Imagine that you knew that everything written in the Bible was literally true. Suppose that you had personally observed every event described in the Bible yourself. But that’s actually insufficient, because you know that your senses can be fooled by magic tricks and optical illusions, while God is never fooled and never lies. You accept the contents of the Bible the way you accept everyday observations, like that the sky appears blue and dropped objects fall toward the Earth. For you, the information contained in the Bible is not a set of hypotheses to be tested, but a set of incontrovertible data points to be accounted for.

Now, take those additional data points, plus all of your other observations of everyday life, and all of the data humanity has collected through science, and try to come up with coherent explanations for the Universe.

This is the world of Young Earth Creationists[1] (YECs). They are not inherently opposed to science as they are often portrayed. Many are actually very interested in science, and a surprising amount of effort and diligence goes into their studies. They passionately believe that the universe can be understood by man, that in fact it was designed to be understood by man. But the data that they are most certain of, as it was given to them by an entirely infallible source, contradicts most of modern science. The problem is not what they reject; it’s what they accept for bad reasons.

And so the simplest model that explains all known phenomenon, which satisfies most modern scientists, cannot satisfy them. They are forced to come up with more complicated explanations which account for both modern observations and ancient mythology. Just as the Theory of General Relativity cannot be complete because it contradicts observations at the quantum scale, the Theory of Evolution cannot be complete because it contradicts the observations recorded in Genesis.

The subsequent process has more in common with Trekkies debating the laws of the Star Trek Universe than it does with actual science. And because the YEC’s stories are mythology written by nomads 2000 years ago instead of sci-fi written 50 years ago, models that allow those stories to be literally true and still work with modern knowledge of the real universe tend to be even more convoluted and weird than those proposed by the Trekkies.

And just as you don’t have to believe in wizards to debate the physics of time turners, you don’t have to believe in God to understand the world of young earth creationism. Biblical fan fiction is fun, interesting and often hilarious. I enjoy participating, and I think you might too if you give it a chance.

[1] I recognize that some prefer terms like Young Age Creationist (because the whole Universe was created 6,000 years ago, not just the Earth, although some YEC models of relativity do affect that), or Biblical Creationist (which I dislike because it is a label deliberately chosen to set their opponents up as “unbiblical creationists”). But YEC still seems to be the most common term, so it is the one I usually use.

Note: This post is adapted from the introduction to my book, which is still a work in progress.