For background on this post, please first read Lehi’s model of the universe. This article begins where that one left off.
creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing)
Everything originally came from outer darkness, or out of the lake of fire and brimstone, into the inner light or sphere which is the kingdom of God (the created Universe.) Everything in the created Universe (the sphere) has agency.
All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. (D&C 93: 30)
This means that everything placed by God within the sphere of light exists, while everything without the sphere of light (in outer darkness) has no existence. In other words, what exists outside of the sphere of light? Nothing exists outside of the sphere of light. The sphere of light is all there is. There is nothing else outside of it. And yet, it is just from this “nothing” that God created the Universe and it is from this “nothing” that He is continually expanding His kingdom, for the sphere is growing.
Existence, as used in the above scripture, does not mean life. It does not mean that within the sphere of light things are alive and outside of it things are dead. Instead, existence means “the state or fact of having being especially independently of human consciousness and as contrasted with nonexistence.” A dead thing, after all, although dead, still exists. However, an empty spot, in which there is nothing there, has “no life neither death,” which is Lehi’s description of what is found outside of the sphere of light, meaning that an endless void is out there.
Creatio ex nihilo, therefore, is a true doctrine, as God created (past) the whole created Universe from that which does not exist (the “nothing”) and is continuing (present) to expand His Universe by creating more Universe from that same “nothing.” This creative act out of “nothing” will continue on forever (future).
Note: more information concerning this non-existent state outside of the sphere of light can be found in the article Lehi’s model of the universe. That article described the “nothing” in terms of a material or an existence. Nevertheless, in actuality, there was nothing out there, not any substance, material or existence. Each time you read in that Lehi article the words exist, existence, substance, material, compound or any other term that indicates some type of material or thing in regards to outer darkness, it should be read as if there were quotation [“”] marks around it.
Also, the Lord makes it plain that if there is no agency, there is no existence, therefore all things inside of the sphere of light have agency and existence, whereas outside of the sphere of light—which is the location known as outer darkness—there is no agency and no existence, in other words, there is nothing. Agency is a gift of God given to us at the moment we came into existence (when we entered the sphere of light from outer darkness.) When the Lord states “otherwise there is no existence” it presupposes that there are things that exist (on the one hand) and that there is also nonexistence (on the other hand), in other words, that there is an opposition in all things, including the state of existing and not existing. Not existing is just as real as existing is and by giving us His definition of what are things that exist (independent truth and intelligence placed by God within the sphere of light and given agency) God has also given us the key in determining where such nonexistence is located (outer darkness.) For a more in-depth treatise on agency, see The role of free agency in political systems, as well as The faith of God, part ten: The relationship of faith to agency (power) and Deep Waters: What would have happened if Lucifer had won the vote? )
Lastly, all truth and intelligence placed in the sphere is independent, meaning that these are individual bits, or individuals. Outside of the sphere, the void is a single mass, with no individuality or independence. Inside, the Universe is made up of independent individuals.
creatio ex materia (creation out of pre-existent matter)
The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth; and no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things. Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation. For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; and when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy. The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple. The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. Light and truth forsake that evil one. Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth. But verily I say unto you, my servant Frederick G. Williams, you have continued under this condemnation; you have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction. (D&C 93: 26-42)
There are but two fundamental materials that make up the created Universe: spirit and element. The scriptures call these two materials by different names according to what aspect of the material is being described. And so we have fire (spirit) and brimstone (element), light (spirit) and truth (element), intelligence (spirit) and truth (element), wisdom (spirit) and knowledge (element), that which acts (spirit) and that which is acted upon (element). We also have Spirit of truth (spirit of element) as well as descriptions of intelligence as both the light of truth (spirit of element) and light and truth (spirit and element). (It is interesting to note that the scriptures never speak of truth of light or truth of spirit [both element of spirit], only of light of truth and spirit of truth [both spirit of element].)
The term “intelligence” throws everyone off. For most LDS, when asked what an intelligence is, according to the scriptures, they would probably say it is the third part of us that is neither spirit nor element, that is our fundamental being, and which is neither created nor made but exists from all eternity. This definition, of course, is an invention on their part, as the scriptures do not describe a third part of our being. The scriptures only describe two parts of us: spirit and element. The reason why the word “intelligence” is so confusing is that the Lord uses it to mean more than one thing, even in the above quoted scripture.
Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. (D&C 93: 29)
Intelligence, in this sentence, is referring to the “nothing” that has no existence located in outer darkness. It is the compound-in-one, good-for-nothing “substance” described by Lehi and referred here by the Lord as intelligence. (It is useful to refer to “nothing” intelligence as a “substance,” although a substance would technically be something. Just keep in mind that I’m not actually saying it is a substance when I use the term “substance.”) This “nothing” intelligence has no purpose and cannot be created or made, as it would destroy God and His purposes were He to create nothing (“something” that has no purpose according to Lehi.) This “nothing” intelligence is also described as the “light of truth,” which allows us to understand that it is the compound-in-one substance from which the light (spirit) part was extracted from the truth (element) part, in the godly splitting operation which continuously makes an opposition in all things at the lake of fire and brimstone.
All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. (D&C 93: 30)
Intelligence in this sentence refers only to the spirit material that is split from the compound-in-one “nothing” intelligence. Truth (element) and intelligence (spirit) are then the fundamental building materials, preexisting prior to the creation (formation or organization) of the Universe. This process is creatio ex materia and is ongoing as the Universe both expands and is re-organized into its various stages of development.
There are two other uses of the word “intelligence.” One meaning is of a spirit body, such as the spirit bodies of men, which were “organized before the world was.” (See Abraham 3: 22.) Another meaning of intelligence is “something” intelligence, as opposed to “nothing” intelligence:
The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. (D&C 93: 36)
Whereas the “nothing” intelligence is the light of truth, the “something” intelligence is light and truth. To recap: the “nothing” intelligence is the original “nothing”, namely, spirit and element compounded into one “substance,” good for nothing, not existing, and found outside the sphere of light in a region called outer darkness. This “nothing” intelligence cannot be created or made by God (or anyone else.) Creatio ex nihilo occurs at the lake of fire and brimstone whereby this “nothing” intelligence is split into two fundamental materials: spirit and element (or light and truth). This creates the opposition in all things. It is now “something” intelligence, meaning, it has purpose, existence, agency and can be useful for constructing or organizing an entire Universe (creatio ex materia.)
creatio ex deo (creation out of the being of God)
There are two ways or senses in which all things were and are created out of the being of God. One is that everything came from the same nothingness, the “nothing” intelligence, including God:
Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. (D&C 93: 29)
The “beginning” referred to in this scripture is the very first beginning, when we were part of the compound-in-one “nothing” intelligence that cannot be created or made. We were there, in our uncreated nothing state, and God was there, too, in His uncreated nothing state. We were all as one body. We did not exist as individuals, but as part of a single mass of nothingness, and in fact, we did not exist at all. A portion of this mass was brought out of outer darkness before us, becoming the individual we now know as God. Thus, God was brought out first. Then, later, He brought us out along with all of the rest of the created Universe, so that we now all exist as individuals. But keep in mind that originally, we all were part of the same whole, the same mass of nothingness, including God. Thus, as the “nothing” intelligence literally was/is a part of the being of God and we were/are a part of it, too, creatio ex deo is a true doctrine.
Another way we are created out of the being of God is through the Light of Christ. The Light of Christ is the (extended) body of God. Through it He is able to both be in one single location at a time and also everywhere at once (omnipresent). Although the Light of Christ is a creation of God, it has been endowed with all of His vast powers, knowledge and all other attributes in their fullness. This is one of the reasons why the Light of Christ is indistinguishable to modern Christians from the real God that created it. Nevertheless, as it is the arm of His power, extended throughout the Universe, it can be considered an extension of His very being, allowing Him to be both the one and the infinite at the same time. It is the Light of Christ that has organized (creatio ex materia) and that maintains the entire Universe. In this sense, creatio ex deo is a true doctrine:
Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John. This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom; which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—he that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; as also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; and the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things. (D&C 88: 3-13)
God does it all
To summarize, God splits the nothingness of outer darkess into its two component parts, spirit and element, bringing the single-mass nothingness (singular intelligence) into individual somethingnesses (a plurality of intelligences), from nonexistence into existence, placing the individual spirit and element bits within the growing sphere of light (the created Universe) and granting both components agency. This creative act occurs at the lake of fire and brimstone, is in reality creatio ex nihilo and is ongoing. As the singular nothingness was/is part of the being of God, this creative act is also creatio ex deo.
Once inside the sphere of light, split into spirit and element and granted agency, God organizes these fundamental bits into spirit and physical bodies. This creative act is creatio ex materia and is ongoing. As the Light of Christ is (essentially) part of the being of God (an extension of Him) and as we are organized (created) by and of the Light of Christ, it being in us, powering us and maintaining us (and all other things), this creative act is also creatio ex deo.
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