As discussed in Part III of this series, the Institute for Creation Research (this name was adopted after a reorganization in early 1972) was initially a division of Christian Heritage College (CHC), formed in September 1970. As ICR founder and director, my purpose had been to establish a ministry of research, publication, and extension speaking, emphasizing the truth and viability of scientific Biblical creationism, instead of the evolutionism then dominating science and education. The ICR researchers, writers, and speakers were to be the faculty science teachers at the college.
The ministry grew rapidly. I had for several years been speaking in many places around the country, and some of my books had become fairly well known, so this activity more or less naturally continued. It increased when Dr. Duane Gish joined the college faculty in late 1971. He soon became recognized as an articulate and knowledgeable speaker.
Over the 25 years since that beginning, much has happened. A number of scientists served at ICR for a time, then moved on to other ministries. Of those that have been with ICR almost since the beginning, Dr. John Morris and Dr. Steve Austin are still here and exercising key functions. Dr. Richard Bliss was with us for 18 years until he suddenly was called into the Lord's presence late in 1994.
Creation seminars have become especially identified with ICR over the past 25 years, but I had been speaking in what would now be called creation seminars ever since 1955, and so had Dr. John Whitcomb and a few others.
But when CHC and ICR were established, this activity grew rapidly. Large meetings were held all over the nation and in various other countries, and the creation component of the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ began to be widely acknowledged and appreciated.
The typical seminar, right from the start, has included many topics in creationism, involving the Biblical aspects, scientific aspects, and societal aspects of the creation/evolution question. The greatest emphasis has usually been placed on the scientific evidence, since the wide acceptance of evolution in society has been mainly based on the false claim that science has proved it.
In addition to the two (or three) day seminars, ICR has held at least two week-long Summer Institutes on Scientific Creationism almost every year since 1972. These typically are held on host college campuses and have often been offered for two credit-hours of course work, acceptable for degree requirements at the host college. The institutes have been unique to ICR, so far as I know, and have permitted greater depth and breadth of coverage than in the seminars.
Probably as many as a million people have attended one of our creation conferences, church services, seminars, institutes, or other public meetings, and we receive many testimonies every month from people who have been saved, whose faith has been established, who have abandoned evolutionism, or whose lives have been changed in a very positive way by attending one of these meetings. There is no doubt that "creation evangelism" really works!
Included among these meetings have been over 300 creation/evolution debates, usually held on university campuses before audiences composed mainly of students and faculty, with attendances ranging up to 5000. In most cases, the creationist debater has been Dr. Gish, but I have also participated in many of them, as have Dr. John Morris and other ICR scientists. They are set up as strictly scientific debates, with no arguments supposed to be based on religion or social aspects of evolutionism. As a result, the creationists practically always "win." Evolutionists commonly use ad hominem arguments, criticize fundamentalists, or try to make philosophical arguments for evolution, but they are never able to give any real scientific evidence for macroevolution.
Even though we emphasize the scientific aspects of creationism—especially in our debates and campus seminars—we also stress the fact that all true science supports Biblical creationism as well. Many Christians today take the position that current scientific opinion (which will usually opt for evolution and the great age of the earth, if possible) must govern our interpretation of Scripture. This compromise approach is eschewed by ICR. We believe that God's inerrant word must always prevail over the historical speculations of what the Bible calls "science falsely so called."
ICR has many other outreach ministries. Early in 1972 we began a weekly 15-minute radio broadcast, "Science, Scripture & Salvation," and it has continued every week since for 23 years. More recently, a daily one-minute "Back to Genesis" radio spot was started. The two programs are currently being aired on over 1000 radio stations and translators combined.
We have also produced numerous video cassettes, and these are having a very fruitful ministry. In fact, our publications (books, videotapes, audiotapes, periodicals, pamphlets, etc.) surely constitute the most fruitful outreach of all, in terms of both numbers reached and permanent impact on lives.
The subject matter of these products covers almost every aspect of scientific creationism and Biblical creationism, and the range is all the way from picture books for children to technical monographs for scientists. Over 75 creationist books have been published by ICR writers, and these have been widely used and blessed by God. One or more have been translated into at least 20 languages. ICR's monthly newsletter, Acts & Facts, is read by over 150,000 people each month, and Days of Praise, our daily devotional booklet issued quarterly, is read by over 250,000.
Despite these fairly impressive numbers, it is obvious that we have only scratched the surface as far as the need is concerned. Evolutionism still dominates the whole world today, and every person needs to know about the true Creator/Savior God of the universe. The Scriptures show compellingly (Colossians 1:14-20; Revelation 14:6,7; etc.) that special creation is the foundational component of the saving gospel of Christ. They also show conclusively that the earth is young (Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 10:6; etc.) and that the great Flood was a worldwide cataclysm (Genesis 6,7; II Peter 3:3-6; etc.). The evolutionary philosophy which pervades the scientific and educational communities everywhere is not only false scientifically, but also devastatingly harmful socially, economically, and personally, as well as lethal spiritually.
ICR's outreach ministries are thus vitally important, both in themselves and as examples for others. Though we were not the first to conduct creation seminars or write creation books, there were very few of either before ICR started such activities with a full-time program and staff of scientists.
Since that time, however, creationist organizations or societies have been formed in over 25 countries that we know of, on every continent except Antarctica. ICR scientists have also spoken in every state in the USA, and almost every Canadian province, as well as in 25 other countries. Nevertheless, these outreach ministries (or what might be called our extension ministry of education in scientific Biblical creationism) need to be greatly expanded and diversified in the future if the multitudes who still need to hear the truth are ever to be reached.
The ICR seminars, books, and other ministries have always played another key role--that of recruiting new undergraduate and graduate students. These did come from far and wide during the first decade, when creationism was known to be a key emphasis at Christian Heritage College. Then, when the ICR Graduate School was established in 1981, the books, seminars, and newsletter have provided the essential tools for recruiting the dedicated, qualified, graduate students that are needed for future leadership, as well as energizing the creation movement as a whole.
It is also obvious that a large organization such as ICR (currently over 50 full-time employees), with such a wide variety of programs, must have a substantial income in order to carry on. We have no tax support from government (and would not accept it if offered), no denominational backing, and very little from private foundations. Thus, most of our support must come from concerned individual Christians and local churches, and these must first be shown the critical importance of all the ICR ministries. The various outreaches of the organization are the means we use, and God has provided our needs in that way.
Part V of this series will focus on our unique graduate school, which is actually the real core of ICR's complex of ministries.
* Dr. Morris is Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.