The diabolical heresy known as young-earth creationism is not simply wrong. It is much worse than that. It is an affront to one of the most basic teachings of Christianity and indeed of Abrahamic religions in pretty much all their forms. Whether one’s theological stance is theistic or panentheistic, and whether one views God as a being, or Being itself, or Creativity itself, the concept of God as Creator is about as fundamental as one can imagine.
Young-earth creationism depicts the Creator as deceitful. The evidence consistently points to evolution having occurred. Not just fossils, although those do this spectacularly, including finds like Tiktaalik which show up in the fossil record precisely where evolutionary biology predicts that they should. No, the same genetic evidence that stands up in a court of law to determine matters of paternity also shows that our relatedness as all human beings and beyond. The fact that human beings have one fewer chromosome than other primates, while one of those is noticeably longer, has telomeres in the middle, and shows regular matches to the genetic sequence of two chromosomes that other primates have, can be explained in one of two ways: either we are related to them and an ancestor of ours but not theirs experienced a chromosomal fusion event, or the Creator deliberately made it look like we share a common genetic history with other primates when in fact we do not.
And so who are you going to believe? The genetic evidence, like the fossils and geological strata and light from distant stars, are all ultimately the handiwork of the Creator and should be trusted as such by those whose faith is in the Creator. Or you can reject this testimony from the Creator in favor of that of charlatans, who assert that they are just offering you the word of God, when in fact they are demeaning God, as well as idolatrously elevating the words of mere human beings like ourselves to a divine status.
It shouldn’t be a hard choice, considered from a Christian perspective…
As a further example of the penchant for dishonesty among young-earth creationists, consider the recent example of how Ken Ham has kept changing the figures of his past estimates of attendance at his Ark Encounter theme park, so as to make its situation look better. Meanwhile, the local government in the area that is supposed to be benefiting from tourism to the Ark Encounter reports numbers different from those released by Answers in Genesis. As Libby Anne writes:
I know, of course, that Ham is peddling pseudoscience. I’ve known that for a decade now, and that realization played a starring role in my journey away from conservative evangelicalism. But somehow, Ham’s willingness to play fast and loose with attendance numbers just underscores his role as a snake oil salesman. He can’t even be honest and open and transparent about attendance numbers. And somehow, that feels like one more betrayal on top of the rest.
The oddest part of all of this is Ham has no need to keep inflating numbers and projections. It simply makes him look foolish, to no purpose. 800,000 visitors to an attraction located in the middle of rural Kentucky is still a good run. The Museum of Science and Industry, in Chicago, attracts 1.5 million visitors a year. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, in D.C., has 4.3 million annual visitors. The Space Center in Houston draws 1 million visitors per year.
Ham created this problem for himself by making unrealistically high projections and then inflating attendance numbers to save face. This was completely unnecessary.
While the attendance at Ham’s Ark Encounter theme park may not be quite what he had hoped, there are still millions of people around the country who believe Ham and what he’s selling. What he’s selling is packaged with plenty of glam, and he’s a good salesman. His answers sound scientific, and what he’s offering is theologically appealing to many.
I’d like to think that even as a young earth creationist I would have been upset to see Ken Ham playing fast and loose with his attendance numbers. I was a true believer, after all. I didn’t question his science—I was completely convinced. But transparent toying with attendance numbers to create a false narrative? Surely I would have objected to that.
See also Paul Braterman’s explanation of why you should trust scientists rather than young-earth creationists when it comes to radiometric dating, and a recent example of dishonestly blaming evolution for school shootings.