Very well stated, Christy!
I found myself having to make that very point so many times with angry undergrads from church backgrounds which were steeped in “creation science”—and they were furious because at a public university they had found themselves face-to-face with science textbooks and even primary sources which basically allowed them to see and understand for themselves that their youth ministries, Sunday Schools, pastors, and parents had (1) taught them definitions of science terms and concepts which were just plain wrong, (2) told them that the bizarre “Same evidence. Different interpretations.” mantra accurately summarized the “difference of opinion”, and (3) filled their heads with a long list of memorable slogans, catchy cliches, fallacious factoids, and mind-numbing mantras which were just plain false (e.g., “There is no observable evidence for evolution”, “the Theory of Evolution is not real science”, “There are no transitional fossil forms”, “Radiometric dating is hopelessly unreliable and based on unprovable guesses.”)
Of course, neither their textbooks nor their professors set out to specifically deal with “creation science” pseudo-science, but the students were sharp enough to figure out the glaring discrepancies. (e.g. “We were told that modern geology strictly follows Uniformitarianism, meaning that geologists ignore everything but very slow processes—but that hasn’t been the case in centuries!”; “It wasn’t just the lies. It was the cherry-picking of the 0.1% while not telling us about the 99.9% of the slam-dunk evidence!”)
Usually these “new or almost ex-YECs” weren’t even my advisees but for a variety of reasons (usually falling into one of three categories that I won’t expand upon here) they seemed to badly need (yet fear) what I began to call their “exit interview” from the Christian faith. Not all of them had made or would ever make such a resolutely final decision, but many clearly wanted to impress upon somebody just how frustrated and disappointed they were in their former spiritual heroes—and some would even tell me outright, “You are my last chance to remain Christian.” Those who had already made their decision (or at least wanted me to think that they had), nevertheless seemed to dare me to “Just try to make excuses for my church and my parents! How can I possibly believe what they taught me about God and the Bible when everything they told me about science was wrong?”
Yes, that is quite a leap (a logical fallacy, in fact) to go from learning that their Christian background had fed them some false information about science to abandoning their Christian faith and identity all together. But for many it was an emotion-driven threat based entirely upon their sense of betrayal–because they felt that their vulnerability as young, naive, trusting children had been violated and even exploited by adults in positions of power over them.
In response to them, Christy’s appeal to grace and common sense was always my Point #1. But probably around 90% of my response to them focused on Point #2: “Your church and parents didn’t set out to deceive you by deliberately teaching what they knew to be false information. Wouldn’t you agree that they sincerely thought they were doing their best for you and teaching you solid science and Biblical hermeneutics? Have you considered the possibility that they were misled by others—and their own lack of adequate information— just as much as you were?”
I usually found that if a student was willing to walk through the steps of (1) “What were their motives?” and (2) “What benefits did they think they were conveying to you?”, they were usually willing to admit that nobody in their local church conspired to teach them knowingly false information. I usually found that they would be softened by: “Yes or No: My parents/pastors/teachers sincerely believed that what they were teaching me was to the glory of God and for my good.”
From there it was usually easy to get them to answer more rationally: “So what would you say was the biggest sin or shortcoming in what they did? What would you say was the biggest ‘crime’ they committed against you?” (Obviously, I used an exaggerated term in order to encourage them to articulate a defense of their parents/pastors and to develop a sense of reasoned proportion.) All but the most hardened would (sheepishly) say, “As teachers of children, they had a responsibility to carefully research and verify what they were teaching, especially if claiming that they had the full authority of God behind it.” In some cases they even added “And they were allowing their opinions and fears about science to be co-mingled with the Gospel as if those opinions were essential to salvation and being a ‘true Christian.’”
If we got that far into the discussion, I could usually get them to think about (1) how/why their parents/pastors had adopted their “creation science” position, and (2) how the unhappy student was actually in an advantaged and even very privileged position (both by accident of the generation and era into which they were born and due to their parents’ love for them) to be able to learn about science at a major university and to so easily find all sorts of helpful and applicable scientific and apologetic material on-line—something their parents/pastors usually hadn’t had in any measure.
If we got that far in our talk, and the student was willing to admit that their parents, pastors, and Sunday School teachers had lovingly taught them what they knew and in the best ways that they could, I would ask the student: "Now that you are having opportunities to learn about science (and how it can integrate with a Biblical theology) in ways that they never had, is it possible that you might have a responsibility to reciprocate to them that favor and blessing by graciously and gently letting them know what you’ve learned from your study of these topics?
Of course, all of those students badly needed time to integrate their new science knowledge with a re-examination of the Biblical hermeneutics of their parents in order to see if the Bible truly requires that one and only set of tradition-bound interpretations. Thankfully, the Internet has made that research assignment far easier (both for me and the student) than it was when I dealt with the same conflicts in the early 1990’s, for example.
As I said, those students usually weren’t my own advisees but as the perceived “token evangelical professor” on a secular university campus, I seemed to them to be the default defender of all that was Christian and “Biblical”, probably because 18 to 22 year olds have such an extreme demand for immediate justice and black/white, no-middle-ground, right/wrong declarations. (Of course, Fundamentalist Christianity has its own totally-right/totally-wrong rigid dichotomy, so you can imagine how all-or-nothing that made many of those ex-YEC students.) Even so, if one could get them started in an empathetic direction—and perhaps even ask them if they had ever changed their opinion on some subject to where they regretted ever having held their former opinion on it—the reachable ones would usually soften. Yet I would also remind them that that initial anger they felt towards their parents/pastors could be channeled for good and to everyone’s benefit if it led to everyone agreeing on the importance of TRUTH and the process of re-examining the available evidence.
That’s just a few thoughts as my mind travels back in time reflectively. I wish I could say I had follow-up opportunities with every such ex-YEC student and knew that everything turned out wonderfully for everyone. Most graduated and moved on without keeping in touch. (I occasionally get a “Remember me?” and get to find out where they are theologically today, but that is rare. Of those few who have updated me, about one-third remained Christians of some sort, one-third called themselves atheists, and one-third didn’t give me clear indications of self-labels.)
In helping those who are making the same journey out of YEC-dom that many of us once did, we do the best we can to step up and use the teachable moments we get with them----and as with the Gospel itself, one person plants, another waters, and another sees the harvest. Yet, it always saddened me to hear so many of those conversations during my open door office hours begin with “I don’t know of anyone else who might be able to understand my situation. Perhaps you can help me?” (Even some of the students who initially projected “I’m now a much more enlightened atheist!” were clearly shaken by a crisis of trust at what they experienced in their Young Earth Creationist and that was probably why they had come to see me.) 
I’ve shared these memories in hopes of hearing the experiences of others in helping those who experience “crises of confidence” concerning their Christian heritage and spiritual heroes as they integrate their knowledge of science and scripture. I’ve often wondered if some, the young people from YEC backgrounds especially, leave us with only relatively brief windows of influence and opportunity before their “final” decisions are made and their minds are closed to any sort of intellectual resolution which does not leave them outside the local church entirely. With the Baby-Boomers, we eventually assumed that many would return to the local church (even if not necessarily a vital faith) once they had children of their own, even if they remained angry over the science-denialism of their upbringing within the church. Obviously, we can’t say that about the generations since. That return to the church as young parents certainly doesn’t seem as likely with the Millennials.
FOOTNOTE: : While both Young Earth Creationists and Old Earth Creationists often get lumped together as simply “creationists”, I invariably found a very different set of dynamics and attitudes among the OEC students who came to me to discuss their “eye-opening” experiences with science. Even though most of them had been raised on many of the same anti-evolution myths and slogans as the YECs—and they were often just as theologically fearful of the implications of what they had learned about science at the university—they seemed far less resentful towards their parents/pastors, and they were usually far less “pre-programmed” to think and react in terms of rigid, false-dichotomies. As expected, they were less likely to have been taught “One can’t be a true Christian and believe in the science of X.” Perhaps some ex-OEC readers have experiences to share in this regard.