In September 1970, the Institute for Creation Research was merely a need waiting to be met and a vision seeking fulfillment. In September 1985, just fifteen years later, it had become a unique complex of evangelistic, missionary, scientific, and educational ministries with worldwide outreach and impact, widely recognized (at least by evolutionists!) as the organization at the center of the growing revival of creationism in the world. This fifteenth anniversary is a good time to review the background, goals, message, and ministry of this surprisingly effective, transdenominational, multi-disciplinary organization.
Background and History: During the early months of 1970, the decision was made by Dr. Tim LaHaye and Dr. Art Peters (then pastor and associate pastor of San Diego's Scott Memorial Baptist Church), together with Dr. Henry Morris, to organize Christian Heritage College, designed to be a strictly creation-based and Bible-governed Christian liberal arts college, sponsored by the church in San Diego. Dr. Morris had spent over 30 years in engineering and education, most recently (since 1957) as Chairman of the large Department of Civil Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
As a condition for leaving Virginia Tech to help start the new college, Dr. Morris had asked that a special center for creation studies be established as a division of the college. At the time, he was president of the Creation Research Society (a membership organization of creationist scientists established in 1963) and had seen the urgent need for a full-time creationist research/teaching/writing organization dedicated to restructuring all fields of learning and practice in the integrating framework of genuine creationism. At the new Christian Heritage College, he was able (as Academic Vice President) to plan the initial curricula (as well as the college's Statement of Faith) in this context, and the College (now fully accredited and with over 700 graduates) has maintained this testimony ever since.
Dr. Duane Gish, one year later, left his own career in biochemical industrial research to join the staff as its second full-time scientist. Others have come at various times since, and the Lord has indeed raised up a remarkable team of godly evangelical scientists to carry out ICR's multi-faceted mission.
In April 1972, the College's "creationist research division" was reorganized under its present name, and its popular free monthly periodical, Acts & Facts , began publication. Its weekly radio broadcast, "Science, Scripture, & Salvation," also started at the same time. Its famous creation/evolution campus debates began in the fall of that year and its first books were also published then (Dr. Gish's Evolution: The Fossils Say No!, and Dr. Morris's The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth). With these and other activities, the ministry of ICR began to grow rapidly in influence.
Another major change was made in September 1980, just one decade after the work began, when it was decided to start the ICR Graduate School. This required a formal separation from Christian Heritage College (Although continuing in close cooperation with the College), as well as independent ICR incorporation, both of which changes were completed early in 1981 with graduate classes then beginning in the summer of 1981. Dr. Morris became President of ICR and Dr. Gish Vice President, with Don Rohrer as Chief Financial Officer, all operating under an independent Board of Trustees composed of godly Christian business and professional men.
Long-Range Goals: The visionary goal of the Institute for Creation Research can be nothing less than the restoration of true creationism as the governing motivation in the thoughts and actions of men everywhere.
This goal may seem unrealistic but, since it is soundly Biblical, it must at least orient all our short-range goals. The latter, for example, include: (1) scholarly research, designed to resolve any problem areas in the understanding of the creationist/Biblical world view; (2) publication of books, articles, and audiovisual materials as needed to provide a sound and convincing case for the creationist world view in all fields at all levels; (3) evangelistic and missionary outreaches designed to assist churches, missions, and para-church ministries in winning people everywhere to faith in the truth of special creation and in Jesus Christ as Creator, Redeemer, and coming King, through seminars, debates, church messages, radio/television ministries, and many other media; (4) formal instruction and education, both in creationism as such, and also in the creationist approach to instruction in any field, in short courses as well as full-length course work and degree programs.
The ICR Message: In all ICR activities, one theme is always most prominent. The truth is vigorously stressed that the creationist world view, based on special creation (as opposed to any form of evolution), is supported by all true facts of science and human experience, as well as by God's word, the Holy Scriptures. Biblical creationism has been the real foundation of true science and of the American system of freedom and constitutional government. The evolutionary world view, on the other hand, is shown to be sterile and useless as far as real science is concerned. Furthermore, it has served as the pseudo-scientific rationale for such harmful systems as humanism, atheism, Nazism, Marxism, racism, laissez-faire capitalism, imperialism, and all forms of pantheistic religion.
That evolution is unscientific is evident from at least three basic scientific facts: (1) no example of vertical evolution (from one kind to a more complex kind) has ever been observed in all recorded history, whereas numerous cases of recent extinctions have been confirmed; (2) no genuine transitional structures (such as a half-developed heart or wing) has ever been found existing in the present or in the billions of fossils of creatures preserved from the past; (3) the universal law of decay and decreasing organization known as the entropy principle (which operates universally not only in "closed systems" but also in those "open systems" which are not directly controlled by specific sources of organizing energy and information outside the system) seems to preclude even the possibility of significant "upward" evolution. There is thus no scientific evidence that evolution occurred in the past, is occurring in the present, or is even possible at all. But if none of the complex systems in the world have evolved by natural processes, they must have been created by supernatural processes! There is no other alternative.
These scientific facts were also anticipated long ago in the inspired word of God, which unequivocally teaches the completed special creation of all things by God during Creation Week (Genesis 2:1-3), as well as the present universal "bondage of decay" resulting from God's later curse on all things because of human sin (Genesis 3:17-20; Romans 8:20-22).
The Bible gives two additional important facts of primeval history. The created world was not formed aeons ago, long before man appeared, but occurred quickly and recently, being specifically prepared as man's "dominion" (Genesis 1:26-28; Exodus 20:8-11). Secondly, the original world system was later destroyed in a global hydraulic cataclysm (II Peter 3:3-6), sent by God because of the universal wickedness that had developed from man's initial rejection of His Creator's Word. These two facts, which are corollaries to the basic fact of creation, are also abundantly supported by many documented evidences in the actual data of geology and related sciences.
Impact of the ICR Ministry: The impact of the ICR complex of creationist ministries is evidenced by multitudes of personal testimonies of faith strengthened and lives changed through one or another of these ministries. However, in a brief review, this impact can only be summarized statistically.
For example, ICR's 1985 book catalog shows 75 books and booklets published by ICR authors, plus nine audiovisual items and 47 audiotapes. Many of these have gone through numerous printings and there have been over 70 translations of ICR books in at least 16 different languages. There are over 110 different creationist organizations, in 20 different countries, with at least 20 different creationist periodicals now being published. The large majority of these have been either directly or indirectly formed as a result of ICR literature or other ICR contacts. ICR speakers themselves have ministered directly in over 25 countries, and many missionaries have testified of the tremendous value of this type of ministry on the mission field, where evolutionary teaching in the schools has everywhere become one of the main barriers to effective evangelism.
ICR speakers have participated in probably 175 major creation/evolution debates, almost always being acknowledged as winners in the debates. They have lectured in all 50 states, on over 500 campuses, and in over 1200 churches, as well as to many other types of audiences. The weekly radio broadcast has been heard on over 100 stations, and there have been numerous other radio and television appearances.
The unique ICR Graduate School offers M.S. degree programs, fully approved by the state of California, in the fields of Astro/Geophysics, Biology, Geology, and Science Education. Since the first classes in 1981, there have been 60 graduate students enrolled, 10 of whom have so far received degrees.
Many exciting research studies have been conducted, both field studies and analytical studies. The new ICR building, scheduled for completion in November 1985, will permit significant laboratory research for the first time. The outstanding ICR Museum of Creation and Earth History, already receiving thousands of visitors annually, will also be enlarged and improved.
The newest ICR ministry, a free quarterly booklet of daily devotional Bible studies called Days of Praise, has been enthusiastically received by numerous churches and individuals.
Conclusion: This has been only the briefest of summaries of the activities and influence of ICR during its first 15 years. Although the blessings and guidance of God have been evident, the surface has hardly been scratched in comparison to the great need and the long-range goals. The staff and facilities are still quite small in relation to both past achievements and future opportunities, but these will be expanded as the Lord leads and provides. The ICR ministries are supported largely through free-will contributions of concerned churches and individual Christians. ICR financial policies have always been based on pay-as-you-go operations and low-key fund-raising methods. God has honored this approach, but it is obvious that far more could be accomplished with greater resources. Perhaps God will provide these in the future, as more and more Christians realize the vital importance of ICR's ministry and goals. In the meantime, we trust that every reader of Acts & Facts will join the ICR staff in praise to our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ--our "God of all grace" (I Peter 5:10)--for all that has been accomplished in these past 15 years!
*Dr. Henry M. Morris is Founder and President Emeritus of the Institute for Creation Research.