There is something uniquely dispiriting about young Earth creationism (YEC). It’s not just that it’s wrong – and wrong in ways that were entirely apparent to intelligent Christians in the 1860s, let alone the 1960s – but that it needs such a mountain of futile effort to maintain even the shadow of plausibility. It’s like pretending that George W Bush wrote the works of Shakespeare.
If the YECs are right, almost every scientist in the world, since science became a profession, has been part of a deliberate conspiracy to distort and conceal the plain truth. It’s not just biology, but physics, geography, history, archaeology, chemistry and geology which are all arranged, deliberately to conceal and contradict the truth of the Bible. Oh, and biblical studies themselves, because these also suggest that the idea of “the truth of the Bible” is not as simple as it seems.
What would it be like to live in a world where all the authority figures were so determined to lie to you, solely in order to preserve their own authority? That sounds like a rhetorical question, until you realise that it has a horrible and disturbing true answer: it wouldn’t be too different from the world that many of us now live in. The paranoiac and mistrustful elements of creationism, and its stubborn rejection of the good faith of authority, are aspects of a much more general attitude towards society. Creationists look at scientists the way the world now looks at bankers.