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Young Earth creationism

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Despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of life and the greater antiquity of the Earth, more than half the American population believes that the entire cosmos was created 6,000 years ago. This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue.
Sam Harris[1]

Young Earth creationism (YEC) is the belief that our planet and universe were created, from nothing,[note 1] 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.

Their belief derives from a literal interpretation of the two creation myths in the Biblical book of Genesis.[2][note 2] This means that young-Earth creationists believe the six days enumerated in Genesis were standard 24-hour[note 3] days and use James Ussher's chronology (or a suitable alternative) to date the Earth's origins to only a few thousand years ago. Answers in Genesis claims science is the work of "fallible" humans while the Bible is the infallible word of God. This must be true because the Bible says so.[3] Young earth creationists reject the mountains of scientific evidence demonstrating the earth is older than a few thousand years, as well as the various attempts to reconcile the stories in Genesis with science, such as day-age creationism. Many Christians do not hold this view, as they accept much of the science done on this and are reduced to allegorical interpretations.[4]

According to a study released in 2019, as many as 40% of Americans believe in a creationist view of human origin within roughly the past 10,000 years.[5]

A firm belief in the biblical worldwide flood and in the story of Noah is also a cornerstone of young Earth creationism. Proponents of YEC use this flood myth to explain away almost all observations that scientists have interpreted as pointing to a significantly older Earth.

Creationists who believe in a created earth that doesn't conflict (as much) with science are called Old Earth creationists. This category sometimes includes believers in theistic evolution despite acceptance of evolution (albeit minus the methodological naturalism in the case of the guided-evolution branch of theistic evolution).

Young Earth creationism tends to flourish in conservative, fundamentalist, and Protestant Christianity and occasionally in the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches and in Judaism. Islamic creationists like Harun Yahya tend to be old Earth creationists.

Ellen said "Let there be woo!", and there was[edit]

Ellen G. White (1827-1915), co-founder of Seventh-day Adventism (SDA), can be viewed as the creator (no pun intended) of YEC — not that many people noticed while she was alive, though.[6] White proclaimed that the Earth was created in 6 literal days, and furthermore that The Flood rearranged the geological record, key elements of YEC.[6] A fellow-SDA member, George McCready PriceWikipedia (1870-1963), published three books that helped popularize White's pronouncements, Outlines of Modern Christianity and Modern Science (1902),[7] The Fundamentals of Geology (1916),[8] and The New Geology (1923).[6][9] SDA members are basically required to believe in YEC because of White, but Price's books brought her ideas to fundamentalist Christians. Among fundamentalists, most dispensational pre-millennialists are YEC believers.[6] In 1961, The Fundamentals of Geology was given a retelling by John C. Whitcomb Jr. & Henry M. Morris in a new and more credulous popular book titled The Genesis Flood.[10]

When was creation?[edit]


See the main article on this topic: Ussher § Ussher's chronology
How did Young Earth Creationists decide that the Universe was only 6,000 years old? A 17th century monk added up the obviously dubious ages of generations of fictional characters from his favorite folklore, and from that, he determined that the world was magically created on October 23rd, 4004 BCE.
AronRa, How Dendrochronology Disproves Noah's Flood[11]

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,[12] in 1658 and John Lightfoot in 1644.[13][note 4] 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.[14]

The Omphalos hypothesis[edit]

See the main article on this topic: 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 many creationists reject it for this reason.[note 5]


Are we talking Venusian, Earth, or Uranian days?
See the main articles on this topic: Creationism § Problems and Evidence against a recent creation
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.
Richard Dawkins

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), dendrochronology (tree-ring dating), and physics (radiometric dating).

These scientific fields are backed by centuries of research by the scientific method, are falsifiable (yet unfalsified) and have accumulated vast quantities of supportive evidence.

Young Earth creationists challenge all scientific evidence for an old Earth with the unfalsifiable belief that God simply created Earth with all the evidence of an old Earth already in place.

Also, the Bible does not explicitly say the world was created 6,000 years ago, so they are interpreting the Bible, which they generally insist must be taken literally.


See the main article on this topic: Creationism § Demographics

Young Earth creationism exists primarily among Christian, Muslim, and Jewish fundamentalists, and is most popular in the USA.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

YEC Resources:

Refutation resources:


  1. Latin: ex nihilo.
  2. There are references to other creation myths elsewhere in the Bible, as in the Psalms and Book of Job, but creationists mostly ignore those.
  3. Once upon a time.people defined hours as fractions of a day, but Science now offers a more precise definition in terms of atomic seconds, so we can avoid the fallacy of circular definition.
  4. It should be mentioned in Ussher's defense that his methodology was probably as sound as possible given his time and premises.
  5. Romans 1:20 contradicts this hypothesis. Romans 1:20 says "... being understood from what has been made..." we can't really understand this world if the Omphalos hypotheses was correct.


  1. The Case Against Faith by Sam Harris (Nov 13, 2006) Newsweeek.
  2. Genesis, King James Bible version.
  3. Don't call us young-earth creationists
  4. See the Wikipedia article on Hermeneutics.
  5. Gallup, July 26, 2019, (accessed on October 2, 2019)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Righting America at the Creation Museum by Susan L. Trollinger & William Vance Trollinger Jr. (2016) Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 1421419513.
  7. Outlines of Modern Christianity and Modern Science by George McCready Price (1902) Pacific Press Publishing Company.
  8. The Fundamentals of Geology and Their Bearings on the Doctrine of a Literal Creation George McCready Price (1916). Pacific Press Publishing Association.
  9. The New Geology: A Textbook for Colleges, Normal Schools, and Training Schools; and for the General Reader by George McCready Price (1923). Pacific Press Publishing Association.
  10. The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications by John C. Whitcomb Jr. & Henry M. Morris (1961) Presbyterian & Pub. Co. ISBN 0825433266.
  11. How Dendrochronology Disproves Noah's Flood (1:41)
  12. James Ussher's Date of the Creation, Ohio Sate University
  13. Bishop Ussher Dates the World: 4004 BC, Lock Haven University]
  14. Evidence for a Young World by Russell Humphreys (June 1, 2005) Answers in Genesis.