Doc’s discovery of the Flux Capacitor is what makes time travel possible, at least in the movie. The circumstances behind his discovery are not just another humorous event in a funny movie. Doc’s discovery of the Flux Capacitor is a parody of discoveries that really happened. People have experienced dreams and inspirations that have led to breakthroughs in science and technology.
Secular science shrugs its shoulders at these supposed visions and attributes them to luck, coincidence, or a frenzied mind. What many do not realize is that the source of these miraculous events is the Light of Christ. When you think of the blessings of science and technology that have enriched your life, don’t thank your lucky stars; thank the Lord.
My favorite example of the Light of Christ inspiring secular discovery involves Dmitri Mendeleyev (1834-1907). Mendeleyev discovered of the periodic table. The circumstances surrounding Mendeleyev’s discovery of the periodic table are eerily similar to the circumstances portrayed in Doc Emmett Brown’s discovery of the Flux Capacitor. Here are 4 noteworthy similarities.
1. Mendeleyev and Doc had wild, unkempt hair.
2. Both men surrounded themselves with pictures of scientists. In the movie Back to the Future, Doc had pictures of Thomas Edison and Isaac Newton in his study. Mendeleyev had pictures of Newton, Galileo, and Faraday in his study.
3. Both men isolated themselves from the outside world while they worked feverishly on their discoveries, Doc while working on time travel, and Mendeleyev while working on a way to organize the elements by their atomic weights.
4. And most importantly, both men had a vision or dream while unconscious that led to their discovery. Doc had a dream while unconscious on the bathroom floor, and Mendeleyev had a dream after falling asleep from exhaustion. In his vision, Mendeleyev said, “I saw . . . a table where all the elements fell into place as required.”
Mendeleyev's account reads like a Hollywood script, yet it is true.
It is no coincidence that so many discoveries prompted by dreams happened around the time of the Restoration. The apostle Paul testified that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. This outpouring of the Spirit enlightened people’s minds while it prepared the inhabitants of the earth for the restored gospel.
The outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord continues to this day; it is what makes the latter-days so different from previous dispensations. Consider that for the first few thousands of years of humankind’s history, modes of transportation and communication remained largely unchanged (i.e., walking or riding an animal). When you compare the first few thousands of years of transportation with what we have today, the differences are astounding!
Mendeleyev's story is a classic example of what the prophet Brigham Young declared some 100 years ago. Brigham Young wrote: “Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind, has been given by direct revelation from God.”