The Origins of Young Earth Creationism

About 20% of my high school class was LDS, and they are a prominent fixture the region I live in. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, though. All I meant to say is that I am sure Joseph Smith said a few things that mainline Christians would agree with. I didn’t think it was that controversial. For example:

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Then you probably have more exposure to the young ones than me. But really? “Charity”? Is that the best you can come up with? Theologically, they’re what the Reformed Baptist, James White, called “a moving target” (i.e. savvy enough to modify their theology when they have to in order to avoid good ol’ persecution to whip them into shape". Personally, I’d have said “they’re inclined to be in favor of law and order, as a general rule.”

I think you are right on there. Thoughout history, those in the Abrahamic faiths no doubt held to a young earth, as there really was no alternative that they were exposed to. Other cultures and religious traditions may have differing ages of the earth. However, those early Christians and Jews did not see it as a central tenant of their faith. Of testimony to that, is that Adam is not mentioned in the Old Testament as the first human after early Genesis. Of course, Genesis may have not been compiled until much later.
In much the same way, science really did not think there was anything else but water, air, earth,and fire for a long time. And once Newton came around, did not dream that relativity was a thing until we learned it is a closer approximation to reality than Newton proposed.
So, what White did was establish the current YEC model, which differs from the young earth beliefs of the past in many ways.

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(Continued from previous post #32)

Having shifted my focus from the OP to the video mentioned in the OP, I zoom in on the video’s attribution of modern young creationism’s origins to: “Answer in Genesis” and Ken Ham, AND to Creation Ministries International and the Institute for Creation Research.
First, let’s see what AiG and/or Ken Ham have to say about their “origin”.

  • For lovers of Ken Ham, I offer his own testimony, recorded and publicized in the AiG video: Fire in My Bones: Ken Ham’s Testimony. Yes, a transcript is available. No, I’m not agonna download and offer readers a copy. Just click on the three dots on the right, below the video title.
  • And/or read what he has to say in his entry posted in his blog AND in AiG (January 10, 2017) entitled "My Parents Are to Blame! where he rags on Joel Duff–whom some of you may be acquainted with–and says:
    • “In regard to Duff’s somewhat sarcastic and at times demeaning language (really invoking ad hominem attacks on me), what I specifically wanted to comment on was the false accusation that what we believe at AiG had its roots in the Seventh Day Adventist movement with Ellen White.”
    • Actually, what I believe concerning God’s Word beginning in Genesis is a result of my parents training me to stand boldly, uncompromisingly, and unashamedly on the authority of the Word of God. My parents hated compromise and did their best to uphold and honor the authority of God’s Word without in any way knowingly compromising God’s Word with fallible ideas of man. I was a creationist interested in teaching God’s Word in Genesis and opposing evolutionary ideas before I ever heard of Henry Morris or any others that Duff mentions who had an interest in the topic of origins, the Flood, and other issues in Genesis.
    • Duff also incorrectly implies that Adventist George McCready Price invented the young-earth view and that it was merely modified by Whitcomb and Morris (authors of The Genesis Flood ). But Price most definitely did not. He was interpreting the geological record using “biblical glasses,” just like the scriptural geologists did and as modern young-earth creationists do. Duff needs to do some careful research instead of following unbelievers like Ronald Numbers and the writers of Wikipedia articles (who, among other things, have ignored Mortenson’s scholarly work on the scriptural geologists)!
  • There!! You got it from “the horse’s mouth”, so to speak. For those you who have difficulty finding or understanding what Ham is saying, allow me to 'splain it to you: Ken ain’t sharing his glory with Ellen G. White or the SDAs, whether you like it or not.
  • That leaves “the other guys”: Henry Morris, John Whitcomb, and George McReady Price. I turn my focus to them in my next post.

(To be continued)

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So Ham would have us know that none of this started with him.
… It started with his parents?!
And before them. God.

Conversation over. (along with any further education). For Ham.

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Speaking of…

“When Ego and Creation Science Meet: A History of the Answers in Genesis Split”

http://oldearth.org/Answers_in_Genesis_Creation_Ministries_International_split.htm

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Well, I guess “he was there” after all.

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  1. Why did Ham’s parents include YEC as part of their no-compromise interpretation of the Bible?
  2. What YEC literature did Ham read that helped him form his current YEC views? How much of that literature was ultimately inspired by Price, Morris, and Whitcomb?

Even fellow creationists admit that Morris and Whitcomb borrowed heavily from Price:

I am sure that if we dug deep enough we could find Ham himself using arguments that were first used by Price himself because that is the intellectual heritage of the modern YEC movement.

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People here still don’t get it…YEC is not a religious denomination!
It is a standard doctrinal belief that has existed for thousands of years Of what those who follow the literal biblical genealogy believe is the age of the earth.

In my last post I wrote I don’t know who to laugh at first because, other denominations say they have proof EG White plagerised all her important work. So if it [her work] is plagerised, then you guys are up the creek without a paddle…you either have to deny she plagerised, therefore validating the SDA church claim that her writings are inspired by God or, nope she didn’t start the YEC movement…that was copied from someone else!

As several people have mentioned, exact definitions of terms such as “YEC” are critical here. Ron Numbers’ study, published as the book The Creationists, documents that the version of young-earth creationism that was popularized by Whitcomb and Morris has its origins in Price’s attempts to claim that geology supported the teachings of Ellen White. Numbers comes from an SDA background, and he talked with a number of prominent people in the modern young-earth movement who accepted the accuracy of his history. There was a small tradition of attempting to support a young-earth with scientific data also in the Missouri Synod Lutheran denomination (along with some geocentrism), but apart from those, pretty much everyone had gotten the word that the scientific data supported an old earth by the late 1800’s. However, from what little information I have seen, they seem to have been inconveniently concerned with accuracy and did not approve of “The Genesis Flood”.

In turn, Ellen White got her start in the “Great Disappointment”, when the Millerite predictions of the second coming did not pan out. (SDA and some other groups claim that the prediction was true but not in the expected manner.) The Millerite movement exemplified the “I can interpret the Bible for myself without any checks or balances from the insights of others” attitude, and was thus quite popular but not very coherent.

By 1848, Michael Tuomey, in his Geology of South Carolina, refers to the perception of a conflict between the timescale of geology and the Bible as a thing of the past. The “Scriptural Geologists” do not seem to have had much influence at the academic level; the degree to which the general public was swayed is much less documented [on all issues, not just this one]. I have seen, but not relocated, a book from the mid to later 1800’s in the US that took its timeline straight from Ussher, so I don’t know if it had Adventist or other sectarian influence.

Many modern sources apply false dichotomies and assume that any reference to a relatively young earth or global flood means the same teaching as modern YEC, but in reality there is no connection, for example, between a religious claim that people have been reincarnating through cycles of millions of years and a geologic assessment of earth’s age. (Ironically, Carl Baugh, one of the looser screws of the creation science movement, is featured in a Hare Krishna video that pushes humans reincarnating for millions of years.) Likewise, the catastrophist geologists of the late 1700’s to early 1800’s did not try to cram all geology into Noah’s Flood. They recognized that most geologic layers formed slowly, under ordinary conditions, but thought that occasional major catastrophes accounted for major changes. Noah’s flood was seen as probably describing the most recent of those events (with varying views on how accurate a description it was).

The approach of Ussher, Newton, and others in the 1500’s and 1600’s was quite different from modern young-earth views. For the early to medieval church, the position tended to be that there was no historical evidence for vast time (in contrast to the mythical “histories” of many cultures), while being quite ready to take a fairly figurative approach to Genesis 1. Beginning in the 1500’s, several scholars tried to put together an overall history of the world. The Bible was their most important source for ancient history, but any other sources available [in that day, in Europe, mostly Greek and Roman] were also used, along with intelligent guesswork about the parts not documented. Ussher’s famous 4004 BC was widely thought to be a well-argued estimate, but the dates calculated ranged from higher 3000’s BC (e.g., Isaac Newton) to over 5000 BC. Modern conventions for reporting precision did not yet exist, so the fact that Ussher said 4004 does not mean that he would have objected to any of the other estimates. Note also that 4004 is exactly 4000 years before 4 BC, widely accepted as the year of Jesus’ birth. This is not a coincidence; after all, the Bible doesn’t cover all the years, and there are textual issues requiring scholarly judgement where there are numbers in the Bible, so Ussher had to make some decisions. He was influenced by the tradition of chiliasm, going back to the 2nd century AD. Chiliasm took the verses (Ps 90, quoted in 2nd Peter) about “a thousand years are like a day” to mean that earth history would last for exactly 6 1000 year periods. If Jesus’s birth starts a new 1000 year interval, then creation must be exactly something thousand years before. (Of course, creation in 4004 BC by chiliasm implies the second coming was in 1997, and we’re all left behind - chiliasm has a problem these days beyond highly doubtful exegesis.)

In the mid-1600’s, people began to add geologic evidence to the types of historical data that could be used to put together a history of the earth. (Martin Rudwick’s books are excellent sources on the development of geology; The Earth’s Deep History is a good place to start.) By the late 1600’s, some began to think that geology was pointing to a rather old earth; by the 1770’s it was unambiguously clear to anyone in touch with academic geology that the earth was old. Ironically, one person not closely in touch with academic geology was William Smith, whose work had taught him that different geologic layers occurred in a consistent sequence across England and Wales. As Steve Gould pointed out in a review, Simon Winchester’s claim in The Map that Changed the World that Smith was boldly risking jail by challenging the church in saying that the earth was old is untrue. In reality, it was a couple of minister friends of Smith who pointed out to him that his findings indicated an old earth. Smith was big on identifying layers and had not been much concerned about how they formed. Similarly bogus but biased in the opposite direction from Winchester, Price falsely claims that Smith made up his stratigraphy in support of old earth views. The general theological response to these developments was " so there’s a big chunk of pre-human earth history that the Bible skipped over as theologically unimportant. That’s interesting."

Modern young-earth creationism takes the modernistic approach of insisting that Genesis 1 has to be treated as a modern scientific account, and is not a continuation of historical views.

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No one said that YEC is a Christian denomination. What we are saying is that modern YEC is different from the beliefs in the past. It is probably better described as scientific creationism. It is an attempt to reconcile a belief in a young Earth with modern science. Obviously, this couldn’t really exist before the 19th century. Also, a belief in a young Earth was quickly falling out of favor among mainline Christian denominations in the 19th and 20th century, and modern science had a lot to do with that. This new wave of young Earth beliefs had a lot to do with movement started by Price, Morris, and Whitcomb and the scientific arguments they put forth.

Price clearly stated that he began the scientific defense of SDA young Earth beliefs to defend the claims made by White. Plagiarism wouldn’t change any of those facts.

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actually plagerism absolutely does change the facts…its completely changes them…you are using as evidence the claim a poorly educated/illiterate crackpot plagerist came up with young earth creationism.
Do you not appreciate how utterly stupid that makes this idea sound?
On the other hand, SDA’s are now able to use your own claim as reference to counter the widely held view by almost the entire known religious denominations community, that her works are invalid!

after reading through your post…honestly, that is rubbish, very misleading and in fact largely falsehood…
you make reference to Tuomy…well here is the thing with that man:
Tuomey was most remembered for his obstruction of investigations into the “Swill milk scandal”, a public health and animal cruelty scandal that erupted in New York City during the summer of 1858…
Tuomey assumed a central role in the ensuing investigations, and, with fellow Aldermen E. Harrison Reed and William Tucker, shielded the dairies and turned the hearings into one-sided exercises designed to make dairy critics and established health authorities look ridiculous, even going to the extent of arguing that swill milk was actually as good or better for children than regular milk. With Reed and others, Tuomey successfully blocked any serious inquiry into the dairies and stymied calls for reform. For the rest of his career, he was caricatured as “Swill Milk” Tuomey.

You reference Carl Baugh…that would be a rather unfortunate choice to make as:
The scientific community considers his claims pseudoscience. The creationist groups Answers in Genesis and Answers in Creation have characterized his claims as incorrect or deceptive.[4] Baugh claims to have multiple doctorates, all of which are from unaccredited schools.[5] He was also the president and a graduate of Pacific International University, an unaccredited university located in Springfield, Missouri.

I havent yet researched your other references, however, considering the nature of these two, i doubt the credibility of the claims you make with the remaining ones!

What I am saying is that the SDA movement gave rise to the modern YEC movement. If White plagiarized anything it still doesn’t disprove what I am saying. White inspired Price, Price inspired Morris and Whitcomb, and from that sprung the modern YEC movement.

Do you understand that ridicule is not a valid replacement for rational arguments?

What?

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  1. George McCready Price was inspired by White and SDA doctrines to make a scientific defense of a young Earth, a recent global flood, and created kinds.

  2. Morris and Whitcomb picked up on Price’s work and popularized it among the general Christian population.

  3. The modern YEC movement we see today is a product of what Price, Morris, and Whitcomb did.

Which parts do you think are conspiracy?

It is supported by Kurt Wise who is a prominent YEC and Christian.

https://digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=icc_proceedings

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A specific example/link is SDA Frank L. Marsh–Price’s student who coined the term “baramin” (“created kind”) and was a founding member of the Creation Research Society (along with Henry Morris and Duane Gish). Baraminology remains a key scientific term & research program for YECs. The historical connections are clear.

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A. Ken Ham’s father’s father died when Ken’s father was 16. According to Ken, his father turned to the scriptures and found solace in the belief that God was his father. Ken’s father, Mervyn, became a teacher in a Christian school and was a firm believer in the literal scripture, i.e. he was a hardcore Concordist, I think it’s called. According to Ken, his father would become upset over pastoral departures from scripture.
B. Ken’s mother, Norah Harwood, was one of several children of William John and Agnes (nee Gibson) Harwood. If you had watched Ken’s video, you’d have heard him interview his mother who talked about riding a bicycle a mile to pick up two girls whose father wouldn’t take them to church and give 'em a ride two miles (I think it was) to Sunday School then give them a ride back to their home and then ride another mile back to her own home. Norah (Harwood) Ham told Ken about a school reunion many years later, when both girls thanked her for the rides that went on for several months, until their father finally decided to take them to church. One had remained an active Christian since the bicycle rides but the other admitted to having fallen away, but promised to start going again.
(B) As for why Ken’s mother would go to that length to help two friends attend Sunday School, Norah told Ken, her mother was a devout Christian and attended church. I can’t swear on it, but I suspect “church” wasn’t a “mass” in a Catholic Church or an SDA Sabbath worship. SDAs tend to be very comfortable telling others that they’re SDAs. Norah’s father was also church-going people.
(C) I add for the ignorant: Ken was born in Australia and so were his parents. His maternal grandparents, the Harwoods, were originally–if my genealogical research on Ancestry.com is correct–from Ireland. It’s not impossible, but not likely, IMHO, that Norah’s parents were SDAs or SDA-slackers. If they weren’t, I’d say a rubber hose connecting them to Elllen G. White gets stretched mighty then. Ken Ham’s paternal grandfather died by the time Mervyn Ham turned 17.My best guess is that Ken’s paternal granparents were not SDA, but stay tuned: I’m still researching that side of Ken’s family tree.

  • You ask "what YEC literature Ham read that “helped” him form his current YEC views? LOL! I don’t expect you to take my word for it, … at least not when I shared a link to his lengthy testimony, or you can take my word for it. Ken’s esteem for his parents is pretty clear, he didn’t need literature to jump start his YEC views, he was raised by parents who had those views before he was born. As for YEC views, I don’t what you have in mind when you refer to them, but to my way of thinking: the basics are pretty simple: 1 Day in Genesis means 1 24-hour day. The rest is icing on the cake. My Deaf stepmother–born in 1886 and died in 1973–believed that, unless and until she shifted to the 1 Day = 1,000 years version, and she was a Southern Baptist. Yeah, I know the difference between a 1 Day = 24 hours and 1 Day = 1,000 years. Shifting from the first to the second ain’t hard: You start with believing the world is flat, then you decide that the world is like zucchini and that hell will freeze over before you ever believe it’s like an orange.

@Mervin_Bitikofer Sorry. Initially started to post something to you, then decided to post to @T_aquaticus instead.

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@Terry_Sampson thanks for the background on Ham’s family. It humanizes him, which is always a good thing, especially with those with whom we have sharp disagreements. No doubt, belief in a young earth can readily be had from a literal reading of the Scriptures. I just wonder when and how the creationism part was added to his way of thinking. (You mentioned concordism, but I’m thinking more about the specifics, like flood geology.)

Perhaps a small example would help.

Ken Ham talks about baramins in this article:

Did Ken Ham come up with baraminology all on his own? Probably not. Chances are, he got this view from other creationists, and as shown in the @KJTurner 's above, those ideas can be traced back to George McCready Price.

I also did a quick search over at AiG to see if they cite closed sea shells as evidence for a catastrophic flood. Sure enough, they do. Guess where that argument came from? George McCready Price.

We are seeing scientific arguments for a young Earth, and a massive portion of that tradition traces back to Price and the SDA’s.

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