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For anyone who's unfamiliar with what the Young-Earth view, here's a starting point.

I want to start out by saying that this question is not about whether or not the YEC view it true. It's not about whether there is scientific evidence for and/or against, or even neutral. This is in no way, shape, or form, a question about the validity of the YEC view, or any opposing view.

Specifically, I'm asking why the Kent Hovinds, Ken Hams, and other prominent YEC creationists, and so many Fundamental conservative Christians so married to the YEC view, and so vocal about it.

Most of the people that self-identify as Christians could care less about the issue. The idea of creation/evolution is a non-issue. Debating whether the Genesis account of creation and the flood has no bearing on doctrines they care about, from their perspective. As a matter of fact, many of them consider Creationists to be an embarrassment, and the idea of speaking out on the topic as counter-productive at best, and some think it's downright dangerous.

They open themselves, and as a result, all of Christianity to ridicule because they "refuse to believe science" and stick to ancient stories.

For the record (for the one or two people that don't already know it) I am one of those people. I'm a Young-Earth Creationist, so even though the above may sound like I'm attacking the YEC view, that's not why put all that in there.

What I'm looking for is an answer as to why the "Creation Science Evangelists" - the Kent Hovinds, Ken Hams, the ICR, creationtoday.org, and others are willing to go around preaching something that gets them laughed at, ridiculed, and even other Christians wish they'd just knock it off. Why is it so important to them? Is there a doctrinal reason, or are they just that stuck in their ways that they're unwilling to change?

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Excellent question. I have the same question about militant atheists. Perhaps the answer is the same: society as a whole believes the wrong thing and only us few and determined can set things straight. Or, less charitably, they want to feel better about their (perceived) unpopular beliefs by beating their opponents over the head with the truth. (But this is all speculation.) –  Jon Ericson Oct 4 '12 at 17:03
    
I think I cover a lot of it in my answer here: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/9169/258 –  Joel Coehoorn Oct 5 '12 at 2:00
    
@JoelCoehoorn - you do, indeed. I hadn't run across that question, and I looked for a dupe before posting this one. I hope you get some more up-votes on that. it was a good question and answer. I wonder if this one should be closed as a dupe, or if it falls under the guideline of "borderline duplicate" as described here: blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/handling-duplicate-questions I don't necessarily agree with all of it, but it's well reasoned. –  David Stratton Oct 5 '12 at 2:05
    
@DavidStratton: I'd ask, does a belief in Creation insist on a belief in a young earth? My understanding is young earth normally means 10k years old based upon timelines constructed from the Bible. The Bible doesn't actually tell us what date the earth was created, but it does tell us how it was created. I personally believe in Creation, but as to whether the earth is 10k years old or so, I don't feel the answer is important to my faith, because someone's tried to calculate it. –  Ian Oct 9 '12 at 11:36
    
@Ian - no. That's covered elsewhere. The YEC view is one of many. A site search should answer all those questions as would the linked and related posts that show in the list on the right side of the page. The question points out that there are many views, and that it's not important to a pretty large portion of Christianity. –  David Stratton Oct 9 '12 at 11:39

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Rephrasing what you said slightly more succinctly- it isn't about history, it's about trustworthiness.

Creationists see all theories that attempt to explain origins as inherently matters of faith. One either trusts that matter could have somehow been there, packed so densely together that it caused a universe creating explosion, and then developed strictly through natural processes with literally astronomical odds, or else one believes there is a Creator. There are no other possibilities.

Given then that there is a Creator (and here is where Intelligent Designers and YECs technically depart) the YEC'er says that there is no reason to assume that the Bible is not literally a first hand account with complete and sufficient information.

By tabulating results from a complete record, it is merely a matter of math rather than science, because it falls from the postulate of:

The Bible is complete and sufficient

That a YEC arrives at the rest of the narrative.

Indeed any successful attack on the YEC position must necessarily be one on the main postulate- otherwise it is only the expression of the science that is dismissed. iCR and the ID movement are scientists- they hypothesize and then then test hypotheses. The only question is the framework in which the hypotheses are developed.

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tl;dr Either the world was created or it is self-existant. This colors one's vision of the evidence, not vice-versa. –  user1907 Oct 4 '12 at 21:04
    
OECs (generally) consider scripture to be just as trust worthy as YECs do. The disagreement isn't in scripture's authority or trustworthiness, the disagreement is one of literary genres. To pretend the debate is about trustworthiness is to either ignore (likely unintentionally) the true issue at hand, or a straw man (and effectively is both). –  Flimzy Jul 18 at 22:58
    
I'm not suggesting that OEC think the Bible untrustworthy, it is that YEC think that OEC think it is. It is a misperception, but that is how a YEC would see it. –  Affable Geek Jul 18 at 23:01
    
I see... interesting. I guess I can see your point. :) –  Flimzy Jul 18 at 23:02

Again... This is not about the validity of the YEC view. The point of this is not to reveal "Truth", the point is to accurately explain the doctrinal significance of the view, from the perspective of those who believe the view, so that we have it on record on site.

The answer is quite simple, actually, and laid out very well on the Answers in Genesis website. The short version is that in the minds of Young Earth Creationists, the issue is not whether the earth is young or old. It's not whether or not we evolved. Those are distractions from the real question, which is "Can we trust Scripture?", and extending it further, "Was Jesus Himself a liar?"

remember - just explaining the position/doctrinal view, not debating the validity.

  • Every one of the Young Earth Creationists listed, and those of us that follow are among those that believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God as described here, here, and in the AIG article I linked to above. Since the original manuscripts were given by God, it is impossible for them to be erroneous in any way. And since we have such overwhelming manuscript evidence, we have every reason to believe that the Bible we have today is reliable.

  • All of them subscribe to a historical-grammatical method of interpretation, which provides guidelines for determining what content is to be taken literally, and where a non-literal interpretation is warranted. Of course, there is variance in how this is applied, the view held by Young Earth Creationists is that a simple reading of the Genesis account without any external, non-Biblical evidence clearly gives six literal days of creation, one day of rest, a bit of history, and then a global flood. The age of the earth is based strictly on adding up the genealogies (when so and so was x years old, he begat y) and so on.

Since the method of interpretation includes the following:

Extra-Biblical resources, such as language helps, commentaries, the writings of the so-called church fathers, and archaeological and scientific evidences, can be useful resources in correctly interpreting Scripture. But since they are the words and works of fallible men they are not authoritative.

when determining what a passage says, we can't refer to things like common knowledge, radiometric dating, currently accepted geology, paleontology, or any other branch of science. When determining what Scripture says, only the context given within Scripture can be used. In other words, no "knowledge" of fallible man can possibly equal the revealed Truth given by God in Scripture.

Therefore, the only measurement we have to glean the age of the earth is the genealogies. Without modern scientific knowledge, there would be no need for a gap theory, or a day-age theory. That's why they refer to these as "compromise" theories - because they are attempting to use external evidence - man's fallible evidence and make it fit into God's word.

In Kent Hovind's words, "if you gave someone a Bible, with no idea about the controversy, and said 'read this - tell me what this says', not one of them would say 'Oh, there were millions of years between those days.' or gap theory, or anything of the sort. They'd say 7 days". Dr. Hovind goes on to re-state that you can't use fallible man's ideas to re-interpret Scripture.

So, for Young-Earth Creationists, the reason they view the Day-Age theory, or the Gap Theory, or anything else that tries to tie billions of years into the Creation account as invalid is pretty straightforward.

But how about the idea that the Genesis account is an allegory? Plenty of Christians believe that.

Again, back to the "rules" of interpretation:

  • Scripture is intelligible. God meant for us to understand it.
  • Because it is infallible, the Bible is internally consistent. it can't contradict itself.
  • Because God meant to communicate truth, and because Scripture is internally consistent, the words of Scripture have only one meaning in context. There may be multiple legitimate applications of a passage of Scripture, but a passage has only one meaning in context. This is what it means to interpret Scripture according to its literal, or normal, sense.

None of that rules out an allegorical Genesis account, but how did Jesus treat the Genesis account? Did He speak of it as if it were real, or did He speak of it as if it were an allegory?

Borrowing from the Answers in Genesis article:

Another way that Jesus revealed His complete trust in the Scriptures was by treating as historical fact the accounts in the Old Testament which most contemporary people think are unbelievable mythology. These historical accounts include Adam and Eve as the first married couple (Matt. 19:3-6, Mark 10:3-9), Abel as the first prophet who was martyred (Luke 11:50-51), Noah and the Flood (Matt. 24:38-39), Moses and the serpent (John 3:14), Moses and the manna (John 6:32-33, 49), the experiences of Lot and his wife (Luke 17:28-32), the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt. 10:15), the miracles of Elijah (Luke 4:25-27), and Jonah and the big fish (Matt. 12:40-41). As Wenham has compellingly argued,7 Jesus did not allegorize these accounts but took them as straightforward history, describing events that actually happened just as the Old Testament describes. Jesus used these accounts to teach His disciples that the events of His death, resurrection and second coming would likewise certainly happen in time-space reality.

So, in summary, for the Young-Earth Creationist, because of the doctrines of an inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God, combined with the approach they use toward interpreting Scripture, there is no breathing room left.

  • Jesus didn't seem to treat the Genesis account as allegorical. He presented it as actual historical fact.
    • by extension, if it were not actual, historical fact, then Jesus was either wrong, or a liar. Both options end up with Christianity being untrue.
  • The rules of interpretation of the Genesis account provide no reason not to take the creation period as six literal days, with one day of rest. And there is nothing in Scripture, anywhere else, that provides even a hint that the account is to be taken as allegory. The only evidence to that effect is external, non-Biblical evidence. Therefore, per the rules of the historical-grammatical method of interpretation, we must accept that the account is a literal one, not allegorical.
    • Again, this leaves us with two options: The Bible is wrong, or the historical-grammatical method of interpretation is wrong.
  • If the Bible is wrong, then we have no reliable record of history, and nothing upon which to base our faith, other than man's fallible teachings, which means Christianity is no more or less valid that Buddhism, or the worship of trees.
    • If the historical-grammatical method of interpretation is wrong, then we lack a framework for correctly divining the meaning of Scripture, and again, nothing solid upon which to place our faith.

So for the Young-Earth Creationist, all of these doctrines combine to force us into a corner where our only option is to believe in a young-earth view. Any other view would render the book of Genesis as unreliable. Since Jesus referred to Genesis as real history several times, it would make Jesus unreliable. Since many of Scripture's doctrines can be traced back to Genesis (original sin, marriage, and others), if Genesis falls, the rest of Scripture falls, Jesus is fallible, and therefore not God, so all of Christianity is a sham.

Again, one last time. This is not about the validity of the YEC view. The point of this is not to reveal "truth", the point is to accurately explain the view, so that we have it on record on site. I am fully aware that not all of Christianity holds these views. I am fully aware that you don't have to be a YEC believer to be a Christian. I'm not stating that any other view is wrong. I am merely presenting the thought process, and doctrinal importance of the Young-Earth Creationist view to those of us that hold this view.

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Think you explain it well. I could never honestly read Genesis without assuming that an objective reader would take a 7 literal day view of what it said. That's why after becoming a Christian I have always considered the earth to be young. –  Mike Oct 4 '12 at 13:45
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Thank you for this. I'm glad you mentioned original sin. It could be worthwhile to say more: Old Age theories teach death before Adam, whereas the Bible teaches death through Adam. The two positions are mutually exclusive, so Old Earth believers endorse a heresy unawares. –  user1907 Oct 4 '12 at 21:07

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