The basic premise of the monotheistic religion is the existence and pervasiveness of YHWH. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Using simple deductive reasoning this omnipotent and omniscient being has also credited with being the Creator. This is a cornerstone of faith for a good majority of religious people on the planet, from the hardliners in Saudi Arabia to the gentle Quakers in Pennsylvania, all affirm the presence and necessity of God for the very existence of the universe and life.
Among this larger group of “Creationists”, there is a very vocal and large group of American Christians who claim that their Genesis interpretation is not only good theology, but that it’s also good science. My favorite site is called answersingenesis.org, to whom the title of this blog series pays tongue in cheek homage. They let it all hang out at Answers.
“Creationism — that is, the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years” Gallup, 2007. 66% of Americans affirmed this belief.
To quote the site: “Believing in a relatively ‘young Earth’ (i.e., only a few thousands of years old, which we accept) is a consequence of accepting the authority of the Word of God as an infallible revelation from our omniscient Creator.” (Ken Ham) Young Earth Creationist makes a scientific claim primarily based on faith in literal scriptural infallibiity. This is at the very core of the motivation behind the Evolution debate.
As a child and young adult I was taught very typical Evangelical religious doctrine. The Genealogies in Genesis 5 were presented as clear evidence that the Bible explicitly states the creation of everything look place around 4,000-10,000 BC. This was regardless of heurmanetics, as no allegory could be claimed for what was so clearly meant to be factual.
“Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.” Genesis 1:9
While the Garden of Eden or Seven Days could be interpreted as allegory, accepting its literal truth was important because of the Protestant dogma of original sin. The essentially states that the main reason Jesus came was to die for the sins of Adam and Eve and all their decendants. Only by believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection can anyone enter into God’s Kingdom. Only by having a literal creation and Garden of Eden could the original Protestant story make sense.
These are the primary reasons that Young Earth Creationism is still popular today. It is not evidence from the fossil record or genetics, or the lack of evidence supporting Evolution. It is because of religious belief.
Being a willful and curious child, I had many questions about what I was begin taught. Another dogma was that no shred of evidence against unlimited literal infallibility had ever been found. Nothing in science, history, politics, ethics, etc. would contradict properly interpreted scripture.
“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.” James Hutton, Father of Biology.
What I found was not what I expected. I had been warned that some people would claim that there was evidence that contradicted scripture, but that in the long run the Bible would hold up. It was explicitly stated that the burden of proof was on those who denied scripture, not on those who believed.
In the end, I concluded that no evidence had ever been found against literal scripture Interpretation because of an acute form of Confirmation Bias. For those who have eyes to see, the evidence supporting Higher Criticism is overwhelming. The evidence supporting a historical-grammatical approach to scripture is overwhelming.
Furthermore, there is not a single branch of science that has found evidence of a literal young earth. This is stunning when you consider how almost all scientists originally took the factuality of Genesis for granted. But in the end the evidence was so strong that it overcame this very powerful bias.
Believing in a young Earth today would be like living in 1850 and believing the Earth is the center of the SolarSystem. But what are good orthodox Evangelicals supposed to think about all this? Could they have possibly been wrong?
In my next blog I will talk about Creationism’s reputable step-child, Intelligent Design.
PostScript: Reading over this post, I realized I’d barely touched the surface of Young Earth Creationism. For those looking for more information, I recommend the Wikipedia article on YEC as a good place to start. I would furthermore refer you to the reference material on my “Answers in Genesis” landing page.