The Origins of Young Earth Creationism

This is the history that young earth creationists do not want you to know about.


Well of course YECs are bible-believing Christians, not Augustine or Irenaeus or whoever-believing Christians, so they’d say that all those interpreters of Genesis were just wrong about this point or that.

I found a lot of special pleading and weaselry in the article, but it was informative.

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St. Irenaeus responded by stating that the days in Genesis were not literal 24-hour days, by drawing from 2 Peter 3:8, where it states the days in Genesis were periods of 1000 years (Against Heresies 5.23.2). Since Adam did not live more than a thousand years, God did not lie when he said Adam would die in the same day that he ate. However, St. Irenaeus also states he thought the days of Genesis 1 were also one thousand year periods:

For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: ‘Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.’ This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year. (Against Heresies 5.28.3)

Irenaeus thought each day of creation was 1000 years, meaning on his view, the earth would be roughly 12,000 years. Technically speaking, he would not qualify as a young earth creationists, since he states the age of the earth was over 10,000 years, but only in a technical sense. However, the important point to take away from this is St. Irenaeus didn’t think one had to interpret the days of Genesis 1 as literal 24-hour days, meaning the chapter was open to interpretation in the 2nd century AD and doesn’t necessarily have to mean the earth is only 6000 years old.

I went to the references Mike mentioned here for Irenaeus and I’m not sure he’s understanding him correctly in either section of Against Heresies but I especially don’t think he is in the quoted section.

In 5.23.2, I think all Iraneaus is saying that if 1000 years is as one day to God, then Adam did die in the day that he ate of the tree because he did not live to be more than 1000 years old. Otherwise, it seems like he’s referring to days as normal days in that passage as far as I can tell.

I’m 5.28.3, I think Irenaeus is saying that the world will come to an end in 6000 years since its beginning since creation was completed in 6 days. If I’m correct, it would seem Irenaeus is taking creation days as normal days.

I’d like to check more references, but they aren’t listed so would take more time to track down later.

Overall this argument annoys me because it conflates so many things: what influential theologians thought, what ordinary preachers thought, what church-goers thought, etc. These are all very different things. And it annoys me because it seems anachronistic. Of course there weren’t scientific creationist organizations before the modern era. But if Price never existed, would there still be? I find that likely - they might have just come about a different way.

Who initiated this thread? What is the PS system? Is that = to an anonymous post?
I’m no young-earth creationist, and the video is interesting, but just in a quick listen while I was busy doing housework, I marked what I thought a couple of interesting tid bits.
Copied from the transcript, (bolding of the text by me)

The common belief among many non-Christians today is that this is how Christians read the Bible until modern science demonstrated the earth is 4.6 billion years old. Answers in Genesis also helps by pushing this claim. On their website Dr. James R. Mook writes,

> What did the early church believe about creation? In its first 16 centuries the church held to a young earth. Earth was several thousand years old, was created quickly in six 24-hour days, and was later submerged under a worldwide flood.

Mook goes on to contradict himself, by listing Christians from past that did not hold to this interpretation. And additionally, when we dive into history, we can there are more than even he acknowledges. Many Christians long before the advent of modern geology and biology didn’t read the days of Genesis literally, and some allowed for the earth to be older than 6000 years.

It seems to me that a charitable reading of ‘what the early church believed’ would not necessarily require every single member of the church to hold to a specific belief, so I’m not seeing it as a contradiction that Mook then lists a few in the church that hold different beliefs.
The narrator then speaks of ‘many Christians’. How many is that? The four portrayed with the icons in the video? 10 additional? 100 additional? How many would be required over the 16 centuries to negate the general claim that, “In its first 16 centuries the church held to a young earth.” It seems to me that the narrator is stretching to claim “Many Christians long before…”

And would that there was such a generous and consistent use of the word ‘creationist’ among many posters here. Alas, to be so generous doesn’t allow the word, the slander value many wish.
The narrator says,

Why today is the word “creationist” synonymous with “young-earth creationist”?
By the 1990s “creationist” became a term synonymous with young earth creationism.

Not being a young-earth creationist myself, I’m not in the best position to judge the following quote, but just imagining that I was I don’t think I’d be interested in hiding any of this info,

When will we be treated to the history that the atheist scientists don’t want you to know about?

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I am new here and not good with rhetoric or grammar so bear with me.

Here is my argument against “The shocking origins of young earth creationism”.

So firstly, Genesis 2 is claimed to say that if/when Adam and Eve ate of the tree they would die the very same day. Which is in reference to Genesis 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The phrase “in that day that” is beyom or בְּי֛וֹם . This phrase can be figurative and often is for instance in Joshua 14:11 " As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that (beyom) Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.".
So, to infer the phrase beyom means only a singular day and then base the argument that God is a liar in Genesis 3 is incorrect.

Nextly: Irenaeus of Lyons. To say Irenaeus is not a young earth creationist due to his belief of a 6,000 year (technically 7,000) creation is incorrect.
The Young Earth Creationists get their age not from the day of creation but by lineage. If the births and deaths of the recorded people in the Bible are added up, it equates to a little over 6,000 years since Adam at his year 0 (Adams year 0 being debated about whether it is his creation/birth day or the fall day). Furthermore: Creationists believe death entered the world through sin and entropy is a form of death. Or in another way to put it, a constant continuation of falling from grace with God or lack of order. This means, Young Earth Creationists do not hold a specific view of how long the garden and union with God lasted. Instead, they contend the age of the earth and everything in it since the fall.

Thus, Irenaeus is still a Young Earth Creationist and would still be considered one today. There are people who hold a unique “gap theory” where the angels lived on earth for a while before the creation of man. These people are still categorized as young earth creationists. The “gap theory” puts the universe at an unknown and immeasurable time; yet, they are young earth creationists due to taking Adam - Jesus genealogy as literal, complete, and correct.

The argument continues with Justin Martyr, Augustine, Clement (1st I assume), and others. Which to my knowledge these arguments were first formulated by the Catholic Church in 1950’s to appease Catholics who accredited the earths age to more than 6,000 years. What the Early Church Believed: Creation and Genesis | Catholic Answers

As this is about the origins of Young Earth Creationism, I will not get into the middle ages, modern ages, and other topics. The reason being is I believe my retort to the earliest renditions of “old earth” (I use this term for a lack of a better one) will contradict and disprove the conclusion that Young Earth is a new concept.

Firstly, Jones uses Augustine as an example of the early Church believed in an “old earth” yet the person who converted Augustine to Christianity: Ambrose of Milan states “This treatise, expounding the literal and moral sense of the work of the six days of creation [Gn 1,1–26], consists of nine addresses to the people of Milan, delivered in the last week of Lent, probably a.d. 389, and is now divided into six books. The writer has studied Origen, but followed rather the teaching of St. Hippolytus and Basil the Great, though he expresses himself often quite in a different sense.” ( Hexaëmeron)

So already at best we have a difference of opinion. Not the unity of the early church believing in “old earth” that is proposed by Jones. But, we can take this further… Christianity is believed by Christians to be the continuation of Judaism. Hence why Christians keep the old testament in their Bible and the new testament has verses such as Romans 11:17-24. This being said we can look further into this topic and ask what did the Jews believe of the time period for creation.

So the first Jew we can look at is Josephus a name that is inseparable from the early church.
Josephus writes in Book 1 of the Antiquities of the Jews “He (God) also sorted them as to society, and mixture for procreation; and that their kinds might increase and multiply. On the sixth day he created the four-footed beasts, and made them male and female. On the same day he also formed man. Accordingly Moses says, that in just six days the world, and all that is therein, was made. And that the seventh day was a rest, and a release from the labour of such operations. Whence it is that we celebrate a Rest from our labours on that day, and call it the Sabbath : which word denotes Rest in the Hebrew tongue.” So Josephus who predates all sources presented so far, believes in a 6 literal day creation which would be a Young Earth Creation view point today.

I can go on further but I believe I have proved the point I set out to make. So in summary I will restate my point.
Yes, there were questions if the creation was 6 literal days in the early church; however, the vast majority of these questions come from non-Hebrew speaking/reading peoples. None of the questions contradict the belief of the earths age since the fall which today is called Young Earth Creationism. The vast majority of Hebrew speaking/writing peoples during and before the early church believed in a literal 6 day creation Young Earth view and all people believed the Bible spoke of 6,000 years since Adam who was the first man (in todays time). I would also propose: since the Apostles were Jews, and to my knowledge the Jewish people firmly believing in a 6 literal day creation. That by caveat the early church and first Christians also believed in a 6 day literal creation. To say there were questions about 6 literal days versus 6,000 years equates to non-Young Earth view is objectively misrepresentation and misleading. The entirety early church would be considered Young Earth Creationists in todays world just how those with the unique “gap theory” are also considered Young Earth Creationists. (edited the summary and explained the unique gap theory a little better)

If you guys decide I need more sources to back up my view points I can provide them upon request.
(A little note: I might say “You” or talk as if I am attacking a specific person. I tried to correct them but it is hard to edit on this forum. My goal was to refute Jones [who made the article] not attack anyone indirectly. There is likely a lot of grammar mistakes, I apologize.)


Science is conducted by theists, agnostics, atheists, etcetera, so singling out atheist scientists makes no sense.


YEC’s do science too.

I thought YEC’s were theists.

[quote=“RonSewell, post:9, topic:14973, full:true”]

Ok. That is true.
So everyone does science. So what then is the point?

That it makes no sense to ask for a “history that the atheist scientists don’t want [us] to know about” as if atheist scientists employ a different method of science from their non-atheist colleagues.


What history would that be? I can remember finding the History module on Social Welfare in New Zealand I did in high school to be rather boring (I remember it as mainly memorising lists of legislation). Does that count as history I “don’t want to know about”? But then, given approximately 5500 years of recorded history, there’s bound to be large chucks that really don’t do anything for us. :slight_smile:

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