Monday, 18 March 2013

The surprising origins of YEC - 'The Genesis Flood'

Young Earth Creationism (YEC) is a surprisingly recent phenomenon!  Yes - I know that some of the old arguments are based on the work of Archbishop James Ussher, but Ussher's ridiculous literal calculation had gone out of favour long ago.  Christianity had settled into an acceptance that science had the answers to some of the questions about the universe and his claim about the creation happening 'on the night preceding Sunday 23rd October, 4004 BC(E)' is risible for many reasons.  Presumably that was 'the night' in Greenwich Mean time?  But GMT was not a concept that had been formulated at the time.  Perhaps it was in Local Time at Armagh in Northern Ireland - or perhaps during 'the night' somewhere more holy - like Mecca or Jerusalem?  Anyway, how could there have been a night preceding the creation? 

But all that changed in 1961 when a book called "The Genesis Flood" was published.  Interestingly, the original publishers, Moody Press, pulled out when they found out about the actual contents, but the company that stepped in, Reformed Publishing Company, found itself very fortunate!  They sold 200,000 copies over the next 25 years, and started a powerful movement in some otherwise civilise and rational countries..

The authors, John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris set the cat among the pigeons, and they are widely blamed for re-starting the YEC movement.  Fundamentalist home-schoolers refer to this 'scholarly work' in order to justify to their children that their claims are true - which of course they are not.  How can the children be protected from such lies though?

One of the worries of the original publishers was that the accepted (but still bonkers) traditions of Day Age Creationism and Gap Theory Creationism were threatened.  Indeed they should have been worried because neither of those points of view remain as prevalent as they used to be, especially outside USA.

So where does that leave us?  The rational scientific world has been downgraded especially in USA, and people who believe in science when they board a plane lose their faith in it when it comes to estimating the age of the Earth.

So now we are stuck with the pseudo-scientific claims of people like 'The Discovery Institute' who propagate YEC and Intelligent Design.  Thank goodness that some people keep an eye on their activities and report what they are up to!


Marguerite said...

I remember this book. My sister acquired a copy in the 1970s, mostly so she could laugh at it. I remember reading it as a child and being boggled by some of its claims even then. It seemed hilarious at the time. It seems less amusing now that people are actually trying to push this idiotic nonsense into the schools.

Plasma Engineer said...

Maybe I should try to get a copy on e-bay. :) Thanks for the comment.