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Demosthenes's avatar

Do most Christians believe in young earth creationism?

Asked by Demosthenes (11720points) 1 month ago

Of the Christians I know in real life, such as my Catholic mom, none of them believe the earth is only 6000 years old. But this view seems to be pretty common among Christians online (at least of the ones I’ve encountered on other sites, for example). Is young earth creationism a mainstream Christian belief? Can someone be a Christian without taking every part of the Adam and Eve story literally and believing the earth was created in 5554 BC?

Please no mockery or snark. Interested in genuine answers.

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20 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

That is a fundamentalist belief, not a Christian belief. True Christians believe in using one’s God given brain to learn about the world, not to restrict one’s thinking.

Demosthenes's avatar

@zenvelo Thanks. I can certainly appreciate the distinction between the two. I’ve never understood the trepidation some Christians have about science “disproving God”. If you truly believe in God, then science is simply a means of understanding a God-created world.

KNOWITALL's avatar

That’s only the ultra-conservatives here. Many of us have no problem reconciling religion and science.

Of course certain things like LGBTQ issues and abortion are very difficult, as the bible has rules for Christians that some believe science contradicts.

filmfann's avatar

I am a Christian, and I believe in evolution, and that the Universe is millions of years old.

KRD's avatar

Same here @filmfann.^

ragingloli's avatar

Well, christians that do not believe in young earth creationism and the literal interpretation of the bible, are not real christians.
I am sure that many, if not most young earth creationists would agree with that.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ragingloli I’ve heard that plenty of times, trust me.
That’s one of the reasons I stopped attending church, actually.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Do most Christians believe in young earth creationism?”

No. Most young earth creationists are in the US, but US Christians make up only a small percentage of all Christians worldwide. But if you are asking specifically in the US context, the answer still seems to be no.

Exact numbers are hard to find because how one asks the question affects the results. If you ask people to pick which of three views is closest to their personal beliefs, about 40% of Americans choose something akin to young earth creationism. The obvious problem here, however, is that something akin to young earth creationism being closest to one’s beliefs is not the same thing as believing in young earth creationism.

On the other hand, if you ask people about the specific tenets of young earth creationism, about 10% of Americans will consistently commit to the view. People aren’t always consistent, however. Case in point, another survey discussed in the same article found that 18% of respondents agreed with the statement “the earth is less than 10,000 years old” while simultaneously finding that 39% agreed with the statement “God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and the first two people within the past 10,000 years” despite the fact that the first claim is contained within the second (which means that the first statement shouldn’t receive a lower rate of agreement than the second).

Nevertheless, insofar as “most” means “more than 50%,” the available data suggests that most Americans are not young earth creationists.

“True Christians believe in using one’s God given brain to learn about the world, not to restrict one’s thinking.”
“Well, christians that do not believe in young earth creationism and the literal interpretation of the bible, are not real christians.”

Two appeal to purity fallacies in the first six answers, and they go in opposite directions. Truly a sight to see.

Demosthenes's avatar

@SavoirFaire That is interesting to me. I did not think of it as primarily an American belief. Is young earth creationism associated mainly with evangelical Protestantism?

But yes, it’s always a little problematic to speak of what “true Christians” believe, and I would not tell someone they’re not a Christian for believing or not believing young earth creationism. That is essentially the kind of discussion that inspired me to ask this question. (The person in question was not telling the other woman she was not a Christian, but that by disbelieving young earth creationism, she was being misled by “false teachers”, i.e. scientists).

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was a Christian who accepted evolution and who did not believe in the miracles for one second.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have been thinking about this question ever since it was posted several hours ago.

The issue, to me, isn’t that the person has these odd / unfounded beliefs. People can believe anything they want – religion, science, medicine, etc. I’m not going to criticize their decision to believe something for another.

But how it affects me and my view of that person – that’s the difference. It makes me doubt their competence and judgment in other areas. If someone freely believes that the earth is flat, or that it is only 6000 years old—things that I know to be untrue then why would I believe them when it comes things like money, relationships, history, other scientific things, even the weather?

If their judgment is counter to my knowledge, I can’t see a reason to trust them on much of anything.

So believe whatever you wish, but bear the consequences of delving into the irrational.

kritiper's avatar

In all the years I attended Catholic church, school, and catechism classes, I never heard of that concept as you word it.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I was taught that the only requirement necessary to be classified as Christian was a belief in Christ. And by that I mean you only had to believe that He is the son of God to be included in the hodgepodge of sects.

Strauss's avatar

@Desmosthenes Is young earth creationism associated mainly with evangelical Protestantism?

In my experience, yes. I was raised Roman Catholic, even attended a seminary for a while. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches subscribe to the belief that the scriptures are the inspired Word of God, but also allow that they may contain allegory, symbolic numbers and historical inaccuracy.

kritiper's avatar

My dictionary says that, to be a Christian, one must be a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ. And that is all.

seawulf575's avatar

I think @kritiper makes THE point. If the question was about those that believe in the bible believing in young earth creationism, that might be valid. But the old testament of the bible taps into many different beliefs. Judaism and Islam in particular. So it isn’t just Christians.
Being a Christian and actually attending church, talking to others, and doing some research myself, I can tell you that most people I have interacted with don’t believe the Earth is only 6000 years old. Even on very fundamentalist preacher I spoke with didn’t believe it.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 I asked about Christians because I am most familiar with Christianity and the people I come across online who believe YEC are always Christians, though I’m sure there are some Jews and Muslims who believe it too. I just haven’t met any.

“Biblical literalism”, as others have pointed out, isn’t as much of a thing in some branches of Christianity. But I guess those who do believe it can be quite vocal.

seawulf575's avatar

@Demosthenes The fundamentalist preacher I mentioned led a congregation that had many in the literalism category. He and I had a one-on-one chat at one point and this topic came up. I pointed out to him that the bible says God gave man dominion over the entire earth which includes rocks. In those rocks are fossils and bones that well predate man and which oftentimes show massive creatures not mentioned in the bible (except probably leviathan). It also gives us carbon dating which involves the decay of elements (earth) and helps us identify the time those bones were walking the earth. He agreed that the idea the Earth started well before the 4000 0r 6000 years ago. The entire time frame mentioned in early Genesis for the creation of the Earth, though it says days does not really describe what a day was to God. Each day could be thousands or even millions of years.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Of course most Christians have the sense to understand that the world must be over 6000 years old. It is simply that as with any cult it will always be the extremists and fanatics who make the most noise. The more ridiculous the idea—the more strident its defense.

stanleybmanly's avatar

When you think about the 3 Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, you must remember that they are all as the Muslims say “people of the book”. And we all know which “book” that is. It is the book of vengeful fairy tales and apocryphal predictions promulgated to keep believers in line. And I for one am convinced that it is the necessity to reconcile those fairy tales with observable reality which guarantees the splintering of Christianity into more sects than you can shake a stick at. I was reared Roman Catholic, and my particular cult finally figured out how to sidestep the matter altogether. After 1500 years of consistent embassment as advancement in understanding how the world actually works put the lie to established dogma, Catholicism abandoned most mention of the Old Testament, and conveniently takes up the ficton with the coming of Christ.

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