How do you talk to committed YECs?

I know two YECs as friends and we go around in circles about the scientific evidence for an old earth and evolution.

When I mention a piece of evidence they always have a counterargument, something that ICR or AIG have put out.

They have a very fixed view of biblical inerrancy and consider science the “opinion of mere humans compared to the revelation of God”.

We just go in circles. Is there anyway to get to a fresh destination in conversation?


The first sentence kind of defeats the second sentence. The articles at ICR and AIG are the opinions of mere humans. That might be worth pointing out.

You might want to try and switch roles. Ask them what evidence they would expect to see if the Earth is old, and you could do the same for a young Earth. What features would a fossil need in order for them to accept it as being transitional, or will they reject the very idea of fossils being evidence?

If there position is that no evidence would ever change their mind, then I think that would be a good place to leave the conversation. If nothing else, perhaps you could come to an agreement that their position is dogmatic and impervious to evidence.


Talk about something else. Only half sarcastic with that remark. It might be helpful to turn the conversation to biblical interpretation, since that is the real driver of their belief system. and it has nothing to do with the scientific merits of whatever else you talk about.


I ask them whether they believe 1) man was formed before the plants had sprung up or if 2) man was created 3 days after the earth had brought forth plants.

If they say 1, then show them from the first creation story that they don’t believe the Bible.

If they say 2, then I show them from the second creation story (starting in Genesis 2.4b) that they don’t believe the Bible.

Since the Bible is all they believe, and God’s creation means nothing to them, then showing them that the Bible disagrees with them is a good plan.


My concern is not really that YECs don’t have a perfect grasp of reality; kind of wish I did. And I avoid discussions about it in person. I am too impatient and flappable.

My real concern is the use of YEC as an apologetic. That I will state, if it seems the right time and place. I won’t argue it, though. I will only express my concern that a faith that is based on YEC is apt to be undermined by a real science education. Christians should be engaged in real academics, rather than hiding from them, worrying about losing our faith by being exposed to “The World.” But we shouldn’t be going into them with the idea that we can scientifically prove our faith, either.

I’ve been wanting to come back to something RichardG said in another thread that I think is related to this and many many other discussions here:

In my experience, almost none of the christians I sit in the pew with are scientists, and the vast majority of them are YECs of some sort or another. I assume most are, because they don’t see another possibility for retaining faith, or they simply have never really thought too much about it. The questions the hard sciences ask seem irrelevant to them in the day to day.

Richard makes a really important point in the posts that I quoted from. For some people tearing down their YECism is the same thing as tearing down their faith, because it had been used as a foundation.

All the AIG, ICR, etc damage aside, the way we engage with people who are hanging on to YEC (or ID or anything else) matters. Faith is fragile1, and there are more ways to destroy it than to strengthen it, I’m afraid.
As frustrating as it is to let the (YEC) matter lie, we must prioritize people’s faith over our “rightness.” Maybe we can work toward common ground, but that must always take place with the goal of building up real faith at the same time.
None of us has the whole perspective and has it all right.

1 Penner, Myron. The End of Apologetics, (pg. 79):

We have lost, as it were, the naivete-or immediacy or directness-of belief, in God due to a massive shift in the overall context in which we seek to interpret our lives and understand the world. As a result, there is a fragility that characterizes faith today. Having faith, believing for oneself, must be understood not only in reference to our being able to establish the reasonableness of belief but also in terms of how it fits with our lived experience and the sense we make of the world.


In my experience there is really nothing you can say or do that will make or break it. They will have to get smarter and better at developing logical conclusions. Best thing to do in my opinion is not waste time going in circles with them. If they are friends, just continue to be friends and known that some subjects if hyper fixated on will undermine the friendship.


The problem lies in the understanding of Classical Theism and Theodicy. You’ll never get anywhere with science facts. You have to use the scriptures. YEC cannot have death before sin as they believe this destroys the gospel. So they are applying with all effort science that supports that presupposition. If there was death before sin then the whole point of Christs work becomes confusing. In YEC (classical view), Adam’s sin is the explanation of Evil and bio death at least for mankind. At the extreme view the entire universe is thrown into a corrupted state (entropy,any death ect). YEC gospel claims Jesus came to restore the lost paradise of eden including relationship with man.

I think that interpretation is problematic on many levels looking at the narrative and other scriptures.

  1. wordless creation of Chaotic, Dark , Desolation of Gen 1vs1,2 (establishes corrupted state first )
  2. Next spoken word creation Gen 1vs3 " let there be… It was good" (God forms from negative to positive). Note day and night both present now vs eternal day in revelation (new Heavens, no night).
  3. Lying snake in the perfect Garden? not so perfect.
  4. Adam and Eve totally ignorant of good and evil. How could they know right from wrong?
  5. if Adam was created Eternal, why the tree of life needed?
  6. No where else in all of scripture is nakedness described as good, in fact opposite is true, nor is any heavenly creature described naked, or resurrected christians in heaven.
  7. God never runs away from Adam or Eve when they sin, opposite is true, He seeks, finds, rebukes, clothes (with sacrificed animal) and promises Christ coming to destroy Satan and death.

I think these are good theological questions to look into verses arguing over scientific facts/ hypothesis. If the “perfect Eden” doctrine is shown to be problematic then, entropy, bio death and Satan baked into creation by God’s will for His ultimate glory. At least this opens the door to other possibilities and civil discussion around scientific discoveries and hypothesis that may or may not show how God did or does things.


The point is that it is not about whether Evolution is true or not. It is a matter of whether Scripture can stand in the face of Evolution.Does Genesis insist on a 6 day creation? It boils down to whether early Genesis is meant to be taken literally as history. You can compare it to the parables of Jesus. You can try and emphasise that the creation story is about who and not how, so that, as long as Evolution is part of God’s creative process it is not a threat. You can compare Genesis 1 to other creation stories (Using the word myth tends to cause other issues). IOW you try and divert the emphasis away from the details towards purpose and the sovereignty of God over historic Gods or beliefs.You have to make sue that there is still agood reason for the passages to exist, even if they are not historically accurate.
In my experience, the use of llTimothy is not as common as Forums might think. The insistence that Inspired means dictated is really a side issue to the interpretation of early Genesis. Scripture can still be theologically accurate without insisting on every minute detail as being precise and without error. The question to ask is whether the precise methodology of creation affects what Genesis is trying to tell us about God and Creation. Juxtaposing Scripture as God in written form is an extreme theological standpoint not shared by the non-academic Christian. (unless indoctrinated to do so)
So to conclude. Try and avoid talking about the accuracies or not of Evolution. Or even the fallacy of YEC. The idea is to separate Scripture from Science rather than bring it into conflict. As long as early Genesis has a purpose other than historical (of scientific) fact the Biible remains intact. If you try and claim that the Bible is in error with Genesis you are maligning the Truth of Scripture and will meet an impossible resistance. Any concept of reality is thrown out in favour of Biblical sanctity and truth.



Whatever else one may think of Pastor Andy Stanley, I think he has an interesting (and probably good) response to this that I plan to keep in mind in my own discussions with people going forward. He has determined not to keep saying “The Bible says…”, but instead give the more specific claim: ‘Jesus taught…’ or ‘Paul teaches…’ or ‘Moses wrote…’ and so forth. His reasoning is that to claim “the Bible teaches…” reinforces the mistaken perspective that the Bible (and really then, some claimed interpretation of it too) should all be taken as one seamless unit, and that “as the Bible goes, so goes one’s faith.” I.e. if the Bible (or the privileged interpretation) is shown to fail at any point, then so must a person’s faith.

I’ve been thinking about how much I hear this (and have spoken those words myself) - which is quite a bit! I think Stanley is on to something there in terms of being aware of our language and what it reinforces.


Is still subject to interpretation.

You can still take passages or quotations out of context and infer or decree that they are saying things that they did not or refer to things that they did not.

Biblical teaching is not an exact science. There is not one viewpoint, neither is there an agreement on how to interpret all passsages. The Bible is not even consistent. Jesus deliberately revised the way people should accept elements of the Law
“You have heard… but I say…”
Paul imposes his own view upon history claiming that God deliberately made Israel fail. The Bible claims that God “hardened the heart” or influenced in other ways. These statements impinge on any view of free will or non-interference.
If it was easy we would not need preachers or theologians or Biblical scholars.



Yes, Andy is doing a good work in this area.

The perspective may be most important in the presentation of the resurrection, the event that did more to prove that Jesus is God and our Savior than anything else. We don’t believe in the resurrection because the Bible says so. We believe because the eyewitness John recorded it, and the eyewitness Peter wrote about it, and Paul talked to many eyewitnesses…


Ask them questions. When they reply ask them questions about their replies. Highlight apparent contradictions and faulty thinking through gentle questions.

  • “That’s interesting what lead you to that conclusion?”
  • “Thanks for sharing that. Could you tell me more?”
  • “It sounds like you’re saying XYZ. Have I understood that correctly?”
  • “If that’s the case how do you bring that together with ABC?”
  • “When you say DEF, what do you mean by that?”
  • “When you describe my views as 123, I hear 456. What are your thoughts on that?”

Chances are they don’t really understand the topic you are discussing but have rather internalised someone else argument. If so, questioning will bring that out. And when it does they’ll have to think, read, research, and hopefully start to see the flaws in the material they are using.

If they do understand the topics at hand, great! You’ll have a fruitful discussion where they feel heard and you learn something along the way.

I often think a good question can get where an argument can’t. A good question is like a splinter in the brain. You have to keep picking at it until the itching stops.


Very true! There is no magical “hermeneutical bullet” (as fundamentalists seem to need to be reminded more than just about anyone else). The hard work of interpretation, discernment, and application is all still there needing to be done. This wasn’t presented as a way to attempt getting around that; it was just a way to use language to encourage people to be more aware of all that needed work.


It can also be very annoying. I think I would rapidly lose interest and feel that what I said was being deflected and palmed off.


A lot of the annoyance is related to how the questions are asked. Good questions, seriously targeted at something I don’t understand, have always been conversation builders in my experience.


Jesus was annoying with his questions. :slightly_smiling_face:


And I might add with the sincerity of the one asking being apparent, and with the genuine desire to better understand and form relationship with the one asked. I have been around the forum long enough to be skeptical when some of the “drive by” type posters ask questions that are likely to be “gotcha” types. Sometimes I have been wrong and the questions are genuine, but often am right to be wary. So should we be wary of our motivations when we ask questions. If it is out of a true desire to better understand where the person is coming from, it is usually well received. If either or both parties are just interested in winning the argument, then I would not expect much.


100%. Most counsellors/therapists rarely ask anything but questions in the sessions. The journalist Louis Thearoux is a master of using questions to get all kinds of people to open up about diverse and difficult topics ON CAMERA. I’ve always found that good questions produced the best conversations during pastoral meetings when I was a church leader or during conversations with non-Christians.

That said, a poorly worded or asked question can feel like an attack, a dismissal, or the set-up to a trap. In my experience, asking a good question is both an art and a skill.


But there is always a goal involved. More than just the exchange of information We all know about loaded questions that will produce a certain result no matter how you answer. I wonder what the criteria for a good question might be?


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Perhaps we need to establish the reasons or goals for talking in the first place.

Is it

  1. just to be friendly
  2. to change their minds
  3. to defuse or eliminate any perceived conflict
  4. to satisfy our own certitude
  5. none of the above

Perhaps someone could add other specifics to the list