Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Documentary vs Documentary-Style -- aka Reality vs Fiction

Let's take a break from picking on the Discovery Institute.  I know it will be a short one because they are bound and determined to post something incredibly stupid that just begs a response.  Until then . . . this morning I caught a post from CNN, no not that CNN, but the Christian News Network.  "Is Genesis History? New Film Affirms Truthfulness of Biblical Record".  Here's the opening paragraph:
"A soon-to-be-released documentary-style film, featuring footage from around the U.S. and interviews with over a dozen scholars and scientists, will provide visual evidence and scientific arguments for the Bible’s accounts of Creation and the Flood."
Documentary-style?  Just what does that mean?  Is it a documentary or not?  Wikipedia defines a Documentary Film as (I added the underlines for later emphasis):
" . . . a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record."(Wikipedia: Documentary_Film)
So, a documentary-style film looks like a documentary, feels like a documentary, might even be as boring as many documentaries, but it's missing at least one of the key elements that make it a documentary, which is why they call it a documentary-style.  I wonder which one it is?  Let's poke around a little  Here's a quote from the end of the article:
"I want people to see this, and to realize that Genesis is the cornerstone for the history of the world."
Apparently, this is supposed to be educational, so it meets one of the primary purposes of a documentary.  It is a motion picture, so it meets that requirement to be a documentary film as well.  So what's left?

A documentary is nonfiction and some aspect of reality -- so for all of the posturing of this press release, and more than likely the film itself, it isn't based on reality, thereby qualifying it as a documentary-style rather than a true documentary.  Just to be sure, I also looked up the definition of documentary on Merriam-Webster and they said:
"a presentation (as a film or novel) expressing or dealing with factual events" (Merriam-Webster: Documentary)
So, we can see by that definition, this particular 'documentary-style' film must not be dealing with factual events.  This whole documentary vs documentary-style might seem like a nit, but for organizations who like to play word games, we have to remind them that words have meaning.  This film is not based on fact, historical or otherwise.  The Bible is not a history book, no matter how much Biblical Literalists want it to be.  OK, so we now know this film is fiction, that is not dealing with factual events.  OK, so now what?
" . . . features interviews with respected Christian scientists, including microbiologist Kevin Anderson, astronomer Danny Faulkner, geologist Andrew Snelling, and several others."
Let's see - Anderson, Faulkner, and Snelling.  Oh you know me, I have to find out who these guys are:
  • Kevin Anderson is the Director of the Van Andel Creation Research Center and the Editor-in-Chief of the Creation Research Society Quarterly (CRSQ).  His bio, from the CreationWiki, claims he has authored over 20 papers, yet they only mention 4 of then, two for Creation Matters and 2 for CRSQ (remember, he is the editor-in-chief of CRSQ).  I guess the other 16 weren't that important.
  • Danny Faulkner is also a member of the Creation Research Society and serves as the editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly.  There seems to be a conflict, since Anderson is listed as the editor-in-chief, yet Danny here is also the editor?  Can you have more than one?  It's published quarterly, how many editors do you need?  Danny is also a Researcher/Speaker at Answers in Genesis (AiG).
  • Andrew Snelling is also at Answers in Genesis (AiG) as their Director of Research, speaker on various topics, and serves as editor-in-chief of the online Answers Research Journal.
As you can see, the only identified speakers are from very Biblical Literalist organizations.  Even though claiming the Bible should be taken literally is, in itself, an interpretation.  This, like so many other criticisms, tend to be ignored by such literalists.  

I do love the description 'respected Christian scientists'.  Do you know who are respected Christian, or really any other theistic, scientists?  Ones whose religious beliefs do not blind them to the reality of the world around them.  Actually respected scientists as a whole are those who do not let their views on multiple matters affect their ability to view the world.  Look at the scientists who opposed leaded additives?  It's not the ones who sided with the industry who made the additives that turned out to be well-respected, it was the ones who identified the problem and fought for decades to have the problem fixed.  How many of you respect the scientists who work, or in many cases worked, for the tobacco companies?  Especially those who did the 'science' that supported the many statements form those companies telling up cigarettes aren't bad for us, they are not habit forming . . . all the while upping the chemicals that made it more addicting and harmful.

Look at AiG and it's cabal of 'creation' scientists.  Look at their published works.  The only ones who are respected outside their theist organization are those whose scientific work is not based on their theology.  Little kennie ham, AiG, identified one of them for us a while back in this post from his blog: "A Renowned Creation Scientist, Inventor of MRI".  No one has ever pointed to any part of the theories behind magnetic imaging and said "and here is where God did such-and-such." or "here is the part that is based on creationism".  The celebrated work was not based on any religious belief, but on actual science -- supportable, falsifiable, and explainable science.  The idea of a 'creation scientist' is more and more just another creationist, simply one with a degree they can wave around but never use in conjunction with their beliefs.  Think of them as just a poster child for creationism.

I guess they have several others speakers.  Hmmm, several usually means 3 or 4.  These three plus 3 or 4 more doesn't add up to the dozen mentioned in the opening paragraph.  So is counting a Creationist problem?  Oh yea, 6000 = 4,500,000,000 . . . so I guess it is.  What else is going on here:
" . . . the film’s host, Del Tackett, guides viewers through over a dozen locations and landmarks to explore the competing views of creation and evolution."
So this documentary-style film, which is apparently not based on reality is going to present creation AND evolution? So who is going to present evolution?  Have they got an actual evolutionary biologist?  Doubtful!  Apparently a creationist will do the explanation. Oh yea, this is going to be a fair representation, right?  I would guess that any actual biologist probably turned down their invite, if they got one at all.

 It reminds me of one of the books by Ann Coulter, you know the Bill O'Reilly for people who can actually read. She decided to learn about the whole Evolution vs ID issue by visiting the Discovery Institute. There, she knelt down in front of a few of their usual talking heads and swallowed the kool-aid without a single discerning thought. Now a reasonable person might have taken a little bit of time to get the scientific view from . . . oh, I don't know . . . actual working biologists, but not Coulter, she prefers her science of the pseudo-science variety.

So there is going to be a one-sided view portrayed as showing both sides to support an allegorical story and it's being labeled as history.  OK, I think I understand now.  Somehow I don't think this will change any minds, but simply reinforce the beliefs of people who already think Genesis is a literal reading of history.

I won't see it in theaters, but if it follows the normal path, it will eventually end up on You Tube and I will watch it there.  My expectation, low as it might be, is that this movie will visit a number of historical and archaeological sites and then present the less than original idea that since many of the places mentioned in the Bible are true, then Genesis has to be true.  Much like the 'fact' that Baltimore MD and Washington DC exists must mean that the Super Bowl in Denver was hit by a nuclear bomb just like it says in that Tom Clancy book.  Yes, Clancy does write fiction, but didn't we already determine that this documentary-style film is not based in reality either?

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