Science & the Bible, by Henry Morris; a book review by John Burgeson, as published in PERSPECTIVES, Volume 48, #1 (March 1996).
Imagine a world in which the practice of science is primarily qualitative. A world where the highest use of science is seen as that of supporting one group's interpretation of secondary references in an ancient and honorable book on ethics. A world in which the primary rule of science, "assume no supernatural," is replaced by its exact opposite, and "God-of-the-Gaps" is an adequate explanation. A world where only two concepts of life's origins are thinkable, God-caused ex-nihilo appearance in six days, or accidental development with no outside intelligent involvement.
Welcome to Henry's World, the world of Dr. Henry M. Morris, a kind, gentle and well-meaning man, who has guided the ICR (Institute for Creation Research) for many years. Welcome to a world in which dissent implies satanism, skepticism implies evil thinking, where shades of gray seldom exist. This book, first issued in 1946 as "That You May Believe," was revised and reissued in 1951 as "The Bible and Modern Science." Its popularity prompted reprinting in 1956, 1968 and 1979, and now, again, revised and updated, it is reissued under a new title. Its purpose is not to explain science, but rather "to win people to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ... ." And so it may, but not people who understand science. For these, it may be an excuse to turn away from our faith, for the science it portrays is myopic, irrational, avoids the hard questions, and takes little note of real science, either historically, or in this age.
As the leader of the "Religion & Science" section of Compuserve's RELIGIOUS ISSUES FORUM, I see, regularly, ICR-trained people come by to participate, enthusiastically at first. A week or so later, they generally creep away, bloody and bowed; their ideas on science severely shattered. Tight definitions, quantification, understanding of the issues and, in particular, understanding of opposing positions, all of these are tested in our forum, and ICR-trained people are continually found wanting. It is because they have come from Henry's World, and that world does not equip them to compete in the battlefield of modern ideas!
Mentioning all of the problems in this book is not practical in a short review, but a few stand out:
Page 8. Morris claims "thousands of scientists" who support an inerrent Bible. He does not mention that many of these find his ideas quite fantastic. He claims "multitudes of Christian believers" also in support, as if this was meaningful (how many people read horoscopes daily?). In Henry's world, "what most people think" has scientific validity.
Page 13. "It has only been a few centuries since the scientists and teachers all believed in a flat earth." Henry's world does not have the same secular history as ours!
Page 86. The "world population" argument is still cited as support for a young earth, the author not grasping that it is an argument only for the possibility of a young earth, not an argument against an old earth. Logic is not part of science in Henry's world.
Page 87. Morris continues to assert that 80,000 animals could be herded into the ark in a single day (Gen:7:13-16). No mention of the problems with insects (1,000,000 species), spiders (35,000 species), or worms, snails, freshwater fish, corals, sponges, etc. He makes no mention of the logistical problem for eight (highly motivated) individuals to herd these life forms aboard the ark and bed them down for a year-long voyage -- at the rate of about one pair every two seconds for a 24 hour period! Let's allow him the use of the doomed townspeople. And give him the full seven days from the Lord's command (Gen 7:4) to the ark shutting. Still not enough time. In Henry's world, this is not a problem. Perhaps he should watch a circus set up/tear down!
The influence of ICR on this country is extensive; their publications are to be found in thousands of conservative Christian churches. Those of us who see science differently need to know what Morris is saying. For when students come to us, whose training in science is limited to the world of ICR, what shall we tell them? If we are silent, their faith, not founded on the rock of Christ, but on the sands of Henry's world, will likely founder.
Put this book on your shelf then -- right next to that of Immanuel Velikowski. But it is Morris who is the man of influence. Make no mistake about that. He it is that we will have to deal with in the hearts and minds of students yet to come.
John W. Burgeson, Stephen Minister,
First Presbyterian Church, Durango, Colorado.
Physicist, U.S. Mine Defense Lab, 1955-56
IBM Computer engineer, planner, strategist, 1957-92
Market research, CDI Corporation, 1992-94
Published in PERSPECTIVES, the quarterly journal of the ASA, in Volume 48, #1 (March 1996).
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