This is a repost of mine from the DebateEvolution subreddit, but I thought it would be nice to discuss a few theological/biblical problems with young earth creationism.
When YECs argue for a young earth, the main evidence for their argument is based on biblical stories and chronologies; otherwise, there is a distinct lack of scientific evidence for their position.
In this post, I will discuss three reasons why we cannot directly use biblical chronologies and numbers, based on the bible .
(1) We know biblical redactors edited chronologies to have different numbers - for example, the Samaritan Pentateuch, Masoretic Text, and Septuagint all have different patriarchal genealogies in an attempt to reconcile the ages of the Patriarchs with when the Flood occurred.
As I have remarked in previous articles, it is fairly well-understood that the story of the Flood was a later insertion into a patriarchal foundation story that didn’t have it. (For a recent paper on this, see Derschowitz 2016.) In an earlier text, Cain, the eponymous founder of the Kenite (Cainite) tribe, was the ancestor of an unbroken genealogy that included the founders of various industries practiced by the tribe — shepherding, metalworking, etc. His genealogy was replaced with Seth’s by the Priestly author, and precise lifespans were assigned to each patriarch from Adam to Noah and beyond.
According to research by Old Testament scholar Ronald Hendel among others (Hendel 2012), the insertion of the flood story in Noah’s day created a problem that later scribes couldn’t overlook: if you did the math, the long-lived patriarchs Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech all survived for many years past the Flood, even though the Flood story made it clear that all outside the Ark had perished.
The editors of the LXX, SP, and MT had basically two ways to solve the problem: either delay the year of the Flood by delaying the age at which the patriarchs begat sons, or have the patriarchs in question die sooner. Here’s what each of them did:
The LXX’s editor methodically added 100 years to the age at which each patriarch begat his son. Adam begat Seth at age 230 instead of 130, and so on. This had the result of postponing the date of the Flood by 900 years without affecting the patriarchs’ lifespans, which he possibly felt were too important to alter. Remarkably, however, the editor failed to account for Methuselah’s exceptional longevity, so old Methuselah still ends up dying 14 years after the Flood in the LXX. (Whoops!)
The editor of the SP adopted a simpler method. He just altered the lifespans of the three patriarchs that posed a problem. Adjusting their ages as little as possible, he had them die in the same year as the Flood.
The editor of the MT chose to keep the lifespans untouched (like the LXX), and he altered the age of begetting only for the three patriarchs affected, pushing back the Flood date as a result. He first added 100 years to Jared’s begetting, and then 120 years to Methuselah’s. This reduced the overlap to 94 years. By adding 94 to Lamech’s begetting, he completed the fix, placing Methuselah’s year of death in the year of the Flood.
Derschowitz 2016 argues with that these chronology discrepancies are a result of biblical redactors trying to resolve problems that cropped up (ahem!) because Noah’s Flood was inserted into a passage originally about Noah’s drought .
Pdf available here
An easy to read article discussing Noah, the hero of the great primeval famine is here
For example, in Genesis 8:21, God says he will never curse the ground again, which is typical Hebrewspeak for famine, while elsewhere Noah is described as the man of the land and vineyards, not as the man of the Flood. Indeed, Noah’s naming in Gen 5:29 is a promise to the future where Noah will relieve Adam’s curse of the soil/land by God;
Gen 5:29 This one will provide us relief (ינחמנו) from our work and from the toil of our hands, out of the soil which YHWH placed under a curse.
The affliction or “curse” to which Lamech refers cannot be the future Flood; Lamech speaks of an existing curse on the ground, which is likely the same one that YHWH promises not to renew in 8:21.
The discrepancies are well explained by the fact that genealogies historically had a different purpose -
When compared to the genealogy of Numbers 26, in Joshua 17, Machir is no longer part of the line of the six brothers, but represents a different line, while Gilead is no longer a “person” or clan at all, but merely a toponym. This division of eastern vs. western sons reflects the geographical change that occurs between Numbers 26 and Joshua 17: In Numbers 26, all of Manasseh is in the Transjordan, but in Joshua 17, the Cisjordan has been conquered, and the families are split based on their lands.
The genealogy then, is not a simple attempt to describe the “real” family structure of eponymous ancestors but rather an attempt to make sense of the relationships between clans in the time of a given author and/or within certain literary contexts. This point is particularly important for when we try to understand the very different Manasseh genealogy found in 1 Chronicles 7:14–19.
(3) There are many numerical discrepancies recorded in the bible we have today - if they are present in our bible today, how can creationists argue that Ussher’s chronology is correct on the age of the earth?
For example, here are discrepancies between Chronicles vs Samuel/Kings;
1 Chr 11:11 vs 2 Sam 23:8 - 300 or 800 slain by Jashobeam
1 Chr 18:4 vs 2 Sam 8:4 - Hadazer’s 1000 chariots and 7000 horsemen vs 1000 chariots and 700 horsemen
1 Chr 19:18b vs 2 Sam 10:18a - 7000 vs 700 Syrian charioteers slain
1 Chr 19:18b vs 2 Sam 10:18a - 40000 footsoldiers vs horsemen
1 Chr 21:5a vs 2 Sam 24:9a - Israel’s 1100000 troops vs 800000
1 Chr 21:5b vs 2 Sam 24:9b - 470000 troops vs 500000 troops
1 Chr 21:12 vs 2 Sam 24:13 - 7 years vs 3 years famine
1 Chr 21:25 vs 2 Sam 24:24 - Ornan paid 600 gold shekels vs 50 silver
2 Chr 2:2,18 vs 1 Ki 5:16 - 3600 to supervise temple construction vs 3300
2 Chr 2:10 vs 1 Ki 5:11 - 20000 baths of oil to Hiram’s woodmen vs 20 kors (=200 baths)
2 Chr 3:15 vs 1 Ki 7:15 - temple pillars 35 cubits vs 18 cubits
2 Chr 4:5 vs 1 Ki 7:26 - sea holding 3000 baths vs 2000 baths
2 Chr 8:10 vs 1 Ki 9:23 - 250 chief officers for building temple vs 550
2 Chr 8:18 vs 1 Ki 9:28 - 450 gold talents from Ophir vs 420 gold talents
2 Chr 9:16 vs 1 Ki 10:17 - 300 gold bekas per shield, vs 3 minas
2 Chr 9:25 vs 1 Ki 4:26 - 4000 stalls for horses vs 40000
2 Chr 22:2 vs 2 Ki 8:26 - Ahaziah king at age 42 years, not 22
2 Chr 36:9 vs 2 Ki 24:8 - 2 Ki 24:8 - Jehoiachin king at age 8 vs 18
Above compilation from John Walton’s textbook “A Survey of the Old Testament” figure 16.1
- Biblical chronologies conflict in timelengths
- Biblical chronologies conflict in the people of the same genealogy, recorded in different books
- There are numerous numerical discepancies in the bible
how do creationists rationalise that the earth must be xxxx years of age?