Does YEC undermine Christian faith?

I want to first note that I truly appreciate the diversity of voices here. That includes the atheists that frequent the forum. I don’t think they are necessarily glad to see widespread belief in YEC among Christians, and they certainly don’t want to see the pseudoscience of YEC ideology taught alongside science in our schools. But I’d be curious to hear some reactions to this quote by atheist P.Z. Myers, where expresses his appreciation to Ken Ham for his cooperation in destroying the credibility of Christianity with YEC:

"Followers of Ken Ham/Kent Hovind style creationism are setting themselves up to fail. They’ve created a starkly black and white universe in which either you are completely in agreement with their dogma, or you are completely wrong in all things, which means small cracks in their façade quickly tear wide open into vast chasms. It might mean they’re impenetrable in the short term, but over time, they crumble, and they crumble hard, since losing faith in certain pseudoscientific claims means you are inevitably going to have to question the whole of your faith.

So Ken Ham is doing good work for us atheists by building a very brittle Christian wall. It can resist a few punches, but when it goes, it goes in its entirety.

Thanks, Ken!"

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(That’s my reaction, and I have to add this coda because otherwise it’s not 11 characters long)

Hebrews 12:27 is my reaction.

Some may think this verse only applies to some end times that is still in the future. But I think the verse has already applied to our world ever since Christ accomplished our salvation.

Anti-theists have been hosting funerals for God, for theism, and for Christianity for many centuries now. PZ continues a time-honored tradition. If God uses them to help cull away that parts that need to go, then praise the Lord for the irony of the situation.


Are you saying God is sovereignly accomplishing his purposes through this whole debacle? That though PZ has his own agenda, God actually intends to use it ultimately for good (Gen 50:20)?

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I’m trying to reframe my understanding of the truth from God’s eyes; and maybe it doesn’t worry me so much now if some people leave the faith transiently (we all eventually will come back to it after death, when we know for sure) because of an error. Sometimes, being an atheist in response to lies and evil we see is actually a part of the eventual progression toward God’s truth. After all, He knows our minds and hearts.

Edit–Not that Kent Hovind or Ken Ham are evil people! They are going by their lights–and are trying to do what they can, too.

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Pretty much.

The more that Americanized “Christianity” is shown for what it is; the more that we are forced back into that oh-so-uncomfortable position of not being the powerful in the land and the presumed default of state politics and cultural norms; the more we have to actually relate to neighbors and “others” that don’t think like “we” do … the more all that happens, the closer Christianity is to its native soil. If PZ thinks that means that Christianity fades away … he’s entitled to live in his own alternate reality I guess. I hear it’s all the fad these days.

He isn’t entirely wrong … much that has been mistaken for Christianity over the last centuries in the west ought to fade away. When it does,such germs of the actual thing that are still alive here (if indeed any are) will be given a new chance to flourish in a new sunshine no longer blocked by so many tall weeds. Sometimes fire is good for the new grass.


My first reaction is that there is some truth in what he says, but there are many sincere YEC folks who live their lives with no conflict or worry. To the majority of Christian people out there, the issue of origins never touches their lives, and they are blissfully ignorant of Biologos and Ken Ham and the Discovery Institute etc. I occasionally find the subject brought up with active church members, and they simply have no idea.
However, I think it is a bigger problem for Gen X and now Gen Z. So maybe in the long run he has a point.


Hi Jason,

I’m interested in how you determined that PZ’s intent is malicious. Can you take me through your thought process that led to that judgement?

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I don’t know that. Sorry, that was careless. I shouldn’t presume that he has malicious intent. I suspect he has good intention from his vantage-point.

I should have said “though PZ has his own agenda,” referring to the demise of Christianity. I will correct it above.


I hadn’t looked in here yet because I thought it was a question posed for Christians to consider. Now I see it is just the opposite.

IMO, yes, YEC does undermine Christian faith because it demands too much suspension of what should be common belief in neutral facts. I imagine young people must notice and feel embarrassed and hampered by this, ultimately leading some to abandon their faith.

But do I share P.Z. Myers gratitude to Ham for fueling this divide? No. As far as I can see it simply adds to misery without benefit.


The message of Jesus was founded on the OT scriptures going right back to Creation. “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning 'God made them male and female.”, and “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man,”

Or as Dawkins puts it, "‘Oh but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! So Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non-existent individual? Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than barking mad!’

Rather than undermining Christian faith YEC defends the foundation of Christian faith.

If Genesis is the foundation of Christian faith, maybe we should change our names to Genesisians.

In order for Adam’s sin to be a symbol of human sin, human sin has to exist. And there are far more references to humanity’s sin when it comes to the atonement than references to Adam’s sin. The Bible says Jesus died to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29), as a ransom for many (Matt 20:28), and for our sins (Rom 4:25, 1 Cor 15:3, and lots of other places). Why quote Dawkins sympathetically as a Christian if it’s one of the many times he is showing his ignorance of the Bible? That’s bad form.

What would actually be an interesting contribution from a YEC on this thread is if you could explain how your YEC beliefs actually made your faith more secure or resilient or something to counter the claim that it creates a brittle faith. By stating that a literal interpretation of Genesis is the foundation of Christianity you’re pretty much affirming the atheists observations. It’s a brittle faith that crumbles with an interpretation of Genesis. It’s not a faith that seems to rest first and foremost on the person and work of Christ, which would be what I would assume Christian faith is supposed to be built on.


I don’t disagree with you here (I do believe the Bible teaches that God made us male and female, and that there was wickedness in the world during Noah’s day), but neither of these things are specifically YEC – the stories of Adam and Eve and Noah can exist just fine in an old-earth scenario.

You should realize that if Jesus is the Creator of the cosmos and overwhelming evidence in his creation supports an old earth and common ancestry, YEC has a much bigger problem than EC could ever have with anything Jesus ever said about Genesis. It’s commonplace for YECs to imply that it’s kind of a toss-up when you look at the scientific evidence, so Jesus definitively settles the score for us in favor of YEC. If you think that Jesus as Creator of the cosmos would expect us in our day to hold to a YEC view, you need to account for why he made the cosmos in such a way that the preponderance of evidence overwhelmingly favors a drastically different view. Remember that Jesus was speaking to an ancient people with an ancient scientific understanding to deliver a timeless message that would transcend the ancient historical context.


“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

I’m seeing a contradiction. Do you practice that?

Given what Jesus said, do you therefore endorse the order of appearance of different types of organisms offered in Genesis 1 and reject the very different order offered in Genesis 2?

I am one of those who P.Z. Myers is describing, except I learned creationism from and earlier generation of YEC’s, like Morris, Whitcomb and Gish. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized there was good reasons to believe in an old creation, and I read about the different Old Earth Creationist beliefs, Gap theory, Day-Age theory, and whatever else was popular at the time, and was wondering which one of them might be true. Then I re-read the young Earth arguments again and was convinced that the Bible definitely taught a young Earth…submit. So I did.

Fast forward. When I found out YEC definitely isn’t true and they are sometimes lying to defend it, the whole wall did fall, but I wouldn’t say it was a brittle wall. It is more concrete block wall that is very strong as long as it is intact, but if you knock a few blocks out of the foundation at the corner, soon the blocks above them will loosen and fall out too.

For me, it wasn’t evolution (biology) that was the straw that broke the YEC camel’s back. It was mostly geology. And then there is the dishonesty YEC’s will stoop to to rubbish science and discredit anything that breaks their Young Earth timeline.
Another problem that seems insurmountable for YEC’s is the “Distant starlight problem”. They have explanations to explain it away, none of them are good, but they successfully fool the average Christian into believing that YEC still might be true. It is a shame.


Do you feel that you lost your Christianity along with your young earth creationism? We hear all the time that people realize Christians they respect have been lying to them about science and it calls into question everything else they have been taught. That’s why some more strident voices believe YEC should be vigorously opposed. But most of the people I know did not throw the baby out with the bathwater, they renegotiated their faith in light of scientific facts (some more painfully than others) and came out on the other side, faith intact. (Or they manage to live very peacefully with the cognitive dissonance and at least pay lip service to YEC even if they have some personal doubts.)

So I tend to wonder if some of the alarmist claims about YEC ruining the church are overblown, or just a few people projecting their personal experience on everyone else (which is probably what I’m doing in the other direction, I know). So I’m always trying to listen for stories that support their narrative.


Welcome! It sounds like you have some things to teach us.

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Welcome Tim. Are you in a science field by any chance. I’m not but so many here are and I have learned a good deal here.

I never was a YEC so that never was an issue for me. I can’t tell if you’ve accepted OC or have given up Christianity altogether. I’m an atheist with an interest in why belief in God has been as prevalent and widespread as it has. I look to psychology to find a place for a God compatible with the natural world and think I’ve found Him a home as a co-product of consciousness along side what I take to be my conscious self.

“Do you feel that you lost your Christianity along with your young earth creationism?”
One led to the other in a short time, at the end of 2 or 3 years of research.
What started it was taking vacations to the western US and looking at the landscape as a YEC, many things made the unwelcome thought come to me that “This didn’t happen in 6000 years”. When the internet came along, I decided to settle once and for all whether YEC and “flood geology”, or Christian Old Earth creationism and just plain geology was true. I had no idea it would lead to this.
First I realized that Noah’s flood never happened at all. The population of humans wasn’t down to only 8 people in about 2347 BC.
All animals weren’t down to a couple of pairs of each kind, living in one area of the world in 2347 BC.
If the flood isn’t true, the related story of the Tower of Babel isn’t true either. All humans weren’t living near one tower, speaking the same language about 100 years after the the flood.
If those stories aren’t true, the Bible is not inerrant, and not even close. It was probably after those realizations that Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden and the Exodus followed. That all happened in a few days. My head was spinning, trying to think about what it all meant. Those things were all from the Old Testament, and honestly it would be better if some of those stories weren’t true, God ordering genocides and such.
Then I realized that Jesus talked about “The days of Noah” as if the worldwide flood had actually happened, and I knew it didn’t, so Jesus was wrong too. Houston, we have a problem.
So, the Young Earth Creationism went first, but the dominoes quickly fell leading to me concluding that Christianity isn’t true. Maybe if I hadn’t been raised so fundamentalist it would have ended differently. I hear of people who are taught that science and Christianity are not in conflict, and they don’t see the issues I see after a lifetime of hearing the ultimatum that evolution and Christianity can not both be true.

Anyway, I wish biologos and other old Earth organizations success at winning over Christians from believing the very wrong YEC teachings.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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