Film Recommendation: Is Genesis History?
Is Genesis History? is two hours well-spent. It is an exploration of a clear question through dialogue with credentialed experts, presented in a beautifully shot and edited film.
The Exploration of the Film
Is Genesis History? is indeed the question the film sets out to explore. To explore this question requires investigation into several more specific questions, primarily focusing on events and figures in Genesis chapters 1-11, a portion explained by some as figurative and by others as false. To answer whether Genesis is history requires answering more focused questions such as the following: Does Genesis present Adam and Eve as historical figures and the originators of the human race? Was there a historical entrance of human rebellion against the Creator God? Does Genesis present a worldwide, catastrophic Flood as a historical event? Does the Tower of Babel account preserve trustworthy history?
The Experts of the Film
To investigate these specific questions, the filmmakers pursued the twin areas of the intended meaning and the accuracy of the text through interviews with experts. Del Tackett leads the viewer through the movie with a series of monologues and dialogues with a variety of credentialed authorities, each, including Tackett, holding at least one terminal degree.
A study of the biblical languages, literature, and theology are essential to discovering and confirming whether Genesis purports to be history. Hebraist Steven Boyd brings out clues from the text of Genesis, in contrast to the contemporary literature, to demonstrate its genre and intended meaning, while George Grant, pastor, discusses the interpretation of Genesis as history by the other biblical authors. He also breaks down the influences and implications of theological approaches that seek to deny the historicity of Genesis and its importance as a foundation for accurately understanding for all other disciplines.
Genesis presents itself as history, but does modern science disprove that claim? Can it be accurate? Tackett interviews a swath of other thinkers and scientists, from philosophy of science (Paul Nelson) to biology (Kevin Anderson, Paul Nelson, Robert Carter, Todd Wood), geology (Steve Austin, Andrew Snelling), astronomy (Danny Faulkner), archaeology (Douglas Petrovich), and paleontology (Marcus Ross, Kurt Wise). These experts point to evidence that fits well with the record of Genesis, and interact with alternative interpretations of the common data in each of these disciplines. For example, Faulkner discusses the problem posed by the distance of starlight. Carter distinguishes minor adaptations and changes in living things with one kind becoming a different kind over massive amounts of time, arguing that the complexity of life supports the historical narrative of Genesis. Austin and Ross show that phenomena like the Grand Canyon and the fossil record can be understood in the paradigm of the historical account of Genesis, particularly in light of the Flood. Petrovich argues for a likely site for the Tower of Babel, in the same geographical area and consistent with the biblical description.
The Excellence of the Film
The film’s presentation and pacing make it a delight to watch. The production quality of the audio and video is excellent. Some of the scenes feature breathtaking drone footage of gorgeous landscapes, while others reveal close-ups of life forms small. Spectacular time-lapses fascinate. Professional graphics and transitions break up the segments and help explain concepts. The interviews are substantive enough to inform but succinct enough to avoid tedium while inviting further exploration.
The Extras of the Film
Since the film is now available on physical and digital media, one can obtain an edition with the extras, which I recommend. These include further Ph.D. testimony from scientists, such as mechanical engineer Stuart Burgess and atmospheric physicist Larry Vardiman, and theologian Douglas Kelly, who traces the history of the interpretation of Genesis in the church, revealing that the overwhelming view until the mid-eighteenth century was that Genesis presents actual history.
An Evaluation of the Film
Is Genesis History? is suitable for any teen or adult, and would be great for classroom and church settings as well, especially if done in tandem with discussion, a research assignment, or further reading. I found the film to be useful as an introduction to the issues, providing challenges for those who deny the historicity of the book and encouragement for those who defend it. Both types of viewers should be stimulated to further study of God’s Word and God’s world.
The film is available in DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital streaming/download. Church and group showing licenses are also available. To purchase or for additional resources, visit isgenesishistory.com and click on the resource tab, which includes
- Film guide (downloadable PDF), pictured.
- Scientist takeaways
- Video Devotional Bible Study
- Church and family resources
Check out the trailer here: