Dr. Gordon Wilson

Gordon WilsonNATURE WAS DESIGNED BY GOD

Helen Todd: I am excited to share some good news - we will soon have world class God-centered nature docuseries that will rival anything produced by Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. Doctor Gordon Wilson is an expert on environmental science and biology with a passion to honor God through this science. He is an author, a Senior Fellow of Natural History at New Saint Andrews College, and the host and narrator of the upcoming docuseries “The Riot and the Dance”. These docuseries have received endorsements from the likes of Kanye West, Kirk Camron and the creator of the series Chosen, Dallas Jenkins. In this episode, I talk with Dr. Wilson about how The Riot and the Dance is disrupting the industry of nature documentaries, why your entire family will absolutely love every episode and how you can become an investor in this enterprise.

Gordon Wilson: And as I continue to learn, the more I was convinced of scientific reasons why evolution just doesn't add up. I don't know how anybody who really understands the data can think that all the time even if you grant them millions and millions of years, and mutation, natural selection, no way could it build the complexities that we see out there. I love living things. I love all kinds of living things. And for me to be able to talk about them and then give God the glory for his masterpieces, that is something I can't put a price tag on.

Helen Todd: My guest today is a rare breed. He is a brilliant scientist who is a passionate follower of Christ. He is a biologist who sees nature as the mesmerizing combination of the riot and the dance. He is person who traces the fingerprint of God in every creature and every aspect of creation. Dr. Gordon Wilson is an expert on Environmental Science and Biology and has a passion to honor God through this science. He's an author, a senior fellow of natural history at New Saint Andrews College and the host and narrator of the upcoming docuseries "The Riot and the Dance." These docuseries have received endorsements from celebrities like Kanye West, Kirk Cameron, the creator of the series "Chosen” Dallas Jenkins.

In this episode, we discussed with Dr. Wilson how "The Riot and the Dance" is disrupting the industry of nature documentaries. Why your entire family will absolutely love every episode and how you can become an investor in this enterprise and not only support this project but actually making money helping to produce it.

I'm your host Helen Todd and I hope you enjoy this episode of the Limitless Spirit podcast.

Well, Dr. Wilson thank you so much for being on the Limitless Spirit podcast. I am excited to talk to you about the upcoming nature docuseries that you're hosting, the "Riot and the Dance." But this is not the first movie that you're releasing so to speak. So "The Riot and the Dance" is actually a full feature movie that was released a couple of years ago. Is that correct?

Dr. Wilson: Yes. There were 2. Both are about an hour and a half long. "The Riot in the Dance: Earth" was released in 2018 and "The Riot in the Dance: Water" was released in 2020 but right when Covid hit. And that sort of messed up. We had to change horses midstream. As far as changing streaming services and that entire but now Angel Studio wants to do a TV series of "The Riot and the Dance."

Helen: I'm very intrigued by the title, "The Riot and the Dance". And my understanding is it's based on the book that you wrote. And so, tell me what's behind this title.

Dr. Wilson: The book is a textbook on Biology, a very unusual title for a Biology textbook. The subtitle says Foundational Biology. The reason I named it that is I wanted to definitely convey this idea that it's not a typical textbook. "The Riot and the Dance" refers to 2 aspects of creation since humanity fell in Genesis. We are starting off with Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, that didn't just separate us from God. As Romans 8 says, "All creation groans. All creation is subjected to futility." And we see that. Every nature documentary you see is a riot, and literally a riot. Some of the appeal for those that like action like to see the predator-prey interactions of lions taking down wildebeests. Some people don't like that but it's very adversarial. There's a lot of riot in nature. We see that particularly in predator-prey relationships, also parasites. We see it not only in living things but just in natural disasters. But to keep it with the biology it's just parasite-host, predator-prey, pathogens, germs, diseases. All of that is riot.

But it's also even apart from the curse, apart from the fall; we see that nature is not tame. Nature is wild. Plants are not planted in rows. I mean, if you go to a forest the beauty of the wilderness is partly because it's not groomed. It's not in neat rows. We like that chaotic placement of plants and trees because it gives that sense of wildness. And that is a better aspect, not an aspect of the riot that's cursed. And so even on the molecular level, you go down to the cell and you've got diffusion and osmosis. It looks very chaotic and riotous.

But then at the other side, the dance, we see the beautifully choreographed dance of nature that God has created. He created all of the systems in our bodies. It's a dance. Mitosis, Meiosis, all of the different cycles that you learn in biology class. It's a dance. Even in nature, there's a dance. In terms of all the nutrients, cycling, the life cycles, the courtship dances, literally dance. So, there are a lot of parts of creation that echo the beauty and the diversity and the complexity of nature that you can still see shining through the riot. That still declares the glory is of God. We don't assume it's all unblemished. We know that the riot has blemished it since the fall but it's still clear enough that men are without excuse because it's obviously designed. It's obviously created.

So, that's sort of what's behind the name. And I named my textbook that. I also explained much more clearly in the introduction. I answered your question in several pages in the introduction. But also, my nephew, who was the producer-director of the first film, he liked the title of my textbook so he thought it would be good for the nature documentaries too.

Helen: I don't blame him. It's an extremely poetic title for a science book. I'm still trying to get over the thought that you gave me how deeply not just humanity, but nature was impacted by original sin. So, for some reason, I never thought about that. So, God did not design the predatorial relationship between animals?

Dr. Wilson: Well, yes and no. God knew. And this gets theological, but in Genesis 1:29 says, "Then God said I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole Earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food and to all the beasts of the Earth and all the birds in the air and all the creatures that move on the ground, everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green plant for food. And it was so..." So, before the fall, everybody was a vegetarian. And that's sort of hard for us to compute. That's hard for us to get our head around because there are certain things that we think have to be predators. No, they don't have to be predators.

In Isaiah 11, it talks about the lion lying down the lamb. That the lion will eat straw like an ox, and we see this redemption. So, in the end, there's not going to be those adversarial relationships. I think the fall was in one sense God knew. It says that "The lamb was slain before the foundations of the earth." And so, God knew that the fall was going to happen and so He built into the creatures. I think to put it simply; my perspective is that He built into all the creatures, especially those creatures that were going to become predators and parasites. All of these genetics were necessary to allow them to make a life in a fallen world. So, that's when the adversarial relationship started is when the fall happened then God opened up the menu and so animals started eating one another. And even the herbivores that remained herbivores still had to have defensive mechanisms. And so, all of the things that we see as defense against predators, whether its camouflage or all sorts of things may have been enhanced after the fall. I don't think necessarily that camouflage had to have only existed after the fall. I think that it's neat that things blend into their surroundings.

Helen: You don't think it's a defensive measure? It's just fun?

Dr. Wilson: It could be used as a defensive or a protective measure, but it doesn't have to be only for that use. Something could have cool camouflage before anything was trying to eat it. I don't think animals necessarily train. Some changed pretty drastically with regard to their behavior and their hunting instinct and their digestion. But a lot of things, I think, would've been recognizable as the same animal. They just were completely benign in their ecological relationships.

Helen: Very cool! Well, I have so many questions now.

Dr. Wilson: Yes. We're getting into deep waters here. We could spend a long time on that.

Helen: Deep waters, yes. So, before we get into deeper waters about the docuseries, I find it very intriguing. I mean maybe you are the first scientist that I met who is a Christian. A biologist for sure who is a Christian. And I find this extremely intriguing and it's so hard. I think it's hard, even through your studies. Was it challenging for you to preserve your faith through studying Biology in a university?

Dr. Wilson: You know, it was a Secular University. My undergrad and my Master's were at the University of Idaho. And as long as you did your work, I took it upon myself to learn evolution not because I agreed with it but because I wanted my professors. I wasn't going to be a problem child in class. I wasn't going to be always with my hand raised going, "I don't agree. I don't agree." I wanted them to know that I was going to be a biology student. I wanted them to know that I was going to learn the consensus view. And I wanted to show them that I understood the consensus view. But that I was still going to retain my doubt, my big doubts on the theory of evolution. And as I continued to learn, the more I was convinced, not for any emotional reasons but rather scientific reasons why evolution just doesn't add up. It looks pretty good superficially. But the more I dug down and looked at the details, I realized that it was a bankrupt theory. I strongly hold that.

You know back when I was an undergrad, I was a little more hesitant. I was still a firm believer, but I wasn't going to go out guns blazing. Now, I've learned enough biology that now I just think I don't know how anybody who really understands the data can think that all the time, even if you grant them millions and millions of years and mutation, natural selection, no way could it build the complexities that we see out there. You know natural selection is a thing and it does a few little minor changes, but it certainly can't build organisms from the ground up.

But that said, "The Riot and the Dance" is not meant to be an apologetic movie like some of the intelligent design movies. We know apologetics is that we're trying to defend, show that this can't happen except through the agency of God. But that's not our purpose. I think those are good and I think that I'd like apologetics. I will give talks on creation, evolution all the time. But this "The Riot and the Dance" is meant to be more of a celebration. We're mostly reaching out to Christians who already believe God made it and we want them to just finally get some relief because they may love nature shows but for the last several decades, I mean probably over 50 years of nature documentaries, have been exclusively secular. No mention of God. That is amazing stuff that we are filming, and you are viewing happened by chance, time, and natural selection.

I think a lot of people are fed up with it. I was fed up with it. And it's wonderful to do a show that is completely devoted to showcasing the glories and complexities and the beauty, diversity of nature and give all of the credit to God.

Helen: I agree with you. I personally am extremely excited. I have not yet seen the original full-feature movie. But then I'm going to. I know that it is available on Amazon. And we're going to post a link to it in the show notes but I'm super excited about these docuseries.

You chose an interesting way, you and the other creators of these docuseries to make it happen. We are taking the route of crowd funding kind of replicating what the series chosen. Can you tell me why you chose this route?

Dr. Wilson: Well, I'm not so much in charge of that aspect of it. I know that often the Christian community is just sort of at the mercy of what people in Hollywood want to do and what people in Hollywood feed us. And things are getting more and more polarized in terms of Christian, anti-Christian. Going back several decades ago what we called family values was a thing but now the entire Judeo-Christian basis for that has eroded away. And now we understand that it's the city of God or the City of Man. There's not a whole lot of middle ground. There's hardly any middle ground. And we need to realize that if we want good God-honoring shows on TV, we have to do it. We can't just expect Hollywood to do a market analysis and go, "Oh, we need to make the Christians a doggie biscuit. And feed it to them every so often to keep that demographic happy." We need to step outside like the chosen did and do our own shows without being beholding to the scruples of Hollywood.

And the crowd funding, we don't want it to be just simply a donation. The nice thing about what we're trying to do here is that if this gets off the ground these are investments. So, if people give 100, 200, or whatever, if this series becomes profitable, the producers will not take any cut until all of the investors are paid 120% of their investment. So, let's say you invest $100, it might be that everything, when you can invest more than you're willing to lose. There's always a risk. But if it goes well and we start getting profits then if you invested 100, you'll get 120 back, if it's profitable.

Helen: I love this concept. I mean, frankly, I would be happy just to donate to the project because I really believe in this, and I think it's going to make an awesome impact. But that's even better so we will definitely post a link to this crowd funding page for our listeners and I'm sure there will be those that are wanting to support this and invest into something good. So, that is very exciting.

So, let's talk more about what people should expect from it. In what way the docuseries are going to be different from the full feature movie?

Dr. Wilson: Well, for one we wanted to make them more bite size. So, instead of a full-length, hour and a half film, these will be at most of I think 30 minutes at most. I think 25, 30 maybe even less. So, short episodes. Hopefully, the 1st season will be 8-10 episodes. If God keeps blessing this, we'll keep on going. I love living things. I love all kinds of living things. And for me to be able to talk about them either generally or specifically and then give God the glory for his masterpieces, that is something I can't put a price tag on. That's something I'd love to do. And that's why I love being at a Christian College where it's not heresy to say God did this. At a secular institution if you did that, things would hit the fan pretty quickly.

Helen: So, what is your part in the creative process? Do you help with the content of each episode or do you just narrate it?

Dr. Wilson: Well, I help with the content. When we go on a trip, we try to film what we can. And then my nephew does the writing of the script. It's not really heavy biology. He can do research. And once it's been cut and edited down to a particular sequence of scenes, then he does this narration and then I go in and do the voiceover. When we're in the field, I'll sometimes say, "Let's look at this creature." I have certain animals that I really like and so going to the sonoran desert and looking for reptiles, that definitely was the producers' and the director's effort to play to my hand because they know that I love reptiles.

Helen: Well, this is very interesting. So, you love reptiles.

Dr. Wilson: I like it all but that's my thing.

Helen: Let's try to figure out why you like them because I just don't see them as lovable creatures. And so obviously in these docuseries, you're going to try to make us fall in love with these creatures. So, why should we?

Dr. Wilson: The good question, a very good question. The bible says you might think, "Well, no reptiles were more twisted after the fall than everything cute fuzzy animals." But at the end of Genesis 1, it says, "God saw all that he had made and it was very good." So, that's God's self-evaluation of His creation. And we like to make our own evaluations saying, "Well, I like these creatures, but God, I don't know why you made that creature. It's ugly or scaly or bizarre." I think we have a very truncated view of what is, I understand mammals are furry and there's cuteness to mammals. But God has, He paints in many genres. His sculptures don't just fit our narrow or tidy sense of aesthetics. He works in all sorts of mediums. And He makes all sorts of things whether it's beautiful or delicate or strong and majestic or scaly or furry or feathery or slimy.

And what I want to do, I don't expect all of the audience to just immediately fall in love with toads. But what I want to do is be the PR man. That says, these creatures aren't as grotesque but there are some things that are just bizarre, and I think we just need to change our attitudes. Again, if it's a poisonous snake, I don't expect people to start doing snake handling. I just want them to don't hate things automatically. If it's dangerous, yes, be careful and don't mess with it. But if it's harmless, I want a lot of people to realize that a lot of snakes, most snakes in this country are harmless. It's unfortunate that they have such a bad reputation simply because they may be legless, and a few poisonous ones or venomous ones are bad guys or not necessarily bad guys but are dangerous. I don't want all the rest to suffer because of a few cousins that are dangerous.

Helen: They're bad apples.

Dr. Wilson: Yes. A few dangerous ones and it ruins the reputation of all of them. There are just too many. There's too much persecution of animals that just don't fit our sense of aesthetics. Even Darwin called the marine iguana on the Galapagos Islands the "Imps of Darkness." And I think even that Victorian age had a certain sense of what is good. And the fact that he called it an Imp of Darkness showed that he had a bias there that I would have corrected.

So, I have 4 pet snakes in my lab right behind me. And people who are a little squeamish of snakes, I get the snakes out and show them how lovely they are and try to break the ice a little bit. And get rid of that prejudice.

Helen: Well, I can't say that I have fallen in love yet but maybe I will give them a better chance.

Dr. Wilson: Yes. Helen, I have a 12-step program for you.

Helen: Okay. I will enroll. I'm very open-minded.

Dr. Wilson: Great!

Helen: Well, I have to ask this question. Nature was designed by God in the most perfect way. Do you think people can impact nature in a significant way through life negatively?

Dr. Wilson: Yes. I mean, we've done a lot. Because of our sinfulness and greed, we've done a lot of damage. I'm reading a U.S. history series book now and it's just, we learn from our mistakes by damaging or polluting the air, polluting the water, hunting things to almost extinction or all the way into extinction. Sometimes it's inadvertent. We're just doing our own thing. We're just setting up shop and something inadvertently gets thrown under the bus. And we go, "Oops! Oops! That was bad." But sometimes we target it. Sometimes it's just collateral damage. We're not trying to kill animals off. It's just habitat destruction. It kills them off anyway. Or we're targeting them like the buffalo or the beaver or the sea otter or the snowy egret or whatever. And we're doing it to fill our coffers with money. We want wealth and sometimes just flat greed that causes certain animals to go into extinction or on the brink of extinction. And I think that's a book that I want to recommend.

This is the other book I wrote, "A Different Shade of Green". It's "A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the Dominion Mandate". So, what I'm trying to do here in this book is give a biblical understanding of how we are to care for God's creation.

Helen: Because environmentalism has become such a political issue.

Dr. Wilson: Yes, it's very political and this is trying to steer a course that's biblical. Yes, there's wacko liberal progressive, environmentalism which I'm against. But then there's a reaction against that which is falling off the other side of the boat where you say, "Oh, God gave it to us and we can do with what we want, and if things go extinct, oh well." So, I want to avoid both extremes there, of drinking the Kool-Aid of the secular environmental movement as well as just this Randy redneck attitude of, "Who cares. The world is ours and who cares what happens." So, that's what this book is for and it's not an academics log. It's meant to be very accessible and easy to read. I'm trying to make it enjoyable to read. And it's not that thick.

Helen: Well, we'll post a link to this too because I do believe that this is a very important subject. So, to wrap up our conversation, has the filming already started for the docuseries or you're waiting to raise the funds?

Dr. Wilson: Well, we're both. We're waiting to raise hopefully hit the million-dollar mark in a week, Lord willing. And that will raise a good chunk to starting the series. But we've already filmed in Africa, in Kenya and hopefully, we have, Lord willing, enough for 1 episode if not. I mean if we're lucky maybe 2 or 1 plus episodes that we've already filmed.

Helen: Well, and my last question is, how close are you to that million-dollar mark?

Dr. Wilson: We are close. We are at almost $870,000. So, we've got a little over $130,000 to go.

Helen: Wow. That's very doable. And you hope to raise that in 1 week?

Dr. Wilson: Yes. But the total time was a month, thirty days. And so, I think at the rate we're going right now it'll be close. But we have seven days left and 130 days to go. But we raised $800 and almost $870,000 in the 1st 3 or 4 weeks.

Helen: Well, that is pretty fantastic! And my prayers are with you and this project. I do believe that it's much needed. I'm super excited about that. And I think I have a few books on my list to buy now and the movie. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Wilson: Thank you, Helen. It's delightful to chat with you and I hope you enjoy the 1st 2 episodes.

Helen: I may check into your reptile rehab, the 12-step program.

Dr. Wilson: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Dr. Gordon's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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