Monday, October 8, 2012

The Misfit Atheist watches "The Genesis Code"

The other night after my work shift was done, I checked the Redbox machine in the store to see what was new. Redbox is known to not only carry major box office titles, but also craptacular B-movies and equally crappy Christian propaganda films(like Ben Stein's "Expelled"). That night, I seen that "The Genesis Code" was "new" and in stock. I never watched a Christian propaganda film before, so I figured to rent it and review it. As I write this, I've just finished watching it and quite frankly, my head hurts from all of the blatant dishonesty emanating from it. Nevertheless, I will endeavour to give as much of a rational review of it as possible.

The Plot

"The Genesis Code" is a religious film surrounding a romance story between a college hockey player and a college student journalist. The movie opens on a college hockey game, where the local team win the game thanks to their new star player Blake. After the game, Blake is approached by Kerry, a college journalist assigned with writing a story on Blake. When Kerry rebuffs Blake's initial advance by telling him that's she "chaste", he instantly picks up that she's a Christian. Later in the movie, we find out the reason why: She's a preacher's daughter(who also happens to be the movie's executive producer).

The titular theme of the Genesis story is introduced via Blake's teammates poking fun at her religious beliefs, citing the Genesis creation as Bronze Age fairy tales(which they are, but I'll save the detailed criticisms for later in this post). Blake doesn't believe the Genesis story as well and challenges her to prove the Genesis story correct as a condition of telling her anything she wants to know for her story. So she enlists her geeky brother and his friends to cook up a pseudo-scientific theory to prove that the Genesis story of creation is correct and in accord with science.

While this is going down, we discover Blake's harsh dilemma: His mother is in a coma, dying from cancer. His grandparents want to honor his mother's wish to die mercifully by putting her off life support, but he refuses to allow it. On this, I can sympathize with both Blake and his grandparents.

Anyways, later on we hit on the third theme of the film, which is the theme most likely to make any reasonable person stand up and point out as utter bullshit(again, as I'll critique later in the post): Kerry's faith gets challenged by her intellectually-vapid academic advisor, played by Catherine Hicks.

Each of the themes are then "resolved" in turn, while steadily amping up the religious overtones, culminating in Blake's team prayer for his mother and the inevitable "miracle" of his mother having a temporary reprieve and being awake. And then the credits roll with the preacher reading off the Genesis creation story.

Critique

For starters, there's the "Genesis Code" pseudo-science involved. The explanation is actually a sleight-of-hand trick. It relies on using the natural phenomenon of time dilation to sound scientific, and hopes nobody looks up anything other than Wikipedia's entry on time dilation(in other words, it's a lie fed to scientifically illiterate people). For example, the theory states the age of the universe at 15.75 billion years. This is incorrect(it's 13.7 billion with 0.13 billion years, give or take), and was likely stated that way to make the "POTS" math fit. But that's a niggle compared to what comes up next.

The most glaring problem, to me, is when they redefine Day 4 in Genesis to read as when the moon, sun and stars "appeared". But Genesis 1:14-19 clearly state that's when God created the sun, moon and stars. Yet the Earth was already basically formed. However, astrophysics and cosmology tell us that in order to have planets(including the Earth), stars must come first. Planets come into play after a star goes supernova, releasing all the elements created during stellar nucleosynthesis, then having the resulting accretion disks coagulate into planets, moons and stars. So right there, science and religion completely disagree, thereby making "The Genesis Code" a failed hypothesis. But wait, there's more.

The movie also gets the Cambrian Explosion(Day 5)dead wrong. Day 5 in Genesis claims that every type of land and air creature appears at the same time. However, anybody who studies the Cambrian Explosion will know that only sea life dominated the planet. No land animals at all. Yet the scientist character claims that land animals appeared at the same time. It's obvious the makers of the film couldn't be bothered to take even 5 minutes to fact-check the actual science they so blatantly misuse. And yes, there's more.

If the movie sets out to prove Genesis correct, shouldn't they also address what comes after the creation? Like Adam & Eve, the talking snake, and all that? Nope, we don't get that because even the creationists know they can't try to square that circle.

Since I've thrashed the movie's main selling point enough, there's one thing about this movie that simultaneously pisses me off and amuses me to no end: Catherine Hicks' role as a blatantly bat-crazy mischaracterization of academia. Through Hicks, you can see just how divorced from reality the people behind the movie are. Hicks is actually portraying the creationist fantasy of what they wish academia would be like. But she overacts it so much, that I wonder if she did it on purpose to clue in the otherwise oblivious audience that "this movie is bullshit".

And finally, there's the end-of-life decision theme. This is the only theme I would say they explored even-handedly up until the literal deus ex machina at the end. The grandparents were trying to do the right thing by their daughter's wishes(and I would side with them), but again, I do sympathize with Blake wanting his mother to hang on as long as possible. However, it's clear the writers use this situation as a catalyst to set up Blake's "come to Jesus" moment in a group prayer.

Conclusion

So I'll end this badly written review and critique with a bit of advice for potential viewers: If you must watch this film(most likely as a punishment), bring something you can safely vent your frustrations on, because this movie will test your patience with dishonesty. Otherwise, avoid this film at all costs.