Young Earth Creationists

My family has sent me some Young Earth Creationist materials (they are evangelicals, which is how I was raised prior to becoming Catholic). At one point I was under the impression that Catholics had some freedom in this realm to believe in either evolution or creationism, which in my mind equated to a difference between uniformitarianism and special creation, where the crux of the matter was the age of the earth.

After doing some more research, it seems that a few noteworthy Catholic apologists are somewhat hostile to the Young Earth view. They seem to look down on Catholics who hold this view. Here is an example:

“Now consider advocates of a young earth. They claim the earth is only 6,000 years old. If so, for the Grand Canyon to be as deep as it is, it would have to have been worn away not at one inch per century but at 920 inches per century. In those century-old photos, instead of trails with no apparent change, we should see trails entirely washed away, not a trace left. But that is not what has happened.”

However, this particular argument seems to suggest that the author isn’t familiar with the Young Earth position on geological formations such as the Grand Canyon. The author seems to assume uniformitarian mechanisms, meaning there is a constant rate of erosion. The Young Earth position is that a catastrophic event caused the Grand Canyon. It seems the author is unfamiliar with the Young Earth position.

First question: Does the reason that many Catholic apologists look down upon Young Earth Catholics as rubes have more to do with Young Earth arguments originating in Protestant, specifically evangelical circles?

Second question: If some form of theistic evolution is true, at what point in man’s ancestry is it believed that he was given a soul?


Catholics look down upon young earth creationism because it’s wrong not because it originates in protestantism. YEC originated by someone adding up all the dates in the bible and coming up with 6000 or so and saying, yep, that’s how old the earth is. But catholicism hasn’t taught that you have to take the first 11 chapters of the book of genesis literally. You can, but science, history, anthropology, and geology disagrees with you.

I don’t understand YEC, why not just be a regular ol’ creationist?


The age of the Earth and the age of Mankind are not the same thing. It is quite possible that the Earth is billions of years old (and carried life upon it for most of that time), but that Mankind was created a few thousand years ago.

It is true that the book of Genesis was committed to writing thousands of years ago by a culture vastly different from ours. Thus its form is not what a modern scholar might produce. This can make interpretation difficult. I thank God we have the teaching authority of Mother Church to give us the true interpretation.

No, it is because there is no evidence for the view. Young-earth creationism is the definition of ad hoc reasoning. No one simply looking at the evidence would believe it.

Second question: If some form of theistic evolution is true, at what point in man’s ancestry is it believed that he was given a soul?

This is a good question, and a lot has been written about it. I haven’t the time to answer right now, but I would say that the proper procedure is to look carefully at the evidence we have, draw scientific conclusions, and then see if these conclusions are compatible with faith. Evolutionary ensoulment is compatible with Christianity, though I agree it is less than elegant.

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Our first parents, called Adam and Eve, were given souls by God, and certain gifts, including immortality. The Church rejects the idea that there were almost-humans around at the time that God randomly picked to get souls.

Is this true? Source?

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“37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.[12]”

  • Humani Generis

That doesn’t say that there weren’t other near-human hominids from which Adam and Eve descended. It simply says that there weren’t other “true men”, which theologically speaking means hominids given the gift of eternal souls.


Our first parents are the source of Original Sin which everyone has. Soulless creatures were creatures, not men. There is no evidence that hominids were anything but animals like primates today. Eve was not born in the conventional sense. She was made by God from Adam’s side.

Catholics aren’t required to interpret the Genesis narrative in a literalist manner…there were no other ensouled hominids who did not descend from Adam and Eve, but we are not required to accept that Eve was literally formed from a rib.

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This passage does not reject the idea that there were almost-humans around at the time that God gave the first humans souls. Moreover, I believe that in 1996 or so, JPII pretty clearly endorsed that notion as his personal opinion.

Neither was Adam born. He was created directly by God.

Source for the assertion that John Paul II believed this?

In theology, the creatures that aren’t men are not soulless. They all have souls.

However, animal souls are much different from ours.

You can be an YEC if you truly believe it, but you can also be an evolutionist.

Either way be prepared for lots of people to sorta bash whatever it is you choose.

A Catholic has no religious obligation to believe any particular method of creation. This is, however, because this is not a religious matter. For this same reason, however, a Catholic, can nether claim the church allows him to believe in “Young Earth” creationism.

The church has authority only to discern matters of faith and morals. As geology is not a theological discipline, the church itself cannot comment on the matter.

However, the church has a general education mission as well as a religious mission. This general education mission is held to the same standards as secular institutions within each discipline. Geology, being a scientific discipline, is bound to follow the scientific method and defend conclusions with evidence.

The church can only comment on geology, to the extent that there is natural evidence to back up its comments.

Most Young Earth creationists presuppose a creation date of 6000 years, and propose hypotheses as to how this occurred. They fail, however, to provide any evidence to back up these claims. As these are scientific, rather than theologic claims, the evidence must meet the standards of the geology discipline.

They simply do not provide credible evidence that geologists are wrong. They can propose non-unform rates of change, but they then need to provide credible evidence to show extreme rates of errosion occurred in the near past.

Without such evidence, they have proposed neither a convincing scientific argument, nor even a credible theological argument. Their proposals fail to meet the standards of either discipline.


“Young earth” comes from a non-intellectual “bible alone” view. That in itself is theological and historical error. Sadly, evangelicalism is not known for any sort of credible intellectual content. As I understand it, the ancient Hebrew in Genesis that we translate as “day” or “days” is a term that meant period of time.

Since we know that, with the Lord, a thousand years are as a day, and a day as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8), it seems the Evangelicals developed a view almost solely to oppose the Catholic Church. How can that be correct? Follow that to its logical end and they should soon deny Christ.

Still, are they not being hypocritical? Clearly, their eyes, hands and feet have never caused them to sin! Or else they should have plucked those eyes out and lopped hands and feet off! (Matthew 18:8)

“Oh”, they say, “that is symbolism.” So, “days of creation” is not? Smorgasbord theology that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Not intellectually-based theology at all. A mile wide, but an inch deep.


This is the document I had in mind:

He indirectly talks about ensoulment there as something that happened somewhere along the line of evolution. I suppose one could say that this is possible with a “bottleneck” theory of evolution, but that doesn’t even seem to be Scriptural (consider those who were east of Eden).

My original statement, though, I cannot support as such.

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I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I know there are Roman Catholic organizations that affirm the young earth position. Kolbe Center is one that I’m aware of. Here’s their site (I can’t vouch for its quality, I haven’t spent a great deal of time reviewing the site):

As an aside, I have a copy of a book from the founder of Kolbe Center that looks in depth at the teaching of the Doctors and Saints of the Church relating to the first chapters of Genesis (I’ve only had time to skim the book at present, although it looks like a fascinating read).

Needless to say, the young earth position was essentially the unanimous position of the Church for over 1800 years. This is the simple fact of the matter, whether you look at writings of Basil and the majority of Church Fathers (who believed in six literal 24 hour days) or at Augustine (who believed in a young earth and a worldwide flood according to a literal reading of Genesis 2-11, but held that creation occurred in one day rather than six, with the six days of Genesis 1 being figurative of God’s instantaneous act of creation).

Now, my old earth friends will be quick to note the support in the historic church for other beliefs based on “literal” interpretations that are clearly erroneous (e.g. a geocentric universe). However, I believe these erroneous “literal” interpretations can and should be distinguished from the support (from Scripture and church history) for a literal-or “natural”- reading of Genesis Chapter 1(or 2)-11, although a full discussion of this question would take far more time than I have at the moment.

In closing, while I’m an attorney by trade and only have a bachelor’s degree in Physics (vs. others on this thread who may have masters or higher in a field relevant to question of origins), I would beg to differ with claims that the young earth position is anti-intellectual bunk. I believe there is overwhelming support for a young earth and global flood from Scripture–not to mention Tradition–and (gasp) even from a careful study of God’s creation.

God Bless and–as always–it may be a week or more before I have time to follow up on this thread.

Would you comment on the fact that genetic material, which is shared only through descent (to all intents, leaving aside rare horizontal gene flow in bacteria etc), is shared by all living things? Did God create this phenomena,giving the appearance of billions of years of evolution, to mislead us?

One thing that I think we can all agree on whether you are a YEC, Evolutionist, or even possibly atheist, is that man is a miracle compared to the animals. As GK Chesterton says that if an alien intelligence visited earth would it see man as just another animal that found greener pastures or as the cow that jumped over the moon? Considering that man is the only creature that has been to the moon, that only he can consider the meaning of life, and fathom the nature of reality, then one must believe that there was either a crescendo of miracles that must have occurred to explain man or there is no explanation at all. For man seems to be in this world but not wholly of it. For there is nothing in this world that can really explain man, all that he is. And therefore man is also from another world and also belongs to this world, the world of a higher reality, a spiritual reality.

No wonder holy books have been written about man being created in God’s image. For it simply describes this great mystery of man’s origin. For man is a bit of a ghost, a supernatural being. For there is nothing in nature his equal.

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