Ussher Brought up to Date
Dr Colin Groves
The era of modern creationism may be said to have begun with the publication of Whitcomb and Morris's (1961) The Genesis Flood, in which they bravely approached the big stumbling-block for anti-evolutionists: how come the geological column seems to demand a long period of time, and the sequence of fossil organisms seems to argue for evolution? The answer: Noah's flood. Was not the entire earth covered with water in under a year, and does not rapidly-flowing water move huge amounts of sediments? So that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the geological column is miles thick. Do not mammals have bigger brains than other animals, and do not bigger brains enable you to see catastrophes coming and avoid them? Thus, dear reader, we find mammals only at the top of the geological sequence - they had run to higher ground to escape the rising flood waters. (Question: are flowering plants more intelligent than ferns and cycads?).
While the reaction of scientists to this scenario has been less than complimentary, for Biblical literalists this was what one might call a godsend: it offered a wonderful series of excuses for the apparent failure of the Book of Genesis to accord with reality. Nothing that one might be tempted to call actual evidence for their view, of course that remained for Whitcomb and Morris's successors.
John C. Whitcomb was a Biblical scholar, known among other things for a book (Whitcomb, 1959) in which he made a valiant attempt, flying in the face of all the evidence, to construct a personage from thin air to help the Book of Daniel avoid the charge that it got its history wrong when it wrote of the exploits of one Darius the Mede. He does not appear to have involved himself in 'creation science' since his co-invention of it.
Henry M. Morris has gone on to greater things. Trained as a hydraulic engineer, he founded and directs the Institute for Creation Research in (where else?) San Diego, California, and in 1970, 1972 and 1974 wrote books in which he advanced our understanding of the history of the universe in several startling ways. For example he suggested (Morris 1972:62) that God may have created starlight, on its way to earth, before he created the stars themselves, thereby accounting both for the fact that light was created on the first day but the stars (including the sun) not until the fourth, and that there are stars that are millions of light years away yet the millions of years needed for their light to reach us did not exist. He was inclined to favour the view that 'the stars may actually participate in human battles... Certainly the physical stars as such can have no effect on the earth, but the evil spirits connected with them are not so limited' (Morris 1972:66~7). He has also been able to track down the ultimate origin of the evolutionary model: '...the entire monstrous complex was revealed to Nimrod at Babylon by demonic influences, perhaps by Satan himself' (Morris 1974:74).
Morris's understanding of what science involves had already been clearly stated (Morris 1970:33): 'No geological difficulties, real or imagined, can be allowed to take precedence over the clear statements and necessary inferences of Scripture'. This is in fact the underpinning of the entire 'creation science' movement, though its proponents are rarely that honest.
If the founder of 'creation science' was Henry Morris, one of the earliest catalogues of supposedly scientific arguments in support was provided by Harold Slusher, who holds doctoral degrees - but from institutions which are not, in fact, accredited universities (Bridgstock, 1986). The mainstay of the movement at the present time, or until recently anyway, is Duane Gish, who with a genuine PhD in biochemistry is one of the few 'creation scientists' who has worked as a professional scientist, though he does not now. These three are all American. In Australia we have another trained scientist, Andrew Snelling, who holds a PhD in geology; also the author of the most complete, and so perhaps the most bizarre, of all the creation' models, Barry Setterfield (who lists no academic credentials after his name).