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Young Earth creationism

Young Earth creationism (YEC) is the religious belief that Heaven, Earth, and life on Earth were created by a direct act of God dating between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. 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. Those adherents believe that the scientific evidence supporting evolution, geological uniformitarianism, or other theories which are at odds with a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account, is either flawed or misinterpreted.

Many Young Earth creationists (YECs) are active in the development of creation science, an endeavor that holds that the events associated with supernatural creation can be evidenced and modelled through an interpretation of the scientific method. This has led to the establishment of a number of Young Earth Creation Science organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research and the Creation Research Society.

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. For example, a statement by 68 national and international science academies lists the following as evidence-based facts, established by numerous observations and independently derived experimental results from a multitude of scientific disciplines, without any contradiction from scientific evidence: that the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old and has shown continuing change; 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.



Some YECs have claimed that this 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. Similar claims are made of Christian commentators, but 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 and read creation history as an allegory as well as being theologically true (however this being said, all of these men certainly did believe in a young earth). The Protestant reformation hermeneutic inclined 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 Baconian method described by Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), who emphasised that the works of God in nature teach us how to interpret the word of God in the Bible.

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).


Support for YEC declined from the 18th century onwards with the development of the scientific revolution, and scientific paradigm shifts. Findings in geology led to a number of explanations which required an ancient Earth, such as Abraham Gottlob Werner's Neptunism. James Hutton, now regarded as the father of modern geology, went further and opened up the concept of deep time for scientific inquiry. Rather than accepting that the Earth was deteriorating from a primal state, he maintained that the Earth must be much older (indeed, he asserted that the Earth was infinitely old). Hutton stated that "the past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now … No powers are to be employed that are not natural to the globe, no action to be admitted except those of which we know the principle.

Hutton's main line of argument was that the tremendous displacements and changes he was seeing 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. While his ideas of Plutonism were hotly contested, scientific inquiries on competing ideas of catastrophism pushed back the age of the Earth into the millions of years — still much younger than commonly accepted by modern scientists, but a great change from the literalist view of an Earth that was only a few thousand years old.

Hutton's ideas, called uniformitarianism, or Gradualism were popularized by Sir Charles Lyell in the early 19th century. The energetic advocacy of Lyell 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 earler 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. It became therefore important for biblical scholars as well as Christian scientists to harmonize the Genesis account with new scientific results into a 'new geology'.

John H Mears was one such scholar who proposed several theories varying from a mix of long/indefinite periods with moments of creation to a day-age theory of indefinite 'days'. He subscribed to the latter theory (indefinite days) and found support from the side of James Dwight Dana, Professor at Yale and one of the fathers of Mineralogy who wrote a paper consisting of 4 articles named 'Science and the Bible' on the topic. With the acceptance by many biblical scholars of a reinterpretation of Genesis 1 in the light of the breakthrough results of Lyell and supported by a number of renowned (christian) scientific scholars, a new hurdle was taken in the future acceptance of Developmentalism (based on Darwin's Natural selection).

In the 20th century, many religious groups abandoned (Young Earth) creationism as a literal description of the Earth's history altogether and came to regard the biblical account of creation in Genesis as purely allegorical or mythological.


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 1923, George McCready Price, a Seventh-day Adventist wrote The New Geology, a book partly inspired by the book Patriarchs and Prophets in which Seventh-day Adventist prophet Ellen G. White described the impact of the Great flood on the shape of the Earth. Although not an accredited geologist, Price's writings, which were based upon reading geological texts and documents, rather than field or laboratory work, provide an explicitly fundamentalist perspective on geology. The book attracted only a small following, with its advocates almost all being Lutheran pastors and Seventh-day Adventists in America. Harry Rimmer was another prominent exponent of similar views, at least during some of his evangelizing career (Rimmer appears to have also subscribed to "gap creationism", and a local flood, at least at some times).

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. Morris and Whitcomb 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. Given this history, they argued, "the last refuge of the case for evolution immediately vanishes away, and the record of the rocks becomes a tremendous witness... to the holiness and justice and power of the living God of Creation!

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. Langdon Gilkey writes,

... no distinction is made between scientific theories on the one hand and philosophical or religious theories on the other, between scientific questions and the sorts of questions religious beliefs seek to answer... It is, therefore, no surprise that in their theological works, as opposed to their creation science writings, creationists regard evolution and all other theories associated with it, as the intellectual source for and intellectual justification of everything that is to them evil and destructive in modern society. For them all that is spiritually healthy and creative has been for a century or more under attack by "that most complex of godless movements spawned by the pervasive and powerful system of evolutionary uniformitarianism", "If the system of flood geology can be established on a sound scientific basis... then the entire evolutionary cosmology, at least in its present neo-Darwinian form, will collapse. This in turn would mean that every anti-Christian system and movement (communism, racism, humanism, libertarianism, behaviorism, and all the rest) would be deprived of their pseudo-intellectual foundation", "It [evolution] has served effectively as the pseudo-scientific basis of atheism, agnosticism, socialism, fascism, and numerous faulty and dangerous philosophies over the past century

Morris' ideas had a considerable impact on creationism and fundamentalist Christianity. Armed with the backing of conservative organizations and individuals, his brand of "creation science" was widely promoted throughout the United States and overseas, with his books being translated into at least ten different languages.

In 1978, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy developed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy which included the following:

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about Earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

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.

The revival of YEC has had a periodic impact on science education, particularly in the United States, where periodic controversies have raged over the appropriateness of teaching YEC doctrine and creation science in public schools (see Teach the Controversy) side by side with the theory of evolution.

YEC has failed to make an impact in more liberal circles of Christianity. For example, the Articles of Faith of the Baptist Church states no required beliefs concerning creation. Some Churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, accept the possibility of theistic evolution but despite this, some individual church members support YEC.

Oriental Orthodox Church

YEC has always been the stated position of the Oriental Orthodox Church, without having gone through any decline and revival. Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty, a Coptic Orthodox scholar, expresses the typical Oriental Orthodox view as follows:

Using mathematical calculations, man cannot be more than 6,000 years old. Assuming that every family had three children (a low number compared to previous centuries) and after accounting for natural death catastrophes and wars, we find that the world's population would approximate what it actually is now. If human history goes back a million years, then the world's population would have needed several times the land space we have now.

Characteristics and beliefs

Age of the Earth

YECs believe that the Earth is "young", on the order of 6,000 to 10,000 years old, rather than the age of 4.6 billion years calculated by modern geology using geochronological methods including radiometric dating. YECs typically derive their range of figures using the ages given in the genealogies and other dates in the Bible, similar to the process used by James Ussher (1581–1656), Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, when he dated creation at 4004 BC. Ussher's chronology, published in 1650, has been subsequently revised many times, most recently in 2003 by Larry and Marion Pierce.

YECs believe that life was created by God 'each after their kind' in the universe's first six normal-length (24-hour) days. Additionally, they believe that the biblical account of Noah's flood is historically true, maintaining that there was a worldwide flood (circa 2349 BC) that destroyed all terrestrial life except that which was saved on Noah's Ark. (Barry Setterfield proposed in 1999 that the flood occurred much earlier around 3536 BC.) They assert that this global flood caused a multitude of geological features that scientists regard as evidence of an old Earth.

Attitude towards science

YEC is normally characterized as opposing evolution, though it also opposes many claims and theories in the fields of physics and chemistry (especially absolute dating methods), geology, astronomy, cosmology, molecular biology, genomics, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology and any other fields of science that have developed theories or made claims incompatible with the Young Earth version of world history. YECs are fundamentally opposed to any explanation for the origins of anything which replaces God as the universal creator as stated in the Bible, whether it be the origins of biological diversity, the origins of life or the origins of the universe itself. This has led some YECs to criticize intelligent design, a proposal which some see as an alternative form of creationism, for not taking a stand on the age of the Earth, special creation, or even the identity of the designer. Some YECs see this as too compromising.

YECs challenge the methodological naturalism of the scientific method, which they conflate with philosophical naturalism, and uniformitarianism as the dominant principles of the scientific community. They assert instead that available physical evidence best supports original catastrophism and a young Earth. See Creation-evolution controversy for a more complete discussion.

View of the Bible

YECs regard the Bible as a historically accurate, factually inerrant record of natural history. They accept its authority as the central organizing text for human life — the sole indisputable source of knowledge on every topic with which it deals. As Henry Morris, a leading YEC, explained it, Christians who flirt with less-than-literal readings of biblical texts are also flirting with theological disaster. For the vast majority of YECs, an allegorical reading of the Genesis accounts of Creation, the Fall, the Deluge, and the Tower of Babel would undermine core Christian doctrines like the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to Morris, Christians must "either ... believe God's Word all the way, or not at all."Therefore, YECs take the account of Genesis to be a historical account of the origin of the Earth and life. The corollary is that many YECs regard Christians who do not regard Genesis as historically accurate as being inconsistent.

Interpretation of Genesis

YECs interpret the text of Genesis in a strictly literal fashion. Therefore, they believe that God created the world in six normal-length days, and planted the Garden of Eden for the habitation of an original human couple (Adam and Eve). As a result of the subsequent Fall of Man, humanity was forced to work hard to provide food, childbirth became painful, and physical death entered the world. Some YECs assert that prior to the Fall all animals were herbivores (see below).

The Genealogies of Genesis record the line of descent from Adam through Noah to Abraham. YECs interpret these genealogies literally, including the old ages of the men; up to Methuselah who lived 969 years. Differences of opinion exist regarding whether the genealogies should be taken as complete or abbreviated, hence the 6,000 to 10,000 year range usually quoted for the Earth's age. Proponents of Old Earth Creationism, tend to interpret the genealogies as incomplete, and usually interpret the days of Genesis 1 figuratively as long periods of time.

YECs believe that the great flood described in Genesis 6-9 was global in extent, and submerged the highest mountains on Earth. A range of suggestions are made to account for the mechanism for such a deluge. Earlier generations (following the lead of Morris and Whitcomb) believed that an orbiting vapor canopy collapsed, generating extreme rainfall (from "windows of heaven"). In more recent times it has been proposed that radical geological activity (the opening of the "fountains of the great deep") was largely responsible for the flood — elaborate theories such as Catastrophic plate tectonics and hydroplates have been put forward by some. These theories have the added benefit of explaining how the flood transformed an originally flatter Earth, raising up mountains and dropping sea beds; this then solves the problem of finding sufficient water to cover Mount Everest. Whatever the case, almost all YECs refer to a loosely codified idea called "Flood geology" to argue that the vast majority of present-day geological features are the result of the Great Flood.

To support their belief in a worldwide flood, YECs argue that anthropological evidence supports their belief that every culture studied has, in its history, a myth or story similar to that of Noah in two aspects: 1) the occurrence of a catastrophic flood and 2) human and animal life saved by a man who built a large boat and took aboard it for the duration of the flood enough life to repopulate the Earth. According to Genesis, two of every "unclean" kind of animal (male and female) and seven of every "clean" kind of animal were placed on the ark during the flood.

After the flood, Genesis reports increasingly shortened lifespans dropping quickly from an average of 900 years at the time of Noah to an average of 100 by the time of Abraham. Some YECs have suggested that this is due to effects associated with inbreeding that took place after the flood, as only eight people remained. Another theory suggests that the Earth had a higher concentration of oxygen prior to the Flood, possibly due to a layer of water vapor ("vapor canopy") above the Earth. The result of such a postulation would be a giant Hyperbaric Chamber, extending lifespans. Others hypothesize that the "firmament" of the "waters above" screened the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays, which they argue, shorten life expectancy.

Human history

In keeping with a strictly literal interpretation of Genesis, YECs believe that Adam and Eve were the universal ancestors of the entire human race; accordingly it is usually held that their sons and daughters married amongst themselves to produce the next generation of children. Noah's flood is supposed to have killed all humans on Earth with the exception of Noah and his sons and their wives. All humans alive today are therefore believed to be descended from this single family, which carried the gene pool for the entire human race. In contradiction to what is accepted by anthropologists, YECs assert that native Americans, Australian aborigines and all other races arose from the migration of people around the world following the Tower of Babel event in the 3rd millennium BC.

Genealogies in the Genesis text identify individuals named Egypt, Gomer, Sheba, Canaan, and Sidon, who are said to have founded the cities and civilizations that were later to bear their names.

Animal behavior

YECs usually 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. This raises the question of what was the original (i.e. pre-Fall) function of such things as snake venom and spiders webs. YECs typically answer these questions either by postulating a non-lethal original purpose for these predatory mechanisms (eg. snake venom was designed to soften fruit), or suggesting that these mechanisms were miraculously added to animals by God or the devil at the time of the Fall.

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 (generationally) 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. The selection of such animals as kangaroo and koalas on the ark is based upon hypothesized sunken land bridges between Australia and South East Asia, over which Noah or his sons, or the ancestors of the animals themselves, could travel. Many YECs assert that the process of variation and natural selection resulted in a net loss of genetic information.

Palaeontology and dinosaurs

The significance of this issue to YECs has its roots in a biblical interpretation of the fall of man that results in sin bringing death into the world, not just for mankind but for all creatures.

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 (/tan·ˈnin/) 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"; the behemoth is described as ranking "first among the works of God" and as impossible to capture (vs. 24). Some Biblical scholars identify the behemoth as either an elephant, a hippopotamus, or a bull, but as these animals have very thin tails that are not comparable to the size of a cedar tree; creationists often identify the behemoth with sauropod dinosaurs. Other creationists refer to "behemoth" as Brachiosaurus, since the Bible says in Job, "He is the chief of the ways of God." Meaning he is the largest animal God created. However, certain scholars postulate that the reference to the cedar tree actually refers to its needle-like leaves, which resemble the bristly hair present on the tails of modern elephants, rhinoceroses, and hippopotamuses. Other critics contend that the word "tail" is a euphemism for the animal's penis, and that the passage should be understood as describing its virility.

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, or point out that it has seven heads and is purely mythical. As with the behemoth, 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. The newly-established Creation Museum in Kentucky portrays humans and dinosaurs co-existing before the Flood. For many years, YECs referred to supposed associated human and dinosaur tracks in the Paluxy Riverbed of Glen Rose, Texas as proof of coexistence, though most now have abandoned these claims, as careful scrutiny has shown them to be either fabrications or spurious phenomena. Some creationists assert that living dinosaurs (as well as other extinct creatures such as plesiosaurs) still survive in isolated spots, accounting for alleged sightings of lake or sea monsters. Other creationists urge caution about alleged plesiosaurs living today, since rotting basking sharks can form a pseudo-plesiosaur shape. Creationists sometimes turn to cryptozoology to support the idea that creatures known from fossils lived alongside humans in historical times.

One view proposed by some is that the serpent in the Garden of Eden may have actually been a type of dinosaur. They point out that, according to Christian interpretation, God was speaking to the Devil when he cursed the serpent, not to an ordinary snake. 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, as its discoverer, Richard Owens, realized that the skeletal remains were that of a lizard, and not an archosaur.

Comparison with other forms of creationism

YEC is only one of several forms of creationism. YECs typically oppose these alternative theories, which they consider to be as "compromises" with science or otherwise flawed.

Old Earth creationism

YECs reject Old Earth creationism and Day-Age Creationism on textual and theological grounds. In addition, they claim the scientific data in geology and astronomy point to a young Earth, against the consensus of the general scientific community.

YECs generally hold that when Genesis describes the creation of the Earth occurring over a period of days, this indicates normal-length 24 hour days, and cannot reasonably be interpreted otherwise. They agree that the Hebrew word for "day" (yôm) can refer to either a 24-hour day or a long or unspecified time, but argue that whenever the latter interpretation is used it includes a preposition defining the long or unspecified period. In the specific context of Genesis 1, since the days are both numbered and are referred to as "evening and morning", this can mean only normal-length days. Further, they argue that the 24-hour day is the only interpretation that makes sense of the Sabbath command in Exodus 20:8–11. YECs argue that it is a glaring exegetical fallacy to take a meaning from one context (yom referring to a long period of time in Genesis 1) and apply it to a completely different one (yom referring to normal-length days in Exodus 20).

Further, YECs argue that their position is the only way to explain the Fall, which introduced death and suffering into the world. They argue that all long-age views entail death before sin, which they regard as a severe theological error, violating Genesis 3, and for Christians, Romans 5:12–19, 8:17–22 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22.. Further discussion and refutation of these objections can be found on the Day-Age Creationism page.

Gap creationism

The "gap theory" acknowledges a vast age for the universe, including the Earth and solar system, while asserting that life was created recently in six 24-hour days by divine fiat. Genesis 1 is thus interpreted literally, with an indefinite "gap" of time inserted between the first two verses. (Some gap theorists insert a "primordial creation" and Lucifer's rebellion into the gap.)

Most YEC organizations reject the gap theory, and say it is unscriptural, unscientific, and not necessary, in its various forms. It is asserted that the entire universe is only thousands of years old.

The Omphalos hypothesis

Many YECs distinguish their own hypotheses from the "Omphalos hypothesis", today more commonly referred to as the apparent age concept, put forth by the naturalist and science writer Philip Henry Gosse. Omphalos was an unsuccessful mid-19th century attempt to reconcile creationism with geology. Gosse proposed that just as Adam had a navel (omphalos is Greek for navel), evidence of a gestation he never experienced, so also the Earth was created ex nihilo complete with evidence of a prehistoric past that never actually occurred. The Omphalos hypothesis allows for a young Earth without giving rise to any predictions that would contradict scientific findings of an old Earth. Although both logically unassailable and consistent with a literal reading of Scripture, Omphalos was rejected at the time by scientists on the grounds that it was completely unfalsifiable and by theologians because it implied to them a deceitful God, which they found theologically unacceptable.

Most YECs today argue that Adam did not have a navel, and in contrast to Gosse, posit that not only is the Earth young but the scientific data supports that view. However, the apparent age concept is still used in YEC literature.



YEC was abandoned as a mainstream scientific concept around the start of the 19th century. Many scientists see it as a faith position, and regard attempts to prove it scientifically as being little more than religiously motivated pseudoscience. In 1997, a poll by the Gallup organization showed that 5% of US adults with professional degrees in science took a YEC view. In the aforementioned poll 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, while 55% held a view of "naturalistic evolution" in which God took no 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, with variations on the timing of the creation of mankind. Kent Hovind commented on discussing the topic of people asking, "Couldn't God use Evolution to create?" He gives the answer, "Well, it wouldn't be the God of the Bible! The "god" that would use an evolutionary process is cruel, and wasteful, and retarded! Doesn't he know what He wants? Can't He just make it right in six days?"

Critics argue that every challenge to evolution by YECs is either made in an unscientific fashion, or is readily explainable by science, and that while a gap in scientific knowledge may exist now it is likely to be closed through further research. While scientists acknowledge that there are indeed a number of gaps in the scientific theory, they generally reject the creationist viewpoint that these gaps represent fatal, insurmountable flaws with evolution. Those working in the field who pointed out the gaps in the first place have often explicitly rejected the creationist interpretation. The "God of the gaps" viewpoint has also been criticized by theologians, although creationists claim that their models are based on what is known, not on gaps in knowledge.

Christian YECs adhere strongly to the concept of biblical inerrancy, which declares the Bible to be 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. The creationist organizations Answers in Genesis (AiG) and Institute for Creation Research (ICR) require all members to pledge support for biblical inerrancy.

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. Nor do they support the specific doctrines of biblical inerrancy proposed by YEC. Critics also point out that workers in fields related to evolutionary biology are not required to sign statements of belief in evolution comparable to the biblical inerrancy pledges required by ICR and AiG. This is contrary to the popular belief of creationists 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 paleontologist 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, a cultural historian and eco-theologian, 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.

Proponents of YEC are regularly accused of quote mining, the dishonest practice of isolating passages from academic texts that appear to support their claims while deliberately excluding context and conclusions to the contrary.


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 propose there are statements in the creation week itself which render the historical interpretation of Genesis incompatible with scientific evidence.

One example is that God created the Earth and heavens, and light, on Day 1, plant life on Day 3, and the sun and moon on Day 4. One must ask where the light in Day 1 came from, and why there were plants in Day 3 if the sun, which provides all light to the Earth, did not even exist until Day 4. YECs such as Basil the Great and John Calvin answered this by suggesting that the light created by God on Day 1 was the light source. Answers in Genesis has refined this by suggesting that the Earth was already rotating with respect to this light. One can also make a case that God created the plants toward the evening of Day 3, the Sun was created on the morning of Day 4, therefore the plants only had to endure darkness for a period not much longer than a typical night.

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. Most cosmologists accept an inflation model as the likely explanation for the horizon problem. Inflationary models also account for other phenomena, and are in agreement with observations of recent microwave anisotropy satellites. Creationists have also proposed models to explain why we see distant starlight. See creationist cosmologies for more information.

Many critics claim that Genesis itself is internally inconsistent on the question of whether man was created before the animals 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, holding that for both stories to be a single account, Adam would have named all the animals, and God would have created Eve from his rib as a suitable mate, all within a single 24 hour period. Many creationists attribute this view to misunderstanding having arisen from poor translation of the tenses in Genesis 2 in contemporary translations of the Bible (e.g. compare "planted" and "had planted" in KJV and NIV). 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. This position is held by a number of major denominations. For instance, in a publication entitled The Gift of Scripture, the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales comments that "We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision". The Bible is held to be true in passages relating to human salvation, but "We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters. However, that view of the inerrancy of scripture was rejected by Paul VI in the formulation of Dei Verbum 11 forcing the commission to adjust the wording and add crucial footnotes to keep it in line with prior teaching. The relater then said that it was not to be understood as limiting biblical inerrancy to only matters of salvation. However that view has since become predominant due to the deliberate decision to interpret it in a heterodox manner regardless of what it was truly asserting. By contrast, YECs contend that moral and spiritual matters in the Bible are intimately connected with its historical accuracy; in their view, the Bible stands or falls as a single indivisible block of knowledge.

While some theologians believe there is an inherent conflict between the Bible and science, popular Christian thought holds to the value of science in understanding the physical world. In this view the Bible serves to give understanding about God and the state of mankind (of which the accuracy of the Genesis account is a factor) and that supposed clashes between them are merely a matter of faulty understanding. Christian theologians and scientists like Augustine of Hippo and Gallileo held that, the literality creation in Genesis were believed to be true at the time, it doesn't destroy Christianity to suggest future scientific discoveries might change the way we view this account but, in the same way science could clarify the content of Scripture, it could also stand opposed to it and neither of these men ever proposed that science was superior or more reliable than the Bible. This theological understanding is also upheld by the majority of YECs — that science is a very useful tool but still only a tool and that if, by science, something is found to contradict with the Bible, we should first question the science before trying to shift our understanding of the Bible.

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). Many of these make claims regarding the origin of the universe and humanity that are completely incompatible with those of Christian creationists (and with one another).


See also

Church bodies whose official position is YEC

External links

Websites supportive of YEC

Websites critical of YEC


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