Henry M. Morris, Jr.
Henry Morris is considered the “father of the modern creationist movement.” A prolific author, scientist and founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), he was humble and mild-mannered in person, but his influence was felt around the world. It continues to reverberate through his writings, his sons, and the disciples he inspired, the institutions he either founded himself or stimulated others to found. He had many enemies among secular scientists. None of them, however, could ever fault him for his scientific credentials and knowledge of science, his communication skills, his personal character, the consistency of his convictions, his family, or his personal integrity. He was consistent and productive to the end of his life, and died peacefully in 2006 among family and friends with no regrets, looking forward to heaven.
Dr. Henry Morris (PhD, hydraulic engineering, Rice University) and Dr. John Whitcomb awakened a slumbering church in 1961 with The Genesis Flood, a book that many have claimed marked the beginning of the modern creationist movement. The book presented convincing scientific evidence against long ages and for a global watery cataclysm. In 1970, Morris left Virginia Tech where he was head of the department of civil engineering, to pursue his creation activities full time. With Dr. Duane Gish, a biochemist from UC Berkeley, Morris formed the Institute for Creation Research. The fledgling work, begun on a shoestring, soon grew into the leading creationist research institute in the world and added a museum and graduate school. Morris and Gish debated hundreds of scientists on college campuses across America and around the world. His 50+ books, unabashedly Christian and literally Biblical but also very astute about science and the history of evolutionary thought, have had an enormous impact on generations of readers.
Gentle and soft-spoken in person but impregnable with a pen, Dr. Henry Morris was still writing things up to his final few days. The breadth and depth of subjects he wrote about is remarkable. His mind stayed sharp through age 87. The work at ICR continued under the leadership of his sons John Morris, a PhD in geological engineering, and Henry Morris III, a pastor and businessman as President, at the new headquarters in Dallas. His son Henry Morris IV is Director of Donor Relations. With a staff of scientists and writers, ICR continues its emphasis on scientific research and writing. The institute has begun several new research projects including one in genetics, after the recent conclusion of its 8-year RATE project, an interdisciplinary analysis of radioactive dating by 11 scientists, and a project called FAST (Flood Activated Sedimentation and Tectonics).
One of Morris’s last public appearances was in 2002, when ICR hosted a large, well-attended conference at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa called “Passing the Torch of Creation.” Dr. Morris received a standing ovation immediately upon being introduced to speak. His life demonstrated how one man, committed to God and his word, can make a difference. Almost every creationist leader today is indebted to his life and works. In the 1960s there were very few books on creation. Evolution dominated the textbooks and most churches, intimidated by science, preferred to avoid the issue. Henry Morris’s first small paperback, The Bible and Modern Science, began to change things. Then The Genesis Flood electrified a new generation of college-educated Christians. Liberal churches had long since given in to Darwinism completely, and many Bible-believing churches had capitulated to long ages and uniformitarianism. Assuming that science had proved deep time, they merely tried to accommodate it with compromises like the gap theory or progressive creation.
Morris and Whitcomb demonstrated that it was possible to look at the fossil record and the geological strata in a new way that corroborated the Bible record of a world-wide flood. Not only that, they showed how the scientific evidence was superior to that of the evolutionists. A new army of creation scientists launched into further investigations that continue to the present day. New organizations, like the Bible-Science Association and the Creation Research Society, were formed. Numerous spin-off clubs and societies have kept the creation movement growing in strength and extent around the world. Almost all of them can trace some ancestry back to ICR.
Ken Ham, for instance, often talks about Morris as his inspiration; particularly how his commentary on Genesis, The Genesis Record, provided a powerful influence on his life to show that God’s word must be the foundation in all areas of life, not the fallible opinions of man. As he often puts it, “Are you going to believe the words of men, who don’t know everything and weren’t there, or the words of God, who does know everything and who was there?” That was certainly a key theme of Dr. Morris: we take the word of God as our final authority, because it is the word of God. We don’t mold the authority of God to the fallible opinions of science; what better authority could one have than the Creator of the universe?
Henry Morris never boasted about himself but always sought to honor Jesus Christ and remain faithful to God’s word. He was aware to the last of the crucial nature of this intellectual battle. The battle has become more heated than ever. Having passed the torch on to a new generation, he didn’t leave the field, but continued to challenge and encourage others to the end. Dr. Morris has been the Moses of modern creationism. His personal endurance, patience and integrity, and the wisdom of his books, need to inspire a new generation of Joshuas and Calebs to be strong and very courageous, and to take back the land, for good science and the glory of God.