Arthur I. Brown: An early creation leader

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Published: 23 October 2018 (GMT+10)
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Michigan born Arthur Isaac Brown MD (1875–1947) was a major critic of evolution in the 1920s to the late 1940s. The founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), Dr Henry Morris, wrote that Brown had a significant role in the growing creation movement.

Brown graduated with an MD degree from the Medical College in Toronto, earned a Masters of Surgery degree, and was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.1 In 1925 he left a lucrative surgical practice in Vancouver to write and lecture on science and the Bible. He remained a fulltime creation speaker and writer until his death in an accident at age 72.

Brown began writing anti-evolution monographs as early as 1920 and published a total of 17 books and monographs. I located 171 copies of his books on addall.com, a large number for books written over 70 to almost 100 years ago. His popular writings not only sold well, but they had a great impact on the Christian community.2 This was partly because Brown effectively argued against evolution on both scientific and scriptural grounds. All his writings were well-documented, and supported by references in both popular sources as well as mainline peer-reviewed scientific journals. Ronald Numbers recognized his importance to the creation movement by devoting an entire volume to him in the ten-volume series on the creation movement in the United States.3

Dr Brown was enormously popular with Christian audiences in the U.S., and was even seen “by his adversaries as well-educated, gracious, and a master of the lecture stage.”4 Numbers called him one of the “leading scientific authorities” in creationism in the 1920s.5 Such was his popularity that a “grueling pace” was required of him to crisscross the country to meet his lecture commitments in both large and small churches.6

Morris assessed Dr Brown as “the most Godly, gracious Christian gentleman I have ever met, as well as one of the finest Bible teachers and creationist scientists”, adding that God used him “at a critical time in my own life”.4 Even some hostile newspapers wrote that he possessed “Far more sense, scholarship, personality, and platform ability than most of the agitators”.7 He also frequently lectured at many colleges, some that today would not even think of inviting him to speak, such as Wheaton College.8

Morris writes that when he (Morris) was considering graduate school, the atomic bomb had been used recently to help win the war with Japan. That, plus the rise of communism, made some Christians speculate that this indicated the near return of Christ.9 Consequently, at this time Morris asked Brown if his effort should be used in the missionary work instead of scientific study.10 The advice he gave Morris was that the greatest need today was not for more missionaries, but rather for “dedicated Bible-believing scientists who were willing to undertake the hard training and study needed to bring science, with all of its tremendous influence over the minds of men and women everywhere, back to God.”11 Consequently, Morris went on to complete his Masters and PhD degrees and, as is obvious now, had a tremendous impact on the Christian world.10

Brown’s strong commitment to his writing and lecturing was because he believed evolution presented one of the greatest challenges, in all of history, against the credibility of the Bible and Christianity.12

In reading Brown’s books, one is struck with the fact that many of the arguments Brown presented against evolution are the same as those used today. As he was a medical doctor, one also is amazed, not so much at his detailed knowledge of the human body, but his ability to convey this knowledge in a readable, interesting way against evolutionary claims, such as the vestigial organs and poor design claims.13 He also discussed in a readable and interesting way botany, physics, chemistry, including biochemistry, geology, and other areas of natural science.14 He truly was a Renaissance Man for the common reader. Brown's writing focused on the plethora of examples of deficiencies in evolutionist arguments backed up with copious quotes from leading scientists, both evolutionists and those skeptical of Darwinism.

Wikipedia.orgBateson
William Bateson (1861–1926) popularised of the ideas of Gregor Mendel and coined the term ‘genetics’ for the study of heredity.

In one example, Brown quoted the eminent scientist William Bateson who wrote, in reference to the problem of mutations as a source of new species, that “the origin and nature of species, remains utterly mysterious.”15 Scripture was used repeatedly by Brown in affirming that the Bible complies completely with scientific fact. Brown also covered such topics as the return of the Jews to Israel, the moral bankruptcy that resulted from Darwinism, and the influence of Darwinism on Karl Marx, Hitler, and Stalin.16

Numbers opined that Brown’s “most original contribution to the arsenal of antievolution polemics was a critique of arguments for evolution based on laboratory analyses of blood serum from animals and humans which provided scientists with a means of identifying lines of descent that [they hoped] turned out to be identical to those suggested by morphological studies.”17 In this example, Brown’s critique turned out to be correct and Numbers wrong. Blood serum results often turned out to be very different than those suggested by morphological studies based on evolution. Brown’s monograph on this topic is both well documented and well written.18

Dr. Brown also wrote much on the wonders of the created world, plus he covered the privileged planet idea and even the irreducible complexity concept recently popularized by Michael Behe.19,20 He also wrote, in response to Sir Arthur Keith’s 1927 Darwin address in Leeds, England, a remarkable 50-page quote book that included over 100 quotes by leading scientists on the major problems with evolution.21

Another monograph he wrote included anti-evolution quotes by well-known scientists, both those who accepted and rejected evolution.22 Brown also was honored to have prominent scientists add introductions to his books, including men such as Charles Stine, Ph.D., Vice President of DuPont, who led the research program that created nylon. Nylon began the synthetic fiber revolution that changed our world.23

Reading Dr Brown’s books is very instructive today because the many major examples of evidence Darwinists used then to support evolution have now been refuted. For example, Brown’s 1923 monograph titled Men, Monkeys and Missing links featured Piltdown Man, now refuted as valid evidence of ape to human evolution.24 Brown included four pages alone on Piltdown man, and correctly concluded that Piltdown consisted of a skull of a modern man and the jaw of an ape.25

Brown also included in this monograph several examples of Neanderthals, which are now recognized, not as an ape/human transition, but rather as another race of humans. The racism once widely supported by Darwinism was also noted, and effectively refuted, by Brown. One notable example was the evolutionists’ claim that “the African negro and the Asiatic Chinaman have not evolved as far as the modern European whites”, a claim Brown effectively showed was false.26 The now infamous frauds or dubious findings used to prove Darwinism, including Piltdown Man, Java Man and others, are given short shrift by Brown before (in some cases decades before) they were later proven to be false by the few brave scientists who dared to question these once popular icons of evolution.27

Brown also had his critics, such as Maynard Shipley, who called Dr Brown “a traveling evangelist” and a “Reverend” when he spoke at the Tilghman High School in 1926. Shipley mocked Brown by claiming he attempted “to repudiate [evolutionary] science in favor of Semitic mythology.”28 Shipley wrote that the biology teacher at Tilghman reported “the learned clergyman [referring to Brown] had treated the problem of evolutionary science ‘very unscientifically’.”29 Brown was also criticized for defending Bryan’s efforts at the Scopes trial to allow parents to help determine the school curriculum.30

Unfortunately, his effective writing and lecture tours ended prematurely. In November of 1947 while driving with his daughter, Patricia Margaret, from Indianapolis to Kansas City to give a lecture, he collided with a truck. Brown was killed instantly but fortunately his daughter only sustained minor injuries.31 None-the-less, his legacy has lived on through the work of the many people that he influenced, including Henry Morris and many others.

References and notes

  1. Numbers, R., The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, Expanded edition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2006. Return to text.
  2. Morris, H., History of Modern Creationism, Institute of Creation Research, Santee, CA., 1993. Return to text.
  3. Numbers, R., The Anti-Evolutionary Works of Arthur I. Brown, Garland, New York, 1995. Return to text.
  4. Numbers, ref. 3, p. 115. Return to text.
  5. Numbers, R., Darwinism Comes to America, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1998. Return to text.
  6. Numbers, ref. 1, p. 74. Return to text.
  7. Quoted in Gatewood, W., Preachers, Pedagogues & Politicians: The Evolution Controversy in North Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1966. Return to text.
  8. Numbers, ref. 1, p. 75. Return to text.
  9. Brown, A., What of the Night? Toronto: Tabernacle Publishers, 1931 and Brown, A., Light on the Hills, Fundamental Truth Publishers, Findlay, Ohio, 1934. Return to text.
  10. Barber, R., Henry M. Morris. Father of Modern Creationism, Institute of Creation Research, Dallas, TX, 2017. Return to text.
  11. Morris, ref. 2, p. 114. Return to text.
  12. Brown, A., Evolution and the Bible, Fundamental Truth Publishers, Findlay, Ohio, 1922. Return to text.
  13. Brown, A., God's Masterpiece Man's Body, Fundamental Truth Publishers, Findlay, Ohio, 1946. Return to text.
  14. Brown, A., Footprints of God, Fundamental Truth Publishers, Findlay, Ohio, 1943. Return to text.
  15. Brown, ref. 14, p. 12. Return to text.
  16. Brown, A., Into the Clouds, Foreword by I. H. Linton, Fundamental Truth Publishers, Findlay, Ohio, 1938. Return to text.
  17. Ref. 1, p. 73. Return to text.
  18. Brown, A., Evolution and the Blood Precipitation Test, Glendale, CA: Glendale Printers, 1926. Return to text.
  19. Brown, A., God's Creative Forethought, Findlay, Ohio: Fundamental Truth Publishers, 1930. Return to text.
  20. Behe, M., Darwin’s Black Box, New York: Basic Books, 1996. Return to text.
  21. Brown, A., Was Darwin Right? Glendale, CA: Glendale Printers, 1928. Return to text.
  22. Brown, A., Must Young People Believe in Evolution? Findlay, Ohio: Fundamental Truth Publishers, 1940. Return to text.
  23. Ref. 14, Introduction. Return to text.
  24. Bergman, J., Evolution’s Blunders, Frauds and Forgeries, Atlanta, GA: CMI Publishing, 2017. Return to text.
  25. Brown, A., Men, Monkeys and Missing Links, Glendale, CA: Glendale Printers, 1923. Return to text.
  26. Ref. 25, p. 13. Return to text.
  27. Brown, A., Science Speaks to Osborn, Ft Wayne, IN: Glad Tidings Publishing Company, 1927. Return to text.
  28. Shipley, M., The War on Modern Science: A Short History of the Fundamentalist Attacks on Evolution and Modernism, New York: Knopf, 1927. Return to text.
  29. Ref. 28, p. 124. Return to text.
  30. Larson, E., Summer for the Gods. The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, New York: Basic Books, 1997. Return to text.
  31. Richer, C., Present with the Lord, The Discerner, November-December. p. 8, 1947. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Nic S.
This is a fantastic article. I have never thought about following a similar path, defending Christianity against evolution, but I am very interested in this sort of thing. I am glad to have found this website.
Paul L.
How can I get hold of Brown's works in the UK? Thanks.
Dr Jerry Bergman
Addall.com have most of his works listed for sale, some in the UK.
Thomas C.
Great article! Will pursue obtaining Dr. Brown's available works.
Thank you for this!
Jim M.
I'm a bit surprised that Morris would refer to Brown as such a great creationist, when if I'm not mistaken, he was a believer in an old earth. I think we need to use the word "creationist" in a consistent manner and not give a false impression that it means YEC like we normally use it today.
Tasman Walker
I contacted Dr Bergman who said that from all he read Arthur Brown did not cover this topic in his writings. However, Henry Morris wrote in his history of the creation movement that he thought Brown accepted the gap theory, as did many in his generation. The fatal problems with the gap theory are covered on this site: e.g. /topics/gap-theory.
Paul L.
Many thanks. Managed to order Into the Cloud from a UK book site via Abebooks. There is also a collection works available (not cheap) on Amazon.

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