Michael Jones of InspiringPhilosophy has put out a cleverly deceptive video ostensibly on, as the title puts it "The Origins of Young Earth Creationism." In actuality, it's a hit piece designed to undermine both young earth beliefs and Young Earth Creation (YEC) as a movement in general.
But there are deeper flaws than that. To see the other flaws in Jone's argument one must recognize that his argument is an example of the fallacy of the "Complex Question." The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Fallacies defines the fallacy of the Complex Question as:
In the above tweet, Jones claims that "I never state in the video the origins of the YEC movement means their worldview is wrong." And that's where the clever deception and the complex question fallacy comes in. He never states it directly, he merely assumes YEC is wrong (and assumes you agree with him that it's wrong) by agreeing with supposedly scientific statements that claim it's wrong. By agreeing with supposedly verified or proved science that YEC is wrong, he is tacitly stating YEC is wrong.
He gives the game away in his introductory statement of what he's going to discuss:
Since we know he's in agreement with those beliefs, it's clear he's no longer just discussing the origins of YEC, he's also stating YEC is incorrect, and implying its origins have something to do with it being incorrect. The implicit presumption that YEC is incorrect is embedded in his view and approach and as the IEC points out, his whole approach is one of "begging the question" - a type of circular reasoning that assumes the proposition from the beginning with no proof - as Jones does.
That statement about science "demonstrating" an old earth is not the only one he makes that reveals his position - so this is no unintentional slip. Other indications he's firmly backing an old earth view:
So there is no mistaking his firm support of an old earth view.
In support of his old earth views, Jones spends his time in the video quoting people who support any view other than the traditional, grammatical-historical understanding of Genesis 1, where the six days of creation are understood as six, normal, 24-hour days. Apparently he believes the old age claim needs no support, which is further evidence that he's in agreement. Thus he is not merely discussing the origins of YEC, but tacitly stating the YEC beliefs are incorrect.
Addressing both Implied And Stated Arguments
Additionally I'll address the following comments or arguments he made in passing:
Okay, so here we go:
1. Is YEC belief an "essential
belief" of Christianity?
Here's a statement from CMI:
Here's a statement from AIG's Ken Ham:
As a YEC myself, I will tell you Christianity is about a relationship with God and salvation from sin through faith in Christ. And point you to verses like Rom 10.9-10; 1 Cor 15.2-8, John 5.24-25. None of those verses have anything to do with the age of the earth. YEC ministries make clear that the YEC issue is a separate issue from salvation. So why is he stating that it's an "essential belief"? Here again he's being deceptive by not defining what he means, thus leaving the impression that YEC belief is necessary for salvation - a topic that is essential to Christianity - when no reputable YEC ministries teach that.
Here his argument takes the form of an
appeal to the
people (another fallacy), where the people appealed to are respected
ancient church fathers. He appeals to:
He conveniently leaves out people who took it literally like Thomas Aquinas, Ephraim (Ephrem) the Syrian, Basil of Caesarea. Like today, back then you can find multiple interpretations of Gen 1. If he were interested in a stronger argument, instead of appealing to a mass of people who agree with you, and ignoring people who don't, it would be better to determine exactly what the author (God) of the section in question meant. So we'll look at that next.
Hermeneutics is the discipline of determining the meaning of written texts. A better approach would be to apply a hermeneutical understanding to the original Hebrew text. And as you might imagine, that has already been done.
When William Lane Craig started to go off the rails with his "mytho-history" denial of Genesis historicity, I highlighted the work of Hebrew scholar Steven Boyd who examined the days of creation account (Gen 1.1 - 2.3) and determined the use of the section was clearly meant to be understood as historic narrative, not poetry - which would exclude not only the mytho-history interpretation of Craig, but also an allegorical or figurative understanding. Below is a graph of his findings which documents the use of the preterit tense in poetry versus narrative such as Gen 1.1-2-3. The point being the preterit dominates in historical narratives as you can see in the graph below. You can read the full explanation here.
I'll re-enforce what Boyd says about
understanding the passage as narrative by the use of the preterit in the
creation passage (the preterit is a specific form of the imperfect tense
used with the Waw Consecutive.) by highlighting what Hebrew scholar
Gesenius, author of the scholarly book on Hebrew grammar said in his
book on Hebrew grammar. Gesenius notes:
Thus the writer of the scholarly and widely accepted Hebrew grammar book states that Genesis 1 is narrative. Not Poetry. And thus not figurative or allegorical.
Further we could look at the specific words used. Consider:
Note the specificity: evening, morning, an ordinal number (second) followed by "day." If God intended an "age" or a long period of time as many old earth believers contend, why did he specify events that happen in one day (evening and day)? In his commentary on Genesis, Hebrew scholar and writer of a commentary on Genesis John Sailhammer notes the importance of the repeated specification of evening and day in his discussion on the elements of structure:
In his commentary on Genesis, Hebrew scholar Michael Rydelnik writes concerning the creation days of Genesis:
Rydelnik clearly states the days are to be understood as regular 24-hour days and explains why in the noted section in his commentary.
Further evidence can be adduced by pondering why the writer of Genesis numbered the days as if they were individual days, and not collections of long periods? Turning again to writer on Hebrew grammar, Gesenius explains how the definite article is used in the construction of these phrases. In speaking about the use of the definite article Gesenius notes:
According to Gesenius, the text is clearly numbering individual days. It is not speaking of ages or long periods of time. For those who are counting, that's four Hebrew scholars, Boyd, Gesenius, Sailhammer and Rydelnik stating the meaning of the word יוֺם "yom" (day) in Genesis 1 is what it appears to be - a normal, 24 hour day.
Further, if God had wanted to specify
long periods of times - long ages - there are phrases in Hebrew he could
have used to do so. Some are listed below. If you're familiar with the basics of
Hebrew poetry, you'll recognize in a number of the following passages a rhyming phrase (a repetition
of the same thought).
That re-enforces what the lexicon tells us about the use of words like
dor (generation) - that it is
used mostly in poetic passages. Since Genesis is narrative, not poetry,
it makes sense we don't see that typically poetic word in in the
narrative passage on creation in Genesis. Here are the passages:
Job 8.8 KJV: "For inquire, I pray thee, of the former age"
Ps 77.5: "I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times."
Is 51.9 KJV: "as in the ancient days, in the generations of old."
Dt 32.7: "Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past"
Summary of some Hebrew words used to express long ages:
You can see from the above chart, which is not exhaustive, that there are many ways in Hebrew to express "long ages" or a long indeterminate amount of long time. Many are poetic. None of them were used in Genesis. For those who want to claim that like in usage today, the word day, "yom" can be used for long periods of time, consider this: That's true. But context determines the meaning. Just as I used "today" to mean this general time period, not a particular day. But you understood that from the context, didn't you?
Likewise, as the above chart indicates, when "yom" means other than a literal day, there are plenty of clues in the text indicating that, including clarifying words, and often a Hebrew rhyming parallel thought that indicates it's pointing to a long period of time. (See for example, Ps 77.5, Is 51.9 Deut 32.7) So once again the hermeneutic principle stands firm: Context determines meaning. The context of Genesis 1 indicates specific, individual, 24 hour days.
So clearly, if God had wanted to
speak of long ages, or if he had wanted to speak,
poetically, or figuratively or allegorically - to specify a long period
of time, he had the words to do so with. He chose not to use them.
Instead he used words that are meant to be understood literally, in the
normal sense: Day, the type of day that you can number individually and that
consists of an evening and a morning. That "day", which we now specify as a 24 hour day. The fact that he did
not use any of the many phrases that denote long periods of time, and
instead used very concrete, specific, non-poetic terms should tell you
In his opening statement, Jones states:
"In fact the modern young earth movement is relatively new. And has a peculiar origin many people are not aware of." (00:33)
But the impression that he's equating the movement with the belief lingers throughout his presentation. If it's intentional it's a type of equivocation. If not, it's apparently more of his tendency to present material deceptively. So let me address the question directly. Is young earth belief recent?
The short answer is no, young earth as exemplified by a belief in a six-day creation is not recent, and to the contrary, has been the long standing, traditional understanding of the Biblical creation account. Interestingly Jones chooses to start his examination with the early Church fathers. But Jesus points out that salvation history goes back a long way - before the church fathers. Jesus makes clear the history of salvation starts with the Jews when he states,
Jones doesn't want to go back to the Jewish understanding of Genesis likely both because he apparently doesn't want to deal with actual hermeneutics (since he ignores dealing with what the text actually means) and also perhaps because early Jewish understanding doesn't support his case.
Traditional Jewish understanding is that the text means what it appears to mean - the universe was created in six-days. In "Creation Days according to Ancient Jewish Commentators" researcher Douglas Hamp writes concerning early Jewish commentators,
He gives specifics on a number of early Jewish commentators which you can review for yourself if interested. I'll highlight one since he's well known: Josephus, the first century Jewish historian writes:
Along with giving the impression that young earth belief was rare until the modern age, Jones states that Christians tried to change the clear meaning of the text due to modern scientific findings. In his introduction he states:
Rather it's due to a recognition by the Christian leaders and the church that these "scientific" proclamations were leading people astray and corrupting long held understandings of the creation account. Just as there has been an uptick in the teaching of Biblical morality and sexuality due to the sexual revolution and the LGBT+ movement, resulting in the church and Christian leaders responding with clarifications of Biblical morality like the Nashville statement. Similarly the teachings of Hutton, Lyell (who wanted to "free the science from Moses"), Darwin, and others who were popularizing the idea that earth history contained billions of years, likewise prompted a response from the the church and Christian leaders. But note in both cases the biblical doctrine - be it on morality or creation was neither new nor rare. The only change was an emphasis by leaders on teachings already long held to combat false teachings, similar to what Iraeneus (who Jones references) did in his treatise "Against Hereies" for the growing threat of Gnosticism that Jones references.
Also consider, you tend not to respond to items you don't consider to be an issue. That the earth revolves around the sun and not vice-versa is not seen as an issue today, so no churches are responding to a threat of the geo-centric view of the solar system taking over and leading people astray. Likewise for old earth thinking before it was popularized.
For example, Matthew Henry lived about a century before Darwin. He wrote a commentary on the Bible that is still used (by some) today. But just as Jones assumes people believe in billions of years today (except YECs), Henry assumes people believe in a 6 day creation when he wrote in the 18th century:
It's important to note both what Henry discusses and doesn't discuss here:
Note he doesn't discuss day-age theory, or Gap theory, or address any theory of long ages or billions of years because when he was writing (he began in 1704) neither Darwin nor his Origin of Species (published 1859) existed, so none of the long ages problems were wide-spread issues at the time, so they are not reflected in Henry's commentary. In contrast if a commentary has been written recently it appears to be rare and the exception if it's on Genesis or the creation and does not mention issues concerning the age of the earth - even if they ultimately choose not to resolve the issue.
Dennis Prager for example, in his commentary on the 10 Commandments acknowledges but doesn't resolve the issue of the length of creation days. (The 4th commandment restates that God created in six days - so though it's not a commentary on Genesis, he's forced to address it with the rest of the Decalogue.) Instead of resolving the issue, Prager merely says "However you interpret the days..." So today, even if you don't want to resolve the issue, it is still mentioned. Because its a huge issue. That was not the case in Matthew Henry's day. There was no need to bring up the length of a day in the creation account because everyone knew it was a regular 24-hour day. That has been the case for many centuries.
Those who accept the plain, grammatical-historical reading of Genesis 1 already know the earth is young. Many others however, are looking for evidence. I'll only present one here, because there have been plenty presented elsewhere on this site, including 10 which I listed in "Are young earth evidences needed to defend Christian Faith?" One of my favorites is spiral Galaxy wrapping.
Briefly explained, spiral galaxies are spinning at a known rate, and will continue wrapping like thread around a spindle as time goes on. If the universe were really 13.7 billion years old, given when the stars were supposedly formed, and their steady rate of spin, what would they look like today? Astrophysicist Jason Lisle did a simulation to determine how they should look. Below is a picture of such spiral galaxies at 1 Billion years. Recall the universe is supposed to be around 13.7 billion years old. Note even at the 1 billion year mark spiral galaxies would look nothing like what we actually see in the sky today. Clear evidence the universe is not billions of years old. You can view the dynamic simulation here.
In fact, there is plenty of evidence of a young
earth. Here is a list of 101 of them from CMI's Don Batten: "Age
of the Earth - 101 Evidences of a young earth and universe." Those who
believe there is no evidence of a young earth have simply never looked for it.
Jones ends by stating: "And the modern dogmatic adherence to a young earth really traces back to the visions of an alleged prophetess." (25:01)
Above, it's already been demonstrated that a young earth is taught in Genesis, and it was affirmed by both Jews and Christians alike at least since Moses wrote it (the Exodus was 1446 BC - so at least since around that time) until Hutton, Lyell and Darwin and the like began popularizing belief in an old earth. I didn't mentioned Jesus, but he too clearly held to a young earth belief:
6. Was Price correct in his statement that fossils date the rock layers and rock layers date the fossils?
Jones states, "For instance Price appears to be one of the first to incorrectly claim that the geological column was based on circular reasoning."(17:00 - emphasis mine) He also pokes fun that Price looks like young earth creation evangelist Kent Hovind. (16:28) So I'll let Kent Hovind refute Jone's claim and demonstrate that circular reasoning was indeed used to initially establish dates in use today. Since it was used to initially establish the dates the results of the circular reasoning are still evident today. To the argument that it is no longer used today, radiometric dates are used, Hovind points out, radiometric dating would not be possible if the geological column dates were not established first. A reference point was needed first - and circular reasoning was used to establish that reference point: the billion year geological time frame that long age uniformitarians were intending to establish.
Since radiometric dating is not absolute and is instead, rather inaccurate as I point out here, it is common for reference points of expected age to be given even today to testing labs when looking for a radiometric date. In "The Greatest Hoax on Earth?" Sarfati points out:
Good question. The answer - clearly the dates are not absolute, and as it's been demonstrated by testing rocks of known age, radiometric dating is not reliable. Further, for those who want to rely on radiometric dates, then you must come to the conclusion that the earth is young since the same amount of Carbon 14 is found in all the layers of the geological column strata. This points to the fact that all the layers formed at the same time (not over millions of years as depicted in the geological column and as evolution requires) and were formed in the recent past. For a bit more on this, see this video.
But I digress. To return to circular reasoning, in the video below, Hovind presents statements that confirm circular reasoning was used in assigning evolutionary dates. These statements were published in evolution supporting sources such as The American Journal of Science, New Scientist and the Encyclopedia Britannica and were made by evolutionists admitting the fallacy was being used, including a statement from the well known evolutionist Niles Eldredge, co-author of the evolutionary theory update called punctuated equilibrium. (An update needed since the evidence was so clearly against standard Darwinian evolution.)
Jones spends some time on Iraeneus' misunderstanding of Gen 2.17:
Jones points out (9:40) that well known people
such as Immanuel Kant, John Wesley, John Milton as well as Bible commentators
accepted the "Gap" theory in the 18th century - which would be before the
publication of Origin of Species in the 19th century. The Gap theory
attempts to add long periods of time between Gen 1.1 and 1.2. Thus Jones is
essentially arguing that the claim that Christians only turned to
the Gap theory in large numbers after the publication and popularization of
Darwin's theory is incorrect.
For those concerned with what the text actually says, the Gap theory simply won't work. It doesn't fit. More importantly, it's not necessary to correctly understand the Biblical text.
By closing with the statement:
one can't help but get the impression that Jones is trying to besmirch young earth belief and the Young Earth movement simply because Seventh Day Adventists, whose church was started by a self proclaimed prophetess, believed in a young earth (but not a young universe). But if you dig a bit beneath the surface, what you will find is not only an old earth believer trying to find some shocking revelation to discredit the biblical teaching of a young earth, you'll also find an old earth supporter who argues very poorly - using selective evidence, a complex question, and question begging to try to tarnish the well established, and scientifically well supported biblical teaching of a young earth and universe created in six literal, 24-hour days.
Duane Caldwell | January 21, 2022
1. Andrew S. Kulikovsky, "In the
Beginning...They Misunderstood", CMI,
Journal of Creation 28(2):45–50,
2. Ken Ham, "Does the Gospel
Depend on a Young Earth?", AIG, Jan 1, 2010,
8. Douglas Hamp, "Creation Days According to Ancient Jewish Commentators", Douglashamp.com,
August 24, 2011,
12. Terry Mortenson, Genesis 2:17 - "You Shall Surely Die", AIG, May 2, 2007,
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