Creation testifies to God’s Glory.
Christians believe that science does not disprove God. In fact, when viewed properly, the observable intricacies of nature actually testify to the power of God. The universe is too ordered and The complex beauty of the natural world simply reflects a small portion of God’s glory and His role as designer These ideas have been foundational for Christian men of science since the time of Jesus. They also form the backbone of a visually stunning new documentary, The Riot and the Dance. Narrated by the biologist, Gordon Wilson and directed by his nephew, N.D. Wilson, this film uses a beautiful high-definition visual format to demonstrate God’s fingerprints all over His creation. The makers take us across the world demonstrating the truth of Romans 1:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
They do a wonderful job of it. From the examination of the complex systems that make up the “mundane” environments of our local habitats to the far-off lands like Sri Lanka, the film wonderfully demonstrates God’s working as complex, created and gorgeous. They are also sometimes brutal. It is a really well-done movie. For another good film in this area from a slightly different angle, try Is Genesis History?
My youngest son and I sat eating popcorn in the local movie theater eagerly waiting for The Riot and the Dance to begin. My son loves nature. He can most often be found reading a field journal, collecting bugs and frogs or watching nature documentaries. He wants to be a marine biologist when he grows up. He is also a young man who loves Jesus. He was therefore excited to see a Christian documentary filled with his favorite animals in their natural habitats. Given the extensive treatment given to nature in documentary formats and the high productions values of these offerings, we were wondering how this Christian film would fare in comparison. With the production costs and expertise required to present a movie at this high level, where would these Christian filmmakers rate in comparison?
Is The Riot and the Dance Any Good?
The good news is that they fared quite well. The Riot and the Dance is beautiful. You could watch it without any sound and enjoy the visually arresting footage. From a local forest to the far-off reaches of Sri Lanka, the movie shows us beautiful and intricate animals and natural systems that just blow you away. Gordon Wilson is obviously very knowledgeable in his field and that expertise flows out naturally to the moviegoers. There is evidently a biology textbook written by Dr. Wilson of the same name so he clearly is comfortable in the area.
The narration is really where the film really stands out from the crowd. There are many nature documentaries out there today exploring the planet from an almost pantheistic viewpoint. The worship of “Mother Nature” or nature itself gets more than a bit tiresome. The Riot and the Dance is clearly from a Christian scientists perspective. Dr. Wilson begins the movie by presenting the oppositions he has received in his career for being both a biologist and a Christian. Whereas once it would have been an exception to not be a Christian in fields of science, these days the prevailing view is that once faith will be a hindrance to a serious scientist. The fact that this current generation stands on the shoulders of such Christian giants of their filed like Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler and Sir Francis Bacon does not seem to register.
The Riot and the Dance? What does it Mean?
Wilson explains the films basic premise. It is that the complexity and beauty of nature provide clear evidence of both God’s handiwork and the effects of the fall. This is the source of the film’s title. The Riot is the brutality and senseless carnage shown throughout nature. The underlying related point here is that a world of only natural systems striving against each other would be dark and terrible. Natural selection, if brought to it logical endpoint, is the stuff of madmen like Josef Stalin, Adolph Hitler and Margaret Sanger. The Dance is the complexity and beauty of wildlife, systems and habitat. These wonderful aspects of nature should never occur if the goal is survival and being the fittest. It is as simple as observing a couple expertly doing the tango. Their movements are so complex, coordinated and designed for showing beauty, it is blatantly obvious that it is planned and well-practiced.
From the forests of the Pacific Northwest to the rainforests of Sri Lanka, Dr. Wilson’s narration shows us the majesty of God’s creation. He also unflinchingly deals with the terrible results of the fall on God’s once perfect work. So we are shown the rainbow patterns on every tiny scale on common lizards that shouldn’t be there if they were created by the natural processes. We also sadly see the brutality of a beach filled with elephant seals fighting for dominance. These scenes are also commented on by a cross-section of Christians from Eric Metaxas to Ken Ham to the musician whose music is a good portion of the soundtrack. These short interview style segments offer great insights on the issues involved. The soundtrack is quite good as well.
The narration also encourages us to come to a logical conclusion about nature. Since God created everything and we can see His glory through His creations, we should appreciate, take care of and enjoy it.
All throughout, Dr. Gordon offers thoughtful and Biblically sound commentary pointing us ultimately to two points:
- That God created everything – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1
- That Jesus is Coming to Redeem Everything – We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? Romans 8:22-24
As you can see, these are great messages for any Christian film.
My son and I both heartily enjoyed The Riot and the Dance. I particularly enjoyed observing him watching the movie. His eyes were filled with wonder, amazement and sheer joy. This is priceless for any parent with a science or nature-focused Christian child. Secular culture strives so hard to try to place the sciences in conflict with God. This movie does a great job of showing the truth of the Lord’s Word through scientific observation of His awesome creation in a way that is accessible to any age group. I highly recommend seeing it when it is in your neighborhood or comes out on video.