Movie Review: “Is Genesis History?”

I don’t normally do movie reviews, but…


I was both excited and concerned when I heard about the recent documentary Is Genesis History?  (See the trailer here) being produced and released because I wondered which direction it would go. Now that I have seen it, I can say that my expectations were met and I was not entirely disappointed, nor was I entirely unsurprised.

The documentary, presented by Dr. Del Tackett, is focused on three accounts in Genesis: creation, the flood, and, very briefly, the tower of Babel. Much of the documentary is focused on flood geology and radiometric dating methods, presenting really nothing original in regard to actually placing creation and the flood into a young earth assumption of six-to-ten-thousand years old. Before I get into any specifics, let me first explain what I was hoping to see in such a documentary from a prominent Christian.

I was hoping for balance. I was hoping, beyond hope I suppose, that such a documentary would bring young and old earth creationists together and allow both sides to present their arguments because, so often, they seem to be found yelling at one another from across the room. I was also hoping that there would be a discussion of the inherent problems that both sides face in academia.  I was hoping for exposition of the historicity of the patriarchs. So I had a lot of hopes for it.

So, last night I flipped over to Netflix to see of there was anything “good” on and I find that the documentary had dropped, so I took the opportunity to watch it. It presented the usual arguments for a global flood event and how cataclysmic events, such as the 1980 Mt. Saint Helen’s eruption, poses for assumptions about geological formation and stratification, something that I would argue, and seems fairly obvious to any thinking person, equally poses problems for young earth creationists as well. In fact, given the arguments of young earther creationist (YEC) that presuppose the Noetic flood to be global (not to say that they are the same, but I have yet to find a YEC that doesn’t) that there are geological formations that pose problems for the uniformity in deposition that is claimed by them and they are within two-hours drive of one another and are featured prominently in the film. Awkward?

It also raises questions about where the Garden of Eden was and how, if the flood was indeed global, that the writers would know their location. It goes to the very question of historicity, which is something that the makers of the film is arguing. The biblical writers use known landmarks to locate the Garden in time and space, and if the flood was global and changed the geography so much, it simply does not follow that the points of reference used by the authors would even make sense. However, it does follow if the flood was localized, that the authors’ frame  of reference does work. The double-edged sword is that the YEC insists on reading the first 11 chapters as history then present arguments that undermine such readings as being historically demonstrable.

One thing that I did find compelling was the discussion of phylogeny and how there are no links in the “tree of life” between the varieties of life. It was brief, and I thought it could have used more depth, which goes to what I was hoping for. There was also a brief discussion about astronomy and how it is used, but it also suffered from a lack of balance.

The documentary was well produced, used established authorities in the fields, but I found the arguments used to be viciously circular, and there was no balance in regard to point of view, it was YEC all the time. If you’re a young earth creationist, this documentary is red meat for you and will be right up your alley. If you’re not, you won’t necessarily be insulted or called a heretic, but the implication is just under the surface, and picking at the faults in the argumentation will definitely get your salvation called into question.

Can I recommend it?

Only if you want to be familiar with one side of the arguments.

For more on the flood, see here.

For inspiration and inerrancy, here’s a discussion that defines my position.

Is the Big Bang biblical? I think so, and you can see why here.

For a panel discussion, Ligonier has this Q&A, which features Dr. Stephen Meyer and Dr. Tackett,

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