Former YEC's, what made you change your mind?

Having a background in biology, it is interesting to hear your everyday YEC talk about my field. It becomes obvious that they don’t have a grasp of even the most basic fundamental observations in biology, much less the finer grained details. For example, the vast majority of YEC’s I have interacted with don’t understand what a nested hierarchy is, something that is covered in freshman biology classes at the university level. When they claim that “information” can’t be added to a genome by evolution, they say so (usually) without every working with DNA sequence, or having a clue as to what a comparison of genomes looks like.

The biggest difference I see is that scientists are focused on explaining the data while YEC is focused on apologetics. Two very different purposes.

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It had gotten started by the latest 1600s, and basically everyone in geology was convinced by c. 1775.

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Like someone recently, when I explained that many rocks can be assigned minimum ages based on their bending without breaking and the response was “rocks don’t bend”, and someone else said we can’t date them by bending unless we watch them for millions of years. Both are as bad as saying we can’t tell the half-lives of radioactive elements because no on has been around long enough to observe the half-lives happen or claiming that half-lives could have been shorter without producing heat and we can’t say they weren’t because we weren’t there to see it happen and measure the heat!

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Thanks, T. Long ago and far away, when I was still in college, I mentioned to another Christian friend that I had (even in those YEC days of mine) some skepticism about God creating everything in six literal 24-hour days. She said, “Sometimes I think people just don’t have enough faith.” Well…that has always been what it boiled down to in many minds. Years later, when I read that Moody Press, in the late 1950s, turned down publication of The Genesis Flood — asserting that Christians had come to accept an old earth and would not likely “buy” something like Morris & Whitcomb’s ideas — I found myself slightly amazed that — in the various discussions of YEC that I might have listened to – no one mentioned this fact or discussed what had occurred between the late 1950s and my own time, that all this was forgotten. It’s not a matter of faith, it’s politics–or at least a cultural position.

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Playing the armchair psychologist for the moment, there’s some basic human psychology in play. Adopting group specific beliefs, especially those that may cause ostracization, can strengthen interpersonal ties within a group. I think we can all see other examples in our culture at large. It is worth noting that YEC is predominately an American movement. I don’t think you would see something like Answers in Genesis spending over $100 million on an Ark Park in any other developed country.

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Whoa – Moody turned it down?! Of course they’re not going to mention that!

More cultural, but I think some of both.

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Yes…Moody Press, from what I have read, declared – in the late 1950s—that evangelical (or did they use fundamentalist by then?) people had generally accepted that the earth is older than dirt (my phrase not theirs) and would not buy into a young earth belief. I cannot tell you whether I read this in Bernard Ramm’s book (from early 1950s) or Ronald Numbers’ The Creationists which is more recent. Numbers’ book chronicles the history of the creationist movement—not just the Genesis Flood publication or recent events. He has (or HAD) on the back cover copy, a glowing reference for his work, coming from Henry Morris himself (he of Genesis Flood fame) --which is complicated for some people. In the intro to The Creationists, Numbers declared himself the son of a Seventh Day Adventist pastor but also an agnostic. This does not mean he has nothing good to say, and Morris did not decline a book cover blurb. (Numbers passed away July 2023—see that online as well.)

At any rate…see below or look up the article “The Genesis Flood” on wikipedia…they cite Numbers a lot. (Numbers the author not Numbers the biblical book). see below Wikipedia excerpt\

n 1954, Bernard Ramm, an evangelical apologist and theologian closely associated with the ASA, published The Christian View of Science and Scripture, which attacked the notion that “biblical inspiration implied that the Bible was a reliable source of scientific data.”[6] Ramm ridiculed both flood geology and the gap theory, and one ASA member credited Ramm with providing a way for a majority of Christian biologists to accept evolution.[7]

Ramm’s book sparked a young Bible teacher and seminarian, John C. Whitcomb, Jr., to challenge what he considered its “absurdities.” Whitcomb had earlier studied geology and paleontology at Princeton University, but by the 1950s, he was teaching the Bible at Grace Theological Seminary. At the 1953 ASA meeting, Whitcomb had been impressed by a presentation of Henry M. Morris—a hydraulic engineer with a PhD from the University of Minnesota—called “The Biblical Evidence for Recent Creation and Universal Deluge.” Following publication of Ramm’s book, Whitcomb decided to devote his Th.D. dissertation to defending flood geology.[8]

Berated almost from the beginning of his project by influential evangelicals such as Edward John Carnell, the newly installed president of Fuller Theological Seminary,[9] Whitcomb completed his dissertation in 1957 and began condensing it for publication. With no illusions about his scientific expertise, Whitcomb sought a collaborator who had a PhD in science. He could find no geologists who took Genesis seriously, and even teachers at evangelical schools at best expressed distaste for flood geology.[10] Eventually, Henry Morris agreed to become Whitcomb’s collaborator for the scientific portions of the book. Despite his heavy teaching load and administrative duties at Virginia Tech, where he had just become head of a large civil-engineering program, Morris made steady progress on his section of the book, eventually contributing more than twice as much material as Whitcomb.[11]

As the manuscript neared completion, Moody Press, which had expressed initial interest, now hesitated. The proposed book was a long work that insisted on six literal days of creation and was certain to be criticized by segments of Moody’s constituency.[12] Whitcomb and Morris instead published with the smaller Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, whose owner Charles H. Craig had long wanted to acquire a manuscript that supported catastrophism.[13]

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I have read that YEC is primarily – or largely — specific to the US not, for example, the UK. Dawkins infamous remark about “the reptilian spine running” down certain parts of the US is one (and about the only thing) memorable from his book. And you are right about the Ark Park. I have been to the Creation Museum. There was a lot of money put into that…quite a project for any country!

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Actually, I think it’s a bit simple to say that it is just a US thing. If we are talking about the historic European birthplace of Christianity and the countries where Europeans immigrated to, then the US does stick out. However, there are exceptions. I am seeing that Brazil and S. Korea have about the same percentage of YEC’s as the US. Also, Muslims across the globe ascribe to YEC in about the same percentages.

I should probably take the “YEC is a US thing” out of regular rotation.

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Thanks for the info

YEC in other countries is at least partly imported teaching from USA. In most countries, the minority supporting YEC does not have the resources or capabilities needed for independent ‘creation science’ type study or even the capabilities to do credible theological study. An easy solution is to take the abundant material flowing from USA and pick the best parts for national distribution. The YEC interpretation spreads through such ‘made in USA’ material. It is enough that few influential leaders buy the stuff, then a large proportion of other members in those churches adopt the teaching from their leaders.

Muslims are another story. One person I know (a Christian believer supporting YEC) was invited from here to a creation conference in a muslim country. He told that the common belief in young earth creation seemed to form a contact point with conservative muslims. They were very friendly towards the invited Christian guest speaker.

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Thanks, Knor. I appreciate the perspective.