Selected Teachings on
Man was in the Beginning with God—
Intelligence is Eternal

D&C 93:29

Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.

Abraham 3:18

[S]pirits ... have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.

Joseph Smith (President)

The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal [co-eternal] with God himself…. I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man…. The intelligence of spirits had not beginning, neither will it 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. (History of the Church, 6:302-317)


The spirit of man is not a created being; it existed from eternity and will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be eternal; and earth, water, etc.—all these had their existence in an elementary state from eternity....

The Father called all spirits before him at the creation of man and organized them. (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 9; quoted in Maxwell, But for a Small Moment, p.92)

Joseph Fielding Smith (Quorum of the Twelve)

If the Lord declares that intelligence, something which we do not fully understand, was co-eternal with him and always existed, there is no argument that we can or should present to contradict it. Why he cannot create intelligence is simply because intelligence, like time and space, always existed, and therefore did not have to be created. However, intelligences spoken of in the Book of Abraham were created, for these are spirit children of God, begotten sons. (Answers to Gospel Questions [1963], 3:125)


Some of our writers have endeavored to explain what an intelligence is, but to do so is futile, for we have never been given any insight into this matter beyond what the Lord has fragmentarily revealed. We know, however, that there is something called intelligence which always existed. It is the real eternal part of man, which was not created nor made. This intelligence combined with the spirit constitutes a spiritual identity or individual. (Answers to Gospel Questions [1963], 4:127)

Neal A. Maxwell (Quorum of the Twelve)

Restoration correctives provide emancipating perspectives! The revelations, when “pressed down, and shaken together,” emphasize that man is, at once, an intelligence or spirit coeternal – but certainly not coequal – with God (see Abr. 3:18). Thus, doctrinally, we are positioned very differently, because “God is neither the source nor the cause of either moral or natural evil” [in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. (1992), 2:478].  God is thus the organizer of eternal intelligences, which can neither be created nor destroyed (see D&C 93:29). Furthermore, God will not coerce men since all intelligence is free to act for itself “in that sphere in which God has placed it. … Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man” (D&C 93:30–31). ( Ensign, Mar. 1998, 12-13)