Young Earth creationism (YEC) is the belief that our planet and universe were created, from nothing, in six days, approximately 6,000 years ago, by the God of the Abrahamic religions. Adherents of young Earth creationism are known as "young Earth creationists", or simply YECs.
This belief derives from a literal interpretation of the two creation myths in the Biblical book of Genesis. This means young Earth creationists believe the six days described in Genesis were standard 24-hour days and use James Ussher's chronology (or a suitable alternative) to date the Earth's creation to only a few thousand years ago. Consequently they reject all scientific evidence demonstrating the earth is older than this, as well as the various attempts to reconcile the stories in Genesis with science, such as day-age creationism.
A firm belief in the biblical worldwide flood and the story of Noah is also a cornerstone of young Earth creationism. The flood is used by proponents of YEC to explain almost all observations that scientists have interpreted as pointing to a significantly older Earth.
Creationists who believe in an Earth with an age less in conflict with science are called old Earth creationists, which sometimes includes believers of theistic evolution despite acceptance of evolution (albeit minus the methodological naturalism in the case of the guided evolution branch of theistic evolution).
Date of creation according to young earth creationists
Although the book of Genesis does not mention any specific creation date, the 4004 BCE date of creation upheld by young Earth creationists was calculated by the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher, in 1658 and John Lightfoot in 1644. These chronologies involve meticulously tracing the lineages recounted in the Bible (including Noah's supposed 900 years) back to known time, and compared Middle Eastern, biblical and Mediterranean sources to come up with the surprisingly exact date of October 23, 4004 BCE. At 9:00 in the morning, EST.
This figure would put the age of the Earth many orders of magnitude less than the scientifically agreed figure based on radiometric dating among other pieces of evidence. Specifically, the actual age of the Earth is about 75 million percent longer than the Biblical age of the Earth. To put this in perspective, those with the YEC worldview believe the world was created after the first domestication of the dog (and possibly the goat), after the first stones were laid at Stonehenge, after people settled in Scotland and more. Evidence against a recent creation is quite simply overwhelming.
In a typical case of moving the goalposts, many modern young-Earth creationists have blurred the date of creation to "under 10,000 years" thus avoiding the nasty problems of a written history just over 7000 years old, and those pesky comments that are "always under 10,000 years old". Being less specific also avoids any problems people have with the actual genealogies in the bible.
Conflict with science
The concept of the Earth being instantaneously formed only 6000 years ago obviously flies in the face of many fields of modern science. The branches of science you have to ignore to believe in young Earth creationism are numerous - containing practically all of known science - but most notably these sciences are biology (the theory of evolution and palaeontology), astronomy (starlight problem), geology (volcanic formation, sedimentation, plate tectonics), archaeology (historic development of ancient civilizations) and physics (radiometric dating). Not surprisingly, YEC also contradicts the creation myths of other religions and is in conflict with more evolved forms of Christianity.
Young Earth creationists often reject scientific theories and discoveries that go against their ideas - but rather than presenting evidence for a young Earth, they resort to attacking modern science. This is based on not only a misunderstanding of how science develops but also on the false dichotomy that if science is wrong (in any way) creationism and Biblical literalism must be true. Since creationist ideas are based on faith rather than evidence, they are not falsifiable and are not classed as science.
Popular methods of discrediting modern science include:
- This is the practice of isolating quotes from their original context in order to support a particular view. This often is used in conjunction with the argument from authority - i.e., an authoritative person said this, so it must be right, even if the quote is out of context. The ellipsis - the omission of intervening text - is one way of quote mining and is often of staggering magnitude.
- Claiming modern science is politicized and biased because most scientists are liberals or moderates. This is, of course, untrue.
- Exaggerating the limits of a scientific theory:
- Usually the phrase "only a theory" is passed about without any sense of irony, as creationists themselves sometimes attempt to pass creationism off as a "theory"; albeit one utterly unsupported by any evidence. This is also due to a misunderstanding of what a scientific theory actually is. Yet for them somehow the Bible is not only a theory.
- Pointing out science has been wrong before:
- This is often combined with the above method of citing the fact that science is theory. Indeed, science has been wrong, but when it is found to be wrong it changes and becomes more accurate. Fundamentalism on the other hand, by definition doesn't change, staying the exact same distance from reality at all times.
- Exploiting the existence of non-uniformitarian views:
- Exploiting science fiction and popular culture:
- As not all people are experts in all fields of science, a lot of people have to make do with popularised and slightly inaccurate versions of scientific theories. The inaccuracies or dramatisations of these theories which slip into popular culture (such as natural selection being termed "survival of the fittest") are easily exploitable. As is saying that intelligent design is right because it sort of happens in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Invoking divine intervention:
- Referring to obsolete sources:
- Science thrives on change. When discrediting evolutionary theories, Creationists will often cite Charles Darwin's original The Origin of Species and point out issues which were poorly understood at the time. As all of science is a "work in progress" the specific details of the the theory of evolution have changed much since Darwin's time and continue to be improved. Evolution is referred to as Darwinism, ignoring progress since Darwin, alternatively Creationists say that Darwin was wrong and overlook that later theories give a better picture of evolution.
- Creationist "scientists" writing outside of their field:
- For example, a physicist writing about DNA analysis or geologists commenting on biology. In science, this is of course perfectly acceptable but it does not by default give them authority over someone who has proved themselves as a specialist in an area. This is possibly most apparent in the published list of scientists who disagree with evolution, where only a small handful are qualified biologists.
- Referring to "the flood" for everything:
- Similar to divine intervention, the Flood is often cited to explain the presence of fossils, sedimentary layers, The Grand Canyon and to explain why radiometric dating would be flawed. However, this presumes a flood occurred and that it would adequately explain these features of the earth, which it wouldn't do well even if it was feasible to have occurred. See petrified forest.
The Omphalos hypothesis
Some branches of YEC explain away inconvenient evidence such as dinosaur fossils, ancient rock strata in the Grand Canyon, and light from stars millions of light years away, as red herrings planted by God to test the faith of believers.
This hypothesis, that God created the world, and indeed the universe, deliberately to appear much older than it actually is, was promoted by the Calvinist and naturalist Philip Henry Gosse in his 1857 book Omphalos, giving rise to the Omphalos hypothesis, although there are earlier examples of similar theories.
The Omphalos hypothesis reconciles the Biblical account of creationism with scientific findings which would seem to contradict it, and in fact was probably created with this intention in mind. However, it doesn't fare well against Occam's razor, since it presents a more elaborate explanation for scientific evidence than we would get from interpreting evidence at face value. It is also unfalsifiable and resembles Last Thursdayism or the idea that we're living in a simulated reality.
The Omphalos hypothesis also suggests a deceitful God and is rejected by many creationists for this reason.
Young Earth creationism around the world
Young Earth creationism exists primarily among Christian and Jewish fundamentalists, and is most popular in the USA. In the USA roughly 40% of the population believe that God created humanity in its present form 10,000 years ago but this figure is at an all time low and is declining. People with low education are more inclined to believe Young Earth creationism. 
Although it has little or no political traction, creationism exists in the UK. An article in The Guardian in September 2008 put the number of people believing in YEC ideas at 10% of the population. 
Contrary to popular belief, YEC beliefs are not common in the Muslim world. Although many Muslim cultures reject the theory of evolution, most accept that the universe was created billions of years ago and do not insist on a six-day creation as young Earth creationists do.
“”Nearly all peoples have developed their own creation myths, and the Genesis story is just the one that happened to have been adopted by one particular tribe of Middle Eastern herders. It has no more special status than the belief of a particular West African tribe that the world was created from the excrement of ants.
“”If we are going to teach creation science as an alternative to evolution, then we should also teach the stork theory as an alternative to biological reproduction.
“”Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.
- Old Earth creationism
- Branches of science you have to ignore to believe in young Earth creationism
- Evidence against a recent creation
- Intelligent design
- The incontrovertible evidence of common descent
- The Bible
- Challenge: Falsifiability of Creationism
- Starlight problem
- Creation Museum
- Russ Miller
- Talk Origins
- No Answers in Genesis
- The Plesiosaur Site, Creationism
- Why do people laugh at creationists? Video
- Why Young Earth Creationists Must Deny Gravity, Part 1 Video
- ↑ Genesis King James Bible version
- ↑ James Ussher's Date of the Creation Ohio Sate University
- ↑ Bishop Ussher Dates the World: 4004 BC Lock Haven University
- ↑ http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4005.asp
- ↑ Ooblick.com: Quotations about Evolution - The longest ellipsis in the world.
- ↑ http://www.gallup.com/poll/145286/Four-Americans-Believe-Strict-Creationism.aspx
- ↑ 10% of UK population creationists