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young Earth creationists
Young Earth creationists (YEers) believe that Earth and everything living and non-living on the planet was created a few thousand years ago by the god featured in the mythology of the ancient Jews (Abraham's god or AG). The stories told in Genesis 1 and 2 (among other biblical stories) are taken by YEers to be the inerrant word of AG, which they understand to say that he created the planet and all species in unique acts less than 10,000 years ago. All current geological formations were brought about by a great flood that Noah and those on his ark survived. This view requires the YEers to deny many important scientific discoveries in geology, archaeology, physics, and biology. Furthermore, many YEers feel an obligation to oppose science itself as an evil. This is most apparent in the work of anti-evolution creationists who blame all the world's ills on the acceptance of evolution and who actively work toward the elimination of secular society.
Scientists have discovered that our solar system and Earth formed about 4.6 billion years ago (bya) and that life on the planet may have originated 3.9 bya. We have evidence of multicellular organisms existing 1.2 bya. There is evidence from a number of scientific disciplines that all species on earth have evolved from common ancestors, including the human species about 150,000 to 100,000 years ago. (For a beautiful timeline of what science has discovered, click here.)
Since YEers start with the belief that their young Earth creationist account is the inerrant word of an omniscient and all-powerful being, they see science as an enemy and scientific progress as something they must oppose, presumably because the fate of their eternal souls depends on it. If they fail to uphold the word of AG, they will suffer eternal torments devised by AG to punish those who go against his word. On the bright side, if they uphold the word of AG by vigorously opposing science, they think AG will reward them with special treats in the afterlife.
Clearly, YEers are not rational, though their anti-scientific behavior is a logical consequence of their belief that they are defending the inerrant word of AG. Any attempt to reason with them, however, is fruitless. One can point out their errors from now until doomsday, but to no avail. They don't admit of error, since they believe they are defending the inerrant word of AG. (Apparently, they don't even admit that they might be wrong about the Bible being the inerrant word of AG because this is revealed to them in the Bible itself.) To their credit (or discredit, depending on how one looks at these kinds of things), the YEers of recent years have developed an impressive set of tactics (quantitatively speaking) to confound those who find their position untenable in light of the discoveries of science. Many YEers exert enormous amounts of rhetoric and specious logic in an attempt to show fault with any scientific discovery that seems to contradict their weird interpretations of ancient Hebrew documents. These rhetorical hurricanes apparently give succor to their band of loyal followers. (For more on these tactics, see the entries on creation science and intelligent design. Or check out the work of people like Henry M. Morris, Ken Ham, or Duane Gish.) One should not mistake their absurd interpretations of Jewish mythology as evidence of their inability to reason. YEers are quite capable of devising many devious and dishonest ruses to accomplish their goals, as evidenced by the whole idea of "creation science," their behavior in the Dover trial, and by their devious campaign to "teach the controversy" to get their particular view of religion into our science classrooms. (Note: not all defenders of creation science or intelligent design are YEers; nor are all YEers defenders of creation science or intelligent design. One does not have to be a young Earth creationist to engage in dishonest and deceptive tactics while serving one's Lord.)
Rational people, when confronted with mythological stories of creation that contradict what we know from hundreds of years of scientific discovery, either reject the myths outright or interpret them figuratively. For example, the Adam and Eve stories in Genesis might be rejected as quaint propaganda put forth to make the Jews, as "the chosen people," feel connected to the most powerful being in the universe. Or the stories might be seen as a way to impress on the Jews their utter dependence on their god. Given what science has discovered about the nature of things and the origin of our species, no rational person can hold that an invisible being breathed life into little clay figures or took a rib from a man and fashioned a woman out of it. Likewise, no educated person who does not exclude scientific evidence a priori can hold that every species was created individually by an act of will by an all-powerful spirit.
What is interesting about YEers (and others who hold absurd beliefs as true and inerrant) is that they can compartmentalize their irrationality. In most other areas of life, YEers can act rationally. For example, there is no a priori reason why a YEer couldn't serve on a jury and evaluate evidence regarding a crime in a just and reasonable fashion. Individual YEers could be as bigoted and biased as anyone else, but many YEers could undoubtedly be as good, fair, and honest in judging evidence and testimony as any non-YEer.
It would be pointless to examine the particular beliefs of the YEers or to attempt to refute them with scientific evidence and cogent arguments. Some might find it of interest to speculate as to what kinds of psychological or social conditions might lead to such strange thinking, but such is beyond my purview.
Dara O'Briain "God Moments"
books and articles
Darwin, Charles. From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin's Four Great Books (Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals). ed. E. O. Wilson.
Gabler, M., and N. Gabler. (1985). What Are They Teaching Our Children? Wheaton, Ill.: Victory Books.
Kennedy, Joseph. (1987). No Establishment or Restrictions. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: Coral Ridge Ministries.
Marrs, Texe (1987). Dark Secrets of the New Age. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books.
Marrs, Texe (1990). New Age Cults and Religions. Shiloh Court, Tex.: Living Truth Publishers.
Marzano, Robert J. "When Two Worldviews Collide," in Educational Leadership. December 1993/January 1994.Volume 51. Number 4.
Robertson, P. (1989). The Inspirational Writings of Pat Robertson. New York: Inspirational Press.
Robertson, P. (1990). The New Millennium. Dallas, Tex.: Ward Publishing.
Saperstein, D. (1990). "Fundamentalist Involvement in the Political Scene: Analysis and Response." In The Fundamentalist Phenomenon, edited by N. J. Cohen. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Simonds, R. (1983). How to Elect Christians to Public Office. Costa Mesa, Calif.: Citizens for Excellence in Education.
Christian Reconstructionism from Religious Tolerance
Islamic Intolerance by Ibn Warraq
Understanding Evolution website for teachers (UC Berkeley)
The Panda's Thumb - explaining the theory of evolution
The Emperor's New Designer Clothes by Vic Stenger
Does Evolution Rule Out God's Existence? by John F. Haught, Ph.D. Georgetown University
National Center for Science Education Scientific Evolution vs. Metaphysical Creationism
Science and Creationism - the National Academy of Sciences
Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science - the National Academy of Sciences
WILL CREATIONISTS ABANDON CREATION-"SCIENCE"? Scientific Malpractice: The Creation/Evolution Debate, by Ivan L. Zabilka, 1992, Bristol Books, 160 pp. By Jim Lippard
Louisiana calls Darwin a racist by Fiona Morgan
Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant by Richard Dawkins
Deep Time Made Simple by Russell Seitz
New Discovery Rocks Creationists' Claim That Humans Lived with Dinosaurs Ancient images that creationists claim are evidence of humans living alongside dinosaurs are at best just smeared pictures, scientists find...."The most important implication of these findings is that one of the creationist camp's favorite piece of 'evidence' for the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans — a dinosaur petroglyph — doesn't even exist," researcher Phil Senter, a paleontologist at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, told LiveScience. [/new]
Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen Says the Earth Is 6,000 Years Old as she defends mining uranium (Does the good lady from Arizona know what the word 'irony' means? This story is a gold mine for those who want to test their mettle against creationists.)