John C. Whitcomb Jr., co-author of The Genesis Flood, dies at 95

The theologian John C. Whitcomb Jr. died on February 4, 2020, at the age of 95, according to the young-earth creationist ministry Answers in Genesis (February 5, 2020). Whitcomb was the coauthor, with Henry M. Morris, of The Genesis Flood (1961), which popularized "flood geology" — the idea that the flood described in Genesis 6-9 was a historical worldwide event — among evangelical Christians, helping to establish what is now called young-earth creationism as the dominant form of creationism today.

In The Creationists (1992), the historian Ronald L. Numbers wrote, "There is, of course, no simple answer to the question 'Why flood geology?' ... But the testimony of countless converts suggest that the lion's share of credit — or blame — for the popularity of flood geology must go to John C. Whitcomb, Jr., and Henry M. Morris." There was a division of labor, he explained: "Whitcomb undertook to determine what the Bible taught concerning the flood, leaving Morris the task of trying to fit the scientific data into a biblical framework." Numbers added, "By showing how the deluge of Noah compressed earth history into no more than ten thousand years, Whitcomb and Morris at one stroke eliminated the need for such 'biblical gymnastics' and deprived evolutionists of the time required for the natural origin of species." David C. C. Watson succinctly summed up the appeal of such maneuvers: 'Tens of thousands of Christians have been convinced by Morris & Whitcomb's books because they make sense of the Bible'" (emphasis in original).

Whitcomb was born in Washington DC on June 22, 1924. After entering Princeton University, he served in the US Army from 1944 to 1946, and then completed his B.A. in history. He then earned the degrees of M.Div., Th.M., and Th.D. from Grace Theological Seminary. Whitcomb taught in Grace Theological Seminary's Old Testament and Christian Theology departments until 1990. Besides The Genesis Flood, his books included The World that Perished (1973) and Jesus Christ: Our Intelligent Designer (revised edition, 2012).

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.

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