19.5 Age of the Earth According to the YEC
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.
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. They assert that this global flood caused a multitude of geological features that scientists regard as evidence of an old Earth.
19.5.1 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, 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.
YECs challenge the methodological naturalism of the scientific method, which they contrast 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.
19.5.2 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. 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.
19.5.3 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. YECs believe that prior to the Fall all animals were herbivores.
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 (Methuselah lived 969 years). Whether the genealogies should be taken as complete or abbreviated is a matter of opinion, 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.
To the Young Creationists, using mathematical calculations, man cannot be more than 6,000 years old. Assuming that every family had three children and after accounting for natural death catastrophes and wars, the world’s population should 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.
YECs believe that the great flood described in Genesis 6-9 was global in extent, and submerged the highest mountains on Earth. Earlier generations believed that an orbiting vapour canopy collapsed, generating extreme rainfall. 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. Whatever the case, almost all YECs refer to “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
- 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 inbreeding that took place after the flood, as only eight people remained. Another hypothesis suggests that the Earth had a higher concentration of oxygen prior to the Flood. Others hypothesize that the “firmament” of the “waters above” screened the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays, which they argue, shorten life expectancy.
19.5.4 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 their sons and daughters had to marry 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.
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.