Henry Morris: the Ultimate Creationist

WE’VE BEEN slumming again at the creationist website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). They have a genuinely astonishing article today: The Vanishing Case for Evolution, by Henry Morris, Ph.D.

Who is Henry Morris? This Wikipedia article informs us:

Henry Madison Morris, Ph.D. (October 6, 1918 – February 25, 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.

[…]

From 1946 through 1951, he worked at the University of Minnesota, where he was awarded a master’s degree in hydraulics (1948) and a Ph.D. in hydraulic engineering (1950).

The Wikipedia article on hydraulic engineering says: “Hydraulic engineering is a sub-discipline of civil engineering concerned with the flow and conveyance of fluids, principally water. This area of engineering is intimately related to the design of bridges, dams, channels, canals, levees, elevators, and to both sanitary and environmental engineering.” [Emphasis supplied.]

Now you know that in addition to creationism, Henry Morris was an expert in sewers and toilets. Morris’ intellectual journey from hydraulic engineering to creation science seems entirely natural, as his two specialties are closely related.

The ICR article gushingly begins with this laudatory introduction:

Dr. Henry M. Morris, father of the modern creation science movement, devoted his life to upholding the accuracy and authority of God’s Word. Combining scientific knowledge with a thorough understanding of Scripture, he clearly and succinctly combated the errors of evolution. In the article below, Dr. Morris highlights evolution’s false claims, using the words of evolutionists themselves. His words are as true today as when they were first written.

We agree. “His words are as true today as when they were first written.” But we don’t say that as a compliment.

The words of this now-deceased and still revered creationist have been re-posted at the ICR website. Here are some excerpts from this nostalgic piece, at the end of which we are told: “Adapted from Dr. Morris’ article ‘The Vanishing Case for Evolution’ in the June 1986 edition of Acts & Facts.” The bold font was added by us:

Evolutionary belief is a remarkable and largely unexplained phenomenon. It is a belief held by most intellectuals all over the world, despite the fact that there is no real scientific evidence for it at all. Evolutionists allege that evolution is a proved scientific fact, based on a multitude of scientific proofs, but they are unable to document even one of these supposed proofs!

No scientific evidence at all! Who knew? Let’s read on:

This curious situation is illustrated below in quotations from several leading evolutionary scientists.

What follows are several classic specimens of quote-mining, a term coined in large part to describe Morris’ technique of “quoting out of context … in an attempt to skew or contort the meaning and purpose of the original author.” Indeed, Morris published an entire book of such material: That Their Words May Be Used Against Them (Amazon listing).

In response to this dishonest technique, numerous scholarly refutations have been painstakingly researched, placing the mined quotes in their proper context. See, for example: The Quote Mine Project. The misleading quotes, however, continue to appear on creationist websites.

We won’t trouble you by repeating the mined quotes in the Morris article. They’ve been endlessly copied and recopied all over the internet. Take your Curmudgeon’s word for it — his article is the most extraordinary load of raw sewage ever concentrated in one location.

Morris has plucked “quotes” from various sources, allegedly asserting that: no one has ever seen evolution happen; mutations are always either neutral or harmful; evolutionists can’t determine the mechanism that causes evolution; there are no transitional fossils; there is no chronological sequence for fossils; the second law of thermodynamics makes evolution impossible; etc. It’s all there. And it’s all been debunked for generations.

This massive blockage in the pipeline of human knowledge, which has caused an overflow of pre-scientific excreta throughout the internet, is the accomplishment of an hydraulic engineer who turned his talents to sabotaging society’s system of purging false information. The resulting intellectual dung heap is an appropriate memorial to the life and work of Henry Morris.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

4 responses to “Henry Morris: the Ultimate Creationist

  1. mightyfrijoles

    Curmy wrote:
    “expert in sewers and toilets”

    A low blow. The guy is a patent idiot with out Curmy descending into the sewers of Creationism.

  2. MF says: “A low blow.”

    Verily, I am the most misunderstood man in the blogosphere. I was giving Morris respectful credit for his academic accomplishments.

  3. When Morris died in ’06, I was in the middle of writing my college thesis, in which he played a major role. So I wrote an obituary of him for a college magazine, Brown’s College Hill Independent. I hope you don’t mind if I offer it here in entirety:

    In 1981, a few students approached the young Professor Ken Miller, who still teaches at Brown today, and asked him to debate the great creationist Dr. Henry Morris about evolution. After some cajoling he agreed and the two faced off for a historic three-hour duel in Meehan Auditorium. By most accounts, Miller was the winner. Indeed, in his memoir of the creationist movement, Morris calls Miller’s victory “a turning point in the current creation/evolution warfare.” But that was not the end of the debate. Miller remembers Morris gravely telling him one morning after a debate in Florida, “Ken, you’re intelligent, you’re well-meaning, and you’re energetic. But you are also young, and you don’t realize what’s at stake.”

    To Morris, the battle between evolution and creationism has been going on since the beginning of time. It was fought among the Greeks and among the Israelites. Darwin is only a recent avatar, and his teachings are, as Morris would write, “how people in Christian cultures in the last days will try to rationalize their scoffing rejection of the Word of God.” Early in his life, Morris himself believed in evolution, and was always aware of its powerful appeal. But, for him, creationism was not simply a reassuring story to tell our children—it was the mark of a rescued world and a holy people, and through science itself creation and Creator will be vindicated.

    The great flood

    Henry Madison Morris was born a native Texan in 1918. Though he had dreamed of studying journalism, the Great Depression forced him into getting an engineering degree. Upon graduation, he took an interim job as an engineer in El Paso, leaving behind a fiancée in Houston for good. In the lonely evenings at home during that period, he undertook an impassioned study of the Bible. It was then that Morris became convinced that evolution cannot be reconciled with the revealed truths of the universe. From then on, he took on an apostolic mission to bring the discoveries of science into agreement with scripture.

    In 1957, having just been appointed chair of the civil engineering department at Virginia Tech, Morris began work on his contribution to a manuscript by a young theologian, John C. Whitcomb. It was about flood geology, the study of the effects of Noah’s flood on the Earth, which, they argue, we have to thank jointly for fossil remains and the layering of geological formations. Drawing on his training as a hydraulic engineer, Morris’s almost total reworking of Whitcomb’s manuscript gave it unprecedented scientific credibility in the bourgeoning field of flood science, which before had been mainly a reserve of speculative-minded seminarians.

    The Genesis Flood, published in 1961, was a sensation. It launched Morris onto the national lecture circuit as a spokesman for the six-day creationist cause. In 1969, he left academics for good and founded the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), which for decades led the national fight against evolution in science, church and school.

    By the 60s, American Protestantism had slid into a lackadaisical stupor. Many had come to accept more metaphorical interpretations of the Genesis account, even to the point of all-out Darwinism. Especially among evangelicals and fundamentalists, it was Morris’s movement that brought back six-day creationism as the orthodox literal reading of Genesis. Key to their success was the ICR’s insistence that science, if done right, will always prove the inerrancy of the Bible. Morris and his followers held that modern science, and all modernity as well, did not need to be divorced from faith. It needed to be purified through faith. Even though this task was of course never completed, Henry Morris’s many books give an idea of what it would look like if somebody did.

    The waters recede

    To the intelligent design movement of today, creationism’s best-known offspring, Morris is a crazy old grandpa. The design theorists would rather keep quiet his insistent Bible-thumping, but on the basics many of them would hardly disagree with him. Their firmest base of popular support rests in the movement he spawned. Morris’s closer disciples, including his own son John Morris and Australian Ken Ham, carry on his torch to the letter, celebrating him as the “father of scientific creationism.”

    In one of his last books, Creation and the Second Coming, Morris explores the seamless connection between beginnings and endings. The six days of creation that he preached all his life prefigure six millennia of world history, which, he argues on the basis of contemporary world events, are coming to a close. As in creation, and after great upheaval, the seventh epoch of time will be one of great rest in the heavenly city, where, as Morris wrote, “we shall live in the ages to come, the most beautiful city ever dreamed.”

    Henry Morris died in San Diego on February 25 after a series of debilitating strokes, “cogent and alert up until the last moments,” and surrounded by his family.