Is Genesis History?
February 3, 2017
By Tim Challies; INFORMING THE REFORMING
It’s not an easy time to be a six-day creationist. For some time now, the weight of conviction within the Evangelical world has swung toward views that demand an old earth. While few Christians are full-out theistic evolutionists, more and more believers hold to an ancient universe with all the complications that come with it: the interpretation of the word “day” as used in the creation account, the necessity of admitting death before the fall, and the reality that in so many ways the early chapters of Genesis have the appearance of a straightforward telling of history.
Yet there are still some, and perhaps it is even a quiet majority, who take the creation account in a literal way. Over the past few years we have been given some interesting new resources to bolster this view and to help reconcile it with what we observe in the world around us. One excellent new one is Is Genesis History?, a film set to come to theaters on February 23 for a one-day event. Shortly thereafter it will be available for purchase.
Is Genesis History? attempts to deal with that one simple question: Is the biblical account of creation and flood meant to be understood as history? Does it describe actual history? And does the world give evidence of recent creation and catastrophic flood? Host Del Tackett tackles these questions head-on and does so in a compelling way.
In many ways the film is about addressing assumptions. The underlying assumption in the film is that history tells us what happened while other fields tell us how it happened. If Genesis is history from the first chapter to the last, it is designed to tell us what happened. Once we know what happened, we can look elsewhere—geology, astronomy, biology, and so on—to determine how it actually came about. When we understand Genesis as history, we can then approach the world through its lens. Suddenly we see evidence all around us. We see the world backing up the Genesis story.
Alternatively, if we understand Genesis as mythology or literary framework, we approach the world through that lens and, not surprisingly, find evidence to back that faulty claim. So much comes down to paradigms. The film means to show that contemporary scientists and even theologians approach their field with faulty presuppositions, one of which is that the universe is ancient. Not surprisingly, then, they come to interpret the evidence in light of their presupposition.
Let me say a few words about the format of the film. It moves seamlessly through four sections. First, it sets the stage by interacting with a number of experts in geology, technology, and theology. It begins at Mount St. Helens where Tackett shows how its eruption made immediate, catastrophic changes to the area around it—the kind of changes we might assume would take hundreds or thousands of years.
Next, Steve Austin, a geologist, walks with Tackett through the Grand Canyon, comparing the conventional paradigm and the historical Genesis paradigm when it comes to perceptions of time, especially as it pertains to a global flood. Stuart Burgess, a computer engineer, shows that we must account for the orderliness of the world and its apparent engineering. Steve Boyd, a Hebraist at Hebrew Union College, then examines the Hebrew Scriptures to see whether the opening chapters of the Bible have the marks of history or some other genre.
The bulk of the film is an examination of the earth, of life, and of man and the universe. In every case, Tackett goes on-scene with an expert in his field as they discuss one of these areas. They consider geochronology and its dating methods, they examine soft tissue that remains within dinosaur bones, they discuss the geologic evidence of a catastrophic and worldwide flood, they map the spread of humanity from a central point. Together, they build a compelling case that Genesis is meant to be a historical account of the world’s origins and earliest days. They show that the universe is providing evidence to back its claims. They prove that you don’t need to check your brain at the door or cast science aside in order to believe this earth is relatively young, that it was created in six literal days, and that it was once ravaged by a global flood.
Is Genesis History? comes to theaters on February 23, and I’d encourage you to find a theater near you. Take the family—the older children, at least. Watch it, discuss it, and consider its claims. I think you will find it challenging, compelling, and convicting.