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“A word fitly spoken” has incredible power (Proverbs 25:11). Burdened by the rampant disregard for God’s Word, two young men collaborated to write a book called simply The Genesis Flood. Fifty years later their shout still reverberates round the world.
In February 1961 a small publisher in New Jersey—Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company—brought into this world a 518-page, somewhat ponderous, volume entitled The Genesis Food: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications. The co-authors were a little-known theologian (myself) and a hydraulic engineer, Henry M. Morris. Little did we know what the future held for our new work.
How did this happen? By the mercy of God, through His inspired, infallible written Word.The book was conceived in September 1953 at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana, where I had already been teaching for two years. At the time I accepted the gap theory of Genesis 1:1–2, which was very popular in Christian circles and was the view held by most of the seminary faculty. That changed when Dr. Henry Morris was invited to present a paper on “Biblical Evidence for a Recent Creation and Universal Deluge” to the American Scientific Affiliation, which met on campus.
I was profoundly impressed with his paper. Later, I wrote him a letter explaining its influence on me: “I feel that your conclusions are scripturally valid, and therefore must be sustained by a fair examination of geologic evidence in time to come. My only regret is that so few trained Christian men of science are willing to let God’s Word have the final say on these questions . . . . I have adopted your views . . . and am presenting them to my class as preferable alternatives to the Gap Theory and the Day-Age Theory.”
Dr. Morris immediately replied: “I have been trying to write a book of my own for some time, setting forth a scientific and Scriptural exposition of the geologic data, harmonizing the latter with the basic facts of a recent, genuine Creation, and universal aqueous cataclysm . . . . I would appreciate your prayers about that.”
During the next few weeks God led me to make a major decision that would change my life forever. I wrote to Dr. Morris: “I appreciate your fine letter . . . . I am planning to write my doctoral dissertation on the subject of your paper, so would appreciate any further references you might have on hand.”
Four years later in May 1957, I completed my 452-page doctor of theology dissertation on The Genesis Flood: An Investigation of Its Geographical Extent, Geologic Effects, and Chronological Setting. That fall, Dr. Morris accepted my invitation to co-author a book.
Those were amazing years! I still have over one hundred letters we exchanged, as we labored over every sentence and every quoted document. In the years before the Internet, such collaboration was very laborious and time-consuming.
In Dr. Morris’s own words, “Even though we worked on distinctively separate portions of the book (he [John Whitcomb] wrote the first four chapters and two appendices, and I wrote the introduction and the last three chapters), each of us continually reviewed the other’s contributions, and each made a number of contributions to each other’s sections so that the joint authorship format was genuine.”1
During that period, Henry and Mary Louise Morris were also raising six children, and he headed civil engineering departments at three schools—Southwestern Louisiana Institute, Southern Illinois University, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
My wife Edisene and I were raising four children, while she taught part-time at Grace College and I taught full-time at Grace Theological Seminary and traveled in weekend ministries.
Our oldest son, David, born in December 1955, still remembers seeing me in the basement of our home, night after night, surrounded by books and papers, and corresponding with a distant scientist whom he only saw briefly when the entire Morris family visited us in the summer of 1960.
In the meantime, the world’s leading evolutionists gathered at the University of Chicago in 1959 for a Darwin Centennial Celebration. Ironically, Sir Julian Huxley announced that creationism was dead.
In the book 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century, William J. and Randy Petersen acknowledge the long-term impact of The Genesis Flood: “Creation science has been controversial within the evangelical community as well as in society at large, but there is no doubt of the impact of this book by Whitcomb and Morris. . . . By the end of the century the book had gone into its forty-first printing. . . . Creation science became a major force . . . and has a substantial presence in the fields of science and education, all stemming from the influential book by Whitcomb and Morris.”2
How did this happen? By the mercy of God, through His inspired, infallible written Word.
We firmly believed that all compromise views, such as the gap theory, the day-age theory, and the framework hypothesis, which had been taught in one form or another for over one hundred years, would eventually be crushed by the rock of Holy Scripture. Our Lord Jesus Christ was there when the earth was created, for “all things were made through Him” (John 1:3). His account of creation and the Flood are perfectly true because He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2) and He “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Christ told us that human beings were created “at the beginning” of the world, not billions of years later (Matthew 19:4). He also affirmed that a man named Noah “entered the ark” and thus survived “the Flood.” The rest of mankind “did not know until the Flood came and took them all away” (Matthew 24:38–39). Thus a recent creation and a universal Flood are realities of history, not myths or legends.
The rock of God’s Word is the foundation upon which The Genesis Flood was written. That simple but profound truth, I am convinced, explains why God has so graciously blessed this work during the past fifty years.
Included among the “top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals.”
“The Genesis Flood [was] the founding document
of the creationist movement.”
—leading evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard
“The most important and influential book in the
young-earth creation tradition is John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris’s The
Genesis Flood (1961).”
—National Center for Science Education (a leading anti-creation organization)