Quick report on the Genesis movie

As promised, I saw this crappy movie last night. I’ve got a pile of notes, and will provide a more thorough review this weekend, but just to quickly summarize:

  • There’s no story here. It’s built around the 6-day creation myth with a deep-voiced sonorous slow-talker telling the story of Genesis 1, but it’s almost like an afterthought. It’s a framing device that isn’t actually used effectively as a narrative structure.

  • The real story is that they interviewed a bunch of creationists, who sit alone in different rooms and who rant at the camera, saying stupid, familiarly tiresome things. They then sliced up these interviews into tiny snippets, interleaved them with each other and with some CGI, and then tossed them in a large mixing bowl with some vinaigrette. This is called “editing”.

  • The CGI is terrible. Seriously cheap. Everything from dinosaurs to humans has a kind of rubbery, plasticky surface in shades of brown — although Adam is a notably pale shade of brown.
    It’s very low rez, too. There are a couple of scenes where they’re showing off hominid skulls for comparison, and the detail is pathetic — they look like the kind of cheap plastic skulls you’d pick up from the Walmart Halloween decorating section.

  • They had a dodge for when the CGI was egregiously bad: defocus! They were constantly blurring everything, which I suppose they thought was artsy, but was clearly to hide the fact that they couldn’t render convincing detail worth a crap. They also did this with the creationist interviews: they’d occasionally blur the person, or slowly move the camera around, and then you’d end up with this segment of the interview where the subject was drifting off to the right side of the screen.

  • One of the reasons they’d move the subject out of the center was that they had these cheesy, 3-D animated titles that would rotate and also drift — so you’d start with camera on the subject, then you’d see these bronzey metallic letters appear on the left, like “ENCE”, let’s say, and you’d be wondering what that was about, and the camera would wander over to the floating keyword as the speaker was ignored, so that you could finally figure out that the magic word was “EVIDENCE” or whatever. It was painfully gimmicky.

I’ll go through some of the actual content this weekend, but for now, let it suffice to say that there was nothing new here, they were creationists making the same old tired assertions from ignorance that they’ve been saying since the 1960s — dating methods are circular, there are no genetic mechanisms for increasing the amount of information in an organism, we can explain all of geology with the Great Flood catastrophe, if you don’t accept Genesis then you’ll reject the Gospels and burn in Hell, you know, the stuff you can get in a Chick tract. It was nothing but old creationist arguments presented in a particularly incoherent manner with irrelevant computer graphics.

Oh, and it ends with so much Jesus. All the interview subjects babble on at length about salvation and God and Our Lord Jesus Christ and how God clothed himself in flesh in order to redeem our sins by dying a horrible, painful death, and that shit never makes any sense.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    If you have saved your ticket, you should sue for false advertising. You were there because of Genesis, and yet they diluted the experience with Jesus, who had nothing to do with Genesis at all. And I bet they did not mention Lilith, Adam’s first wife, which makes them a target for a discrimination lawsuit.

    “how God clothed himself in flesh”
    1:… to hunt for the mother of the adversary of Skynet
    2:… to get sex, if the god is Zeus or that East Indian fellow.
    A demon would simply possess an existing body, which seems more effective in terms of time spent.

    “Animated titles that would rotate and also drift”..so they share the cosmological belief of Ernst Mach or whoever, who thought the whole universe rotates?

  2. Bruce says

    The reason that god makes Jesus die a horrible death (for a weekend) probably is that “our god” serves an awful god.
    I don’t know if that means there’s supposed to be someone over Jesus’s father, or if it’s just that this “father” has his own insane religious delusions.
    I would think anyone who had existed alone in a void for eternity would likely be insane, so maybe he’s hallucinated a god who wants torture? It looks to me like a failure of recursive storytelling when one’s imaginary god character is imagining his own imaginary god character. Crazy.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    Yes, that John Connor is (will be) a good fellow.
    Not to be confused with “saltation”, readers of Stephen Jay Gould may have heard of it.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Bruce, this is the problem with parallel programming. If the interfaces between the many processors do not work perfectly, the Eschaton may experience temporary episodes of subjectively multiple ‘selves’. The effects can be nasty. At least there was no “Basilisk” episode, always a risk when AIs go nonlinear.

  5. killyosaur says

    I don’t know why, but the drifting camera makes me think that perhaps the cameraperson just got bored and started trying to find something more interesting to film :P

  6. birgerjohansson says

    “rubbery, plasticky surface” -proving the dinosaurs were ancestral to Godzilla, at least the Godzilla of the first film.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    Bruce @ 2: “The reason that god makes Jesus die a horrible death (for a weekend) probably is that “our god” serves an awful god.”

    -The System Architect! And the Devil is Agent Smith.

  8. weylguy says

    “…Adam is a notably pale shade of brown.”

    Huh, must be an unintentional shading effect. The film makers certainly didn’t plan it that way, since Adam was as white as you and me. The Curse of Ham didn’t bring in those dark-skinned fellows until much later, you know.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Question: Is the pale-skinned Adam circumsized? And does Eve have a navel?
    But first of all, we must make sure this really *is* Eden, and not Riverworld*.

    *I am really daing myself with this. Any Philip José Farmer SF fans out there?

  10. birgerjohansson says

    “dating” not daing. The stoopid is contagious.
    And do we get to see the disc of the world, after El/Yahweh has created it?

  11. davidnangle says

    Yah! Riverworld!

    Also, rotating 3D titles are a bit 90s. (And that’s a VERY long time ago in CG work.) If your editor/animator is throwing those in there, it’s due to a severe lack of content. Much of that lack is probably due to not giving the CG artists enough time.

  12. says

    The pale shade of brown is basically an off-white. He looks European. Not as bleached/etiolated as Ken Ham, though, who ought to sue the lighting people for making him look like a nosferatu.

    Of course you don’t see Adam’s penis! You see even less of Eve, because they solved the problem of nudity for conservative audiences by…making her grossly out of focus in every shot. She’s more of a smudge than a person.

  13. Owlmirror says

    As interpreted by creationists:

    Noted atheist PZ Meyerszsz complains about shoddy special effects, distracting camera work, poor production values, and confusing format hates the Godly God movie about God because he hates God.

  14. emergence says

    I figured that they would just repeat the same shit they’ve been spewing for the past few decades. Novel arguments aren’t creationists’ forte. I’m really wondering if there’s a way to finally kill off these threadbare canards and have creationists move on to new arguments.

  15. davidc1 says

    Did you get thrown out doc ?
    When it mentioned Genesis i thought t was about time the group reformed .

  16. Mark Jacobson says

    @18 emergence

    If creationists could identify arguments that don’t work and move on to others, they wouldn’t be creationists.

  17. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    She’s more of a smudge than a person.

    Which is pretty much how they view women anyway.

  18. lemurcatta says

    Hey PZ, I’m a grad student in bio and have often wondered how to counter creationists when they mention selection decreases genetic “information,” it doesn’t add. This seems legit it me, because selection tends to decrease variation in a population. But aren’t they ignoring mutation? Like gene duplication and indels? Isn’t that an enormous oversight?

  19. says

    Yes, it is. When Ham flatly says there is no genetic mechanism for increasing information, he’s flat out lying. Tandem duplication, whole genome duplication, polyploidy, etc., etc., etc.

    Selection tends to be a conservative force, but it’s also not the only mechanism in evolution.

  20. says

    @7 Caine

    Jame Gumb as god. There’s a lovely image.

    Could you not, please? That character has been used for almost 30 years to paint trans women as dangerous psychopathic perverts. Yes, despite what Lecter said about him, and yes, i’ve seen that thrown around in live usage within the last year.

  21. emergence says

    PZ @23

    Don’t we have evidence from genome sequencing that most of our genes were formed by those processes?

    We should try confronting creationists about this. We know what types of mutations would be necessary for evolution to occur. We’ve observed examples of these types of mutations providing adaptive advantages in experimental evolution studies. If these types of mutations don’t meet creationists’ standards for increasing information, then their standards are irrelevant.

  22. numerobis says

    “Just blur it out, nobody will see” is a *joke* in the CG industry, second only to “We’ll fix it in post”.

    You’re not supposed to actually do it.

  23. says

    #28: Yes. Just look, for one example, at the beta globin gene family. You have to recognize all the gene duplications that occurred there.

  24. Dave Grain says


    “If these types of mutations don’t meet creationists’ standards for increasing information, then their standards are irrelevant.”

    LOL, no offense but you must be new to this game! NOTHING will satisfy creationists, they have the god of gaps on their side. Honestly, you will never win an argument against them (because they have no interest in listening), we must simply continue to defend against their views becoming in any way acceptable within the wider public.

  25. andyb says

    One of the more depressing Rotten Tomatoes reviews:
    I saw this last night – amazing documentary. Guess what, all of you unbelievers – I am science teacher! I believe that the Bible supports the science for the CREATION!!! Millions of years – not possible – there is NO SCIENTIFIC evidence that supports the Geologic Time Scale. And all of you that believe in evolution – you need to look up the meaning of the word “THEORY”. Theory of evolution is just that – an idea, a guess, someone’s idea of what they think – not Biblical truth. I could go on and on, but I am thankful that there is a group that is working to get the Biblical truth about the Creation out there so that souls can be won for CHRIST!