On Thursday, I did something I rarely do. I went to a theater and saw a movie. And it was even more rare in that I saw a Christian movie, this one being “Is Genesis History?”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Christian, and I love it when my fellow Christians produce good art. But most movies that come out under the label of “Christian” suffer from bad acting, bad writing, and worst of all, bad theology. I reject the line I often hear about how “Christians should support Christian movies,” because I don’t think the kingdom is being won or lost at the box office, and the Christianity often presented by these movies is often a slice of moralistic therapeutic deism that doesn’t represent what I’m about.
But, once in awhile, a Christian movie does come out that is worth the ticket price, and this is one of them.
The film documents Dr. Del Tackett (“The Truth Project”) as he travels around the world and interviews various scholars and scientists about the question the title of the film poses–is the book of Genesis a literal account of historical events? Given the premise, I expected the film to be a typical evidentialist presentation that cast doubt on certain points of evolutionary science, then makes leaps of logic to arrive at creationism. I was pleasantly surprised that this film does not take that approach. Within just a few minutes, Tackett is talking to Hebrew scholar Dr. Steve Boyd, who lays out very plainly and clearly that Genesis is written as a narrative and must be interpreted as such. It is a presuppositional work. Tackett and his panel present that the problem is not the scientific evidence itself, but the presuppositions (paradigm, to use their terminology) through which that evidence is interpreted. I find this refreshing, as I have always found the flaw of secular skepticism to be that science only accounts for natural laws that have remained relatively stable always, and Christianity introduces a supernatural God who is not bound to act within those laws.
But that doesn’t mean the film lacks in its presentation of scientific evidence. A visit to the Grand Canyon and other sites in Arizona reveals that the rock layering points not to the result of a slow erosion and sedimentary process over millions of years, but a catastrophic event that caused an incredible amount of material to be deposited in a short amount of time. Something like a rapid global flooding event. In Montana, soft tissue and protein are extracted from a dinosaur horn, something that would be impossible had the horn been present for 65 million years in such harsh conditions. Different dating methods, when applied to the same material from the same source, provide variations of hundreds of thousands of years, casting doubt on their reliability. Events from history are analyzed, including how Darwin started with the paradigm of millions of years and built On the Origin of Species around it–again, not an issue of evidence, but what was done with the evidence. Other evidence and issues from paleontology, zoology, and astronomy are presented. Despite the scientific credentials of the panel, the interviews do a good job of breaking down complex concepts into layman’s terms (a panel discussion at the end of the film actually explains that getting these scientists to speak in such terms was one of the bigger challenges of the project).
Overall, “Is Genesis History?” is a well-made, smart, engaging documentary that will be edifying to believers who find their worldview under constant attack from the outside, and will be challenging for unbelievers who have never had to consider that the Bible may, in fact, be true. While initially being presented as an one-night-only event, the film will return to select theaters for encore presentations on Thursday, March 2nd and Tuesday, March 7th. ♦