A memorial service for Dr. John Morris was held to celebrate his life on Friday, March 3, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. CST at First Baptist Dallas in the old sanctuary. The service can be viewed here on Vimeo. If you would like to send a donation to ICR in memory of Dr. John, visit ICR.org/donate or mail to ICR, P. O. Box 59029, Dallas, TX 75229.
Dr. John Morris passed peacefully away on January 29, 2023, at the age of 76. He was deeply respected and dearly loved by family, friends, and colleagues. Fondly known by many as Dr. John, he was the “Indiana Jones” explorer of the biblical creation community for decades. He demonstrated himself to be a leader with a heart for God and others. As ICR President Dr. Randy Guliuzza recalls,
Anyone who ever met Dr. John Morris remembers their first encounter. Never was there a sweeter or more optimistic and loving man! In a word, John Morris was Christlike. You couldn’t help but respect that about John, and he’d be highly embarrassed if he heard anyone saying these things about him. When you were with him, you had his undivided attention…and he was probably giving you something as well.
Yet, as his many expeditions to Mt. Ararat demonstrate, John had no small measure of fortitude and tenacity. With these, he faced his challenges and disappointments with a grace and cheerfulness that was undergirded by his confidence in the goodness and love of the Lord Jesus.
We know, and John would heartily agree, that his faithful and delightful wife, Dalta, was absolutely vital to augmenting his work and enriching his life. He was a gem, and all of us at ICR will dearly miss him
Born on December 7, 1946, as the second son of Institute for Creation Research founder Dr. Henry M. Morris, Dr. John followed in the footsteps of his father. He earned his Ph.D. in geological engineering from the University of Oklahoma, taught at the university for four years, and joined ICR in 1984. Originally a member of the geology faculty of ICR’s graduate school, Dr. John was appointed president of ICR in 1996.
Dr. John published many creation science books related to his field, including The Young Earth, The Fossil Record, and The Global Flood, as well as participating in or assisting various ICR research projects. He was a regular contributor to ICR’s magazine Acts & Facts and devotional booklet Days of Praise. He was also a frequent host for ICR radio programs Science, Scripture, & Salvation and Back to Genesis, broadcasts that began in 1972. Through the years, Dr. John spoke at many creation events, sharing his expertise and his understanding of the evidence for creation and a young earth.
The study of Noah’s Ark intrigued him, particularly the possibility of finding it. He organized and led over a dozen expeditions to Mt. Ararat in eastern Turkey. His expeditions involved adventures of the type often seen in action/thriller movies—being held at gunpoint, having foreign commanders take him into custody, exploring rugged terrain in brutal conditions, confronting attack dogs, having local tribes try to stone him, helicoptering over mountains, and more.
Dr. John often shared the story of lying in the snow on Ararat for four hours, paralyzed, after being struck by lightning. He always gave God the glory for healing him and preserving his life and those of his teammates during that remarkable experience. Although he didn’t find the Ark, he held out hope that it might still be discovered some day.
Dr. John loved to tell folksy stories and corny jokes. His listeners learned to brace themselves when they saw the small mischievous grin cross his face because they knew an outrageous punchline was coming.
One of his great loves was studying old Christian hymns. He based many of the devotionals he wrote for ICR’s Days of Praise on the rich doctrine of his favorite ones, and many of those devotionals were later gathered into his book How Firm a Foundation in Scripture and Song.
A letter written in January 2011 represents the gratitude of many readers who loved his hymn studies: “Thanks so much for the edifying devotionals in Days of Praise. Each one is full of ‘meaty’ thoughts for our souls. I have especially been blessed by Dr. John Morris’ devotionals using hymns. Thanks to each of you for carrying on in the tradition of your founder, Dr. Henry Morris.”
Beginning in 1989, Dr. John was also a regular contributor to ICR’s monthly magazine Acts & Facts. He was honored to write articles for many consecutive issues over the years. He was beloved by the creation ministry community across the country and around the world, and ICR regularly receives letters expressing gratitude for his work and his heart, such as the following.
Dear John Morris,
This morning I just read your commentary on Hebrews 12:3 and caught your phrase “very few show by their lives that our witness and ministry have been effective.” Since I have wanted to tell you several times in the past how much Days of Praise has meant to me I was moved to pray for you and sit down and write you a note of thanks.
First thing every morning I eagerly open my Days of Praise to see what the Lord has for me today. Thus, your ministry plants my feet in the path of truth for the day.
I thank God for the truth you share that encourages!
I am so grateful for the Acts & Facts magazine. I have been reading it for many years. Recently I went through the Bible and tried to find all the verses that spoke of God as our Creator, and I was so happy to see the recent article by Dr. John Morris about “Creation Verses.” He referenced Jeremiah 32:17 in his article. I do not know how I missed that—I had read it many times over the years! I have added it to my list. I am blessed by his life and writings, and I try to spread the Word of the recent creation of all things by our wonderful heavenly Father.
I just finished reading Dr. John Morris’s book The Global Flood. Although the book is preaching to the choir in my case, I did learn significant new material which addressed many questions I had considered. Thank you for an excellent publication.
I have offered to let others read this book, but because it involves a global flood which is described in the Bible, it is “religious” and, therefore, not scientific—so [it is considered by secular teachers to have] no merit in scientific thinking. It is discarded outright with no consideration to even open it. As a scientist myself (chemist), I am dismayed by the close-mindedness and outright rejection of non-uniformitarian thinking by others in my own profession. Satan has blinded these people to the truth no matter how elegant the refutation of their worldview might be, but the truth must continue to be told.
Dr. John continually demonstrated a gentle and upbeat nature. After his first stroke a few years ago, he had difficulty talking. His brother, Dr. Henry Morris III, shared that John would say a few words and then get stuck. And then he would just smile. That’s Dr. John—full of joy, with his first response to frustration being a smile. He treated everyone like a valued family member, always encouraging, offering words of gratitude and praise easily—willing to help them along.
We at ICR are deeply grieved by his passing. We’re so very grateful for the life and work of this special man, and we pray for God’s comfort and strength for his family during this time.