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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Genesis Code

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” — Genesis, Chapter 1, Verses 1-3.

Last night my wife and I watched the Genesis Code on our cable pay-for-view. I had heard about this Christian themed film (both positive and negative) and I wanted to see for myself what the film was about.

The Story:

Kerry Wells (Kelsey Sanders), a college journalist and committed Christian with an effervescent personality, has been assigned to do a story on Blake Truman (Logan Bartholomew) the college’s newest and very popular hockey superstar. As a relationship between them begins to develop Kerry finds that Blake, who hides behind a tough and independent façade, is actually struggling through a difficult personal crisis and that he bears the cross of a secret he has kept hidden for years. Blake rebuffs Kerry's suggestion that prayer might help ease his burden; he is convinced that modern science completely disproves the Bible, especially the opening verses of Genesis. Kerry — who is herself suddenly confronted with a challenge to her faith on another front — sets out to prove that science and Genesis are not in conflict and her quest leads to a startling revelation. Could it be that what science teaches us about creation and the story as told in Genesis are both true! The Genesis Code takes on three current social and cultural issues: Evolution vs. creation, End-of-life decisions and perceived discrimination against Christians on the college campus.

Before writing this blog I read two on-line reviews and found critical opinions of the film from a pseudo-scientist (a dentist) and an Evangelical Christian Minister. Both reviews blasted the film, but for different reasons.

The Dentist, a graduate from the University of Michigan, review is critical based on his interpretation of Cosmology and physics. In his review he states:

“The real purpose of the movie, however, is to serve as a vehicle to promote the idea that science and the Bible can be reconciled, with particular emphasis on the creation account of Genesis. Of course, operational science (measurable, testable, and observable science) is a “friend” of the Bible, and when properly understood, we can use science to support the historicity of Genesis (see Creation: Science Confirms the Bible Is True). Unfortunately, this movie immediately gets off on the wrong foot by unquestioningly embracing, as indisputable scientific fact, the speculative claims of scientists regarding the age of the universe—that the universe is about 15 billion years old. The movie then tries to startle viewers with the revelation that there is a special “code” hidden in the Book of Genesis that roughly agrees with a long age of the universe.

The film has much discussion about the physics of time dilation: how the perceived passage of time is dependent upon the perspective of the observer, and how the passage of time can be affected by mass, acceleration, and the stretching of the fabric of space. Some of this is operational science, and can be experimentally verified, and it actually may well help biblical creationists explain how we can see light from distant stars in a young universe. But by taking extensive liberties with the interpretation of certain Hebrew words in the Bible, along with the use of time dilation and God’s perspective from heaven, the movie seeks to impose a billions-of-years, progressive-creation timeline into the Genesis account. The movie claims that this is a better explanation of what is observed in the rock layers and the fossil record as opposed to molecules-to-man evolution.”

The second review I read was from a Christian minister who was also critical for its loose interpretation of the Bible. He writes:

“The Genesis Code is a full-featured film that pits the biblical six-day creation against the big bang theory of origins. In this contest, the viewer will notice that The Genesis Code never contemplates that the Bible should govern science; rather its presupposition is reversed. It is ‘science’ that is established as a seemingly inerrant source of ultimate truth.

However, science (and there are multiple definitions of what science, and even the ‘scientific method’, actually is anyway) can never be a standard of absolute truth. The sort of science with which most of us are familiar involves watching things happen (observation), and using repeatable experiments. Call it operational, or observational science if you like. But, when we try to understand events of the past, we are asking an historical question, which means that ultimately we have to use historical, not scientific, categories (see ‘It’s not science!’ and Naturalism, Origins and Operational Science). This doesn’t mean science can’t contribute to historical questions, but only that science can never provide us with the final answer. And the science involved in such things is a different sort of science—we can call it historical, forensic or even ‘origins science’.

That sort of science, which is what cosmology (the discipline that proposes ideas such as the ‘big bang’) is categorically placed in, involves a great deal of speculation, because it attempts to determine events of the past based upon fragments we have in the present. Events from the past cannot be directly observed or experimented on, tested, or repeated in the same way as observational science can.”

In fact, one expert has recently gone even further by claiming that cosmology is not even science, period! A recent article in the prestigious journal Science stated:

“‘Cosmology may look like a science, but it isn’t a science,’ says James Gunn of Princeton University, co-founder of the Sloan survey. ‘A basic tenet of science is that you can do repeatable experiments, and you can’t do that in cosmology.’”

This film attempts to win over unbelievers through argumentation in the name of ‘science’, or rather, commonly understood scientific principles. But it really uses origins science instead; this misleads viewers into thinking that a historical science like cosmology can determine such things.

The story is driven by a growing relationship between college hockey star, Blake Truman, who is an unbeliever, and a college news reporter, Kerry Wells, who is a professing Christian who interviews him.”

I can only guess at the agenda of the dentist who used his knowledge of science to dispute the Bible, but the minister is using his knowledge of the Bible to dispute the film.

What both reviewers are missing is the point that this is a fictional movieThe_Genesis_Code not a documentary you would see on the History, Science, National Geographic, or the Investigative Discovery channels. If it were not many people would pay money to see it.

Movies are meant to entertain by telling stories and this movie tells a compelling story. I am not a Biblical scholar or a Cosmologist or Astrophysicist so I cannot critique the theology or science portrayed in the film. However, I have read the Bible and watched numerous documentaries on the origins of the universe and believe there are multitudes of interpretations of both. It was Albert Einstein who said; “God does not place dice with the universe.” Science is continuing to evolve as man gains more knowledge and understanding of the world we live in. The Bible, while being believed to be absolute truth has been debated by theologians for centuries.

The average person of faith (such as me) believes in both. As a person with a technical education I have seen scientific evolve from theory to fact over the years. When in high school many years ago our physics books stated that the atom was the smallest particle known to man. Of course the book was written before the Atomic Bomb was exploded.

Likewise our understanding of the Bible has increased over the years. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient texts have allowed Biblical scholars to gain a better understanding of the Aramaic language — the language it was originally written in.

Beside the contrast between science and the Bible the film touched on an issue that I do understand — he conflict between those of faith and the secular non-believers who dominate academia today. There is a scene in the film where Kerry meets with her academic advisor to discuss her potential for going on to pursue a doctorate paleontology — a subject near and dear o Kerry. The female advisor tells Kerry that she needs two letters of recommendation and that her “dogmatic” Christian beliefs should be tempered if she wants to go on. The advisor goes into a diatribe telling Kerry that is she wants to become a part of the elite intelligentsia and a member of the masterminds who will mold the “new world order” she needs to abandon the absolute morality of her Christian beliefs. The advisor believes we live in a world of changing morality based on relativism. To me this was one of the more important scenes in the film — something the reviewers did not touch on.

Jeffery Osontisch writes a very good piece on the Paradox of Secular Scientism in American Thinker. He writes:

“It has become an accepted tenet of conventional wisdom to begin all discussions about science and nature with the understanding that religion has no place in such debates and that, in fact, faith is diametrically opposed to reason and scientific thought. To this end the concept of classical education, including any mention of God has been thoroughly removed from all Western public schools and replaced with a rather drab and mundane scientism.

This, however, need not be and was not always the case; in fact, Christian scholars had been on the cutting edge of scientific thought since the Middle Ages and the application of human reason to theological and later scientific questions has been a hallmark of Christianity since its very beginning - a fact which is evident to anyone who has read the work of Augustine and Aquinas, among others. How, then, did this notion of religion as the enemy of science first take root? And what are the dangers it poses to man and society?

The rise of radical secularism in philosophy and government first emerged as a formidable force in eighteenth century France and was characterized by an antipathy to objective moral standards and a belief in the perfectibility of man which spawned the humanist search for an egalitarian utopia and led to the horrors of the French Revolution. When this political philosophy was apparently validated by science, it proved to be a witches' brew which led directly to the bloodiest century in human history, the twentieth.

Its manifestation in science came about a century later with the publication, in 1859, of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. In this landmark book the British naturalist was the first to present a cogent evidentiary argument in favor of the theory he labeled natural selection - the theory that all life on earth evolved naturally - and quite by accident - from a single common ancestor over millions of years. This work and the strong feelings it inspired in its supporters and opponents alike marked the fork in the road which permanently split science from religion.

In his much vilified, yet misunderstood Papal address at the University of Regensburg on September 12, 2006 Pope Benedict XVI lamented this gradual severing, by Western academics, of faith from reason - a process he believes has done great harm to both theology and science. He also compared the secular left's adherence to relativism to Islam's concept of the nature of God as not bound by reason, contrasting these concepts with the Christian tradition (inherited, in part, from the Greeks) of a rational God in whose image rational man was made. Christian doctrine teaches that God in creating the physical universe bound it to immutable laws and thus there is a divine order to it that may be theorized upon, observed, and explained by man. To Christians proof of God's adherence to His laws may be deduced from His incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ for the purpose of the redemption of man before God. Were He so inclined and not bound by His own nature, God may have simply forgiven man for his rebellion without ‘putting on' human form to suffer and die on the cross. That He chose the latter is clear proof to Christians of the existence of a Divine order to the universe.”

With the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado we are hearing a great deal about evil and why psychopaths like James Holmes do what they do. It is this age of relativism we live in today that lies at the root of these actions.

It was Ayn Rand in her book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, who said:

“The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.”

As Mr. Osontisch states:

“Clearly faith in God need not and should not be a disqualifier when discussing scientific questions. A proper foundation in the moral as well as the physical laws of God's glorious creation should be a requirement of a well-rounded educational curriculum. And the moral restraints placed upon science by faith need not be a hindrance to discovery and progress, but merely a rudder to help point progress in the proper direction. And if this means that certain core beliefs of the secular scientific community need to be re-evaluated this does not mean mankind is regressing to a past mired in superstition and unreason. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, if we have made a wrong turn somewhere along the line we will be no nearer our destination by stubbornly continuing on; it is truly progressive at such times to double back to where you veered off track and find the proper path.”

The conflict between those who only believe in science and the fundamental creationists will not be tempered by one film but is is a start. Hollywood is loath to produce films of this nature as they believe they will not be box office hits. My hat’s off to the producers, directors, actors, and writers for taking the risk to give us the Genesis Code. I suggest you view the film yourself and make your own decision on the value of the film.

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