The movie Is Genesis History? has made a solid impact in the culture. However, the movie has been through a wild ride on — of all places — Wikipedia. That website has turned into microcosm of the battle between creation and evolution — and the bias against the former — seen in wider culture in the West.
Before I go into the details of this “battle” on Wikipedia, I should give a brief explanation on how the website works. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. If you access the site right now, you too can make edits on whatever topic you desire. While you do not need an account to edit, most “regulars” have editing accounts. Wikipedia also has many policies, guidelines, and procedures, meaning the site has a large online bureaucracy. Thus, the site tends to be strictly regulated — which makes the following story even more astounding.
The Is Genesis History? Wikipedia article was created on August 24, 2017, by an editor by the username of “1990’sguy.” According to this editor’s user page, he is a Christian who appears to accept biblical creation. I think any reasonable observer would see that the original version was fair toward both sides of the debate, including creation, and the article included both positive reviews and negative movie reviews (we have responded to some of those negative reviews elsewhere on our website).
From the first day of the article’s existence, according to its “talk page,” where editors can discuss matters about the article such as disputes, the page was controversial among the Wikipedia community. Most Wikipedia editors tend to be on the liberal end of the spectrum, and when it comes to biblical creation, they believe evolution is undisputed fact and tend to vehemently oppose anything that they view as “legitimizing” biblical creation. Thus, these editors thought the IGH article was too friendly toward creation and sought to bring it in line with their worldview — practically resulting in a heavy pro-evolution slant.
While it was clear the IGH Wikipedia article would be controversial from the beginning, it took just over one week before anybody made big moves. On September 2, 2018, an anti-creationist editor by the username of “Jytdog” nominated the IGH article to be deleted. Wikipedia has a detailed deletion policy, but in essence, if an editor thinks an article should be deleted, the article goes through a process where any Wikipedia editor can give their input on what should happen to the article. While Wikipedia likes to emphasize that editors do not “vote” on such matters, in reality, when editors give their input in deletion discussions (or any other type of discussion), they really are voting.
Thus, a deletion discussion page for the IGH article was created, and it quickly grew to an enormous size as dozens of editors commented. Jytdog tried very hard to argue for deletion, and he displayed his bias against creation and the movie by calling the movie “propaganda” multiple times. He also accused 1990’sguy, the article creator, of pushing his own personal views on Wikipedia, something in violation of the site’s policy on “assuming good faith” of others.
Despite Jytdog’s comments, the Wikipedia community overwhelmingly (by a vote of 22 to 7) decided to keep the IGH article rather than deleting it. Most of the editors voting “keep” were from outside the creationism or IGH topic, while many of the editors already involved in the IGH page voted or leaned “delete.”
While this episode ended well for the IGH article, it was merely a foreshadowing of what was to come.
The next several months were relatively quiet, at least for the article. However, there were some incidents, such as where Jytdog tried to add a voluntary response poll (an unscientific poll that professional pollsters would dismiss as unreliable) to “prove” that IGH had a poor reception. He also thought that the article’s section on the documentary’s reception was somehow too biased toward biblical creation, and he changed the section from one that gave roughly equal space to the positive and negative reviews (with slightly more negative) to one much more negative. Overall, however, the disputes appear to have been relatively small.
Thus far, the IGH Wikipedia article had been the subject of dispute and the victim of bias. However, both of these things went to the next level starting in May 2018.
On May 23, 2018, an editor by the username of “JzG,” who according to his user page has the rank of “administrator” (meaning they have extra powers and are generally looked highly upon by most other Wikipedia editors), decided to remove mention of every single positive review of the documentary (including positive reviews from major, non-creationist sources such as Newsmax and World Magazine) while keeping all the negative ones. Keep in mind that the “reception” section had already been redone by Jytdog, who claimed it was somehow biased in favor of creation. JzG didn’t think that was enough. He also added the common evolutionist claim that biblical creation is “pseudoscience.” In the subsequent months, he made his personal views on creation abundantly clear on the article’s talk page and other forums, such as his edit summary here.
JzG was opposed by 1990’sguy, the article’s creator, along with “Acdixon,” whose user page says he is an administrator and a Christian, and some other editors. Thus, a massive discussion resulted on the article’s talk page.
Interestingly, while Jytdog, 1990’sguy, and other editors worked in the preceding months to find an agreement on how to structure and word the “reception” section. It appears that they did reach a consensus.
However, when the new dispute started, the pro-evolution editors, including Jytdog, completely abandoned the consensus they had all worked months for and sided with JzG, leaving the other editors out in the cold. This is the first example of several that show that there really was no end to the push by editors like Jytdog and JzG to give the IGH article as much of a non-neutral anti-creation bent as possible. Any consensus reached with editors such as 1990’sguy and Acdixon were simply because they stood in the way.
It took over two days for JzG and his allies to realize that in order to be consistent, they also needed to remove all the negative reviews of the movie. He also filed a “request for comment” to settle whether the documentary reviews should be kept or stay. A “request for comment,” or “RfC” for short, is where editors “vote” on how a page should be structured or worded.
However, simply filing an RfC was not enough. The very next day, JzG nominated the IGH article for deletion for the second time. Thus, a deletion discussion and an article improvement discussion started by the same anti-creation editor around the same time were running, and unusual event. In the deletion discussion, JzG and Jytdog repeated their assertions that the article, simply because of its existence, was “creationist propaganda,” ignoring the fact that it had a clear anti-creation bias by now.
While JzG and Jytdog lost the deletion discussion again, they won the RfC, meaning that a substantial portion of the article was deleted. The problem is, roughly the same number of editors argued for keeping the documentary reviews as removing them, meaning the RfC was officially closed as “no consensus.” On Wikipedia, this always means that the status quo is maintained. However, the anti-creation editors managed to twist the rules so that with no clear consensus either way, their new changes had to be accepted rather than respecting the status quo.
If there is a “grand finale” to this story, it is what comes next. The largest and most serious dispute started when JzG saw a mention of the Ark Encounter and decided to describe it as “Ken Ham’s creationist exhibit.” Not only was this not needed, but it is a cut-and-paste of atheist mockery of Answers in Genesis, who falsely depict the organization as being some personal “cult” of Mr. Ham.
An edit war ensued, and Jytdog pounced. While he had little actual involvement in this dispute so far, he made the move to temporarily block 1990’sguy for edit warring — twice. While 1990’sguy did break Wikipedia’s policy prohibiting more than three consecutive reverts once (doing so is not uncommon for experienced Wikipedia editors), Jytdog showed strong enthusiasm in blocking a nuisance to his pro-evolution POV, hence getting him blocked twice for reverting blatantly biased information despite Jytdog not being a main player in the dispute.
But, this was not enough. JzG promptly filed a request to topic ban 1990’sguy, meaning he would be banned from editing any article related to biblical creation. He cast the request in ideological terms and made clear that he thought 1990’sguy should be punished because he opposed the “reality-based” (aka. anti-creation) bias of the other editors.
And if this wasn’t enough, Jytdog then made the same request for Acdixon, the only other editor consistent in challenging the anti-creation bias in the Is Genesis History? Article. Thus, in a matter of days, the conflict on the IGH page exploded, with the anti-creation editors trying to shut up any dissent once and for all.
Fortunately, this censorship attempt failed. Several editors pointed out the extreme bias of the anti-creationist editors. In only a few days, they had pushed their bias to the extreme. For example, they had supported an introduction paragraph that, rather than properly introducing the documentary, tried to “debunk” and argue against biblical creation using “evidences” that had nothing to do with the movie. They pointed out the JzG had made a serious talk page proposal to label biblical creation as “fraudulent.” They noted another editor’s labeling biblical creation as “incorrect,” using Wikipedia’s voice. They noted other examples of bias.
They also pointed out that 1990’sguy and Acdixon were constructive editors on topics related to creation, so it would be a loss to topic ban them.
Ultimately, while many “friends” of Jytdog and JzG “voted” to topic ban the two editors, the attempts failed because many other editors opposed and pointed out the other side’s bias. The discussion on 1990’sguy was closed as “no consensus,” though there are more “oppose” votes, and the discussion on Acdixon was withdrawn shortly afterward.
Overall, Is Genesis History? has had a solid impact on the culture, but it has seen a wild ride on Wikipedia. Much of the bias remains on the Wikipedia page, despite the efforts of a small number of editors sympathetic toward biblical creation. This can only change if more objective and fair-minded people choose to get involved with Wikipedia.
Watch this interview with Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger explaining how the online service was hijacked by radical leftists, and how humanity can fight back: