Reflections on “Is Genesis History?” Part II: Where do the Lines of Evidence Lead?

The question posed in the title of the documentary-style film “Is Genesis History?” sounds provocative, but the answer was never in doubt in the mind of the filmmakers—or the primary audience.  The producers surely hoped that non-Christians and Christians alike with questions about origins/natural history/science would be drawn in by the title query and subtitle “two competing worldviews, one compelling truth.”  Indeed, when I saw the film, I sat next to a man who knew nothing of young-earth creationism (YEC), was Catholic and told me he had always wondered what to make of the early chapters of Genesis, so he showed up to find out.  However, he was a distant outlier among the theater goers.  The vast majority of the audience likely were there because they hoped the film to support their belief in a young earth.  They had most likely heard about the film through promotions run by young-earth creationist organizations.

In Part I I suggested that the high production, perceived trustworthiness of the narrator and a desire to believe the message result in the film built a very “convincing” case in the eyes of the primary audience.  However, presenting a convincing case does not mean that truth was necessarily presented.  As in a court case, a verdict is based solely on the facts presented and the narrative that weaves the evidence together into a coherent interpretive framework.  “Is Genesis History” sets out to build the strongest case it can that the history of Genesis is one of a young earth shaped by a catastrophic flood just 4500 years ago.  Most who attended the film or have bought the DVD knew the verdict before hearing the case but were eager to hear the evidence that supports their convictions.  

For the filmmakers, the verdict was never in doubt. The question was never one whose answer was unknown. The verdict was in hand before evidence was brought to bear on the question. This is not unlike a trial in which the lawyers for one side will only present supporting evidence for their side and seek to provide alternative interpretations for, or outright dismissal of, evidence that is said to conflict with their position. Only in this case, there was no opposing counsel, no exculpatory evidence and no appeal by the defense. It seems to be a Kangaroo Court (but see footnote 1)

One strategy used to draw the audience, if not already convinced, to the desired verdict was the use of a common debate device. It couched the resolution of the question in as a dichotomous choice, providing its primary audience with only one palatable option—the earth is young—even if that choice leaves many with more questions than answers. A central thesis of the film seems to be: If the earth can be proven to be “guilty” of being young, then Genesis (as they interpret it), by extension, is proven a trustworthy historical record.  To make their case, a carefully selected—one could say cherry-picked—set of data was presented to the audience.  That limited set of data was then used to weave a narrative that supported their preconceptions.

In my opinion, the audience was led to a faulty verdict, though one that they could readily accept because they already “knew” that Genesis is history.  So why do so many Christians object to the film’s assertion that Genesis is history?  After all, many Christians, including myself, can answer the question in the affirmative.  Yes, Genesis does record real history.  But that history isn’t necessarily intended to communicate answers to all our questions about history.  Everything that the author of Genesis intends to communicate to us about the history of God’s creation is true, but if we interpret that history to include truths that were never intended by the author, ultimately God himself, we will find ourselves believing a false history.

The question of the film wasn’t really “Is Genesis History?” but rather something much more specific: “Should you believe the young-earth interpretation of the what the author was communicating to us about history vs. all other interpretations?”  The interpretation is assumed to be unassailable and thus the evidence from creation must support that interpretation.   In part III of this series we will examine how the film moves back and forth between evidential and presuppositional approaches to apologetics. (also see my article: A Young Earth Creationist Approach to Scientific Apologetics)  For now let us observe that much of the film seeks to provide lines of evidence in support of a young-earth in hopes that the viewer will come to accept the truth–as defined by the young-earth interpretation–of the Bible.  

Unfortunately, the majority of scientists, Christian or otherwise, find that the lines of evidence drawn from observations from creation presented in this film laid nothing more than a false foundation upon which no coherent and defensible understanding of geology, biology, astronomy or theology can be adequately built. An apologetic for the gospel built on such grounds is of little value in building the Kingdom.  It can only work if God’s works of creation truly do tell the story of a recent creation.  If, as many of us are convinced, it does not, then either the history that YEC’s believe Genesis tells is a false history or they have misread that history.  

On vast sedimentary deposits….

There was data and lines of evidence presented in the  documentary that myself and many other Christians working in scientific fields have observed are incomplete and misleading.  Most of these are not new problems.  They have been pointed out time and time again over many years by many Christians who are scientists (for example the GeoChristian and Age of Rocks blogs and many scholarly books; The Bible Rocks and Time, Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth, A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, and The Biblical Flood: a case study of the church’s response to extrabiblical evidence).  Yet the same problematic arguments continue to be promoted by YEC adherents.  Let’s take a brief look at a few examples from the film.

One theme presented in the film is that one past event, the Flood, was so different from anything we experience today that we can’t interpret that past based on present processes.  If there were geological formations that we can’t see forming today then that could be a line of evidence that a different process was at work in the past.  It could then be inferred, according to YECs, that different process was a global flood.

The observation that the same sedimentary rock formation can be observed over thousands of square miles is one such line of evidence that was recited multiple times during the film.  We are given the distinct impression that these widespread sedimentary rocks can only be explained within the context of a world-wide flood.  In the film and in his previous publications, Dr. Snelling claimed that we don’t see this happening today and that geologists have no explanation for such deposits.  For example, he previously published that: “Slow-and-gradual (present-day uniformitarian) processes cannot account for this evidence.” 

It is very difficult to find a way to respond to these statements in a charitable light when little truth can be found in them.  The producers and narrator, Dr. Tackett, can be excused for a lack of familiarity with the evidence, but they employed experts to provide an honest evaluation of the evidence and were not well-served. No one disputes the fact that there are vast horizontal sedimentary deposits that are widespread across some continents, although most are not as evenly distributed  as implied in the film.  But the declaration that we don’t see this happening today is demonstrably false.  Furthermore, Dr. Snelling completely ignores a vast swath of research into past elevation of continental crust, sea levels and tectonic motion that provide compelling explanations for the observed layers of sediments across large geographical regions.  He must ignore this literature in order to continue to promulgate the young-earth poor understanding of when and where this simplistic (see Here and Here) understanding of uniformitarianism can be applied.

But geologists don’t need to look into the past to see sedimentary processes occurring that can account for what Snelling claims can only be explained by a global flood.  Today, we observe that sediments are being deposited over thousands of square miles on continental shelves, most notably off the coast of South America.  Similarly massive sand deposits are being deposited over the majority of Saudi Arabia and northern Africa, also known as the Sahara.  More details about present-day deposition can be found in this article: Can we trace rock layers across continents only because of Noah’s Flood?  

If large areas of sediment deposition can readily be explained by a number of past  (eg. Sediment Transport and the Coconino Sandstone) and present processes, it should be rather shocking that Dr. Snelling and other young-earth writers claim that the presence of such widespread sedimentary rocks are one the best “evidences” [sic] of a global flood.  One of the best?   This evidence is equivocal at best and we would argue has far less explanatory power than an old earth model. 

Interpreting the Fossil Record

Later in the film, Dr. Carter mentioned that fossils of the sea reptiles called Mosasaurs are all found on land.  This resulted in an audible gasp from the audience in the theater.  This seemed like compelling evidence that could only be explained in the young-earth/global flood paradigm.  Granted, this observation by itself would not be inconsistent with a global Flood, but Dr. Carter should be well aware that it is not inconsistent with a deep-time model of earth’s history either.  When further observations are made about the context of those fossils—including what is not  found with them—the young-earth narrative falls apart.

How is the presence of mosasaurs explained by geologists?  Geologists have long understood that shallow seas once covered the central portion of North America. They know—and YECs also acknowledge—that sea levels have changed dramatically in the past.  Sea level has been much lower—100 meters or more—during Ice Ages and much higher during times when the Earth was warmer than it is today.  Combined with abundant evidence that many regions, such as the North American plains, have been uplifted along with the rise of mountain chains such as the Rocky Mountains, there is nothing mysterious about the discovery of sea reptiles in rocks found above sea level today.

Significantly, the very fact that mosasaurs and other sea reptiles are found in vast deposits of rock over the interior of the US is evidence that a shallow sea once existed there.  Much like the deposition that is happening off the coast of South America and other continents today, sediments were being deposited across wide stretches of North America constantly over long periods of time.  Going back to Snelling’s assertion that deposits over large areas require a global flood, the deposition of sediment in a shallow sea over the interior central portion of North America didn’t require a global flood and thus the presence of large sediments layers is not proof of a global flood.

On the surface, the above explanation could appear to be a different interpretations of the same facts. Well, it may look that way.  At a minimum it demonstrates that it is irresponsible to act as if the YEC model is the only model that fits this data.  But, in fact, a closer inspection will quickly reveal that the YEC model is an inferior model for explaining our observations.  In the film Dr. Snelling makes a big deal about the sharp contacts between rock formations and although he admits they are not perfectly flat everywhere he gives the impression that these contacts are very sharp over large areas. This is misleading but even if we grant that generally there are “missing” layers of rock between formations, the shallow sea model is a far better explanation for the observed data than the global flood model.

A widespread shallow inland sea would explain sediment deposition, especially the dolomites and limestones, across wide regions. It would also explain the sharp contacts between rock formations that cannot be explained by a chaotic global flood.  Conventional geology provides a very reasonable explanation for our observations.  A shallow sea would have dried up during cooler periods in earth’s history, thus exposing massive regions to the air,stopping further sedimentation. During that time some erosion would occur—think of what is happening on the plains of Nebraska or Kansas today.  Later, when sea levels rose again and covered the land, deposition under different conditions would resume, adding new layers of sediment of much younger age. The contact between these layers would be quite sharp with evidence of stream valleys in cross sections of the rocks when viewed later in time. This is exactly what we see (image to the right).

A paleochannel in the Grand Canyon. The lower rock layers have been eroded by a stream only to be filled later with more sediment on top of which sedimentary layers were deposited. Photo by Grand Canyon researcher/tour guide/photographer Wayne Ranney

There are many places where we can identify topographical variation in the contact regions between layers where the sediment below had been eroded by small and large stream systems. In the global flood context water moving quickly across a continent might explain the overall flat contact of layers—though no better than a shallow sea model—but the observation of meandering stream beds at those contact layers contradicts the flood model.  

The closer one looks at the flood geology model of earth history, the more inconsistencies one finds.  For example, examining thousands of fossils in their depositional context quickly reveals that the model for fossil preservation presented in the film does not fit the observational evidence.  Dr. Ross presented the standard young-earth explanation for the order of the fossil record but the mosasaurs in the film don’t make any sense within that narrative.  Tens of thousands of individual fossils of more than 800 species of sea reptiles that have been described, yet not a single one of them has ever been found in the same rock formation as any of the tens of thousands of more than 150 species of fossil Cetaceans (whales, porpoises, and dolphins).  Sea reptiles are always found in sedimentary rocks below those in which whales are found despite the fact that sea reptiles and cetaceans (whales and dolphins), had they lived in the same seas before the Flood, would have been members of the same ecological communities.  This is not what a global flood model would predict and to act as if a global flood provides even a plausible explanation—much less the “best” explanation—is disingenuous to the audience, who is not being provided all the evidence or the current scientific explanations.

Throughout the film, the experts presented pieces of evidence and then asserted or insinuated that these observations could best (or only) be explained by a global flood.  At the same time, the same evidence was frequently portrayed as impossible to explain by conventional scientists, leaving the audience to conclude that young-earth paradigm alone holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of the history of the Earth and by extension, that most “conventional” scientists have only a tenuous grasp of truth or evidence.

Mt. St. Helens and Yellowstone: A story of incomplete information and bad analogies

In the very beginning of the film, the stunning scenery of Mt. St. Helens is suggested to have provided the context to show that non-uniform events in the past are a better explanation for what scientists until “just a few decades” before would have believed were caused by slow processes acting over long periods of time. As would be seen throughout the remainder of the film, Tackett gave no citation for this supposed belief of “opposing” scientists.  This left a false impression that catastrophic processes are not appreciated by geologists today. In fact, the valleys carved at Mt. St. Helens at best have only superficial similarities to the Grand Canyon. Any geologist worth his/her salt, even in the years before Mt. St. Helens exploded, would be able to identify similar formations in other places as the result of rapid processes occurring at a local scale.  Even in the film it is obvious that the pattern of erosion of unconsolidated ash is far different than the erosion of hard sandstones as found in the Grand Canyon.  This is a comparison of apples to oranges, but the audience is led to believe that scientists believe the two are the same fruit.

Ironically, the film itself provided an example that contradicts the message presented in the introduction of the film at the foot of Mt. St. Helens.  It is claimed that Yellowstone volcanic activity spread ash over hundreds of thousands of square miles.  The existence of  these ash layers has been acknowledged for over 100 years. No one today believes they were the result of long ages of slow deposition.  Likewise, massive deposits of ash at Yellowstone, many of which are very deeply eroded, such as at Yellowstone Falls Canyon have been recognized as the result of catastrophic processes.

Remember that no one was there to see these events.  There is no human or written divine eyewitness testimony to these events, yet scientists are not fooled into assuming that ash layers or large beds of unconsolidated debris must be the result of processes working very slowly over time.  It is disingenuous to portray geologists as unable to interpret that history correctly if shown the deposits and eroded valleys of Mt. St. Helens without the eyewitness testimony of the eruption and subsequent events.  I would expect any geologist with a moderate amount of experience to be able to collect data that would allow them to determine the relative sequence and timing of the events that are recorded in the sediments. A geologist, who is also a Christian, has written about the particular challenge that Yellowstone presents to the YEC earth-history hypothesis:  The Pleistocene is Not in the Bible.

Geologists have examined the Yellowstone ash layers in detail and have determined that there were multiple super-eruptions at this location which spread ash over hundreds of thousands of square miles each time.  Furthermore, while these ash layers were deposited in a blink-of-an-eye, the sediments found between the ash layers required much more time.  Some of these ash layers are separated by hundreds of thousands of years if not millions of years.(2)  Evidence of multiple eruptions is easily observed by the presence of entire ecosystems preserved in sediments between the ash layers.  While briefly mentioned in the film, the very existence of these multiple catastrophic events is very difficult to accommodate in the very short YEC timeline of the post-Flood world.  However, these data are readily accommodated in an old earth model that acknowledge the regular occurrence of dramatic short-term events that have long-term consequences such as erosion of ash to form mature soils.  

The mention of Yellowstone volcanism highlighted another common problem in the YEC literature and an internal inconsistency in the film.  The massive widespread volcanic ash layers were used as evidence in the film to infer that if short-duration catastrophic events could be responsible for widespread destruction and sediment deposition, then a global flood could do much more, even though—it is worth noting—a flood and a volcano are not at all the same thing. But nothing presented in the film showed that a global catastrophic event was required when a local catastrophe—whether that be a flood, volcanic eruption, or rapid change in elevation due to an earthquake—could better explain the observations.

In summary, for those of us with even passing familiarity with the full scope of the many lines of evidence that point to an old earth,  the film was a painful series of awkward attempts to fit square pegs into round holes. Like most YEC claims, they sound good on the surface but when placed under cross-examination they are found wanting.

In Part III we will take a look a bit closer at the presuppositional apologetic of the filmmakers, the curious choice of a segment on the Tower of Babel, and the odd final scene focussed on God’s curse on creation rather than the beauty.

Footnotes:

  1. I do not mean to suggest that the producers were in any way obligated to examine both sides. There is certainly no requirement that a documentary present both sides. I understand that this film was never meant to examine both sides or even present another side. It was never meant to be anything other than a young-earth apologetic.  However, I write this so that those that watch the film will know what they are watching and more importantly that they are watching a minority view among theologians and Christian scientists.
  2. Lanphere, Marvin A., Duane E. Champion, Robert L. Christiansen, Glen A. Izett, and John D. Obradovich. “Revised ages for tuffs of the Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field: Assignment of the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff to a new geomagnetic polarity event.” Geological Society of America Bulletin 114, no. 5 (2002): 559-568. http://gsabulletin.gsapubs.org/content/114/5/559.short  

An alternative cover image: The metaphorical path that the YEC lines of evidence lead us down. Photo: Joel Duff

 

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Editing provided by LC

Comments

  1. Kerfuffle says:

    Thanks for another good article! I think you’ve got a typo in your summary paragraph: “many lines of evidence that point to a young earth”. I assume you mean “old earth”.

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  2. datadroid says:

    It seems likely that fossils are found mainly on land mainly because that’s where we live, not because they only exist there.

    That this is highlighted in the film is indicative of the extreme anthropocentrism often favored by YECs. This affects everything from their frequent inability/refusal to really think about the long time periods (i.e. much longer than human lives or human history) involved in geology, cosmology or evolution (they often ask to see “a dog give birth to a cat,” thinking that’s what evolutionary theory claims), to their anti-environmental stance (since the earth is much larger than a human and it was “made for us” so we can pillage it), to their inability/refusal to consider anything without an “eyewitness” record as unreliable, even though eyewitnesses are, in fact, notoriously unreliable.

    Ironically, this isn’t even very scriptural, since it explicitly states in Revelation 4:11“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will (or “pleasure”) they existed and were created!” and in Psalm 24:1 “YHWH owns the earth and all it contains, the world and all who live in it.”

    The entire creation exists because of and for the benefit of God, not humanity. It is, by grace, given to us to exercise dominion, but ultimately, we are only stewards, not owners, and not the primary reason for its existence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tb29607 says:

    I am new to YEC debates but have found them quite interesting. Also, the patience and respectful tone displayed here in the vast majority of comments is the standard I feel all blogs should aspire to. Keep up the good work and I look forward to joining the discussions once I have done more homework on the debate topics.

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  4. I have not seen the film so I probably should not comment, but I think YEC in general can be described as “a painful series of awkward attempts to fit square pegs into round holes.” Rather than question if their premise is wrong (the premise that modern science can be force-fit into Genesis), they leave a lot of loose ends and tangled ideas.

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  5. tb29607 says:

    Jacob,
    I agree with you. What I have found most interesting is in the arguement techniques YEC use. The cherry picking of data, special pleading, and “moving the goal posts” is similar to other pseudoscientific ideas but the YEC seem better at it than most. YEC also seem to redirect all discussions back to their belief in and reliance on the Bible. Anyone more familiar with the debate feel free to correct me. I am here to learn.

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    • In my experience with YEC debates on Christian forums, I have been often accused of not believing the Bible because I am not interpreting in the plain, wooden, literal fashion. You can argue as eloquently as you like but it won’t make much difference to those that have staked their faith in their reading of Genesis.

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      • Quite right, but maybe with their children.

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        • according to your line of reasoning, evolution is not a theory either. No evidence. No rational explanation (unless you believe in miracles). As for your political acumen, could you possibly be more facile? What a trite and shallow thing to say. Amazingly, you don’t see that you are as judgemental and close-minded as those whom you accuse. Try removing the log first. And steer clear of genetic fallacy.

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    • I don’t think your here to “learn”, Jacob. You’re here to disparage. Seems like you already know all you need to know. And all after several minutes of intense study.

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  6. Evolutionists claim that average population growth was 150 people per year during 2 million year period of human evolution. That is insane. That’s why my choice is the Biblical truth. I also know that evolution is not happening. There are over 10,000,000 SNPs in the human DNA and over 200,000 disease-causing mutations. 10% of Americans are living with a genetic disease. And there are no beneficial random mutations. The evolution means a dead end.

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    • I’m wondering what this has to do with the article?

      Liked by 1 person

    • no evolutionary scientist has ever claimed that population growth was 150 a year or anything like that. The model does not start with two people, but rather a larger population, and it goes up and down, increasing and then crashing with natural disasters and then starting a steady (and much greater) increase with the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Would you care to cite any kind of reference for the 150 a year figure?
      A small number of people are immune to the AIDs virus because of a mutation. It was not beneficial, until AIDs was introduced into the population. No mutation is beneficial or detrimental except in regard to fitness for a particular environment.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innate_resistance_to_HIV

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  7. I’m sure the movie failed to address the massive evaporite deposits of the Western Inland Sea.

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  8. Interesting article. Well written. Informative. And as most of it’s kind, blind to it’s own hypocrisy and circular reasoning. In spite of your footnote one, why do you even note the one-sided nature of the film? In the vast majority of schools and universities today, there is no even handed discussion of different theories of our beginnings.Even the very mention of entertaining or discussing (even to refute) an alternative to darwinian evolution brings condemnation, punishment, loss of employment, etc, just the very mention of it.
    So i find it humorous the idea that flagrant warning flags should be displayed when anything like this film is presented to the public. Why evolutionists feel this impulse to rescue humanity from utter desolation because of exposure to an opposing viewpoint indicates fear if anything. I know, i know, you’ll say it must be done to save science from plunging into the dark ages, blah blah blah. Seriously? If the evidence supporting your beliefs are so overwhelming, why are so many people not buying it? Why are increasing numbers of scientists not buying it? Every year millions, even billions, of man hours are spent researching and propagating the evolutionary dogma. Billions of people are indoctrinated into a philosophical belief system. Then a film of a couple of hours shows up presenting a contrary viewpoint which, as you say, will be viewed primarily by those already convinced of it’s conclusion, an it’s battle stations, all hands of deck. This strikes me as juvenile.
    So what if people think the world is younger than you do. What exactly is the clear and present danger that you envision occurring? And as to the comment above about the civil tone, just hang around a while. As soon as a yec shows up, the nuclear option will be employed. Right now it’s just a back-slapping affirmation club.

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    • datadroid says:

      There are currently no alternate theories of our beginnings, hence the lack of such discussion in places of education. A theory, after all, must have broad explanatory and predictive power regarding the phenomena within its purview. Modern evolutionary theory is currently the only such theory of biology.

      Regarding this film, you appear to be missing the large point. Even if the conclusion (the earth is young; there was a global flood; species are largely unrelated) is correct, the fact that demonstrable falsehoods are used to support such a claim should be of deep concern to anyone, especially to Christians who believe that truth matters.

      For what it’s worth, your claim that “increasing numbers of scientists [are] not buying it” is patently false, just like Steve Austin’s claim in the movie that “scientists have largely abandoned that view [that the Grand Canyon formed over millions of years].” The reason so many people claim to disagree with evolutionary theory has nothing to do with “dogma” (go ahead, find just one example of “prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true” rather than evidence presented in favor of evolutionary theory), and everything to do with deliberate ignorance of available evidence. Despite the assertions made in the film, there is no evidence of any kind which has ever led anyone to conclude that the earth is young, that it ever experienced a global flood, or that species are largely unrelated.

      The danger of such teaching should be clear: since YEC leaders are dogmatically insisting that only their interpretation of Genesis is correct, when people discover that this interpretation ignores or denies reality, many will conclude that they must leave the faith, since they’ve been taught that this interpretation of Genesis is vital to it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • creationism is not a theory (no evidence–no rational explanation), so there is no need to teach it in schools. They don’t teach alchemy either.

      Most of the people who are creationists also voted for Trump. Look how that turned out. I could think of several reasons as to why people believe it that don’t have anything to do with creationism being plausible.

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  9. I love how the post starts out with a straw man, ad hominem, and overall generalization :) “The vast majority of the audience likely were there because they wanted to reinforce their belief in a young earth.”

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    • Thanks for the comment but seems a bit irrelevant:-) Seriously though, its a reasonable inference based on a lot of experience on my part. I tracked the film very closely and in my area and may others dedicated YEC churches brought groups to the theater. I knew many people at the theater that I was at an all are close followers of Ken Ham. Of course some came with a real question in their mind: Is Genesis History? but is anyone going to take a bet that most didn’t know the answer?

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      • You seem to have an incredible amount of information at hand. What kind of “tracking” do you do? You know all the yec churches? (Strange, i have never seen a church identify itself as a “YEC” church. Not the kind of thing one usually finds in the statement of faith in the church bulletin). Even if a church identified itself as such, is that an indicator of what percentage of people adhere to it? The church i go to, which does not identify itself with either position (though the denominations position would be 6-day, young earth) has a mixture of different viewpoints on this issue, with a significant percentage adhering to different ones.
        How do you tell whether people in a church (do you attend ALL of them) are “followers” (one can assume the negative connotation) of Ken Ham. This is ridiculous. I have yet to meet a christian who adheres to yec who would identify themselves as a follower of Ken Ham. At this point, i think you are just making crap up, trying to bolster your argument with false statistics and assumptions. How would you “know” who, if anyone, came with a “real question” in their mind? Your posts are becoming a bit facile and sad. Stick to real math and things you could know. Leave the psychic analysis out of it. It only makes you look desperate and foolish.

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      • Thanks for the response! I generally find myself irrelevant to somebody 🙂 I can see there being some truth to the statements, but at the same time there seems to be a common attitude among anti-YEC people to mock it for its academic credibility. I have followed the Reformed Academics for a number of years, and I recall a time when a number of them were mocking Ken Ham on Twitter over his debate with Bill Nye. They all picked sides with, shall we say, a very interesting man. I really do find it interesting that those challenging issues such as 6-day creation want a voice in the churches, but it is rare to see a round table discussion with the YEC scientists on the other side of the table. That could be one way to getting a voice.

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        • now now, mag, you’re trying to be reasonable again. And we know how little reason is involved in this debate. Keep wishing, though.

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        • It would be great if there could be more round table discussion with YEC scientists. Please don’t think that hasn’t been offered many times. BioLogos has offered to meet with Ken Ham as have many others. The response is that they are compromisers and so not worthy of having discussions with. Debates with atheists are their preferred model with some exceptions. I was involved in teaching seminary class with Snelling and Mortenson and they would not even sit with us at breakfast and refused all offers of having dinner together with students. Not sure what else one can do to have dialogue if even tangential conversation is not possible. I agree that a round table discussion with YECs would be a way of getting a voice but maybe that explains why they don’t want those conversations to happen. They want a one way conversation with their audience. Go to any AiG conference and see how many questions they ask or opportunities there are for any discussion. The universal answer is to go to the back of the room and buy the books that have all the answers.

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          • I’ve heard some very similar remarks from YEC people. Admittedly, I have seen YEC people invite anti-YEC speakers into the room. I’ve now watched half of the ‘Is Genesis History?’ movie, and they make some excellent points about time.

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            • Indeed Mag, I think that is the heart of the issue. It really drives the debate. i think more discussion on the nature of time itself might at least lead to a bit more understanding of the YEC perspective.

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          • Well, if that is true (and anecdotal stories are risky at best), it is regrettable, and understandable. Based on the “hate Ken Ham and AIG” rhetoric i have seen on this and other sites, perhaps theirs is a normal response. No posts i have seen on your site display the christian compassion and love we are commanded to display, especially in reference to our brothers and sisters in Christ. When you insult someones intelligence and comprehensive skills, especially pertaining to science, what in the world do you expect as a response?
            And perhaps they are right in doing so. I am sure they have years and decades of experience dealing with progressive creationists. I personally have found that debating with atheists/atheists-evolutionists to be far more productive than those with PC’s. Perhaps it is the faith issue that interferes. Or perhaps it is because the pc’s have a more understandable, coherent argument. I find that few, very few, of the pc’s have thought out or even thought of the theological and biblical consequences of their paradigms. There does appear to be an “exalt science, the bible be damned” attitude. It is illogical to expect yec’s to endorse such a sacrifice. Perhaps it is the inevitable (or should be) theological repercussions that will always render such “science” discussions ultimately irrelevant to them.

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    • excellent point. A tactic used often by those wishing to cast a negative perspective on an issue or person(s) with whom they disagree. The reader then mistakenly associates the negativity towards the (straw man) with the actual issue at stake. It’s a cheap ploy, but works more often than it should, usually on those, ironically, on those who come with a priori assumptions, the very thing they accuse the other party of. They fail to see the hypocrisy.

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  10. I finally got to watching the movie! Since I interposed to comment on your article without watching the movie, I thought I should read it again having watched the movie. You have presented a whole bunch of scientific data which the movie did as well. But it seems to me that the central thesis of the movie is one of time. In fact, the movie concluded by bringing in a theologian-historian, which I thought was quite important. With the shifting sands of science (which is an incredibly important pursuit), the historical narrative of evolution is a moving target, and so ultimately this isn’t faith vs. science. This is history vs. history.

    You say, “That limited set of data was then used to weave a narrative that supported their preconceptions.” But that kind of misses the point of the movie. The movie wants to prove, in a sense, that the Holy Bible factors into the data. With all the manuscript evidence for Scripture, and the Bible being the oldest record of the “data” it seems foolish if not deadly to the scientific pursuit if the Scriptures do not factor into the explanation of the data. It is in fact difficult to reconstruct the history of the world from only what we have in front of us without taking the Scriptures into account.

    It was good to be able to “spar” with this article, just so that I can hear some of the criticism, and learn from the concerns of other Christian scientists. But I have to say that I really appreciated the film, and the follow up interviews with Purifoy on Kuyperian commentary, such as this one: http://kuyperian.com/episode-5b-second-interview-thomas-purifoy-documentary-genesis-history/?cn=cmVwbHk%3D.

    Thanks for publishing this!
    Nathan

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    • Well said, Mag. And along with it you bring up “time”, as my brief previous post did. With you, I believe this will one day be seen as the key issue that may one day, hopefully, build a bridge for both sides for those with open minds. Of course, we won’t ever see agreement between a secular naturalistic viewpoint and one that includes the super “natural”. At least it might enlighten each side a bit. My reference to “time” is not simply about measuring “linear” time, but about the interaction between gravity and time. There’s still a long way to go, but I am hopeful. Again, good post.

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