S T A G E S   O F   T H E   E A R T H ' S   E X I S T E N C E

Gospel View

Earth                                           Earth   Earth Celestial
Terrestrial or              Earth      Terrestrial or   After Millennium
Paradisiacal                Telestial    Paradisiacal   ^
During the                  During             During   +--------------------
Creation                    Mortality      Millennium   +--------------------
^                           ^                       ^   | 
+---+---+---+---+---+---+- -+                       +---+
+---+---+---+---+---+---+- -+                       +---+
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7 | 1   2   3   4   5   6 | 7 |
 /                       /  +---+---+---+---+---+---+   Satan Loosed
Length of         Time in   +---+---+---+---+---+---+   For a Season
Creation Days      Garden   |               |       |
Illustrated As    Unknown   Fall of      Christ's   Second Coming of Christ  
1000 Years Each             Adam         Birth      Satan Bound

"What is a [creation] day? It is a specified time period; it is an age, an eon, a division of eternity; it is the time between two identifiable events. And each day, of whatever length, has the duration needed for its purposes.... There is no revealed recitation specifying that each of the 'six days' involved in the Creation was of the same duration.... It seems clear that the 'six days' are one continuing period and that there is no one place where the dividing lines between the successive events must of necessity be placed." (Bruce R. McConkie, "Christ and the Creation," Ensign, June 1982, 11.)

Scientific View

Big                           Formation                              Death of
Bang                           of Earth           Present             the Sun
^                                     ^           ^                         ^
20        16        12        8         4         0    Unknown Time Period
Time Periods Illustrate As Approximately Four Billion Years Each

The current scientific view is that the present order of nature extends back "approximately 20 billion years" (Big bang theory, American Heritage Dictionary, 2000) with the earth being "4.5 billion to 5 billion years old" ("Earth, in geology and astronomy," Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2004).

The Half and Half View

Some LDS scientists consider the scientific view superior to the gospel view as it applies to the past. Interestingly, many of these same scientists do not question the gospel view as it applies to the future.

In some ways, this is like arriving late to a play, missing the first act (the creation), and formulating an opinion of the first act based on the second act (mortality) instead of accepting the word of those who actually saw the first act.

Prophets have seen the creation (the first act) and have written about it. Moses, for example, "beheld the world and the ends thereof [and] cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God" (Moses 1:8, 27).

With respect to the first act (the creation), the voice of the Church for the past thirty years has been clear and unified and continuous. The creation was paradisiacal. There was no mortality. Death for all forms of life began when Adam fell.