Ten years ago, I never could have imagined myself sitting in a theater and watching myself, on film, explain why I left young-Earth creationism. For most of my life, I believed that the world was created only 6,000 years ago and that humans and dinosaurs walked the earth together on the sixth day of creation. Creationism was the framework of my faith and my worldview. I wrote articles and argued endlessly with anyone willing to listen.
By the time I was approached by the documentary company 137 Films, my views had changed dramatically. I had written about science denial for multiple venues, and I was deeply concerned with creationism’s growing influence in my home state of Kentucky. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to explain the path that led me to reject the doctrine I’d grown up with, but I agreed to meet with producers Amy Ellison, Monica Long Ross, and Clayton Brown to tell my story.
We Believe in Dinosaurs explores how young-Earth creationism has gained a stronghold in the Bible Belt, particularly with the construction of the Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky. Last month, I met Clayton, Monica, and Amy again at the premiere of the film in San Francisco. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the documentary. I knew it would be challenging to portray the frustrating absurdities of creationism, while also demonstrating why the movement is so enticing to the Christian community. To my delight, the film did both.
Seeing my own story writ large on-screen brought back more than just memories. People who have become fluent in a second or third language have told me that they still think in their first, even if they haven’t spoken it in years. I have a similar relationship with young-Earth creationism.
The creationist worldview was an essential part of my upbringing, but my personal investment in the movement surpassed that of everyone I knew. As a teenage evangelist for a young-Earth and fundamentalist doctrine, I learned to see everything as evidence…