“Young Earth” is a position associated with an extreme form of Creationism. According to Young Earth Creationism, the Earth was created by a supernatural being less than 10,000 years ago, with living kinds including homo sapien, created much as they appear today. Young Earth Creationists thus reject the theory of evolution, along with the Big Bang hypothesis and much of modern geology. Their view is usually based on a highly literal reading of the biblical book of Genesis.
Young Earth Creationism is associated with Catastrophism – the view that geological features (such as the Grand Canyon) are to be explained in terms of catastrophic events such as floods and volcanic eruptions, rather than by gradual processes of erosion and deposition. Central to such accounts is a belief in a global deluge, as described in the biblical tale of Noah. Fossils, on this view, are remnants of the animals perished in the flood – a view which implies that humans and dinosaurs were coexistent.
The primary evidence offered in favour of Young Earth Creationism is the Genesis creation story itself. Christian fundamentalists hold that the Bible is divinely guaranteed to be strictly and literally true. The incoherence of this position is demonstrated by the fact that Genesis actually contains two, mutually inconsistent, creation stories. The first is Genesis 1:1-2:3, which describes the famous 7 days of creation. The second is Genesis 2:4-25, where the order of creation is quite different, and the Adam and Eve story is included.
Most Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups reject Young Earth Creationism. The most commonly cited physical evidence for Young Earth Creationists is the discovery of fossil footprints apparently showing humans and dinosaurs crossing paths, thus “proving” coexistence. However, the supposedly human footprints have been shown to be either non-human or outright fakes.
The evidence against the Young Earth hypothesis is overwhelming, and comes from a wide variety of scientific disciplines – not just evolutionary biology, geology and cosmology, but also archaeology, genomics, climatology, basic physics and chemistry, and a host of others. Many methods of dating rock formations, fossils, genetic trees, and cosmic events are available, with a very high degree of consilience between results derived from different branches of science. Futhermore, the geological and archaeological evidence is completely inconsistent with the hypothesis of a global flood (not to mention the physical impossibility of such a flood, given the amount of available water).
Some Young Earth Creationists have recognized that the scientific evidence is strongly against their theory, leading them to adopt the so-called “Omphalos hypothesis”, according to which the universe was created recently, but made to appear as if it had a long history. The attempt to make Young Earth Creationism totally unfalsifiable shows how much it is at odds with actual scientific methodology.