Saturday, March 04, 2017

BioLogos: A Geological Response to the Movie “Is Genesis History?”

Geologists Gregg Davidson, Joel Duff (recently maligned by Ken Ham) and Ken Wolgemuth have contributed to an article taking on the geological premises of the movie Is Genesis History?  While the writing at BioLogos is always measured and civil, underneath, one can sense an air of frustration and anger that, yet again, the scientific evidence has been twisted and misrepresented.  As I mentioned last post, “geologist” Steve Austin figures prominently in this. The authors write:
Just minutes into the film, we find ourselves in the Grand Canyon with Dr. Steve Austin, a young-earth creationist geologist. Here we are told that the layers are flat with no erosion or significant channels, that geologists have abandoned long ages for the canyon formation since it couldn’t be stable over millions of years, that remnants of giant lakes are found that once dammed water before failing and violently carving out the canyon, and that a massive erosional feature near the bottom of the canyon, known as the Great Unconformity, has been observed all over the world. A bit later in the film, we are informed that the layers of the canyon preserve a succession of marine ecosystems, each washed in and deposited by flood surges. Conclusion? “The only explanation that makes sense is a global flood!”

Many who watch this movie will think: “These men are Christians and scientists, so it must be true!” Yet it doesn’t take much digging to discover that evidence of erosion between layers in the Grand Canyon is abundant, including now filled-in river channels as much as 400 ft deep. The so-called “abandonment of long ages” actually means that while some geologists think the carving took over 70 million years, others think it formed over a shorter period of about 6 million years. The giant lakes turn out to be speculation, with no actual evidence of their proposed size. The global presence of the Great Unconformity exists only in Dr. Austin’s mind.
We have already received announcements and invites from our home school group to get a group together to go see this film. I think that I do not have as strong a constitution as I used to. I do not think that I could sit through this film in a theatre without having an aneurysm.It is easy to forgive the average Christian who swallows this stuff hook-line-and-sinker but I have much greater animosity for those who promulgate it, knowing that they are misusing the science.  Young earth creationists tend to live in a self-referential bubble, but these errors have been pointed out to Austin time and time again.  At what point does his further promotion of these ideas become a lie?

Yesterday, I commented that I thought that young earth creationism was, ultimately, turning young, inquisitive Christians away from Christ.  These authors put it succinctly:
While the ubiquitous misrepresentations promulgated in this film are disturbing in their own right, their stated association with the gospel message is what is most alarming. This film will undoubtedly make its way into church libraries, homeschooling and Christian school curriculums, and youth group movie nights, convincing Christian youth that they can safely reject “secular” notions of deep time and evolution. When they go to college or start investigating the evidence themselves and discover they have been misled, the natural tendency is to assume that it is Christianity itself that has failed them. Unbelieving seekers who see this film will likewise be confronted with the confounding association of the truth of Christ with massive misrepresentations about natural history. An enormous stumbling block to faith is laid at the feet of these poor souls, standing between them and the cross.
In the trailer for the film, and in the subtitle, we are treated to this perspective: “Two Competing Views—One Compelling Truth.”This truth is clearly that of young earth creationism, and the stark dichotomy is there to let you know that if you don't believe Tackett's truth, you are “not of the body.” This, Joel Edmund Anderson writes, is heresy:
Read and study the Bible within the context of Church Tradition—that is how the Holy Spirit guides you. Unfortunately, this is precisely where Ken Ham and biblical literalists have gone wrong. Even though they claim they are just proclaiming the clear meaning of Genesis 1-11, in reality they have rejected the “Capital-T” Tradition of the historic Christian faith that makes it clear that the YEC interpretation of Genesis 1-11 has never been universally held by the Church, and has never been seen as a creedal fundamental of the Christian faith. Therefore, Ken Ham has absolutely no authority whatsoever to unilaterally declare that his YEC interpretation of Genesis 1-11 is the fundamental cornerstone of the Christian faith. No one has ever made this claim in the history of the Church up until the 20th Century. That is, by definition what heresy is: elevating a personal interpretation of Scripture above what the Church has always taught.
I will be curious how many people go to see this film. I have yet to formulate a ground plan or response to it, yet. When films like this come out and are warmly received by evangelicals, it further confirms to me that modern evangelicalism is in serious trouble and is off the rails.

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