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My father, Henry Morris, was immersed in writing the groundbreaking book The Genesis Flood (1961) while I was a teenager. I’m sure my five siblings and I often interrupted Dad’s train of thought, but he was always available to each of us. I wonder how he could do it. Six kids! For a brief time five teenagers were bustling around the home at once!
I remember Dad was also a man of much prayer and complete faith in Scripture’s accuracy and authority. Whenever he couldn’t understand something (such as meandering rivers in deep valleys or the Ice Age), he would commit the matter to prayer, asking God to help him derive a solution.
Sometimes he would work long into the night. And then the answer would come to him, either through his study or his thinking. He never claimed “inspiration” for the work, but he felt certain that God had directed in its preparation.
Thus, for years it was difficult for him to accept new research, such as new evidence that the Grand Canyon formed many years after the Flood when a natural dam broke. But while it was difficult, he didn’t reject new interpretations when they arrived. He did much of his research at the university library at Virginia Tech, where he was the head of the prestigious Civil Engineering Department. It was well stocked with geology journals, which supplemented his own understanding of hydraulics.
To understand the motives that drove his life’s work, we have to go back to his decision shortly after graduating with a civil engineering degree to trust Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. This began a life of Christian growth and ministry.
His passion for biblical creation arose during World War II, when he was asked to teach civil engineering to the SeaBees, the construction workers in the U.S. Navy who were going overseas to assist the war effort. While he steadfastly tried to present the gospel and saw many receive God’s free gift of salvation, he saw many others refuse, insisting that evolution had “disproved” the Bible and thus salvation was a myth.
My father studied everything he could about creation and evolution, but few resources were available. So he purposed in his heart to develop something more substantial if God allowed. He rightly recognized that the key to refuting evolution was to boldly advocate the Bible’s explicit teachings about the great Flood of Noah’s day. This watery cataclysm must have been responsible for much of the world’s rocks and fossils. So he enrolled in the University of Minnesota PhD program to study the power of moving water.
Soon he became an author and creation speaker. In 1953 he met a young Bible professor named John Whitcomb, who was working on a doctorate in theology. That “chance” encounter inspired John to focus his dissertation on the scriptural necessity of a global Flood. Then John and my father agreed to a partnership—a scientist and a theologian—to write a major book on the Flood.
They were both brilliant, godly men, fully sold on scriptural inerrancy. Their humble Christian lives were the kind God uses, and use them He did. Together they wrote The Genesis Flood, which for the past fifty years has challenged Christians to embrace the absolute authority of God’s holy Word.