Besides the problems young earth creationism has with science in general (cosmology, radioisotope dating, genetic diversity, etc), another problem for young earth creationism is archaeology. On numerous occasions, I’ve heard preachers claim that archaeology validates ancient Biblical stories. No doubt, they’re listening to information passed on to them (and filtered through) Christian media and social networks.
A number of Christians have calculated the beginning of the world – getting a date around 4000 B.C. I’ve even done these calculations myself, and come up with a similar date. The problem is this: when you calculate it, you end up with the global flood occurring around 2350 BC, but historical records and carbon-dating show civilizations going back much earlier than 2350 BC. If the Bible were literally true, the first civilizations wouldn’t be seen until hundreds of years after the 2350 BC date. But, the first Egyptian dynasty began around 3100 BC and the history of their civilization continued uninterrupted until modern times. We know which Pharaohs ruled, how long they ruled, and which dynasties they were a part of. This information comes from two sources: historical records and radiocarbon dating, both of which agree with each other. Comparisons of the timelines shows that the Biblical flood would’ve occurred around the fifth and sixth Egyptian dynasties.
Here’s a comparison of Biblical the timeline to the dates given by archaeologists (click on the image to enlarge):
Now, I should add that creationist sites have their own theories about this discrepancy. I’ve seen some bizarre theories (e.g. one claimed that the Egyptian pyramids were constructed before the flood, and then several hundred years after the flood, the civilization resumed – somehow retaining its former culture, religion, government structure, construction techniques, and no archeologists caught on). AnswersInGenesis gives a couple different answers. One is simply “trust man or trust God” (translation: there’s no way we can explain this). Another AIG explanation which I had read a while back, said that carbon-dating is wrong, that the historical records of egypt were written by a pagan priest (i.e. unreliable?), and claims that several Pharaohs were ruling at the same time (but provides no evidence of that). They never attempt to spell it out any deeper than that – which is good for their side considering that they need to either eliminate a thousand years of history, or jam approximately fifteen hundred years of Egyptian history into around five hundred years to make their idea work*. Additionally, there’s stuff going on in other parts of the world, as well. Archaeologists aren’t going out of their way to make-up stuff to discredit young earth creationism. It’s even possible that their timelines would have matched up nicely with Biblical dates. But – they don’t, which means it’s spin-time for creationists.
The historical world population doesn’t square up with the literal Biblical story, either. According to Biblical sources, there would have been millions of Jews leaving Egypt, so assuming a global population of 40 million around that time (~1350 BC), and comparing that to global population estimates later in history (an estimated 200+ million by 0 AD), would require an incredibly high population growth between 2350 BC and 1350 BC (5,000,000 fold increase in 1,000 years), and a much lower population growth after 1350 BC – usually less than 5 fold population growth within any 1,000 year period between 1350 BC and 1800 AD.
(*This is a pretty common theme with Creationists – constantly arguing that the conventional dates or science is wrong, and things happened much, much faster than they do today. But, hey, all their stuff works out nicely as long as you’re willing to accept: ancient records are wrong, carbon-dating doesn’t work, light used to travel faster, genetic diversity increased faster in the past, human populations grew faster in the past, radioactive decay used to occurred millions of times faster in the past, the continents used to move much faster than they do today, mountains grew much faster than they do today, …)