One of the more surprising differences between the Mormons and traditional Christianity has to do with The Creation and the existence of The Creator himself.
Christians along with Jews and Muslims believe that God the Creator has always existed and is outside of time and the creation that He made. Also, that everything else, including matter, all life and spirits, was created by a divine act of God The Creator:
Creatio ex nihilo, Latin for “creation out of nothing.“
However, Mormons believe that all matter is eternal and that God, along with all spirits of the Godhead, and what became humanity and angels (good & evil) are also eternal and ‘pre-existed’ in some form before ‘creation.’ According to their belief, God is part of everything that already existed and took the physical ‘elements’ or materials and ‘spirit elements’ already in existence to ‘create’ the earth, humanity, all other spirit beings, and all of the universe that we now observe:
It is an utterly false and uninspired notion to believe that the world or any other thing was created out of nothing or that any created thing can be destroyed in the sense of annihilation. “The elements are eternal.” –Mormon Doctrine pg 169
There is no such thing as immaterial matter…All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure…This spirit element has always existed , it is co-eternal with God. …”which was not created or made neither indeed can be.” –Mormon Doctrine pg 751
The teaching that all ‘elements’ were eternal began with a ‘revelation’ by Joseph Smith in 1833 (D.&C. 93) but was not clearly enunciated and defined until Joseph Smith’s ‘King Follett’ sermon in 1844 shortly before his death.
For a good understanding of the Evangelical Christian view on Creation, see: Grudem, Systematic Theology pgs 262-314
-“Mormon Doctrine“, by Bruce R. McConkie (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1979, 856 pgs) An important work, but not an official statement of LDS Church doctrine.
-(D. & C.)”Doctrine and Covenants” (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS) One of the LDS books of scripture.
-“Book of Mormon” (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS) One of the LDS books of Scripture.
-“Pearl of Great Price” (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS) One of the LDS books of Scripture.
-“Inspired Version” of the Bible ( Independence, Mo.: Herald House) Printed by the Community of Christ (RLDS Church).
-“Systematic Theology“, by Wayne Grudem (Leicester, Eng.:Zondervan Pub., 1994, 1264 pgs.)