Those familiar with Mormon teachings about the creation of the earth will recognize that instead of only one (Biblical) account of the creation of the world, they recognize four: the one in the Bible, two in the Pearl of Great Price, and one given in the temples. The differences in these accounts make it difficult for Mormons to adhere to either strict biblical literalism or a Young Earth Creation theory. Since the scientific revolution beginning in the 16th century, there is a competing and purely secular account of creation given by scientists.
It is largely recognized by scholars that the account in Genesis is actually two accounts: The first of them, in Genesis 1 and 2:1-3, giving a seven days account, and the second, giving a more abbreviated account and focusing on the origins of mankind.
It has long been recognized that the account in Genesis is not strictly consistent with a scientific view of the world. The Earth is a sphere, not flat, and the blue of the sky is not water separated from the ocean and dry land by a transparent ceiling. Since plants depend on light, it seems out of order to have plant life created before sources of light (or for that matter, to have light before the Sun). However, before dismissing the Biblical account as nothing more than a version of ancient Middle Eastern mythology, there are other things to consider.
The account in the Book of Moses (in the Pearl of Great Price) was written by Joseph Smith, and is closely related to his translation, or revision, of the Bible. This closely follows the accounts in Genesis, with the difference that the “we” and “us” references in Genesis 1 are explicitly identified as God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, in accordance with Christian doctrine that represents Jesus Christ as the Creator. Moses specifies also that “all things” were created spiritually first, before they were created physically.
It is somewhat puzzling that the account of Moses (with its various scientific inaccuracies), should be presented as given by God, but there are two principles given elsewhere in scripture that may help account for this. One is the principle that God often speaks to men on the level of their understanding. (2 Ne 31:2) This suggests that God did not consider it necessary to give the ancient Israelites an accurate physical cosmology: other things were more important. Another is that God gives revelation a little at a time, not all at once. (2 Ne 28:30) The successive accounts of creation each add a little to our understanding of the process.
The account in the Book of Abraham, (also in the Pearl of Great Price), given by Joseph Smith later, is parallel to the accounts given by Moses, but in this case, instead of a single creator or a pair of them, reference is made to “the gods”, who are not further identified or specified: One could reasonably identify them as God the Father and his Son, but one could also legitimately include other beings as participants in the creation. It also specifically mentions “times” rather than days, and implies a lengthy process of setting up conditions for life and observing until the conditions were fulfilled. This account is far more compatible with a belief in biological evolution.
The fourth account, given in the temples, is the most compatible with modern scientific understanding: most notably in placing the creation of plant life after the appearance of the astronomical bodies.
However, the temple account is spiritual and religious in purpose, not primarily scientific. Its close similarity to the Genesis account suggests that that, too, was intended to be spiritual and religious, and may have accompanied the worship in the Israelite tabernacle and temple.
Much of the modern value of the creation accounts is that they establish that the earth was created, with and for a purpose, and did not arise by chance. They also establish that the earth, sea, sky, sun, moon, planets, plants, trees, animals, and mankind are creations of God, not gods themselves.
There is reason to suspect that those who look for Intelligent Design, conclusive proof that something could not have arisen by chance, are doomed to failure. It is hardly surprising either that a god of Nature should use natural means, or that the means that He uses look natural. Without knowing His purposes, it is impossible to tell whether what looks like an accident or random chance is purposeful or not. There is no fundamental incompatibility with Mormonism and genuine scientific understanding, but there may be a conflict with atheistic secular philosophy which is often mingled with science and sometimes confused with it.