A Theological Landing Place for the Young Earth Creationist

Recently, I wrote a column for Spectrum titled Ten End Runs around Science. I used an American football analogy of an “end run” to describe ways people try to argue around the science involved with deep time and evolution. An end run would contrast with running straight ahead through the opposing line, which, continuing the analogy, suggests fully and fairly addressing the relevant science. In that essay I promised a follow-on article to examine two additional issues:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2023/theological-landing-place-young-earth-creationist

“Consequently, he inferred, there would be a strong possibility that God did not exist, because a bad God is near-impossible to believe in. Then the resultant atheism leaves us with no hope of eternal life and no omniscience-grounded morality for the present. Our existence would seem to devolve into nihilism.”

Just wanted to add an observation that I think is too often missed in this conversation. The argument Mr. Hannon quotes above does seem to be common in SDA circles. It is also a classic example of an Argument from Consequences Fallacy. This is a type of fallacious argument that uses undesirable consequences or implications of a belief to argue against it. For example, “If I have cancer, that means my life is at risk. I don’t want my life to be at risk, so I must not have cancer.”

It is false that atheism is the inevitable consequence of accepting evolution, and it’s false that nihilism must be a consequence of atheism. But even if it were true that acceptance of evolution forces us to be nihilists, that undesirable consequence would not be a reason to reject evolution. To say otherwise is to elevate wishful thinking above truth, and let our desires dictate our reality. Sometimes, the things we want to be true are in fact false. Sometimes the cancer is really there, even though it might be bad news. Realizing this and then changing our minds in accordance with new data is part of growing up and becoming epistemically responsible people.

To be very clear, accepting evolution does not require atheism or nihilism. But even if it did, that’s not an argument against it. :slight_smile:


Another resource for YECs who are looking for landing spots is Joshua Swamidass’ Genealogical Adam and Eve. The Genealogical Adam and Eve

Josh is a computational geneticist who affirms the science of evolution and human ancestry, but has carved out a unique view of Genesis that makes room for many traditional YEC views within mainstream science. The view maintains Adam and Eve as historical persons supernaturally created by God in the recent past, who are the genealogical ancestors of everyone living today. However, it does require some theological adjustments for SDAs to allow death, suffering and evolution prior to Adam and Eve and the fall.

Thanks for your two articles, shame they won’t be read by those of the YEC persuasion or just a limited few at the most. There area number of books by theologians and scientist giving reasonable alternatives that do not, in my mind, do away with anything faith wise that YEC’s claim. Proof of long age/time/etc is not the issue as one can always find ways of discounting it. It is more about personal responsibility to learn and grow in understanding of all things, we were created with that capacity! My viewpoint, to stop that process at some point in the past is an affront to the God people claim to believe in.

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The author has cited The Grand Canyon Monument To An Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain The Grand Canyon? Carol Hill is one of the editors of that book. She has authored a second book; A Worldview Approach To Science And Scripture. She and those books should not be automatically dismissed. I do not agree with every aspect of the position that she has taken as to the creation of this Earth. But she has something to say on this subject. Further, he believes in much that is found in the Biblical story. She may differ as to some aspects of how that story should be understood. We as Adventists must be informed on how others understand the Bible. In doing so, our understanding of the issues that pertain to the Bible, creation can be both enrilched and increased regardless of whether we are in total agreement with her understanding.

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The following is a review that I once wrote on Carol Hils’s book: A Worldview Approach to Science & Scripture:

Geologist Carol Hill, of the University of New Mexico has authored a 2019 book (A Worldview Approach To Science And Scripture) that is worthy of consideration by all who want to understand issues related to science and the teachings of the early chapters in Genesis. Her fundamental purpose in writing this book is to promote harmony between Christianity and science. As a scientist, she looks to anthropology, archeology, geology, meteorology and hydrology to inform us as to earth and human history.

I cannot claim to be a scientist. I am a retired pastor who has an interest in science. Over the years, my understanding of the issues associated with the Genesis stories of early life have come more into focus. This book has served to clarify those issues and to better understand both what the Biblical teaching might be and to understand those who differ from the traditional SDA understanding. While I do not agree with everything that Professor Hill proposes, her book has been helpful to me. I suggest that it will be helpful to other pastors, who face questions from friends and congregational members.

On a more personal basis, she considers the Bible to be an inspired revelation of God. She believes that the Bible contains records of actual historical events, and that the Garden of Eden was a real place, which existed about 5500 B.C. Adam was a real person and so was Noah who may have lived about 3000 B.C. The flood, as she understands it and the Ark of Noah were real. Lastly, she believes that some of these events involved “nature miracles” in which God intervened into his physical laws to accomplish his purpose.

From this perspective, I consider it to be of value to consider her understanding of the Biblical record. Even when I do not agree with some of her conclusions, I find it of value to understand why and how she reached those perspectives.

I agree with her premise that to understand the Bible, one must understand the language of the Biblical author, the historical, physical, political, social culture and literary nature of the writing. She clearly adds to our understanding of the Mesopotamian culture and cosmology, of the period beginning about 5000 B.C.

I find her discussion of the Mesopotamian sexagesimal system (a base 60 system) of numbers to be of interest, and of value when it is combined with the postulate that such numbers could either be of real value, or of a symbolic (numerological) description of the sacred.

She and I agree that prior to the creation events described in Genesis; there was some type of existence for this planet. We differ in our understanding as to what that might have been. But, her discussion of this, I consider to be of value. It is interesting that her date for The Garden of Eden clearly fits a short chronology.

Hill takes the position that the flood of Noah was localized rather than global. This position should not be dismissed absent understanding that she believes that the Bible teaches a localized flood. Her comments on the nature and size of the Ark, which she limits to 300 feet, are of value.

Her chapter on Flood Geology has addressed a number of issues that I must consider. One area is that of plate tectonics and continental drift. Another is the Biblical teaching on the sources of the flood water and the meaning of the fossil record. She has opened my thinking about the fossil record to consider issues that I have not previously considered.

In her concluding three chapters, Hill sums up the various approaches to the Biblical issues and provides a comprehensive statement as to what she believes is a correct understanding of the relationship between science and the Bible. Her chapter on evolution and genetics is a good primer as to what constitutes evolutionary theory. I appreciate her discussion of the Biblical “kind’ and how that cannot be considered to equate to “species” in our common taxonomic classification. I suggest that there is value in her suggestion that pre-scientific people, as in the time of the authorship of Genesis, divided zoological life into three to five of the following life forms: Fish (aquatic life), Birds (flying creatures), Snakes (creeping life forms), What I will call Insects, and Mammals (the larger animals to include Reptiles). The discussion in this chapter includes vestigial structures, embryonic organs, comparative genetics, the Cambrian Explosion, Intelligent Design and more.

Chapter 9 is a discussion of Adam and Eve. Early on it contains a good summation of what anthropology and archeology say about the beginning of human life and how it migrated over the world. This discussion includes that of a mitochondrial Eve who is suggested, by some, to be the mother of all living humans today. I find her discussion of ethnology (racial origins and distribution) and its relationship to the Tower of Babel, Japheth, Shem and Ham to be of interest.

As she closes this 9th chapter she suggests that Christianity has divided into four views as to what the Bible teaches as to the origin of life: A Young-Earth Creationist View, The Progressive Creationist View, An Evolutionary Creationist View and A Historical Adam View. She adds a fifth approach that she calls A Worldview Approach to Origins. Associated theological issues, such as that of Original Sin and the Image of God are included in this discussion.

In the final chapter, chapter 10, Professor Hill discusses the Worldview Approach to the Biblical record, which is her position. This discussion includes pre-Adamite humans, other creation accounts, the Covenant with God, the Flood of Noah, and more. She acknowledges that this approach is related to a theistic evolutionary position. While I agree with this book in part, and disagree with some of the positions that Professor Hill has taken, I find it to be of immense value to me. It gives me a better understanding of Biblical issues than I previously had. It helps me to have a lucid conversation with people on these issues. I have a better sense of problematic aspects of positions that I may hold. It gives me additional evidence to support some of my understanding of the Biblical teaching of Genesis.

In brief, I recommend that people, who wish to understand issues related to the teaching of Genesis, obtain this book and study it.


Young earth proponents do so to protect deeply held beliefs about the content of the Bible; that its information is true, factual, and unquestionable. This view must defend concepts such as inspiration (whatever that is) and revelation (whatever that is) which are nebulous notions that in some way, a few chosen individuals were recipients of information transmitted in some non-sensory and non-verifiable means; information which would otherwise not have been available to them. Their claims of having received such magically transmitted information are the point of faith. That is, faith must be directed to those who make the claims, not to the information which the claimants proffer.

In this case, we are mostly concerned with Genesis. Even, for the sake of argument, recognizing the mechanism of inspiration as valid and that the claimants were truthful, there are several factors which must be recognized:

  1. We have no idea who wrote the book of Genesis. No, there is no evidence that it was Moses who was only attached to the authorship of the Torah ca 4th-3rd centuries BCE. Rather, literary analysis indicates that Genesis had multiple authors. The book shows clear evidence of being a compromise document weaving together multiple myths; two creation accounts, two flood accounts, and the amalgamation of two separate gods (El and Yahweh) of the Canaanite pantheon into the one Jewish god.
  2. The authors of Genesis made no claims for inspiration of any kind, nor did they indicate where they got any of their information. They simply told stories.
  3. The book of Genesis was only accorded canonical status somewhere around the third to second century BCE. We have no knowledge whatsoever who determined which books were deemed authoritative for the Jewish canon. None.

Genesis ended up in an anthology considered by both Jews and Christians to be somehow infallible and authoritative. Yet, the process is much less than confidence affirming. Only in first concluding that as part of the anthology known today as the Bible it must be true, can it be used as a claim for a young earth or special creation.

On the other hand, there has been a rigorous process spanning centuries of accumulating data from multiple disciplines which affirm each other. Each new discovery fits the paradigm, and none of it debunks it. All evidence points to deep time and evolution.

Young earthers are reduced to trying to find fault with minor details and combing through the data to find anything which can be construed to bolster their prior conclusions, or otherwise simply falling back on the mantra “I believe” and presenting arguments rather than evidence.

Does it seem to anyone that using the claims of the inspiration paradigm to overthrow the overwhelming evidence provided by the scientific method might be a bit irrational? Origin myths simply have no place in the acquisition of knowledge.

Personally, I am embarrassed that I bought into this for so long without facing the difficult questions. Childhood indoctrination is a powerful force.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”


This is completely true if one uses the more modest definitions of evolution.

Very few believers in Creation would have an issue with things adapting or even common descent. The definition of evolution is founded on, “undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.”

(Futuyma D.J., “Evolutionary Biology”, [1979], Sinauer Associates: Sunderland MA, Second Edition, 1986, p.2)

Even though the hard view of Atheist evolution causes nihilism, that is not a reason to reject the view." I totally agree with this point. It is indeed a fallacious argument that uses undesirable consequences or implications of a belief to argue against it. Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus are examples of being honest with the bleak hopelessness of it! Nausea

George Bernard Shaw puts it well: “evolution seems simple, because you do not at first realize all that it involves. But when its whole significance dawns on you, your heart sinks into a heap of sand within you. There is a hideous fatalism about it, a damnable reduction of beauty and intelligence, of strength and purpose, of honor and aspiration.” This is a fact!

George Bernard Shaw Back to Methuselah 1921

Thinking we have to accept the hard materialistic view of evolution, because there is some “new data,” showing it to be true is a lie! “Change our minds in accordance with new data,” what new data? The real “new data” in science overwhelming supports intelligent design.

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Before Lucifer’s rebellion, heaven had a nomenclature theory of language. Binary opposition, paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations among words, and other features of our completely different language system simply did not exist. God, linguistically speaking, did not exist. No one regarded Him as God. No one regarded God as significantly different from anybody else. That would be like regarding a carrot dug up from the ground as raw before food had ever been cooked. As per Ellen White, the immutable God first came to be, linguistically speaking, during the heavenly council meeting (after Lucifer’s rebellion) when He revealed what He really is.

Lucifer’s rebellion could have been viewed as nothing more serious than a horse bumping into a cow. No big deal. Things happen. Differences exist. God could have compromised, given Lucifer a say in the Creation, and allowed him to tinker around and make things. But that’s not what happened. Instead, God went bonkers [edit: maybe the better word is “ballistic”], a whole new system of language emerged, and we see in the Genesis account of Creation a multitude of stark and unyielding binary oppositions that He instituted, including the Creator-created binary opposition. The fuzzy, muddled, and unsharpened grayness of theistic evolution is incompatible with the black-and-white thinking that God felt necessary to instill in the heavenly host, and later in humanity.

Another issue needs to be considered. So far, we have dealt with the biology and morality with either long or short creation; what about the physics? At this point we can turn to an unlikely source to consider creation - the future of creation as it plays out to its inevitable conclusion.

Robert Frost once wrote a little poem that’s worth considering:

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

It seems that the universe is still expanding since the “big bang” (which physics now says wasn’t a bang at all); and is expanding faster, rather than slowing down, the inevitable end will be ICE, because the earth will eventually separate from its circular path around the sun. The other option - the sun itself will run out of “gas” (hydrogen) becoming a “red giant” and the end will be FIRE. Either way, this “new earth” had better be in some other galaxy, or better yet, another universe.

So the question is, why did God factor in a “use by” date to His creation even if Adam didn’t eat the apple?



But the evidence to show how intelligent design works from the outside in is utterly lacking.

And there is no attempt in Genesis, or anywhere else in the Bible, to explain how creation takes place, so we are on our own, in that regard.

What we have seen, however, is that all living organisms are guided from within themselves. This in a miraculous process which may never be fully understood, perhaps even by the designer itself, but which is scientifically undeniable.

Thus the most evidence-based, logical deduction is that the creative process is one that takes place from within each creature, inspired, if you will, by an immeasurably small “thing” we call “instinct” or “consciousness” which, like an unseeable wind, is detectable only by its effects.

This, rather than concocting a personified but absolutely unapproachable puppet master pulling invisible (and almost certainly nonexistent) strings from an as yet unobserved and unimaginably distant heaven which is inexplicably disassociated from, and incredibly transcendent of, his handiwork.

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This is a new way of looking at it that I didn’t think of until you mentioned it. Wow. Thanks. You should write a full article for Spectrum. I’m serious.

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Isn’t intelligent design theory at odds with the Christian concept of God? Does God have a creator? I don’t see how the intelligent design argument really supports the Christian worldview.

Intelligent Design is very supportive of the concept that a Creator designed the life and the fine-tuning of all physics for life. Although Intelligent Design, being a scientific view, cannot go beyond the evidence to identify the Creator as “Christian” it can point to the basic inferences that the Creator is “intelligent,” “all powerful,” “has no beginning” and does have “purposes,” being “goal directed.” If you wish me to explain any of these, I would be happy go on!

Yes, of course, but remember it is not needed to explain the “method” of implementation of design, in order to recognize design. You might not be able to explain how your car engine works in detail, or how it was assembled exactly, but you can still say confidently it is positively designed by intelligence.

The Hindu position is not completely wrong, just incomplete. I assume you are referring to an eternal consciousness? Or a pantheistic will?

I prefer panpsychism but certainly can’t prove (or fully explain) that either.



But again, not something I can know, given a finite mind and limited sensory input!


I would welcome if you expanded on “has no beginning”. My guess is that you refer to the concept of causation, concluding that there must be a first cause. In my view, the prime mover argument is incompatible with the ID hypothesis.

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As Godel showed almost a century ago, this is almost certainly the case with all human “-isms”.:

The assumption that the maker of all things (which I take to be a euphemism for “the god of the Bible” in ID jargon) must know everything, or necessarily has the power to do all things as portrayed in the Bible, is not only easily refuted* but is something that can only ever be believed by a person of limited intellect as opposed to a being an assertion that can be established as an absolute truth for everyone, and for all time.

(*A truly omnipotent being would, by definition, be required to have the capacity to rise above logical contradictions; i.e., be able to create a mountain so big that he couldn’t climb it.)