by Amanda Harpold

Poster for The Art and the Darkness. Image via moviegoer.com.

Amanda Harpold is a Ph.D. student at the University of Dayton. Her research interests have included patristic studies, as well as the practical theology of funeral homilies on evangelicals’ understanding of Heaven and Jesus’ second coming. She is currently researching the historiographical impact of “Red Letter Bibles” on the American Protestant Church. She continues to identify as an Evangelical Protestant despite feeling the theological tension associated with the title. For those who are interested, she is not a Young Earth Creationist.

The Ark and the Darkness, a documentary which serves as an apologetic for a global flood, held a special, two-day theater showing in Dayton on March 20 and 21 (an additional showing has been added for April 1st). It was produced and directed by Ralph Strean, who also directed Genesis: Paradise Lost, a 2017 documentary shot in a similar vein to prove the Bible’s account of creation (or, better stated, a specific interpretation of the Bible’s account of creation). 

The Ark and the Darkness presents the “greatest evidence” God has left for a global flood from a group of  Ph.D.-level specialists in multiple research fields – geophysics, microbiology, genetics, paleontology, theology, mechanical engineering, and geology. These men and one woman are associated with Liberty University (Drs. John Baumgardner, Randall Price, and Mark Horstemeyer), Answers in Genesis (Drs. Terry Mortensen, Tim Chaffey, Gabriela Haynes, and Andrew Snelling), and a few independent specialists from creationist organizations (Drs. Charles Jackson, John Sanford, and Andrew Fabich). 

Their explicit goal is to link belief in a global flood with belief in the Bible and, therefore, belief in the eschatological perspective of Jesus’ imminent return. 

The film opens with the narrator, Jerren Lewis, asking the question, “Why don’t people believe?” As I sat in a sold-out theater in Dayton (with the next day sold out as well), it struck me that the producers of this documentary do not think people need the Holy Spirit to believe in God’s revealed Truth as found in Scripture. Rather, they need access to “true science.” Their univocal claims promulgated to a lay crowd with many only completing a high school training created a compelling apologetic. A person in said crowd could easily (and most likely will) walk away thinking it would be unintelligent to believe in anything else! Who needs faith in light of such obvious evidence?

The movie traverses through Genesis 1-11, with arguments by creation specialists supported by well-crafted scenes of pre- and post-flood earth. The film becomes a mix of a Discovery Channel documentary and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. As your eyes take in a fallen world where man now must fear and be feared by animals (an interesting scene occurs with men collaring a smaller dinosaur while also hunting larger dinosaurs with spears), your ears hear how the “real” science of a global flood has been covered up. God has left discoverable and observable evidence, such as genetic entropy, post-flood lifespans’ decay curve, catastrophic plate tectonics creating multiple tsunamis, or collagen in dinosaur fossils. That the science of Antonio Snider-Pellegrini, Mary Schweitzer, and Mark Armitage has been squelched and silenced proves that the evil scientists of secular humanism do not want the “true” science of the flood to come out. 

If that is not explicit enough, the film includes a graphic with the “Holy Bible – King James Version” on one side, and “secular humanism” on the other. For the producers of this film, the choice is one or the other. They drive this dichotomy home with multiple sequences of the ark’s doors closing, with the viewer’s position being safe inside. 

The eschatological bent of the film is rooted in the verse, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:37, NIV). For the specialists and the production team creating the sprawling land shots, “as in the days of Noah” has to do with the sin and corruption occurring in the world; this perspective pans to a crowd already brought into a premillennial dispensation of the coming tribulation. 

As the movie ends with a triumphal shot of the cross being raised high into the air, the screen goes black and John 3:16 comes up. Their proof of a global flood thus becomes the foundation for believing the rest of the Bible, specifically Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and, most importantly, His return. 

I cannot speak to the science they presented or the potential flaws or even falsehoods held within those views. But as an evangelical Christian, I can speak to their use of the Scriptures. Their apologetic technique is to build confidence that the Bible is more scientific than that of the “worldly” scientists. Their specialists repeat again and again that God, in His infinite wisdom, left the greatest evidence of a global flood so that we can be confident in His other promises, namely Jesus’ return. 

And yet, the Bible has already spoken to the observable evidence left on the earth of Jesus’ life: our unity. “ I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23, NIV).