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Deep time out

New documentary presents science behind young-earth claims

Deep time out

Geologist Steve Austin (left) and Del Tackett (Compass Cinema)

IN A 2014 STUDY, BioLogos, a research group founded on a belief in evolutionary creationism, confirmed what large polling organizations have consistently found over the years. A plurality of Americans, fluctuating between 40 and 47 percent, still believe in a literal interpretation of the Biblical creation story. That is, they believe in a literal six-day creation and a literal Adam and Eve. And they’ve believed it in more or less the same numbers for the last 30 years.

However, by drilling down to deeper questions of certainty, BioLogos also found that most of those people aren’t very confident in their beliefs. For example, when they asked a nationally representative group of more than 3,000 adults if Adam and Eve were real people, 56 percent said they were. But when the researchers further asked whether they were “absolutely or very certain” of this, the number dropped to 44 percent. A similar drop occurred when the pollsters pressed respondents on their certainty that God created the world in six literal days and that the earth is about 10,000 years old, going from 37 to 31 percent and 26 to 15 percent, respectively.

What this suggests is that a lot of people want to believe in a straightforward reading of the earliest accounts of Scripture but aren’t sure scientific evidence allows them to do so. Is Genesis History?, a new documentary that will premiere in a one-night-only event at 700 theaters across the country on Feb. 23, aims to give them a scientific basis for confidence in God’s Word.

Del Tackett, former president of the Focus on the Family Institute and founder of the Truth Project, teamed up with Compass Cinema to look into research in a variety of disciplines that make the case for viewing Genesis—Adam, Eve, global flood, and all—as a factual account of events. Throughout the documentary he interviews a variety of scientists in the fields of biology, geology, astronomy, and paleontology who present evidence against the singular theory that provides the foundation for nearly all scientific rejection of Genesis. He calls that theory “deep time.”

Nobel laureate and evolutionist George Wald once said, “Time is, in fact, the hero of the plot. … Given so much time, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain.”   

Tackett makes the same argument, but uses it to point to a very different conclusion. “Deep time has a way of obliterating God. If you have enough time, you can do anything, you can make the argument for anything, you can make the rocks stand up and sing.” That’s why he believes adherence to the deep time paradigm of billions of years is a spiritual issue rather than a scientific one, particularly given evidence that researchers have uncovered in recent years.

Compass Cinema

Rob Carter explains aspects of echinoderms to Tackett. (Compass Cinema)

From the astonishing discovery of preserved dinosaur tissue to groundbreaking methods of dating geological formations, Is Genesis History? demonstrates that there are arguments, strong ones, for abandoning the deep time paradigm. And once you abandon it, nearly all scientific theory that runs counter to Scripture falls with it.

Yet for the most part, Tackett says, the broader scientific community has proved not only unwilling to engage evidence that runs contrary to the deep time paradigm, but willing to ostracize any who question it. “If you uncovered a problem with Newtonian physics,” he argues, “you might get a Nobel Prize. But if you come up with something that topples the deep time theory, you will probably be denied tenure, you won’t be allowed to publish. So there’s something else going on there.”  

For this reason, Tackett also takes issue with the aims of groups like BioLogos that believe they can merge Christian faith with macroevolutionary theory, two things he believes are mutually exclusive. He argues that taking a God-made man and woman, a real Adam and Eve, out of the picture undermines Paul’s teaching about redemption coming through one man, Christ, as sin came through one man, Adam, and ignores Peter’s reference to the flood as a real event. “So all of a sudden what you have is some very significant problems with the Scripture itself. Those things all of a sudden begin to become a problem.”

Even more fundamental, however, Tackett argues that accepting the notion that God used evolution over millions of years to create the world changes the nature and character of God. Instead of a God who cares for the needy, “you have survival of the fittest—the whole mechanism of which is the destruction of the weak. This is completely opposed to the God we know whose heart is with the humble.”  

Tackett says he hopes audiences will leave Is Genesis History? emboldened to trust, or at least give a fair hearing to, the literal interpretation of Genesis. “We have these scientists who are scary smart and working with deep professionalism within their disciplines who say there is credible evidence that supports Genesis.”


A whirlwind primer

'Is Genesis History?' makes a strong case for a young earth

 

If you’re anything like me, whenever anyone challenges your backward view that the earth was created in six literal days and Adam and Eve were real people, your response is mostly limited to shrugging and saying something along the lines of: I don’t know how all of scientific research can be wrong and the Bible be right, but, that’s what I’m going with. I know, it’s pathetic and not all in line with giving an adequate answer for the hope that I have. I’m confessing it now.

Thankfully, a new documentary, Is Genesis History?, has provided a good launching point for changing my ways.

Think of it as a whirlwind primer on the case for young-earth creationism. Host Del Tackett starts by describing the foundation on which all scientific theories that run contra to Genesis are built on—a planet that is millions of years old. Tackett calls this the “deep-time theory” and interviews experts and scientists in a variety of disciplines who present evidence that a young earth isn’t only plausible, it’s persuasive.

Compass Cinema

Todd Wood and Tackett discuss the hominid fossil record at the Memphis Zoo. (Compass Cinema)

The one drawback is it is a whirlwind. Complex concepts and groundbreaking research fly by so fast, the unscientifically minded viewer (cough, cough) will likely require repeat viewings to absorb it all. Unfortunately, audiences at the one-night theater event on Feb. 23 won’t be able to rewind and re-watch (and then pause and demand their meteorologist husbands explain it to them again, very slowly, as if they’re talking to a kindergartner). But that’s also why DVDs were invented, so that after viewing in theaters (which I highly recommend you do with every teenager and college kid you can get your hands on), you can watch it again in the daylight and take notes.  

From a production standpoint, more precise explanatory graphics might have gone a long way toward aiding comprehension. Likewise, the most compelling scientists and research don’t arrive until the middle of the movie. Just an ol’ movie critic’s note for Tackett and his team—next time you might want to move the existence of ACTUAL DINOSAUR TISSUE as close to the top as you can get it. The geological evidence for the flood at the Grand Canyon is compelling, but in a game of rocks, water, dinosaurs, dinosaurs win every time. Really, dinosaurs win any game they’re involved in. That is absolutely a lede you don’t want to bury! (Get it, a little archaeological humor!)

One final quibble, the journalist in me was longing for Tackett to present all this staggering research to some old-earth scientists for rebuttal. I have no doubt they’d have responses to the challenges the creationists pose to the “deep-time paradigm.” I wanted very much to hear what they would be. I understand in a two-hour documentary format, there’s not much room for this, but certainly on the most jaw-dropping revelations, a quick cut away to the opposing side would have been in order.

Perhaps in the future they’ll be able to expand each of the topics touched on into a series of episodes that will allow more opportunity for debate.

As it is, though, Is Genesis History? is still an engrossing primer on why we can feel confident believing the Bible’s account of creation. I just may need to watch it a few more times with the pause button and a notebook handy. Because for Christians educated within the prevailing evolutionary paradigm, Is Genesis History? provides a much-needed reminder just how young the theory of an old earth is.

Megan Basham

Megan Basham

Megan, a regular correspondent for WORLD News Group, is a writer and film critic living in Charlotte, N.C. She is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide to Having It All.

Comments

  • DCal3000
    Posted: Wed, 02/22/2017 11:49 pm

    Thanks for this review!

  • PaulC
    Posted: Thu, 02/23/2017 03:05 am

    Nice word-play ending.  Thanks for the review.  I was teaching this same thesis last Sunday, continuing this coming Sunday.  Where is the link to order the DVD?   I am overseas, listening in from a distance.  

  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Thu, 02/23/2017 04:28 am

    Thanks. I'd love to go to the one night showing but not for $25 at my local theater. However, I will buy the DVD once I find out how to get one.

    I was educated and trained in pure evolutionary theory as all science was taught. I graduated from high school in 1969. At a Christian liberal arts college in 1970 the Chair of the Science Dept told us in class one day that he had put some creation resources on reserve in the library and these offered worthwhile information. End of discussion. I never looked since it was not required reading. 

    Fast forward to a few years post graduation when I was working at a hospital in Washington DC while attending seminary (medical missionary work was my agenda) I heard Duane Gish from the ICR speak. I had pretty much decided I still believed in creation and a young earth, though I'm not sure the latter was even a phrase used back then. Neverheless after hearing him talk about the bombadier beetle, and dinosaurs and fossils on top of mountains, the Genesis Flood (and I read the book), and on and on that I was convinced. Nothing much has changed. And there is more to the story. 

    So I look forward with breathless anticipation to seeing and sharing the DVD. Thankgs Megan. BTW I I agree to your observation about hearing "the other side" answer questions ad respond. Hearing the opposition offer answers or rebuttals, or attempting to, is the sine qua non of a good article or documentary. But time, or agenda, often gets in the way. Unfortunately. 

  • gndgirl
    Posted: Thu, 02/23/2017 10:23 am

    Here's an excellent resource from the Institute of Creation Research - a 12-DVD set called "Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis". Very well done, high production values. Each DVD is 22 minutes long. There's a subtitled version, so you won't miss anything. http://store.icr.org/unlocking-the-mysteries-of-genesis-dvd-series.html

     

  • HANS NEUFELD
    Posted: Thu, 02/23/2017 10:26 am

    Nice article.  Christian Ministries International, Answers in Genesis, and Awesome Science Media among others provide a wide range of very compelling videos on the science that supports Genesis.  I have two engineering degrees and find that the science is very well thought out.  I recognized some of the scientists associated with these organizations in the trailer to the new movie.  I plan to see the new movie tonight to support the presentation of this information to a wider audience in the theaters.  

  • Rich277
    Posted: Thu, 02/23/2017 01:05 pm

    One of the contributors clarifies his contribution:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2017/02/new_film_is_gen103510.html

     

  • Melissa D's picture
    Melissa D
    Posted: Thu, 02/23/2017 02:00 pm

    Yay, we are going to see it tonight!

  • bhall1500
    Posted: Thu, 02/23/2017 07:56 pm

    An old earth (i.e. billions of years old) best fits the biblical and scientific evidence. Rather than watching this film, read something by 2009 Daniel of the Year Stephen Meyer :) - "Darwin's Doubt" is an excellent place to start!

  • PETER MOELKER
    Posted: Fri, 02/24/2017 08:29 pm

    due to the direct recordings of generations form father to son in the bible it is completely impossible for the earth to be over 10,000 years old according to scripture, let along 10 billion

  • JennyBeth
    Posted: Wed, 03/01/2017 11:41 pm

    Reply to "anonymous"--This argument is flawed. The Hebrew language makes no distinction between "father," "grandfather," and "ancestor." It's all expressed with the word "ab." Likewise, it has only one word for "son," "grandson," and "descendant": "ben." That's why, for instance, David is called Asa's father in 1 Kings 15:11, and Jehoshaphat's father in 22:50. Also why Jesus can be called the son of David and his contemporaries readily said that Abraham was their father. There's no sound reason to say that the genealogical accounts don't skip generations, so the genealogies tell us nothing about the age of the earth.

  • VSKluth's picture
    VSKluth
    Posted: Fri, 03/03/2017 02:48 pm

    @Bhall_1500, RE: Best fits the Biblical ... evidence.

    Commandment number four says: "Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shal not do any work...".  It then goes on to provide the reason: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day."

    Were the Israelites supposed to work 6 billion years before taking a billion off?

  • Bruce's picture
    Bruce
    Posted: Sun, 02/26/2017 05:47 pm

    Does the movie deal with another source of apparent evidence for 'deep time', the observed presence of distant celestial objects?

    Personally, I am OK with the idea that God's work of Creation brought into being the photon energy representing what would have existed as a universe consistent with evident 'laws' of physics even if the objects so represented did not ever exist in an absolute, objective sense as represented by that photon energy.  Such objects may exist still but are certainly 'older', how much older depending on their distance from Earth.  To me, it is part of the wonder of God's creative ability that He could represent such a cosmos without requiring true causes of observed phenomena.  If I posit that God created the cosmos from nothing, it is no stretch at all to accept that He could create it consistent with the natural law He instilled in His creation at any point in its potential history.  To do so with the cosmos created at a time when this planet was suitable for the occupation of the creatures of His magnificent workmanship, well... that emphasizes His wisdom, understanding, power, and love even more!

    But this is not a satisfactory explanation to many people.  The objects observed in the celestial heavens present one of the most compelling reasons to believe in a cosmology involving billions of years of existence, and to dispute the time scales represented by it, one has to posit either very unusual physical events for which we have no evidence or posit that the evidence does not necessarily infer the actual existence of such objects.  If this movie does not deal with this topic, it leaves a pretty large gap for skeptics and atheists to pick on in their criticism.

  • Ken Wolgemuth
    Posted: Mon, 02/27/2017 09:48 pm

    To Megan Basham,

    I see you chose to have Dr. Steve Austin's picture on your article.  One of the first things he said is that we don't see evidence of channels or erosion.  Please see Page 104 and read chapter 10 of our book: "The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah's Flood Explain the Grand Canyon?".  You are correct, Dr. Tackett did not contact any geologists representing virtually all Christian geologists.  Instead, he chose to present the view of a very very small minority. The geology segments are either poor science, or present ideas that are scientifically untenable.  Send my your email, and when we have a review ready and posted, I will send it to you.  

    Ken Wolgemuth

    wolgemuth2@aol.com

    C: 918-852-3082 

  • VSKluth's picture
    VSKluth
    Posted: Fri, 03/03/2017 02:37 pm

    "... in a game of rocks, water, dinosaurs, dinosaurs win every time."  Hilarious!  Love it.

  • Dean from Ohio
    Posted: Sun, 03/05/2017 11:15 pm

    Great summary, Megan. Thanks!

  • Scott B
    Posted: Tue, 03/14/2017 10:38 am

    Megan,

    Good article, it looks you did a fair job representing the movie.

    You wrote, “..., the journalist in me was longing for Tackett to present all this staggering research to some old-earth scientists for rebuttal.”  Well, I can offer you one such a rebuttal. In 2010, Marvin Olasky went on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with a group of young earth (YE) creationists. He published his experiences (“Rocks in Their Heads?”) in the Sept 11, 2010 edition of WORLD. He recounted many of the same YE creationist claims that you saw made in the film.  As a research scientist, an evangelical Christian, and a long-time subscriber to WORLD, I was intrigued, and did some fact checking.

    I wrote up my analysis of the WORLD article here : https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/grand-canyon-creation/

    .  The YE creationist proponents made many, many claims about this and that evidence for a young earth, which created the impression that they had a strong case. However, for all of these claims, I found the same pattern: the YE creationist advocates pick out a few facts that seem to favor their case, while ignoring or distorting the much greater body of facts which completely disprove their case. You can read the details in this link above.

    In this comment, I will provide just two examples related to the “Is Genesis History?” film. The first example is the nature of the interface between the horizontal rock layers which make up most of the Grand Canyon walls. In the Flood geology model, all these layers were formed from sediment which was laid down in a year-long global Flood. In order to get all those thousands of feet of rocks in a year, the sediment had to be raining down at a rate of about 20 feet per day. Conceivably the waters could withdraw for a few days as great tsunamis sloshed around, but there could not be much time between the deposition of one layer and the later above  - - certainly not enough time for the lower layer to harden into solid rock, and then become eroded down by hundreds of feet, before the next layer was deposited.

    It is therefore essential to the young earth case to maintain that all these horizontal layers simply sit on atop the other, with no erosional channels in between them. And that is what they do claim, e.g. with Steve Austin’s statement in the film. The problem is that Austin’s statement is not true, and he must know that is it not true, since practicing geologists have been telling him and his colleagues for decades that in fact there are significant erosional channels between some of these layer (often containing solid, eroded chunks of the lower rock layer embedded into the bottom of the upper layer), which shows that these layers could not possibly have been all laid down in a one-year flood. For instance, in 1990 Davis Young wrote:

    “...The Muav is separated from the Redwall by a distinct surface of erosion. This erosional surface includes small channels that were scoured into the upper surface of the Muav and filled with Redwall sediments containing small pebbles of eroded Muav. These features indicate that before deposition of the Redwall, the Muav sediments had hardened into rock, risen above sea level, and been weathered to form pebbles and boulders that could be incorporated into the overlying sediments once the sea returned to the area. A global flood would have provided neither time for the sediments to be consolidated nor opportunity for the materials to be weathered by exposure to air.

    Another important example of an unconformity is the contact between the Redwall Limestone and the overlying Supai Group. Observations by professional geologists indicate the upper surface of the Redwall Limestone, though generally horizontal and conformable with the base of the overlying Supai, has many deep channels scoured into its upper surface – some as much as 400 feet deep. The channels are filled with layered mudstones, sandstones, and limestones and commonly contain pebbles derived from the Redwall. These features indicate that the Redwall lime deposits were hardened into solid rock, lifted up from the seafloor to at least 400 feet above sea level, and there cut by flowing streams that dislodged pebbles from the exposed Redwall land surface and redeposited them in the channels. Still another indication that the Redwall was exposed to the atmosphere for a lengthy period of time – far more than a year – is the existence of caverns beneath, and of sinkholes in, its upper surface. The caverns and sinkholes are commonly filled with red shales from the overlying Supai Group or with angular blocks of fragmented Redwall…The upper surface of the Redwall must have been exposed as land surface for a considerably long time to develop karst topography with sinkholes and caves....” [Davis Young, in Portraits of Creation, ed. Howard J. van Till, pp. 68-69]

    The raw facts here contradict what the YE creationists want to believe, so they simply deny them. Is that what you want to be promoting?

     

    Example 2. Since you seemed the most impressed by the issue of soft tissue found in dinosaur bones, I will treat that as well. The full story on this issue is here: https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/dinosaur-soft-tissue/

    That essay grinds through most of the relevant scientific journal publications, with who said what when, and shows why this does not pose the tiniest challenge to an old earth. I will recap the situation here, but will naturally leave out lots of details and citations.

    The partial truth you heard in the film was that some flexible (not soft like fresh meat) tissue has been found in some dinosaur bones. The rest of the story is that this tissue has been highly altered from its original composition , and also that the decomposition rates of biological material can vary so greatly that it cannot be always used to determine the age of that material.  For instance, under common conditions, the flesh can rot completely off the face of a human corpse within a month. Thus, when a human corpse with a nearly completely intact face was found in a Danish bog in 1950, it was assumed to be a recent murder victim. However, further study showed this man had been thrown into this bog more than 2000 years ago. This illustrates the pitfalls of making simplistic assumptions about decay rates. 

    The original discoverer of this flexible tissue in dino bones, Mary Schweitzer, has published a number of factors that are likely to have contributed to the relative stabilization of proteins in the fine, mineral pores of dinosaur bones. YE creationists claim that protein remnants could not possibly last for 70 million years under any circumstances, but they are just making that up. (Mary Schweitzer, by the way, is a strong evangelical Christian; that essay linked above notes her godly responses to vicious accusations by YE creationists).

    Evolutionary scientists believe that dinosaurs are more closely related to today’s birds than to today’s reptiles like alligators or snakes, and so they predicted that if dinosaur proteins could be analyzed (sequenced), that they would be found to more closely resemble that of birds than today’s reptiles. That was a bold, counterintuitive prediction, one which could be clearly tested. When some of the dino protein from Schweitzer’s fossils was sequenced, the predictions of the evolutionists were fulfilled: the dino proteins were found to be closer to today’s birds than to today’s reptiles. Thus, when the prediction from evolutionary theory (which entails an old earth) was put to the test, it was confirmed by the facts.

    It is worth noting that if the dinosaur fossils really were buried in a worldwide flood only 4500 years ago, we should easily be able to extract loads of DNA from these fossils. Various studies of DNA decomposition show that plenty of DNA should still be available in 4500-year-old dinosaur bones, and it is routine to extract long sequences of DNA from fossils of humans and other fossils that date back over 100,000 years. The fact that no one has recovered verified dinosaur DNA, and we have to work to try to detect the faintest traces or stains of DNA in a dino bone, indicates that dino fossils date back far, far older than 4500 or even 100,000 years. Thus, the actual state of DNA in dinosaur bones is strong evidence against, not for, a young earth.

    So for dinosaur bones, when all the facts are on the table, they point to an old earth, not a young earth. This is the trend I have found with every proposed evidence for a young earth.

    If you want to ask me here about one or two other evidences for a young earth that seem most convincing to you, I will try to respond here. Or you could contact me via my email which is on record with WORLD.  (This offer is for Megan only; if someone else has a question on these issues, they can do what I have done and google away until they find meaty articles on both sides of the issue, and compare them).  

    The best printed resource I know of for dealing with old earth/young earth issues is the new book ““The Grand Canyon, Monument to an Ancient Earth: Can Noah’s Flood Explain the Grand Canyon?”, written by a set of professional  geologists, most of them evangelical Christians. If WORLD wants to maintain what it used to describe as a “big tent” on science here, you might consider reading and reviewing that book, and/or interviewing  some of the key authors, who are associated with Solid Rock Lectures   . Their statement of beliefs include conservative tenets like “the authority and infallibility of Scripture;  the reality of miracles;  the deity, virgin birth, and resurrection of Christ ;  Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, and first sin”.  [http://solidrocklectures.org/statement-of-beliefs.html ]

    Which brings me to my final point here: It is bad enough that today’s YE creationists misrepresent God’s works (the physical world). It is even worse that they misrepresent God’s word. They set up a false dichotomy between their particular interpretation of the Genesis story, and atheistic materialism, as though these are the only two options. This is breathtakingly myopic and arrogant.

    Today’s error-ridden version of YE creationism was developed by George McCready Price, in obedience to the Adventist cult “prophetess” Ellen White. John Whitcomb and Henry Morris appropriated Price’s work while disguising its unsavory origin, and repackaged into it “The Genesis Flood”. It was the publication of this book in 1961 that launched the modern YE creationist/Flood geology movement. See here for the historical details on this: https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/exposing-the-roots-of-young-earth-creationism/    

    Almost no educated Christians for the century preceding 1961 held that a recent, six-day creation was theologically or scientifically grounded. The fundamentalists of the 1920’s could hardly be accused of being “compromisers” with modernity. What did these stalwart defenders of the Bible believe about creation? Almost to a man, they rejected the young earth perspective. They did not find a recent creation in six 24-hour days to be a necessary interpretation of Genesis. W.B. Riley, editor of The Christian Fundamentalist and president of the Anti-Evolution League of America, stated that there was not “an intelligent fundamentalist who claims that the earth was made six thousand years ago; and the Bible never taught any such thing” [The Creationists, p. 45].

    Hundreds of millions of dedicated Christians today accept the physical evidence for an old earth and for evolution, and find no conflict between those truths and the Bible. Reasons to Believe [http://www.reasons.org/articles/notable-christians-open-to-an-old-univer... ]  lists about 40 well-known conservative Christian leaders and writers that endorse or are at least open to an old-earth perspective. These include names like Gleason Archer, Michael Behe, Chuck Colson, Willian Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, Hank Hannegraff, Jack Hayford, C. S. Lewis, J. P. Moreland, Francis Schaeffer, C. I. Scofield, Lee Stroble, and B. B. Warfield.

    Scott Buchanan