Prophets or Evolution - An LDS Perspective

 

Chapter 3

 

The Creation

Official Church Views

 

 

  1 Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made;

  2 The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;

  3 I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me.

  4 I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.

D&C 38:1-4

 

 

The Creation of This Earth

 

The LDS church has a "creationist" doctrine, meaning the LDS church teaches that this earth was "created" by design and was not the result of an accidental explosion many billions of years ago.

 

There are five main categories of "creationist" views.

 

First, are those creationists who claim the entire Universe, including this earth and Adam and Eve, took God only 6 calendar days.

 

This version of creationism is contrary to LDS doctrine because members of the church have been taught that we are not the first planet in this Universe to have mortals on it.  Brigham Young taught:

 

He is the Father of all, is above all, through all, and in you all [see Ephesians 4:6]; he knoweth all things pertaining to this earth, and he knows all things pertaining to millions of earths like this."

Brigham Young (1998-1999 Priesthood/R.S. Manual - page 30)

 

The second version of the creation are those creationists who claim the creation of this earth and Adam Eve took only 6 calendar days, but they do not include in these six calendar days the creation of the Universe itself.

 

Third, are those creationists who claim that this earth and Adam and Eve were created in six thousand years, meaning a "day" in the life of God is equal to a thousand years to mortals (see: 2 Peter 3:8).

 

These first two or three camps of creationists, depending on which source you look at, are called the "Young Earth Creationists" or YEC.

 

These first three versions of creationism clash head-on with the views of most geologists and other scientists.  When the scientific community criticizes creationists with regards to the age of the earth, it is these three camps of creationists they refer to.

 

The fourth camp within the creationists interprets the term "day," as used in Genesis, to mean "phase."  Each "phase" refers to a flexible and unknown period of time.  In this camp the actual length of the creation could have taken millions of years or even billions of years.

 

The official doctrine of the creation, of the LDS church, does not directly fit into any of the above four categories and constitutes a distinct fifth category.

 

What makes the LDS version different is the inclusion of this verse in the book of Abraham:

 

  24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

Abraham 3:24

 

Note in this verse that it says Christ, and those who were with him, took of "these materials" to create the earth.

 

"These materials" represent matter which existed prior to Christ and his followers converting them into an earth on which plants, animals, and Adam and Eve and their descendants could live.

 

LDS doctrine does not state when Christ was given "these materials" or what "these materials" consisted of at the time they were given to Christ and His followers.

 

The age of the earth as proposed by current geologists and other scientists, is about five billion years old.  This age is in no way contradictory with LDS doctrine.  "These materials" could very well have been 5 billion years old before they were turned over to Christ and his followers.  Or Christ could have taken 5 billion years after He took control of "these materials" to create the earth.  Or some other combination of the age of "these materials" and the time it took Christ and His followers to create this earth could have happened.

 

The prophets of this dispensation have not elaborated on these two key words: "these materials" or the time period it took Christ and His followers to create the earth.  Only the order of the things created is given.  While the Book of Moses uses the term "day" for the sequential steps of the creation; the Book of Abraham uses the more general term "time" to describe the sequence of events in which this earth was created.

 

Whether the scientists are right or wrong about their estimates of the age of this earth is of no concern to the view of the creation of the earth by the LDS scriptures.

 

Now let us look at the next verse:

 

  25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

Abraham 3:25

 

In this verse a clear purpose for the creation of this earth is described.  In other words, the creation of this earth was part of a grand plan to give the children of God an opportunity to "see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."  To put it another way, this earth was designed to give the children of God an opportunity to choose between good and evil.  More will be said about this in later chapters.

 

Another point to be made is that Christ, and those who were with him, were still spirits before the creation of the earth.  Thus, spirits have intelligence.  Likewise, because we know there is ongoing missionary work in the Spirit World; we have another evidence that spirits have intelligence because both the missionaries and the listeners need intelligence in order for missionary work to occur.

 

Moses chapter 1 is the key chapter about God creating many worlds.  It is interesting that God does not focus on the creation of "stars" in Moses chapter 1; rather He focuses on the creation of "worlds" (e.g. see verses 33 and 35).

 

Astronomers focus on stars because that is what they see and because they do not know of any other inhabited planets.  But God focuses on worlds because His concern is for His children, not on how the worlds are illuminated and energized.  God spoke to Moses about "... many [worlds] that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them." (Moses 1:35).

 

 

The Book of Moses Account of the Creation

 

Now let us look at the big picture of the seven "days" (i.e. time periods) of the creation of the earth and all living things.

 

This is from Moses chapter 2.

 

  1 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest.

  2 And the earth was without form, and void; and I caused darkness to come up upon the face of the deep; and my Spirit moved upon the face of the water; for I am God.

Moses 2:1-2

 

In these versus it is clear that the "heaven" and the "earth" were created "by mine Only Begotten," who would be Jesus Christ.  Thus, Christ is said to be the creator, under the direction of the "Almighty God."

 

On the "third day" (versus 11-12) God created the grass, the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit, etc.

 

On the "fifth day" (versus 20-23) God created certain animals.  This included: "moving creatures" in the water, the fowls which fly above the earth, the whales, and the winged fowl.  On this day, only creatures in the water and creatures in the air were created.

 

On the "sixth day" (versus 24-25) the other animals were created.  This included: cattle, creeping things, beasts of the earth, etc.

 

Also on this "sixth day" (versus 26-29 especially) God created man, meaning Adam.

 

Now we go to Moses Chapter 3.  Chapter 3 starts out on the "seventh day."

 

  2 And on the seventh day I, God, ended my work, and all things which I had made; and I rested on the seventh day from all my work, and all things which I had made were finished, and I, God, saw that they were good;

  3 And I, God, blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it I had rested from all my work which I, God, had created and made.

Moses 3:2-3

 

While God rested on the seventh day, God also explains that everything He had created so far had only been created spiritually (note below: "for in heaven created I them"):

 

  5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;

  6 But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

  7 And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.

  8 And I, the Lord God, planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there I put the man whom I had formed.

Moses 3:5-8

 

In verse 5 (note that we are now in the seventh day) God notes that He "had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;"

 

Thus, after the end of day 6, every creature God had created, including mankind; had only been created spiritually and they were still living in "heaven."

 

Then in verse 6 God notes that a "mist" was provided to the earth.

 

The first thing God created physically, meaning physically on this earth, was Adam (verse 7).  However, in verse 8 it clarifies that the Garden was created before Adam because it states: "And I, the Lord God, planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there I put the man whom I had formed."  God does not clarify what plants, and possibly animals, were put in the "garden eastward in Eden" prior to putting Adam into the garden.

 

In verse 9 God physically creates all of the plants and animals (perhaps meaning the plants and animals which were not put in the garden).

 

In verse 17 the definition of "day" is given, namely a thousand years.  The context of this verse is that "in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."  This prophesy was fulfilled because Adam died prior to living to a thousand years.

 

Also, in verse 19 it clarifies that "every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air" were created "out of the ground."  It also says these things had "living souls."

 

  19 And out of the ground I, the Lord God, formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and commanded that they should come unto Adam, to see what he would call them; and they were also living souls; for I, God, breathed into them the breath of life, and commanded that whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that should be the name thereof.

  20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but as for Adam, there was not found an help meet for him.

Moses 3:19-20

 

These animals had been previously created spiritually.  Because these animals were named by Adam, in the Garden of Eden, it is not clear whether the animals were created as part of the Garden or Eden, or they were created after Adam was put into the Garden of Eden (verses 19-20).

 

Then, in verses 21 and 22 Eve is created physically:

 

  21 And I, the Lord God, caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and he slept, and I took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof;

  22 And the rib which I, the Lord God, had taken from man, made I a woman, and brought her unto the man.

  23 And Adam said: This I know now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.

Moses 3:21-23

 

Thus, in summary, all living things were first created spiritually in "heaven" in this order:

1) Plants (Day 3)

1) Those animals which lived in the waters and in the air (Day 5)

2) The rest of the animals (Day 6)

3) All human beings (Day 6)

 

Then, in Day 7 God created these things physically, in this order:

1) The Garden of Eden,

1) Adam

2) The rest of the plants (or were some or all of them part of the creation of the Garden?)

3) The animals (or were some or all of them part of the creation of the Garden?)

4) Eve

 

The account in the Book of Moses is very different than the account in the Bible.  In fact, the account in the Book of Moses was the original account.  The account in the Bible is the original account after it had been changed by errors in transcription, errors in translation, lost sections and/or by intentional changes.

 

Note that Chapter 1 of the Book of Moses is not in the Bible at all.  It had been removed either by error or intentionally.  The first chapter of Moses will be discussed in a future chapter.

 

The Book of Moses was first published in 1831, 28 years before Darwin's The Origin of Species.  Thus, the church was not reacting to Darwin's claims by publishing this book.

 

A person would say that the account in the Book of Moses does not agree with the data of scientists, who claim that dinosaurs and other creatures lived on this earth long before any human beings (i.e. Adam and Eve).

 

Dinosaurs, and other extinct species, will be discussed in another chapter.

 

Also note in the Book of Moses that Eve was the "mother of all living," meaning that all human beings are descended from Adam and Eve (Moses 4:26).

 

As a final note to this section on the Book of Moses; based on the scriptures and by statements of prophets in this dispensation; it is certain that the premortal world is not part of the account of the creation of this world, as mentioned in the scriptures.  In other words, it is certain that the preexistent world existed long before the creation of the earth even began.

 

One evidence for this is that when Christ went down to create the earth, he was already alive as a spirit, as were others whom He took with him (see Abraham 3:24, mentioned above).  These others would have already been living in the premortal world.  Thus, the preexistent world preceded the creation of this earth and is not part of the seven thousand years mentioned for the creation of the earth.

 

But do not forget that Christ took of "these materials," of which we know nothing.

 

 

The Book of Abraham Account

 

Abraham lived before Moses and Abraham received his understanding of the creation through the Urim and Thummin, which was a device which allowed a prophet to behold great things.

 

Here are some passages from Abraham, chapter 3:

 

  1 And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees;

  2 And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it;

  3 And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.

  4 And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord's time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.

. . .

  8 And where these two facts exist, there shall be another fact above them, that is, there shall be another planet whose reckoning of time shall be longer still;

  9 And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord's time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.

Abraham 3:1-4, 8-9 [Abraham]

 

The location of Kolob and the throne of God is, of course, unknown.

 

Abraham not only saw the stars, but also the spirits of people before they came to earth.

 

  18 Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.

  19 And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.

. . .

  22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

  23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

Abraham 3:18-19, 22-23 [Abraham]

 

With regards to the actual creation of the earth, this is what Abraham was shown (versus 24 and 25 have already been mentioned):

 

  24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

  25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

  26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.

Abraham 3:24-26 [Abraham]

 

Verse 26 expounds on versus 24 and 25.

 

The Book of Abraham also describes the war in heaven, which took place in the preexistent world where we all lived:

 

  27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.

  28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.

Abraham 3:27-28 [Abraham]

 

In chapter 4 the creation begins.  Note that in the account of Abraham the term "Gods" is used.  Note these versus from chapter 4:

 

  1 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.

  2 And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.

  3 And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.

  4 And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.

  5 And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night. And it came to pass that from the evening until morning they called night; and from the morning until the evening they called day; and this was the first, or the beginning, of that which they called day and night.

Abraham 4:1-5 [Abraham]

 

The "Lord" is the Savior, who actually created the earth and all that is on the earth.  However, when the scripture is talking about "the Gods" it is not clear who He was referring to.

 

The rest of the account of the creation, in the Book of Abraham, is similar enough to the Book of Moses that it will not be repeated.

 

 

The Official LDS Position - 1909

 

In the LDS church, formal pronouncements of the First Presidency are considered church doctrine.  In 1909, the First Presidency of the church issued a formal statement on the church's position on the creation.

 

This same statement was republished in the February, 2002 Ensign and can be found online on the "www.lds.org" website.

 

The vast majority of the quote is related to Adam and Eve and their descendants (which includes all humans).

 

We will start by looking at the statement of the 1909 First Presidency:

 

Quote #1:

  It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declared that Adam was “the first man of all men” (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our Heavenly Father.

The Origin of Man, Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 75–81

 

Thus, it is clear that the official position of the LDS church is that Adam and Eve were not descended from lower animals, meaning they were not created by a series of accidents (i.e. "evolution") or by God controlling the mutations of the DNA of lower animals, as the next quote further clarifies.

 

Quote #2:

  True it is that the body of man enters upon its career as a tiny germ embryo, which becomes an infant, quickened at a certain stage by the spirit whose tabernacle it is, and the child, after being born, develops into a man. There is nothing in this, however, to indicate that the original man, the first of our race, began life as anything less than a man, or less than the human germ or embryo that becomes a man."

The Origin of Man, Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 75–81

 

In this quote it is stated that Adam (and presumably Eve as well), either began his life as an adult male (and Eve a female) or as a human germ or embryo.  Either way, Adam (and Eve) were directly created by God and were not descended from lower animals.

 

The LDS church views a human being as a combination of a spirit body and a physical body.  The spirit body is literally the offspring of God.

 

Quote #3:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, basing its belief on divine revelation, ancient and modern, proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity. God Himself is an exalted man, perfected, enthroned, and supreme. By His almighty power He organized the earth and all that it contains, from spirit and element, which exist coeternally with Himself.

. . .

  Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of [progressing] into a God."

The Origin of Man, Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 75–81

 

There is a lot in this quote, but one of the things it states is that the spirit of a human being is literally the offspring of God: "proclaims man to be the direct and lineal offspring of Deity."

 

This quote also makes it quite clear that we, being literal children of God, have the capacity to become like our Father in Heaven: "... even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of [progressing] into a God."

 

With regards to plants and animals, there is but one paragraph on this issue:

 

He formed every plant that grows and every animal that breathes, each after its own kind, spiritually and temporally—“that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal, and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual.” He made the tadpole and the ape, the lion and the elephant, but He did not make them in His own image, nor endow them with godlike reason and intelligence...

The Origin of Man, Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 75–81

 

This clearly states that all animals were created spiritually and temporally.  In other words, animals have a spirit.  Life needs the spirit.  This excludes any possibility for the theory of evolution to be compatible with LDS doctrine.

 

 

Prophetic Comment

 

President John Taylor (LDS church president: 1880 - 1887) wrote, prior to the above 1909 statement:

 

"The animal and vegetable creations are governed by certain laws, and are composed of certain elements peculiar to themselves. This applies to man, to the beasts, fowls, fish and creeping things, to the insects and to all animated nature; each one possessing its own distinctive features, each requiring a specific sustenance, each having an organism and faculties governed by prescribed laws to perpetuate its own kind. So accurate is the formation of the various living creatures that an intelligent student of nature can tell by any particular bone of the skeleton of an animal to what class or order it belongs.

 

These principles do not change, as represented by evolutionists of the Darwinian school, but the primitive organisms of all living beings exist in the same form as when they first received their impress from their Maker. . . . If we take man, he is said to have been made in the image of God, for the simple reason that he is a son of God; and being his son, he is, of course, his offspring, an emanation from God, in whose likeness, we are told, he is made. He did not originate from a chaotic mass of matter, moving or inert, but came forth possessing, in an embryotic state, all the faculties and powers of a God. And when he shall be perfected, and have progressed to maturity, he will be like his Father -- a God; being indeed his offspring. As the horse, the ox, the sheep, and every living creature, including man, propagates its own species and perpetuates its own kind, so does God perpetuate his."

President John Taylor

 

Most people would be shocked to find out that God has children.  Others would be shocked to find out that we are his children!!

 

Can it be any more clear that each species on this earth was created directly and independently and started with perfect DNA?  President Taylor, the book of Abraham and the book of Moses all make this very clear.  No species was ever derived from another species.

 

But far more importantly, the literal truth is that we; as the literal children of God, have the potential to be like God, our parent.

 

 

The Rest of the Creation

 

The creation of the earth, Adam and Eve, and the plants and animals was not the end of the creation.  Other very important events had to happen before the human race could get started.

 

While Adam and Eve existed, at this point, they were pure and innocent and knew nothing about sin.

 

This is Lehi, speaking to his son Jacob, though he uses the term "sons":

 

  14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

  15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.

  16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself.  Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

  17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.

  18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.  Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.

2 Nephi 2:14-18 [Lehi]

 

In other words, the creation, by itself, was not sufficient to get the human race started.  To fulfill God's plan, opposition (i.e. the choice to choose between good and evil), had to be part of the plan.

 

  28 And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten: Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil; and now lest he put forth his hand and partake also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever,

  29 Therefore I, the Lord God, will send him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken;

  30 For as I, the Lord God, liveth, even so my words cannot return void, for as they go forth out of my mouth they must be fulfilled.

  31 So I drove out the man, and I placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.

Moses 4:28-31 [Lord God]

 

It was the intent of God to expose Adam and Eve to sin, just like all of us who have achieved accountability have been exposed to sin.  Thus, God allowed satan to tempt Adam and Eve while still in the garden.

 

While this might seem like a fairy tale to those who believe in evolution, it makes perfect sense because God Himself cannot tempt any man to do evil.  Thus, satan was allowed to tempt Adam and Eve.

 

The key here is that God cannot tempt a person to do evil.  Thus, since God had created Adam and Eve, an outside party had to come forth to tempt them.  Satan, who desires the destruction of all mankind, was thus allowed to tempt Adam and Eve.

 

  19 And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth.

  20 And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth.

  21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men.  For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.

2 Nephi 2:19-21 [Lehi]

 

When Adam and Eve transgressed, they were cast out of the garden.  But this was all part of God's plan.  There was a plan to remove their sins from them (and that plan was the atonement of Christ), on the condition of repentance.

 

But another part of the plan was that Adam and Eve, being cast out of the garden, would be given many opportunities to choose between right and wrong.  If they chose the right, and they were given a chance to repent, then the atonement could be put into effect and they could eventually return to God.

 

  22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden.  And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

  23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

  24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

  25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

2 Nephi 2:19-21 [Lehi]

 

The purpose of life is to have joy (see the last verse), but we cannot appreciate joy until we understand misery, and we cannot comprehend "good," until we understand evil.  This does not mean we have to choose evil to understand evil.  Nevertheless, all people who achieve accountability do commit sin.

 

Adam and Eve, once removed from their state of innocence, were allowed to progress and return to God, but in a state of much greater knowledge and understanding.

 

  26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.  And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

  27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.  And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

2 Nephi 2:19-27 [Lehi]

 

Because of God's plan, we are free to choose between good and evil.  In other words, because of the atonement, our choices, whether good or bad, can result in joy or misery, respectively.

 

Thus, Adam and Eve were central to the transition between being in a state of innocence (i.e. in the garden) and allowing all mankind to have a choice between good and evil.

 

Had Adam and Eve not partaken of the fruit, all of use would have been stopped in our progression and we would all still be living in the preexistent world.

 

Thus, the creation of the earth included a plan to allow each of us the opportunity to choose between right and wrong and to allow us the choice to repent when we choose the wrong.

 

The Garden of Eden was a key part of the overall Plan of Salvation.