Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Young Earth creationism
Young Earth creationism is the belief that the Earth and life on Earth were created by a direct action of God a relatively short time ago. It is generally held by those Christians, Jews, and Muslims who believe that the ancient Hebrew text of Genesis is an accurate account of historical events and that evidence for the accuracy of a strictly factual interpretation of the text should be evident in the world today. Many of its adherents are active in the development of Creation science, a creationist endeavor that holds that the events associated with supernatural creation can be evidenced and modeled through the scientific method.
Characteristics of Young Earth creationism
Young Earth Creationists (YECs) comprise mainly Orthodox Jews and Christians who interpret the creation account of Genesis as historically accurate, factually correct, and in most cases, strictly inerrant. Analogously, those Muslims who might be described as YECs regard the account of creation in the Qur'an in the same way.
The defining characteristic of Young Earth creationism is the belief that the Earth is "young", on the order of 6,000 to 10,000 years old, rather than the age of 4.5 billion years as determined by a variety of scientific methods including radiometric dating. The Young Earth Creationist range of figures is arrived at using the ages given in the genealogies and other dates in the Bible, similar to the process used by Archbishop James Ussher when he dated creation at 4004 BC.
Young Earth creationism is normally characterized as opposing evolution, though it also opposes many claims and theories in the fields of geology, astronomy, genomics and any other fields of science that have developed theories or made claims incompatible with the Biblical version of world history. YECs are fundamentally opposed to any explanation for the origins of anything which replaces God as the universal creator as reported 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 criticise intelligent design, a hypothesis which some see as an alternative form of creationism but which generally accepts an ancient origin for the Earth and a comparatively minimal role for an unknown designer (not necessarily even God). 
Young Earth creationists challenge the dominant principles of philosophical naturalism and uniformitarianism in the mainstream scientific community, and assert instead that the physical evidence today best supports the Young Earth creationist viewpoint. See Creation vs. evolution debate for a more complete discussion.
Young Earth Creationist ideas
Young Earth Creationists state that their position is based upon a reading of the Bible as a historically accurate, factually inerrant record of natural history in addition to being their moral guide. For them, the Bible is the central organizing text of their lives, the source of how they understand the world and man's place in the world, and his purpose for life. As Henry Morris, a leading Young Earth Creationist, explains it, Christians who flirt with less-than-literal readings of biblical texts are also flirting with theological disaster. For the vast majority of Young Earth Creationists, an allegorical reading of the Genesis accounts of creation, the Fall, the Flood 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 literally accurate as being not "proper" Christians who subscribe instead to a philosophy that they regard as indistinguishable from atheism.
The teaching of Genesis
The text of Genesis relates that a deity, God (Jehovah, Yahweh, Lord God, YHVH), created the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh. God also planted the Garden of Eden for the habitation of Adam and Eve. As a result of the subsequent Fall of Man, Genesis reports that humanity was forced to work hard to provide food, childbirth became painful, and physical death entered the world.
The Genealogies of Genesis record the line of descent from Adam to Noah to Abraham, with the ages at which they had the next in line and the ages at which they died. According to the account, God sent a global flood 1656 years after Adam. Young Earth Creationists assert that the Flood was a combination of radical geological activity (the opening of the "fountains of the great deep") and extreme rainfall. They claim that the land before the flood lay much lower than it does now, but that extreme geological action during the Flood raised mountains to new heights and dropped the sea-bed, so that the water that had covered the land flowed into the sea. Young Earth Creationists sometimes 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.
After the flood, Genesis reports increasingly short lifespans dropping quickly from an average of 900 years at the time of Noah to an average of 100 by the time of Abraham. Young Earth Creationists have suggested that this is due to effects associated with inbreeding that took place after the flood, as only eight people remained. 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 natural selection. Many YECs assert that the process of variation and natural selection resulted in a net loss of genetic information.
Young Earth creationists do not deny the existence of dinosaurs and other extinct animals present in the fossil record. They assert, instead, that fossilised extinct creatures represent the remains of animals which perished in the Great Flood, or alternatively that Noah took dinosaurs within him in his Ark and they went extinct at some other point in time. 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 this line of reasoning as careful scrutiny of the claims have shown them to be either fabrications or spurious phenomena. Some creationists assert that 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.
Young Earth creationism and other forms of creationism
Young Earth is only one of several forms of creationism; others include Old Earth creationism and Day-Age Creationism. Young Earth creationists reject these alternatives on textual and theological grounds.
Young Earth creationists generally hold that when Genesis describes the creation of the Earth occurring over a period of days, this indicates literal days, and cannot reasonably be interpreted otherwise. They argue that while the Hebrew word for "day" (yôm) can mean long age or unspecified time, this is only in special cases with a preposition. However, in the specific context of Genesis 1, the days are numbered and have "evening and morning", so can mean only literal days, and this is the only way that makes sense of the Sabbath command in Exodus 20:8–11. That is, YECs argue that it is a glaring exegetical fallacy to take a meaning from one context and apply it to a completely different one.
Further, Young Earth creationists 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, Romans 5:12–19, 8:17–22 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22.
Young Earth creationism and the Omphalos hypothesis
Young Earth Creationists usually distinguish their own hypotheses from the Omphalos hypothesis put forth by the science writer Philip Henry Gosse (omphalos is Greek for navel). Gosse's hypothesis was an unsuccessful mid-19th century attempt to reconcile creationism with geology. He proposed that just as Adam had a 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. Gosse's hypothesis allows for a young Earth without giving rise to any predictions that would contradict scientific findings of an old Earth. This was rejected at the time by scientists and religionists alike, on the grounds that it was completely unfalsifiable and therefore not scientific, as well as implying a deceitful God, which was theologically unacceptable.
Most YECs today argue that Adam did not have a navel . Also, most YECs, in contrast with Gosse, posit that not only is the Earth young but the scientific data supports that view.
Criticisms of Young Earth creationism
Young Earth creationism was abandoned as a mainstream scientific concept over 150 years ago. While many mainstream scientists claim to respect it as a faith position (misunderstanding biblical faith as disconnected from reason), they regard attempts to prove it scientifically as being little more than religiously motivated pseudoscience.
The abandonment of Young Earth creationism was prompted by scientific discoveries during the first half of the 19th century, following the work of Charles Lyell, the Reverend William Buckland and other early geologists. Since then, many scientific disciplines have found evidence which, in the mainstream view, disproves the ideas put forward by Young Earth Creationists. This includes findings from geology, paleontology, molecular biology, genomics, physical anthropology, astronomy, physics and archaeology, amongst other sciences. Criticism of Young Earth creationism thus comes not only from supporters of evolutionary biology, against which creationism is most often contrasted, but from a very wide range of sciences.
Critics argue that every challenge to evolution by Young Earth creationists is interpreted in an unscientific fashion or is readily explainable by mainstream science, or that while a gap in scientific knowledge may exist now it is likely to be closed through further research. While mainstream scientists acknowledge that there are indeed a number of gaps in the mainstream scientific theory, they generally reject the creationist viewpoint that these gaps represent 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 criticised by theologians. However, creationists deny that they appeal to gaps in knowledge; rather, they say that they appeal to what we do know.
The methodology of Young Earth creationists has often been questioned. Critics assert that creation advocates do not critique their own ideas or follow the process of peer review. As a result, they say, creationists often perpetrate significant errors of fact but do not correct themselves when proven wrong. Creationists point to articles such as "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use" by Answers in Genesis as evidence of self-correction within creationist circles; however, the fundamental precept itself, that of an inerrant Biblical account of Earth history, is deemed to be infallible and non-correctable. (As the article cited above says, "The primary authority for Answers in Genesis is the infallible Word of God, the Bible.")
Young Earth creationists are often accused of being evasive about their own assumptions and religious affiliations, and of presenting subjective viewpoints as objective scientific fact. In particular, Christian Young Earth creationists adhere strongly to the concept of Biblical inerrancy, which critics regard as being incompatible with scientific objectivity. The leading creationist organisations, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and Answers in Genesis (AiG), require their members to pledge their support for Biblical inerrancy.
Young Earth creationists argue that an a priori commitment to atheism by many leading proponents of evolution is just as lacking in objectivity, suggesting by extension that all supporters of evolutionary theory are motivated by atheism. Critics reject this assertion, pointing out that many supporters of evolutionary theory are religious believers and that major religious groups such as the Catholic Church and Church of England do not reject the concept of biological evolution, but they largely reject biblical inerrancy as well. Those working in the field of evolutionary biology are not required to sign up to a statement of (dis)belief comparable to that used by the ICR and AiG, and biologists exhibit a full spectrum of beliefs from full devotion through to atheism. Creationists argue that there is still an implicit statement of faith that no supernatural explanations of origins are allowed, and cite evolutionary biologist Richard Dickerson:
- Science is fundamentally a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule:
- Rule No. 1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural. (J. Molecular Evolution 34:277, 1992)
Evolutionary scientists argue that supernatural explanations are by their very nature unrepeatable, unfalsifiable, and untestable, and therefore cannot be subjected to the scientific method. Some theologians also oppose the proposition that God can be a legitimate or viable subject for scientific experimentation.
Young Earth creationists are also accused of selectively quoting statements and evidence from mainstream science in order to support their assertions, while omitting significant context and mentions of contrary evidence. Many mainstream scientists regard this as a misuse and/or misrepresentation of their work. Critics of Young Earth creationism have established a project to identify examples of so-called "quote mining" by creationists . Creationists reject this charge and state that they cite supporters of evolution to highlight what they regard as flaws in pro-evolution thinking, and argue that this is a legitimate use of hostile witnesses.
- Young Earth Creationist cosmologies
- Dating Creation
- Ussher-Lightfoot Calendar
- Timeline of the Universe
- Ultimate fate of the Universe
- Creator god
- Day-Age Creationism
- Gap Creationism
- Cosmological argument
- Biblical cosmology
Organisations and web-sites
- Answers In Genesis (AiG)
- Institute for Creation Research (ICR)
- Creation Essentials, Creation Non-Essentials
- The Creation Research Society (CRS)
- Creationism versus Science (anti-creationist)
- Creation Essentials, Creation Non-Essentials by non-YEC
- The Talk.Origins Archive, opposed to any creationism
- The True.Origin Archive (YEC response to above)
- Grigg, R., 1993. Should Genesis be taken literally?, Creation 16(1):38–41 (principles of biblical interpretation, hermeneutics)
- Steinmann, A., 2002. אחד (Echad) as an Ordinal Number and the Meaning of Genesis 1:5 (PDF), Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS) 45(4):577–584 (argues that the numbering and definite article patterns of Genesis 1 indicate 24-hour days)
- Hasel, G.F., 1994. The ‘days’ of creation in Genesis 1: Literal ‘days’ or figurative ‘periods/epochs’ of time?, Origins 21(1):5–38 (defends literal days).
- McCabe, R.V., 2000. A Defense of Literal Days in the Creation Week (PDF), Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 5:97–123, 2000
- Stambaugh, 1991. Days of Creation: A semantic approach TJ 5(1):70–78 (analyses the meaning of Hebrew yôm ("day") in different context and long-age words, concludes that creation days were 24 hours.
- Sarfati, J., 2003. Biblical chronogenealogies, TJ 17(3):14–18 (defends Masoretic chronology of Gen. 5 & 11, and rejects gaps)
- Grigg, R., 2003. Meeting the ancestors, Creation 25(2):13–15 (on the genealogies and lifespans)
- Grigg, R., 1997. From the beginning of Creation: Does Genesis have a gap?, Creation 19(2):35–38 (why YECs reject the gap theory)
- Batten, D., 1996. Some questions for theistic evolutionists (and 'progressive creationists'), from AiG, Creation 18(3):37
- Grigg, R., 2001. Do I have to believe in a literal creation to be a Christian?, Creation 23(3):20–22 (AiG answers "No, but …")
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