YouTube Video - The Origins of Young Earth Creationism

This YouTube video surveys theological perspective on the creation narrative through church history leading up to the influence of Seventh-day Adventism on present YEC. Given the breadth of survey, one could quibble over under representations and overstatements, but on whole I though it pretty fair and well presented. In the 70’s I attended a church and college which was as fundamentalist as they come, and the claim in the video that fundamentalism was generally at ease with an old earth certainly aligns with my experience. The takeaway is that Ken Ham should not presume to speak for orthodoxy.

The Origins of Young Earth Creationism


That’s 25 minutes reasonably well spent. :ok_hand:


This is being discussed over at BioLogos too. @T_aquaticus and I are sorta tag-teaming :slight_smile:


A few things worth noting:

  1. The main opinion even of educated people before modern science was that the earth was 6000 years old or so and that creation week was an actual week.

  2. Those who didn’t think that are outliers, and they most either thought creation days were 1000 years or instant, which is within a reasonable definition of YEC, if not technically within the definition used in the video.

  3. Like geocentrism, YEC may not have been a core doctrine of the Church, but it was also on occasion enforced. Buffon, for example, was forced by the faculty of the Sorbonne to abjure his claims of an old earth (several hundred-thousand years).

  4. Less educated people were more reliably YEC than were theologians and philosophers, even extending up to the beginnings of present-day YEC.


And, it should be added, most people took the Bible to be saying that Adam and Eve were the sole ancestors of all subsequent people. Josh makes the point that this is not assumed by any current denomination. Perhaps not, but it probably is still assumed by most people who think of themselves as assuming the literal truth of the Bible.


I think we need to differentiate a belief in a young earth with the creationism part that gets into specific scientific proposals of how to correlate the Bible and the natural world. In other words, YE is the traditional view (with outliers) but YEC is not because of the C.


Are you saying people used to believe in a young Earth but not because they were creationists, and they just happened to square their belief in a young Earth with what they read in the Bible and these just happened by chance to appear to be compatible?

I have to say I feel like this whole thing about trying to make it seem like some sort of fluke that people come away from reading the Bible as depicting a young Earth creationist conception of the Earth and universe as both extremely implausible, if not disengeneous.

What evidence is there really about what people used to think about what the Bible really actually says? What did they believe 500, 1000, or 1500 years ago? And why? Do we just coincidentally organize the calender into a literal 7 day week based on some complete misunderstanding?

Dude c’mon.

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You really misunderstood my point (apologies if I was unclear). Of course they held to a young earth b/c that’s what the Bible seemed to teach. But I’m focusing on the ism in creationism, which gets into correlating a young earth with modern scientific ideas, whether or not they corresponded with mainstream scientific notions. By definition, this could not be the traditional position of the church b/c it didn’t have modern scientific data.

As far as I know, there was no premodern quasi-scientific way of determining age (someone correct me if I’m wrong). What did operate from is a Ptolemaic system about the shape and relative movement of things (which is why geocentrism was the “scientific” consensus, which could be squared with biblical interpretation).


That’s more complicated. Most cultures organized into a 7-day week, and we don’t know when/how it began.

EDIT: @RonSewell below describes my main point better than I did.


If I were an educated, urbane medieval dude, I would believe the earth was young. Why wouldn’t I? It is a natural reading of scripture even without adding up the genealogies, and there was no real common knowledge to the contrary. My awareness of history would include the civilizations of Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Biblical narrative, with nothing before, so six thousand years give or take. What would be the point of the good planet without the people, and conjectures concerning a deeper time would be a matter of idle speculation.

So yes, I would be a young earther, but in an assuming way, not a reactionary way, because there was little evidence to react against. Creationism may be distinguished in a modern sense by its character as a response to evidence, which has piled up as the age of coal propelled the development of geology. That is the essence and continuity of modern creationism; the transition from assumption to reaction as evidence contrary to a young earth has come to light and been systematized. In the modern context, creationism has become a massive behemoth due to the totality of the science being denied.


I don’t recall any scientific proposals from any young-earth advocates. Unless you count cargo cult science. Of course those are all 20th Century and later. I do recall attempts to restrict science, which might count, e.g. the previously mentioned silencing of Buffon. And Homo diluvii testis might also be considered sciency. I’d consider a recent global flood to be another mandatory feature of YEC.

That is also not true, though you wouldn’t know it reading Hugh Ross or other OECs. The actual view that was held, based on the now discredited Septuagint version of the Genesis genealogies, was that the earth was around 5500 years old (in the first few centuries after Christ) and that creation week was a typology of earth history. That means that the actual creation week was seven, 24-hour days, but because the Bible says in other places that “For the Lord, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day,” then the seven-day creation week indicates a seven-thousand year history of the world, including the 7th “day,” the millenial kingdom. This meant Jesus would return at year 6000 from creation and there would be a thousand year millenial kingdom after that. Virtually nobody believes this today, and modern OECs have tried to pretend this meant the ancients believed the days of creation themselves were a thousand years long, which is not the case at all. See Sarfati’s recent article on this.


If that is the case, then when Augustine argued that we should adjust our biblical interpretation to scientific knowledge, he wasn’t talking about age determinations was he?

I know this is tangential to the discussion, but this is an odd statement. The use of numbers in both Hebrew and Greek text traditions is a complicated matter.

correct, this would not have been on his radar. But the principle is similar to Calvin’s that we should be open to seeing accommodation in divine revelation when it comes to things that intersect with general revelation (e.g., data from science).

Safarti is not a biblical scholar (nor church historian) and I’ve seen him make some real blunders in the past when discussing biblical texts. It doesn’t mean he’s wrong here, but he’s not a trusted authority on these things (though I commend his courageous pro-vax stance, which has cost him dearly).


Tell me more?

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I enjoyed this video. Coming out of a YEC background I found it to be very helpful. I’ve enjoyed a number of videos from that channel.


See the beginning of @Joel_Duff’s recent YT vid, which contrasts the covid-related responses of CMI (Safarti) and AiG (Ham). Ham is basically playing to his base but Safarti has followed the science.

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Also, ICR today has an article on their site about the lass of Dr. Kevin Anderson. True to form, they say he died after “an unexpected illness” rather than saying he died as a result of Covid. ICR is like AIG in that they carefully avoid talking about COVID whenever they can as opposed to taking the opportunity of death among their peers to tell their followers to take the virus seriously.


I have so many problems with Sarfati and Carter but wow, they looked at the evidence with respect to the vaccines and other treatments (HCQ and Ivermectin) and came to conclusions that I find to be very sound. They have been outspoken about their duty to use their God-given talents in their fields to educate their audience on these topics. I’ve read the comment streams on YouTube and FB and although they get some support from the followers, it is clear their message is not well received. They have not given in and in some cases doubled down on the message and I commend them for taking this stand.


That may have been the majority view (by no means my field), but are you assured that it was the unanimous view? I understand that St. Augustine thought that creation was instantaneous, for example.

This is an understatement. Those comment sections are chock full of conspiracies and lies. Which…Sarfati and Carter shouldn’t be surprised. You can’t make a career out of warning your audience about big bad wolves but then expect them to listen when you say, no, in this case, the wolves are right and you should trust them.