Young Earth creationism

Young Earth creationism
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The Creation of Adam.jpg

History of creationism

Types of creationism

Young Earth creationism
Old Earth creationism
Gap creationism
Day-age creationism
Progressive creationism
Intelligent design

Mythology and theology

Creation myth
Genesis creation narrative
Framework interpretation
Genesis as an allegory
Omphalos hypothesis

Creation science

Flood geology
Creation geophysics
Creationist cosmologies
Intelligent design


Public education
Teach the Controversy

Particular religious views

Deist · Hindu · Islamic · Jewish

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Young Earth creationism (YEC) is the religious belief[1] that Heavens, Earth, and all life on Earth were created by direct acts of the Abrahamic God during a relatively short period, sometime between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago.[2] Its primary adherents are Christians and Jews[3] who believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, taking a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative as a basis for their beliefs.[4][5]

The scientific consensus, supported by a 2006 statement by 68 national and international science academies, is that it is evidence-based fact derived from observations and experiments in multiple scientific disciplines that the universe has existed for around 13 billion years, that the Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago with life first appearing at least 2.5 billion years ago.[6] Although 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 modeled through an interpretation of the scientific method, creation science has nonetheless been found to be unscientific in both conception and methodology.[7]

When asked for their views on the origin and development of human beings, between 40-50% of adults in the United States say they share the beliefs of young Earth creationism, depending on the poll.[8] The percentage of believers decreases as the level of education increases—only 22% of respondents with postgraduate degrees believed compared with 47% of those with a high school education or less.[9]




The earliest post-exilic Jewish chronicle preserved in the Hebrew language, the Seder Olam Rabbah, compiled by Jose ben Halafta in 160 AD, dates the creation of the world to 3751 BC while the later Seder Olam Zutta to 4339 BC.[10] The Hebrew Calendar has traditionally since the 4th century AD by Hillel II dated the creation to 3761 BC.[11][12][13][14][15]

Young Earth creationists have claimed that this view has its earliest roots in ancient Judaism, citing, for example, the commentary on Genesis by Ibn Ezra (c. 1089–1164).[4] Shai Cherry of Vanderbilt University notes that modern Jewish theologians have generally rejected such literal 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.[16]

The Septuagint has traditionally been calculated to date the creation around 5500 BC, while the Samaritan Torah around 4300 BC, and the Masoretic around 4000 BC.[17] See Dating Creation which explains these discrepancies in figures. Many of the earliest Christians who followed the Septuagint calculated creation around 5500 BC, and Christians up to the Middle-Ages continued to use this rough estimate: Clement of Alexandria (5592 BC), Julius Africanus (5501 BC), Eusebius (5228 BC), Jerome (5199 BC) Hippolytus of Rome (5500 BC), Theophilus of Antioch (5529 BC), Sulpicius Severus (5469 BC), Isidore of Seville (5336 BC), Panodorus of Alexandria (5493 BC), Maximus the Confessor (5493 BC), George Syncellus (5492 BC) and Gregory of Tours (5500 BC).[18][19][20] The Byzantine calendar has traditionally dated the creation of the world to September 1, 5509 BC, María de Ágreda and her followers to 5199 BC while the early Ethiopian Church (as revealed in the Book of Aksum) to 5493 BC.[21][22] Bede was one of the first to break away from the standard Septuagint date for the creation and in his work De Temporibus ("On Time") (completed in 703 AD) dated the creation to 18 March 3952 BC but was accused of heresy at the table of Bishop Wilfrid, because his chronology was contrary to accepted calculations of around 5500 BC.[23] After the Masoretic text however was published, dating creation around 4000 BC became common, and was received with wide support.[24] Proposed calculations of the date of creation, using the Masoretic from the 10th century - 18th century include: Marianus Scotus (4192 BC), Maimonides (4058 BC), Henri Spondanus (4051 BC), Benedict Pereira (4021 BC), Louis Cappel (4005 BC), James Ussher (4004 BC), Augustin Calmet (4002 BC), Isaac Newton (4000 BC), Johannes Kepler (April 27, 3977 BC) [based on his book Mysterium], Petavius (3984 BC), Theodore Bibliander (3980 BC), Christen Sørensen Longomontanus (3966 BC), Melanchthon (3964 BC), Martin Luther (3961 BC), John Lightfoot (3960 BC), Cornelius Cornelii a Lapide (3951 BC) Joseph Justus Scaliger (3949 BC), Christoph Helvig (3947 BC), Gerardus Mercator (3928 BC), Matthieu Brouard (3927 BC), Benito Arias Montano (3849 BC), Andreas Helwig (3836 BC), David Gans (3761 BC) and Gershom ben Judah (3754 BC).[17][20][25][26][26][27]

Among the Masoretic creation estimates or calculations for the date of creation only Archbishop Ussher's specific chronology dating the creation to 4004 BC became the most accepted and popular, mainly because this specific date was attached to the King James Bible.[28] The youngest ever recorded date for the date of creation within young Earth creationism is 3616 BC, by Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller in the 17th century.[29] The oldest traditional proposed date within young Earth creationism is 6984 BC by Alfonso X of Castile.[30] However some contemporary or more recent proponents of young Earth creationism have taken this figure back further by several thousands of years. Harold Camping for example dates the creation to 11,013 BC, while Christian Charles Josias Bunsen in the 19th century dated the creation to 20,000 BC.[31]

Despite a long history of Christianity and Judaism with young Earth creationism, a number of prominent early Church Fathers and Christian writers including Origen and Augustine did not believe the Genesis creation myth depicted ordinary solar days and read creation history as an allegory as well as being theologically true.[19] Several early Jews also followed an allegorical interpretation of Genesis, including most notably Philo (On the Creation, III.13).[32]

The Protestant reformation hermeneutic inclined some of the Reformers, including John Calvin[33][34] and Martin Luther,[35] and later Protestants toward a literal reading of the Bible as translated, believing in an ordinary day, and maintaining this younger-Earth view.[36]

Young Earth creationism was still the dominant view during the Early Modern Period (1500–1800) and is found typically referenced in the works of famous poets and playwrights of the era like Shakespeare:

...The poor world is almost 6,000 years old.[37]


Support for a young Earth declined from the eighteenth 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.[38]

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.[39]

Hutton's ideas, called uniformitarianism or gradualism, were popularized by Sir Charles Lyell in the early nineteenth century. The energetic advocacy and rhetoric 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 earlier ideas of catastrophism related to a Biblical flood and confined their explanations to local floods. By the 1830s, mainstream science had abandoned young Earth creationism as a serious hypothesis. It became therefore important for biblical scholars as well as Christian scientists to harmonize the Genesis myth with new scientific results into a 'new geology'.[40]

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 four articles named 'Science and the Bible' on the topic.[41] 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).[42]

The decline of support for a Biblically literal young Earth during the 19th century was opposed by first the scriptural geologists[43] and then by the founders of the Victoria Institute.[44]


The rise of fundamentalist Christianity at the start of the twentieth century saw a revival of interest in young Earth creationism, as a part of the movement's rejection of the explanation of evolution.[45] 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,[46] provide an explicitly fundamentalist perspective on geology. The book attracted a small following, with its advocates almost all being Lutheran pastors and Seventh-day Adventists in America.[47] 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).[48]

In the 1950s, 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,[49] Ramm influenced Christian organizations 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!"[50]

This became the foundation of a new generation of young Earth creationist 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 young Earth creationist 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.[51]

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. The revival of young Earth creationism has on occasion impacted science education 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.

Young earth creationism directly contradicts the scientific consensus. A joint statement of InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP) by 68 national and international science academies lists as scientific facts that: (a) the universe is between 11 and 15 billion years old while the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old and has undergone continual change; (b) life appeared on Earth at least 2.5 billion years ago and has subsequently taken many forms, all of which continue to evolve. These facts have never been contradicted by scientific evidence and have been independently established by many different scientific disciplines including paleontology, and the modern biological and biochemical sciences which continue to confirm the evolution of life from a common primordial origin with increasing precision.[6]

Young Earth creationists have claimed that the lack of support for their beliefs by the scientific community is due to discrimination and censorship by professional science journals or among professional science organizations. However, in the 1981 case McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education no witnesses were able to produce articles which had been refused publication and the judge could not conceive how "a loose knit group of independent thinkers in all the varied fields of science could, or would, so effectively censor new scientific thought".[7] Creationists have in turn been accused of failing to submit articles to reputable journals with a 1985 study finding that only 18 out of 135,000 submissions advocated creationism.[52][53]

Young Earth creationism has also failed to make an impact in less literalist circles of Christianity. Some churches such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches accept the possibility of theistic evolution but despite this, some individual church members support young Earth creationism.[dead link][54]

As of 2008 a Gallup poll indicated that 36% of US adults agreed with the statement "human beings developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.", 14% believed that "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process." and 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 or so."[8]

Characteristics and beliefs

The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo. Adam was the first man according to the Book of Genesis.

View of the Bible

Young Earth creationists 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 young Earth creationist, explained it, Christians who flirt with less-than-literal readings of biblical texts are also flirting with theological disaster.[55][56] According to Morris, Christians must "either ... believe God's Word all the way, or not at all."[55] Therefore, young Earth creationists consider the account of creation given in Genesis to be a factual record of the origin of the Earth and life, and that Bible-believing Christians must therefore regard Genesis 1–11 as historically accurate.

Interpretation of Genesis

Young Earth creationists interpret the text of Genesis in a strictly literal fashion. For the vast majority of young Earth creationists, an allegorical reading of the Genesis creation narrative, the Fall of Man, Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babel would undermine core Christian doctrines like the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 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, and physical death entered the world. Young Earth creationists believe that prior to the Fall all animals were herbivores.[57] (See Animal behavior below.)

The genealogies of Genesis record the line of descent from Adam through Noah to Abraham. Young Earth creationists interpret these genealogies literally, including the old ages of the men. For example, Methuselah lived 969 years according to the genealogy. 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.

Young Earth creationists believe that the flood described in Genesis 6-9 did occur, was global in extent, and submerged the highest mountains on Earth. The pseudoscientific endeavour of flood geology has been developed to suggest mechanisms that could permit this. Early ideas were that an orbiting vapor canopy collapsed, generating extreme rainfall. More recently, it has been proposed that the rapid movement of tectonic plates was responsible for the flood.

Genesis says that, after the flood, the average human lifespan dropping from around of 900 years at the time of Noah to around 175 by the time of Abraham. Some young Earth creationists have suggested that this is due to the effects of inbreeding as only eight people survived the flood.[58] Another suggestion is that the Earth had a higher concentration of oxygen prior to the flood, possibly due to the vapor canopy, creating a giant hyperbaric chamber which extended lifespans.[citation needed]

Age of the Earth

Young Earth creationists believe that the Earth is "young", on the order of 6,000 to 10,000 years old.[59] This depends on a literal interpretation of the internal chronology of the bible, and contrasts with the age of 4.54 billion years estimated by modern geology using geochronological methods including radiometric dating. Mike Riddle, writing for the young Earth creationist apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis, states that radioactive decay rates are not constant and thus challenge the validity of scientifically-accepted radiometric methods.[60] While there is evidence for variability in decay rates,[61][62][63] this occurs under particular circumstances in nature that are not relevant to radiometric dating.[64][65] Further, radioisotope-derived ages have been verified many times using both independent and different radiometric methods, and by consistency with a number of non-radiometric dating methods.[66] Scientists also point to serious flaws in the RATE study of radioisotope dating undertaken by a team of young Earth creationists.[67][68][69]

Attitude towards science

Young Earth creationism is normally characterized as opposing the theory of evolution, though it also opposes many claims and theories in the fields of physics[70] and chemistry (especially absolute dating methods), geology,[70] astronomy,[71] cosmology,[71] paleontology,[72] molecular biology, genomics, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, climatology and dendrochronology among others. (See creation science, flood geology, creation geophysics and objections to evolution for details of disagreements.) Young Earth creationists are fundamentally opposed to any explanation for the origins of anything which deviates from their literal reading of 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 young Earth creationists to criticize intelligent design, a proposal generally viewed 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 young Earth creationists see this as too compromising.[73]

Young Earth creationists 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.

Human history

In keeping with a strictly literal interpretation of Genesis, young Earth creationists 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 among themselves to produce the next generation of children.[74] 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, young Earth creationists 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.

Animal behavior

Young Earth creationists interpret Genesis as saying that prior to the Fall of man there was no predatory or carnivorous activity among animals, and animals did not die. Instead, it is said that all animals (and Adam and Eve) subsisted on an entirely vegetarian diet.[75] Only after the Fall did animals begin to eat each other.[76]

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 young Earth creationists[who?] since they believe that the Earth did not remain in its unfallen state for any (generationally) appreciable time.[77]

Diversification of life

Young Earth creationists also assert that all modern species of land vertebrates are descended from those original animals on the ark. Many young Earth creationists 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 or glacier ice bridges[78][79][80] (which formed during a subsequent ice age) between Australia and South East Asia, over which Noah or his sons, or the ancestors of the animals themselves, could travel. Many young Earth creationists assert that the process of variation and natural selection resulted in a net loss of genetic information.[81][82]

Paleontology and dinosaurs

The significance of this issue to young Earth creationists 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,[83] and in their opposition to the evidence that the stratigraphic sequence of fossils provided for an ancient Earth. In his Illogical Geology, expanded in 1913 as The Fundamentals of Geology, George McCready Price argued that the out-of-order sequence of fossils attributed to thrust faults actually made it impossible to prove that one fossil was older than another. His "law" that fossils could be found in any order meant that strata could not be dated sequentially, removing the strongest evidence for evolution and instead fitting with the idea that they could all have been buried at the same time in a universal deluge, a scheme he called "flood geology". In numerous books and articles he promoted this concept, focussing his attack on the sequence of the geologic time scale as "the devil's counterfeit of the six days of Creation as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis."[84]

In The Genesis Flood of 1961, Henry M. Morris reiterated Price's arguments, and wrote that because there had been no death before the Fall of Man, he felt "compelled to date all the rock strata which contain fossils of once-living creatures as subsequent to Adam's fall", attributing most to the flood. He added the "bombshell" that humans and dinosaurs had lived together, quoting Clifford L. Burdick for the report that dinosaur tracks had supposedly been found overlapping a human track in the Paluxy River bed Glen Rose Formation. He was subsequently advised that he might have been misled, and Burdick wrote to Morris in September 1962 that "you kind of stuck your neck out in publishing those Glen Rose tracks." In the third printing of the book this section was removed.[85]

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 (pronounced [tanˈnin]) has been interpreted as referring to them by some Christians.[86] 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. Some of these creationists refer to "behemoth" specifically 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.[86] 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.[87] 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.[88][89]

The Leviathan is another creature referred to in the Bible's Old Testament; some creationists argue that it is described as having a variety of what today would be called 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.[90]

Young Earth creationists do not deny the existence of dinosaurs and other extinct animals present in the fossil record.[91][92] 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 the ark,[93] and that they gradually became extinct as a result of a vastly different post-flood environment.[94] The newly-established Creation Museum in Kentucky portrays humans and dinosaurs coexisting before the Flood.

Some creationists say that living dinosaurs (as well as other extinct creatures such as plesiosaurs) still survive in isolated spots (see living dinosaur (cryptozoology)), accounting for alleged sightings of lake or sea monsters.[95] Other creationists urge caution about alleged plesiosaurs living today, since rotting basking sharks can form a pseudo-plesiosaur shape.[96] Young Earth creationists occasionally claim that dinosaurs survived in Australia, and that Aboriginal legends of reptilian monsters are evidence of this,[97] referring to what is known as Megalania (Varanus priscus). However, Megalania was a gigantic monitor lizard, and not a dinosaur, as its discoverer, Richard Owen, realized that the skeletal remains were that of a lizard, and not an archosaur.

Comparison with other forms of creationism

Young Earth creationism is only one of several forms of creationism. YECs typically oppose these alternative theories, which they consider to be "controlled by the findings of 'science'"[98] or otherwise flawed.

Old Earth creationism

Young Earth creationists 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.

Young Earth creationists 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).[99]

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, and for Christians, Romans 5:12–19, 8:17–22 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22.[100]

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 young Earth creationist organizations reject the gap theory, and say it is unscriptural, unscientific, and not necessary, in its various forms.[101][102] YECs assert that the entire universe is only thousands of years old.

Omphalos hypothesis

Many young Earth creationists 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 young Earth creationists today argue that Adam did not have a navel,[103] 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 young Earth creationist literature.[104][105][106]


Lack of scientific acceptance

Young Earth creationism was abandoned as a mainstream scientific concept around the start of the 19th century.[107] Most scientists see it as a non-scientific 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 young Earth creationist 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 no God took part in this process.[108] Some scientists (such as Hugh Ross and Gerald Schroeder) 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.


Against the young Earth Creationist attacks on "evolutionism" and "Darwinism", 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 and philosophers,[109]

Christian young Earth creationists adhere strongly to a concept of biblical inerrancy which declares the Bible to be divinely inspired and written as a plain, omniscient account of history and doctrine, and therefore scientifically infallible and non-correctable.[110][111] The young Earth creationist organizations Answers in Genesis (AiG)[112] and Institute for Creation Research (ICR)[113] require all employees to pledge support for biblical inerrancy.

Young Earth creationists often suggest that supporters of evolution theory are primarily motivated by atheism.[114] 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 young Earth creationism. 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.[115] 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.[116]

Proponents of young Earth creationism are regularly accused of quote mining, the practice of isolating passages from academic texts that appear to support their claims while deliberately excluding context and conclusions to the contrary.[117]


Most theologians reject a literal interpretation of the creation narrative in Genesis. They propose there are statements in the creation week itself which render the historical interpretation of Genesis incompatible with scientific evidence.[118]

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.[119] Young Earth Creationists 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.[120]

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 had 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.[121][122] See creationist cosmologies and the starlight problem for more information.

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 the first chapter of Genesis. 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 the King James Version and New International Version[123]).[124][unreliable source?] 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."[125][126] By contrast, young Earth Creationists 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.[127]

Aside from the theological doubts voiced by other Christians, young Earth creationism 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).[128]

Adhering church bodies

See also


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  2. ^ Numbers 2006, p. 11
  3. ^ Zucker, David (2005). The Torah: An Introduction for Christians and Jews. Paulist Press. ISBN 0809143496.,300+years.%22&hl=en&ei=1tvBTra8E4jf0QGZwLjfBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22The%20Book%20of%20Genesis%20covers%20a%20time%20span%20of%20just%20over%202%2C300%20years.%22&f=false. , p. 31
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  5. ^ Numbers 2006, pp. 10–11
  6. ^ a b "IAP Statement on the teaching of evolution" (PDF). the Interacademy Panel on international issues. 2006. Retrieved 2010-12-23. 
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  115. ^ Amazing admission.
  116. ^ See references and further information given at Objections to evolution, Atheism for support of this paragraph.
  117. ^ Quote Mine Project: Examining 'Evolution Quotes' of Creationists
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  120. ^ How could the days of Genesis 1 be literal before the sun was created?, Answers in Genesis
  121. ^ Light-travel time: a problem for the big bang, Answers in Genesis
  122. ^ Does Distant Starlight Prove the Universe Is Old?, Answers in Genesis
  123. ^ "And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed." — KJV and "Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed." — NIV
  124. ^ Biblical Exegesis Should Genesis be taken literally? at the Wayback Machine
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  126. ^ Gledhill, Ruth (2005-10-05). "Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible". The Times (London).,,13509-1811332,00.html. 
  127. ^ But Genesis is not a science textbook, Answers in Genesis
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  129. ^ "Constitutional Documents of The Evangelical Reformed Presbyterian Church, Article of Alliance, Affirmations #13". 2011 [last update]. p. 3. Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  130. ^ "A Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod (Adopted 1932)". 2011 [last update]. Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  131. ^ "The Official Site of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, Fundamental Beliefs". 2011 [last update]. Retrieved October 14, 2011. 


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