Paper Abstracts

George McCready Price

K.P. Wise

Discipline: History

Abstract: George McCready Price (1870-1963) was the leading young-life creationist of the first half of the twentieth century. Largely self-taught, Price shared his creationist views in more than two dozen books and more than 800 articles' mostly intended for the lay believer. Price argued that true science involves deriving absolute truths by inductive syllogism from known truths. Price believed the Creation Week was 144 consecutive hours in length, six or seven thousand years ago, and everything on the earth was created in that Creation Week. Price believed the creation was created in the state of perfection and that natural evil entered the world at the Fall of man. Price believed the only natural group of organisms, the created kind (what he called the "natural species" when he was being careful), was at about the taxonomic level of genus or family, and could be identified by successful hybridization. Except in the high altitudes, Price believed the entire pre-Flood world enjoyed a sub-tropical climate and supported a biota of much greater size and beauty than the biota of the present world. Price believed the Genesis Flood was global and was caused by some sort of upheaval of the oceans- possibly the sloshing back and forth of the oceans as the earth sustained a sudden, axis-changing astronomical impact. Price believed that all Phanerozoic sediments were formed in the Flood, and organisms were buried close to their pre-Flood habitation. Price believed that the global biostratigraphic column was artificially arranged according to organismal development, reversals of that order are due to normal sedimentation (not post-depositional thrust faults), and most so-called "extinct" organisms are actually identical to modern organisms. Price believed that a sudden freeze was somehow associated with the Flood (to explain frozen mammoths), and the warm pre-Flood ocean water in inland seas caused a regional ice age in the years following the Flood. Price believed created kinds diversified largely by splitting and differentiation following the Flood. Price believed the post-Flood Cro-Magnon people are the oldest humans from which we have evidence, and all other hominoids (fossil and living, ape and human) are degenerate humans. Price also believed that God created languages and races and gave them to different people groups spreading out from Babel. Finally, Price believed that human civilization has degenerated from its highest form in Eden.

Price's geological ideas formed the core of the geological arguments of Whitcomb and Morris's The Genesis Flood, but without appropriate citation. Many of the discussions of modern creationism are similar to ideas Price shared a century or more ago. Although many of current creationist discussions are likely to be derived from Price, not only is this not obvious, but much valuable discussion has been lost. Creationists should reconstruct their intellectual history and thus enrich current discussions.

A host of Price's claims are echoed in modern creationist discussions. Many of those discussions may turn out to be derived from Price's ideas and this intellectual heritage should be studied in detail. Price's philosophy of science, for example, seems to be echoed in such things as the creationist tendency to present anti-evolutionary arguments rather than build models, the preference of quantitative over non-quantitative research approaches, and the adoption of positivist definitions of science. Price's climatology seems to be echoed in such things as adherence to the canopy model, associations of warm climate with large body size, and discussions about the nature and timing of the ice age. Price's biology seems to be echoed in such things as creationists' use of Mayr's biological species definition, references to "natural limits to variation" and "living fossils", and post-Flood diversification by segregation of genetic information. Price's geology seems to be echoed in such things as the rejection of the biostratigraphic column and disputes about the location of the Flood/post-Flood boundary in the stratigraphic record.