Young Earth Creationists (YECs) are an odd bunch. They denounce and ignore mountains of scientific evidence in order to blindly believe just a single source, the Bible. What’s more, they take the Bible as a literal transcript of what happened. So when the Bible says the universe was created in six days, they believe the universe was created in six days. When the Bible says man was dropped onto earth in his current form, they believe that man was dropped to earth in his current form. When the Bible says it’s ok to beat slaves providing they can stand again within a couple of days, they believe it’s ok to beat slaves providing they can stand again in a couple of days.
And most importantly, when the Bible says the Earth is only 6000 years old they believe the Earth is only 6000 years old. To many, this position seems completely indefensible, yet they continue to not only believe this, but defend their position in books and on TV shows.
You’ll often find that YECs focus on small details in an attempt to discredit the scientifically calculated age of the Earth (~ 4.5 Billion years) and the age of the universe (~ 14 Billion years). It’s a fruitless pursuit however, as science does not, generally, rely on a single source. Even when looking at radiometric dating, multiple methods and techniques are used and only when they agree is the calculation treated as true. There is redundancy built into the calculations.
Of course, none of this really matter to YECs. The margin of error is only matched by the level of their ignorance. So to drive home the enormity of the mistake they are making, I wanted to highlight some of the things that happened, according to science, before they believe the Earth existed.
The purpose of this exercise is to point out how far off the mark YECs are. There are many, many, many things we know existed before YECs claim the Earth had even been created. It’s important to note that the methods used to date many of these creations and events differ, so we’re not relying on a single source (although, admittedly, radiometric dating is heavily relied upon).
Fairly recent discoveries have suggested that humans, broadly as we exist now, have been around for at least 160,000 years. No doubt we were inventing Gods and using them to oppress back then, just as we do now.
Domestication of Dogs
This is an example that’s been used by Richard Dawkins previously. Evidence (fossils in Iraq) tells us that dogs were first domesticated roughly 12,000 years ago, although one could make a case for it being a few thousand years prior to that date. Of course, it’s not just dogs. Sheep, pigs, goats and cattle were all domesticated around 11,000 years ago and draught animals were domesticated as the world was being created, about 6,000 years ago.
Yes, we had built houses before there was ground to build houses on. The earliest known human-made dwelling is approximately 12,000 years old and was made from Mammoth bones and hide. It was discovered in the 1960s in the Ukraine. Similarly to the domestication of animals, it’s highly likely that there were human made dwellings prior to this point, but as such a specific set of circumstances were required to preserve the evidence, it’s unlikely we’ll find archaeological evidence for it.
Looking at more tangible evidence. Recent excavations have shown that postholes were installed at the Stone Henge site around 10,000 years ago.
Language is not quite as simple as saying it developed x number of years ago. Language is difficult to define and can by pigeon-holed (or should that be pidgin-holed?) into a number of categories (Pidgin, Proto, Creole, Modern). For the purpose of this article, let’s think about the sort of language we are all familiar with. Modern language is understood to have originated at least 50,000 years ago. Other types of language are understood to have originated more in the region of 400,000 years ago.
Going hand-in-hand with language is writing, which dates back to about 1,000 years before the Earth was created by God. Mathematics was beginning to be understood and utilized around this time as well.
Yes, art. Paintings in caves have been discovered in Europe that date to 32,000 years ago. We also have cave paintings in Africa that date to approximately 20,000 years ago (conservatively). However, art is subjective (not just the merit of a particular piece of art, but the definition itself), so you could make an argument for art dating back 75,000 years if you argue that drilled shells count as art.
As I mentioned above, a series of drilled snail’s shells were found in a South African cave that date to 75,000 years old. You could argue that these are art, or you could argue that they were a piece of jewellery. At 75,000 years old, these shells don’t qualify as the oldest known jewellery however. That distinction goes to a set of shells that are 100,000 years old.
As the Bible teaches us, man experienced shame in the Garden of Eden after eating the forbidden fruit. This led to us requiring clothes to cover our shame. Except for the fact that clothes had been around for about 25,000 years when God decided to drop Adam and Even into the Garden of Eden.
Are you enjoying that tasty burger? Cooking utensils, hearths, ovens, flint and burnt animal remains have been dated back as far as 250,000 years. The first controlled fires date back to around 400,000 years ago.
There’s no point being able to cook without having some raw ingredients. Thankfully, we can conservatively date the origin of farming to 10,000 years ago where we define farming as the cultivation of certain plants for eating. There’s some evidence for the farming of certain grains prior to that, but 10,000 years is a safe estimate.
Just so you don’t think things were all happy and loving before God came along and created us, I need to point out that there was war before we existed. Graves of Nubians (from the Sudan area in Egypt) dating back 12,000 years suggest two warring factions.
Just in case we forget about the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the room, we have evidence for dinosaurs existing 230 million years ago. They had died out before God had created the earth for them to live on (65 million years ago). I’ve left dinosaurs until the end because of the abundance of evidence for their existence. It just seems unthinkable that any sane, logical person could dismiss such a mountain of evidence and instead favour the word of a book that is, itself, full of inaccuracies, hate, bigotry and contradictions.
As you can see, we achieved a lot before God created us, and there was an awful lot going on in the world before it was even a twinkle in God’s eye. I know that not all Christians choose to accept the Bible as a literal interpretation of events, but that begs the question of which bits of their holy book they will choose to ignore next.
The above list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the pre-God earth, it’s a shame that certain elements within our society want to diminish and compress our planet’s history.