Documentary review: ‘Is Genesis History?’
Scientific ideas evolve. Theories and hypotheses are constantly being tested, rejected and revised as experimentation and evidence reveal new information. Yet, there have been many periods of history when the scientific community has arrived at a general consensus.
Michael Crichton, author of the bestselling science-fiction novel “Jurassic Park,” once said, “I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. … In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.”
On Feb. 23, a documentary film was released that highlights scientists challenging the consensus, which even Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” promoted: the theory of evolution.
The documentary, “Is Genesis History?” is hosted by Del Tackett, a former software engineer who helped develop a critical NORAD system for the United States Air Force and also worked for the National Security Council. The film follows Tackett as he explores the question of whether the first 11 chapters of the Bible (Genesis 1-11) are historical fact (hence the title, “Is Genesis History?”).
One of the first experts Tackett interviews is Steven Boyd, a Hebrew scholar. Boyd shows Tackett that the creation account found in Genesis cannot be accurately interpreted as anything other than as a historical account (as opposed to a metaphorical or poetic work). He tells Tackett that, in contrast to many poetic creation stories found in the ancient Middle East, the Genesis account is clearly written as a historical narrative.
He also points out that there is seamless continuity between Genesis 1-11 and the rest of Genesis (12-50, which is historical narrative), that the Old and New Testament writers refer to Genesis as history, and that the genealogy of David and even Jesus can be directly traced to Adam.
Tackett also interviews Paul Nelson, a philosopher of biology, who shares with Tackett the concept of “paradigms.” Nelson says that when scientists discover evidence or data, they interpret that data based on what they already believe to be true.
Therefore, evolutionists and creationists have the same evidence, not competing facts. They examine the same fossils, rock layers and starlight, for example, but merely interpret that evidence in the context of the paradigm they have already accepted to be true. “We have a body of data, but depending on the paradigm one adopts, that data will be interpreted in a variety of ways,” he says.
Tackett also interviews several biologists, paleontologists and geologists doing field work from a creationist perspective. Microbiologist Kevin Anderson shows Tackett the soft tissue of a Triceratops dinosaur, and informs Tackett that while the scientific community was shocked that these extremely fragile materials could last for a few thousand – let alone tens of millions of – years, the biblical paradigm could explain it.
“If the fossils of dinosaurs have been dated incorrectly, then it’s very likely the fossils of any organism have been dated incorrectly, and therefore then the geologic ages themselves are incorrect,” says Anderson.
Geologist Andrew Snelling tells Tackett that the assumptions behind many modern dating methods should be questioned, because they assume that the past was similar to the present. As Snelling demonstrates, however, geology itself shows that Earth’s past conditions were very different.
He explains that just as there were in the past volcanic eruptions and earthquakes on a drastically larger scale than there are today, so decay rates in atoms may have been much faster in the past, which accounts for old-earth dating. Snelling also says that the dating methods cannot be trusted because of the drastic imprecision of and sometimes even contradictions between results.
Astronomer Danny Faulkner shares with Tackett one of many creationist explanations for what is known as “the distant starlight problem,” and Doug Petrovich shows Tackett archaeological evidence for the tower of Babel and the origin of languages. Tackett also meets with many other experts who demonstrate how the biblical paradigm, taken directly from Genesis, makes sense of scientific discoveries.
Many of the interviews with these experts take place in scenic locations such as the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, Mount St. Helens and a dinosaur graveyard in Wyoming, as well as several museums and academic settings. Some of the shots are stunning, and there are also animated segments which help visualize the concepts the experts are explaining.
Though informative, some of the interviews felt dry as the scientists discussed semi-technical data and concepts. The film is also over an hour-and-a-half long. However, the weight and significance of its content, as well as the scholarship behind its arguments for the biblical paradigm, makes it worth watching.
If biblical history is true, then the Bible is credible, and if it is credible, then it is also authoritative, and the significance of this makes the film’s importance difficult to understate.
“Is Genesis History?” had one showing in theaters across the U.S. on Feb. 23. Many of its showings were sold out, and the showing I went to was very well attended. Two encore showings were then scheduled for March 2 and March 7.
According to the film’s website, isgenesishistory.com, it should be available on DVD and Blu-Ray in mid-April.