Belief in a "Young Earth"
A list of "proofs" by Answers in Genesis &
that web sites should avoid: Part 1.
Web sites and other information sources written by creationists typically interpret the creation stories at the beginning of the Book of Genesis literally. Genesis is the first book in the Pentateuch, Torah and Bible. Most "Young Earth" creationists assume that the Hebrew word "yom" in Genesis refers to a 24 hour day. This leads to estimates of the age of the Earth and the rest of the universe between 6,000 and 10,000 years.
Meanwhile, all or essentially all cosmologists, biologists, paleontologists, and geologists who are not Young Earth creationists have reached a consensus that the earth coalesced about 4.5 billion years ago -- almost half a million times longer. The ratio between 10,000 and 4.5 billion years is approximately the same as the ratio between the thickness of two pieces of 20 pound printer paper and the length of a football field! This is one massive discrepancy!
Belief in a Young Earth is very important to most creationists because they and everyone else agrees that it would not allow sufficient time for the evolution of animal and plant species to have occurred by natural selection. Accepting a Young Earth means that evolution is absolutely impossible. The only alternative to evolution that writers have offered is the creation of the species by a deity or at perhaps by intelligent beings whose knowledge is far in advance of ours.
A literal interpretation of Genesis is also important to most Christians because it teaches that Adam and Eve disobeyed God's instructions by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. By doing this, they magically developed a moral sense which they apparently did not possess when God created them. Many creationists believe that this transgression caused sin and death to enter the world for the first time. Further, Adam and Eve's sin and guilt were subsequently transferred to all of their descendents as "original sin," down to the present day. That teaching is very important because if all humans on earth are not born with original sin, then Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) would have a little if any role to play in people's salvation according to Christianity's historical interpretation of sin and salvation.
Unfortunately, many new Earth creationists use "proofs" that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old that are weak and easily refuted as false. Some conservative Christians feel that by promoting such invalid "proofs," new Earth web sites will lose credibility and that this would eventually cause people to reject the entire Young Earth concept.
In 2002-JAN, the OCRT -- the group that maintains this web site -- studied one of these invalid proofs. It was based on the rate at which the earth's rotation is continuously slowing. The author of a book misinterpreted this rate and concluded that if the Earth had coalesced 4.5 billion years ago, it would have been originally rotating so fast that it would have coalesced in the shape of a pancake. Since the Earth obviously is not a pancake -- except in the minds of some members of the Flat Earth Society -- the book's author concluded that the Earth must be young.
The OCRT approached the webmasters of 15 web sites who had discussed the "pancake theory," explaining the error in the book author's reasoning. They suggested that the webmasters remove that "proof" from their site. We suggested that to leave such an obviously invalid proof in place would eventually lead to a loss of credibility of their website and eventually to disbelief in the Young Earth.
Over the following six months, we received a total of six responses. However, it appears that none of the webmasters removed the false proof from their web sites. Since that time, the number of web sites on the Internet that present this "proof" seems to have increased.
We had originally intended to follow up this dialogue by discussing other easily refuted proofs that we felt were lowering the credibility of the Young Earth cause. We planned to continue with the commonly expressed -- but incorrect -- belief that evolution would have violated the Second Law of Thermodynamics. However, our total failure at dialogue about the "pancake Earth" theory discouraged us from making further attempts.
Two leading Young Earth groups, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and Creation Ministries International (CMI) picked up the same theme. They co-published an article titled "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use." 1,2 AIG states:
"Why should a Christian ministry maintain a list of arguments creationists should avoid? As a ministry, we want to honor God and represent Christ well when we defend His Word. This means using honest, intellectually sound arguments that are based in Scripture, logic, and scientific research. Because there are so many good arguments for a recent creation (which the Bible clearly teaches), we have no need to grasp at straws—arguments using questionable logic and tenuous or no evidence. Answers in Genesis is not willing to distort evidence or resort to bad logic to defend the Bible.
Furthermore, there is little harm in avoiding questionable arguments—or, at least, stating that certain interpretations of evidence are doubtful—since there are plenty of valid arguments with well-documented evidences against molecules-to-man evolution, atheism, and the like. Using bad arguments allows evolutionists to easily “refute” creationists by sidestepping the actual case for biblical creation. Even one instance of using a faulty argument can lead someone to write off creationism as pseudoscientific and dismiss creationists as shoddy researchers—or charlatans!
A final reason for avoiding flawed arguments is that it leads to faulty thinking. Answers in Genesis is not just about defending a young-earth creation; ultimately, the ministry wants to teach people to start from Scripture and think biblically in all areas of life. The Bible explains the world around us, and since the Bible’s description of earthly things is true, its gospel message is also true." 1
Ralph M Barnes and Rebecca A. Church wrote an article that was published in Skeptic Magazine during 2011. It discussed the AIG and CMI article. They wrote:
"It is not clear exactly when this list of arguments to be avoided was first posted to the Internet, but by August, 2002, Kent Hovind (the founder of Dinosaur Adventure Land theme park and the Creation Science Evangelism organization) had responded to the list in order to voice his disagreements with some of the items on it." 3
We have a hunch that our web site's article in early 2002 describing our unsuccessful efforts to convince Young Earth websites of the errors involved in the "pancake Earth" proof may have triggered AIG and CMI to write their article later that year.
Barnes' and Church's article in Skeptic Magazine:
They listed the 41 "proofs" that AIG and CMI show on their web sites. A few of of the "proofs" appear on only one of those sites.
Information (in brackets) are explanations added by the author of this essay:
- 1. No transitional fossils exist. (Most creationists believe that each kind or species of plant and animal is a special creation of God. The Theory of Evolution is based on certain species being ancestors of other later species, and that any two species have a common ancestor.)
- 2. No genetic mutations are beneficial. (The Theory of Evolution by natural selection is based on the belief that some randomly occurring genetic mutations give specific animals a breeding advantage over other members of the same species.)
- 3. Microevolution (very small genetic changes) have occurred. However, macroevolution (genetic changes great enough to generate a new species) are impossible.
- 4. Eugene Dubois, the first person to deliberately search for fossils of human ancestors, claimed that one of his discoveries -- a partial fossil of Java Man -- was a gibbon. (Java Man was one of the first known specimens of Homo erectus. Most anthropologists believe that modern humans are direct ancestors of African populations of Homo erectus). 4
- 5. No new species have ever been produced. (Normally, the evolution of new species takes place so slowly that no scientist could live long enough to view the new species emerging. However in at least two cases, evolution has been directly observed. One involved a new species of fruit fly evolving in a laboratory; the other involved a new species of fish evolving in African lakes. Meanwhile there are lots of fossils that demonstrate evolution.)
- 6. The thickness of dust on the Moon's surface proves that the Earth is young. (This belief has been traced back to one person's misinterpretation of a scientific article. The error was accepted and later discussed on many creationist web sites).
Related essay on this web site:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Arguments we don't use," Answers in Genesis, undated, at: http://www.answersingenesis.org/
- "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use," Creation Ministries International, undated, at: http://creation.com/
- Ralph M Barnes & Rebecca A Church, "The Blind Leading the Blind," Skeptic magazine, Vol. 16, #4, Pages 36 to 41.
- "Java Man," Wikipedia, as on 2012-JUL-16, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2012-JUL-29
Latest update: 2012-JUL-30
Author: B.A. Robinson