Mans Spirit Eternal and Uncreated
Smith then goes on to lay the foundation of the LDS denial of creatio ex nihilo, creation out of nothing, the historic Christian belief that God did not create the universe out of pre-existing matter, but solely by His creative power and will.
Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God, and have not the gift of the Holy Ghost; they account it blasphemy in any one to contradict their idea. If you tell them that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow, and He is within me, and comprehends more than all the world: and I will associate myself with Him.
How does Smith deal with the assertion that God created the heavens and the earth, as well as man himself?
You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing; and they will answer, Doesn’t the Bible say He created the world? And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize;[fn] the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaoschaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end.
Here Joseph Smith clearly teaches the eternality of matter, and the idea that God does not create but instead organizes.It should be noted, then, that while Smith has said that God has not eternally been God, matter has eternally existed. Hence, matter pre-exists God in that God has not always been God!
At this point, then, Smith moves to the spirit of man. Note well what he says:
We say that God himself is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. (Refers to the old Bible.) How does it read in the Hebrew? It does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man. It says God made man out of the earth and put into him Adams spirit, and so became a living body. The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself. . . . I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it had a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had not beginning, neither will it have anend. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven. . . . But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the house-tops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself.
Mark well the assertion, God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. This flows from the idea that the intelligence of spirits is immortal and without beginning, and that God Himself is to be numbered amongst the intelligences that are co-eternal with Him. This is what Smith means when he says God . . . could not create himself. The equation is complete, in that God and man are one species, one kind, along the divine continuum, separated by time and exaltation, but not by being.
[fn] A quick glance at almost any recognized lexical source for the Hebrew language will show that Smith is in error. The term can be used in many ways, but in the Qal form it is used only of Gods activity, and hence carries great theological import. McComiskey, in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 1:127 notes that bara differs from yasar to fashion in that the latter primarily emphasizes the shaping of an object while bara emphasizes the initiation of the object. Later in his article he writes,
The limitation of this word to divine activity indicates that the area of meaning deliniated by the root falls outside the sphere of human ability. Since the word never occurs with the object of the material, and since the primary emphasis of the word is on the newness of the created object, the word lends itself well to the concept of creation ex nihilo,although that concept is not necessarily inherent within the meaning of the word.
Hence, Smiths assertion that bara means to organize is highly misleading at best, and downright erroneous at worst.