God Saw that it Was Good – Video Series Review

God Saw That it Was Good - video screenshot of planet earth
God Saw that it Was Good – video title page

The God Saw that it was Good series began life as a set of four images representing the themes of coasts, sky, trees and life each with a short audio reflection.  They were created (with the support of a grant from JRI) by our former chair, Dr Dave Gregory and the Baptist Union Environment Network (BUEN), for display at the Baptist Union Assembly in 2022. The installations were a success and subsequently went on tour around a number of venues in the UK.

Now, building on that success, Dr Dave and BUEN have teamed up with the Fuelcast and ECLAS (Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science) to create four longer video reflections on these themes. The videos can be viewed on their own dedicated site here.

The videos range from just over twenty minutes (Coast) to about thirty minutes in length (Life) and the first thing that struck me as I watched them was their high production values. They intersperse sections with Dave speaking to camera, in a manner that reminded me a little of Dr Brian Cox, with high quality video stock footage and a tasteful soundtrack that matched well with the images and words to enhance their impact without being unduly melodramatic.

Each video is broken down into sub-sections with titles like Wonder, Play, Deeper, Communion and Reflection. They mark shifts in the emphasis of each video but the changes feel seamless. Key ideas like the interconnectedness of all creation, including our own human lives, the sense of wonder we feel in surveying the world around us and the amazing diversity and creativity of the natural world (characterised as playfulness), run throughout the narrative. A great deal of scientific insight is packed into each video, from the chemicals that lead to leaves taking on their Autumn colours to the role of dimethyl sulphide “the smell of the seaside” in cloud formation. The final section of each video contains more overt scriptural/theological reflection, but this does not feel tacked on, rather it flows out of the theistic, and specifically Christian way of thinking about creation which runs throughout the films.

I found this to be one of the great strengths of these videos. The science is not selectively mined for apologetic purposes nor twisted to fit a particular conception of how certain Bible passages should be understood. Rather, science and the Bible are brought side by side, the book of God’s Word and the book of God’s works, to invite us to consider a new way of seeing the world around us.

A good example of this is the metaphor of communion to describe the interconnectedness of life in a forest including the wonderful image of the Wood Wide Web (mycorrhizal network) of fungi connecting and sharing nutrients between trees, even of different species and the fungi that form the network itself to the benefit of all. Similarly, the prominent metaphor of playfulness is used to describe the creativity of scientific inquiry, the working of natural systems like the weather and ocean currents and the astonishing diversity of life emerging through evolution in response to the many challenges of life. It is an image which calls to mind the theophany in Job and passages like Isaiah 55:12 and Psalm 96:11-12, of a diverse creation revelling in being in the presence of the Creator God.

The goal of the series is, as Dr Dave says in the introduction, to invite viewers to “come join the journey, looking at our world and perhaps beyond.” Besides simply watching these on your own, I can see that they could have value in church house groups – there is an accompanying study guide here – and they may also be something that you could share with friends who you think might be receptive to their message. Of course fundamentalists will reject much of the science and those who have already decided to reject the possibility of God will not be convinced, but viewers who accept the truths of science and hold a theistic world view (or who are at least open to that possibility) will find this short series immensely rewarding.

Reviewed by Rev James Watterson, JRI operations manager