Retro Flashback: my response to "Why did you abandon your YEC background?"

We are experiencing a bit of a summer-time lull in Peaceful Science traffic so here’s something random to think about. This morning I came upon an essay I wrote years ago in answer to the question, “What caused you to abandon your Young Earth Creationist background?”

Here’s three of the most important factors which pushed me over the edge:

(1) My study of the Hebrew text of Genesis was quite jolting. I saw that ERETZ usually means “land”, “country”, “nation”, and sometimes the KJV Bible even translated it as “wilderness of __” To translate ERETZ as “earth” in the sense of “planet earth” was a jarring anachronism. Even today, ERETZ YISRAEL refers to the “Land of Israel” or “Nation of Israel”, not “planet Israel”. And when I started reading new Bible translations in the 1960’s and 1970’s, sure enough, the translation footnotes at the bottom of each page of Genesis 1-10 kept making that clarification about ERETZ.

(2) My study of KJV English led me to realize that in 1611 even the English word “earth” had a meaning much closer to ERETZ. That is, at the time of the KJV translation, a mention of “earth” was not so much about “planet earth” as “the opposite of sky” and “the ground”, the soil one tilled to plant a crop. I realized that “the heavens and the earth” was not so much cosmological as a simple reference to “everything above and everything here below.” I realized that the ancient Hebrews weren’t thinking in terms of “planet earth”. Their cosmology was a very simple one. They lived on a solid ground of soil, the land, and they saw the heavens above. We must resist reading modern notions of “planet earth” into the text.

(3) As a Young Earth Creationist, I was increasingly troubled by the deceptive quote-mining of my “heroes”, people like Drs. Morris, Whitcomb, and Gish. I watched them mislead audiences and promise to correct errors that they never corrected—and would actually repeat a few weeks later at another Bible conference. They were resistant to giving up discredited arguments. I began to realize that their happening to be part of the same Christian community was no guarantee of honesty or reliability.

Frankly, it was not until some years later that I finally had time to really investigate the scientific evidence more thoroughly. But it became obvious early on that there was zero evidence for a global flood—neither in God’s creation nor in the Hebrew text of Genesis. I couldn’t shake the enormity of that discovery. And I became increasingly aware of the many silly blunders of “pop exegesis”, such as the false claim that “the circle of the earth” refers to a spherical planet earth. (In Hebrew it clearly refers to the horizon which encircles every observer looking around at a 360degree view of one’s surroundings.)

Realizing that there was a lot of scripture ignorance and scientific ignorance within the “creation science” community of my heritage was hard enough—but coming to grips with the deception and dishonesty was truly sad.

If there are any other ex-YECs here, I’d be interested in hearing your story.

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I was never a YEC. Growing up in Australia, it is hard to be a YEC because the aboriginal population seems too old to allow that. And yes, Ken Ham is the exception that proves the rule.

From reading the KJV, I concluded that the Adam & Eve story could only be a story (i.e. fiction). Likewise the Noah story had to be fiction. And we could see from movies and radio, how language evolves as population separate, so the Tower of Babel story had to be fiction.

I didn’t think any of that was a problem for Christianity. But I guess that’s why I never considered YEC ideas.

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