“If you truly want to understand these subjects, you just have to roll up your sleeves and dig in.”
– Thomas Purifoy, Jr.
Falling Down the Rabbit Hole
When I produce a documentary, I like to do the research myself. I find that if I don’t truly understand something, it’s difficult to know what questions to ask or where to film.
When it came to Genesis, I bit off more than I could chew. The problem I faced was that I wasn’t researching just one subject area, I was researching twenty, including abstruse things like stratigraphy and baraminology and hermeneutics and, well, you get the point. There’s a good reason experts have PhD’s in a single area – when you dive into these subjects, it’s like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole with no bottom in sight.
One of the results of all my research was acquiring a decent library on creation and science. I also built up a nice collection of good articles and technical papers. Many people don’t realize that there are very extensive, easily-available materials for learning about the world of creation and science. The key, though, is you have to be willing to read them.
In fact, I think that is one of my take-away’s from this project. There is a reason why high-level science degrees take a lot of time to learn – there is just a lot to know. That said, the more you start walking down the path, the further you get and the more things make sense. If you truly want to understand these subjects, you just have to roll up your sleeves and dig in. The world God created is impossibly complex, and most scientists will admit they only understand a small fraction of it. But you can understand a decent bit of it, which, to be honest, is a lot more than most people will ever know. You just have to start somewhere.
But first, a few caveats: every area of study has its own vocabulary. If you don’t know a word, try to look it up. When I first read Earth’s Catastrophic Past, I kept an unabridged dictionary right next to me. Second, if you don’t understand something, just keep going – it will probably make more sense as you go along. For those who would like to know a few places to start, here are some recommendations.
The New Creationism – Paul Garner – I think this is the best single overview of all the basic topics in the creation/evolution debate. It’s not a long book (less than 300 pages), and spends different chapters on the different areas. A good place to start.
Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth – Terry Mortenson, PhD and Thane Uhry, PhD – An excellent overview of the textual and historical arguments concerning Genesis. It’s a series of articles by different scholars concerning everything from the church fathers to physical death. It also includes an excellent essay on the genre of Gen 1:1-2:3 by Dr. Steve Boyd that I relied upon for his section of the documentary.
Hallmarks of Design – Stuart Burgess, PhD, CEng – What makes this book so useful is that it covers so many different topics concerning intelligent design with the perspective of an engineer. From the brilliance of the knee to the water cycle to the beauty of peacock feathers, there are so many interesting things in this book. We interviewed Dr. Burgess in the film and he is an endless wealth of information. (More on him when we get to his section in the Notes.)
Earth’s Catastrophic Past (2 volumes) – Andrew Snelling, PhD – This is one of the weightier sets that I purchased that goes into a lot of technical depth in places, but it’s also one of the most comprehensive looks at all aspects of creation and Genesis. I found myself regularly referring to it on all sorts of topics. Dr. Snelling is a geologist, so focuses more heavily on geology, although it is full of other material, too. Good sections on fossils, catastrophic plate tectonics, and radioisotopes. Just note that it is the most technical of all the books listed here.
Universe By Design – Danny Faulkner, PhD – Compared to the other areas of creation science, there are far fewer books on astronomy than I would have liked to have found. In talking to Dr. Faulkner about it, he said it’s because there have just been fewer astronomers in the field and so less work has been done than in areas like biology and geology. That said, this slim book is the best overview of many of the various arguments, including a good section on the Big Bang.
Faith, Reason & Earth History, 3rd Ed – Leonard Brand, PhD and Arthur Chadwick, PhD – This is actually a textbook that could be used by a high school or college student, although it is also a good introduction to understand science from a paradigmatic perspective. This is really important, and something that everyone should understand; it revolutionizes one’s view of science. The book spends about half the time on biology and the other half on geology, as well as includes a lot of engagement with evolution and views about an old earth. It fairly presents the issues and challenges on all sides. A great, if longer, introduction to the topics.
I will stop there, although I could go on. One of the things that’s so rewarding about studying science is understanding more about the way God made the world. But what is also instructive is that views of science are changing and shifting. I think that is probably one of the more important things to recognize – unlike events that happen in history, science is not ultimately fixed. This is why all science books need to be updated regularly, including those in creation science. It’s a bit like a river that is constantly flowing – you have to jump in to begin to understand it.