Thirty-four years ago Washington State’s Mount St. Helens blew its top. The eruption on the morning of May 18, 1980, knocked 1,300 feet off the top of the mountain, sending a massive landslide down its slope, clearing out a forest of trees, and washing out the lake at its base. For nine straight hours it put out the energy equivalent of about one Hiroshima-type atomic bomb every second.
The sheer power of this eruption makes it interesting, but this event is of particular interest to creation scientists like Dr. Steve Austin. The eruption scoured the area clean, but also lay down layers and layers of rock strata from the volcanic ash. The eruption also caused the creation of deep, new, instantaneous canyons, that – if we didn’t know better – looked to be many thousands of years old. In other words, the Mount St. Helens eruptions showed that catastrophic events can rapidly create huge geological features.
Dr. Austin shows how this has implications for the Flood, showing how it too could have rapidly laid down many layers of rock strata, and carved out even huge features, like the Grand Canyon. Just because its massive does not mean it took long to form!
I gave this a 7/10 rating, because it is well done, but I do want to note that if you aren’t already interested in this subject matter, this isn’t the sort of documentary that will just grab you. There is clearly a professional behind the camera, but overall the visuals are pretty tame (no computer graphics and no visualization of the actual eruption). So this is one you get for the fascinating information. The DVD can be ordered at AnswersInGenesis.org and Creation.com or at FloodGeologySeries.com and right now you can watch it for free below. If you enjoy this, you may enjoy 3 other films in this “Flood Geology” series all of which can be watched for free:
CONTENT This hour long documentary makes a compelling case that we live on a privileged planet. Were Earth a different size, in a different location, or were the moon’s orbit to shift ever so slightly, many of the most important scientific discoveries we’ve made about space could never have happened. It’s clear, then, that not only has Earth been designed for life, it has also been equipped for those living on it to discover all that is going on around them.
CAUTION The only downside to this “Intelligent Designer” presentation is that our triune God is never specifically given his due credit as that Designer.
CONCLUSION Stunning graphics accompany a strong argument. This is a superior documentary that will appeal to anyone interested in the way God has designed the solar system, the Milky Way, and our planet Earth.
You can watch this for free online (in 12 parts) below, or buy a copy of the DVD at many online retailers.
This documentary is a couple of decades old now, and it’s more important than ever. When it was released, it had cutting-edge computer graphics unveiling the inner workings of the cell, and it told the story of the origin of life research current to that time. Today, it also serves as a history of the early days of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, highlighting key figures in it like Phillip E. Johnson, Stephen C. Meyer, Jonathan Wells, William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Dean Kenyon.
Kenyon had previously written a textbook in support of evolution, and Behe had also begun his career as an evolutionist before reassessing after he read Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. As he describes it, reading this book made him feel like he’d been cheated; he’d had years of scientific education, was on faculty at Lehigh University, and he’d never once heard of the many problems with evolutionary theory! We get to come along as Behe and Kenyon explain how their eyes were opened.
We also get presented key ID arguments like Irreducible Complexity, which proposes that some biological machines need all their pieces to work, and could never have been formed by evolution’s step-by-step process. This is an issue being as hotly debated today as it was back then.
Other highlights include a look at the bacterial flagellum, which is effectively an outboard motor on a bacteria, propelling it as much as 100,000 rotations a minute. This is a marvel of engineering, evidencing the brilliant Designer behind it.
And we’re shown how biological machines are needed to assemble biological machines, which make the question of how they could have first formed one that evolution seems incapable of answering. It’s a chicken and egg problem: which came first, the Machine A, needed to assemble Machine B? Or was it Machine C, which was needed to assemble Machine A?
The ID Movement looks at the origins debate from a philosophical and scientific, but not religious perspective. They argue that evidence outside the Bible makes it clear there is a Designer. On this point, the apostle Paul, writing in Romans 1:20, agrees. But the weakness with ID is that it doesn’t give the glory that is His due specifically to the God of the Bible. ID has a “big tent” approach which includes other religions, and both those who believe in a young Earth and those who believe it is more than 4 billion years old. However, this documentary doesn’t touch on old ages.
While the computer graphics aren’t as cutting edge, they are still amazing. We get a closeup look at the operation of micro machines we never knew about, but which are in our own cells! This is a must-see for high school science classes, and it could make for fascinating family viewing too with teens and parents.
Speaking of the classroom, Illustra Media has packaged this exact same material, in a slightly different order, in Where Does the Evidence Lead? (2003). There it comes in 6 distinct chapters, all around ten minutes long, making them easy to present one or two at a time in high school or university classrooms. Illustra Media has made that repackaged version available for free online, and you can watch it below.
Part 1 – Life: the Big Question (10 min)
We being with Darwin, his trip to the Gallipolis Islands, and how he developed his theory of Natural Selection.
Part 2 – What Darwin didn’t know (8 min)
We’re introduced to Michael Behe, who explains why he used to be an evolutionist: no one had ever previously presented him with any problems with evolutionary theory. But the more he learned about the cell, and how complex the simplest block of life is, the clearer it became that chance processes couldn’t explain it. One example: the bacterial flagellum motor, which has been called “the most efficient machine in the universe.”
Part 3 – Molecules and mousetraps (12 min)
In Part 3 we’re introduced to the concept of “Irreducible Complexity” which proposes that in biological systems there are some machines that could never have come about by a step-by-step process – they would have to come together all at once. That is a powerful challenge to evolutionary theory, which precisely proposes everything can come about by small incremental steps. Michael Behe illustrates this point using a mousetrap as an example.
In answer, evolutionists have proposed their own theory of “co-option”… which has its own problems.
Part 4 – How did life begin? (11 min)
How did life begin in the first place? Darwin had very little to say on the subject. In recent years scientists have experimented with trying to get some form of “chemical evolution” started by mixing various chemicals together. But it isn’t simply the chemicals that make life happen, but how the chemicals are arranged. Like letters in a sentence, we don’t need just the right sort, but we also need them in the right order. The math here – the odds against even a single amino acid forming by chance – is fascinating!
Part 5 – Language of life (13 min)
Dean Kenyon wrote a best-selling textbook on the evolutionary origins of life. But then one of his students challenged him to explain how the first proteins could have been formed. Kenyon had originally proposed they would self-assemble, but what we were learning was that proteins are formed by other micro-machines, using instructions – there was no self-assembling. So Kenyon started to ask, what was the source of the instructions?
In this part, we also get to look into the cell to see how that information is put to use.
Part 6 – The Design Inference (14 min)
Design has been ruled out at the start – not by the evidence, but by mainstream Science’s anti-Supernatural bias – as a legitimate answer to origins question.
But Man is fully capable of spotting and recognizing design. It is a legitimate field of scientific inquiry.
This is a nature documentary that starts at the stars, and touches on just about everything else: lightning, squids, hummingbirds, seeds, snow crystals, DNA and butterflies are just a few of the highlights.
That’s both the strength and the weakness of the film. Some of this footage is as remarkable as anything seen on the Discovery Channel, or a National Geographic special, but each time a creature is investigated, we learn only enough to know we would really like to learn more… and then we’re on to the next bit of nature. But there is a method to this madness. The theme of God of Wonders is straight out of Romans 1:19-20: God has revealed Himself in the wonder of his creation. If we reject God, we can’t claim we did so out of ignorance – God, through his creation has left us “without excuse.”
The pacing is a little slow, with maybe a few too many talking heads, compared to the nature footage, but once we’re about ten minutes in, it gets rolling. That does mean, though, that even as this would be a great film to watch with a questioning friend – it could be a wonderful evangelistic tool – it won’t work if that friend isn’t at least a little patient.
For families used to watching documentaries, this will be another fun one to check out. The breadth of this presentation means there’s sure to be something new to learn for everyone watching, from the youngest to the oldest.
We live and breathe and move in an atmosphere that is full of assumptions. We assume that what we see is how things have always been. And our friends and colleagues at work assume that scientists have disproved the Bible. And even if we know better, we hear so often that the earth is the product of millions and billions of years of slow erosion and evolution, those assumptions can impact us too – we can begin to wonder, “Is it crazy to believe that this planet is only 6,000 years old, that God made all of this in just six days?”
Is Genesis History? is a film that can help to quell those voices of doubt, the voices that ask, “Did God really say?” Like thoughtful Christian apologetics, this movie can give us confidence that it is logical and entirely defensible for a modern person to fully believe that God’s Word describes historical events and real people.
Narrator Del Tackett opens the documentary showing a series of beautiful rock formations and deep canyons, and wonders aloud how many years these magnificent sites took to develop. We might assume thousands or even millions. But no – he reveals that the landscape around him was formed in just a few months, after the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980! This is a powerful illustration of just how our observations are colored by our preconceptions.
Throughout the film, Tackett speaks with various PhD-holding scientists about their areas of expertise, and often in the midst of beautiful scenery. These passionate and articulate scholars contrast two major competing views of history: the conventional view that all we see around us developed over billions of years, and the Biblical view that points to a young earth in which God acted directly and with incredible power to create and form the world.
Many of these experts point to the great Flood that covered the whole earth as an explanation for the geological formations we can observe in the Grand Canyon for example, and for the way that fossils appear intact and often in groups and herds. The massive power of the waters below, bursting forth, and the windows of heaven opening, caused enormous changes to the earth, killing most life. The flood was universal and catastrophic and awesome in its destructive power, and its effects can be seen all over the world still today – if you have eyes to see it!
The format of Is Genesis History? consisting of questions and answers filmed in interesting locations, with helpful illustrations, makes it easy to understand and engaging. It probably won’t keep the attention of younger children, but middle school students on up to senior citizens will enjoy and benefit from this film. I can see this movie being beneficial for our young people’s societies, and the producers have made available free study and discussion material at their website www.IsGenesisHistory.com. This is a great film that encourages us to view the Bible as accurate history, and is a timely reminder that God’s Word is true yesterday, today and tomorrow.
And right now you can watch it for free on YouTube below:
One of the interviewees in the film, Paul Nelson, while a 6-day creationist, is also a major figure in the Intelligent Design movement. He didn’t like how he came out in the film, and explains why here. Del Tackett, film narrator and producer, responds here. Todd Wood, another interviewee, also has some thoughts here.