Hospitality to visitors is usually a virtue,1 but in this fallen world it is important to understand exactly who is being invited before welcoming him with open arms—as the ancient Trojans learned, to their destruction. Although Troy was brought down in physical battle, Christians today face ideological “Trojan horses” that wait to enter and destroy faith.
Worldview-corrupting Trojan horses have repeatedly “visited” the Christian community, as is illustrated by Drs. John Whitcomb and Henry Morris in their pivotal work The Genesis Flood.
The Original Trojan Horse
The original Trojan horse was a military trick used by Greeks to defeat Troy, according to Virgil’s legendary epic The Aeneid.2 The Greeks had besieged Troy for years, without success. So they plotted a new strategy, one dealing in distraction and deceit. The Greek army secretly constructed a colossal wooden statue shaped as a horse, Troy’s “lucky” animal, with a hollow space inside. Inside the hollow were Greek soldiers, lying in wait for the opportunity to attack. The huge statue was moved to Troy’s city gates and the Greek army made a show of abandoning its siege, sailing away as if giving up the battle.
The Trojans were fooled. A supposedly left-behind Greek soldier persuaded them that the statue was an offering to the Trojans’ goddess and the Trojans voluntarily brought this disaster-waiting-to-happen inside their city wall. Later, at night, the hidden soldiers emerged and successfully attacked the unsuspecting Trojans.
Ever since, the term “Trojan horse” has meant a deceptive trick that attracts and fools a victim into voluntarily disarming his or her protective defenses and “inviting” a hidden enemy to enter (and overtake) an otherwise secure situation.
The Computer Virus Trojan Horse
Today’s world of computers offers a modern version of the Trojan horse. It is a malicious computer program that initially appears to offer a legitimate and desirable product. This tricks the victim into allowing it past any protective software.
Once installed on the target computer, the destructive program executes computer virus commands to delete or corrupt files, or to cause some other poisonous harm to the victim’s computer. It is the software equivalent of a ravening wolf in sheep’s clothing. Such “visitors” should not be allowed past the gate!
The Worldview Trojan Horse
But far worse than this is the worldview Trojan horse, the ideological “visitor” who waits to enter (and corrupt) your worldview. This strategy likewise combines distraction and deceit, with the invader at first seeming to offer a genuine benefit, but eventually emerging to attack what should have been diligently protected. In The Genesis Flood, Drs. Whitcomb and Morris described how a series of such visitors corrupted the Christian community’s understanding of the biblical account of the Flood. Originally, Christian scientists and leaders treated it as a literal record of a global deluge:
Throughout the entire eighteenth century [i.e., 1700s], and well into the nineteenth [i.e., 1800s], an imposing list of scientists and theologians produced works in support of the Flood…. That the Flood was universal and that it was responsible for the major geologic formation of the earth was accepted almost without question in the western world during that period.3
However, during the 1800s, England hosted three major “Trojan horse” attacks on the Genesis account of the worldwide Flood. The first one was especially influential, opening the door for the others. Each attack was hospitably “invited” into Christian circles and produced ruinous corruptions to the worldviews of those who unsuspectingly played “host” to such visitors.
The clever attacks began with what appeared to be an innocent distraction. This was followed by confusion, then deception, and finally open compromise. The end result was a cowardly surrender of the Genesis record (by a mix of adding to and subtracting from the Word) and an abandonment of what Genesis clearly teaches about the creation, Adam’s fall, and the Flood.
Cuvier’s Multiple Catastrophes
The first such Trojan horse was introduced, ironically, by a French Protestant creationist, Baron Georges Cuvier. Cuvier opposed pre-Darwinian evolution (e.g., Lamarckianism) and promoted a catastrophist interpretation of the earth’s landforms and fossils. That much was good, but Cuvier also introduced a slow-acting poison—he decoupled the Genesis record from his speculations about creation and the Flood, a passive ignorance that was predicted in 2 Peter 3:3-6. Cuvier proposed a theory of “multiple catastrophes” that treated the Genesis record as mostly irrelevant (if not misleading) for understanding the natural world and its catastrophic past.
Cuvier’s theory stretched the biblical picture beyond meaningful recognition. His concepts were like the Pharisees’ exaggerated legalistic traditions that blunted the Word of God to “none effect” (Mark 7:13). Teaching that Noah’s Flood was only one of many—contrary to the Bible’s teaching that Noah’s Flood was a one-time event (Genesis 9:11)—Cuvier’s imaginative series of global catastrophes “invited” rejection of what the Bible teaches about the literal one-of-a-kind global Flood:
By accepting [some] basic tenets of the Flood [model] of geology, he [Cuvier] gained the confidence of a large number of Christian people; but by introducing other [substantively contra-biblical] elements that were essentially fatal to Flood geology, he unintentionally opened the door to a veritable host of theories that threatened to drive that concept from the intellectual scene by the middle of the nineteenth century.…Cuvier’s opposition to Flood geology was subtle, because while he insisted that the superficial deposits of the earth had been laid down by the Flood, he also taught that the major fossiliferous strata of the earth had been laid down by a [prior] series of great floods, separated by immense periods of time, and long before the creation of man. After each of these catastrophes, the few surviving animals spread out over the earth again, only to be nearly annihilated by another great flood.4
One Horse Leads to Another
Cuvier’s “multiple catastrophes” theory, which paid only lip service to biblical authority (and to biblical relevance), was promptly and popularly adapted by other theorists and subsequently stretched even further from what Genesis teaches. Cuvier’s theory was employed in 1814 by Thomas Chalmers for his ruin-and-reconstruction “gap theory,” an unequal and humanistic yoking of unbiblical “science” notions with the early chapters of Genesis.
Others who welcomed this theoretical Trojan horse included Alcide d’Orbigny, Adam Sedgwick, Roderick Murchison, and William Buckland. The latter promoted a “diluvium theory” that effectively dismissed the Genesis record of the Flood, asserting that it was “impossible” for the observable flood-formed strata to have been produced by “the single year occupied by the Mosaic deluge” and therefore what is observed in nature “must be [proof of earlier catastrophic] periods of much greater antiquity.”5
The next breed of Trojan horse involved in the assault on the Genesis account of the Flood was grounded upon the anti-catastrophist uniformitarianism of Charles Lyell, Darwin’s ideological mentor. As Lyell’s old-earth uniformitarian theory gained popularity, catastrophist views of geologic history (including Cuvier’s) lost popularity. Consequently, efforts to preserve academic “respectability” led some Christians to mix Lyell’s anti-catastrophist dogma with a non-catastrophist view of the Genesis Flood, the so-called “tranquil flood” theory promoted by the likes of Carolus Linnaeus and John Fleming.6
Another Trojan horse was welcomed during the 1800s, the “local flood” theory of John Pye Smith.7 Thus, long before Charles Darwin published his atheistic concept of “natural selection” (a bait and switch metaphor that arbitrarily replaced the all-wise and all-powerful Creator with a magic force called “nature”), many of the leaders in Christian circles, both scientists and church leaders, had already closed the book of Genesis—at least as to what it teaches about the global Flood. Why? Because they voluntarily invited Trojan horses into the camp.
Today Christendom faces new breeds of Trojan horses (e.g., BioLogos, Intelligent Design deism, day-age “progressive creation,” framework hypothesis, etc.), which lie in wait to attack our understanding of Genesis and what it teaches about the Flood. Beware—and keep your Bible open!
- Regarding the general rule that hospitality is a virtue, see Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2 and 5:10; Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9; and Hebrews 13:2. Regarding the exception, where hospitality is required to be withheld, see 2 John 1:7-11 in light of Jude 1:3-4.
- Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 27, 11th ed. (Cambridge University Press, 1910-1922), page 317, citing Virgil’s Aeneid (ii.13 seq.) and Homer’s Odyssey (iv.271 seq.).
- Morris, H. M. and J. C. Whitcomb. 1961. The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 91.
- Ibid, 92.
- Ibid, 92-94.
- Ibid, 95-99.
- Ibid, 107-113.
* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Johnson, J. J. S. 2011. Just Say No to Trojan Horses. Acts & Facts. 40 (2): 17-18.