The claim that YEC as we know it today is derivative from SDA prophetess
Ellen White, via Canadian schoolteacher and self-proclaimed "geologist"
George McCready Price, is very well supported by the evidence--pulled
together by former SDA scholar Ronald Numbers in The Creationists, with
additional comments in several other Numbers writings. I've had numerous
conversations with Ron over the years and, if memory serves me correctly--I
trust Ron's scholarship better than my memory--his particular point can be
expressed like this: the *combination of* "flood geology" (the idea that
most or all fossiliferous rocks were produced by the biblical flood, roughly
4300 years ago) and "young earth" (the living things on the earth were
created separately, in a literal creation week, about 6000 years ago, do
derive from SDA sources. Some comments are in order, and I invite Allen Roy
and others to comment further.
First, Price himself (I don't know enough about White to bring her in also)
was not bothered by an "old" universe; what concerned him was the age of
living things on the earth, and the solar system itself, both of which had
to be confined to the traditional biblical chronology. Contemporary YECs
are, of course, greatly disturbed by the idea of any physical object having
an actual age more than 5 days older than Adam, though they share entirely
with Price the view that the earth and all it contains is younger than
Second, both ideas (young earth and flood geology) predate Ellen White, who
almost certainly drew on the "biblical geologists" of the mid-19th century
in her writings. But learned evangelical writers did not follow the
"biblical geologists" in the latter part of the 19th century. Rather they
followed some of the leading American and English geologists and teachers of
geology (the former cateogory would include Hitchcock, Dana, and Buckland;
the latter category Silliman and Jameson), who had found various ways to
"reconcile" an historical early Genesis with an "old" earth. The "day age"
and "gap" views were mainly used. But after ca. 1830, no reputable
geologist appealed to the biblical flood to explain fossils: the evidence
against this hypothesis was seen as overwhelming; a "young" earth had become
untenable some decades before that.
Third, note that I said nothing above about "young" humans. OECs of the
19th century by and large assumed/accepted the traditional chronology for
human history, taking Adam and Eve as historical persons and the progenitors
of all modern persons. In the latter part of the 19th century, however, it
became clear that hominids who looked like us, buried their dead, made art,
and made, kept, and used tools, had existed for tens of thousands of years.
This caused a number of evangelical scholars, including BB Warfield, to
"push the envelope" on the Genesis chronology and geneology. This gave
consternation to even highly learned, careful scholars like George Frederick
Wright, who had a faith crisis over this issue owing to his commitment to
something like inerrancy. My own view is that, even if we completely
disregard all evolutionary claims and assume the whole theory is hogwash,
then the issue of human antiquity is sufficient by itself to call into
question the historicity of early Genesis. This is one of several reasons
why I am not an OEC, though I have great respect for aspects of the position
and (as similar sayings go), "many of my friends are OECs".
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