Reflections on a Legacy: Four Decades of Creation Ministry
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. *
In 1961, Drs. Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb published The Genesis Flood, a landmark book offering persuasive scientific evidence that the biblical account of creation and the Flood could be confidently viewed as reliable and historical. Since then, countless people have been strengthened in their faith by this book and subsequent creationist publications.
Dr. Morris is widely regarded as the father of the modern creation science movement. This year, the Institute for Creation Research celebrates four decades of the ministry he founded to denounce the errors of evolutionary thought and to proclaim the accuracy, authority, and sufficiency of God's Word. In his honor, we are sharing with you some of his thoughts toward the end of his time with the Institute regarding its importance, mission, and purpose.
The Vital Truth of Creation
The conflict between creation and evolution is not merely an argument between two scientific theories of origins. It is a conflict between the only two basic worldviews of life and meaning--one centered in God and His purposes for the world, the other centered around man and his own personal and societal goals.
Evolutionism is a naturalistic philosophy of life and meaning, with human beings regarded as the highest achievement of billions of years of evolutionary development of all things by natural processes. Creationism, on the other hand, assumes that all the basic systems in nature were created supernaturally by God. Each theory is thus precisely the opposite of the other. The question is: Which theory is true and which is false?
Three Basic Tests
There are three basic tests by which the two theories can be compared--the scientific test, the "fruit test," and the biblical test.
As far as science is concerned, the scientific evidence is precisely what would be predicted from creationism. There is no known case of macroevolution (from one distinct "kind" of organism to another) in all the thousands of years of recorded history. Secondly, in the fossil record of the past, there is no known transitional series of fossils from one kind to another among all the billions of known non-transitional fossils. Finally, the universal scientific law of entropy specifies the "downward" tendency of all things toward decrease of organized complexity. Thus, all the real scientific evidence (as distinct from similarities and other circumstantial evidences) strongly favors creation over evolution.
Consider also the fruit test. Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). The fruits of evolution include atheism, communism, fascism, and all kinds of harmful behavior and evil philosophy, but not one good fruit in the form of real scientific advance in either living standards or altruistic behavior. Belief in primeval supernatural creation, on the other hand, was the motivating conviction of practically all the founding fathers of modern science, of the American nation, and of the original education system of this country. All the basic doctrines of Christianity are founded on the truth of primeval special creation. Creationism certainly scores much higher than evolutionism on the fruit test.
Finally, there is not a hint anywhere in Scripture of evolution or the long ages necessary for evolution. On the other hand, the very first chapter of the Bible teaches the special creation of the space/mass/time universe and everything in it. This teaching is emphasized all through the Bible. See my book Biblical Creationism for discussion of every biblical verse dealing with origins and earth history.1
There is an abundance of documentation for these conclusions in the three-volume Modern Creation Trilogy ("Science and Creation," "Scripture and Creation," "Society and Creation"),2 and also in many other books published or distributed by ICR and numerous other publishers. The evidence for the truth of creation and the falsity of evolution truly is overwhelming.
Why Young-Earth Creationism?
In large part because of ICR, there has been a significant revival of belief in creation during the past forty years. But there is still tremendous opposition from the academic, scientific, and political establishments directed especially at any commitment to six-day creation and the worldwide Flood.
Because of this opposition to biblical literalism, many creationists have felt it expedient to focus their arguments only against evolutionary naturalism. Various compromises have been proposed; the one receiving the most attention currently is a revival of what its proponents are calling the "Intelligent Design" movement. However, the evolutionary establishment opposes all such compromise views as dogmatically as it does literal biblical creationism. Furthermore, the evidence for "Intelligent Design" in nature is just as compatible with Islam, Judaism, and many New Age religions as it is with the Bible.
The written Word of God clearly reveals that the true history of the world begins with six literal days of creation followed later by the cataclysmic global Flood of Noah's day. For detailed scientific and biblical evidence proving recent creation and the worldwide Flood, one should also read The Young Earth.3
Furthermore, any interpretation allowing billions of years of earth history also means allowing billions of years of suffering and death in the world before there was any sin. This compromise even undermines the gospel itself, making the atoning death of Christ for sin redundant and meaninglessly cruel. It also leaves the advocates of mere "Intelligent Design" without either a scientific or biblical explanation for the fossil sequences and sedimentary layers as arranged in the geologic column.
Thus Bible-believing Christians should take the Genesis record literally if we really want to honor God and His Word and to win people to genuine saving faith in our great Creator and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other worldview which is true to all the facts of Scripture, science, and history, and there is surely no biblical reason to compromise on such a vital truth.
Reasons for Founding ICR
Initially, ICR was a division of Christian Heritage College (CHC), which had been founded in 1970 as a unique Christian liberal arts college and eventually a university firmly committed in all programs to a specifically creationist (meaning literal six-day creation and global Flood) worldview.
As CHC co-founder, I had argued for this approach as the result of my 28 years of teaching experience in five large secular universities, plus speaking on many other campuses as a result of the impact of the book The Genesis Flood. All secular colleges had been structured completely around evolutionary humanism, and all evangelical colleges seemed to have accepted the evolutionary geological ages.
However, the accrediting association would not allow us to offer graduate degrees in science, so we had to do this through making ICR a separate institution. M.S. degrees are almost universally required for science teachers even in Christian schools, and these had to be obtained (before ICR, that is) from secular universities. So the ICR Graduate School was formed in 1980 and has been offering M.S. degrees in four key science areas dealing with origins since 1981. Over a dozen other Christian liberal arts colleges have also started teaching literal biblical creationism in science, but ICR is still alone in offering graduate programs in science.
What ICR's Purpose Is NOT
Because ICR has become internationally known largely because of its books, seminars, etc., I must first emphasize that these are all vital extension ministries, but not ICR's main purpose.
(1) ICR is NOT a publishing business
We cannot measure our success by book sales. I have written some 60 books myself, so I surely appreciate the importance of publishing substantive books on creation. But that is only an extension aspect of our basic mission.
(2) ICR is NOT a seminar ministry
Although I have participated in many seminars--even before CHC or ICR were formed--and these have been of significant influence in stimulating global awareness of the issue, this also is merely an extension of ICR's fundamental purpose.
(3) ICR is NOT a church renewal or correctional ministry
Many churches today surely need to return to sound doctrine and practice with respect to biblical creation. I strongly believe in the local church--have served as teacher and deacon in three of them and pulpit speaker in hundreds. My wife and I even started a church (now thriving with a fine new sanctuary) that began with two families and several college students (meeting in our basement). But "straightening-out" churches is not our basic purpose at ICR.
(4) ICR is NOT a children's or youth ministry
We have great concern for children and young people, but again reaching them is not our main goal. My wife sponsored and taught Child Evangelism classes for many years, and we have seen many children come to Christ. As far as college youth are concerned, I have served as faculty advisor to Christian student organizations in five secular universities (in one, over 50 were saved in one year!).
(5) ICR is NOT an evangelistic ministry
Evangelism is vitally important, but is essentially an indirect result of the ICR mission. We are thankful when people are saved through one of our ICR books or seminars, but this is not our main purpose as an organization.
(6) ICR is NOT a missionary agency
Although a few churches have placed ICR on their missionary budget, and the outreach of our ICR books, seminars, radio, etc., has extended into six continents, this is not our main purpose.
(7) ICR is NOT a political organization
Although we would love to see creationism taught in all schools, we have never sponsored legislation to accomplish this. From the biblical perspective, all education should be under the home, not the government, but we do not try to attain such an ideal with political pressure.
The Distinctive Purpose of ICR
There is nothing wrong with the above activities; all of them are very important, but ICR's main purpose (note Isaiah 51:1-2) is not evangelism or missions, not books or politics, not church growth or youth ministries.
Our primary ministry is education! Especially higher education, including relevant research at the graduate level. This purpose may seem mundane and relatively unimportant to some Christians. Evangelism, missions, political power, personal relationships--all may seem to be more glamorous and worthy of support. But that is not the way God sees it!
God's first commandment on the created earth was what has been called the dominion mandate (Genesis 1:26-28) and this has never been withdrawn or diluted. It was repeated and extended to the survivors of the global deluge (Genesis 9:1-7). This first divine mandate requires what we now would call scientific research and then the transmission of the accumulating information about God's creation to all succeeding generations (that is, by education!). Since this was His first priority, it surely warrants our obedience and support even today.
A second worldwide divine mandate is the Great Commission, which could also be called the Missionary Mandate--calling for teaching about God's redemptive work. It was not given to all mankind (as was the first mandate) but only to believing Christians.
As in the dominion mandate, education again is emphasized. Jesus said that we should be "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). The new mandate thus not only commands preaching the gospel and baptizing believers but teaching everything taught by Christ!
This includes everything in His creation, "for all things were made by Him" and He is now "upholding all things" (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:3). As Creator, He had issued the primeval dominion mandate and this later mandate now implies teaching all things learned under the first mandate, in addition to teaching about His work of redeeming all things.
All true education therefore should be carried out in the context of both creation and redemption, Christ being the Author of both mandates.
Because of its key importance in God's plan for His creation, Satan has sought very successfully to gain control of education--especially higher education. His system of evolution is the key weapon in his control of education and he bitterly opposes all who presume to teach against that system. ICR was founded with this very issue in mind.
The ICR Graduate School therefore has the primary mission of providing true education, in its creation/redemption framework instead of the evolutionary humanistic system which permeates all secular colleges and universities and has led even most evangelical colleges to compromise with it.
Ideally, ICR (or some other Christian educational institution or consortium) should provide such creation-oriented education at all levels in all fields. This may seem impossible, however, as long as Satan is "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4). Nevertheless, the two mandates need to be implemented by means of at least one great creationist university (the very term implies "universal" coverage), which could serve as a model for others (and perhaps even as a foundation and model for the education system in a future millennium!).
ICR is not that needed central university of research and education, but we have made a start in the ICR Graduate School with its students and science faculty (full-time and adjunct). Our four science M.S. programs would be the key component in any such future university, or consortium of Christian colleges. There are now a significant number of colleges that have become committed to literal biblical creationism, but none as yet offer graduate science programs except ICR.
Thus, as I envision it at least, ICR has four chief functions at present:
- Providing M.S. creationist training in the key sciences related to origins and earth history. Evolution dominates every field today, but those in all other fields do this on the basis that "science" has "proved" evolution (an utterly false concept!). This notion must be corrected.
- Training science teachers for other Christian schools, including elementary and secondary schools.
- Winning the "sciences" to Christ. That is, we are developing model curricula which teach the actual facts of biology, geology, etc., in a biblical creationist framework. Also, ICR-sponsored research (e.g., RATE) is resolving supposed scientific problems in creationism.
- Developing extension ministries (books, seminars, radio, etc.) which can reach many others in all walks of life with the essentials of scientific creationism. In addition, no Graduate School is ever financed solely by tuitions, and ICR does not solicit or accept government grants, but these adjunct ministries also help win supporters. Our primary financial support must come from such concerned Christian men and women.
God has blessed ICR with a marvelous worldwide impact since we started on a shoestring in 1970. No doubt we can improve in many ways and we need your prayers, but we must never forget why we began and where we are going.
Finally, all this should be carried out in the light of eternity and God's ultimate purpose for us in His magnificent, infinite, and eternal creation.
- Morris, H. 1993. Biblical Creationism. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 276 pp.
- Morris, H. and J. Morris. 1996. Modern Creation Trilogy. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 774 pp.
- Morris, J. 2007. The Young Earth, rev. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 144 pp.
Adapted from Dr. Morris' article "Why ICR--And Why Now?" in the July 2001 Acts & Facts, and his article "ICR--Its Origin and Goal" in the May 2005 Acts & Facts.
* Dr. Morris (1918-2006) was Founder of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris, H. 2010. Reflections on a Legacy: Four Decades of Creation Ministry. Acts & Facts. 39 (1): 10-13.