A Historical Sketch of Young-Earth Creationism

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Aaron Blumer's picture

Enjoyed that. Fortunately for him, "ushers" had probably not been invented (evolved?) yet in his day.

Bert Perry's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Didn't is sort of start with this guy in the 1600's?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ussher

I was actually thinking "Moses" is said to have been the guy who wrote it down, but even that ignores what, two and a half millenia of the story being handed down orally and possibly through pre-Mosaic writings.  Seriously, Ussher's contribution is simply a very interesting compilation of ancient records and an attempt to give a solid starting date.  It wasn't as if he introduced the notion that the earth was young.  

ScottS's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Didn't is sort of start with this guy in the 1600's?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ussher

The main article here is specifically discussing the "modern Young Earth Creationist (YEC) movement," which is young earth creationism in a narrower sense and which I do think Morris is the correct "start" point, as it occurred after the rise of Darwinian evolution in the 1800s (which obviously came after Ussher) and YEC was in part a response to evolution.

But even in a broader sense of young earth creationism, I don't think Ussher can be credited as the "start" of it either. Now depending on how one wants to define "young," if we consider it 500,000 or less years (which is "young" from evolutionary perspectives), then nearly all ancient people (the Hindu chronology an exception) held to a young earth. Additionally, while Ussher is the most popular, the Wikipedia article on him notes he was not the first (emphasis added):

But while calculating the date of the Creation is today considered a controversial activity, in Ussher's time such a calculation was still regarded as an important task, one previously attempted by many Post-Reformation scholars, such as Joseph Justus Scaliger and physicist Isaac Newton.

So Ussher might be considered to have codified the roughly 6,000 (now; approx. 5,600 in Ussher's day) year timeline used by many modern YEC proponents (with some modifications by people), I don't think he can be considered to have "started" either the concept of young earth creation nor the modern YEC movement.

Scott Smith, Ph.D.

The goal now, the destiny to come, holiness like God—
Gen 1:27, Lev 19:2, 1 Pet 1:15-16

Aaron Blumer's picture

Thanks, Scott. Agree with how you have summarized it. 

I personally lean towards an older date than Ussher's, but well within the YEC ballpark.

dgszweda's picture

I would argue that Morris started Scientific Creationism, not Young Earth Creationism.  The focus of his book and the ones that followed, including ICR and AiG is to drive an interpretation of scientific facts and align them to a literal reading of the Creation Account.  Early pockets of Fundamentalism didn't believe in YEC, but there were a lot of independent baptists and pockets of fundamentalism that held to a YEC far earlier than Morris, and some could argue a line much farther back.

For example, George Price published "Illogical Geology: The Weakest Point in the Evolution Theory" in 1906 and he had some earlier publications before this period.  Because he was a Seventh Day Adventist, he was largely ignored.  He was influenced by writings from Ellen White's YEC view in the mid-1800's, and so on and so on.....

It has also been argued and shown that Morris' work is essentially a rewrite of Price's book "The New Geology".   would argue that there nothing that unique in Morris' work, save for the fact that it took the ideas from being held back within the shroud of Seventh Day Adventism, into the realm of Fundamentalism.

I would argue that the book did more damage to a Christian view of the Genesis account than it did good.  The reason why I state this, was that much of the scientific information in the book has been proven incorrect.  In addition many of the quotes made in the book were either incorrect or taken out of context.  Many Christians that I am familiar with have abandoned a 6 day view, because after being taught from this book and subsequent ones that followed, they have no found them to be quite poor and thus they have no confidence in a YEC view because they were taught to rely on poor science to make an argument for the view and not a correct theological view.

Aaron Blumer's picture

It's built into the nature of science that discoveries and findings later turn out to be incorrect or superceded by later discoveries. 

So, "innaccurate" often just means "now out of date." And sometimes there's retrograde progress, so to speak... Old, abandoned ideas turn out to have been prematurely rejected  

 

TylerR's picture

It was a very good series. The remarks about separation in the last installment make me remember my own seminary days, and some of the early stuff I wrote on SI. It's a bit startling to see how my own context has changed so much; I haven't given much sustained thought to the alleged implications of association with the more conservative evangelicals (e.g. Mohler, MacArthur, Dever, White, Sproul, etc.) for a very long time. My own reaction made me realize how I've moved in my own thinking since Seminary. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I think I'll re-read Pickering's book soon.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

dgszweda's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

It's built into the nature of science that discoveries and findings later turn out to be incorrect or superceded by later discoveries. 

So, "innaccurate" often just means "now out of date." And sometimes there's retrograde progress, so to speak... Old, abandoned ideas turn out to have been prematurely rejected  

 

And that is the very root of the problem with the work.  It sought to convince and give confidence to Christians that despite the scientific community being supportive of evolution because of the science, Morris would re-evaluate that science to show that it supported Scripture.  Christians began to hold onto those arguments, and began espousing these arguments in their churches and to their unsaved friends to "prove" creation.  What was later found out (which is natural of science) is that the arguments after a few years did not hold up.  And Christians began realizing that.  Either the underlying scientific theories or the arguments that Morris used were later found to be false or modified, or that the quotes that Morris used were eventually shown to be taken out of context.  And so Christians began to struggle that their arguments were based on ever changing and falsified information to prove a never changing truth taught in Scripture.  Does our proof in a YEC view of Scripture become dependent on the theology laid out in Scripture, or is that theology not sufficient that we need to depend on a humanistic study of science that is constantly being overturned to prove or argue for the proof of YEC?   would claim that Morris' approach to creation is a more dangerous route than resting in the confidence of the theology.

Ron Bean's picture

How come no one uses the Paluxy River footprints anymore? SMILE

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan