The Creation Movement's Firm Foundation
by John D. Morris, Ph.D. *
The 50th anniversary of the publication of The Genesis Flood, co-authored by Dr. John Whitcomb and my father, Dr. Henry Morris, brings back poignant memories. A teenager when it was being written, I can testify to the concerted effort that went into it, from focused study to diligent prayer. God blessed that effort and answered those prayers with lasting fruit. Almost every day’s mail and every public meeting bring unsolicited testimonies from individuals who read the book. Many say the information within removed roadblocks in their path to salvation. God used this rather technical book on science and theology in numerous ways, not just to catalyze the creation movement, but to launch a new era of concern for biblical inerrancy and authority.
And no wonder, for it met a serious need. No other book had ever presented such a case for biblical accuracy and authority. These two men had been specially trained for the task. Not only were they both brilliant, but more humble, serious Christians would be hard to find, each absolutely committed to the Lord and His Word. They approached the writing from their different specialties, but jointly from a high view of Scripture. Whitcomb is an Old Testament theologian, while my father was a scientist. The writing of such a world-changing book necessitated both.
Dr. Whitcomb grew up in a military family, trained to follow his forebears into military leadership. He accepted Christ as his Savior while a student at Princeton University through the witness of a faithful Christian. Soon it became clear that the creation doctrine of Scripture was incompatible with evolution and great ages, which he had assumed must be true, and he found solace in the gap theory. Later, as a junior faculty at Grace Theological Seminary, he heard Henry Morris demonstrate that Scripture would not allow such compromise, and furthermore that science did not require it. At the time, both were writing on the subject, and soon they agreed to join their efforts.
My father had grown up in a broken home still reeling from the effects of the Great Depression. As the oldest son, he had to help put food on the table. His godly grandmother introduced him to the Lord and he maintained a simple faith throughout those early years. His main solace and outlet came in the form of books and writing. He excelled in academics, and as his skills developed he desired to attend college. An opportunity came when Rice University offered him an academic scholarship. He graduated in civil engineering and took a job in El Paso, where he joined a strong church, received sound biblical teaching for the first time, and developed a deep passion for the souls of men. Through the Gideons he found the Bible had the answer to every question. As World War II broke out, Rice University invited him to return and teach engineering to Navy SeaBees for the war effort, where he attempted to also reach them with more lasting Truth. To his surprise, he found these science-minded students/seamen often cited evolution as the reason they rejected Christianity, and he had few answers to give them.
There were few creation resources available in those days, and he purposed in his heart to fill that need. Rightly discerning that the great Flood of Noah’s day was the cause of the rock and fossil records and thus the key to refuting evolution, he enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota, taking hydraulics, hydrology, and geology. Here he researched the power of moving water, applying scientific studies to the Flood and understanding how it impacted every area of the globe. He wrote his first book, That You Might Believe, in 1946—commencing a fruitful early career of researching and writing, the apex of which was The Genesis Flood, published in 1961.
I remember when it was nearing completion. The two authors submitted the manuscript to every science-educated Christian they knew of, asking for a serious critique. But so strong was the grip of evolutionary thinking that few would even read the manuscript. Careers and reputations were on the line with any questioning of the status quo. Most preferred to look the other way and ignore the subject. Those who considered the issue at all had comfortably compromised with theistic evolution or the gap theory and did not think it necessary to take a stand. Since both the authors of The Genesis Flood had likewise compromised with the secular view in their earlier years, they knew what issues to address.
But that book was only the beginning. Along the way, my father authored scores of important books on both biblical and scientific subjects, from Scientific Creationism to The Modern Creation Trilogy, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, The Long War Against God, and the engineering textbook Applied Hydraulics in Engineering. His biblical commentaries include The Genesis Record, The Revelation Record, The Remarkable Record of Job, The Remarkable Wisdom of Solomon, and Sampling the Psalms. Other Bible study books include The Bible Has the Answer, Creation and the Second Coming, God and the Nations, The History of Modern Creationism, and the apologetic textbook Many Infallible Proofs.
Interestingly, he considered his most important books, which best communicated his worldview, to be The Genesis Flood, Christian Education for the Real World, and For Time and Forever. His career was capped by the publication of The Defender’s Study Bible. He was a writer, still writing on his deathbed, penning Some Call It Science, which was published after he died. Whitcomb likewise continued publishing on creation subjects, with The World that Perished, The Early Earth, The Bible and Astronomy, and Our Created Moon. Together they laid a strong foundation for the entire creation movement.
Neither one’s career was the same once The Genesis Flood came out, for speaking engagements poured in. Bible colleges and seminaries recognized its value and employed it as a textbook, and its effects rippled out. Many have noted that the Christian education movement would never have taken hold without the book, for now the whole Bible could be believed without apology. Certainly this is true for the homeschool movement, which flourished with its underpinnings. The case could also be made that the biblical inerrancy movement would never have gained traction without it, for until that time few held to an inerrant Genesis. It is also true that most of the signers of inerrancy documents did not and still do not hold to a literal and inerrant view of Genesis, yet rank and file Christians could not support inerrancy until Genesis could be defended. This undergirding was supplied by The Genesis Flood.
No such welcome was extended by academic and scientific scholars, who labeled the book “public enemy number one.” At the time of its publication, my father was the Chairman of the prestigious Civil Engineering Department at Virginia Tech, and its notoriety became an embarrassment to the university. I remember my father’s faculty colleagues held a cocktail party to celebrate his resignation when he left to form the Institute for Creation Research in 1970. The vitriol against this one book still continues, even though many subsequent books extended and strengthened the creation position. It is almost as though many devoted evolutionists read that book and have refused to read the voluminous creationist literature published since that time, for their arguments have changed little. Many Christian leaders still vilify those who insist the great Flood was global and geologically significant, as is so well expounded in The Genesis Flood. One wonders if undue value is placed on winning the praises of men over winning the approval of God for submitting to the teachings of His Word.
The Genesis Flood provided the impetus for the founding of the Bible-Science Association in 1963, mostly within Lutheran circles, and then the founding of the Creation Research Society soon after. The Institute for Creation Research began in 1970 as the science division of the newly formed Christian Heritage College (now San Diego Christian College), founded by my father and Drs. Tim LaHaye and Art Peters. For the first time, a functioning organization designed to research and promote scientific creationism was operational.
ICR’s early years focused mainly on the geologic studies commenced in The Genesis Flood, but the ministry has since branched out into numerous areas of the life and physical sciences. Even evolutionary thinking has shifted in response to many creation challenges, such as catastrophism in geology, gaps in the fossil record, design in living things, etc. Hundreds of students, pastors, and Bible teachers trained by ICR have taught creation in many venues. Today there are many thousands of creation scientists, hundreds of creation organizations, and millions of creation believers, a movement all catalyzed by the publication of The Genesis Flood.
Things are not yet what they should be, but by God’s grace will never again be as they were, with evolutionary thinking holding a monopoly on science, education, and theology. The Genesis Flood played a seminal role in a return to biblical truth.
* Dr. Morris is President of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris, J. 2011. The Creation Movement’s Firm Foundation. Acts & Facts. 40 (2): 8-9.