The Genesis Code movie
Big premise, big budget but a big mistake!
Published: 24 March 2011(GMT+10)
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 observed1 or experimented on, tested, or repeated in the same way as observational science can.
‘Cosmology may look like a science, but it isn’t a science,’ says James Gunn of Princeton University
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.’”2
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.
In their first interaction, we learn that Kerry is a virgin, a Christian, and a pastor’s daughter. Blake, however, is not a Christian, not sexually pure, and not interested in Christianity. Nevertheless, none of this seemingly bothers Kerry, who has an obvious romantic interest in him. From a biblical perspective this would be an unequal yoking of a believer with a non-believer (2 Corinthians 6:14). The producers do attempt to briefly block the maturation of this relationship by demonstrating the worldview conflict between the two, but it is not convincing. The interaction between the two is clearly flirtatious and a romantic climax seems certain.
Obviously, for evangelical believers this is something which should not be entertained and it may have been an early indication that the producers maintained a low view of Scripture, which was not isolated to the Bible’s teaching on origins.
Even though there is a social plot of young love, the impetus of the movie is about the struggle between the six days of Genesis and the assumed 15.75 (approximate) billion-year age of the universe. Kerry’s father, who is a pastor of a local church, seemingly provides the spiritual leadership for the plot. However, as the senior pastor, one would expect that he would be skilled at defending the faith. Sadly, he forfeits his position of authority by stating that Genesis is a hard book to understand.
Ignorance of the truth is one matter, but this pastor is portrayed as intellectually capable and even as an apt debater. In one scene, Kerry’s guidance counselor confronts him on the existence of absolute truth, and he defends its existence in the face of the counselor’s postmodern assertions. Sadly, though, whatever his source for absolute truth is, it’s obviously not the plain reading of the biblical text.
Therefore, the character who should be the best apologist seems to abdicate that position of authority early on. If he is not confident that the Bible is able to be understood, then how can he possibly persuade the unbeliever?
Genesis, at face value, is not a hard book to understand. However, if one believes in a 15.75 billion-year-old universe, then Genesis is a hard book to believe.
The pastor’s stance here provides the viewer with a clue that the plain reading of the biblical text is going to be challenged. In the film’s attempt to appeal to some perceived scientific rationale and ‘reason’, all the producers really accomplished was to make an argument that the Bible does not mean what it says. Genesis, at face value, is not a hard book to understand. However, if one believes in a 15.75 billion-year-old universe, then Genesis is a hard book to believe.
The attempt to merge secular belief with biblical belief is triggered when Kerry is trying to tell Blake that prayer works, and the Bible can be trusted. He responds, and says “Prove that science and Genesis are not in conflict, and I’ll reconsider.”
This is not only a challenge from boy to girl, it is the modus operandi of the movie, which is, if the Bible can be proven to agree with science, then it must be worth believing because it matches man’s conclusions. But the Christian’s thinking should be the reverse—we should only accept man’s conclusions when they agree with the inerrant revelation we find in Scripture.
However, Kerry accepts the task to prove that the Bible and big-bang science are compatible, and she involves her skeptical brother Mark, who is portrayed as a genius-level physics student. In the scientific climax of the film, he gives a presentation to the main cast of characters, where he asks the rhetorical question, is science right or the Bible? He then answers, “Both are absolutely correct.”
This creates further confusion for the viewer because it fails to even mention that while there is only one biblical creation account, there are many competing big bang accounts, even today. So which big bang idea is correct, and which one are we supposed to hang our theological hat on? And what happens when the big bang ideas change again, or if it is abandoned (and there are hundreds of non-Christian scientists claiming it should be—see Secular scientists blast the big bang); is our understanding of the Bible supposed to change then, too?
Furthermore, the film ignores the many practicing scientists who believe in biblical creation who practice in the area of real operational science, and whose scientific conclusions stand in sharp disagreement with big-bang origins. Never once did the movie seek to clarify these issues.
Mark’s subsequent speech contains the assertion that all matter within our entire universe was contained in a point of singularity no bigger than the size of a mustard seed. Using the mustard seed as metaphor for the big bang is appropriate. Indeed, it would take matchless faith to believe the entire universe was contained in something as small as that.
His revelation is the invocation of the idea of time dilation where time ticks faster at some places than it does at others. This interjects Einstein’s general theory of relativity into the film which suggests that time depends on acceleration and mass. Therefore, the passage of time would be relative to circumstance. Interestingly, creation cosmologies also invoke the relativistic nature of time itself to explain how we can see light from distant stars if the earth is only 6,000 years old as measured by our clocks. See the section in our Astronomy and Astrophysics Q&A: How can we see light from stars millions of light years away?
The movie explains that at the big bang, there was the exponential expansion of the universe, which caused the passage of time to be different from God’s cosmic position, than it is from man’s position. Therefore, the film’s argument was that the six-day creation of Genesis was a real six days, but only from God’s perspective whereas, from earth’s/man’s perspective the six days have been manifested as 15.75 billion years. Since the Bible says God inhabits eternity, one would presume that time (as we understand it in our 3-dimensional universe) is not applicable to God. He is outside of our time and not bound by the time/space universe that He created (although He chooses to interact in it). ‘Our’ time began with the creation of the universe. So, in reality, there are no ‘days from God’s perspective’ as such. So whenever the Bible talks about days, or any segment of time, that has to be time as man would experience it. So it is meaningless to talk about ‘God’s days’.
The Genesis Code’s assertion on time dilation seems to be based on Dr. Gerald Schroeder’s theories, (although the movie does not state this), and these have significant scientific problems. The time dilation that is proposed in the movie suggests the cosmic clock ticking at the ‘edge’ of our universe would register only days, while the clocks on earth would register billions of years. However, this is the exact opposite of what general relativity suggests (see this critique of Schroeder’s views).
[Ed. note: This statement is valid provided that we assume the universe has, among other things, a unique centre and an edge, and our galaxy lies somewhere near that centre, as in modern creationist models that use general relativity and time dilation in regard to the travel time of light (see Starlight and time—a further breakthrough). Schroeder was likely assuming the opposite, as standard Big Bang cosmology does, i.e. that the universe is unbounded (no centre and no edge). Recent observations are more consistent with our galaxy being in a very special place, somewhere near a unique centre, and are also consistent with a bounded universe. See J.G. Hartnett, K. Hirano, Galaxy redshift abundance periodicity from Fourier analysis of number counter N(z) using SDSS and 2dF GRS galaxy surveys, Astrophysics and Space Science, vol. 318, no. 1 & 2, p. 13–24, 2008; J.G. Hartnett, ‘Where are we in the universe’ JoC 24(2), p. 105–107, 2010.]
Nevertheless, Mark introduces the concept of POT, which stands for passage of time. He redefines the six creation days as six POTs. Each POT encompasses a different amount of earth time, but each is applicable to its corresponding day within the creation week. The six days are then partitioned into the 15.75 billion years of Big Bang ideology.
Therefore, using time dilation, The Genesis Code claims to solve the problem between the Bible’s six-day account and the movie’s account of 15.75 billion years. But this claim of congruity is deeply flawed.
The Genesis Code ignores the obvious points of conflict between the secular and biblical account of creation. To assume that Genesis is only about six days is vastly incomplete. There are key events within each day which are recorded. It is these events that the Genesis Code also dramatically changes. The biblical account is an orderly record of created matter, light, and life forms without any death, disease and suffering—which contradicts the secular order in which things came to be. The Bible clearly portrays a creation where all creatures including humanity were in harmony with each other and with God. Then, at the sin of Adam, recorded in Genesis 3, sin and death plagued the previously good creation.
However, the Genesis Code POTs contain many supposed mass extinctions (mass death) before the coming of Adam, the entrance of sin and, subsequently, death. Since fossils show things like violence, disease (many cancerous tumors, for instance). Thus things like suffering and cancer, for instance, are all part of the world that God describes as being all “very good” (!).
Therefore, this effort to reconcile the six days of Genesis with big bang ideology significantly fails at a theological level.
Rather, The Genesis Code, by way of cut-and-paste theology, has accused God for causing the suffering of creation before any sin had ruined the world. The Genesis Code would have us believe that God originally created with disease, suffering and death as an integral part of life on Earth.
This compromise of not recognizing sin as being the cause of all death and disease rears its ugly head within the subplot of the film when Blake’s mother is stricken with cancer. This trauma for Blake, as he has to consider the possibility that she will be taken off life support, will hit home for scores of viewers. For many non-believers, a major stumbling block is how to reconcile death and suffering with the biblical idea of a loving God.
The Bible, when taken at its word, is able to explain that the original sin of Adam is what caused death and suffering to God’s good creation (Gen. 3). The Bible sees death as the last enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:26), and that Jesus Christ is a savior who offers eternal life in a kingdom that will never end (Luke 1:33, John 6:40), who came to overturn the death that Adam wrought (Romans 5:12–21).
A film marketed as a Christian movie, which purposefully undertakes the issue of dealing with disease and death, would be expected to address the origin of such. However, due to the theological position of The Genesis Code, the blame for all death lies squarely at the feet of God, not the sin of man. It plays into the hands of many who disparage the idea of a benevolent loving Creator.
The slippery slope of compromise continues when Blake finally prays and brings the social plot to its climax. His prayer was meant to be a victory for Christianity after Blake saw that the Bible allegedly agreed with secular science through Mark’s presentation.
However, his prayer is not of repentance, but a request of healing for his mother. It cannot go without saying that not once, to my recollection, did the movie ever mention Jesus. Nevertheless, after this prayer Kerry and Blake finally kiss, which was the inevitable romantic encounter, and was highly symbolic of Blake’s acceptance into Christianity.
A problem here is that Blake was offered an implied inclusion into Christianity without any evidence of repentance in the face of the cross. A prayer of repentance and a prayer request are not the same thing.
Blake’s prayer is answered, and his mother is miraculously healed. But the underlying problem of suffering and death is never addressed. God doesn’t always affirmatively answer prayers for healing, and for 2,000 years, Christians who worship the Christ who defeated death have themselves died. This is a problem for those who don’t have a biblical view of Creation and the Fall.
The spiritual wrap-up of The Genesis Code comes through a professor and the pastor. The professor professes to believe in theistic evolution, and the pastor, after listening to his son’s presentation on POT, comments that man has finally “evolved” enough to understand God’s meaning.
But a stronger misrepresentation of God is difficult to imagine. God did not write with the pen of a jester when He said “days.” He did not wear a cloak of ambiguity when He said man’s sin caused death in creation (Romans 5:12, Romans 8:20). He did not encrypt His divine Word that would need to be cracked by physicists thousands of years, and billions of souls, after the fact.
The Genesis Code is meant to be an apologetic for the Christian faith. It wears the attire of Christianity, but due to compromise, it teaches as doctrine things that are totally foreign to the Christianity that is based on the ‘big picture’ of creation, the fall, and the cross. And even though it’s a film about Christianity, it doesn’t present any of the vital elements of the Gospel. Sadly, despite this fact, many Christian organizations have endorsed this film. I can’t say this surprises me. In fact, I expected it. Much of our modern Church simply has lost discernment and has adopted an idea, by and large, that the Gospel must change to meet the changes of modern society. But that is a flawed belief. God is never-changing.
So, rather than being a good apologetic for the Christian faith, it is more likely to steer people away from the faith, because it answers the ‘problem’ of the Bible versus science by saying that the Bible does not mean what it says. It’s not rocket science to therefore conclude that if this is true other parts must have the same problem. Do we need special ‘codes’ to explain the feeding of the five thousand, or the Resurrection, simply because man’s view of science says that such things cannot happen?
When Christianity fails to observe scriptural authority and avoids repentance of sin, it no longer is Christianity rather it is Christianism, which steers clear of the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The obvious caveat here involves certain astronomical events, like an exploding supernova, in that it takes time for light to reach us from them, so we are observing events from the past. But see the quote in the very next paragraph about cosmology overall. Return to text.
- Science 317:1850, 2007. See also Hartnett, J., “Cosmology is not even astrophysics”: Dark matter: a big bang fudge factor, 3 December 2008. Return to text.
You did an excellent job in describing the movie and in highlighting the areas in the movie that are very problematic for true, discerning, Bible believing Christians. I had problems with the same parts of the movie that you have highlighted. Excellent critique!
I just watched this movie. I had questions after watching it and was glad
to find this site talking about the issues raised in my mind by the movie.
Thank you in advance, for taking the time to read this e-mail.
Dr Jonathan Sarfati responds: You’re welcome.
YA: I agree with your notion that God is not bound by time. The movie doesn’t state that the clock was ticking differently where God was, it suggests that, because the great amount of gravity created @ Planck time = 1 (1 x 10–47 sec.) after the moment of expansion, as it becomes of the size of an orange, gravity breaks free,and so time would have literally gone faster, all time, here, everywhere within the universe because the infinite amount of gravity.
JS: This presupposes the erroneous big bang theory. See The mind of God and the ‘big bang’ and Secular scientists blast the big bang: What now for naïve apologetics?
YA: Even when God gave man a brain it would have been rather hard for Moses to understand a number such as 15.75 x 109.
JS: Not at all hard to understand—evolution is now taught to little children (see Evolution—It’s child’s play! God could have communicated evolution easily), and there were plenty of ways it could have been taught to ancient Hebrews (see Genesis according to evolution: If evolution over millions of years was the way God created, He could easily have said so in simple words). There were plenty of long-age words available just to teach vast eons of time (see How long were the days of Genesis 1? What did God intend us to understand from the words He used? Finally, Ph.D. geneticist Dr James Allen pointed out:
I then realized that had God wanted to say a billion years rather than six days, He could have said it, very simply, in the way He spoke to Abraham: “I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted” (Gen. 13:16). In the same way He could have said, “I took as many years as there are particles of dust on the earth to create the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that is in them” and it would have sounded very impressive but He said six days. Would He have said this if it were of no concern?
The movie started out very family friendly and did an accurate job of portraying the typical unbelievers view of Christians. As a born again believer I was more than concerned at the lack of guidance from the Pastor/Father when his daughter asked him about her career in relation to her Christian beliefs and the worldly beliefs of her career counselor at college.
Also my view of the Bible is that all that it tells me is the only absolute truth.
The Genesis Code movie on the surface seemed
family friendly however it did not stand firm on the Bible being the absolute truth even if science can't "prove it."
Young people and baby Christians can be misguided by this movie if they don't have a firm foundation, so beware. (Psalms 118:8)
On the flip side as a Christian it made me want to dig deeper into the "theory" the movie is based on.
My final word on the move Genesis Code is if you take it for what it is, fiction, then it is a good movie, just remember it is not a God movie.