Morris, Henry M. 1918–2006
Morris, Henry M. 1918–2006
(Henry Madison Morris, Jr.)
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born October 6, 1918, in Dallas, TX; died of a stroke, February 25, 2006, near San Diego, CA. Engineer, educator, college administrator, and author. A hydraulics engineer by profession who later became a college teacher and administrator, Morris was best known for his creationist beliefs, which sparked the modern antievolution movement. Originally uninterested in religion, he discovered his Christian beliefs while in college studying for his civil engineering degree. He graduated from Rice University in 1939, attending the University of Minnesota for a master's in 1948 and a Ph.D. in 1950. Between universities, Morris worked with the International Boundary and Water Commission in El Paso, Texas, as a hydraulic engineer, while during World War II he taught engineering at Rice. It was at this time that he began to consider the relationship between science and religion more seriously, releasing an early book addressing the question in 1946 titled That You Might Believe. This was later followed by The Bible and Modern Science (1951; revised edition, 1968). Morris was a professor and research leader at the University of Minnesota in the late 1940s, then joined the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1951, where he would head the civil engineering department for five years. A year at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale was followed by a long period spent at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Here, Morris was again a department head and professor of engineering, though it was hydraulic engineering and not civil engineering that he taught. It was while at Virginia that he published his first Creationist tract, The Genesis Flood (1961), in which he argued that the Bible should be taken literally and that the world was only six thousand years old. Fossil records, Morris explained, were distributed by the huge flood of the book of Genesis, while the current state of geologic formations could also be explained by the flood. This was a direct counterargument to the majority of the scientific community, which estimates that Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Morris's ideas were highly controversial, but were embraced by Christian conservatives and credited with inspiring the current "intelligent design" theory. Pressure from his university to delete his creationist writing credits from his curriculum vitae convinced him to leave Virginia Polytechnic in 1970. He moved to San Diego, where he founded the Christian Heritage College, now the San Diego Christian College, with Tim LaHaye, a best-selling author of Christian novels. He also founded the Institute of Creation Research. Both institutions pursued the idea—through education and research—that Christian beliefs can be substantiated by science and that religion and science were not incompatible. Morris, who retired in 1996, went on to write numerous books about his philosophy, including The Twilight of Evolution (1963), The Genesis Record (1976), History of Modern Creationism (1984), and The Beginning of the World (1991). More recent works are The Origin of Earth and Its People (1999), Defending the Faith (1999), Treasures in the Psalms (2000), Solomon and His Remarkable Wisdom (2001), God and the Nations (2002), The Incredible Journey of Jonah (2003), Miracles (2004), and For Time and Forever (2004).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, March 4, 2006, section 2, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2006, p. B11.
New York Times, March 4, 2006, p. A13.
washington Post, March 1, 2006, p. B6.