Who is Henry Morris?
Henry Morris (1918 – 2006) was an American young earth creationist and Christian apologist. He was one of the founders of the Creation Research Society and the Institute for Creation Research. He is considered by many to be "the father of modern creation science." He wrote numerous creationist and devotional books, and made regular television and radio appearances.
Early life, education and personal life
Morris grew up in Texas in the 1920s and 1930s. He graduated from Rice University with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1939. He married Mary Louise on January 24, 1940, and they later had six children.
After graduating in 1939, Morris served as an hydraulic engineer working with the International Boundary and Water Commission (1939-1942). He returned to Rice, teaching civil engineering from 1942 until 1946, where he also wrote a short book,That You Might Believe (1946).
From 1946-1951, he studied at the University of Minnesota, where he was awarded a master's degree in hydraulics (1948) and a Ph.D. in hydraulic engineering (1950). In 1951 he became a professor and chair of civil engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then served as a professor of applied science at Southern Illinois University from 1956-1957.
Morris moved to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) to serve as Professor of Civil Engineering in the area of hydraulics, and to serve as department chair for civil engineering. There, Morris co-authored an advanced text on engineering hydraulics with J.M. Wiggert that was used "in dozens of universities worldwide", and under a decade of leadership the department "rose to become one of the largest civil engineering programs in the nation".
While Morris' religious views and writings were controversial among university biology and geology faculty, and in the broader debate, it has been reported that Morris "kept his own counsel on [them], unless... pressed", such that his university engineering colleagues respected Morris as "a good administrator" and his religious views "because they never influenced his [administration]".
In 1963, while yet at Virginia Tech, Morris and nine others founded the Creation Research Society, and Morris continued his creationist writing and speaking. Morris eventually left his faculty position at Virginia Tech in 1970 to focus on his work in creationism, after university interactions with a new engineering dean who directed Morris not to list creationist works alongside his engineering publications, viewing his non-engineering writings and increasing persona to be "too controversial."
Morris is quoted as having said that these directions "seemed like... the handwriting on the wall that they didn't want me to stay..." and that "[Dean Willis] Worchester was happy... when I submitted my resignation".
In 1970, Morris co-founded the Christian Heritage College in Santee, California which led to formation of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) in 1972. His son, John D. Morris, took over the presidency of ICR when his father retired. On February 1, 2006, Morris suffered a minor stroke and was hospitalized. Morris was moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility near his son's home (and ICR) in Santee, California where he died.
Henry M. Morris took some fragmentary ideas floating around amongst a few post-Scopes-trial shaken, backwater fundamentalists and turned them into a system that claims to be scientific, consistent and Biblical, and that has been strong enough to endure the criticisms of its enemies for over 50 years. He created a school of thought that derives its power from religious zeal and a literal interpretation of Genesis.
It is a system Morris called "Scientific Creationism" that defiantly flies in the face of most of the findings of mainstream science regarding the history of the earth and the universe.This set of ideas has been spread by books and word of mouth among trusted preachers and teachers into churches, schools and home schools all over America, so that now, and for the past 30 years, about 46% of Americans subscribe to it.
Morris' efforts and achievements on behalf of young-earth creationism are unmatched and difficult to overstate. Although he is little known to the secular media, and he is even now being forgotten among younger Bible students and preachers, Henry Morris is the primary source for their arguments against evolution and their suspicions about practically every other theory of mainstream science, from the Big Bang to embryology.
In 1961, Morris and John C. Whitcomb wrote The Genesis Flood, which advocated creationism and flood geology. In it he cited an influence by George McCready Price, a Seventh-day Adventist schoolteacher and defender of creationism in the early 20th century. This work sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide. While the greater bulk of his published writings address creation science and evolution themes, he had also written Many Infallible Proofs, and The Bible Has The Answer, which are both works of general Christian apologetics.
Views and Critiques
Morris has received criticism from the scientific community for his incoherent philosophy of science, and his representation of evolution as a complete religious system has been called a straw man. In particular, Massimo Pigliucci criticized Morris' omission of material that interferes with his "mission" and "beliefs". Pigliucci also criticized Morris' interpretation of thermodynamics.
Morris' position had also been the subject of debate among Evangelical scholars of the Old Testament and among Evangelicals working in various fields of science. Morris also strongly defended the use of the King James Bible.
In Evolution & the Modern Christian (1967), Morris hoped to "open the minds and hearts of young people to the true Biblical cosmology." T.E. Fenton, Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University, wrote "scientific value of the book is nil; the author selectively chooses the areas of science that he accepts and rejects other areas of accepted science".
Morris wrote in The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth (1972) that the craters of the moon were caused by a cosmic battle between the forces of Satan and the armies of the archangel Michael. David Vogel, Professor of Biology at Creighton University, reviewed the book explaining "his theology is shallow; his exegesis is maddening; his science is wrong; and he tops it off by offending millions of Bible-believing Christians who also accept evolution".
His book Scientific Creationism (1974 and 1984), according to Herman Kirkpatrick, "is not very convincing evidence to support the recent creation of the earth". Thomas Wheeler, Professor of biochemistry at University of Louisville, reviewed the second edition and concluded, "Scientific Creationism cannot be recommended for use in public school classes, or indeed anyone interested in learning science".
Wheeler cited Morris' misunderstanding of science, appeals to religious prejudice, misrepresentation of scientific knowledge, omission of opposing science, double standards in evidence, "absurd conclusions," inappropriate and misidentified sources, attacks on scientists, using discredited arguments, and "silly calculations".
Morris' work with John C. Whitcomb, The Genesis Flood, has been criticized for taking quotes out of context and misquoting sources. For example, in one instance, a source which read "the sea which vanished so many million years ago" was quoted as "the sea which vanished so many years ago." Geologist John G. Solum has criticized the work for being inaccurate.
Solum noted "Whitcomb and Morris are mistaken about the nature of the rocks associated with thrust faults. Their claim about fossils is based on a YEC misunderstanding of how rocks are dated relative to each other, and how the geologic column was constructed." In fact Solum noted, "Morris' explanation of relative dating is not 'somewhat oversimplified' it is entirely incorrect."
In The Long War Against God: The History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict (1989) Morris wrote that "the denial of God – rejecting the reality of supernatural creation and the creator's sovereign rule of the world – has always been the root cause of every human problem." Morris was criticized by Randy Moore, of University of Minnesota, for writing in the book that "evolutionism" is satanic and responsible for racism, abortion, and a decline in morality.
- "Henry Morris" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (with minor edits), under GFDL.