False Dichotomy in “Is Genesis History?”

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 03/01/2017

I watched Is Genesis History? this past Thursday in the movie theater with my family and several other families. This isn’t a review of the film, but I did want to raise a concern.

The film obviously addresses the question “Is Genesis history?” Does the first book of the Bible accurately describe what happened in the history of the earth and humanity? Did God create the universe like Genesis claims? Were Adam and Eve actual people or simply fictional figures? Did the flood happen or is it a myth?

It’s no surprise the film claims that Genesis is actual history: that God created the universe out of nothing, that God made Adam and Eve fully formed, and that the flood occurred.

Here’s my main gripe with the film, however. Even though my views are fully consistent with everything I wrote in the preceding paragraph, the film not only never addresses my view, it lumps it together with the neo-Darwinist evolutionary view. Why? Because a major theme of the film (if not the principle theme) is about time and how much of it you need to accomplish the work of creation.

The film, then, presents two camps. The first is the conventional paradigm that believes the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, neo-Darwinian evolution accounts for humanity, Adam and Eve are fictional characters, and the flood is a myth. The second is the historical-Genesis paradigm that believes the earth is approximately 6,000 years old, God made the universe and earth in six 24-hour days, God created Adam and Eve fully formed, and the flood is a historical event.

There was no mention, to my recollection (or to those who I spoke to afterwards), of genuine Christians who believe Genesis is historical, God created Adam and Eve fully formed, God judged humanity with a flood, but believe the earth is old. In fact, because I believe the earth is old, I’m lumped in with the conventional paradigm.

It’s interesting to note that even one of contributing scientists who was interviewed in the film, Paul Nelson, wrote publicly about this very concern. He’s a young-earther but believes the film presents a false dichotomy in describing those two paradigms.

The only mention of other Christians with an alternative view was a brief explanation of those who hold to theistic evolution (which I reject). It’s as if there are only those who believe the earth is young or those who believe in evolution. The former believe Genesis is historical while the latter don’t.

I understand that Del Tackett and the contributors to the film are young-earth creationists. That’s fine. My concern is not with Christians making a case for their view as persuasively as possible. What’s unfortunate is neglecting to acknowledge our view exists, that it’s biblically supported, that it acknowledges that Genesis is history, and is held by a wide-range of notable Christians like William Lane Craig, John Lennox, Greg Koukl, Stephen Meyer, Alvin Plantinga, and many more.

I hesitated to even post this because I don’t like to be critical of the work of other Christians. My point is not to further divide those Christians who hold to the young-earth view and those who hold to an old-earth view. It’s fine for us to discuss the merits of each other’s views and even vigorously debate them. What I believe we need to do, though, is unite against a common foe: naturalism. It’s the naturalistic paradigm that reigns in universities and is an obstacle to many who might otherwise come to Christ.