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
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.