There’s a dramatic reveal at the beginning of the new documentary, Is Genesis History?, that challenges preconceived notions about the age of rock formations. As host Del Tackett (The Truth Project) explains, pieces of evidence about the age of the earth can be viewed through filters of belief or secularism. For the course of the journey, he leads viewers through a set of discoveries with scientists from various fields all devoted to creation research.
The film, produced and directed by Thomas Purifoy, Jr. and released by Compass Cinema, will come to theaters for one night only on February 23 as a Fathom event. Purifoy said that the concept for the film came about after being at a loss to explaining historical evidence to his 10 year-old daughter. As a result, he gathered a wide range of scientists to offer their discoveries.
“I realized that there were a lot of really great scientists and thinkers and scholars that are committed to young earth creationism,” Purifoy said. “I think it really shows the wealth of intelligence and thinking, some very smart people.”
Is Genesis History? carries the viewers through a variety of settings as experts such as Steve Austin, PhD (geologist), Douglas Petrovich, PhD (archeologist), Andrew Snelling, PhD (geologist), Marcus Ross, PhD (paleontologist), Robert Carter, PhD (marine biologist), Danny Faulkner, PhD (astronomer), Paul Nelson, PhD (philosopher of science), Kevin Anderson, PhD (microbiologist) and many more.
Many of the scientists featured also participated in a screening and panel discussion at the Creation Museum moderated by Ken Hamm of Answers In Genesis. Prior to the screening, they spoke to Reel Faith about the film and their discoveries.
What did you think when you heard there was going to be a theatrical documentary about young earth creationism?
Dr. Ross: I thought it was ambitious. There’s never been a young earth documentary that’s been brought to the theaters before. For us and creationism, it’s totally uncharted waters. The young earth community has never had somebody that was bold enough to have an ambitious idea and Tom was dedicated enough to learn the deeper ends of the science as he went through this. It was encouraging and exciting.
Del Tackett: When Thomas first contacted me and we talked about the possibility of doing something like this, I got excited as we talked about actually meeting scientists in the field and having the opportunity to look at the evidence that they have been working with for, in some cases, 30 years. To be able to interview those scientists and help people begin to realize that there is credible evidence. I’ve told people that if you really want to see the evidence, you have to go rogue, because every science paradigm that has come and captured the culture and the world at that time, the paradigm prevents you from coming and asking questions outside of the paradigm and we’re seeing evidence outside of it. We wanted to be able to help people see that and find out for themselves that there is credible evidence that the history that God gave to us about what He did when He created the world, when He created man, when He created male and female, why there is evil in the world, as a result of the fall, why the world looks the way it does as a result of primarily of the global flood. We wanted to help people see that evidence and begin to recognize there are some very very professional and very intelligent scientists out there who have uncovered that evidence and they believe that Genesis is really history.
What was it like to take this journey? Is there a particular moment that stands out to you?
Del Tackett: It’s hard for me to think of the one thing that sticks out. In the lab where we were looking at the soft dinosaur tissue that Kevin and I looked at and he allowed me to look at and hold it, that was an amazing moment. To sit out in the dark night with Dr. Faulkner and to look at the stars and think that God spoke them into existence and to talk about those issues, that was an amazing moment. Then to hike down the Little Grand Canyon at Mount St. Helens with Dr. Steve Austin and to sit there as he described it, ‘This Rosetta Stone for geology, because we were there in terms of humanity. We were there. We recorded it and we know how long it took and we see these extremely complex geological formations, we see the peak being formed underneath Spirit Lake,’ Everywhere we went, scuba diving in St. Thomas and looking under the ocean and talking about the genetics associated with the coral reefs. It was a privilege I had. I had the opportunity to have what I call ‘flashbulb moments’ and I had them every time we visited with each of these scientists.
Dr. Austin: We didn’t have a script. We had places to go to interview. So what happened was Del and Thomas kind of ad-libbed that thing at Mount St. Helens and made it sort of self explanatory intro. I love that. You go somewhere and you discover what you need to discover yourself. Grand Canyon flood, that’s what I was talking about, all the marine strata, being 8,000 feet above sea level now.
To what degree do you think Christians and churchgoers are intimidated by scientific research? How will this film speak to them?Dr. Nelson: I think there are many aspects to the film that will encourage people. For instance, it’s a lot of fun and rewarding to see scientists who are in love with their subjects and love explaining it, so that’s one of the things that I admire. The time it takes to take these scientists out in the field with their subject matter and have them describe it in a way that’s in a way that encourages scientific exploration. Many Christians are intimidated by science and they shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, since the middle of the 19th century, science has been set up in opposition to faith as if those were antonyms. But that’s not the biblical picture of faith and that really isn’t the biblical picture of science either. Science is an aspect of human creativity that God gave us to understand this world, to figure out how it works and to figure out its history. So Christians should be right at the frontlines of science. Another aspect of this film that I like is that it shows Christians doing that. I think for many, many viewers, this film will encourage them not to be intimidated by science and to recognize that it really is a gift of God to His children.
As the film explains, entering into a discussion about creation and the origins of the universe unbiased is not possible, is it?
Dr. Nelson: All of us come to the world with certain assumptions and one of the great things about science is it is an enterprise that encourages or it should encourage conflict in the sense that I throw out a hypothesis and you challenge it. What many people don’t know about the young earth creation community is it’s intensely competitive and filled with people challenging each other. Go to a young earth science conference. You’ll see this in action, Proverbs tells us irons sharpens iron and I think every scientist interviewed will acknowledge that he has open questions about his own worldview with respect to the evidence, but he expects his colleagues to challenge him and in that give and take, the truth will emerge. We’re all fallible and bound to make mistakes, but I count on my colleagues to help me find those mistakes and improve my theories.
It appears the creationist movement is growing, but then so is the other side, right?
Dr. Anderson: I would say it’s a little bit reflection of our society, where we see a greater divide in the society than certainly within my lifetime. I look and say, ‘Who moved?’ For the most part, I’ve been where I’ve been my whole life and the people I associate with have been there their whole lives. I think as this social divide occurs, you do have more people expressing interest, becoming more interested in biblical creationism teachings, but you also have to recognize that the opponents are becoming more vocal and are becoming larger as well as our population grows. There’s just more people on all sides. As we make more impact, the opponents are obviously going to push back more, so they make bigger noise as well, which sometimes isn’t so bad, because all publicity is good publicity. There may be some limits to that, but I think it does tend to help the average person say ‘Let me look at this more, let me check this out more.’ Certainly when I was growing up and I think everybody here would say the same thing, if you went to buy a book on creationism, there was like three or four. There just wasn’t many to speak of but now there are bookstores of them.
What do you hope audiences will take away from Is Genesis History?
Dr. Carter: The take home point is that Genesis is history and if Genesis is history, we have to rethink everything we think about Darwinian evolution, about the geologic record, about time, about starlight and the universe. If Genesis is historical, it claims to be a historical record of everything that’s happened in the universe. That’s a strong statement.
Jesus believed in the creation story. So can people say he was a great man and a smart man and wise teacher and all that and say he believed in something that wasn’t true?
Dr. Snelling: If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead and say you are a Christian, then he has power over life. He walked on water defying gravity. He turned water in wine because he could create and make more bread and fish to feed thousands of people. And he could tell a storm to instantly be still, demonstrating his power in front of eyewitnesses. For me, as a scientist, when I read what Jesus did as a Christian, when I accept who He is, there He is the one who is described in John as the Word and we go back to Genesis chapter one and God spoke and by him were all things created. So what’s the difference between Genesis and the gospels? There’s no difference. We can’t comprehend how Jesus had the power to do those miracles, but He had the power to do that, so why do we doubt that he didn’t have the power to create instantly back there in Genesis 1?
So people are trying to chip away the foundation, attacking Genesis and indirectly attacking Jesus?
Dr. Carter: Oh yeah, the movers and shakers in the evolution community knew that by getting rid of the first Adam, they were getting rid of the last Adam. That’s clear from their quotes. So evolution really becomes a giant smokescreen for a raging spiritual battle behind it.