Lately I’ve been enjoying some conversations about science and religion with Church members who are involved in various scientific fields and endeavors. Like them, I believe religion and science are more closely connected than we now know; and I disagree with scientists who say you can’t believe in God if you want to accept science. Phooey. (Those who claim that are probably too closed minded to even be in the scientific field. We all know any scientist worth his salt would never throw out any possibility.)
The other day, as I was doing some scientific and doctrinal research into the history of the world and its future, I made a startling, yet comforting realization.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know that when God created the earth it was in a paradisiacal or terrestial state. Not fully glorified, but pretty close. Then Adam fell and that affected everything. (We also know that no choice affects you and you alone.) At that time the earth also ‘fell’ and became the telestial world we now know.
So here we all are: telestial bodies living on a telestial world.
Latter-day Saints also understand that when Christ comes again the world will “be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.” (See 10th Article of Faith.) Again, not fully glorified, but pretty close. During that time men on earth, under the direction of the Savior, will work hard to burn the leftovers of war, beat their swords into plows and restore the earth to its Edenic state. It will take time, years, to restore what was lost and fix the damage done.
Then, following this millennium of time, peace and work--and after a final test of conviction to the Lord--the earth will then pass away “and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.” This ‘new earth’ shall be our earth in its glorified “sanctified, immortal and eternal state.” (See Revelations 4, D&C 29:22-24 and D&C 77.)
Can you see a familiar pattern there? The earth existed in God’s presence--not yet glorified but pretty good. It fell and left His presence, becoming a telestial sphere. Christ will return to the earth to help restore the earth to a higher state—not yet glorified but pretty good. Then, when all things are ready, the earth will finally be glorified.
It has taken, and will continue to take, quite a bit of time to get the earth glorified. In fact, you could say the creation of the earth still is not complete. It’s an ongoing process.
Now, people quibble over the age of the earth depending on whether they view the earth scientifically or Biblically. (And even those who believe in the Bible quarrel about the length of the creative period: was it six literal days or six figurative days?)
But the age of the earth really doesn’t matter. What matters is the lesson we learn from the earth and the hope it can give us. However you look at it, the earth has been in existence for a tad bit longer than my 48 years and it still is not glorified! It is still a work in progress.
Now, if the earth has been given that much time and even promised the personal help of the Savior to get it sanctified and ready to meet God, doesn’t the same truth apply to you and me? The worth of souls in great in the eyes of the Lord. We are His greatest creation! His entire work is directed at helping us become glorified; and He obviously plans for it to take a bit longer than 48 years.
We don’t have to be perfect now. Our children and spouses don’t have to be perfect now. Neither do our neighbors. We just need to keep heading in that direction and appreciate the pattern He lovingly and quietly shared with us when He placed us on this wonderful, very long-term, work in progress we call Earth. The Earth is our testimony of hope.