Is Genesis History? is a compelling documentary from Compass Cinema that released earlier this month. Producer/Writer/Director Thomas Purifoy Jr. has created a first-rate documentary that can stand toe-to-toe with the very best documentaries being produced anywhere today. His bibliography (shared at the film’s website) is testament to the effort put into this film. The film features interviews with several of the sharpest minds in young earth creationism: thirteen scientists (counting the bonus features), along with two theologians and a pastor. The host is none other than Del Tackett who many Christian viewers will recognize as the host of Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project video teaching series. The backdrops to these interviews are visually stunning landscapes (from the Grand Canyon to the Virgin Islands and many places in between) or engaging centers of learning (universities, research centers and museums). The sum product is a carefully crafted, engaging, thoughtful presentation of the very best that young earth creationism has to offer.
The film presents the question as a tale of two competing paradigms: the conventional paradigm, which understands the earth to be millions of years old and humanity the product of evolution, and the Genesis paradigm, which understands Genesis to be literal history and the earth to be no more than a few thousand years old, with humanity the special creation of God. With the groundwork set, the project begins with geology and moves through a variety of scientific arenas finding that the Genesis paradigm does indeed live up to the evidence around us. Again and again the issue of worldview comes to the fore, if thinking according to the conventional paradigm, the evidence is discounted or explained away. If willing to think from within the Genesis paradigm, the evidence makes sense and can be truly compelling.
The presentation takes pains to be measured and level-headed in its approach. There is no smug creationist mocking those who believe that their ancestors were apes. This is a serious matter and those interviewed understand how far the pendulum has swung since the days of the Scopes’ trial. The impression you get from watching these men is they care about science and are open to refining their views as they grow in their understanding. They hold to the Bible’s account above all, of course, but these are not pastors playing with rocks – but researchers and seasoned experts who are convinced by the science they see.
I wish the film took more time to address Christian positions for an old earth that stop short of a full embrace of evolution. These approaches are swept together with evolutionary creationists and dismissed as attempts to reconcile with the current scientific paradigm — which may well be discarded in favor of a new understanding, as has happened many times before (even the Big Bang, according to astronomer Danny Faulkner, has its secular critics and is not likely to endure). The film does not really present both sides of the debate, or exhaustively deal with objections and alternate explanations. The film’s website does have resources for further study, however.
As one who has embraced old earth creationism, I was challenged anew by compelling arguments for the “Genesis paradigm,” to use the film’s language. The discussion of enormous rock formations in Arizona, where an enormous layer is found between two layers that are also found in the Grand Canyon (without that big layer between), does seem to suggest a large flood must be behind it. The bonus feature with an atmospheric scientist explaining how a global flood and accompanying high volcanic activity could trigger the ice age and produce the huge glaciers that covered so much of the continents in a matter of a few hundred years was quite compelling. The film starts near Mt. St. Helen’s and shows how much devastation one volcanic eruption made and all the layers it left behind. Yet while this is meant to show that layers can be deposited quickly (rather than over millions of years), I think it stands to show that the “uniformity” of the present has cataclysms enough to account for some of the geology that these experts claim must point to a global flood. The problems with dating methods presented don’t seem to provide enough evidence to me to counter the findings of science for the last 300 years (Christian scientists before Charles Lyell held to an old earth).
Not all young earth creationists will agree with everything included in the film. Biologist Todd Wodd holds that neanderthals would be classified as human, with most other “ancestors” of man being apes. (Many might not agree with that assessment, I imagine.) Perhaps the weakest link in the film was the discussion of astronomy. The problem of the vast distances in space (and the millions of years of time implied in those distances), has been addressed with many different solutions. Astronomer Danny Faulkner provides his own: the stars are brought to maturity very quickly on the fourth day (like the new plants on day 3) — but there is no further discussion of the many questions such an approach raises. An odd inclusion in the film, is the segment on the tower of Babel: while the discussion given about ziggurats being found in numerous cultures is interesting, the question of the dates given to the pyramids and ancient cultures in general has long presented a challenge for young earth creationism, and this is not even addressed.
But despite my few criticisms, this is an excellent production. The film will not convince every viewer, but it should make them think. I am having my children watch this to see a reasoned, careful Christian alternative to the conventional paradigm provided today. For young earth creationists, this is a boon. What better way to introduce the subject and follow up with additional resources? Christians everywhere can be supportive of the creation debate when handled with the care evidenced in this film. Most of those interviewed were humble and did not impugn motives to others in the wider church who disagree with this approach. Such an attitude becomes Christians of every persuasion.
For more information about this film, visit the film’s website: www.IsGenesisHistory.com. There you can find a downloadable “Guide to the Film,” more information on the scientists interviewed, and resources for delving deeper into any of the topics discussed in the film.
“Attempts to deal with that one simple question: Is the biblical account of creation and flood meant to be understood as history? Does it describe actual history? And does the world give evidence of recent creation and catastrophic flood? Host Del Tackett tackles these questions head-on and does so in a compelling way.” — Tim Challies, Challies.com
“An engrossing primer on why we can feel confident believing the Bible’s account of creation. I just may need to watch it a few more times with the pause button and a notebook handy. Because for Christians educated within the prevailing evolutionary paradigm, Is Genesis History? provides a much-needed reminder just how young the theory of an old earth is.” — Megan Basham, WORLD magazine
“Will strengthen confidence in Scripture, clarify understanding of the relationships of revelation, science, history, and faith, and enhance understanding of difficult questions all while being both beautiful and entertaining.” — E. Calvin Beisner, PhD, The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation
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A screening of this DVD was provided by the publisher. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.