Yeah okay I know this post is late, I’ve been working on my Master’s thesis. Cut me some slack. Anyway.
Today, in a follow up to our last article, we’ll be tackling the history of Young Earth Creationism. As you’ve seen from our constant analysis of dinosaurs, it is often useful to understand the history of the adversaries of humankind. And these folks are DEFINITELY adversaries of humanity. So let us examine Young Earth Creationism and how this movement has been completely wrong through history.
The Bible is not a Crossword Puzzle of Natural History
Young Earth Creationists generally believe in an estimate of the Earth’s age based on the chronology works of a nice Irish Archbishop named Ussher. In the 1600’s, Ussher guesstimated that the Earth was created on October 23, 4004 BC based on the Bible and what was known about ancient history at the time. His calculation was based on a nice even thousand years between the Temple of Solomon and the birth of Jesus Christ, that led to a nice even three thousand between Creation and the Temple. He basically used the Bible as a crossword puzzle to determine the age of the Earth. The numbers were sort of elegant, so they sort of made sense.
The problem wasn’t that Ussher was a bad scholar or something, he was just using the wrong source material. Instead of studying the Earth to learn about the Earth, he studied historical accounts and the Bible. You need to study the source material in order to learn about something. You wouldn’t use a TV Guide from 1995 to learn the age of the Earth, either. You read the 1995 TV guide for what was on TV in 1995. And you read the Bible for poetry, violence, and astoundingly bad advice.
You Don’t Even Have to Dig Yourself, You Lazy Idiots
The YEC movement is not new. While the Earth’s age was anyone’s guess for a long time, the modern debate (and thus the modern YEC movement) got going in the 19th century, when a new scientific field, Geology (at the time called ‘Undergroundology’… yeah, I know) began seriously contradicting literal “interpretations” of the Biblical book of Genesis. Geology’s findings suggested that the Earth was incredibly ancient, magnitudes older than the accepted estimates of the time. Some people disagreed, and thus the YEC movement was born.
Young Earth Creationists did not understand that they weren’t just wrong, like you might be wrong about predicting a World Cup, but that they were painfully mistaken based on even the most casual observation of a large hole in the ground. Looking at a deep hole in the ground, one can find evidence of the past, and it is generally arranged in chronological order. And stuff from the time of Solomon is nowhere near the middle. It is very near the top. There are layers and layers of dirt and rock and evidence beneath that time’s artifacts. Thus, the Ussher estimate is wrong. Very simple.
But gosh, what if you don’t want to dig the hole? Well thankfully, erosion will dig it for you! Just go to a gorge or a canyon! And then look at the dirt. With your eyes.
The “looking at dirt with eyes” method convinced most people of the age of the Earth (at least as far as ‘really old’ verses ‘grandpa might remember’) within about two generations. Oh, but there were still hold outs. And the dead-cat-bounce of these hold out factions are what we are witnessing today.
A Basic Understanding of Any Major Field of Science Shows Young Earth is Impossible
The modern YEC movement is still directly tied to Ussher’s work, except they are no longer Irish Catholic for the most part (6000 years isn’t enough time to store up that much lingering guilt, right guys?). They have added new beliefs, mostly to try and argue against the overwhelming scientific and immediately observable evidence against their claims.
For example, for a long time, the YEC was trying to suggest that fossils were placed in the Earth by Satan, as a hilarious trick to fool humanity. And that’s why they suggest the process of evolution. Satan is really clever, I wouldn’t put that past him. But now, the YEC suggests things like “fossilization is actually really fast” and “micro-evolution exists, but not macro-evolution”. That’s probably because the modern human mind, when presented with the solutions to the natural world’s questions by science, grasps the logic of basic science very quickly. And that basic understanding is all a person needs to disprove Creationism.
Similar to the “look at ground with eyes” method, basic understanding of the science anywhere is just as good at coming to the conclusion that YEC is wrong. For example, plate tectonics are easy to understand, easy to measure, and if you live in California, you can go and see it in action on a long weekend. Comparison of what’s found on the land of either side of the Earth shows that the continents were once linked, and if you combine that knowledge with the speed at which continents move, bingo. You know YEC must be wrong.
I was taught that lesson in 2nd grade with play-dough and a jigsaw puzzle. By a nun. Simple stuff.
So when you see an Australian Evangelical arguing with Bill Nye on TV, remember that you are watching a guy who denies the basic observable reality in which he lives for an outdated slipshod history written by a bored monk in the 1600’s. And that his arguments can be disproven by children and nuns and anyone with the most basic understanding of modern logic.