According to Young Earth Creationists (YEC) the cosmos came into being not more than about 10,000 years ago. I must admit that I have tended to regard this view as unnecessary from a biblical point of view, and implausible from a scientific point of view.
But let me just note, without irony or mockery, what kinds of arguments could be used to support it.
1. YEC regards its theory as theologically coherent.
YEC is committed to a high view of Scripture. Indeed, at any point where the Bible and science appear to be in conflict with one another, the former (because inspired by God) will take priority over the latter (because based on the theories of fallen creatures).
Specifically, YEC regards the book of Genesis – including the early chapters – as historically accurate. There is nothing within the text, it is said, to suggest that it is poetry. And, in any case, if we were to concede that Genesis 1 is non-literal, where would we stop? Would that make the fall (Genesis 3) non-literal too?
More generally, YEC claims to make sense of the teaching of the Bible as a whole. To take one example: it is only when we take understand the Genesis flood as a worldwide catastrophe that we can make sense of the teaching of 2 Peter 3. To take another example: it is only when we admit the historicity of Adam as the first and specially-created human being that we can make sense of Paul’s teaching in Romans 5 that just as in one man (Adam) all die so in one man (Christ) all are made alive. Theistics evolutionists have to explain why, if death is God’s punishment for sin, in their theory creatures were dying for billions of years before Adam’s fall.
2. YEC regards its theory as scientifically credible.
On the one hand, YEC views secular theories of origins with suspicion. This is particularly so of the theory of evolution. It is based on blind chance, rather than on the purposeful will of a creator-God. Theist evolutionists have to explain
On the other hand, YEC is seeking to develop alternative models to explain the scientific data. In cosmology, it is suggested that in the very early development of the cosmos, billions of years worth of processes occurred in just a few days of ‘real’ time. In geology, a world-wide flood is (as mentioned above) appealed to as the explanation for the sedimentary strata. In biology, YEC frequently claims that no scientific evidence is available for a single common anscestor, or for the development of new species, and that the data are best explained by the special creation of separate species, which have diversified within those species over time.
I’m not going to attempt a detailed evaluation of YEC here. But each ‘arm’ raises a fundamental question that must be addressed:-
(a) with regard to its approach to the Bible, is it confusing biblical inspiration and authority with biblical interpretation? The material contained in Genesis 1-3, for example, is so unusual that it will require stronger arguments than I have yet seen to convince me that we can blithely read it as ‘sober history’.
(b) with regard to its approach to science, I wonder if YEC can afford to be so distrusting of secular findings and theories? To turn large parts of the modern scientific enterprise upside-down seems to be a denial of God’s common grace, which leads mean and women to an honest (if flawed and limited) search for truth. After all, our understanding of the Bible has been enhanced and refined by scienctific findings, not least in the areas of archaelogy and philology. Why should we not allow the science of origins to do the same?