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J. Laurence Kulp

John Laurence Kulp (1921 - 2006) was a 20th century geochemist. Well known in creationist circles for championing the cause of science within Christianity against, what many people consider, the pseudoscience of flood geology. J. Laurence Kulp died on Sept. 25, 2006 at the age of 85.


Early life

Kulp was raised in New Jersey and was brought up in the Episcopal Church. He later became a fundamentalist and joined the Plymouth Brethren. [1] He spent his college years at Drew University and Wheaton College and graduated at Ohio State and Princeton. [2]

Scientific contributions

Larry Kulp was professor of geochemistry at Columbia University between 1947 and 1965. He left the University to be vice president for research and development at Weyerhaeuser Company. Later in life he became involved in environment and natural resource issues.

His expertise was in radiometric dating, which was transforming the field of geology in the 1950's. He was a pioneer in the field of Carbon 14 and in 1950,the second Carbon 14 research centre in the USA was setup by Kulp at Columbia University.

During the 1950s he helped convince politicians that atomic bomb testing was a danger to health in regards to strontium-90 finding its way into the human food chain. [3] [4] [5]

Kulp's research in radiometric dating included :-
- Potassium-argon dating[6] [7]
- Rubidium-strontium dating [8]
- Uranium-lead dating [9]
- Carbon-14 [10]

In 1960, using the findings of radiometric dating, he published a geological time scale estimating the age of each geological era. [11]

In the 1980s he was the director of the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program which controversially reported to the Ronald Reagan government that the effects of acid rain on forests was not particularly great. [12][13]

Kulp was highly respected by both Christian and non-Christian scientists. [14]

Criticism of flood geology

Kulp was a leading figure in the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), a fellowship of scientists who are also Christians. He was a fierce critic of flood geology and young earth creationism.

His notability can be seen in the influence that he and Bernard Ramm had on mainstream Christianity in regards to the attitude towards geology, especially in the 1950s. Prior to Kulp, many Christians were swayed by flood geology which was popularised by George McCready Price, a Seventh-day Adventist, in the 1920s. [15][16].

Kulp contributed more than any other scientist in splitting Conservative Protestants into the separate camps of "evangelicals" and "fundamentalists". [17]. The first group accept radioactive dating and old earth creationism, the second group, fundamentalist evangelicals, believe in flood geology and young earth creationism.

Kulp approached geology with a critical eye but once convinced of the validity of a geological principle was not prepared to sacrifice well established scientific facts for the convenience of supporting the interpretation of the early Chapters of Genesis as given by mainstream "fundamentalists". He gained support from the Christian apologist Bernard Ramm who supported Kulp in his criticism of flood geology saying "If uniformitarianism makes a scientific case for itself to a Christian scholar, that Christian scholar has every right to believe it, and if he is a man and not a coward he will believe it in spite of the intimidation that he is supposedly gone over into the camp of the enemy". [18]

Kulp's conclusions on the age of the Earth was that the Christian was faced with two choices. Either it was created millions of years ago or that God has deceived humanity in providing data which does not support a 6000 to 10000 year old Earth. He viewed "flood geology" as offering no third choice, that it was unscientific, ludicrous and "has done and will do considerable harm to the strong propagation of the gospel among educated people".[19] He viewed George McCready Price and his supporters as being ignorant of geology, and at times deceitful in their misrepresentation of geological data in their defense of flood geology.

Although flood geology became popular again mainly through the work of Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb Jr. in their book The Genesis Flood in 1961, some Christians continue to reject flood geology as pseudoscience and affiliations such as the ASA and Answers in Creation frequently publish research generally favouring old earth creationism.


  1. ^ page 164 of The Creationists, by R.L. Numbers, 2006
  2. ^!6932!0&profile=newcustom-icos#focus
  3. ^,9171,809133-1,00.html
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  16. ^ page 184 of The Creationists, by R.L. Numbers, 2006
  17. ^ page 184 of The Creationists, by R.L. Numbers, 2006
  18. ^ B. Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, p. 171
  19. ^

Research libraries

Pages 184 to 192 entitled "J. Laurence Kulp and the Critique of Flood Geology" in the book The Creationists, by Ronald L. Numbers, 2006

See also

  • Flood geology
  • Old Earth creationism
  • Young Earth creationism
  • History of creationism
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "J._Laurence_Kulp". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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