Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones: Problems of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC)

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I do not personally regard attacking Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) as a high priority, compared to attacking our common enemy, naturalistic (atheistic) evolution. But on my (now terminated) list CreationEvolutionDesign (CED) I was increasingly debating YECs, so I thought I might as well start including my arguments here under these headings to make them more permanent. I agree with this quote by Old-Earth Creationist (OEC) Alan Hayward, that "The things we" OECs and YECs "have in common are much more important than those on which we differ":

"In the next few chapters I shall be obliged to oppose the notion that the earth is young. But I shall not attack it; one does not attack one's own friends. If we must use a military metaphor, I hope my allies will view me as exhorting them rather than attacking them. I am appealing to them to stop using the strategy and weapons of a bygone age in our common fight against unbelief. For recent-creationists are my friends and allies. Let there be no mistake about that. The things we have in common are much more important than those on which we differ. We share a belief in an inspired Bible. We agree that Darwin was mistaken, and that God is the Creator of every living thing. Compared with this, the question of the age of the earth pales into insignificance." (Hayward A., "Creation and Evolution: Rethinking the Evidence from Science and the Bible," [1985], Bethany House: Minneapolis MN, 1995, reprint, p.79. Emphasis in original)


Problems of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC):

  1. Introduction
  2. Biblical & Scientific evidence for/against Young-Earth Creationism (YEC)
    1. The Universe is only about 10,000 years old
    2. The Earth is only about 10,000 years old
    3. There was no death before human sin
    4. The entire Earth was covered by a single flood less than about 10,000 years ago
    5. All (or most) of the fossils were laid down by that global flood
    6. All the humans and land animals alive today are the descendants of survivors of that flood
  3. Inconsistencies of Young-Earth Creationism
    1. Requires a higher rate of evolution than even evolutionists claim
    2. Attacks Darwinian random mutation and natural selection but then depends on it
  4. Conclusion

Problems of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC):

  1. Introduction
    I am an Old-Earth/Progressive Creationist (OEC/PC) , so I think Young-Earth Creationist (YECs) are right about the main thing, creation! That is, we agree on the fact of supernatural creation by God, i.e. "that natural processes and ordinary providence are not adequate to explain the world" and so we . "both fall into the category of supernatural creationists or special creationists":
    "Creationism. General meaning: affirms that the universe is a creation of God, and hence that a world-view such as naturalism is untrue. Young earth creationism: the belief that the earth and universe are less than about 15,000 years old. This is commonly connected with the calendar day interpretation of Genesis 1. Some adherents of the Calendar Day view, however, do not take a position on the age of the earth; and some adherents of the other views do not require that the earth be `old.' Old earth creationism: creationism that allows that the natural sciences accurately conclude that the universe is `old' (i.e. millions or even billions of years). Two sub-categories of old-earth creationism: - theistic evolution: belief that natural processes sustained by Godís ordinary providence are Godís means of bringing about life and humanity. - progressive creationism: belief that second causes sustained by Godís providence are not the whole story, but that instead God has added supernatural, creative actions to the process, corresponding to the fiats of Genesis 1. Some confusion can arise because progressive creationists vary in the degree of biological change they are willing to countenance in between the creative events. The progressive creationists and the young earth creationists agree on a key point: namely that natural processes and ordinary providence are not adequate to explain the world. They both fall into the category of supernatural creationists or special creationists." ("Report of the Creation Study Committee," Presbyterian Church in America: Atlanta GA, 2000)
    Leading YECs Morris & Parker and Gish, have stated that creation is primary and the age of the Earth is secondary:
    "The question of the date of creation is separate and distinct from the question of the fact of creation. The basic evidences supporting the Creation Model-for example, the laws of thermodynamics, the complex structures of living organisms, the universal gaps between types in both the living world and the fossil record-are all quite independent of the time of creation. Whether the world is ten thousand years old or ten trillion years old, these and other such evidences all point to creation, not to evolution, as the best explanation of origins. Unfortunately, evolutionists commonly confuse the issue, apparently believing that an ancient earth would prove evolution and a young earth would prove creation. The critics of the creation movement commonly focus their attacks not on creation in general, but on recent creation. The fact is, however, that the question of the age of the earth and the universe, while an important question in its own right, is quite independent of the question of creation or evolution, at least as far as the facts of science are concerned. For evolutionists to concentrate their criticisms of creationism mostly on this independent issue is merely an admission of the weakness of evolutionism. On the other hand, the concept of evolution does suggest an old earth. Creationism is free to consider all evidences regarding the earth's age, whether old or young, whereas evolutionism is bound to an old earth." (Morris H.M. & Parker G.E., "What is Creation Science?," [1982], Master Books: El Cajon CA, Revised Edition, 1987, p.253)
    "Professor Burke mentions the age of the earth as evidence for evolution. While it is true that evolution demands an immensity of time, and thus any evidence for a young age for the earth or the cosmos would be fatal to evolution theory, evidence that the earth is old would neither prove evolution nor threaten creation. A vast age of the earth is a necessary - but not sufficient - evidence for evolution; and the fact that such a supposition is no threat to creation is self-evident from the fact that many special creationists do believe that the earth is old." (Gish D.T., "Response to D.C. Burke," in Burke D.C., ed., "Creation and Evolution: When Christians Disagree," Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester UK, 1985, pp.193-194)
    So where we OECs and YECs differ is on the important but secondary issue of the time-frame over which God created. This in turn has let to a number of other differences of how God created and the extent of Noah's Flood. My aim here will be to show the problems of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) and offer solutions to those problems, so that a Young-Earth Creationist could become an Old-Earth Creationist. I am very concerned a Young-Earth Creationist, who gives up on YEC because of its many problems, does not `jump from the frying pan into the fire' and become a Theistic Evolutionist (as some YECs have done) or worse still, `throw the baby out with the bathwater' and give up on Christianity altogether, becoming an Naturalistic (Atheistic) Evolutionist (as some YECs have also done). There is neither reason, nor excuse, to do either. Nearly 40 years ago, I adopted as my bedrock position Progressive Creationist Bernard Ramm's principle that:
    "God cannot contradict His speech in Nature by His speech in Scripture. If the Author of Nature and Scripture are the same God, then the two books of God must eventually recite the same story." (Ramm B.L., "The Christian View of Science and Scripture," [1955], Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, p.25)
    and I have increasingly found over the years that they do, but only as I have been willing to modify my faulty interpretations of both. [top]

  2. Biblical & Scientific evidence for/against Young-Earth Creationism (YEC)
    1. The Universe is only about 10,000 years old
      As far as I know, Young-Earth Creationists (YECs) do not offer any positive scientific evidence that the Universe is ~10,000 years old. All they offer is negative scientific evidence that there are problems with the various dating methods. Yet if the Universe was ~10,000 years old, being so recent, the `signal' in the `noise' would be deafening! [top]
    2. The Earth is only about 10,000 years old

    3. As far as I know, Young-Earth Creationists (YECs) do not offer any positive scientific evidence that the Earth is ~10,000 years old. All they offer is negative scientific evidence that there are problems with the various dating methods. Yet if the Earth was ~10,000 years old, being so recent, the `signal' in the `noise' would be deafening!

      Here is an excerpt of a message, which makes the above points, which I posted to my now-terminated Yahoo discussion list, CreationEvolutionDesign:

      =================================================
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/11024
      From: "Stephen E. Jones" 
      Date: Thu Dec 30, 2004  7:34 am
      Subject: Re: "what is the *scientific* evidence that ... the Earth is ~10,000
      years old?" [...]
      But Alan is in good company. No YEC has ever answered that question on
      CED (I have asked it many times), e.g.:
      
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/8386
      From: "Stephen E. Jones" 
      Date: Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:36 pm
      Subject: Re: YEC `fan mail' (was Your Stand)
      
      Thanks to D.W. You mean well but you are simply *WRONG* if you
      think the Universe and Earth are only ~10,000 years old. If they were, then
      *all* the age data would be pointing to it (when in fact *no* age data is).
      
      Then the `signal in the noise' would be *deafening* because: a) it is *one*
      date; and b) it is so *recent*. It is not good enough that YEC picks on
      problems with radiometric dating. YEC needs to produce its own evidence
      showing *all* the age data converging on ~10,000 years ago. But in fact
      *none* of it is. [...]
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
      
      Se:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/5921
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/5742
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/5469
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/5457
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/3935
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/3931
      
      [...]
      =================================================
      
      [top]

    4. There was no death before human sin [top]
    5. The entire Earth was covered by a single flood less than about 10,000 years ago [top]
    6. All (or most) of the fossils were laid down by that global flood [top]
    7. All the humans and land animals alive today are the descendants of survivors of that flood [top]

  3. Inconsistencies of Young-Earth Creationism
    1. Requires a higher rate of evolution than even evolutionists claim
    2. If YECs claim that Noah's Flood was global, then all today's land animals must be descendants of pairs of animals on the Ark. But to fit all the world's land animals on the Ark, it needs to claim that they were a smaller number of "kinds". However, then YEC requires a higher rate of evolution than evolutionists themselves claim for the "kinds" on the Ark to give rise to today's land animals (as well as those it claims became extinct after the Flood, e.g. dinosaurs), in the ~8,000 years since the Flood:
      "The Biblical [i.e. YEC] account of history not only accommodates such rapid changes in body form, but actually requires that it would have happened much faster than evolutionists would expect. As the animals left the Ark, multiplying to fill the Earth and all those empty ecological niches, natural selection could easily have caused an original `dog kind' (e.g.) on the Ark to `split' into wolves, coyotes, dingoes, etc. Because there are historical records showing some of these subtypes in existence only a few hundred years after the Flood, this means that there had to have been some very rapid (non-evolutionary) speciation. So it is encouragingly supportive of Biblical history when some such rapid changes are seen still occurring today. And this is being repeatedly confirmed. But since evolutionists mistakenly interpret all such adaptation/speciation as `evolution happening', they are left stunned when it happens much faster than their traditional interpretations of the fossil record would allow." (Catchpoole D. & Wieland C., "Speedy species surprise," Creation Magazine, Vol. 23, No. 2, March 2001, pp.13-15. Emphasis original. Answers in Genesis, 2006)
      "Creation scientists teach that all animals ate only plants until Adam and Eve rebelled against God's authority. Because carnivorous activity involves animal death, they presume it must be one of the evil results of human sin. Accordingly, they propose that meat-eating creatures alive now and evident in the fossil record must have evolved in just several hundred years or less, by natural processes alone, from the plant-eating creatures! The size of Noah's ark and the limited number of humans on board (eight) present an equally serious problem for them. Even if all the animals aboard hibernated for the duration of the Flood, the maximum carrying capacity by their estimates for the ark would be about thirty thousand pairs of land animals? But the fossil record indicates the existence of at least a half billion such species, more than five million of which live on Earth today, and at least two million more lived in the era immediately after the Flood, as they date it. The problem grows worse. Shortly after the Flood, they say, a large proportion of the thirty thousand species on board dinosaurs, trilobites, and so on-went extinct; so the remaining few thousand species must have evolved by rapid and efficient natural processes alone into seven million or more species. Ironically, creation scientists (quietly) propose an efficiency of natural biological evolution greater than even the most optimistic Darwinist would dare to suggest." (Ross H.N., "The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis," NavPress: Colorado Springs CO, 1998, pp.90-91) [top]
      Bear in mind that YECs claim that all supernatural creating was completed by the sixth literal day of creation, so all that they have left after that is natural processes. So it is therefore inconsistent of YECs to criticise the same natural processes of speciation that evolutionists propose when YEC itself depends on them!

    3. Attacks Darwinian random mutation and natural selection but then depends on it

    4. A prominent YEC of the 1920s, Byron C. Nelson (grandfather of YEC philosopher and ID theorist Paul Nelson), in a book reprinted up to 1980, and endorsed on its covers by leading YECs Whitcomb and Morris, claimed that the mechanism which transformed the "kinds" on the Ark into today's species was "Natural selection, working upon Mendelian or `genic' variations," i.e. Darwinian random mutation and natural selection, which Nelson called "a true evolution":
      "Light has been thrown upon the whole problem of animal distribution and adaptation-or what may be called `a true evolution.' After the Flood each species began to `mutate' and new forms began to arise. Among the cattle varieties were produced having short hair, such as is found in the Zebu of India or the Red Africander. Such a coat being better adapted to a hot climate, these varieties migrated to warm, equatorial regions. Other varieties were produced having long, warm coverings of hair, such as the West Highlander and Galloway, or the prehistoric wild ox of northern Europe called the `auroch.' These varieties migrated northward. Natural selection, working upon Mendelian or `genic' variations, produced all the evolution there is. Such evolution is strictly in accordance with what is taught in all Scripture." (Nelson B.C., "After Its Kind," [1927], Bethany Fellowship: Minneapolis MN, Revised edition, 1952, Nineteenth printing, 1967, pp.119-120) [top]
      So again it is inconsistent of YECs to criticise Darwinian random mutation and natural selection when their own position depends on it!

  4. Conclusion [top]

[top]

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Created: 22 June, 2001. Updated: 12 January, 2010.

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