Turning the tide
Fifty years ago Old Testament theologian Dr John C. Whitcomb and hydraulics engineer the late Dr Henry M. Morris published The Genesis Flood. No other single work before or since has so effectively encouraged Christians’ belief in the historicity of Genesis, and the divine inspiration, scientific accuracy, and authority of the Bible as a whole.
The Genesis Flood challenged the key principle of the atheistic theory of evolution—long ages—meaning that the earth and most of the fossils in it were millions of years old. Combining what the Bible actually said with scientific data from hydrology, geology and archaeology, Whitcomb and Morris showed that the biblical text required there to have been a world-wide Flood (not just a local or a tranquil one), and that scientific evidence substantiated this. Furthermore, they showed that this was recent (i.e. during the days of Noah, some 4,500 years ago), and that it could account for the fossils in the so-called ‘geological column’.
All this of course was totally contrary to the slow-and-gradual processes over millions of years that 20th-century geologists taught, emanating from Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology (1830–33)—the textbook which had so greatly influenced Charles Darwin.
The Genesis Flood also exposed the scientific and biblical falsity of day-age and gap theories, and theistic evolution, as well as ‘progressive creation’—particularly that proposed by theologian Bernard Ramm.1 Morris applied laws and principles such as thermodynamics, stratigraphy, hydraulics, etc., to Creation Week and/or the Flood. He also exposed deficiencies in radiometric dating methods, while providing many real natural evidences for a short age to the earth.
In short, he and Whitcomb demonstrated both biblically and scientifically that Earth’s history better fitted that which is recorded in Genesis than the evolutionary script, and showed that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are as truly historical as the remaining thirty-nine. The Bible could be trusted after all!
The book gave huge impetus to the Christian education and home-school movements, as rank-and-file Christians could now uphold the truth and authority of the Bible because they could now defend Genesis. This was particularly appropriate in 1961, as just two years earlier speakers at the 1959 Darwin Centenary Convocation at the University of Chicago had urged that schools henceforth centre their curricula around the alleged ‘fact’ of evolution.2
There are people now working in creation ministries who could attest that their lives were forever changed by reading The Genesis Flood. They include Dr Carl Wieland, Dr Don Batten and Dr Tas Walker, all of CMI-Australia, Adrian Bates (CMI-NZ), Dr Johan Kruger (CMI-SA), and Tim Matthews (CMI-UK).
Science moves on, and so it is not surprising that a portion of the geological arguments used are now outdated. For example, at the time of publication, continental drift was not an issue. Today, its omission from such a discussion would be seen as a serious failure to engage secular thought. Creationist geologists from ICR and other organizations, including Henry Morris’s son, Dr John Morris, have been at the forefront of refining, developing and expanding the book’s arguments in all manner of geological areas.
There can be no doubt, though, that what The Genesis Flood set in motion was a complete paradigm shift—it turned the tide. It brought about a basic revolution in the whole framework within which thoughtful Christians with scientific understanding were able to view and interpret phenomena related to the past of our planet.
The authors of The Genesis Flood
Dr John C. Whitcomb (1924–2020) was a professor of Old Testament and theology for over 50 years. He gained his Th.D. from Grace Theological Seminary in 1957. As a young Christian he had been searching for a way to reconcile Genesis with the scientific teaching of the day, until he heard scientist Henry Morris demonstrate that the Bible would not allow any compromise with evolution, and that science did not require it. Then, after reading Bernard Ramm’s The Christian View of Science and Scripture (1954) which disowned the idea of a young earth, the recent appearance of humans, and a universal flood, Whitcomb devoted his Th.D. thesis to defending flood geology. In due course he and Dr Morris combined their efforts and produced The Genesis Flood. Other books by Dr Whitcomb include The World that Perished, and commentaries on Daniel and Esther.
Dr Henry M. Morris (1918–2006) received his Ph.D. in hydraulic engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1950. Over the next two decades he served as professor and chair of civil engineering at three universities, and wrote the widely-used textbook Applied Hydraulics in Engineering (1963). In 1970, Dr Morris founded the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and served as its President until 1996 and then as President Emeritus until his death. He lectured worldwide at conferences and universities, and participated in over 100 debates. Dr Morris wrote over 60 books,3 including such creation ‘classics’ as The Genesis Record, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Biblical Creationism: What Each Book of the Bible Teaches About Creation and the Flood, and The Long War Against God: the History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict.
References and notes
- Especially that of Bernard Ramm’s The Christian View of Science and Scripture (1954). Return to text.
- Morris, H., Global Flood, Global Impact, quoted in Acts & Facts, Feb. 2011, pp. 10–11. Return to text.
- Also, hundreds of his Days of Praise devotional articles are still being read by nearly half a million readers each day. (ref. 2, p. 5.) Return to text.