notes on “Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus”

First: the good

I like the looks

The aesthetic is good. It looks like a film about ancient Egypt and the Bible should look. It’s edited well, it’s not too choppy, and while it has an agenda you aren’t clobbered over the head with it.

The film isn’t crazy dramatic

Tim Mahoney, while he seems like he wants to know the truth he is invested in it being of a certain flavor, and that’s okay as long as a viewer keeps that in mind.

Lack of smearing

The film doesn’t smear the researchers whose stance it is opposing. While you know that the film is headed a particular direction the filmmaker does include appearances by scientists who hold the opposite opinion and doesn’t make them out to be devils. He DOES make a point, in the credits, to list publications by researchers he agrees with and doesn’t list publications by researchers who hold the opposite line. I’ll say more about the credits below.

The not so good

Kevin Sorbo

A big red flag went up for me at the very beginning when I saw that Kevin Sorbo was the narrator. I think Sorbo did a fine job with the narration however he is not a disinterested personality. He is a Christian who has stated in interviews that “Hollywood” is anti-Christian. I’m okay with him having that opinion, but it’s something I keep in mind when I see his name on a project.

As a sidenote, at last years American Atheists convention Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” did a live performance of a Christian movie called “God’s Not Dead” wherein Sorbo plays an atheist professor shown up by a student.

The science

I am going to do some light research on the argument the film furthers, that the accepted chronology of ancient Egypt is off by centuries and if adjusted it will support the stories of the Bible. Science works through refining our models of reality based on experimentation and more experimentation. And while science can get things wrong, and indeed people have made names by overturning accepted science, the chances that a BIG theory that is basic to an entire branch of a science like archeology is off by orders of magnitude is highly unlikely.

Is it a huge coverup??!!

At the end of the film the filmmaker makes a subdued reference to a conspiracy (he doesn’t use that word). I don’t have the quote in front of me but it’s something along the lines of why are the majority of the scientists holding to this line and refusing to consider my evidence?

We see hints of this thinking throughout the film where a theory is proposed and then they shoot to a short take of a mainstream researcher saying something like there’s no evidence for that, as if they are just tossing it aside.

If they are tossing it aside (and with editing technology I don’t know that they are) it could be because there is a conspiracy of almost all the researchers in a field to disavow any evidence that upsets them, or because the evidence they do have doesn’t lead them to accept evidence to the contrary gathered by outsiders with an agenda.

Oh, and we almost forgot the Red Sea

The story of the Red Sea, offered up in a tiny blurb AFTER the credits. This little bit of bullshittery actually pissed me off. The film spends almost two hours furthering the idea that the Bible story of Joseph and his coat, and the Hebrews’ bondage in Egypt COULD be verified if we just completely change our understanding of the chronology of ancient Egypt and the ancient world, to fit it. Okay, I’m not throwing my money at you yet but I’m following along so far.

Then, AFTER the credits, when many of the filmgoers are assumed to have already filed out, Kevin Sorbo says something to the effect of Oh and there’s the whole story of the Hebrews crossing a sea and wandering in a wilderness for decades and there’s no evidence for that. Stop, what? Fuck this.

We’ve been hammered with the message Look at the evidence, and maybe you’ll believe our fantastic story for two hours and then at the end, AFTER a lot of people won’t be watching anyway, they add, Oh and there’s no evidence for some of the most dramatic parts of our story.

It was just listening to another preacher and realizing you’re being fed a load.

Final personal note

Whether or not sacred texts include real people and real events is not something I spend a lot of time on. I have atheist friends who love to argue “whether or not Jesus REALLY existed” or if this or that story is true. To me, even IF Jesus existed, that still doesn’t mean he was a divine being. If the Hebrews were really in Egypt it still doesn’t mean that a god led them out.

I do find this stuff interesting, but not really life changing. I do appreciate it though, because it was entertaining and I have some interesting stuff to look into now.