Glenn Morton's Obituary and "Morton's Demon"

Continuing the discussion from Glenn Morton, 1950-2020. Here’s Glenn’s obituary as it will appear in the Bryan Eagle (with notices also in the Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle):

Glenn Robert Morton (b. April 16, 1950) went to be with his Lord on August 5, 2020 with his wife and children by his side. He is survived by the love of his life, Debra Saied Morton (m. Dec 19, 1971), daughter of William and Marjory Saied. He will be sadly missed by his three sons and their families: Daniel and Amanda Morton of Dallas, TX, and their children, Rachel, Joshua and Lucas, Matthew and Shannon Morton of College Station, TX and their children, Elizabeth, Abigail, and Samuel, and David and Jennifer Morton of Pearland, TX, and their children, Jakob and William. He is also survived by his sister Gloria, and preceded in death by his brother Gary and parents C. Fred and Dorothy Allison Boyd Morton.

After a childhood in Drumright, Cushing, Tulsa, Ardmore and Oklahoma City, he attended Oklahoma University and received his degree in physics.

Glenn trusted Jesus in college and until the day he died. His example of how a Christian should leave this planet is a model to those who survived him. He used his time in the hospital to share the gospel of Jesus with fellow cancer patients and hospital staff.

Glenn loved his work, and had an illustrious career in the oil business, working for Seismograph Service Corp, Pexcon, ARCO, Oryx, and Kerr-McGee. He held titles ranging from Geophysicist to Manager to Exploration and Technology Director. His work took him from the United States to China and Scotland, and he loved retelling stories of his many travels. Following his roles as a full time employee, he became a consultant, and founded his own company, Geos-Eyes, with Danny Phillips. During his career, he was proud to say he found 34 oil fields and a billion barrels of oil. He retired, somewhat reluctantly, in 2016.

His interests were broad, having published 110 articles on topics such as geophysics, theology, anthropology, statistics, biology, information technology and history. He had 3 patent applications and wrote 6 books. His latest book, Eden Was Here, was published on Amazon hours before he fell asleep for the last time. His children fondly remember him always exploring new topics of interest growing up, with his library big enough to fill a converted two-car garage and a computer that was often running a new scientific model. He was a prodigious reader, sometimes completing entire scientific books in the course of a single day. He loved debating with his boys on a variety of topics, and had an infectious laugh, as he was no stranger to a good joke. He never lost his sense of wonder.

As much as Glenn loved his work, his family was always his first priority. His oldest son remembers especially fondly his father going to the “ends of the earth” with him on their 2009 trip to Antarctica. His middle son remembers their regular chess matches, which Glenn almost always won (except once). His youngest will remember his years-long standing appointment to watch Star Trek. He regularly took time to tell his sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren that he was proud of them and that he loved them. He was an involved and loving father and grandfather. He often joked that he had to be especially nice to the grandkids so that somebody would cry at his funeral.

Glenn was diagnosed with a severe form of prostate cancer in 2003. He was fond of telling people that he outlived three prognostications of his death, living much longer than expected and he never wanted to be called a victim of cancer. He actually outlived the fourth prognostication by a few days. He was always grateful for his time, and more so since 2003. All eight of his grandchildren were born after his diagnosis and before his passing – a blessing he noted many times.

He will be greatly missed.

Services will be held at Grace Bible Church, Creekside Campus on August 11, 2020 at 2:00 PM. Dress is business casual. The recording will be available on the Hillier Funeral Home website beginning the following day.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to Hospice Brazos Valley or Grace Bible Church, Creekside Campus.

Edit: I should add the links to Glenn’s website and book. He chided me for not doing that every time a seeker came along. Sorry, Glenn. Does this count? Characteristically, he doesn’t include “Morton’s Demon” on the website. It says something about the man that he rarely mentioned his anti-YEC writings and evidence. He didn’t want to be the cause of a YEC believer losing his/her faith. I can respect that. The links:

The Migrant Mind
Eden Was Here: New Evidence for the Historicity of Genesis

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Had to try that again. Here’s what I consider Glenn’s best short essay. (He certainly would disagree!) It’s from talkorigins.org in Feb. 2002:

Maxwell suggested a famous demon which could violate the laws of thermodynamics. The demon, sitting between two rooms, controls a gate between the two rooms. When the demon sees a speedy molecule coming his way (from room A), he opens the gate and lets the speedy molecule leave the room and when he sees a slow molecule coming at the gate (from room A), he holds it closed. Oppositely, when he sees a speedy molecule coming at the gate from room B he closes the gate but when he sees a slow molecule from room B coming toward the gate he opens it. In this way, the demon segregates the fast moving molecules into one room from the slow ones in the other. Since temperature of a gas is related to the velocity of the molecules, the demon would increase the temperature of room B and cool room A without any expenditure of energy. And since a temperature difference can be used to create useful work, the demon would create a perpetual motion machine.

Maxwell’s demon was shown to fail by Szilard who showed that the demon needed to use light (and expend energy) to determine a fast molecule from a slow one. This energy spent to collect information meant that the demon couldn’t violate the 2nd law.

The reason I mention this is because I realized tonight that the YECs have a demon of their own. In a conversation with a YEC, I mentioned certain problems which he needed to address. Instead of addressing them, he claimed that he didn’t have time to do the research. With other YECs, I have found that this is not the case (like … who refused my offer to discuss the existence of the geologic column by stating “It’s on my short list of topics to pursue here. It’s not up next, but perhaps before too long.”) And with other YECs, they claim lack of expertise to evaluate the argument and thus won’t make a judgment about the validity of the criticism. Still other YECs refuse to read things that might disagree with them.

Thus was born the realization that there is a dangerous demon on the loose. When I was a YEC, I had a demon that did similar things for me that Maxwell’s demon did for thermodynamics. Morton’s demon was a demon who sat at the gate of my sensory input apparatus and if and when he saw supportive evidence coming in, he opened the gate. But if he saw contradictory data coming in, he closed the gate. In this way, the demon allowed me to believe that I was right and to avoid any nasty contradictory data. Fortunately, I eventually realized that the demon was there and began to open the gate when he wasn’t looking.

However, my conversations have made me aware that each YEC is a victim of my demon. Morton’s demon makes it possible for a person to have his own set of private facts which others are not privy to, allowing the YEC to construct a theory which is perfectly supported by the facts which the demon lets through the gate. And since these are the only facts known to the victim, he feels in his heart that he has explained everything. Indeed, the demon makes people feel morally superior and more knowledgeable than others.

The demon makes its victim feel very comfortable as there is no contradictory data in view. The demon is better than a set of rose colored glasses. The demon’s victim does not understand why everyone else doesn’t fall down and accept the victim’s views. After all, the world is thought to be as the victim sees it and the demon doesn’t let through the gate the knowledge that others don’t see the same thing. Because of this, the victim assumes that everyone else is biased, or holding those views so that they can keep their job, or, in an even more devious attack by my demon, they think that their opponents are actually demon possessed themselves or sons of Satan. This is a devious demon!

He can make people think that the geologic column doesn’t exist even if one posts examples on the internet. He can make people believe that radioactive dating doesn’t work even if you show them comparisons of tree rings compared to radiocarbon dating. He can make people ignore layer after layer of footprints and burrows in the geologic column and believe that burrowing can occur and animals can walk around unimpeded during a global flood. (Dead link removed. See BL post here.) He can make people think that the sun is shrinking, that the stars are all within 6000 light years of the earth, or that God made pictures in that light of events which never happened. He can make people believe that fossils aren’t the remains of animals and are ‘petrifactions’ placed there by the devil. He can make people ignore modern measurements of continental motion, stellar formation, or biological speciation. He can make people believe that 75,000 feet of sediment over an area 200 by 100 miles can be deposited in a few hundred years, and he can make people believe that Noah trained animals to poop into buckets on command. He can make people deny transitional forms which have traits clearly halfway between two groups. This is a dangerous demon.

But one thing that those unaffected by this demon don’t understand is that the victim is not lying about the data. The demon only lets his victim see what the demon wants him to see and thus the victim, whose sensory input is horribly askew, feels that he is totally honest about the data. The victim doesn’t know that he is the host to an evil parasite and indeed many of their opponents don’t know that as well since the demon is smart enough to be too small to be seen.

But unlike Maxwell’s demon, Morton’s demon doesn’t expend any energy–he gets his victim to expend it for him. He can get his victim to expend massive amounts of intellectual energy figuring out how to convince the world that they are wrong. The victim will spend hours reading supportive books or searching through scientific literature noting only those portions which support the YEC position. And the victim will spend lots of energy trying to convince others to come see things the way they do. Thus, the demon gets its victims to spend energy to help it spread the infection.

The demon drives his victim to go to YEC conventions so that the demon can rest. By making his victim be with those equally afflicted, the demon doesn’t have to shut the door or even be watchful. This is because it allows the demon time to rest when all that is in the room is supportive data. For the victim, there is comfort in numbers even if they are few.

Those who try to help the poor victims escape the ravages of Morton’s demon wear themselves out typing e-mails explaining data and facts which never get through the demon’s gate. After years of weariness, the philanthropic individual dies of fatigue. This is oh so devilish a situation!

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I hope i meet him again .May our good Lord grand him peace. He is free of pain right now.

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Thank you for the post of the kind words, Jay. I’m proud to call myself his son!

Dan.

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You’re welcome!

The demon illustration is very apt! It sort of took me back to a remark I made to my dad at about age 18, when I was deep into the YEC arguments. I told him, “at least, evolutionists can’t say we aren’t smart, because it takes a lot of work to think through things from an opposite point of view.” After that, I remember my conversation coming back to me as increasingly evident proof that I was arguing on the wrong side. I think now that I was becoming aware of my demon.

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I think so! I also think this part of Glenn’s essay applies to the “conspiracy theory” mindset running rampant these days.

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