Scientific Participation of YECs

It’s also true that not everyone gets to study whatever they want. There are other considerations, such as who would guide the research (of a student) and the availability of research funding in a particular topic.

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Good point.

@BenKissling, please read my posts as referring to a creationist in general, and not you in particular. I never meant my posts to be overly personal or a call-out of a single individual, but perception can be reality at times. Moreover, thanks for your well thought out and courteous posts.


The “you” in my original answer referred to the generic “you” meaning any person.

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I know, and that’s why I already edited. :slight_smile:

It was a legitimate debate, at one time.

James Hutton’s geological theories did not meet with immediate acceptance. Later, at a time when many geologist were already regarding the age of the earth in the billions, Kelvin calculated that based on heat transfer the planet was between 20 and 100 million years old. His reasoning was sound, if in conflict with geologists, but of course the discovery of radioactivity was a factor he could not anticipate. By then, so many independent lines of investigation grew to support an ancient earth that the consensus was essentially complete and the debate finally over. It took decades of controversy, challenge, and argument to reach that point.

So here we are, years, decades, and generations after. How long is science supposed to hold a spherical earth, a Copernican cosmology, or an ancient earth, as open questions?


7 posts were split to a new topic: History vs. Prehistory

Thanks for sharing this @BenKissling. This is really unfortunate. I wish it had been different for you.

That is a great sentiment, and it is close to what I’ve observed in science. I know several YECs in mainstream science that do just fine, including in biology at the tenure track level. No one in science cares what you believe in your heart. There are not belief statements or litmus tests. Science just cares about the quality of your scientific work.

Now the standards of scientific work are very high, and public statements about science are going to influence your scientific reputation. Do shoddy work or made dumb public statements about science, you are going to have a problem, whether you are YEC or not.

This also is true.

Both can be true at the same time. You can understand and demonstrate competence in evolution and the science behind an old earth, even if you totally disagree with it. No one will ever ask you what you personally believe. If you are competent, they might even let you teach the evolutionary biology class.

YECs are not usually going to find them selves doing evolutionary science, but some biologists I know do work in other areas. They are just never asked about the age of the earth or evolutionary science, so they don’t even have to demonstrate competence in evolution.

You can even make your private beliefs known. As long as you don’t start making dumb public statements about science, no one will care.


But are any of them in a field of biology to which YEC is relevant? It would be very difficult, given the current state of practice and knowledge, to function as a YEC systematist. You couldn’t engage with the rest of the field at all. Even worse would be a YEC paleontologist. You’d have to live a double life, behaving at all times “as if”.


No. YECs should not be teaching evolution anymore than flat earthers should be teaching geography.

That is very difficult.

Marcus Ross is one example, as is Kurt Wise, of YECs who went to leading secular geology PhD programs. Yes, they were living an intellectual double life, behaving at all times “as if.”

In the case of Ross, he was open with this advisors about it, and they did not discriminate against him. This is totally unsurprising to me now, but would have been shocking to learn this when I was a YEC. Turns out that they just did not care what his personal beliefs were if his scientific work was solid, and at least during his PhD it was. He went on to take a professorship at a YEC institution though.

I do know of a research scientist in astrophysics working at an Ivy League in Boston too. He takes an “appearance of age” understanding of the cosmos, and was admirably honest about the difficulties with his position when I talked with him.


That isn’t really right. You don’t have to do that if YEC is merely a private belief. No one cares what you believe in your heart.

Moreover, it isn’t like we don’t know how to falsify YEC. Instead, they have to show systematic effort to falsify YEC to be taken seriously. Therein lies the difficulty.

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So Josh. Would you be OK with Holocaust deniers teaching history? How about flat earthers teaching geography? Should we have faculty in medical schools who don’t believe in the germ theory of disease?

I think it’s a bad idea to ask people to hide their science denial beliefs and only pretend to adopt a scientific attitude and allow them to teach subjects they don’t really believe in just so long as they can parrot the consensus positions in the field.

I don’t think it’s a shame at all that people with no commitment to furthering a scientific attitude grounded on evidence are discouraged from becoming scientists or science educators anymore than I think it’s a shame that people with no belief in the rule of law are discouraged from becoming lawyers.

The good news is that what you are proposing is not how science works. It likely would be in conflict with anti-discrimination laws. So you are really off the reservation here.

I did not agree with evolution when I was first considering science. The group I did my research in didn’t really care what my personal beliefs were, which gave me courage to discuss them with the professors there. In those conversations, outside a polemic agenda, I saw for myself how I had been mislead.

The tolerance of science is its strength. We don’t countenance inquisitions. We just don’t care what people personally believe when their professional (which includes public engagement and teaching) contributions are honest and rigorous. This is exactly as it should be.


OK so be clear you think anti-discrimination laws protect flat earthers teaching geography, Holocaust deniers teaching history and people who deny the germ theory of disease teaching in medical school? Correct?

I don’t know how anyone could stand working “as if” for any sort of lengthy career. I certainly wouldn’t with that on anyone. Then again, using YEC assumptions in science, even supposedly testing them, wouldn’t work either.

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It would be very difficult, it would be best if all the difficulty arose from the data and the usual standard of scientific rigor and honesty.

That is difficult enough, and adding to it with meanness isn’t right, and gives people a way out to claim bias.

Read more closely.

Maybe someone with more legal experience can chime in but under US employment laws I don’t think conspiracy theorists or science denialists are protected classes.

You are prohibited from even asking about religious beliefs, and rightfully so. It is a serious breech of ethics.

I read. My question still stands. Let’s take one example. Are you OK with a Holocaust denier teaching history so long as they don’t teach holocaust denial.