The natural world has been studied for millennia, but the dawn of modern science began with the Scientific Revolution in the 16th century. This not only began the search for answers about the universe, but it also began an entirely new way of thinking: the Enlightenment. It is often called the “Age of Reason.” As thought shifted from believing in religion to believing in reason as the highest authority, the pursuit of science was encouraged.
Many early scientists were Christians and often believed in a young earth. In fact, many of them were actually theologians. However, as more and more people looked for alternative, naturalistic explanations for earth history, time became more of a precious commodity. No longer were a few thousand years sufficient for life to have come into existence. James Hutton, a geologist of the 18th century, wrote about uniformitarian principles that were popularized by the more well known Charles Lyell. Charles Darwin, famous for his theory of evolution, had Lyell’s book in hand as he sailed around the world and came up with his hypotheses. Together with the idea of long geologic ages, evolution by natural descent via a common ancestor gave way to acceptance of deep time. There was a group of theologians, geologists and laypeople, however, who held to what they termed “scriptural geology” which lasted for a few decades in the mid-1800s. They rejected long ages and evolution, but they had little scientific data to support their claims. It died down shortly, and was not the mainstream view in science. Most scientists, even those that were Christians, began to accept the old-earth paradigm and it quickly dominated the scientific community.
After 1860, the scriptural geologists largely went into decline, and with them the widespread acceptance of a young earth, a six-day Creation event, and the global Flood. The movement hung on by a string, primarily among Seventh-Day Adventists and a few scattered works published by “dead-clade walking” scriptural geologists like Stephan Alexander Hodgman.
It wasn’t until the early 1900’s when George McCready Price, a Seventh-Day Adventist teacher, wrote two books (Illogical Geology in 1906 and The New Geology in 1923) that people began to consider an alternative to the conventional paradigm. However, his ideas had little impact in the public eye until Henry Morris and John Whitcomb published their book, The Genesis Flood. This sparked a wave of scientists holding to a young earth, and as a result creation research began more rigorously.
The Seventh-Day Adventists started the Geoscience Research Institute in 1957, and both the Institute for Creation Research and Creation Ministries International were founded in the ‘70s. All were pioneers for promoting young-earth creationism. The latter created the Journal of Creation in 1984, though its original name was Ex Nihilo. In 1986, the International Conference on Creationism began and has published scientific papers in its proceedings since.
Answers in Genesis, a popular apologetics resource for laypeople, was founded in 1994. Andrew Snelling, as well as the board, established its Answers Research Journal in 2008 to promote more scientific endeavors.
In the 2000s and 2010s, many Christian colleges and universities began to teach rigorous science courses from a creationist perspective—as well as offering entire degree programs. Education is essential to creation research, and these universities recognize the need to teach young people that scripture and science can both be pursued.
At present, creation science is active and growing. To read more about current research and the future of creationism, click here.
Johns, Warren H. (2016). Scriptural geology, then and now. Answers Research Journal 9:317–337. www.answersingenesis.org/arj/v9/scriptural_geology.pdf
Numbers, R. L. (1993). The creationists. University of California Press.
Wise, K.P. (2018). Contributions to creationism by George McCready Price. Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, ed. J.H. Whitmore, pp. 683–694. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship.