Of These Materials
Creation doctrine in the King Follett Sermon
According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, "The word create came from the word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 350-352; italics in original; see also Joseph Smith Jr., "The King Follett Sermon," Ensign, Apr. 1971, 17.)
Ships made of particle board
The Prophet used the words "chaosóchaotic matter" (Teachings, 351). A current view about the universe is that chaos represents "the disordered state of unformed matter and infinite space supposed ... to have existed before the ordered universe." According to this view, the earth also began as a chaotic nebula cloud or "diffuse mass of interstellar dust or gas or both," containing particles so small as to be termed "unformed matter." (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000; see also here.)
But notice the Prophet also said, "the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship" (Teachings, 350; emphasis added). Assuming the Prophet meant building the ship with chaotic matter and applying the above view of earth's origin, we must conclude that the first step in building a ship would be to gather large amounts of saw dust from which to form particle board components (the stern post, keel, and rudder, etc.) for the ship.
It is highly doubtful this is what the Prophet Joseph had in mind.
Ships made of timber
At the time the Prophet made this
statement, ships were made with timber. Therefore, it is much more
likely that the Prophet Joseph Smith had in mind using large trees to
build a ship.
This same statement was published in 1882 with one difference in wording—the word 'broken' in place of 'broke'—by Elders Franklin D. Richards and James A Little in A Compendium of the Doctrines of the Gospel, "This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broken up and remodeled and made into the one on which we live" (p. 287). In 1908, Elder B. H. Roberts quoted the Compendium version of the statement in The Seventy's Course in Theology: Second Year (p. 31). In 1890, it was published in The Contributor, with this comment:
President Wilford Woodruff also reminded "Joseph Smith was an illiterate man; but afterwards his teachers and instructors were angels" ("We Are Led by Revelation," Remarks made November 1, 1891, Tambuli, Dec. 1978, 17).
John W. Welch believes "Roberts pushed too far when he postulated that a great pre-Adamic cataclysm had occurred on this earth." Welch then points out that "Nineteenth-century LDS writers (including Roberts himself) had commonly suggested before 1929 that this earth was created from pieces of other worlds recycled by God in organizing this planet. Under that theory, evidence in the rock record of prehistoric life did not imply that death had occurred on this sphere before the fall of Adam and Eve." (TWL, xiii-xiv; italics in the original.)
Thus, the Church's rejection of TWL was,
in part, rooted in acceptance of the Prophet Joseph's teaching that "this
earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broke up
and remodeled and made into the one on which we live" (Ensign,
Jan. 1989, 32). Using
"Geology, Biology, Archaeology, and Anthropology"
to suggest otherwise was simply unacceptable.