I like to read church signs, so I’m always attentive to the ones around town. A short time ago, I exited North Park and observed a local church advertising the debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. Most readers have probably noticed that the debate came and went with little effect, though it provided grist for the internet content mill for a couple of days.
When it comes to the great media battle of Science versus Religion, I have noticed that the controversy consistently revolves around Genesis, creation, and the age of the earth. But why is that so? My contention is that the fight over Genesis is the wrong battle.
Many years ago, when I courted the woman who would become my wife, I asked her father to tell me about his favorite portion of the Bible. I was still a relatively young Christian at the time and did not have much mastery of the text. He told me that his favorite part was Paul’s visit to the Areopagus in which the apostle engaged the men of Athens. I played along as if I knew what he was talking about and went home to look it up. The interaction takes place in Acts 17: 22-33. Paul takes note of the “unknown god” of these men and then describes the God he knows does exist. Paul doesn’t base his argument upon the age of the earth, but rather insists that God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead as a form of assurance or proof (depending on the translation) for men such as those in his audience.
What I am suggesting is that while the headline battles over Genesis command all the attention, the real action revolves around the Gospel accounts and the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who hope to diminish or destroy the influence of Christianity in the United States and the world should turn their attention there. Likewise, those who hold Christian beliefs should stand upon that foundation.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, rather than the correctness of a particular interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis, is the fulcrum upon which all of Christianity depends. Either Jesus Christ was the son of God or he was merely a carpenter’s son who unaccountably built the most spectacular martyr’s reputation of all time. It is difficult to explain why his memory persisted with such force while other rabble rousers who died at the hands of the Romans and other historical oppressors were forgotten almost instantly, historically speaking. The resurrection is one way to answer that question.
Gary Habermas has gone so far as to argue that “Even if we take the New Testament as simply an ancient text with excellent credentials, which it surely is at a minimum, there is enough historical evidence to make a very strong case for the resurrection of Christ.” Here we have a debate that really gets at the crux of the matter. The essential question for a world considering the claims of Christianity is not “How old is the earth?,” but rather, “And whom do you say that I am?”