I think it’s important to view a range of perspectives on two of the latest flicks to hit the big screens: “Noah” and “God’s Not Dead.” These films are going to draw religious viewers simply based on their content. How do we approach them? What conversations do we have? Here, I’ve offered a few posts about each film. I’d love to read your own thoughts on either or both of these flicks. Yes, this is an owl post edition because I have a winter storm blowing through right now. So that’s fun. (This is my attempt to keep smiling.)
God’s Not Dead
An Apologist Reviews “God’s Not Dead”– Here, a Christian apologist discusses his viewing of the movie. His overall thought is that though it is at times simplistic, it may help awaken the need for apologetics within the church.
David Baggett Guest Post: “God’s Not Dead”– Noted Christian philosopher David Baggett takes on the film. He’s concerned that the film oversimplifies and caricatures atheists and Christians, without paying enough attention to the thoughtfulness of either.
Personal Comments on God’s Not Dead– Astrophysicist Hugh Ross shared his personal thoughts on the film. He thinks it is worth seeing for Christians, but also has reservations regarding its portrayal of the people involved.
A Christian Philosopher’s Thoughts on “God’s Not Dead”– This is a Christian apologist from a different [presuppositional] perspective offering thoughts on the film. To be fair, he is actually looking at the trailer. Can his comments be valid still? Check out the post and judge for yourselves.
Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”– Over at The Gospel Coalition, the flick “Noah” is presented as having numerous issues, but it may start conversations and it also helps show the reality of evil before the Flood. Moreover, the reality of the spiritual realm is something that not enough people think of, but in the film the spiritual reality is very real and powerful.
I’m a Christian and I think ‘Noah’ deserves a four star review– In stark contrast to the above, Matt Walsh rips the film apart and also questions why any Christian leaders would be endorsing it or thinking of it as worthy viewing.
Sympathy for the Devil– In this post, Brian Mattson argues that the film is actually an ingenious way of portraying Gnostic ideas and Kabbalah. Essentially, his view is that the film is very explicitly Gnostic and portrays God as evil and the devil as sympathetic.
No, Noah is not Gnostic– In response to the claims of Gnosticisim, Peter Chattaway argues that one cannot conflate Kabbalah with Gnostic thought. Furthermore, he argues that Mattson gets several plot points and points of comparison wrong.
Both, and Then Some!
Hollywood, Movies, and the Bible: Should We Rewind on How We View?– Darrell Bock shares some thoughts on several recent movies with faith themes in them, such as “Noah” and “God’s Not Dead.” He offers practical advice regarding how one might view films with a discerning eye as well.
I have to admit, I think this is one of the most engaging “Really Recommended Posts” I’ve put together. There are multiple views presented on two of these posts, and the others give some good food for thought. Check out opposing views on charismatic/miraculous gifts; delve into the notion of concordism from different sides. Leave comments to share your own thoughts on these issues. Then, archaeology, abortion, the Noah movie, and Hume round out the discussion. I hope you’ll drop some comments to let me know your thoughts.
Debate: Have the New Testament Charismatic Gifts Ceased?– The “Strange Fire” book and conference have caused a huge amount of discussion to arise within evangelical circles regarding miraculous/charismatic gifts. Do these gifts continue past the New Testament times? Here, Michael Brown debates Sam Waldron on this topic. I have also written presenting four major views on this topic should you like to explore the topic more deeply. Which side do you think is correct? Why? Leave a comment!
Defending Concordism: Response to The Lost World of Genesis One– Concordism is the view that science will line up with biblical teaching about origins and other scientific aspects of reality. One major challenge to the position is the notion that the Bible simply doesn’t address such things. Here, Reasons to Believe, a major concordist group, answers several objections posed against concordism. William Lane Craig has recently answered a question about concordism himself, in which he raises a few objections to the position and explains why he is not a concordist. What are your thoughts on this debate? Leave a comment!
A Brief Sample of Old Testament Archaeological Corroboration– The Old Testament clearly makes a number of claims about the actual historical events of the Bible. Here, J. Warner Wallace addresses some of these claims and notes how we have archaeological research to back them up.
How the ADF kept nurses who wouldn’t perform abortions from being fired– The ADF–Alliance Defending Freedom–successfully reached a settlement regarding a hospital that was going to force nurses with moral objections to abortion to perform them. I find this a particularly stunning case, because so often the pro-choice side says things like “Don’t want an abortion, don’t get one!” But this is shown to be mere lip service, because now the attempt is being made to force even those with moral objections not to get abortions, but to actually carry them out. I am very pleased to see that sound reasoning prevailed and the nurses were not forced to do this or lose their jobs. It remains troubling to me that anyone would even think this could be okay. Check out the post.
How Should Christians Respond to Noah the Movie?– Greg West over at The Poached Egg (an amazing site you should follow if you don’t already!) found this gem of a post regarding the “Noah” movie. Check out my own thoughts on the trailer and upcoming film.
David Hume’s Genuine Theism– A provocative title, to be sure! In this brief post, the author argues that one of Hume’s aims was to restore “genuine theism” over and against rationalistic deism. It’s a quick read, but very thought-provoking.
I thought I’d share some thoughts on the brief glimpse we’ve had on the film, after a brief narration of the trailer. See the end of the post in which I reflect on a couple things not in the trailer.
The trailer opens with Noah having some weird vision which seems to depict the Fall of humanity. He wakes up and says “He’s going to destroy the world.” Some old dude tells Noah about a story passed down from his father about how if humans continued in their wicked ways, the “Creator would annihilate this world.”
The old man also tells Noah that this Creator is able to communicate with him in a way he understands, which is apparently by dunking Noah in water and showing lots of burning things and then a flower growing, because, you know, that is really understandable. But apparently Noah gets it because he decides to build a big boat. One problem: the local King is upset about it for some undisclosed reason.
Lots of animals come to load up the Ark. It starts to rain. People try to get on the Ark but get blown up by water. The fountains of the deep are depicted as big geysers blowing up all over the place. Rain.
By the way, Hermione plays someone [I looked it up and she plays “Ila” who is apparently Noah’s adopted daughter and a heartthrob to Shem(?)], so that’s kind of cool.
Well, it looks like we have some Hollywoodization here. I’m not really sure what to think. First, I appreciate the fact that in the trailer the responsibility for the Flood is placed upon humans, who continued to behave in clearly brutal ways.
Clearly the random king showing up with some reason to be angry with Noah is fictitious in the sense that it is not recorded in the Bible. I suspect it is there to add drama to the narrative, but what will it add in addition to that? What plot exposition will be given that diverges from the biblical account? The Old Testament in many places is very terse, not many details are given. It is tempting to fill in the details, and it is clear this film will do so.
The movie also seems to be thankfully not avoiding the theological issues. I will be very interested to see how God interacts with humanity. Despite my tongue-in-cheek narration above, I think there is a point to be had that God may communicate in phenomenological ways, and that the biblical narratives often do report things from the viewer’s perspective.
Also: those clothes! Why is Noah wearing a tailored shirt made out of some weird attempted period-piece? What kind of styling is this!?
Joking aside it looks kind of cool. As a film, it looks like it will be exciting. Lots of special effects; extra tension added in; you name it. But how much correction of faulty understanding of the biblical narrative will need to be done afterwards? I don’t know. On the other hand, perhaps it will get people talking more about the Bible. It may help spur discussion of the issues raised in that passage, which could expand beyond that. Could this be a tool for believers? It may be best to read up on the Flood story yourself.
The movie is clearly generating a lot of discussion already, and having drawn in a big-name director as well as actors/resses, it will likely be discussed broadly.
Be assured that, God willing, I will reflect on the movie when it comes out next year. Until then, let me know your thoughts!
Having Written This, I discovered something else:
Apparently there may be quite significant additions to the film from the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch, including some scenes with 6-armed angels and the like. I’m disappointed to learn about this divergence from the Biblical story. I get creative license, but this is a bit much.
Check out this excellent post which discusses the screenplay. My disappointment continues to mount as I read more about it. Note that I wrote this post 100% based upon the trailer, with almost no prior knowledge of the movie. The post I just linked to has major spoilers for the differences from film to movie. It looks like what we’re getting is something which is not faithful to the biblical story. I find that deeply disappointing. I get the use of creative license, but based upon this reading of the screenplay, it goes beyond creative license and into exploitation of the Bible to forward a specific agenda.
I wonder whether the rumors floating around about the studio wanting to make significant cuts to the film might be do to this negative reaction from Christian viewers. I suspect that it is possible that the studio wants to make it more palatable to Christian audiences.
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Davis Young seeks in his work, The Biblical Flood, to inform readers about the broad scope of church thought on the Biblical story of Noah’s Flood. The book’s subtitle is apt and sums up the content of the work: “A Case Study of the Church’s Response to Extrabiblical Evidence.”
Young, a Christian geologist, provides a detailed overview of the Church’s theological and scientific musings on the Flood. He develops this overview chronologically, beginning with early Jewish thought. The focus within the entirety of his book is directly centered upon how extrabiblical evidence was used to shape theology and vice versa. The relation should not be understood as binary. Throughout history, there was a spectrum of approaches to the extrabiblical evidence which included resistance (not infrequently forged by ignorance) as well as integration. Here, I will survey only the broadest outline of Young’s discussion.
Early Flood Views
Early Christians were aware of Pagan stories of floods but made little or no appeal to them as evidence for a universal flood, and in fact some argued that these other stories were clearly differentiated from the Biblical account because they were local as opposed to global. There was much speculation over the location of the Ark as well as the notion that fossils were the result of this universal deluge.
Middle Ages and Renaissance
Medieval thought regarding the Flood was steeped in the “ahistorical view of creation” found at the time. That is, the science of the time thought of creation as deductible from the character and nature of God. However, the discovery of the New World brought up many challenges to a universal deluge theory, which challenges began to get recognition. These included the vast number of species which would have had to fit onto the Ark and the discovery of people across the world. During this period, the discovery of flood stories in various cultures began to be viewed as evidence for a universal deluge (37).
The New World continued to present challenges to the universal deluge theory. One of the foremost among these was animal migration. Entirely new and distinct species were discovered in the New World which did not exist in Europe. How did these animals get to these distant lands? More importantly, how did they get there without leaving any traces of themselves behind if they all only came from one location: the Ark? These challenges continue to vex those who hold to a universal deluge (60ff).
The notion of a universal flood has contributed much to the development of geology as a science. The Christian worldview finally presented a picture of the universe which humans could explore in order to learn truths about reality. The Flood itself presented a theory about how to account for the geological features of the earth (65ff). Various features of the natural world were attributed to the flood, including the discovery of marine fossils on mountains and geological features like valleys. These early geologists were committed to an following the evidence where it led.
Diluvialism and Catastrophism
Various theories were put forward to explain the features of the earth. These included varied catastrophic notions, wherein the geological features were explained by a global, catastrophic flood. Such theories are repeated into today.
Geological Evidence Mounts into the Twentieth Century
Young establishes that the evidence against catastrophic diluvialism became weighty fairly early into the investigations of geologists (109ff). New discoveries related to mammoths and the way they died (over a period of time by a variety of causes rather than all at once) were greatly important, as the issue of these mammoths was found throughout the speculation about the flood. New dating methods were developed which were more accurate. Archaeological finds showed floods in areas of the Mesopotamia, but they were dated at different times. The discovery that humanity was widely spread over the earth and that there was no major extinction event throughout this spread raises a significant challenge for Flood Geologists (233). Other major challenges to Flood Geology include (but are by no means limited to): the dating of igneous formations, the cooling of the earth, metamorphism, and continental drift.
Throughout this period of discovery, theologians were not inert. Indeed, many theologians were at the front lines, actually participating in the discoveries themselves. Near Eastern Studies have revealed parallels with the Flood account which some have suggested show derivation. Others, however, argue these other flood stories merely show the perpetuity of such events and how ingrained they became on the human consciousness (236ff).
More recently, Flood Geologists have come into being once more. Their arguments parallel almost exactly those found spread in the early days of geology. Yet these arguments have been refuted by the evidence from the earth itself. Some continue to make false statements about the mammoths’ deaths, the formation of sedimentation, dating methods, and more. Young argues that this is largely due to the specialization of studies found within various fields like theology and geology. Theologians are rarely acquainted with the geological evidence, while geologists are rarely versed in theological language.
Theologians who were versed in geology began to see how interpretations of the text, rather than the text itself, had shaped the Christian response to geological evidence. People like Hugh Miller appealed to extrabiblical data in support of their intepretations of the Flood narrative (147ff).
Miller professed puzzlement that learned, respectable theologians would accept “any amount of unrecorded miracle” rather than admit a partial deluge. Could they not see that the controversy was not between Moses and the naturalists but between the readings of different theologians? (151)
More recently, many and varied theories of the flood as local have been developed and defended. The reaction from Flood Geologists has been vigorous, but theories of a global flood include a multitude of quotes from various scientists which would support competing theories of rock formation, sedimentation, and more. That is, Catastrophic Flood views present mutually exclusive theories for how the geological (and other) evidence came to be.
The book is capped off with a discussion of “arkeology”: the search for Noah’s Ark. Young notes the array of locations which have been given as well as the mutually contradictory accounts of those who claim to have seen the Ark or evidence of the Ark. He warns Christians to remain cautious of any such claims.
I believe that a good way to summarize the content of the book would be to view it as a challenge Young is issuing to those who allege that catastrophic theories are the only possible way to interpret the text and geological evidence. He himself writes, “If conservative and orthodox theology is to remain vital and relevant to a world in need of the Christian gospel… theologians will have to abandon their flirtation with flood geology and other forms of pseudo-science, reacquaint themselves with genuine scientific knowledge, and incorporate that knowledge into their thinking, secure in the realization that genuine insight into God’s creation… is still a gift of God to be treasured” (215).
Young’s book can be viewed through this lens. He shows how scientific knowledge challenged traditional readings of the text, but also how many theologians and Christian geologists alike interacted with this in order to gain “genuine insight” into God’s word and creation.
The Biblical Flood is a vitally important work. Young demonstrates that throughout history, Christianity has been largely willing to have a kind of interplay between extrabiblical evidence and theology. Unfortunately, in our time, many are ignorant of this long history and development of thought and science surrounding geology and the Flood. Theories have been developed which stand in the face of evidence from multiple, independent sources and angles.
I do not claim to have touched upon even all the major points found in Young’s work. The book is full of voluminous amounts of historical details which reveal interesting scientific and theological notions. The theory of a global flood was the one of the first major proposals for how the earth’s geological history was formed. As geological discoveries mounted, this theory was falsified. Moreover, theologians who interacted with the extrabiblical evidence had a wide array of responses, from downright rejection of the evidence or reinterpretation of it to attempt to fit a global flood to concordist views in which the extrabiblical evidence informed interpretation of the text. Which direction should we go? Young has presented a major challenge to those wishing to maintain a notion of the global flood. He presents mountains of evidence to challenge catastrophism, while also showing how, historically, thought on the Noahic Flood has comfortably incorporated the extrabiblical evidence without any necessary compromise of the text or faith. I commend the book to the reader without reservation.
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Davis Young, The Biblical Flood (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995).
The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.