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Creationism’s Henry M. Morris, dead at 87; upheld Genesis flood

EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)–Henry M. Morris, widely regarded as the founder of the modern creationist movement, died Feb. 25 at the age of 87.

Morris’ 1961 book, “The Genesis Flood,” subtitled, “The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications,” was a cornerstone of the movement. Morris coauthored the book while serving as head of Virginia Tech’s civil engineering department; Old Testament scholar John C. Whitcomb was the book’s coauthor.

In 1970, Morris founded the Institute for Creation Research, which continues to be a leading creationist force, now headed by his sons, John and Henry III.

Morris “had in recent days suffered a series of debilitating small strokes” and died at a San Diego-area convalescent hospital, according to a report on the website of Answers in Genesis, an organization in the creationist movement pioneered by Morris.

Morris earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota in 1948 and 1950, respectively, and taught civil engineering at several universities over the course of two decades before becoming head of Virginia Tech’s civil engineering department in 1959.

Morris’ views were embraced by a relative handful of scientists with Ph.D.s and by various segments of evangelical Christianity, but harshly criticized by scientists who embraced evolution.

After The Genesis Flood, Morris penned a steady stream of books, including “Scientific Creationism” (1974); “The Genesis Record” (1976), “That You Might Believe” (1978); “What Is Creation Science?” (with Gary Parker, 1982); “Men of Science; Men of God” (1982); “History of Modern Creationism” (1984); “The Long War Against God” (1989); and “Biblical Creationism” (1993).

Morris also was at the forefront of a King James Version “Defender’s Study Bible” (1996).

He believed that the Earth was only several thousand years old, not millions.

“It is impossible to devise a scientific experiment to describe the creation process, or even to ascertain whether such a process can take place,” he wrote in his book Scientific Creationism. “The Creator does not create at the whim of a scientist.

“… [T]he creation was ‘mature’ from its birth. It did not have to grow or develop from simple beginnings. God formed it full-grown in every respect, including even Adam and Eve as mature individuals when they were first formed. The whole universe had an ‘appearance of age’ right from the start. It could not have been otherwise for true creation to have taken place. ‘Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them’ (Genesis 2:1).”

Kurt Wise, director of Bryan College’s Center for Origins Research and Education in Dayton, Tenn., who holds master’s and doctorate degrees in paleontology from Harvard University, said in a statement to Baptist Press, “In a field so often dominated by heated, and sometimes vicious, conflict, Henry Morris was well known, even in a public debate, for having a soft-spoken, gentlemanly spirit. He was one of the very few true men of God I have ever known.”

Recounting that Morris has been called “The Father of Modern Creationism” primarily because of “his many books, which popularized young-age creationism in the evangelical world,” Wise noted, “Although this is appropriate, I believe Henry Morris most deserves this title for grounding creationism in Scripture. He spent the duration of his life tenaciously fighting for the supremacy and spread of God’s Word. Let that be creationism’s continuing legacy.”

Wise, himself the author of numerous creationism books, predicted that Morris’ influence “will not soon be forgotten. Henry Morris was trained as an engineer. But a full spectrum of disciplines are represented by those of us in creationism today who were influenced and inspired by his writings….

“Henry’s death is the end of an era, but it’s the beginning of another. Over the years, Henry shared a few of his dreams with me -– many of them unfulfilled in his lifetime. But by standing upon his shoulders, we can now see and reach the vistas of Henry’s dreams. We owe, and will owe, much to Henry Morris,” Wise said.

Among the various points of science concerning the Genesis flood that Morris pioneered is “biblical catastrophism” — that a worldwide flood is a more plausible way of interpreting geological data than science’s “uniformitarianism” theory that sedimentary rock was formed over billions of years.

Currently at the Institute for Creation Research, which includes a museum and an accredited graduate school, a team of young-earth scientists is involved in a project named RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth), examining and challenging radioisotope dating from a number of geological standpoints. According to a RATE news release, for example, “Diamonds thought to be millions/billions of years old by evolutionists contain significant levels of catrbon-14. Since carbon-14 decays quickly, none should have been found in the diamonds if the evolutionary age is correct.”

Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis–USA, described Morris as “one of my heroes of the faith. He is the man the Lord raised up as the father of the modern creationist movement. The famous book The Genesis Flood, coauthored by Dr. Morris and Dr. Whitcomb, was the book the Lord used to really launch the modern creationist movement around the world.”