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8.2 Young Earth Creationism

Young Earth creationism (YEC) is the religious belief that the Heavens, Earth, and life on Earth were created by direct acts of God during a short period -sometime between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago- as described in Genesis. Its adherents are those Christians and Jews who believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, taking the Hebrew text of Genesis as a literal account. Some adherents believe that existing evidence in the natural world today supports a strict interpretation of scriptural creation as historical fact.

Young Earth creationists often believe that the Universe has a similar age as the Earth. Creationist cosmologies are attempts by some creationist thinkers to give the universe an age consistent with the Ussher chronology and other Young-Earth timeframes. This belief is based in a literal and inerrant interpretation of the Bible.

YECs claim that the lack of support for a Young Earth theory in professional science journals, or among professional science organizations, is due to discrimination and censorship. However, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that YEC claims have no scientific basis. Scientists believe: that the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old; that life appeared on Earth at least 2.5 billion years ago, and has subsequently taken many forms, all of which continue to evolve; and that the genetic code of all organisms living today, including humans, clearly indicates their common primordial origin.

8.2.1 History

Some YECs have claimed that their view has its earliest roots in Judaism, citing, for example, the commentary on Genesis by Ibn Ezra (c. 1089–1164). However, Shai Cherry of Vanderbilt University notes that Jewish theologians have generally rejected such literalist interpretations of the written text, and that even Jewish commentators who oppose some aspects of Darwinian thought generally accept scientific evidence that the Earth is much older. A number of prominent early Christian Church Fathers, including Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Augustine, did not believe the Genesis account depicted ordinary solar days; they read creation history as an allegory as well as being theologically true. The Protestant reformation hermeneutic led some of the Reformers and later Protestants toward a literal reading of the Bible as translated, believing in an ordinary day, and maintaining this younger-Earth view.

The belief that the universe was made by a rational Creator was held by many of the founders of modern science, such as Copernicus, Kepler, Faraday, Galileo, Maxwell, Newton, Boyle, Pascal and Nicolas Steno, all of whom followed the empirical method described by Francis Bacon. Bacon’s emphasis that the works of God in nature teach us how to interpret the word of God in the Bible is quoted by Charles Darwin at the start of on the “Origin of Species”.

In 1650, Archbishop Ussher published the Ussher chronology, a chronology dating the creation to the night preceding October 23 4004 BC. Ussher’s proposed date of 4004 BC differed little from other Biblically-based estimates, such as those of Bede (3952 BC), Ussher’s near-contemporary, Scaliger (3949 BC), Johannes Kepler (3992 BC), Sir Isaac Newton (c. 4000 BC), or John Lightfoot (3929 BC).

8.2.2 Decline

Support for YEC declined from the eighteenth century onwards with the development of the scientific revolution. Findings in geology led to a number of explanations which required an ancient Earth.

Hutton’s main line of argument was that the tremendous displacements and changes did not happen in a short period of time by means of catastrophe, but that the incremental processes of uplift and erosion happening on the Earth in the present day had caused them. As these processes were very gradual, the Earth needed to be ancient, in order to allow time for the changes to occur.

Hutton’s ideas, called uniformitarianism or Gradualism, were popularized by Sir Charles Lyell in the early nineteenth century. They led to the public and scientific communities largely accepting an ancient Earth. By this time the Reverends William Buckland, Adam Sedgwick and other early geologists had abandoned their earlier ideas of catastrophism related to a Biblical flood, and confined their explanations to local floods. By the 1830s, mainstream science had abandoned YEC as a serious hypothesis.

8.2.3 Revival

The rise of fundamentalist Christianity at the start of the twentieth century saw a revival of interest in YEC, as a part of their rejection of the explanation of evolution.

In the 1950’s, Price’s work came under severe criticism, particularly by Bernard Ramm in his book “The Christian View of Science and Scripture”. Together with J. Laurence Kulp, a geologist and in fellowship with the Plymouth Brethren, and other scientists, Ramm influenced Christian organisations such as the “American Scientific Affiliation” (ASA) in not supporting flood geology.

Price’s work was subsequently adapted and updated by Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb Jr. in their book “The Genesis Flood” in 1961. They argued that the Earth was geologically recent and that the Great Flood had laid down most of the geological strata in the space of a single year, reviving pre-Uniformitarian arguments. This became the foundation of a new generation of YEC thinkers, who organized themselves around Morris’ “Institute for Creation Research”. Sister organizations such as the “Creation Research Society” have sought to re-interpret geological formations within a YEC viewpoint.

As of 2008 a Gallup poll indicated that 50% of US adults agreed with the statement “human beings developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.” Whereas 44% of US adults agreed with the statement “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”

8.2.4 Criticisms Scientific

In 1997, a poll by the Gallup organization showed that:

–          5% of US adults with professional degrees in science took a YEC view.

–          40% of the same group said that they believed that life, including humans, had evolved over millions of years, but that God guided this process; a view described as theistic evolution.

–          55% held a view of “naturalistic evolution” in which no God took part in this process.

Some scientists who believe in creationism are known to subscribe to other forms such as Old Earth creationism which posits an act of creation that took place millions or billions of years ago.

Christian YECs adhere strongly to the concept of biblical inerrancy and that the Bible was divinely inspired and therefore scientifically infallible and non-correctable. This position is considered by devotees and critics alike to be incompatible with the principles of scientific objectivity.

YECs often suggest that supporters of evolution theory are primarily motivated by atheism. Critics reject this claim by pointing out that many supporters of evolutionary theory are in fact religious believers, and that major religious groups such as the Roman Catholic Church and Church of England believe that the concept of biological evolution does not imply a rejection of the scriptures.

Creationists believe that scientists operate on an a-priori disbelief in biblical principles. They also discount Christian faith positions, like those of French Jesuit priest, geologist and palaetologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who saw that his work with evolutionary sciences actually confirmed and inspired his faith in the cosmic Christ. Nor do they believe the views of Catholic priest Fr. Thomas Berry that the cosmological 13 billion year “Universe Story” provides all faiths and all traditions a single account by which the divine has made its presence in the world. Theological

Some theologians oppose the proposition that God can be a legitimate or viable subject for scientific experimentation, and reject a literal interpretation of Genesis. They believe that there are statements in the creation week itself which render the historical interpretation of Genesis incompatible with scientific evidence.

Another problem is the fact that distant galaxies can be seen. If the universe did not exist until 10,000 years ago, then light from anything farther than 10,000 light-years would not have time to reach us.

Many critics claim that Genesis itself is internally inconsistent on the question of whether man was created before the animals (Genesis 2:19) or after the animals as stated in Genesis 1. Proponents of the Documentary hypothesis suggest that Genesis 1 was a litany from the Priestly source (possibly from an early Jewish liturgy) while Genesis 2 was assembled from older Jahwist material. Many creationists attribute this view to misunderstanding having arisen from poor translation of the tenses in Genesis 2 in contemporary translations of the Bible. Some Christians assert that the Bible is free from error only in religious and moral matters and that where scientific questions are concerned, the Bible should not be read literally. By contrast, YECs contend that moral and spiritual matters in the Bible are intimately connected with its historical accuracy.

While some theologians believe there is an inherent conflict between the Bible and science, popular Christianity trusts the value of science in understanding the physical world.

Aside from the theological doubts voiced by other Christians, YEC also stands in opposition to the creation mythologies of other religions (both extant and extinct as they make claims regarding the origin of the universe and humanity that are completely incompatible with those of Christian creationists (and with one another).

8.2.5 Animal evolution Animal behaviour

YECs interpret Genesis to teach that prior to the Fall of man there was no predatory or carnivorous activity amongst animals, and animals did not die. It is thought that all animals, together with humans, subsisted on an entirely vegetarian diet.

The implication of these ideas -that before the Fall animals would eventually exceed the carrying capacity of the Earth- is not considered a problem by some YECs since they believe that the Earth did not remain in its unfallen state for any appreciable time. Diversification of life

YECs also assert that all modern species of land vertebrates are descended from those original animals on the ark. Most YECs believe that the Ark “kinds” diversified as they subsequently adapted to their environments by the process of variation and rapid natural selection. Many YECs assert that the process of variation and natural selection resulted in a net loss of genetic information. Palaeontology and dinosaurs

The term “dinosaur” was first used by Richard Owen in 1842. As it is a modern coinage derived from Greek, the Bible does not use the word “dinosaur”, but the Hebrew word “tanniyn” has been interpreted as referring to them by some Christians. In English translations, tanniyn may be translated as “sea monster” or “serpent”, but it is usually translated as “dragon”. These creatures are mentioned nearly thirty times in the Old Testament and are found both on land and in the water. At another point, the Bible describes a huge creature called a “behemoth” (Job 40:15-24) that “moves his tail like a cedar”. Some Biblical scholars identify the behemoth as either an elephant, a hippopotamus, a bull or, better, a sauropod dinosaur. Other creationists refer to “behemoth” as Brachiosaurus, since the Bible says in Job, “He is the chief of the ways of God” that is he is the largest animal God created.

The Leviathan is another creature referred to in the Bible’s Old Testament; it is described as having a variety of dinosaur, dragon, and water-serpent-like characteristics. Some scholars identify the Leviathan in Job c. 41 with the Nile crocodile. Creationists have sometimes tried to connect the Leviathan with the dinosaurs.

YECs do not deny the existence of dinosaurs and other extinct animals present in the fossil record. Usually, they assert that the fossils represent the remains of animals that perished in the Great Flood. Most believe that Noah took the dinosaurs with him in his Ark and that they gradually became extinct as a result of a vastly different post-flood environment. Some creationists assert that living dinosaurs still survive in isolated spots, accounting for alleged sightings of lake or sea monsters.

YECs occasionally claim that dinosaurs survived in Australia, and that Aboriginal legends of reptilian monsters are evidence of this referring to what is known as Megalania (Varanus priscus). However, Megalania was a gigantic monitor lizard, and not a dinosaur.

8.2.6cientific fields involved according to the YEC

A phylogenetic tree based on rRNA genes.


Taxonomy and classification became a focus in the study of natural history in the 18th century. Carolus Linnaeus published a basic taxonomy for the natural world in 1735 (variations of which have been in use ever since), and in the 1750s introduced scientific names for all his species. Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, treated species as artificial categories and living forms as malleable —even suggesting the possibility of common descent but he was opposed to evolution. Serious evolutionary thinking originated with the works of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Charles Darwin, combining the bio-geographical approach of Humboldt, the uniformitarian geology of Lyell, Thomas Malthus’s writings on population growth, and his own morphological expertise created a more successful evolutionary theory based on natural selection. The discovery of the double helical structure of DNA in 1953, opened the era of molecular genetics. From the 1950s to present times, biology has been vastly extended in the molecular domain. The Human Genome Project was launched in 1990 with the goal of mapping the general human genome. It was the first step in a globalized effort to incorporate accumulated knowledge of biology into a functional, molecular definition of the human body and the bodies of other organisms.


Many believers in Young Earth Creationism –a position held by the majority of proponents of Flood Geology– accept biblical chronogenealogies. They believe that God created the universe approximately 6000 years ago, in the space of six days. Much of creation geology is devoted to debunking the dating methods used in anthropology, geology, and planetary science that give ages in conflict with the young Earth idea. In particular, creationists dispute the reliability of radiometric dating and isochron analysis, both of which are central to mainstream geological theories of the age of the Earth.

The consensus of professional scientific organisations worldwide is that no scientific evidence contradicts the age of approximately 4.5 billion years. Young Earth creationists reject these ages on the grounds of what they regard as being tenuous and untestable assumptions in the methodology.


Whilst Young Earth Creationists believe that the Universe was created approximately 6000 years ago, the current scientific consensus is that it is about 13.7 billion years old. The recent science of nucleocosmochronology is extending the approaches used for Carbon-14 dating to the dating of astronomical features.

Nuclear physics

Creationists point to experiments which, according to them, demonstrate that 1.5 billion years of nuclear decay took place over a short period of time. From this they infer that “billion-fold speed-ups of nuclear decay” have occurred, a massive violation of the principle that radioisotope decay rates are constant, a core principle underlying nuclear physics generally, and radiometric dating in particular.

The scientific community points to numerous flaws in these experiments, to the fact that their results have not been accepted for publication by any peer-reviewed scientific journal, and to the fact that the creationist scientists conducting them were untrained in experimental geochronology.