Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dr. Henry Morris has died

Dr Henry Madison Morris (1918-2006) has departed this life "to be with Christ, which is better by far" (Philippians 1:23). My comments are bold and in square brackets.

Dr. Henry Morris has died, Answers in Genesis, February 25, 2006. Dr. Henry Morris, founder and president emeritus of the Institute for Creation Research and the "father" of the modern creationist movement (especially with The Genesis Flood, which he co-authored in the early 1960s) had in recent days suffered a series of debilitating small strokes, and passed into the presence of his Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Saturday evening (February 25). Dr. Morris, 87, had been receiving care in a San Diego area convalescent hospital. According to his son, Dr. Henry Morris III (Executive Vice President of the Institute for Creation Research), the elder Dr. Morris "remained cogent and alert up until the last few moments. My brother John (President of ICR), my sister Mary, and my sister Rebecca were with him just prior to his passing." In a note emailed late Saturday night to ICR board members and friends of the family, Dr. Morris III shared that "Dad has had a wonderfully full life, much blessed by our Lord, and we are rejoicing and celebrating his ‘well done’ now in the presence of his Lord." Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis-USA and co-founder of Answers in Genesis-Australia, wrote to AiG leadership that Dr. Morris is 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, co-authored by Dr. Morris and Dr. Whitcomb, was the book the Lord used to really launch the modern creationist movement around the world. It was the first major creation book I read, and had a special place, therefore, in the beginnings of the creationist movement in Australia. Our prayers are with the family. Please pray for the family, the staff of the Institute for Creation Research, and for all those whose lives continue to be changed by the many books and articles authored by this great man of God during his long and productive life. [See also ICR; Baptist Press & WorldNetDaily. Although I am not, and never have been, a Young-Earth Creationist, many years ago I posted to an Internet forum something like:

"While I don't agree with Henry Morris on the age of the Earth, I pay tribute to him (and YECs like him) for having the guts to take a stand for Biblical creation, enduring the heat of the noon-day sun, when the evidence for evolution seemed to be so overwhelming that many Christians (including me) thought the only alternative was some form of Theistic Evolution."

My testimony is similar to Bill Dembski's (and I am sure many other Christian non-YEC IDists). When I started debating evolution on Fidonet (a precursor to the Internet) in 1994, I knew very little about evolution and was a sort of weak Theistic Evolutionist in that my position (if you can even call it that) consisted of a lazy mantra, "if evolution is true, then it is just the means God used to create."

After encountering evolutionists for the first time on Fidonet and then later the Internet, their nastiness made me suspect that they were hiding something, but I didn't know what. It was books like Morris' "The Troubled Waters of Evolution" (1982), "Scientific Creationism" (1985) and "What is Creation Science?" (1987), which helped me realise that evolution had enough scientific problems, for me to no longer continue with my lazy mantra. The first question to be asked and answered was, "is evolution (i.e. fully naturalistic evolution) true?" I didn't have to accept Morris' proposed alternative, Young-Earth Creation, to recognise that many (if not most) of his scientific criticisms of evolution were valid.

Indeed it was Morris himself who conceded that the fact of creation is primary and the timeframe of that creation is secondary:

"The question of the date of creation is separate and distinct from the question of the fact of creation. The basic evidences supporting the Creation Model-for example, the laws of thermodynamics, the complex structures of living organisms, the universal gaps between types in both the living world and the fossil record-are all quite independent of the time of creation. Whether the world is ten thousand years old or ten trillion years old, these and other such evidences all point to creation, not to evolution, as the best explanation of origins. Unfortunately, evolutionists commonly confuse the issue, apparently believing that an ancient earth would prove evolution and a young earth would prove creation. The critics of the creation movement commonly focus their attacks not on creation in general, but on recent creation. The fact is, however, that the question of the age of the earth and the universe, while an important question in its own right, is quite independent of the question of creation or evolution, at least as far as the facts of science are concerned. For evolutionists to concentrate their criticisms of creationism mostly on this independent issue is merely an admission of the weakness of evolutionism. On the other hand, the concept of evolution does suggest an old earth. Creationism is free to consider all evidences regarding the earth's age, whether old or young, whereas evolutionism is bound to an old earth." (Morris H.M. & Parker G.E., "What is Creation Science?," [1982], Master Books: El Cajon CA, Revised Edition, 1987, p.253. My emphasis)

There are two Bible verses that came to mind when I reflected on Morris's life after hearing today of his death. The first is the risen Jesus' criticism of the modern-sounding 1st century Laodicean church in Revelation 3:16 (as it happens, I will be leading our home group study on that passage tomorrow):

"So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit [Gk. vomit] you out of my mouth."

and 1 Samuel 16:7:

"But the LORD said to Samuel, `Do not consider his [David's] appearance or his height ... The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Many (including some Christians and even me) may have judged Morris by the "outward appearance," of his views about the time frame of creation. But to the Lord who "does not look at the things man looks at" but rather "looks at the heart," I have no doubt that if there is a seating order at the great "wedding supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9; Matthew 8:11), Henry Madison Morris will be far closer to the top end of the table than most of those of us who accept the scientific evidence that the Universe and Earth are billions of years old, and therefore that the days of Genesis 1 are to be interpreted non-literally!

"Well done, good and faithful servant ... Enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:23)]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

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