An intriguing instigator of some profound discussion.
Is Genesis History?
For most documentaries, a filmmaker lets cameras roll in order to discover the truth about a subject. Within that frame then, Is Genesis History? is a rhetorical title.
Hosted by Del Tackett of Focus On The Family's The Truth Project video series (but otherwise having nothing to do with the ministry founded by James Dobson), Is Genesis History? assumes assent to its titular query. How, then, could a movie spend 105 minutes on a question to which the answer is a given for its creators and, presumably, the likely majority-Christian audience comprising the ticket buyers for its three national theatrical screening dates and the home video consumption to be purchased and streamed not many weeks later?
It's primarily in how the question is answered. Tackett interviews numerous numerous scientists and other academics in a wide swath of disciplines, most of them accompanied by shots of geological features, architecture and animal life. Today's plethora of cable stations and other content viewing options may make such photography nigh commonplace, but with such cinematography bright as what appears here on a big multiplex screen, some of those rock formations and critters can still be pretty breathtaking.
Pictures can say plenty, but ultimately only so much when it comes to a faith based on propositional truth, as Christianity is. Whether their specialty is geology, paleontology, philosophy, archaeology, astronomy, taphonomy, Hebrew or a branch of biology, Tackett's interlocutors all affirm the the historicity of the biblical text in question with ample evidence from their individual disciplines. The pace stays lively, though each expert is given enough time to speak their piece articulately and unhurriedly, sometimes accompanied by graphics that appear to draw themselves, akin to Captain Kangaroo's Mr. Drawing Board using parchment.
The cumulative effect of seeing interview upon interview, however impressive the accompanying visuals, may give some less charitable viewers the feeling of what one of my editors calls ODTAA Syndrome (One Damn Thing After Another), perhaps especially for the possible few seeing it who would disagree with the film's premise. However, Tackett gives sufficient, if brief, segues from one subject to the next for what could more rightly be seen as pieces of a puzzle coming together or different views of the same panorama. They all align to argue for the the verity of its premise.
The last of Tackett's exchanges is with conservative Tennessee Presbyterian pastor/author George Grant, who proposes that one must view Genesis, especially its first 11 chapters, as history in order to make sense of the gospel presented in the New Testament.,Christ's assumption of the book's historicity (He wrote it, after all), and, effectively, the entirety of human history. By the time Grant makes his assertions, the speakers before him have presented enough other convincing testimonies to strengthen his points. And the greenery of the farm setting in which the elderly reverend speaks contrasts effectively with the opening scene of Tackett around the site of 1980's Mount St. Helen volcanic explosion, itself a microcosmic example of the sort of catastrophic refashioning of terrain wrought globally by the Noahic flood.
Is Genesis History? has the narrative and factual firepower to give intellectually honest, or at least curious, supporters of purported theistic evolution, such as the "progressive evangelicals" at BioLogos, emergents and other theological liberals who read the first book of the Bible as mere poetry, and people who may never have given the matter much thought. Though belief in Genesis as history isn't necessarily a lynch pin matter of salvation, it makes sense that those who receive personal redemption the living Word as Lord and Savior would accept the veracity of the written Word and its account of the cosmos' creation its taint by sin and its own redemption at the culmination of time. By averring the compatibility of science with scripture, though its emphasis is on the former, Is Genesis History? makes an intriguing instigator of some profound discussion.
-Jamie Lee Rake