The character of God according to YEC

Responding to a sermon in which reference was made to the 7 billion who died in the flood, I had a look to see how many people YEC adherents think died - and the first article I found claimed 10 trillion. This led me to think about the character of God according to the YEC accounts of the flood. Their version seems to imply that God was willing to destroy half of all humanity either to make a point about his right to judge, or to judge half of humanity without mercy before providing salvation for the other half. Or maybe he discovered that humans were sinful, so he decided to start again? To me, this implies a God who is judgmental and selective in his mercy, overpowering in his teaching and strangely optimistic that a new start will go better! Whereas if we trust the conclusions of various fields of science that the flood was not global, it is much easier to see how God’s character is not brought into question in the same way. My question is: What other negative characteristics of God are implied by the YEC viewpoint, and where does a BioLogos style viewpoint suggest something more positive?

Or perhaps it is more about a people (those who lived then and wrote / assembled the old testament) who thought of God in those terms. Whatever anyone insists about the scope of God’s judgments, it remains true (then and now) that everybody dies, and that if one thinks in terms of total Divine sovereignty, then God’s culpability is not and never was “only half” but 100%. So the real question is, do we accept the old dictum from Job’s lips: “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Or do we feel a need to qualify the first part of that now? Has Christ’s revelation changed our view of God in this respect?

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Yikes! Do you remember what organization it was that made a claim like that?

That’s an interesting question. My experience with YEC included claims that it’s a belief in evolution that requires an negative view of God since years of death and evil come before humanity arrives. Now I would say that that prior evil is no worse than the evil that goes on today, and God is still just as sovereign.

There is always that troublesome case of Cain’s wife. YEC requires incest in the beginning, while an EC view of creation does not.

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I take your point that 100% die, but if these high numbers all died in the flood, it implies they weren’t worthy enough to be saved - so they didn’t get mercy (except for Noah). And I know of several who aren’t sure that Job’s words are supposed to be taken as a kind of fatalistic view of God. There are tricky questions here for everyone, but I think the YEC view makes it hard to claim a loving God who wants us to learn from our mistakes and who loves to give mercy.

He calls himself “BibleScienceGuy”. That was the first number I saw when I looked. There may be a number of other estimates.

So if people die in floods [or the flood], they died without mercy - but other kinds of death are okay? (I know you aren’t saying that in general … I’m just point to what implications appear to follow.)

I agree that YEC is problematic in a whole bunch of ways. I’m just not seeing yet that they are any worse (or better) off than any of us in the perennial problem of explaining theodicy.

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7 billion, 10 trillion…that is bizarre. The current world population is estimated at 7.7 billion. So they assert that the population was near (or a thousand times) current levels, derived from one couple in the timeframe of 2000 years, and leaving no archeological evidence they ever existed?

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Can you explain how EC does not require incest in the beginning of human life.

With evolution, new species do not evolve as individuals but rather as populations. That is, there was not a “first” human who reproduced with another “first” human, but rather a slow development of a population that grew to become what we recognize as human. Therefore, there was always a population of potential mates who were not closely related. Of course that affects how you interpret Adam and Eve. That is covered by quite a few articles on the website, but can discuss further if desired.https://biologos.org/common-questions/were-adam-and-eve-historical-figures
It might be more easily visualized to look at other animals. In much the same way, there was never a first dog, but rather a slow process of domestication and change from the wild wolf to our furry friend, with probable repeated reintroduction of wild DNA from wolves surrounding them.

That is a quick and superficial explanation, ask if you find areas needed further explanation, or if I have not addressed your question properly.

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@jpm gives a good explanation above, particularly by pointing out that evolution happens to population groups rather than individuals.

To answer your question even more simply:

  • Non EC views have Adam and Eve and their children populating the world through intermarriage/interbreeding.

  • In EC the founding human population who are ancestors of us all today was around 10-15,000 reproductivly active individuals (with around 100,000-300,000 total pop size). Needless to say, this large group were not all siblings!

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For me the biggest one is this:

God has revealed himself in nature and scripture, and he’s equipped humans with the faculties we need to interpret both of them pretty reliably.

When it comes to the natural world, scientists (both Christian and non-Christian) have shown beyond all reasonable doubt that (A) the earth is ancient, and (B) life evolved gradually over billions of years. These positions have been continuously verified over the last 150 years or so.

However, for the YEC position to be correct there are two options:

First, God created everything to appear ancient and evolved, when in fact they are not.

Second, nearly all scientists, both Christian and non-Christian, using their God-given faculties to investigate the natural world, are mistaken. And these two positions (old earth & evolution), which are fundamental to all the scientific disciplines, are false. (This is discussed more in chapter one of Biologos’ Darrel Falk’s book Coming To Peace With Science)

The first option leads to the conclusion that God has done something deceptive. The second, that the faculties God has given us to investigate his world are fundamentally in error, so much so that even faithful Christians working in the sciences are mistaken too. To me, both are untenable.

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My point about the death in the flood being without mercy is because it is presented as a judgement from God in the Bible, and there is the implication that no-one except Noah and his family responded to God’s call to turn to him. That is why everyone else drowned. The flood is tricky whichever way you look at it, but for me, the version that seems to go against God’s character the most is the global flood.

Responding to jpm as well.

Thank you for the simple explanation. I struggle to understand how you get to 10-15,000 people for the starting population. Did that many evolve in the same way at the same time? Evolution seems improbable enough, expecting that many things to evolve in the same way at the same time is not something I can wrap my mind around.

That is not how evolution happens. Perhaps this will help. Imagine a pond of salt water that formed near the beach. There is a small stream of fresh water that runs into this pond. Assuming no more salt water enters the pond over time the water will become less salty on average. Now there may be places where the water is almost entirely fresh and others that remain salty but the trend is towards fresh water. All of the water doesn’t have to change at the same time. Same way with a change in a population. Over time the change applies to more and more members of the population.

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It’s maybe best not to think of it in terms of a ‘starting’ population for the simple reason that, as @jpm mentioned, this population emerged gradually over many years. ‘Founding’ or ‘founder’ population refers, then, to the group of anatomically modern humans we all descend from.

Answering your question more directly though, the basic picture of human evolution as I understand it (and I’m kind of using Denis Alexander’s book Creation or Evolution? as a guide) is that around 6 million years ago, two lineages split from a group of apes. One lineage lead to chimpanzees, the other led to us. It took millions of years for the lineage we come from to give rise to us. On the way, our lineage branched of into a number of different hominin species, and one of them (maybe homo heidelbergensis) eventually gave rise to us.

All this means is that an isolated group of homo heidelbergensis gradually evolved into homo sapiens over many thousands of years, with anatomically modern homo sapiens (humans who looked like us) appearing around 200,000 years ago.

In looking for a concrete example, look at how Holstein cattle came to dominate the dairy industry (or you could look at dog breeds or Butterball turkeys). While selective breeding has some differences from natural evolution, there are some parallels. The ancient cow was quite different from a Holstein, but with many generations of selection for particular traits, the herd of cattle grew to produce more milk, and be better suited to milking. Never was there a first Holstein but rather the herd grew more Holstein like with passing generations. Of course, here there may have been a little cow incest, but in general cattle breeders are careful to avoid breeding the same bull back into the herd in following generations. None the less, the traits that provided benefit increased and undesirable traits were not selected for and bred and so disappeared from the herd. Ultimately, a specific breed “evolved” due to the selective pressure.
in much the same way, as Bill said in his example of brackish water, the changes take place, though from one individual to its offspring, those changes are not evident. In the population, the frequency increases of the trait selected or just by happenstance becomes more frequent (neutral drift.)
Hum. Is the hand on God more evident in neutral drift than natural selection?

Another analogy is languages. A modern English speaker would probably not understand an English speaker from 1,000 years ago. For example, here is some Old English:

And yet, there was a continuous population from that time to this, and every generation could understand each other and the generations before and after them. There was never a time where there was a first modern English speaker, but a constantly and slowly changing language that accumulated enough differences so that people separated by a thousand or more years would not understand each other. In fact, Darwin also used language as an analogy for evolution:

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I hesitate to share an alternative view that exactly suggests the opposite, that the mass slaughter was a necessity when you realize what was slaughtered, not humans created in the image of God, but a new race of humans that mixed with fallen angels (Gen 6:1-8) to corrupt God’s (very good) creation even further after the Fall in Paradise, with as result:

Gen 6:5 - The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

I don’t particularly like this alternative view but it was believed by several early church fathers and likely even by Paul.

What do expect from people who look for any excuse and alteration of the Bible that will make it contradict any rationality let alone the findings of science? I wonder if it is like the act of a magician, all about pulling your eyes and attention away from things so they can control what you think is happening.

Thanks for this. I don’t like it either, but I can see how people might believe it and use it as a basis for accepting killing on a wide scale. This would mean that God communicates what each generation needs. After Noah, the thought of only 8 being left should have been a major warning to them - though they ignored it! For Paul, your idea about fallen angels might have been enough for people to accept that it happened. But for our generation which really struggles with an event like that, we have the science to suggest it wasn’t actually that big! The danger for our generation is that we either focus on the awesomeness and holiness of God, and ignore science - so God is a terrifying judge, or we use science to chop out anything we don’t like about God! And then we have great understanding, but no real relationship with God. Our job is to find the middle ground I think! He is not a tame lion, but he is good!

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