I’m really trying to get some some clarification on this: in the scriptures (Moses, Abraham, Book of Genesis) the lights in the firmament were created and placed on the fourth day. In another place (non scriptural) it says they were created on the third day. Why is there a major discrepancy between the temple and scripture? I’ll be honest it is shaking my faith some because it makes me feel like none of it can be trusted.
You’re talking about three narratives that can take anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes to recount. Could the complexity of Creation truly be encapsulated in such arbitrary divisions in such a brief narrative? Of course not. So, obviously, this was a difference in literary methodology, not because of attempts at historical accuracy. And there is quite a bit of symbolism here. This is a common thing for scriptures and many semi-historical works. They will give differing accounts to focus on different messages using different literary devices. And when we have different authors, we also must account for different writing styles and personal points of view.
The four gospels all give differing accounts of the life of the Savior. They agree on the overall story. But they do disagree on many little details. In fact they even disagree on some chronology just as the differing accounts of the days of creation do. They also disagree on some details of miracles and words the Savior spoke. Perhaps they should all be deemed untrustworthy? I’m sure you know better than that.
Jesus’ last supper was to be the Passover meal. It was only after Passover that he was crucified. But the Book of John gives the account that Jesus died on the feast of the Passover. Symbolically, he was the lamb to be slaughtered for the Passover. But the other accounts did not use that symbolic language. They wrote what they believed to be an accurate account for that one segment of the story. And they declared that he ate a Passover meal and was crucified after.
In the same way, the Temple ceremony is full of symbolism. The sequence of creation isn’t supposed to be historical. The true chronology of creation is far beyond the scope of a short ceremony. It was written, not as a historical record, but as a literary device designed to teach a point. And that point differs from the central focus of Moses’ and Abraham’s accounts. Because of the sacred nature of the temple, I won’t go over what that point is on an open forum such as this. But you can ask your temple president about it the next time you visit the temple. But this same sequence (the point it makes) is repeated throughout the ceremony many times. As a hint, consider what happens during the creation story in the temple of which there is no mention in the Moses account, and only a partial mention in the Abraham account (the Abraham account also teaches different principles than the Moses account).
The Genesis and Abraham accounts were also not an attempt at the actual chronology of creation, but to show the general stages of projects. The stages are:
- Create framework: categorize/separate/organize (light and dark were separated ; waters were separated from waters — i.e. sky and sea ; water separated from dry land)
- Multiply & Replenish/Fill (sun, moon, stars fill the sky ; creatures fill the water and sky ; land creatures fill the land)
- Complete the project: man is created to have dominion over all.
- Have joy and give glory to God. (Rest on the Sabbath and recognize the beauty of the earth that the Lord has provided. Give glory to him for such creation)
Notice that plants are on the earth before the sun shines in the sky. This is obviously not supposed to be literally sequential.
As we consider the temple account, there is obviously some overlap with these. But the temple message is supposed to be different. Thus it has a different narrative. There are additional levels and poetry involved in all the accounts. And as we delve into these differences, the overall story carries much more meaning than is obvious from a superficial reading.
Pray, read the Book of Mormon. Read the Pearl of Great Price. Attend the temple regularly, and you should be able to pick up on why they are different.