Jehovah's Witnesses and Young Earth Creationists
The Watchtower Society has often quoted from young-earth creationists and assorted cranks. This is certainly true in the Creation book, which relies heavily on their arguments as well as those of Francis Hitching -- which are largely borrowed from them anyway. The problem is that most of the time the Society fails to inform the reader of the background of these people, so that he or she is not given critical information to help evaluate the worthiness of the supposed authority being quoted. This is clearly seen in the case of Francis Hitching, who is a paranormalist and tabloid TV writer. Quoting him as an evolutionary authority has no more significance than quoting Bozo the Clown.
Why have the Society's writers quoted from cranks and YEC's? Partly because they are sometimes too ignorant to evaluate the authority of those they quote. Partly because they can find no other authorities to quote. Worst of all, it will become evident in the material below that sometimes these writers were perfectly well aware that the person they quoted was indeed a crank or a YEC, but they quoted them anyway. This is deliberate misrepresentation because they know very well that if their readers were informed of the full background of the one quoted, they would reject the quote out of hand.
This kind of chicanery is well illustrated by "You Know" [pseudonym of a JW apologist] himself. He claimed that radiocarbon dating must be wrong because, among other things, radiocarbon is forming in the atmosphere at a rate 38% faster than it is decaying. When challenged as to his sources, he never responded. I even posted that he would not respond because he got that idea from young-earth creationists. Here's the proof, from young-earth creationist Walter Brown's book In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, Center for Scientific Creation, 6th edition, 1995, p. 157, ftn. 2:
Radiocarbon is forming 28-37% faster than it is decaying. [See Melvin A. Cook, "Nonequilibrium RadioCarbon Dating Substantiated," Proceedings of the First International Conference on Creationism, Vol. 2 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship, 1986), pp. 59-68.]
The fact that Jehovah's Witnesses will shamelessly quote cranks and creationists when it suits them is particularly hypocritical given the fact that on various occasions the Watchtower Society has roundly condemned them for their unreasonable beliefs. Let's examine some of these.
Here is what the Society wrote about the definition of creationism:
Creationism involves belief that the earth was created in six literal days or, in some cases, that the earth was formed only about ten thousand years ago. Jehovah's Witnesses, while believing in creation, are not creationists. [Awake!, May 8, 1997, p. 12]
Here is how the Society condemns these cranks:
In recent times, some fundamentalist religions have put forward creationism as the answer to evolution. But in doing so, they make a claim that is both unscriptural and unbelievable. It is that the heavens, the earth, and everything on the earth were created by God in 6 days of 24 hours each -- yes, in just 144 literal hours! This teaching has caused many to ridicule the Bible. [The Watchtower, April 1, 1986, pp. 12-13]
Questions From Readers
Is there a distinction between "creation" and "creationism"?
Yes, there is. The word "creation," appearing some 18 times in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, properly refers to Jehovah's creative activity. (See, for example, Romans 1:20; 8:21; 2 Corinthians 5:17) The term "creationism" is not found in the Bible.
Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1971) defines "creation" as "the act of creating," and "creationism" as "a doctrine or theory of creation." The same dictionary defines "ism" as "a distinctive doctrine, cause, system, or theory -- often used disparagingly." In these 1980's, "creationism" has become a true "ism" because of its adoption by political pressure groups, such as the Moral Majority. It is no longer a neutral term, but embodies extreme fundamentalist views of the Bible, such as the view that God created the earth and everything upon it in six days of 24 hours each. There are now more than 350 books in circulation setting out such "creationism" dogma. Jehovah's Witnesses reject the unreasonable theories of "creationism" in favor of what the Bible really teaches about "creation."
For a more complete answer to the above question, please see the article entitled "Evolution, Creation, or Creationism -- Which Do You Believe?" on pages 12-15 of our companion magazine Awake! dated March 22, 1983. [The Watchtower, September 1, 1986, p. 30]
What Is Creation Science?
Supporters of creationism wrote a definition that was incorporated in the Arkansas law and inserted in the judicial opinion. It includes the scientific evidence that there are limits to the changes within the kinds of living things that were originally created, and that mutations and natural selection do not suffice to change one species into another. It also asserts that the earth and everything that lives on it are the result of a recent act of creation, and that all the geologic strata with their fossils resulted from a single worldwide Flood. [Awake!, March 8, 1983, pp. 12-13]
Flaws in "Scientific Creationism"
From the testimony given in the trial, it is manifest that the scientific evidence for creation was not really presented in clear confrontation with evolution. Instead, it was lost to sight in clashes over side issues, particularly two tenets of creationism that had been written into the law:
1. That creation took place only a few thousand years ago.
2. That all geologic strata were formed by the Biblical Deluge.
Neither of these dogmas is really crucial to the central question of whether living things were created or not. They are merely doctrines held by the members of a few churches, notably the Seventh-Day Adventists, who form the core of the group that sponsored the law. When these sectarian beliefs were written into the law as something that must be taught in public schools, that law was foredoomed to be declared unconstitutional.
Creationist Doctrines Not Biblical
But does the legal defeat of scientific creationism, as this movement is known, reflect unfavorably on the Bible? Are the doctrines of recent creation and a diluvial origin of geologic strata found in God's Word?
An informed Bible student would answer, No. While the Bible clearly states that the heavens and the earth and everything in them were created by God, it does not say when those things were created. Most of the defense witnesses were shackled by the religious dogma that the six creative days in Genesis were all encompassed in a period of 144 hours. This harks back to an erroneous fundamentalist teaching that was not challenged by the science of the 17th century, but that is no longer tenable in the light of present knowledge. The Bible itself does not set any such time limit on the days of creation. [Awake!, March 22, 1983, pp. 12-13]
With the basic point established that the Bible text does not conflict with scientific theories about the age of the universe, we may also leave open the question of the age and origin of geologic strata. The Bible says nothing at all about the formation of sedimentary layers, whether at the time of the Flood or earlier. All the voluminous writings of creationists on this subject, which came under critical examination in the trial, have been motivated by the desire to reconcile the existence of the geologic column and its fossils, dinosaurs and all, with their claim for a 6- to 10-thousand-year age of the earth. If this claim is invalid, all the rest of the argument is beside the point. [Awake!, March 22, 1983, p. 14]
The above material is a pretty good description of young-earth creationism, "creation science" and "flood geology". Note how the Society specifically mentions the Seventh-Day Adventists and extreme fundamentalists as being responsible for propagating such nonsensical ideas.
Note in the following how the Society condemns the sort of ideas promoted by today's leading YEC, Henry Morris of the Institute for Creation Research:
Confusing Religious Teachings
Confusion has been caused by religious spokesmen who interpret "the end of the world" to mean the destruction of the earth itself and all living things on it. Arthur S. Maxwell is one who advocates this theory. In his book Time Running Out he rationalizes that nuclear power makes this possible for the first time in man's history. He says: "How could the heavens disappear? How could the elements disintegrate in flames, and the whole earth be laid bare? Only now in the Nuclear Age has the full import of his dramatic message become crystal clear."
A similar holocaust, but with some variation, is described by Henry M. Morris in Bibliotheca Sacra: "The basic materials of the earth's structure will not be annihilated, but will undergo tremendous processes of disintegration, probably even atomic disintegration." He adds: "The earth's remaining waters will either disintegrate or instantaneously boil away.... Then, as the atoms of the former earth begin to fall together again after the holocaust, God will once more exercise His primeval creative power, and will 'create' and 'make' the new heavens and the new earth." [Awake!, December 8, 1986, p. 6]
In view of the Society's comments shown above, it would strike anyone as unusual for it to quote young-earth creationists or similar wild-eyed catastrophists. However, the Society has quoted them many times. Unfortunately, it has failed every time to make clear to the reader just who it was quoting, preferring instead to say that the person quoted had some other kind of qualifications, or sometimes giving no qualifications, or even false qualifications. Below we'll take a look at a list of such quotes, and then examine in some detail the persons quoted as well as some of their claims and some of the Society's most blatant examples of covering up its misrepresentations and plagiarizing of these people.
Partial List of Young-Earth Creationists and Catastrophists Quoted in Watchtower Literature
Awake!, May 8, 1950
pp. 27-28: Immanuel Velikovsky's first book Worlds in Collision is glowingly reviewed. Velikovsky is described as "an eminent scientist, historian and author" who "digs deep into the scientific fields of archaeology, geology, paleontology, anthropology, astronomy, physics and psychology, and from these brings forth a great mass of evidence proving authenticity of the Bible account" and who has produced "a monumental work of scholarly research". While Awake! includes a note of caution about accepting Velikovsky's claims at face value, the note itself contains a disclaimer of the caution: "Do Velikovsky's efforts to account for some of the Biblical marvels deny the divine power back of them? Not necessarily, for while his thesis leaves much to be doubted and much more to be explained, yet it shows the hand of Providence in the timing of such spectacular displays of celestial forces, as well as providing for Israel's escape." Velikovsky is widely regarded today as the very model of a crank, not just a crank catastrophist.
Awake!, February 8, 1957
The Watchtower, December 15, 1961
The Watchtower, July 15, 1962
Did Man Get Here By Evolution Or By Creation? (1967)
The Watchtower, July 15, 1968
Is the Bible Really the Word of God? (1969)
Awake!, September 22, 1970
The Watchtower, March 1, 1971
Awake!, October 22, 1973
p. 11: Reginald Daly in Earth's Most Challenging Mysteries (1950, 1972); presented as an authority on paleobiology; another YEC, but unlike most others, a near-lunatic.
Awake!, June 8, 1975
Good News to Make You Happy (1976)
The Watchtower, January 15, 1976
The Watchtower, April 15, 1977
The Watchtower, July 15, 1977
p. 423: Harold Coffin, "invertebrate zoologist from the University of California", is quoted on the lack of evidence of evolutionary progression; Coffin is a zoologist but is also a 7th-Day Adventist, YEC and flood-geologist; long associated with the Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) run by the 7th-Day Adventist Church; has written several books espousing young-earth creationism.
Life -- How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? (1985)
Reasoning from the Scriptures (1985, 1989)
Insight on the Scriptures (1988)
The Bible -- God's Word or Man's? (1989)
The Watchtower, February 1, 1990
The Watchtower, May 15, 1992
The Watchtower, September 1, 1994
Awake!, May 22, 1994
Awake!, September 8, 1994
Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? (1998)
List of Creationists and Catastrophists Referenced Above
- Bethell, Tom
- Burdick, Clifford
- Coffin, Harold
- Custance, Arthur
- Daly, Reginald
- Gentry, Kenneth
- Gish, Duane
- Hapgood, Charles
- Hitching, Francis
- Lammerts, Walter. E.
- Marsh, Frank Lewis
- Morris, Henry M.
- Muggeridge, Malcom
- Nelson, Byron C.
- Patten, Donald
- Pratt, Wallace
- Price, George McCready
- Rehwinkle, Alfred M.
- Silliman, Benjamin
- Sanderson, Ivan T.
- Tinkle, W. J.
- Whitcomb, John C.
- White, Ellen G.
The Genesis Flood
John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1961; dozens of printings and still in print today; many of the ideas presented are directly taken from George McCready Price's 1923 book The New Geology, but without accreditation; this was deliberate because Price had advanced all sorts of wild and discredited ideas from 7th-Day Adventism; many ideas are borrowed from Immanuel Velikovsky's writings; argued for six-literal-day creationism, "flood geology", that dinosaurs coexisted with man, expounded upon the "vapor canopy" theory; the book was the seed around which the young-earth creationist movement of the latter half of the 20th century grouped itself.
Significant Creationist Organizations
American Scientific Affiliation (ASA)
Founded 1941; at first a low-key, strict-creationist, evangelical organization concerned with the quality of "the Christian witness" on science and religion; gradually migrated towards "progressive creationism" and "theistic evolution" beginning about 1949 when its leaders broke with the "flood geology" advocated by the crowd following George McCready Price.
Deluge Geology Society
Founded in 1938 by George McCready Price and a nucleus of Adventist associates; purpose was to promote six-literal-day creationism and flood geology; died out around 1947.
Geoscience Research Institute
Founded in 1958 by a group of 7th-Day Adventists; the premier "creation research" institute of the SDA's; promotes SDA views on "biblical creationism" including six-literal-day creationism, flood geology and anything that Ellen G. White wrote.
Institute for Creation Research
Founded in 1972 by Henry Morris for the promotion of young-earth creationism and flood geology; the best known of such organizations in the latter half of the 20th century; publishes dozens of books, pamphlets and newsletters such as Impact and Acts & Facts.
Creation Research Society
Founded in 1963 as a sort of reaction to the "liberalization" of the American Scientific Affiliation by men who had been or would become the leading young-earth creationists of the latter half of the 20th century; these were mostly regular Fundamentalists but included some SDA's; far more of a research organization than an evangelizing one, in contrast to the ICR; sometimes at odds with the ICR on opinions and methods; publishes the Creation Research Society Quarterly.
Biographical and Other Notes on Creationists and Catastrophists Referenced Above
[Note: Names marked with an asterisk (*) are directly quoted in Watchtower literature.]
Young-earth creationist; non-scientist journalist.
Burdick, Clifford (1894-?)
Prominent 7th-Day Adventist young-earth creationist; prominent member of the Creation Research Society (CRS) since its founding in 1963; closely associated with the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) since its founding in 1972; heavily influenced Henry Morris in Morris' early years in the young-earth creationist movement; reviewed the manuscript for Morris and Whitcomb's The Genesis Flood; member of the Deluge Geology Society in the 1940s; born 1894; disciple of George McCready Price; bachelor's degree in geology from the Seventh Day Baptist Milton College in Wisconsin; attempted to take a Master's degree in geology but failed the oral examinations; when in his 60's began Ph.D. studies in geology at the University of Arizona but failed in his defense of his M.S. and Ph.D. theses in 1960; climbed Mt. Ararat in search of Noah's Ark several times; was the prime mover in getting YEC's to buy into the infamous Paluxy River "mantracks" beginning in the 1940s; these, he claimed, were the footprints of giant men, 10 to 12 feet tall, superimposed on dinosaur footprints in sedimentary rock in the bed of the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas; this was thoroughly discredited in the 1980s, even by most other YEC's.
*Coffin, Harold (1926-?)
Prominent 7th-Day Adventist young-earth creationist; biologist; published several books on creationism and articles in the Creation Research Society Quarterly; often quotes Ellen G. White, the "prophetess" of the SDA's; member of the SDA-run Geoscience Research Institute; the type of biology he engages in was described in Science and Creationism (Ashley Montagu, ed.; Oxford University Press; 1984; p. 360; article "Repealing the Enlightenment" by Gene Lyons which originally appeared in Harper's Magazine, April 1982), when he appeared at the 1981 "monkey trial" in Little Rock Arkansas, this way: "The trial's only poignant moment came during cross-examination of Harold Coffin, a dreadfully earnest Seventh-Day Adventist who spends his time floating horsetail ferns in tanks of water to demonstrate that their fossilized ancestors found standing upright in coal seams hundreds of feet thick could have floated to that position during Noah's flood. Coffin was asked to say how old the earth would seem to a person unaided by Scripture, and considering only the available scientific evidence. Coffin paused for what seemed five minutes before answering, so it must have been at least fifteen seconds. As old as evolutionists claim, he said, about 4.5 billion years."
Prominent "gap-theory" type young-earth creationist active from the 1940s through the 1970s; non-degreed mechanical engineer with B.A. and M.A. degrees in biblical languages from the University of Toronto, receiving the latter in 1940; has a sort of honorary Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa School of Psychology and Education, 1959; associated in the 1940s with the American Scientific Affiliation; later associated with the Creation Research Society; reviewed the manuscript for Morris and Whitcomb's The Genesis Flood; published many books on creationism.
Relatively unknown young-earth creationist, bordering on the lunatic judging from his books. His book It's Science Fiction -- It's a Fraud (1984) is typical and exemplified by a phrase on its cover: "Evolution is a quasi-religion camouflaged as "science." It's unconstitutional to use our taxes to brainwash students with irreligious, one-side-only. [sic]".
*Gentry, Robert V. (1933-present)
Prominent 7th-Day Adventist young-earth creationist; M.S. in physics; spent much of his career attempting to prove that so-called "polonium halos" in certain minerals prove that the earth was created instantaneously, by fiat, about 6,000 years ago; his most famous work is the book Creation's Tiny Mystery (Earth Science Associates, Knoxville, Tennesee, 1986) in which he expounds upon his "polonium halos" ideas; these ideas have been debunked by the physics community.
Gish, Duane (1921-present)
Creationist and flood geologist; premier public speaker for the Institute for Creation Research; Ph.D. in biochemistry; author of many creationist books including the extremely popular Evolution? The Fossils Say NO! (1972); founding member of the Creation Research Society.
Fringe catastrophist in the spirit of Immanuel Velikovsky and Ivan Sanderson; like Velikovsky he proposed that the earth can literally "turn upside down" like a spinning top; published the book The Earth's Shifting Crust in 1958 to popularize his ideas.
Paranormalist, dowser; into UFO's, cosmic cataclysms, miraculous healing, Atlantis, ESP, pyramidology, astrology; British tabloid TV writer for such shows as Leonard Nimoy's In Search Of; author of the book The Neck of the Giraffe (Ticknor & Fields, New Haven, Connecticut, 1982); no scientific credentials; believes evolution is directed by some unspecified cosmic force; the reference work Contemporary Authors, Vol. 103, page 208, lists him as a member of the Society for Psychical Research, the British Society of Dowsers and the American Society of Dowsers; other writings include: Earth Magic; Dowsing: The Psi Connection; Mysterious World: An Atlas of the Unexplained; Fraud, Mischief, and the Supernatural and Instead of Darwin; claimed to be a member of the Royal Archaeological Institute, but an inquiry of that institute showed he was not; implied in the "Acknowledgments" of The Neck of the Giraffe that paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould had helped in the writing of the book, but a private inquiry to Gould revealed that Gould did not know him and had no information about him; zoologist Richard Dawkins of the University of Oxford was also implied to have had a hand in writing the book, but upon inquiry he stated: "I know nothing at all about Francis Hitching. If you are uncovering the fact that he is a charlatan, good for you. His book, The Neck of the Giraffe, is one of the silliest and most ignorant I have read for years."; the JW Creation book quotes him directly at least thirteen times, and a few other times without attribution; The Neck of the Giraffe spends much of its time attacking Darwinian evolution, borrowing heavily and uncritically from young-earth creationist arguments; several of Hitching's "references" are plagiarized from six-literal-day creationist literature rather than being quoted directly from their original sources; this is apparent because Hitching made exactly the same errors as did the creationists from whom he got his material (see an example below); Creation/Evolution Newsletter (7, No. 5, pp. 15-16, September/October 1987) said this about Hitching:
Speaking of the Biblical Creation Society, there was an interesting letter in the January 1983 issue of their journal Biblical Creation (p. 74) concerning a review of Francis Hitching's 1982 book The Neck of the Giraffe. Hitching's book is strongly anti-Darwinist, and is enthusiastically hailed by most creationists (though he also pokes fun at fundamentalist creationists). The letter, by creationist Malcolm Bowden (author of The Rise of the Evolution Fraud), points out that Hitching simply "culled his information from the creationist literature." This is indeed the case: many creationist works are cited favorably (Anderson, Coffin, Clark, Daly, Davidheiser, Dewar, Gish, Morris, Segraves, Whitcomb, and Wysong, plus various anti-Darwinists). Hitching does cite Bowden's earlier book Ape-Men -- Fact or Fallacy?, but Bowden accuses Hitching of "lifting" several passages and illustrations from his book without acknowledgment: in other words, plagiarism. "Hitchin's [sic] book is largely an exposition of the creationists [sic] viewpoint from the beginning to almost the end," Bowden points out... Hitching is also a paranormalist, an advocate of psychic evolution... [Hitching's book] Earth Magic is a wild, extremely entertaining and thoroughly psychic interpretation of megalithic structures... Hitching also includes in his scheme cosmic cataclysms, Atlantis, pyramidology, dowsing, ESP, miraculous healing, and astrology.
When the Watchtower Society quotes Francis Hitching, let the reader beware.
See below for examples where the Creation book plagiarized Hitching, as well as other problems with the Society's use of him as an authority.
*Lammerts, Walter. E. (1904-?)
Prominent Lutheran young-earth creationist and flood geologist; geneticist and expert plant breeder; at one time active in the Deluge Geology Society and the American Scientific Affiliation; founding member of the Creation Research Society in 1963; reviewed the manuscript for Morris and Whitcomb's The Genesis Flood; published several books on creationism.
*Marsh, Frank Lewis (1899-?)
Young-earth creationist and flood geologist; 7th-Day Adventist; another protégé of George McCready Price; Ph.D. in botany, M.S. in zoology; founding member of the Creation Research Society; founding member of the Geoscience Research Institute; contributed essays on creation and the flood to a 1953 SDA bible commentary; published several books on creationism.
*Morris, Henry M. (1918-present)
Young-earth creationist and flood geologist; Southern Baptist; Ph.D. in hydraulics engineering from the University of Minnesota, 1950; father of the late-20th-century young-earth creationist movement; member of the Deluge Geology Society; early member of the American Scientific Affiliation; founding member and former president of the Creation Research Society; founder and president of the Institute for Creation Research; prolific author of dozens of creationist books including co-authoring in 1961 the seminal The Genesis Flood.
Well-known British journalist, author and Christian apologist; declared that in the future Darwinian evolution will be laughed at; a featured guest on Canadian David Mainse's "Crossroads" creationism series along with prominent young-earth creationists.
*Nelson, Byron C. (1893-1972)
Young-earth creationist and flood geologist; Lutheran minister; author of The Deluge Story in Stone (1931), which was largely based on George McCready Price's ideas about "flood geology"; authored several other books on creationist topics.
Parker, Gary (1940-present)
Prominent young-earth creationist associated with the Institute for Creation Research; now head of Christian Heritage College (ICR affiliate) in Florida; M.S. and Ed.D. degrees in biology; author of several creationist books.
Old-earth creationist; M.A. in geography; published The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch in 1966, which appealed to an "astral catastrophism" akin to the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky and Ivan Sanderson, but his theories never caught on with mainstream creationists.
Young-earth creationist active in the first half of the 20th century; geologist and executive for Humble Oil Company and Standard Oil Company (Exxon); has been quoted at least five times in WTS literature as an authoritative source on how Genesis matches the geological record; here are some sobering facts about this:
The Society's use of a standard quote from Pratt is typified by a new book released at the 1998 District Conventions, Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?. In the final section titled "Can You Trust the Genesis Record?" the book presents the argument that the order of creation given in Genesis closely matches the pattern given by modern science. It quotes "noted geologist Wallace Pratt" in support. Then it asks (p. 102), "Consider: How did Moses -- thousands of years ago -- get that order right if his source of information were not from the Creator and Designer himself?" Well of course the book has provided only a single quotation (unreferenced) to support these fundamental claims. Some readers might note that these arguments are brief synopses of those given in much greater detail in the Society's 1985 Creation book, which also quotes Pratt, on page 36. The problem here is that the quote actually gives no support at all for the basic claim, since it turns out to be the religious opinion of a man who was a six-literal-day creationist as well as geologist. Here is what the Creator book said about trusting the Genesis record, including the quote from Pratt:
But can you really put faith in this account of creation and the prospects it holds out? As we noted, modern genetic research is moving toward the conclusion stated in the Bible long ago. Also, some scientists have taken note of the order of events presented in Genesis. For example, noted geologist Wallace Pratt commented: "If I as a geologist were called upon to explain briefly our modern ideas of the origin of the earth and the development of life on it to a simple, pastoral people, such as the tribes to whom the Book of Genesis was addressed, I could hardly do better than follow rather closely much of the language of the first chapter of Genesis." He also observed that the order as described in Genesis for the origin of the oceans and the emergence of land, as well as for the appearance of marine life, birds, and mammals, is in essence the sequence of the principle divisions of geologic time.
Now, this sounds awfully authoritative, but does it measure up? No. The Creator book's quotation of geologist Wallace Pratt is in fact an example of how the Society fails to include significant points about the credentials of a source reference, even though the points left out can make a decisive difference in the reader's judgment of the subject. In this case the important point is that Pratt was a young-earth creationist and was obviously expressing his religious view. Here is the full context of the original quotation:
Pratt is as much at home in the worlds of literature and philosophy as he is in those of science and industry. He is intrigued by the power of poetic expression. In "Sermons in Stones," a lecture which he gave in 1928, he said, "If I as a geologist were called upon to explain briefly our modern ideas of the origin of the earth and the development of life on it to a simple, pastoral people, such as the tribes to whom the Book of Genesis was addressed, I could hardly do better than follow rather closely much of the language of the first chapter of Genesis." He noted that the order of events -- from the origin of the oceans, to the emergence of land, to the appearance of marine life and then of birds and mammals -- is essentially the sequence of the principle divisions of geologic time from the Cosmic Era to the Psychozoic. He was undisturbed by the way Genesis compresses millions of geologic years into six days, for "Are we not assured, indeed, that with the Creator, 'a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day?'"
Many of the theories of the origin of the earth to which scientists gave credence in 1928 have been sharply modified in the light of new discoveries in geology and astronomy, but not enough, Pratt feels, to disrupt the parallelism with Genesis. "Science is like that," he says. "No scientific theory is sacrosanct. Somebody has said that the great glory of science is that its truths of today are its absurdities of tomorrow. And that is so. New facts always inspire scientists to devise new hypotheses and to demolish old ones." [W. L. Copithorne, "The Worlds of Wallace Pratt," The Lamp, vol. 53, pp. 11-14, Standard Oil, Fall, 1971. This magazine was published for shareholders of Standard Oil.]
Note two important points from this: (1) Pratt was a fundamentalist-style creationist who believed that the earth was created in six literal days, and (2) Creator's reference was to a lecture he gave in 1928. The Creator book is silent on these points because they destroy its argument, in spite of comments from Pratt. This witholding of information that could help a reader evaluate an argument is unconscionable.
An interesting point about Pratt was his religious belief that the earth was created in six literal days. Pratt was legendary for his ability to find oil fields based on the geology of an area. He regularly used the idea that oil bearing strata were laid down over a long period of time, so that the strata had a certain consistency he was able to discern so as to pick out likely oil fields with great success. One wonders how he was able to reconcile the two conflicting sets of beliefs.
Now, one might wonder if the Society's failure to inform the reader that Pratt was a young-earth creationist and that he was expressing his religious opinion was due to incompetence, or due to deliberately withholding the information. The following two examples will prove the latter:
After quoting Pratt as did the Creator book, the April 15, 1977 Watchtower (p. 231) commented:
And as regards the length of the days of creation mentioned in Genesis, this scientist discerningly asks: "Are we not assured, indeed, that with the Creator, 'a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day?'" How could the writer of the Genesis account have obtained this information and understanding except by divine inspiration?
The above full quote from Pratt states that he "was undisturbed by the way Genesis compresses millions of geologic years into six days, for 'Are we not assured, indeed, that with the Creator, "a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day?"'" Having the full quote at his disposal, it is clear that the Society's writer knew perfectly well that Pratt was a young-earth creationist.
The same thing applies to the following statement which appeared in the January 15, 1976 Watchtower (p. 60):
Commenting on the six "days," he asked, "Are we not assured, indeed, that with the Creator, 'a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day?'" -- The Lamp, Fall 1971, Vol. 53, No. 3.
Since the author of the Creator and Creation books, and the author of the May 15, 1992 Watchtower in which Pratt was also quoted (p. 5) obviously had access to the full context of Pratt's quote and therefore knew that Pratt was a young-earth creationist, these authors have obviously withheld critical information that would allow their readers to properly evaluate the credibility of their source. In other words, the Watchtower Society lied to its readers.
*Price, George McCready (1870-1963)
The most influential young-earth creationist of the first half of the 20th century; 7th-Day Adventist; taught himself geology to refute evolution and promote young-earth creationism; relied heavily on the writings of SDA "prophetess" Ellen G. White; developed or re-invented many of the anti-evolution ideas seen in modern young-earth creationist writings including "flood geology"; published many influential books including in 1923 the seminal The New Geology.
*Rehwinkle, Alfred M. (1887-1979)
Young-earth creationist and flood geologist; Lutheran theologian and theology professor at Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis; in 1951 published The Flood which was a popularization of George McCready Price's catastrophism
*Sanderson, Ivan T.
Naturalist; catastrophist in the spirit of Immanuel Velikovsky; wrote several wild, Velikovsky style articles and was forced to publish them in the popular media because no reputable science journals would have them.
Head of the geology department at Yale University in the 1820s and 1830s; from Anti-Evolution: A Reader's Guide to Writings before and after Darwin, (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1992, p. 47): "In his 1829 Geological Lectures Silliman explained that the upper sedimentary deposits were remains of Noah's Flood, but that lower strata were deposited by earlier deluges. Silliman favored Day-Age creationism."
*Tinkle, William. J. (1892-1981)
Old-earth creationist and flood geologist; Ph.D. in zoology; member of the Deluge Geology Society; founding member of the Creation Research Society; reviewed the manuscript for Morris and Whitcomb's The Genesis Flood
*Vail, Isaac Newton (1840-1912)
Spiritual and perhaps actual father of the "vapor canopy" idea; instrumental in propagating various "flood geology" notions; Pennsylvania Quaker schoolteacher, oil and gas prospector; extrapolated from the older scientific nebular hypothesis of the origin of the solar system to his "annular theory of earth history"; according to this the earth was originally surrounded by Saturn-like rings or canopies of aqueous vapor, which one by one collapsed on the earth, burying fossils in "a succession of stupendous cataclysms, separated by unknown periods of time"; Noah's Flood resulted from the last remnant of this vapor canopy; these ideas were first published in 1874 in a pamphlet titled "The Waters Above the Firmament": The Earth's Aqueous Ring; or, The Deluge and Its Cause, then in 1885 in a 400-page book titled The Story of the Rocks; or, The Earth's Annular System, and in 1912 in The Earth's Annular System: or, The Waters Above the Firmament; Vail's ideas were accepted in toto by the Watchtower Society and taught until the mid-1960s; the earliest mention of Vailian notions is in the December 1881 issue of Zion's Watch Tower (pp. 1-2; 299-300 Reprints); the first explicit mention of Vailian notions is apparently in the December 1, 1912 issue of The Watch Tower (pp. 372-3; 5139-40 Reprints); Vailian notions formed a major part of C. T. Russell's Photo-Drama of Creation (1914), Rutherford's 1927 book Creation, and chapter 4, "Earth's Creation", of the 1943 book The Truth Shall Make You Free; the Watch Tower Publications Index 1930-1985 lists six instances where the "annular theory" is referenced in WTS publications.
That the Watchtower Society taught explicitly Vailian notions through the mid-1960s can be seen in the following:
w62 9/15 p. 575: "When [Genesis] says that the springs were broken and the floodgates were opened it means that God caused the forces that held the great water canopy in suspension to be overcome and thus permitted the waters to pour down upon the earth, not in any global splash but as through floodgates into certain channels, particularly at the poles".
w64 1/15 pp. 54-5: "Up until Noah's six hundredth year of life the 'heavens in ancient times' were different or had a feature different from what the heavens or outer space have now. They had a water ring high in suspension above the earth and containing billions of tons of water. According to Genesis 1:6-8, God's word of command put that water ring up there in the heavens. It covered the earth like a canopy, so that the earth was standing 'in the midst of water by the word of God.'"
Sometime between 1961 and 1967 the Society seems to have got hold of Morris and Whitcomb's The Genesis Flood, and adapted many of its ideas to previous JW notions on creation and the Flood. In the 1967 book Did Man Get Here By Evolution Or By Creation? there appeared for the first time a raft of new references, many of which also appeared in The Genesis Flood. The Society also changed many of its older notions, updating them in accord with ideas set forth in Morris and Whitcomb's book. For example, the Society finally jettisoned the explicitly Vailian idea of a "water ring" and replaced it with the "vapor canopy" idea espoused in The Genesis Flood. It continued to teach that the "creative days" were 7,000 years long whereas Morris and Whitcomb taught six-literal-day creationism.
During the next 30 years Watchtower writings on evolution and creation often closely followed those found in young-earth creationist literature, except for the young-earth aspect. From 1967 until about 1983 the Society closely followed Morris and Whitcomb's ideas on flood geology, such as explicitly denying the existence of ice ages, claiming that most of the earth's sedimentary strata formed during Noah's Flood, and so forth. It's quite an eye-opener for someone raised as a JW during those years to find how much Watchtower teaching then had in common with that of its arch-enemies, those trinitarian, hell believing, world-to-be-burned believing, Satanic members of Christendom like the Seventh-Day Adventists and the Fundamentalist community.
After about 1983, apparently about the time the Society first roundly condemned young-earth creationist beliefs, it quietly dropped the notions of "flood geology" that it had been teaching in one form since 1881 and in another form since 1967. The way the Society is going, it wouldn't surprise me if, after the present old men of the Governing Body and their contemporaries die off, the Society jettisoned many more of its traditional notions about creation and the Flood.
*Velikovsky, Immanuel (1895-1979)
Psychiatrist and amateur historian; in 1950 published his first book Worlds in Collision (Macmillan Publishing Company) which became a best-seller; thereafter published a stream of equally fantastic books; Velikovsky exaggerated the findings of frozen animals, animal remains in caves and remains in other unusual circumstances; has come to be regarded as "the very model of a crank." (Science: Good, Bad and Bogus, Martin Gardner, Prometheus Books, 1989, p. xiv); Ivan T. Sanderson likely borrowed some of his information from Velikovsky's best-selling book.
In case you are not familiar with Velikovsky's works, here is a summary from pages 4 and 381 of Science: Good, Bad and Bogus: "Dr. Velikovsky (he was trained in psychoanalysis) set himself the task of revising the laws of astronomy and physics, and rewriting vast globs of ancient history, to spin an incredible tale about the planet Venus that would 'explain' the major miracles of the Old Testament." "The book throws together a jumbled mass of data to support the preposterous theory that a giant comet once erupted from the planet Jupiter, passed close to the earth on two occasions, then settled down as Venus. The first visit to the earth of this erratic comet was precisely at the time Moses stretched out his hand and caused the Red Sea to divide. The manna which fell from the skies shortly thereafter was a precipitate, fortunately edible, of suspended elements in the celestial visitor's tail. Later the comet's return coincided with Joshua's successful attempt to make the sun and moon stand still. The miracles of both Moses and Joshua were the result, Velikovsky informs us, of a temporary cessation of the earth's spin." Also see Broca's Brain, Carl Sagan, Ballantine Books, 1979, for more on Velikovsky.
The Watchtower Society once commented favorably on Worlds in Collision. The May 8, 1950 Awake! (pp. 27-8) said: "In this book the author sets forth the novel theory that millenniums ago a sky-roving comet the size of earth was cast out from Jupiter's molten mass; that this comet almost collided with the earth and Mars on several occasions; that finally this wandering offspring of Jupiter found an orbit of its own around the sun and has since been known as the planet Venus. Throughout the book the attempt is made to prove that when this comet passed within the vicinity of the earth it caused the great catastrophes that befell this globe in times past. Out of the ancient folklore of Arabia, India, China, Tibet, North and South America, and Scandinavia, from accounts found on ancient Egyptian papyri and Babylonian tablets of clay, as well as the record contained in the Bible, links of circumstantial and direct evidence are connected together to make a binding chain for supporting the theory. For example, the book claims that about 1500 years before Christ, that is, at the time of Israel's Exodus from Egypt, the head of this stray comet just missed our globe, thus causing the earth to pass through the tail of the comet. Result? The terrible plagues the Bible says fell upon Egypt. The rivers and lakes were turned to "blood", due to rusty red pigment particles from the comet's tail. This killed the fish, and the stench reached to high heaven. The frogs, lice and flies that plagued Egypt, each in their turn, were brought about by the feverish heat which stepped up the propagation rate of the vermin... The book assumes that not only Egypt, but the whole world, experienced these catastrophes, hence the tribal tales of practically every race of people, which tell of similar things, are given as proof that they occurred. The aftereffects of the comet, the book says, were responsible for the pillar of cloud by day and the column of fire by night that led Israel in their wanderings. The "manna" from heaven was synthesized out of the residue of the comet's elements left in earth's atmosphere. Moreover, a return of the comet some fifty years later accounted for the stoppage of the Jordan river for the Israelites' crossing, the fall of Jericho's walls, the stopping of the sun and moon in their tracks and the casting of sizzling meteor stones on the enemy forces at Gibeon in the days of Joshua. The sun and the moon stood still, it is argued, simply because the comet stopped the earth from turning on its axis for the space of "about a whole day"."
*Whitcomb, John C. (1924-present)
Young-earth creationist and flood geologist; B.D. degree in history; wrote the original manuscript for The Genesis Flood and later collaborated with Henry Morris to publish it; this early draft contained much material borrowed from the discredited Immanuel Velikovsky and George McCready Price; Morris carefully expunged most of this from the final draft.
White, Ellen G. (1827-1915)
Charismatic founder of the 7th-Day Adventists; claimed to receive divine messages in trancelike visions; SDA's believe she was inspired and put her writings on a par with the Bible; taught six-literal-day creationism and a form of "flood geology" that set the beliefs for the SDA Church and the Fundamentalists who bought into the ideas.