In my final post in my analysis of the movie, Is Genesis History?, I want to focus on the final segment, “Genesis and Our Culture,” where Del Tackett interviews pastor George Grant. As one will find if one reads any material from Answers in Genesis, or perhaps Ken Ham’s book, The Lie, specifically, that the real, underlying motivation for the YECist movement as a whole is not really the desire to do good science, or even good biblical exegesis—it’s all about fighting the culture war.
The same holds true for Is Genesis History? That is why in the last segment of the movie that Del Tackett and George Grant talk about, you guessed it…how a historical Genesis 1-11 is the bedrock for fighting moral corruption in our culture.
Again, as has been the case throughout the entire movie, the answer to the question “Is Genesis history?” never really is in doubt—the movie is clear: it IS history, therefore you better fit everything science ever discovers into a timeframe of 6,000 years. And then here in the last segment, the movie adds an amendment to that claim: …and if you don’t say Genesis 1-11 is history, then you are casting doubt on the Bible, you are destroying the Gospel, and you are furthering the moral decline of our culture.
Genesis and Culture (With George Grant)—Culture Wars!
Del Tackett’s interview with George Grant isn’t really any sort of sustained argument, as it is a series of pronouncements that declare if you say Genesis 1-11 isn’t historical, then you are destroying the Bible and the entirety of the Christian faith. Simply put, it displays the standard YECist “all or nothing” mentality, as well as the standard YECist charge that if you say Genesis 1-11 isn’t history, then you’re “throwing away” Genesis 1-11 entirely and saying it isn’t true.
This is basically how Grant begins his comments, when he says, “If you remove a literal Adam and Eve, that changes the whole shape of what history is and how it is remembered.” But in reality, the movie’s real concern isn’t so much how one views history; in reality, what the movie displays is this odd notion that the very fate of “the culture war” (i.e. read “the gay marriage debate”) depends on whether or not one believes Adam and Eve were two historical people who lived 6,000 years ago.
Tackett says as much in his response to Grant’s comments: “If we pull a historical Adam and Eve out of the historical record, we can then make up what we think about man, marriage, and sexuality.” This is a standard claim that YECists consistently make these days: if you don’t believe in a historical Adam, then you must be pro-gay marriage and all about the LGBTQ agenda. I get this all the time in many of my conversations with YECists. I might be making a point about reading Genesis 1-11 in its ancient Near Eastern context, or about how the YECist claim that a group of isolated people could develop their own distinct genome in the span of 200 years, and then out of the blue, the question that will be thrown back at me is, “So what is your view of gay marriage?”
Without getting into a lengthy discussion about issues like gay marriage, I just have to say that I don’t get the YECist logic that ties belief (or lack thereof) in a historical Adam and Eve with issues like gay marriage and LGBTQ questions. It simply does not make sense to me. If Genesis 2-3 is not giving historical details about a literal Adam and Eve, that doesn’t mean, as Tackett incorrectly claims, that one can simply “make up” what one thinks about man, marriage, and sexuality.
Or to put it another way, belief in traditional marriage and clear gender distinctions is not dependent on whether or not Adam and Eve were historical figures. Men and women throughout the world, throughout human history, who have never read the Bible or ever heard of Adam and Eve, have continued to get married. And the fact is, the only time and place in human history where gay marriage and talk of LGBTQ rights have surfaced has been late 20th-early 21st century Europe and America. And I can guarantee you that the reason for it is not because people started saying, “Hey, I don’t think there was a historical Adam and Eve.”
So why do YECists make this connection time and time again? I think it is because they think when someone (like me) says Genesis 1-11 isn’t historical, that he is saying, “Genesis 1-11 isn’t true, and therefore needs to be cut out of the Bible.” They then proceed to act as if there is nothing else in the entire Bible that speaks of marriage between men and women, and end up with this fear that if people don’t believe Adam and Eve existed, then the entire country is going to turn into a perpetual San Francisco gay pride parade.
Well, allow me to try to assuage those fears by appealing to the Bible. First, although I don’t believe Genesis 2-3 is attempting to do history, it is pretty clear that Genesis 2-3 assumes marriage between a man and a woman. Second, the fact is that nowhere in the Bible is there any endorsement, or even talk, of gay marriage. Third, it is also a fact that nowhere in the Bible is there any endorsement, or even talk, of transgenderism. And finally, despite YECist claims, I have never heard anyone who is pro-gay marriage or pro-LGBTQ rights say, “Well, we can have gay marriage and transgenderism is a real thing, because Adam and Eve never existed.”
My point is simple: this line of thinking that the movie endorses not only doesn’t make sense, but it is addressing a supposed claim that I’ve never heard anybody make.
Modern social issues like gay marriage and LGBTQ rights are highly controversial and volatile, and they have arisen because of a myriad of factors in our society today. To disregard all of those factors, and to claim that the sole reason those issues have even come up is because people don’t believe in a historical Adam and Eve is, quite simply, shockingly ignorant and foolish, for like I said, I’ve never heard anyone outside of YECists apologists make that connection in the first place.
Let’s Just Throw the Entire Bible Out
In addition to comments about the culture war, Grant and Tackett also put forth the standard YECist line that if you don’t accept Genesis 1-11 as historical, then you might as well throw out the entire Bible. Grant says as much when he states, “If you make those chapters in Genesis non-historical, what are you doing to all the rest of the Bible?” He then further makes the claim that saying Genesis 1-11 is non-historical actually negates the whole of the Bible: “If you could attack Genesis 1-11, you’ve done away with the whole thing.” And again, “When you rid the book of Genesis of its historical moorings, you have suddenly decapitated the whole structure of the Bible.”
Let’s just cut to the chase: none of that is true. Not everything in the Bible is plain history. There are scores of different genres and types of literature found in the Bible. Simply claiming that Genesis 1-11 isn’t intended to be read as history does not mean that automatically means the entire Bible is “decapitated.” To claim that the historicity of Genesis 1-11 is the foundation for the Gospel itself, and that if there was no historical Adam and Eve then there’s no point in believing in the historical resurrection of Christ is to make a claim that is entirely unbiblical and is in conflict with 2,000 years of Church teaching. Simply put, such a claim is not Christian.
This is why, though, I believe YECists are so obsessed with Genesis 1-11. The fact is, as they say themselves, their entire faith depends on it. Quite simply, I find that incredibly sad.
Del Tackett’s Final Comments
In the final segment of the movie, Del Tackett is in the mountains, reflecting on what he has learned in the movie. He says that nothing in the world makes sense, except in the light of Genesis.
Well, he’s almost right. Genesis 1-11 is extremely important, for it provides the general worldview and outlook regarding the nature of God, of the purpose of creation, and of mankind. That worldview that Genesis 1-11 lays out provides us with the correct perspective to understand God’s actions in history—in the life of ancient Israel, in the life of Christ, and in the life of the Church as it continues to bear witness to Christ.
But Genesis 1-11 isn’t history. It puts history into perspective so we can understand it, but it isn’t history.
Unfortunately, Tackett doesn’t see it that way. For him, it’s all or nothing. Either Genesis 1-11 is history, or nothing in the world makes sense, and Christ died for nothing.
…I’m pretty sure that’s not what the Apostle Paul said.
The last thing Tackett says in the movie is a strange comment about the mountains around him. He admits that the mountains are glorious, but that “they represent the judgment of God.” Why does he say that? Well, ultimately, YECists like Tackett believe that this creation is the result of God’s originally perfect world gone bad because of Adam and Eve’s sin. Actually, that’s not quite right. What Is Genesis History? is really saying is that this creation we now see is the result of the cataclysmic flood 4,000 years ago, and that therefore the mountains we see today were developed within the span of about a year, about 4,000 years ago.
The end result of such thinking is that, even when discussing the amazing things we see in nature today, YECists are ultimately saying, “Yes, these things are amazing, but can you imagine how amazing things were before Adam screwed everything up? Can you imagine how amazing things were before the flood?”
Well, the fact is that nowhere in Genesis 1-2 does it say God created a “perfect” world, or that Adam and Eve were “perfect.” As I’ve written about before, the early Church Father Irenaeus made it a point to write in his book, Against Heresies, that the belief that Adam and Eve had been “perfect,” had lived in an originally “perfect” creation, and had “fallen from a state of perfection” was, in fact, a gnostic heresy. You can read my posts on Irenaeus starting here.
As for Tackett’s comments about creation itself, specifically the mountains being a sign of God’s judgment, I just don’t see that sentiment anywhere in the Bible. Just read Psalm 104, which points to the entirety of creation as bearing witness to God’s glory and majesty and praise. Consider Psalm 76:4, which says, “Glorious are you, more majestic than the everlasting mountains.” That doesn’t sound like the psalmist looked out at creation and said, “Wow…look all this evidence of God’s judgment!”
As we are now at the conclusion to my last post on Is Genesis History?, let’s recap just some of the main points made in the movie:
- Steven Austin claimed that a cataclysmic flood 4,000 years ago neatly deposited all the various layers of sediment at the Grand Canyon. –But how is that possible that a cataclysmic flood was so orderly?
- The movie claimed that Paul Nelson said there were only two paradigms to choose from: the conventional paradigm (i.e. evolution) and the Genesis paradigm. –But Paul Nelson himself publicly stated that the movie misrepresented what he said.
- Steven Boyd stated that because Genesis 1-11 was narrative, that meant it must be history. –But that’s simply not true.
- Andrew Snelling said that modern decay rates and the scientific study of anything in the present cannot be used to tell you anything about the past, because the natural laws before the flood were different. –But there is no evidence for that.
- Kurt Wise divided the history of the earth into six epochs, and claimed that before Adam sinned, that the sun was originally designed to burn forever, it has been only recently that we have been able to have constant rates by which scientists can analyze nature. –But the Bible doesn’t say that, and there is no evidence for that.
- Todd Wood claimed that there were 2,000 original “kinds” of animals that went onto Noah’s Ark about 4,000 years ago, and from whom (over the span of about 200 years) developed (by natural selection) all the modern species we have, not simply today, but by the time of Abraham. He further claimed that Neanderthals were a people group that became isolated, developed a unique genome, got reacquainted with the rest of humanity, and then died out…all between the time of the Tower of Babel and Abraham. –But the Bible doesn’t say that; besides, natural selection doesn’t happen that quickly, and genomes don’t radically change over the span of 150 years or so.
- Danny Faulkner admitted that the Andromeda galaxy is 2 million light years away, but then claimed God sped up the speed of light so that the light from the Andromeda galaxy could reach earth by the end of the fourth day of existence. –But the Bible doesn’t say that, and there is no evidence for that.
- And then there are the comments by George Grant and Del Tackett covered in this post.
So what should one do with all that? Leave out evolution for the time being, and just ask, “Is any of that really mentioned in the Bible? Does any of that make logical sense?” The honest answer should be, “No.”
It needs to be stated clearly: the claims put forth in Is Genesis History? simply are not biblical, and they have never been made in the history of the Church. If the Bible doesn’t claim it, and if the history of Church doctrine and theology don’t bear witness to it, do such claims represent the historical Christian faith?
No, they do not. Plain and simple.