Do Young-Earth Creationists Worship the Devil?

Young-earth creationists claim that the being who made the Earth and humankind is neither trustworthy nor honest. Their concept is of a God who makes the universe look like it is a particular age, and the Earth look like it is a particular age, even though they were created much more recently, and then condemns people for believing that evidence.

Young-earth creationists do not believe the Bible's testimony (in particular in Romans 1) that the Creator can be known through observation of and reflection on the created order.

Young-earth creationists believe that the Creator responded to human sin by introducing flesh-eating bacteria, killer viruses, hurricanes, tornados, floods, and carnivores into the world, just to name a few things.

Young-earth creationists believe that it is perfectly acceptable to repeat lies, promote misunderstandings, distort scientific publications, demean the character and credibility of Christians as well as others who work in the natural sciences.

Young-earth creationists believe that it is appropriate to spend millions of dollars promoting their dishonest claims about science, which could have been used to house the homeless, feed the hungry, or in some other way promote the good news of Jesus by following his teaching and example.

Young-earth creationists have made it their central mission to identify Christian teaching not with self-sacrificial and humble following of Jesus, but the arrogant proclamation that the world's scientists are wrong, and that one must choose between science and faith in God.

This is not Christianity. It is an attack on Christianity. And so, I call upon young-earth creationists to repent of their rebellion against God, and their depicting of God as more like a devil. Whether you are a false teacher, or merely someone who has been deceived by young-earth creationism's charlatans, I hope that you will be able to see that you are promoting a diabolical lie, and escape from this way of thinking about God and the world that is antithetical to the spirit and the core of Christian faith.

 

  • Tony Springer

    Not fair James. You are using theology to refute YEC. :)
    Ironically, many years ago, theology is what YEC first used to refute Darwinism before YEC eisegesis and science.

  • SZMatheson

    And so, after James spoke the words, the young Earch creationists were shamed and embarrassed, and cried out “why do we deserve such a thorough smack down?”

    McGrath 14:21

  • TomS

    Remember that Langdon Gilkey brought up Gnosticism in his testimony in the Arkansas creationism trial (1981)?

  • Gary

    i knew it! YECists worship Yaldabaoth.

  • Herro

    “This is not Christianity. ”

    It’s not? What do you mean by “Christianity”?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I think it was pretty clear, if implicit, in what I wrote that I think most Christians would reject the view of God as deliberately deceitful and malicious. Feel free to offer evidence for my generalization being incorrect, if you know of any.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Pieret/100000023960330 John Pieret

        There is the example of Omphalos by Philip Henry Gosse that came out shortly before the Origin. It proposed that God had created the world, as with Adam’s and Eve’s belly buttons (Omphalos is Greek for navel), as if they and the Earth had a “history.” Gosse basically said that the natural evidence was just a chimera that resulted from the way that God created and was not real. It was roundly condemned not only by scientists
        but by the Church of England and other religious leaders for proposing a “trickster god.” If a god gave humans the ability to investigate and reason and then deliberately fooled them by planting false evidence, what trust could be placed in god(s) at all?

        • PorlockJunior

          It goes back further than that!
          Bringing in Galileo is a tired old gambit, but look at the facts:

          The bit of his Dialogue that got him in trouble was the part he tacked on at the end (because the Pope ordered him to) with the Pope’s own way of reconciling the astronomical and the Biblical. The Inquisition didn’t like the way he handled it, and probably the Pope didn’t either.

          But look at what the Pope’s story was: God could make the world any way he wanted, being omnipotent; and he could make the world *look* whatever way he wanted. So, the appearances could make it seem heliocentric, but in God’s underlying reality, it was truly geocentric.

          I think it’s a little unfair of us to give credit for omphalism to that heretical Anglican when Pope Urban VIII beat him to it by 2 1/2 centuries.

          • TomS

            The Wikipedia article on “Omphalos hypothesis” has a citation from the 4th century Ephrem the Syrian who points out that to create things like fruit-bearing trees means to create them with the appearance of age. I’d be surprised to find out that omphalism did not have wide and early support, it seeming so obvious to me: think of “the chicken and the egg”.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              There is an important difference between the world or the first living things having a vague appearance of age, and the universe being created to appear as though everything is a specific age that it is not, coupled with the claim that people are condemned by God for believing that the world is the way God made it appear to be.

      • Herro

        I still don’t know what you mean by “Christianity”.

        So if some view is rejected by “most Christians” then it isn’t Christianity? Or does that only apply for portraying god as “deceitful and malicious”?

        I think it’s important to note that YECs themselves don’t think that their god is deceitful and malicious. You only think that’s the logical conclusion of their position (and I agree with that).

        But by the same standard one could easily argue that orthodox Lutherans aren’t Christians, since the god of the Augsburg confession condemns non-Christianas to eternal torment. Surely that’s also malicious (and one can throw in deceptive too, since he makes it appear as if he doesn’t exist). Lutherans might object, but that doesn’t seem to matter. So is orthodox Lutheranism also “not Christianity”?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I think that one can make a distinction between the two cases. One could definitely make a case that, starting from core Christian principles, the view of eternal punishment is wrong and best rejected. But that is a different sort of argument than the one I am making with respect to young-earth creationism. I am not suggesting that it is a widely held view historically and today which might nevertheless deserve to be revisited in light of core principles. I am suggesting that it involves saying things that historically Christians have not said, and which are fundamentally at odds with things that Christians historically and today have agreed about.

          Or is that too nuanced a distinction I am trying to make?

          • Herro

            “One could definitely make a case that, starting from core Christian principles, the view of eternal punishment is wrongand best rejected. But that is a different sort of argument than the one I am making with respect to young-earth creationism.”

            One can make the case that it makes god look like he is ” deliberately deceitful and malicious”, which is what you were claiming.

            “I am suggesting that it involves saying things that historically Christians have not said, and which are fundamentally at odds with things that Christians historically and today have agreed about.”

            So you introduce the historical element. Ok, so let’s assume that it’s a 19th century novelty, and that the implications (that the proponents do not accept!) lead to god being evil and all that. You still haven’t explained why that does make it “not Christianity”. Is everything that’s new and goes against what Christians generally agree with “not Christianity”?

            If we go by that same standard, we can find lots of beliefs that make liberal Christianity “non-Christian”, since a lot of that is new and at odds with what Christians have historically agreed with. E.g. Jesus not being a god.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              With that last point, one can make the case that that view is more faithful to the earliest sources.

              But at any rate, I use some essentializing rhetoric in posts like these to try to get young-earth creationists to actually listen, but I am not suggesting that essentialization of Christianity is possible or a good idea.

      • TomS

        I don’t think that telling someone a falsehood is significantly worse than killing them or destroying their property. Yet doesn’t God do such things? True, we don’t call it “murder”, but, then, why should we call it “lying”? If God lets us believe, falsely, that the stars that we see really existed millions of years ago, no one is harmed by that more than if all that they care for is taken away. Aren’t there cases in the Bible where God lets someone believe something that isn’t true?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          If young-earth creationists tended to adopt the view that God is amoral, beyond good and evil, then I would not criticize them for being inconsistent. But they claim that God is supremely moral and the source of all morality, and then depict God as behaving immorally.

          • Mariana Fuzaro

            BUT according to them God can do it all and still be moral, since HE decides what is moral and what is not.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              Few young-earth creationists believe that, even though they will tell you that they do. Ironically, they will insist that without bringing God into the picture, you don’t have objective morality, and killing babies can be viewed as OK. And yet in the Bible it is possible to envisage God commanding such a massacre, the very thing that fundamentalists will say is “objectively moral”!

      • Mariana Fuzaro

        Not really.

  • Sven2547

    Massive “No True Scotsman” aside, it’s nice to see Christians calling out this embarrassment to modern society.

    • http://www.philippianjailer.com/ Jailer

      As for logical fallacies, I would reach first for “ad hominem” in describing this argument over a textbook “disputable matter”. Romans 14 for me but not for thee?

      I’m certainly not sold on YEC, but I understand a view that argues for a “plain reading of the text” as the starting point for Biblical interpretation. To label it as “an attack on Christianity” takes it to an illogical and, frankly, very mean-spirited extreme. That certain others on the YEC side may have done the same does not justify this kind of demonization.

      This is not mere provocation of thought, this is wanton bomb-throwing. Remembering that “Now we darkly, as in a mirror …”, and that even the science is hardly settled, particular humility in our judgments seems called for in this case.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        But it is not a plain reading of Scripture. The text nowhere says how long ago these things occurred, it mentions a dome which YECs do not take literally and try to deny means what it clearly does, it ignores the poetic parallelism between the days and the fact that a depiction of God engaging in a working week is anthropomorphism.

        If science is not settled, neither is it entirely ambiguous, as though some new discovery might lead us back to thinking the Earth is flat.

        • http://www.philippianjailer.com/ Jailer

          Choosing a literal understanding of a word (“day”) is pretty much a textbook “plain reading”. That does not mean it is always appropriate to do so (as you point out), or even in this specific case.

          What it does mean is that reasonable and Bible-believing Christians can and should debate this matter without resorting to charges of heresy or flat-earthism (which adds “false analogy” to “ad hominem” in the list of logical fallacies pursued here).

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            I think I must be missing your point. Is depicting God as deceitful not something most Christians would consider heresy? Is a flat and stationary Earth not a plain reading of some texts?

            Clearly the days in Genesis 1 are ordinary days in the sense of involving evening and morning. But the plain meaning of the text can only appear to be about emphasizing the literalness of the days if one has ignored the many indications within the text that its focus is on other things. One also has to ignore the entire history of interpretation of the text, and its meaning in its original context. And so the problem is perhaps with those who think that it suffices to read a translation of a text in English and run with whatever impession one gets, ignoring that the text was composed in a different language, cultural context, historical period, and so on. Surely the only legitimate “plain reading” (if that term is even worth using, which I very much doubt) is what would have been plain to its earliest ancient readers, and not what seems plain to those reading it in English today?

            • http://www.philippianjailer.com/ Jailer

              Well, yes, then we get into your premises, which also are faulty:

              1. That YECs do not believe in General Revelation. This is a straw man. What YECs (and I hope all of us) do believe is that what can be determined by General Revelation may be constrained by (a) our own considerable limitations as observers, and (b) God’s occasional supernatural intervention (i.e., miracles).

              2. That God’s intent in creating an “old-looking earth” is to deceive. I would contend that their belief is that God did so because He wanted His world to be materially consistent. For example, forget the navels … they would say He created Adam and Eve fully grown because they had no parents to raise them and they were to tend the Garden. It would be illogical to create them as large babies, so He gave them characteristics of mature humans, though they had been alive mere moments. In the same way, His creation carried characteristics of age because it would have been uninhabitable otherwise–if, for example, He had merely seeded the earth on the third day rather than making it flush with vegetation. Therefore, the argument proceeds, He created fully grown plants. Would it be “deceitful” for Him to put rings in the trees, or would it simply be materially consistent? The important thing is that it is not necessary to believe that God is deceitful to believe in a literal 6-day creation, nor is it accurate to impute that belief on those who do not hold it.

              3. Finally, you note that YECs believe evil was released into the world because of the Curse. So what? How do you then make the leap to assuming they must therefore believe that God must be malevolent? This is simply the “problem of evil” restated, to which Christians have argued for millennia that God does not cause every outcome His Sovereign Will ordains.

              • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                What you refer to as my premises are implications of YEC which many of its adherents dishonestly claim are not implications of it. YECs may say that it is simply a matter of different interpretations of the same evidence, but that simply is not so. They reject and distort the actual evidence when it suits them. Nor do they behave like they believe that their own human perspective might be flawed, and they arrogantly reject not only what scientists have to say, but also what Biblical scholars have to say.

                The big problem related to suffering and death in the world are the YEC misrepresentation of Genesis, and the constant suggestion they make that if God created life using an evolutionary process that encompasses such things, it is evil, while they make no acknowledgment that God must be the source of such things on their view as well.

              • Mary

                “That God’s intent in creating an “old-looking earth” is to deceive. I would contend that their belief is that God did so because He wanted His world to be materially consistent. ”

                Yes I can see how they might come up with this argument, however it doesn’t explain how we are able to observe in space a supernova that occured before the earth even existed in their world view. Since the stars were supposedly created at the same time as the earth then it would make no sense and there is no logical reason for God to make the heavens appear older than they are. Since we are looking back in time when we look at the stars, then when we observe a supernova then according to the YEC worldview we would be observing something that never happened.

                • JCNow

                  Why would God give us the ability to discern that the universe is bilions of years old and then tell us that we’re going to burn for all eternity for having that discernment. That makes the young earth christian god a deceiving, evil monster. Any perceptions I may have had during my lifetime about the possibility of a loving christian god has been completely and absolutely refuted by the actions of christians themselves. In other words, if there is a god and that god is anything like what the young earth creationists portray, I hope I end up going the other direction.

    • Joseph O Polanco

      “The vulgar modern argument used against religion, and lately against common decency, would be absolutely fatal to any idea of liberty. It is perpetually said that because there are a hundred religions claiming to be true, it is therefore impossible that one of them should really be true.

      The argument would appear on the face of it to be illogical, if anyone nowadays troubled about logic. It would be as reasonable to say that because some people thought the earth was flat, and others (rather less incorrectly) imagined it was round, and because anybody is free to say that it is triangular or hexagonal, or a rhomboid, therefore it has no shape at all; or its shape can never be discovered; and, anyhow, modern science must be wrong in saying it is an oblate spheroid. The world must be some shape, and it must be that shape and no other; and it is not self-evident that nobody can possibly hit on the right one.

      What so obviously applies to the material shape of the world equally applies to the moral shape of the universe. The man who describes it may not be right, but it is no argument against his rightness that a number of other people must be wrong.”

      ― G.K. Chesterton

      • JCNow

        The bottom line is there is no evidence that one religion is more correct than any others. And the reason is because every last one of them are man-created myths.

  • Just Sayin’

    As we’ve 2,000 years of “Scotsmen” to look at, I think Dr. McGrath gets it exactly correct.

  • Pseudonym

    A malevolent creator sounds more like a demiurge than the Devil.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      As several commenters have said, comparisons between Gnosticism and the varieties of creationism have been made before.

      Of course, one could compare theistic evolution to Gnosticism too, where human beings are directly made a by a bungling and inept tinkerer (the evolutionary process) that is not the supreme Being. :-)

      • Gary

        Now that, I like.

        • newenglandsun

          Young Earth Creationism has been compared to Gnosticism in that a good god created the perfect Eden harmony but then a bad god created the evil that came in afterwards.

    • arcseconds

      The demiurge (or ‘maker’) in Timaeus isn’t malevolent, he’s just not omnipotent. By the time he gets around to making the souls of humans, there’s no good material left any more, and he’s got a bit slap-dash.

      And he subcontracts out the design and manufacture of physical bodies to some shoddy subcontractors.

      Explains a lot, I feel…

  • Fred Dumbar

    Doesn’t this lead us to agree with what some say the Bible is, “The Big Book Of Multiple Choice”?

    No matter what you believe, no matter what your sect, there are parts of the Bible(s) that some choose to ignore. Such as the condoning of slavery. Not eating shellfish. Far too many to mention. Never mind the problems of interpretation. And never mind the problems of not even knowing if this is how God meant for the Bible to be, since the early church basically voted by a show of hand which books would and would not be in the final Bible. (The Council of Nicea)

    The Bible, new or old, are no more the word of God then is the Qur’an. It’s just another book of fiction written by man.

  • Poisoner

    James, this article is nothing but a worthless hate piece. If you are going to attack what you claim to be YEC, you should post a few references. And yes, I do believe a young earth is possible.

    If you believe that YEC promotes a mean god, then an old earth and evolution promote a god has no idea what he is doing. However, God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Why would an omnipotent and omniscient God who exists beyond time and space need evolution to figure things out?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Turning up on a blog for the first time and complaining that one post doesn’t say everything, when the blog has been addressing the subject in detail for years, just makes you look silly. I would encourage you to dip into the substantial archives here, and then see whether that does not adequately addressing things.

      • Poisoner

        I have read several of your articles over the past few days, how exactly that you the conclusion that I just rolled up to your blog and made an uneducated post is not only silly, it is quite insulting. Not only did you assume I only read one post of your blog, you also assumed that I’m not familiar with the non-secular old earth view. To be honest, I thought the idea of a young Earth was literally crazy, until I looked at the data. Macro evolution is not science, it is philosophy. It cannot be tested in a laboratory.

        I have read several of your articles over the past few days and found them to be more or less filled with the same arrogant tone and lack of references. You don’t even bother to quote the Bible references you paraphrase. Nor did you offer any counter to the context of my post.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I am not persuaded, but if you did in fact read widely on my blog (which has been covering this topic for years, not days), then can we just dive right in to a discussion of enormous chalk beds like the White Cliffs of Dover? Why do you, as a young-earth creationist, believe that God miraculously created, killed, and compressed such vast numbers of microorganisms, making it appear as thou they formed over long time periods of the sort posited by mainstream geology?

          • Poisoner

            The White Cliffs of Dover, enormous chalk beds indeed. These cliffs made up of billions coccolithophores erode at an average rate of approximately one centimeter per year. If we assume an age of 8,500 years for the Straight of Dover, a little bit of math tells us that these beautiful white cliffs have eroded 8.5km since the land bridge connecting England to France became submerged from higher sea levels as the last ice age ended. However, this is quite improbable as the Straight of Dover is only six kilometers at its shortest width. Keep in mind that the figure of a once centimeter rate of erosion per year is a very conservative figure.

            Old age science places the beginning of their formation in the Cretaceous period. Which means over millions of years these cliffs formed under water while surviving continental drift and earthquakes for about 145 million years before being pushed up 8,500 years ago.

            So to really answer your question, microorganisms, along with plants and lower animals are never given the status of being “alive” in the Bible. Which makes it perfectly acceptable for plants to “die” as food, because the plants were never alive to begin with. So for God to miraculously smash up billions of microorganisms to create the White Cliffs of Dover is a trivial matter. Furthermore, there are hypothesis on the formation of the White Cliffs of Dover that do not involve millions of years and are still perfectly scientifically sound. Massive flooding, favorable environmental conditions, plentiful food can all attribute to the rapid microbial accumulation on the ocean floor. And the previously mention flooding along with earthquakes can satisfy the conditions necessary to form the Straight of Dover and expose the White Cliffs of Dover. While flawed in your assumptive attitude, it is a great question. The only difference between the young earth and old earth answers I provided is how the facts are treated.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              It isn’t clear that you have provided a plausible young-earth scenario for their formation, but be that as it may, “how the facts are treated” is indeed the key difference. The former approach follows the evidence where it points, while the young earth approach starts with a predetermined outcome and takes whatever steps necessary to get the evidence to conform to that.

  • David

    This makes perfect sense, God would never make something with an appearance older than it actually was. After all, he created Adam as a baby and…oh wait.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Setting aside for now the question of what sort of story Genesis 2 is offering, that is still quite a different scenario than saying (1) that God made the entire cosmos to falsely seem one specific age, and (2) God is displeased when the evidence from creation itself is believed. That is what makes young-earth creationism particularly nauseating.

    • newenglandsun

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2013/05/difficulties-with-adam-and-eve.html

      The story is about Original Sin. Not every detail is supposed to be literal.

  • Mariana Fuzaro

    Sorry, I admire your efforts, but does it have any results? Fundies simply don’t accept argumentation. The Bible may tell it, yes, but you know, the Bible is not to be understood, but to be felt, and similar crap. Everytime you show Jesus ordained them to feed the poor, they will come up with some verses about “lazyness” and “bad choices” that nullfies it. It’s a no-win situation.

    • Mariana Fuzaro

      And “we have no right to judge God” too. Yes, he lied but… that’s for our own good.

  • YoungEarthCreation.Com

    100% false. In fact YECs actually believe in the what the Bible states in Genesis. We believe that God created the world and universe in 6 literal days. You write an article but with a lot of gossip and rumors, which in itself is a major sin.

    Additionally, you never back up your claims with any proof of any kind. You talk a lot but don’t back it up.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      No, YECs don’t believe in the dome, and typically don’t accept spontaneous generation even though Genesis 1 depicts the earth and sea producing living things at God’s command.

      I do not repeat all the evidence in each and every blog post, but if you think that I never back up my claims then this must be the first and only blog post of mine you’ve read on this subject. Why not start here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2008/09/blogging-creationism-the-highlights.html


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