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Article Info:
published: 3/31/13
updated: 2/27/14

Young Earth Creationism



What is Young Earth Creationism?

universe
Image from the Hubble Telescope

Young Earth creationism is a perspective in the Christian religion that believes that the universe, including the earth and people, was created approximately 10,000 to 20,000 years old, which is based on a literal understanding of the first chapter of Genesis. Advocates argue that science supports their interpretation of the universe being created in seven consecutive 24-hour days.

Today the term "creationism" is applied to a variety of views about the origin of the universe, all of which share the belief that a supernatural being is ultimately responsible for its existence.

By definition all creationists believe in a supernatural being who is often referred to as the "Creator." However, adherents sometimes take different paths to arrive at their affirmation of creationism. Some creationists indicate that the origin of their view is their belief in God and the Bible, which should be interpreted literally. Other creationists testify that scientific inquiry, and particularly evidence that the universe was "fine-tuned," led them to their beliefs in creationism.


Key Points of Young Earth Creationism

At its foundation, the Young Earth creationism position is about a literal interpretation of the word "day" in Genesis 1. The following aspects are critical to their view.

  • The "days" in Genesis 1 are accompanied by the phrase "there was evening and there was morning," which suggests that the authorial intent was to describe a 24-hour period. The phrase is found six times in the passage (v. 5, 8, 13, 19, 23 and 31). The sequence of events in context, it is argued, amounts to one week.
  • The third day of creation according to Genesis 1 cannot be an epoch, for instance, because the vegetation that is created could not survive a long period of time without the sun, which was created on the fourth day.
  • The rest of the Bible seems to interpret Genesis 1 as describing seven consecutive 24-hour days. For example, Exodus 20:8-11 contains instructions for keeping the Sabbath and the rationale was that "for in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it."
  • Many young earth creationists believe Jesus understood Genesis 1 as describing seven consecutive 24-hour days. For example, in Mark 10:6 Jesus in speaking about marriage says, "But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.'" It is argued that "the beginning" refers to the creation of the universe and because people were not created until Day 6, the "days" must have been close together. (Others say "in the beginning" is a reference to the beginning of the book of Genesis or the beginning of the Pentateuch.)

Popular Theories for Young Earth Creationism

Explanations for the young earth position extend beyond the text, however there is not consensus among adherents.

  • Many young earth advocates hold that God created the universe with the appearance of age. Like Adam and Eve were created as adults, the universe was likewise created with the appearance of maturity. To many believers this explains why current scientific positions come to conclusions that the Earth is "old."
  • Another way some young earth creationists explain current scientific opinion that the Earth is old is that creation has experienced sudden and monumental change through God's judgment. The first occasion of judgment on the created world occurred as a result of Adam and Eve's sin also known as "The Fall." The second occasion of judgment was the worldwide flood in Noah's day. These events, according to many young earth creationists, skew current scientific inquiry, which do not take the events into account.

Common arguments offered against these theories is that creation with the appearance of age would make God a deceiver. Because Adam and Eve, for example, were created as "mature" people are being misled and made to believe that they had experienced 30 years of life that brought them to the present moment. It is countered that God never asked people to believe that they had a history; people are asked to believe that it happened directly.

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