Monday, February 2, 2009

Online creationist history

Those who've read my Answers magazine articles or other work might have noticed that I frequently refer to the work of early creationists of the twentieth century, especially the Seventh-day Adventists Harold Clark, George McCready Price, and Frank Lewis Marsh. I familiarized myself with their works first through books, and later through their magazine articles. A few years back, I spent every Thursday for an entire semester at the library at Southern Adventist University going through their denominational magazines issue by issue, copying every article that had anything to do with creationism. That was a lot of work, but I think it paid off handsomely. Yes, I have a lot of less-than-helpful antievolution articles, but there are also some historically important gems, too.

I recently found out that this kind of research is going to be a whole lot easier. The SDA church has an online archive, containing scans of their major magazines (the biggest ones for creationism were Review and Herald, Signs of the Times, and The Ministry). You need a DjVu reader to access some of the references, but it's free and is linked right at their website. Now I can just search for "George McCready Price" or "New Diluvialism," and I can do a semester's worth of work in a few days. How sweet it is!

Why should anyone care? Because these guys gave us a lot of our modern ideas. You know the ideas that you've heard everyone talking about, but you can't remember who came up with them? It was probably these early creationists. I'm thinking of things like "the Genesis kind is approximately the family." Today, it's basically public-domain folklore, but it was originally the idea of George McCready Price, which you can read about in his article "Nature's Two Hundred Families." Or you can find out where the Paluxy myths began infecting creationism.

If you're serious about discovering our creationist heritage, I also recommend collecting some of the significant books by these early creationists. A great place for that is Lost-N-Found Books, where you can get affordable copies of Marsh's Evolution, Creation, and Science or Clark's Genes and Genesis. Harder to get are Price's New Geology or Clark's New Diluvialism, but these are also important works in the area of creationist geology. At LNFbooks, you can sign up to be notified if these rare books become available.

Learning our own history requires an investment of time and money, but it's worth it. It's very important for creationists to begin recognizing and embracing our intellectual heritage, such as it is.

SDA Online Archive