I love your wonderful, well-thought-out answers to gospel questions. I just wanted to bounce an idea off of you, concerning your response to the person who wrote in about the dinosaurs and creation. One of the scientific truths I was taught in school states that matter can neither be created or destroyed. I believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know every scientific truth and work within the parameters of those truths (even in ways that we do not yet know or understand). In all the accounts of the Creation that we have, it is always mentioned that there is matter there that has been previously unorganized. I think it is quite possible that the earth may have existed IN ANOTHER FORM, where dinosaurs lived and flourished. When they were destroyed (as some believe by an asteroid hitting the earth), it is possible that the old earth sat out there in space for quite some time before Father decided to use it again for something else. What would be your opinion?
There are two or three points to discuss in regards to your question. I always find it curious that people in general have more faith in the university professors than they do in the prophets of God. You speak of the scientific TRUTHS that you have been taught in school. Believe me, there is no such thing as scientific truth–all university professors to the contrary not withstanding! There is, however, scientific THEORY. A scientific theory changes to a law when it receives general acceptance in the scientific community. It is then taught as a scientific truth. The laws of science have been proven to be wrong time and time again. One of the early laws of science, for instance, was that all matter consisted of four elements–earth, water, air and fire. We could even cite the scriptures in support of that law, From the Book of Abraham 2:7—
For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot.
This scripture was given to Abraham when scientific truth held that matter consisted of the above four elements. This simply means that the Lord speaks to us according to our own understanding.
However, the Lord has said in regard to what matter is—
There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;
We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter (D&C 131:7-8).
Now, as you have said above, the Lord creates His worlds from matter unorganized. If this earth was created from matter unorganized, it could not have been the remains of some previous world. So if we put a big question mark around supposed scientific truth, and a big exclamation point around the word of God, I think that we can make some sense out of the advent of dinosaurs. First, we reiterate the word of God,
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 were created and made according to my word (Moses 3:7).
So, according to God, Adam preceded the dinosaurs. Now, that is the truth!!! If science does not agree with that statement, it only reflects on the paucity of scientific information! There is a hue and cry in the media today about the controversy over divine design and the theory of evolution. We hear reported time and again that the scientific view of evolution is no longer a theory, but an established fact. I have even heard the reports of scientists that declare that there is no scientific evidence contrary to the theory of evolution. Talk about brain washing!! As a matter of fact it is specifically the universities that, by this very attitude, have done more than any other institution to hold back the advancement of science. The theory of evolution is already on its way to the dustbins of history. There is currently much more scientific evidence in favor of the theory of catastrophism than there is of uniformitarianism (of which the theory of evolution is a part).
Let me give you one small example of what I am talking about. This from The Demise of Darwinism, or The Rise and Fall of the Theory of Evolution, by H. Clay Gorton.
One of the chief problems associated with dating animal remains by radioactive decay is the assumption that the radioisotope was generated at the same time that the animal lived, i.e., that it was a pure sample. If that element had been present at the site before the animal lived, part of if would have already decayed which would give the time of the site a much older date than would the assumption of a pure sample.
Potassium-Argon dating is the only viable technique for dating very old archaeological materials. Geologists have used this method to establish dates for rocks which give results as much as 4 billion years old. It is based on the fact that one of the radioactive isotopes of Potassium–Potassium 40 (K40), decays to the gas Argon as Argon 40 (Ar40). By comparing the proportion of K40 to Ar40 in a sample of volcanic rock, and knowing the decay rate of K40, the date that the rock was formed is determined.
Potassium is one of the most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust (2.4% by mass). One out of every 10,000 Potassium atoms is the radioactive isotope K40. When rocks are heated to the melting point, any Ar40 contained in them is released into the atmosphere. When the rock re-crystallizes it becomes impermeable to gasses again. As the K40 in the rock decays into Ar40, the Ar40 gas is trapped in the rock.
So when a rock is tested for Ar40 the ratio of Ar40 to K40 would show the time since the rock was molten, not necessarily the time when it was associated with some prehistoric animal found in association with the rock. Unless the animal were killed at the time the rock solidified the Ar40 time clock would show a time earlier than when it was associated with the animal being evaluated.
Other serious difficulties exist with this method of dating which appear to make it completely unreliable as a geological time clock. The testing performed on volcanic rocks in Hawaii should be sufficient to exclude this method from further use. Ar40 tests performed on rocks from lava flows in Hawaii known to have occurred in1800 and 1801 were dated by the radioactive potassium-argon method as having occurred 160 million years ago and 2.96 billion years ago! And yet the method is still in use! The conclusion of those who made the tests was that the samples of magma that were extracted from the lava flow for testing had to have been from intrusion rocks rather than a part of the lava flow, and the data was ignored! This blind adherence to an obviously flawed dating method is not lost on other members of the scientific community. From the Research Communications Network Report—
“Dr. Robert V. Gentry is the world’s leading authorities on radiohalo research. He has published a remarkable series of papers in such distinguished journals as Nature, Science, and Annual Review of Nuclear Science. His findings are of great significance to the question of radiometric dating. Among his carefully drawn conclusions are the following: Earth’s primordial crustal rocks, rather than cooling and solidifying over millions or billions of years, crystallized almost instantaneously. Some geological formations thought to be 100 million years old are in reality only several thousand years old”(Research Communications Network Report , 2/10/1977, p 3).
So again, if one finds any discrepancy between scientific data, conclusion or opinion and the revealed word of God, there can be no question as to which source is the fountain of truth.