An ironic review of Genesis: Paradise Lost missed the point of the entire movie!
A review was recently published by the Biologos Foundation of the film GENESIS: Paradise Lost. (Note: Biologos is an organization that promotes Theistic Evolution – the idea that God used the unscientific process of evolution in His creation of the world.) My initial response is that I’m glad to know Biologos is paying attention within the broader evangelical world to what is happening in terms of films on the topics of origins. As a scientist, I was pleased that their review was written in a very cordial fashion and was not a bunch of name-calling. I must admit up front that part of what I’m writing comes from the fact that I was actually in the movie, so I’m not writing from the perspective of an outsider. I did not take what Biologos said as a personal attack, but a semi-honest endeavor towards trying to understand the movie.
That being said, I was disappointed to find out how much of the film a few self-professing evangelicals had a problem with. I thought that, of all people, evangelicals would widely receive the film because of the stance the film takes on Scripture. However, Biologos does not seem to agree. In their review, they wrote predominantly from the basis that the film is “woven together out of myriad false dichotomies.” The author then gives a specific example from the film of what I say about Darwinian evolution teaching that you are a cosmic accident without a reason for existing. As a former Darwinist myself, I stand by what I said in the film and how they quoted me. The issue that Biologos does not seem to understand is that Darwin attempted to explain our existence without using God. Darwin’s point was to intentionally take God out of the picture, but not in the science only. Darwin was making metaphysical statements about reality and not just how we got here. Darwin’s science is inherently atheistic because that was the presupposition he used. It is no wonder that Darwin is used to disprove God’s existence because the point Darwin was making was to do just that. The people at Biologos are committing intellectual suicide and sacrificing the integrity of their faith to say that God used evolution, which leads to the next issue with the review.
The Biologos review addresses the issue of the authority and inspiration of Scripture from the example of the Greek word theospneustos from II Timothy 3:16. It seems as if the Biologos Foundation thinks you can hold to a view of inerrancy that allows for a complete dismantling of Genesis 1-11 so long as you use a Greek word. While I am glad to know that Biologos was not suggesting we thought that believing in Genesis 1-11 is necessary for salvation, I am disheartened that they do not believe in a literal reading of Genesis 1-11—compromising on the authority and inspiration of Scripture. Scripture cannot be authoritative for a believer who does not accept Genesis 1-11. The Biologos Foundation makes an incorrect assertion to contort parts of Scripture (Genesis 1-11) to fit their preconceived ideas (eisegesis of reading evolution into the text) while holding to other tenets of Scripture (e.g., salvation). The point Biologos is missing is the inspiration of Scripture means that all revelation of Scripture is from God, therefore, it must be correct in its entirety (not just parts). Scripture is something you either accept entirely or reject entirely because of the nature of revelation. It, therefore, matters whether you read evolution into the text of Genesis 1-11 because that twists the authority and inspiration of Scripture.
Furthermore, what is troubling about the Biologos review is that they strongly suggest that the YEC movement does not embrace modern science. But this is precisely the point of this blog and the making of the movie: the YEC movement embraces modern science. The problem lies in the fact that Biologos uses an alternative definition of science. The definition of science that Biologos uses inherently means Darwinian evolution, which is not even really scientific at all (see the second paragraph). To be clear, YECs love science—just not evolution because evolution is not science. Science needs to be properly understood in terms of empirical science and historical science. Empirical science includes biology, chemistry, and physics, while historical science includes archaeology, forensics, and origins. As a scientist, I love both kinds of science, but I understand that there are limits to the interpretations of historical science. Evolution is an origins science that has no basis in repeatable, observable, scientific method and is wrought with problems of interpreting the data incorrectly. Biologos fails to understand that evolution is a historical science that isn’t valid because of human bias (again, see the second paragraph).
Next, the reviewer takes issue with the movie not even mentioning evolutionary creationism; but that is the point to the movie. As has been stated in this review and in the movie, evolution is not science; any evolutionary views would, thus, not be mentioned in the movie—evolution is not true. Trying to marry Genesis with something that is not true just waters down the truth. The point of the movie is to represent Genesis in a literal historical sense and how science backs it up. The point of the movie is to show the truth. Thus, there is no need to include alternative views—why does truth need an alternative view?
The reviewer then claims how he once was a YEC believer. Truth be told, I fell in the same category: I was once a Darwinist. I, too, did not grow up in a home that held to the views that I now hold. Both the reviewer and I were converted, but to a separate worldview. I understand the power to relay a message as a function of having been converted. But the fact is that truth is not determined by personal experience or by a democracy. There are scores of people that have been converted to either Darwinism or YEC and the truth is not determined by some personal experience. Truth is determined by evaluating the truth claims of the worldview and seeing which one stands up to scrutiny. I am not sure that the reviewer gave much consideration to the actual claims made in GENESIS: Paradise Lost. If anyone listened closely to the arguments made in GENESIS: Paradise Lost, then one would come to the conclusion that Genesis 1-11 can be taken as literal history. The more robust worldview belongs to the biblical worldview, not the Darwinian worldview.
The review then went on to affirm the core essentials of what it means to be an evangelical. As has already been stated, nowhere does Scripture teach you have to be a YEC to be saved. I do not doubt the veracity of the salvation of those at Biologos. But what I question is what does it mean to be saved according to Biologos if there is no such thing as a literal image of God? Or of original sin? Or an original Adam? When there is no literal image of God marred by literal sin, then does that not also beg the question of whether there is a literal salvation event? Plus, what would be the point of living according to the Bible if the Bible isn’t meant to be taken literally? Biologos has a serious issue with how they live out the Christian life because they completely undermine the authority of Scripture—if the beginning Scriptures can be symbolized, then why not the rest of Scripture?
In terms of being alone in thinking this way, the point of the movie was to highlight some important theologians and scientists that hold to a literal historical view of Genesis (like myself). I would argue that the list of theologians and scientists listed in the Biologos review is a meager attempt to justify an already bogus position. Providing a current list of names that hold to evolutionary creationism is not actually impressive. I would actually argue that the list actually just represents an extremely recent list of supporters of evolutionary creationism. For a better idea of what that list means, consider that the scientific enterprise until Darwin was completely biblical in perspective. The giants of science were biblical creationists—people that radically changed the world with their science. People like Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Francis Bacon, Johann Kepler, and Michael Faraday set the bar high for doing science because they practiced it from a biblical perspective. Furthermore, I would add to the list of modern-day scientists (not just theologians) the inventor of the MRI: Raymond Damadian.
The point to all of this is to really highlight that this ultimately comes down to a matter of worldviews. You have a choice before you: choose man’s opinions or God’s Word. Darwinian evolution as supported by the evolutionary creationists is part of the reason why the film was made—to demonstrate that real science supports Scripture. Why don’t you take time to watch GENESIS: Paradise Lost and see the evidence for yourself.