life, as we know it, could not exist.
But what about the stars? Why did God create them? It might be said that God created the stars so man could use them as navigational tools. And, indeed, sailors use the stars to chart their course over the seas. But that is not a completely satisfactory answer because God didn't need to create an infinite universe to do that. He could just as easily have placed light bulbs in the sky to create the same effect. In fact, in ancient times, it was believed that stars were pinpoints of light that hung down from a ceiling that covered the earth.
Then why did God make gigantic stars and spread them over billions of light years apart from one another if their only purpose was to be used for navigational purposes? But God made more than stars. He also made billions of galaxies that contain billions of stars in each one. Why? More than that, since placing the Hubble telescope in orbit, we have detected galaxies so far away that not even largest and most powerful modern telescopes on earth can see them. They why did God created such a vast and infinite universe filled with billions of galaxies when we can't even see most of them?
When we attempt to answer that question we must keep in mind that Christians believe that God is not only omnipresent but that He is also omnificent, meaning He is all knowing, all wise and all good. If that is true then whatever God does has to be for a wise and good purpose. And the converse of that is just as true. God doesn't do anything unless there is a wise and good purpose to it. Therefore, we must conclude that the reason God created the universe the way He did wasn't simply because it sounded like a good idea to Him but because there was a wise and intelligent purpose to such a design. But what is it? Unfortunately, traditional Christianity has no answer to that question.
And then there is the creation of plant and animal life, including the creation of man. What was God's purpose for making them? Traditional Christians answer this question by quoting the fourteenth chapter of Revelation which says, "And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth…Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (verses 2,3,7).
It from this and other similar scriptures that many Christian preachers base their teaching that God's whole purpose in creating angels, man and other animals is so God could have creatures surrounding His throne who do nothing else but glorify Him and sing praises to His holy name forever and ever. But if God lived all by Himself from all eternity before He created all of these creatures, obviously He doesn't need anyone's praise, unless we conclude that God got bored being by Himself and needed such creatures for His own sense of well-being. In other words, either God was content being all by Himself or we must conclude that at some point He decided to make billions of other creatures simply because He no longer like living alone and wanted someone around to constantly tell Him how great He was. Yet Christians strongly object to the idea that God got bored with Himself. If that is so, then why did God suddenly decide He needed creatures to sing praises to Him? Again Christians have no answer to this question.
More than that, the Bible tells us that this condition will last forever. That means, God has no intention of ever going back to living alone again. And that infers that God prefers this kind of a life over living in darkness by Himself. However, that answer can't be right because, as has been pointed out earlier, it is impossible for an eternally wise and perfect God to improve anything, including His own living conditions, yet that is what many Christians must believe if their understanding about God is correct.
And this leads to the next puzzling question about God. The Bible tells us that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Furthermore, the Bible also tells us that Jesus, the Son of God, was chosen and foreordained to be the Savior of the world before the creation of the earth ever began (1 Peter 1:20). That means, before God ever began His work of creation He already knew He was going to create a creature who would sin and rebel against Him. Therefore, before He made the first particle of matter He had already decided that His Son would offer Himself as a sacrifice for man's sins. Then why did God create such a sinful creature as man in the first place? More than that, why did He create literally billions of people who would be so bad that God would have to sacrifice His own Son in order to save them?
It has been said that when God created Adam and Eve they were perfect and sinless but that God also gave them the freedom to decide for themselves whether to obey and glorify Him or to disobey and rebel against Him. It has also been said that the reason God gave man the freedom to choose was because He didn't want robots but rather wanted creatures who willingly choose to worship Him. But He had already done that when He created angels, so what was His purpose in creating man when He knew from before the beginning that man would be so sinful?
Furthermore, man is the only creature who sins. Both science and the Bible agree that God has created millions of different kinds of animals who, according to the way some interpret the scriptures, will also spend eternity singing praises to God. Yet these beasts didn't sin, nor are they robots. So why did God deliberately create man knowing before the beginning of creation that he would sin and need to be redeemed by the death of God's own Son?
But the question is more complicated than that. According to the Bible, God formed man from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7) and it also tells us that man will eventually return to the dust from where he came (Ecc. 12:7). As He told Adam and Even, "[For] thou [shall] return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return: (Genesis 3:19).
The picture these scriptures paint is that God took a pile of dirt from the earth, fashioned it into the form of a human, much as a potter makes a clay pot, and made that form come to life. Then, when man dies, his body is placed in the grave where it once more turns into the elements of dirt. If that is true, then when Adam and Eve sinned against God in the garden of Eden, why didn't He simply turn them back into dirt right then and there and start all over again?
According to what traditional Christianity teaches, God allowed Adam and Eve to continue living in their sin and also left them with the commandment to have children. But in fulfilling that commandment, the children of Adam and Eve were condemned to be "born in sin," not through any transgression of their own but because of the transgression of their parents. That is to say, these children, all the way to our present day, are born with the inability to do anything but sin. As proof of this many Christians point to the scriptures which say, "Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalm 53:3), "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:15).
If Adam and Eve did commit such a grievous sin against God that condemned them to death and hell for all eternity, then why did God allow this condition to spread throughout the entire world by the begetting of billions of children born in sin over thousands of years? Why didn't God just stop the sin when it first occurred by destroying Adam and Eve and then immediately start the process all over again with another lump of clay?
To put this in perspective, imagine a doctor telling his patient that he had detected a small spot of cancer on the patient's liver. Any doctor who would deliberately allow that cancer to spread throughout their patient's entire body, which would eventually kill them, rather than immediately removing the cancer in its infancy would rightly be sued for malpractice and have their medical license revoked. Yet many Christians firmly believe that a wise and perfect God deliberately allowed the cancer of sin to spread throughout the entire world from Adam to his children thereby condemning billions of people to suffer a life of eternal damnation in hell when He could have simply removed the spot of cancer when it first appeared in Adam and thereby also saved His own Son from coming to earth to die a horrible death on the cross to correct the problem.
All of this presents us with yet another problem. The reward of the righteous is to live with God in heaven for all eternity while the wicked are cast out of God's presence. Yet, that is impossible if God is omnipresent. If God is everywhere then by definition that means God is also in hell, in which case the wicked will also spend eternity in the presence of God. But if we say that God is not in hell then we likewise have to say that God is not omnipresent. So we are left with a dilemma of trying to decide whether the wicked are cast out of the presence of God or not.
And why is God going to cast the wicked in hell? After all, if man was created out of nothing, then that means man did not exist before he was made. But why would a just and loving God create man out of nothing and then allow him to live forever in unimaginable and unspeakable torture? Wouldn't it be much more humane to simply make the wicked disappear by becoming non-existent as he was before the beginning?
Although there are some Christians who are of the opinion that when we die we cease to exist, that is not what the vast majority of Christians believe. Their most common belief is that man has an immortal spirit that will live forever either in heaven with God or in hell away from God. Yet, if God is a God of great mercy, love, and compassion, wouldn't it be more loving and compassionate to turn the sinner back into nothing rather than condemn them to an endless, horrific punishment?
These are just some of the problems that arise from the traditional view that Christians have about God and which the Bible does not give us any clear answers. However, that is not the case with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They do not believe that God is an indescribable Being who created everything out of nothing. They believe that God has a resurrected and glorified body and that our spirit and physical body has the same shape and form as His. They believe that all matter is eternal and that God took the existing matter and formed it into stars and planets. They teach that we are the literal offspring of God, born in heaven as spirit children and that we were the angels who shouted for joy when the cornerstone of the earth was laid (Job 38:7). They also teach that it was at that time when Satan rebelled against God and convinced one-third of the angels to follow him.
The LDS Church further teaches that God has created millions of earths like this one for a wise purpose and that this earth was designed especially for us to learn how to become like Him so we can return and inherit all that He has. It was for this reason that Adam and Eve had to fall from God's grace because it is only in this way we could learn to choose good over evil. If evil did not exist then neither could we know what good was nor would we know why it is necessary to choose one over the other. But because each of us chose to do evil from time to time, we have cut ourselves off from the presence of God. Therefore, because of His great love for us God sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins to make it possible for us to be cleansed from our sins and once more live in heaven, not as spirit children as we did before, but as mature, glorified, resurrected beings, knowing the difference between good and evil, just as our Father in heaven does (see Genesis 3:22).
In the first chapter of Genesis, "in the beginning" refers to the creation of this earth, not the creation of all matter, and that the "heaven" mentioned of in the first verse refers to the atmosphere of this earth rather than the entire universe or the place where God lives. When the scriptures say that the earth was without form and void, it is talking about this earth as it existed before its elements were brought together and formed into its present shape.
While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day believes the Bible is the word of God, it also believes it is not God's full and complete word. They teach that God has revealed His word to other people who did not live in the Palestine area of the world where the Bible was written and that these other inspired writings are just as much the word of God as is the Bible. They also believe that God still reveals His will to men through living prophets as He did in ancient times. Therefore, it is from these other scriptures and modern revelations that we can come to know the true character and personality of God. And it is only when we come to a correct knowledge of Him that we eliminate all these problems with God.