I recently watched the movie Is Genesis History? with my wife and three older kids after receiving a copy to review from home. This was a blessing as we had planned to see the movie. It is a documentary that examines what can be a hot button issue, whether God really did speak the world into existence in 7 days and flood the world during the days of Noah. It attempts to provide evidence to answer the title question, Is Genesis History?.
So what is the short verdict? We loved it as a family. It was very well done. You might expect that a documentary film examining such topics as geology, cosmology and the study of Hebrew as it relates to creation would be somewhat dry, but that was far from the case. The content was heady but accessible. The scenery was beautiful and the presentation was smooth and well filmed. The discussion of the issues involved that can be contentious was also very mature and not condescending towards the opposing position. The movie definitely has a position and argues in favor their conclusion, but it never gets immature or dismissive on this sometimes heated topic. If you are interested at all in the issue of the historicity of Genesis from a scientific perspective, I would recommend seeing the movie. If you ever struggled with the question of science conflicting with the Bible this movie is for you. It may not change your mind on the issue, but it will challenge your thinking with intelligent arguments. I really enjoyed it. My nine year old also says to see it. “It has good facts, lots of them, good content and is very spiritual”, he followed along through the whole movie.
The longer review:
Two scientists are in a junkyard. One believes in the creation of the universe as a result of natural processes. He believes things evolved from a primitive state over the course of long periods of time into the complex systems that we see today in the world. The other believes that God created the universe in a literal 7 day period as described in the Book of Genesis. He believes that things were created in their incredibly complex states to begin with and that the very complexity argues in favor of a Creator.
Assume hypothetically we put these two men in that junkyard with no knowledge of what all the junk was and where it came from. If we then gave them the task of studying the development of all the things with wheels in that junkyard, their analysis of the evidence they find would likely be very different. If they found a tricycle, a Model T, a baby carriage and a Tesla, they each would examine what was before them and apply their intellect to the question of origin and development. Because of their differing beliefs, though, they would arrive at starkly divergent answers based on the exact same evidence. The evolutionist would tend to assume that the lower, less complex forms of things with wheels eventually became the more complex versions of the same thing due to natural processes. The creationist would tend to assume that all of the wheel things were created as they are, the intent of the creator was just different with each. Their pre-existing framework for examining the facts before them, or paradigm, would influence their results toward the good or toward the bad.
This is the theme that runs through Is Genesis History? If we are aware of and are willing to examine and challenge the paradigm behind the majority cultural belief about the origins of the universe, it may lead us to a different answer than we expected.
The movie is presented in a documentary style with the host, Del Tackett traveling across the United States interviewing experts in various fields in search of answers regarding man’s biggest question. Where did we come from? Tackett and the interviewees first do a good job of explaining what they call the question of paradigm. We call it bias in the legal field. No matter how much we want to be completely neutral, because of our life, experiences and beliefs we always start off with a framework of how we look at things. I will look at an issue very differently than a similarly aged man from Saudi Arabia, for example.
Back in my days defending medical malpractice cases for a hospital, we used to see this when looking at recommendations from doctors for treating the same patient. A surgeon always was prone to think the patient had a surgical problem and that she could fix the patient through surgery. A physical therapist trended towards physical therapy recommendations and a chiropractor thought adjustments would fix it. They all were acting in good faith, they were just influenced by who they were and what they believed.
In the context of the creation debate, the argument of the movie is that this set of beliefs, the framework for looking at the evidence is hugely important. If we remove the cultural paradigm that says that evidence should be examined through a lense of natural processes like evolution, the very same evidence tells a story consistent with Genesis. The film features scenes of walks through the Grand Canyon and late nights examining far away galaxies overlaid with Genesis supporting commentary that highlight this point. It then posits that if we question the underlying assumptions made by the culture at large, the evidence seems to point in a different direction. Like the creation believing scientist in the junkyard, if we follow the evidence in light of what God sets out in Genesis rather than what the culture assumes it leads us to a straightforward conclusion. Rather than having a conflict with science, the movie asserts that the facts truly support that God did indeed create everything exactly as He said He did. 7 days means just that.
Genesis has never been the centerpoint of my faith as a Christian. That position will always be taken by Jesus. His work in my life is so obvious to me that everything else could be argued for eternity and I would still believe in Jesus as Savior. I also understand that there are certain aspects of God about which we as His creations will not have all the answers. Jesus turned water into wine in a moment at the Wedding at Cana and everyone just knew it was well aged wine. But as a child raised in the public schools of the 70’s-80’s taught all about Darwin, it has been fascinating to study Genesis and recall just how much my beliefs changed.
After I came to faith, I carried over my pre-existing beliefs about creation and thought that anyone who did not believe in evolution was silly, ignorant and uneducated. I believed that God created, but that he did so through the Big Bang and through turning slime into slightly less slimey slime over millions of years. I was certain that I was right. Mrs. Sullivan in 5th grade science could not have taught me incorrectly, could she? There was no reason to question it.
It is through exposure to films like Is Genesis History? and the people featured in it that my beliefs were challenged. Rather than being backwards, ignorant, anti-science Luddites as I wrongly assumed, I saw that they were intelligent men and women who really knew their stuff. They understood the arguments on both sides of the issue and still believed in a literal 7 days and a literal Noah. It is after I accepted the challenge they laid out, look at the issues without assumptions that I came to believe that God created just as He said He created.
While this movie may not change a viewer’s mind about the origin of the universe, I believe that it does contribute greatly to the discussion. Presenting the Creationist viewpoint in an intelligent, comprehensive and respectful way is perhaps the greatest attribute of Is Genesis History?. The movie can be found here http://isgenesishistory.com along with additional resources.