According to Young Earth Creationists, other beliefs (particularly in Evolutionism) harm Christianity in various ways such as:

  • Making Death something other than the direct consequence of Sin
  • Distorting the redemptive role of Death¹
  • Denying the special value of man as distinct from all other creatures
  • Reducing God's power

I don't want to belabor the point, as I'm merely trying to show the existence of claims that a denial of YEC is detrimental to Christian theology.

I also don't want to get into debates of whether belief in, or rejection of, YEC is beneficial or harmful to one's ability to remain in the faith. For this question, I am placing that explicitly out of bounds. (Likewise for arguments dealing with science, whether or not a belief is scientifically supported or affects one's view of science.)

Rather, given the above YEC arguments, it would seem that a case can be made that any attack on YEC is an attack on Christianity itself, and that all such attacks are thus ultimately opposed to Christianity. Indeed, such arguments have been made by various YECs.

Now... if such arguments can be sustained, they would be a powerful argument in favor of YEC. Therefore, I would like to explore the opposite side.

According to non-YECs, what are the theological detriments to belief in YEC?

(¹ Death is the wages/consequence of Sin. Adam sinned ⇒ God killed an animal. God's people sinned ⇒ they sacrificed animals. Humans sinned ⇒ God sacrificed His Son. YECs argue that death before sin distorts this relation and reduces the atoning "value" of death. This answer on another question may be helpful.)

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    How a belief would affect your ability to remain in the faith, and how it relates to science, are of crucial importance when discussing the detriments of a belief. The main objection to YEC is that it's at odds with our knowledge of reality based on observations made through science, not that it's flawed on a "theological basis". Calling it an "attack on Christianity itself" to object to beliefs that don't align with how you understand scripture or reality seems a bit extreme and detrimental to actually coming to any sort of agreement about the "correct" understanding of scripture and reality.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:39
  • @NotThatGuy, YEC isn't at odds with reality. It's at odds with specific claims (of Materialist origin) made about reality. Those arguments, however, are obvious. My point is that I am seeking to learn if there are other arguments; ones which would still apply if one does not see a contradiction between scientific knowledge and YEC, which is the case for many YECs. (If you want to discuss further whether YEC is "at odds with reality", please take it to chat.)
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:57
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    I'm undecided on YEC but will toss this out there: the big lie of the "enlightenment" is that faith and reason are incompatible, so we must discard faith. Some Christians have bought into the lie, and decided that we must discard reason instead. The premise is false -- faith and reason are compatible. I think the risk that we ought to be worried about is falling into this trap where we become the parody of ourselves that atheists imagine us to be.
    – workerjoe
    Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 14:10
  • @workerjoe, that is a gross mischaracterization of YEC. What YEC (and ID!) says we must discard is a Materialist-dogmatic "reason" that perverts science. Materialism and Christianity are incompatible, but Materialism is not reason. It is quite far from it, in fact. (If you want to discuss this more, however, please take it to chat.)
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 15:47

8 Answers 8


YEC is theologically harmful if people reject Christ just because they don't believe certain tenets of YEC such as the six 24-hour day of creation and the historicity of Adam.

A corollary is when people reject Christ because fundamentalist Biblical inerrantist pastors / leaders convinced them that Christian faith requires reading all of the Bible as historical facts, in addition to putting our faith in Christ. A famous story back in May 2020 can serve as an example: Jon Steingard, an evangelist-pastor kid, abandoned the faith he was raised with and announced it in a series of Instagram posts. A few weeks later, he was interviewed in the Unbelievable? program with Sean McDowell (son of apologist Josh McDowell) as another guest.

A part of his decision seems to have something to do with his relying too much on the Bible being inerrant so that he always has a reliable answer for every question in life, although after watching the video it seems more to do with the hiddenness of God and with his inability to understand why the Father in Heaven would abandon helpless kids to die before they reach 5 in impoverished and dangerous places (which is so hard for him who is a father to young kids himself).

Some quotes from the Instagram post:

I was raised to believe that the Bible was the perfect Word of God. Sure, it was written by human beings, but those people were divinely inspired - and we can consider the words they wrote to be the Word of God.

I began to have questions and doubts about that. It seemed like there were a lot of contradictions in the Bible that didn't make sense. ... Suffice it to say that when I began to believe that the Bible was simply a book written by people as flawed and imperfect as I am - that was when my belief in God truly began to unravel.


Once I found that I didn't believe the Bible was the perfect Word of God - it didn't take long to realize that I was no longer sure he was there at all. That thought terrified me. It sent me into a tailspin. The implications of that idea were absolutely massive.

From the video (min 39:02-39:49):

"... I just came away with this feeling [that] everyone is just deciding for themselves what they want to believe. And there is no way to know for sure. That was the conclusion I reached. ... A real key point for me was the inerrancy of the Bible. ... If the Bible is not the perfect Word of God like I was taught, then to your point Sean about the anchor, what is the anchor? ..."

Sean responded with 2 points:

  1. Knowledge doesn't require certainty, Christians live with doubt and are given mercy citing Jude 1:22, doubt is not the opposite of faith/belief/knowledge, what's important is what makes the most sense even when we have some doubts/questions. (min. 40:07-41:10)
  2. He also believes that the Bible is "the inerrant perfect word of God", but more important to him is what is the heart central issue? He said that to Christianity it is not inerrancy. Even if we had an errant / flawed Bible (which Sean does not believe) but still show that Jesus claimed to be God, died, buried, and rose in the 3rd day, Christianity is still true. (min 41:10-42:37)

Does Paul's Christ Require a Historical Adam?

J.R. Daniel Kirk, a Fuller's NT professor, wrote a 2013 journal article "Thinking Science and Christian Faith Together" which is posted in the Fuller Seminary's blog as Does Paul's Christ Require a Historical Adam?

His main point is that for people who are convinced that the human origin story is best told from a non-YEC perspective, they don't have to abandon the Christian faith. He believes that

The task of reimagining a Christian story of origins for our modern era has already begun. 9

9 After Adam: Reading Genesis in an Age of Evolutionary Science by Daniel C. Harlow, an article in the September 2010 issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith.

From His concluding paragraph:

To accompany Paul on the task of telling the story of the beginning in light of Christ, while parting ways with his first-century understanding of science and history, is not to abandon the Christian faith in favor of science. ...

Christ, the Law, and History

He assess the following question:

To what extent do we need to affirm a historical Adam in order also to affirm the saving dynamics of Paul’s Adam Christology?

and interpret Rom 5:12-21 to represent Paul's attempt 1) to take all other options other than Christ "off the table" and 2) to establish that God's people are not demarcated by Torah (i.e. Gentiles and Jews have the same problem and need Christ as the solution). He concluded this section (emphasis mine):

Paul’s Adam theology is an avenue toward affirming that God has one worldwide people; therefore, the specially blessed people are not defined by the story of circumcision. But he does not ask the question of whether an evolutionary account of human origins might stand within the story of God’s new creation work in Christ, and his argument is not aimed at denying such an explanation of where we came from.

Retelling the Story of Origins

In the second section of the article he reminded us of the perspective used by ancient writers when telling stories of human origins (such as Genesis 1), that

it was never simply to tell people “what happened.” Instead, such narratives indicate why their particular people and their particular god played the roles of sovereigns of the world.

Similarly, (emphasis mine)

Paul employs the story of Adam based on his new understanding that Christ is the man through whom God has chosen to rule the world and that the churches are the people who are the fulfillment of the promise of numerous descendants. For neither Paul nor the writer of Genesis does the story of Adam exist as a standalone narrative to which later history must correspond. Instead, the convictions about what God has done at a later point in history determine how the Adam story is read.


... what is a “given” for Paul is the saving event of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The other things he says, especially about sin, the Law, and eschatology, are reinterpretations that grow from the fundamental reality of the Christ event. ... The gospel need not be compromised if we find ourselves having to part ways with Paul’s assumption that there is a historical Adam, because we share Paul’s fundamental conviction that the crucified messiah is the resurrected Lord over all.

... For many, the cognitive dissonance between the sciences and a historical Adam has already become too great to continue holding both.8 We therefore have to carefully determine whether the cause of Christ, and of truth, is better served by indicating that a choice must be made between the two, or by retelling the narrative about the origins of humanity as we now understand it in light of the death and resurrection of Christ.

8 Recent Genetic Science and Christian Theology on Human Origins: An "Aesthetic Supralapsarianism" by John R. Schneider, an article in the September 2010 issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith.


YEC in itself is not harmful at all. Millions of Christians have been nourished in their faith assisted by YEC-formulated theology, especially before 1800. The harm lies when a YEC church, coupled with a particular version of the inerrancy doctrine, teaches their followers in such a way (through sermons, Sunday school programs, reading list, apologetics) that resulted in

  1. their misplacing the central issue of what needs to be believed away from Christ alone, by requiring them to package Christ together with reading the Bible in a certain way (such as reading Gen 1-3 as history) as though they rise and fall together
  2. "protecting" them from asking the truly hard questions (problem of evil, etc.) by giving substandard apologetics based on an increasingly-hard-to-defend version of inerrancy (which is stricter than Chicago Statement), refusing to be aware that the inerrancy doctrine itself is not as clear cut as the doctrine of the Trinity. For example, see the 2020 article Inerrancy and Evangelicals: The Challenge for a New Generation.

Thus, the harm lies when YEC Christians (or would-be Christians evangelized by YEC) have doubt about Christianity. This is the time when they need to dig deep into the resources that help Christianity "makes sense" to them so they don't have unnecessary cognitive dissonance that interferes with their personal relationship with Christ. Humans are metaphysically wired to love the truth, making cognitive dissonance unbearable.

Unlike Trinity, doctrines / teachings that are still open (such as eschatology, historical Adam, atonement, nature of baptism, original sin, inerrancy) should be presented in such a way so that when a Christian has doubt he/she can switch to another theory of human origins / atonement / etc. to resolve the doubt. I myself, for example, prefer St. Irenaeus's understanding of Adam and the associated atonement theory which in doing so alleviates my personal concerns of God's justice and love, but I do not exclude the legitimacy of other Christians who prefer other theories as long as we all subscribe to the early creeds (like the Apostle's creed).

Therefore, if a YEC-promoted way of reading the Bible prevents a Christian from choosing a legitimate option of particular doctrines or from reconciling with other sources of truth (such as evolution) which could have contributed to the resolution of that doubt, then that unnecessary narrowing of theologically legitimate options is where YEC is theologically harmful.

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    This is an excellent answer. However I have to say that these problems, though real, are true only if people insist that belief in YEC is necessary to be a Christian. If someone believes in YEC, but is happy to accept that other Christians do not, then there are no significant theological problems. (Sorry I deleted my previous comment intending to replace it with this one, which explains why the reply is above this.) Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 13:55
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    @DJClayworth Transferred my comments to the answer. BTW, I like your answer, it's a shorter version of mine. Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 16:13
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    Detailed, but interesting response. Are there really no theological reasons why YEC is wrong? In isolation, it only bolsters faith? The complaint that YEC looks bad and might make young believers rebel is a social problem, not theological. Whereas the YEC insistence is that the faith is meaningless without YEC theology.
    – user3961
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 2:55
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    @GratefulDisciple On the contrary, fleshed-out and robust YEC theology is in response to modern scientific discovery. It's more or less a given or ignored in most ancient writing, and there are notable ancient non-YECs. OEC is not new.
    – user3961
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 3:45
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    @GratefulDisciple Creationism does not depend on a fundamentalist/literalist reading of scripture, and most YECs are not literalists. (Neither does the Chicago Statement of inerrancy have anything to do with literalism!) Visiting creation.com or answersingenesis.org will show lots of articles about genres in scripture. The specific contentious claim though is that the first chapters of genesis were intended to be read historically, but just because someone thinks that doesn't mean they are in any way a literalist.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 11:31

There are no theological problems with someone being a believer in Young Earth Creation.

If someone chooses to believe that the Genesis account is literal, then they are not sinning. Many people believed the Genesis account was literal, and there is no indication it affected their walk with Jesus. I know many people who do so today, and live virtuous lives. It is inconceivable that Jesus would look at someone who believed and trusted in him, obeyed his commands and loved God and his neighbour, but would reject that person because they had a wrong opinion about the age of the universe.

The problems all arise with YEC Christians who insist that all other Christians must believe in YEC like they do.

It is this that turns people off Christianity, and causes people to believe that Christians are delusional, and that it is necessary to reject reality in order believe in Jesus. It is this that causes people to walk away from Jesus when they discover that the simple theology they were taught is contradicted by overwhelming evidence.

Another possible downside is that some Christians insist on arguing about the age of the Earth. Non-Christians see this question as something that has very little relevance to their lives, and Christians' focus on it also puts them off the faith.

GratefulDisciple gives a good and coherent account of the damage that such insistance can do, and Ray Butterworth makes good and valid points. I won't repeat them in this answer.

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    I know this is the traditional answer from non-YECs, and I'm not going to down-vote it, but throwing out one's theology over bad apologetics doesn't seem like the answer. That's a classic case of "throwing out the baby with the bath water". In any case, this view doesn't seem to consider whether taking such a liberal interpretation of the Bible is also damaging.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 14:46
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    @Matthew What do you mean by "bad apologetics"? If you mean "insisting that YEC is the only valid theology" then I agree with you, and that's what I say above. If you mean something else then what is it? Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:08
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    I understand that you are personally committed to the truth of YEC, and that you fundamentally believe that there is evidence for it that people are ignoring. But please don't try to argue that in comments here. The question is about the effects of YEC belief, not its truth. Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:24
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    @user000001 That would only be a sin if the person saying it believed it was a lie. Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 12:33
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    @Matthew - the other side of the problem is people who aren't Christian, could become devoted to Christ, but factually in practice it will happen that they won't, because YEC is asking too much to accept. Which is a tragedy as its not even necessary to believe in YEC to be a Christian. (And yes, indeed, you can teach people to believe most things. Unfortunately cults and extremist groups excel at that, too. So pleading that something could be absorbed "if taught "correctly" ", for some definition of correctly, isn't actually saying much, really.)
    – Stilez
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 6:20

Although the pastoral concern would be paramount for me, since you want a theological problem with YEC, I would offer the following.

We are commanded throughout the Scriptures to seek after wisdom. That command actually has moral/theological force; it's not simply a case of “some kids are smart, and good for them.” Everyone is supposed to seek after wisdom, which of course includes consulting with people who are more intelligent or experienced than us about various matters. It's not optional.

So within that framework, there's a moral dimension to what we believe and accept, even in matters that one wouldn't initially think were matters of faith. If I go around claiming that 2+2=5, then I'm working against wisdom. Now, maybe that bit of foolishness ends with me, or maybe it means a rocket I designed crashes, or maybe it makes my kids think Christianity and mathematics are incompatible and abandon mathematics or Christianity. But whatever the outcome, it's still a sin.

I certainly grant that the scientific issues surrounding YEC are harder to sift through than 2+2. But you've got Christians going back almost to the beginning reading Genesis 1 non-literally (Origen), and you've got plenty of faithful biblical scholars and scientists in the present day, from many Christian denominations, saying that there is no conflict between the Bible and a 13-14 billion year-old universe. In that context, presenting YEC as not just one logical possibility (which I accept, given the proper qualifications), but the only correct possibility, and indeed as a crucially important doctrine, is wrong-headed to the point of exposing oneself to the charge of embracing foolishness outright.

(I want to be clear here that I can't draw a red line on many issues, to say that beyond this point, having a wrong belief is sinful. But as I'm not the Judge, that doesn't bother me.)

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    I haven't finished reading through the other answers yet, but so far this is the closest to what I was trying to get. I find it... interesting that YEC has a case that rejection of their views undermines the whole of Christian theology, but no one has so far offered a comparable case for the other direction. This, while not IMHO as compelling as the YEC case (and capable of being used on either side) is at least on the right track.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 14:38
  • "But whatever the outcome, it's still a sin." I haven't been here in a while, but when I was a regular these kinds of prescriptive comments were prohibited.
    – user3961
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 3:08
  • @Matthew It helps explain YEC fanaticism in contrast with virtually everyone else's apathy.
    – user3961
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 3:10
  • @fгedsbend It wasn't intended as a slight against Duoduopentarians as such — I was only trying to communicate that there's a point at which rejecting even non-revealed truth has moral consequences.
    – adam.baker
    Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 6:03

A belief in YEC, requires believing that physical observation and scientific discovery of the universe are lies that contradict the Biblical truth.

Most logical and reasonable people will accept the reality of an ancient universe, so they must reject whatever YEC supporters are saying, which includes the validity of the biblical record. YEC is basically saying: we believe something that appears to be demonstrably false and easily disprovable, but if you are willing to believe it too, then here is what Christianity is all about … .

Fortunately, some denominations believe in a "gap theory", in which the universe was created billions of years ago (Genesis 1:1), and then rebuilt into its current form about 6000 years ago (Genesis 1:2–…). This belief fits far better into the current scientific view of the world than does the young-Earth belief.

YEC presents a system that most people simply can't accept as true, and as a result they won't even get around to looking at the essential beliefs of Christianity itself.

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    "A belief in YEC, requires believing that physical observation and scientific discovery of the universe are lies that contradict the Biblical truth." That's just not true at all. YECs accept all scientific observations. What they disagree about is how to interpret those observations and combine them into a cohesive and comprehensive model. There's lots to dispute about how they do that, but saying they reject scientific observations is just not true.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 9:38
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    Almost no denominations teach the gap theory, I haven't heard of any. Instead the most common alternative interpretation is the framework model.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 9:39
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    I'm most certainly not a YEC. I'm more or less apathetic as to the age of the Earth. However, this answer entirely misrepresents the YES position. YECs do not reject scientific data, and in fact they have pointed out some very real flaws in isotope dating systems. I've yet to see an anti-YEC offer a convincing rebuttal to their objections regarding isotope dating systems. They are mostly just dismissed as "anti-science," but no one ever shows why their concerns are invalid.
    – jaredad7
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 14:28
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    @curiousdannii "how to interpret those observations". But most people see the YEC interpretations as being very contrived, ad hoc, and unbelievable. Requiring them to accept the unbelievable before learning about the important doctrines effectively cuts them off. The second part of DJClayworth's answer is a more concise and better worded way of saying what I was trying to say. Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 14:35
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    @jaredad7 The question is "according to non-YECs". It's objectively true that many non-YECs believe that YECs are rejecting overwhelming scientific data, and that the arguments of YECs, and the "flaws" they have pointed out, has been sufficiently rebutted. Whether YECs are actually rejecting overwhelming scientific data or actually have good scientific arguments is beside the point, because that's not what the question asks.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Apr 9, 2022 at 12:32

Young Earth Creationism (YEC) is not immediately theologically heretical. On the other hand, in the 21st Century, the YEC movement is indirectly theologically heretical because it grounds truth in flat intellectualism/scientism, conceding the thick biblical view of truth as have analytical and dynamic/lived dimensions.

  1. Hermeneutically, it flattens biblical understandings of truth by equating the static, propositional symbolic representations of reality that is the Bible as a book, with the living, breathing Word of God who always reveals God within the language and context which persons themselves exist. YEC wants to make Genesis 1-11 foundational to 21st century history books and science textbooks when it was intended to convey truth ‘to ancient peoples’.

  2. Theologically, therefore, it marks a trend following the enlightenment of rationalizing and intellectualizing the gospel which is not inherently antithetical to historical/scientific facts, but goes beyond those to address us as holistic, relational beings. In that sense, it is akin to (though not identical with) the Gnosticism of the early church which emphasized ‘knowledge’ of God at the expense of Jesus embodied incarnation.

  3. Practically, you can see this play out in the ways that YEC proponents are increasingly intellectually and socially ghettoized. This secret knowledge (again paralleling gnosticism) sets them apart as intellectually superior to the rest of the world, but simultaneously isolates them in an intellectual bubble. 'Anti-science' attitudes like anti-vaccination perspectives are now virtually identical with YEC because of their intellectual insulation and tribalism. This tribalism promotes the type of 'all or nothing' fundamentalist theology noted in other answers.

This is not the same thing as saying evolution is undeniably true, or that God could not have, or did not create all things 6,000 years ago in 6 24 hour days. It is the movement itself that is theologically problematic, not the propositions put forth.

Two books I would recommend that have informed my thinking on this topic are: How (not) to be Secular by James K. A. Smith and Relational Spirituality by Hall and Hall.

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    I've seen the claimed analogy with Gnosticism before. I don't agree with it — I think it's a hostile misrepresentation of YEC, and that Gnosticism had significant other flaws not present even in the caricature of YEC that its opponents create — but this is, at least, in line with the sort of answer I was trying to get, so +1. (Also, the claim isn't categorically different from the YEC accusation of non-YECs putting "science" before God.)
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:01
  • I hope this post doesn't come across as saying YEC is a form of gnosticism, that's not my intention here. Instead I would suggest that a root 'intellectual' to the exclusion of dynamic view of truth is foundational to both Gnosticism and YEC. In other words they share a common ancestor. ;)
    – ninthamigo
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:04
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    I take issue with one point here: "Wrong" is not the same as "heretical". I don't believe YEC is heretical. One can be a YEC believer and a good Christian. Many are. Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:46
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    I don't think YECs generally like their reputation, but they are certainly steadfast in their belief, even baffled that other Christians don't "see the truth". Yes, it's an "intellectual bubble", but not a worship of secret knowledge, as Gnosticism was.
    – user3961
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 3:17
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    @fгedsbend I like your use of the term 'intellectual bubble' it gets across better what I am trying to suggest here. Although I'm also implying that being in an intellectual bubble makes one susceptible to other false teachings.
    – ninthamigo
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 21:34

I would like to challenge the basis of the question rather than outright answer it. Specifically, the claim that

if such arguments can be sustained, they would be a powerful argument in favor of YEC.

This seems to me to be saying that the stricter belief is the safer belief, and the safer belief is the better belief—because it’s safer, not because it’s true.

The logic runs like so:

  1. There are two opposed positions, A and B.
  2. A and B are irreconcilable. (A implies not-B. B implies not-A.)
  3. A asserts that the difference is, in some sense, important. (If A, then believe-B implies consequence C, and believe-A implies not-C.)
  4. B asserts that the difference is not important. (If B, then believe-A does not imply C, and believe-B does not imply C.)
  5. Consequence C is undesirable.
  6. Therefore it is objectively best to believe A, as that avoids consequence C regardless of A or B.

It’s Pascal’s Wager all over again.

I say that this is not a good reason to hold a belief. For one thing, it produces insincere belief. If you support a position because of an argument like this, do you really believe it? Do you think it’s true, or just a safe bet?

For another thing, it is contrary to Romans 14. If the above logic were sound, wouldn’t Paul have told us all to be A-ists? But instead, he teaches that A-ists must not judge B-ists, and B-ists must not have contempt for A-ists.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

Lastly, just for the avoidance of any doubt, let me emphasise that I am not identifying Young Earth Creationism with A, and its rejection with B. I am talking about a particular line of logic that takes “I can tolerate your belief, but you can’t tolerate mine” as an argument in favour of the stricter (less tolerant) belief. Such logic can certainly be used on both sides of this, and probably any, debate.

  • Assuming you are thinking of Romans 14:13 specifically (or the general idea that verse specifically mentions, as opposed to something else), the problem is that that cuts both ways, with both sides seeing the other as a potential stumbling block. OTOH, both sides also seem to want to tolerate each other. FWIW, I think most YECs do believe it's true; because it's "safer" is a(nother) reason to promote their beliefs.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 13, 2022 at 15:43


When I speak of a non-YEC I speak of a person who believes God used the evolutionary process to create instead of His direct 'miraculous' agency (like speaking things into existence and going on His knees and taking dirt in His hands and forming a man, etc.) We could argue about an exact definition that includes everyone's ten cents but this one is just so you can better understand why I answer the way I do.


Non-YECs and YEC's differ in what they believe before they read and interpret Scripture. Therefore, all theology of YECs must be viewed as detrimental to non-YECs and vice versa.

The one believes man's limited discovery and understanding of God's natural laws first, then interprets Scripture in light of this more important belief already held. The other doesn't and believes a literal reading and interpretation of Genesis.

Because the non-YEC believes that the laws we see governing the universe today have done so to bring about everything in the univers, a foundational theological detriment about YECs would have to include the belief about God Himself. How does God interact with the laws of the universe that He created when He creates and what does this tell us about Him?

If He created reality to always function just as predictable as we can clearly observe today, then it would seem dishonest to maintain a YEC interpretation. Here we have the second theological detriment - honesty.

Honesty not only of the YECs but of God Himself. If God created the laws of the universe, why then break those rules in the act of creating by the miraculous intervention that a literal reading of Genesis implies? It would seem to make no sense for a divine being that claims omniscience to make laws to govern reality if He is going to need to break them in the act of extending that reality.

It is either the natural laws of God that created or God Himself. It cannot be both for the non-YEC because the non-YEC is not making the rules of evolution - atheistic science is.

If the non-YEC chooses to believe God used evolution to create then he/she cannot depart from how atheistic science defines the 'rules' of evolution (how the universe works according to finite, atheistic, non-omniscient beings that the Bible elsewhere says are born in the darkness of sin and ignorance of God). (This is a serious theological detriment that could be discussed if the OP was framed the other way).

With an evolutionary understanding wholly dependent on man's supposed knowledge of the universe, it would seem that a YEC interpretation would make God dishonest and even struggling to create because of natural laws He made. These laws appear to modern man to be doing everything that He had to 'manually override' in Genesis 1 and 2 if we read it literally as YECs do.

These laws would seem deficient or unnecessary. If God overides them anyway in the act of creating, why have them? It paints a picture of a God that is still struggling to figure out what exactly good and necessary laws are so He can walk away and let things be; a God in need of debugging the software that runs the universe.

By extension, such a picture of God would cause serious theological concerns when we learn that He has a moral law that governs morality in His universe. It would make one question if this law needs some manual overrides when necessary?

With just dishonesty and a lack of logic as theological detriments in mind, it is easy to see why all theology of YECs must be considered detrimental in the eyes of a non-YEC.

I hope it is clear to the discerning reader that non-YECs have even greater theological detriments to answer for because of their beliefs about 'science' and that I would argue for that, but, it is beyond the requested answer scope of this question.

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    "If God created the laws of the universe, why then break those rules in the act of creating?" Huh? This is like saying that a roleplaying game dungeon master is being dishonest because they set rules for the players but don't need to obey those rules themselves. God isn't part of the universe, so he can't break the laws of the universe.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 2:50
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    The first theological answer. Non-YEC say "YEC makes God dishonest, designing an Earth with 'old' evidence". But I do also struggle with what looks like an arbitrary "no interference" rule on God.
    – user3961
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 3:28
  • Is it that your formulation is backwards? God created the laws of the universe, then created the universe (and thereby immediately broke the laws in the act of creation)? I've always taken the complaint as I said above: "God made a universe that looks old." Which inspires in my mind a kind of great setup, like a rube goldberg, then pushed in motion.
    – user3961
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 3:33
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    @AndriesStander Comments are transitory, they are meant to result in the improvement of posts, and once that has happened, they get cleaned up. I didn't remove those other comments to save face, and I'm not sure why you'd think I might think I would want to... As to this answer, I truly don't understand how your point is meant to be reasonable. Does my analogy make sense to you?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 5:35
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    "These laws would seem deficient or unnecessary. If God overides them anyway in the act of creating, why have them?" What do you make of the Law of Conservation of Mass/Energy? Isn't it the case that God has set up physical laws (ie, descriptions of his regular providential upholding of the universe) that precisely describe how God acts when he is not intervening in unusual ways, such as creating the universe in the first place? The point of the laws is to describe the continuing existence of the universe. They don't describe the creation.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Apr 12, 2022 at 11:52

I'd like to present an answer which makes no reference to modern science nor to how it appears to skeptics, but only on how we read the Bible. My thinking here is based primarily on St. Augustine's The Literal Interpretation of Genesis, which I highly recommend you look at if you're interested in the Creation debate.

I think the hermeneutical problems with YEC are twofold:

  1. YEC misses the point of reading the Bible. Recall 2 Tim. 3:16-17: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Similarly, Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that stories in the OT were written "for our instruction". We read the Bible not just to learn some facts, but because it's useful for Christian life. When YECs read Genesis 1-2, they look for some details about the creation of the world which have no conceivable relevance to Christian life or theology. They read Genesis 1 and think that, if they learn that God created the world over the course of 144 hours, they have understood the text. In doing this, they read the Bible as a history textbook instead of as the inspired Word of God.

  2. YEC does not promote a careful reading of the Biblical text. Augustine came to the conclusion that that the six days are not literal 24-hour periods based on reading the text carefully (he was not favorable to allegorical reading of the Bible, and frequently stresses literalism and authorial intent as essential principals for Biblical interpretation). In The Literal Meaning of Genesis he spends over a hundred pages on the creation week, looking at every detail. I'll just highlight three facts that he mentions which the YECs find it difficult to account for: Firstly, what is meant by a "day" before the creation of ground, sky, sun, or moon. The Newtonian notion of some absolute, reference-independent timescale which we could measure out 24-hours against is not supported by modern science, nor was it held by Augustine and other ancient philosophers. For Augustine and modern science, time only exists as measured by the things in it. Secondly, the seventh day is given with a morning but no evening, which is hard to account for if this is meant as a normal 24-hour day. The significance of the detail is hinted at, though never explicitly mentioned, in Hebrews 3-4, where the day of God's rest is compared with our eternal rest. Thirdly, the entire Creation period is called a "day" in Genesis 2:4, so if we're insisting on reading "day" literally every time, we have immediately a contradiction.

  • I'm not going to downvote, as I've seen this answer elsewhere, and thus, consider it useful. The problem is that this attitude is an either-or fallacy; it essentially asserts that a particular text can have either a straight-forward, historical meaning or a deeper theological meaning. Now, it may be that some YECs are guilty of seeing only the one and missing the other, but that doesn't make the historical reading wrong.
    – Matthew
    Commented Jul 28, 2023 at 23:03
  • FYI, with respect to Genesis 2:4, no one denies that "day" can mean "A specified time or period; time, considered with reference to the existence or prominence of a person or thing; age; time; era". Scripturally, however, "י֔וֹם"/"י֗וֹם" used in that context is never accompanied by a specific number i.e. "the third day", nor by "evening and morning". Additionally, six days is repeated elsewhere in connection with the week, so unless you're arguing that humans are supposed to work for six eons then rest for one eon...
    – Matthew
    Commented Jul 29, 2023 at 4:21
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Jul 29, 2023 at 16:35
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    Something I noted in the above chat that might be interesting to a more general audience... I'm not convinced that YEC "misses the point"; it may be that non-YECs simply get that impression (not unfairly) due to discussions tending to focus on differences of understanding and not shared understanding.
    – Matthew
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 18:16

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