After posting the notes from the first meeting of the Woodward Breakfast and Book Club, where we discussed the Prologue, I received plenty of interesting, mostly negative feedback from Troy Patch commenters. Notes from Chapter 1 were no different.

In the Wright Brothers prologue by David McCullough, the book we are studying, Leonardo da Vinci said he felt predestined to study flight and mentioned a childhood memory of a kite landing in his cradle. One of my study questions was Destiny: If you believe in God, do you think your activities here on earth are part of His plan for it?

Among other things, I was accused of not knowing the difference between destiny and free will, to which I replied I personally believe in the Westminster Catechism’s take on this subject. I half expected Glenn to post a link for everyone to read, like he had posted the prologue, but he didn’t.

Another Patch commenter reminded me that he was also a Christian (the others do not confess belief in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah) when I said I was tired of conducting small group studies for skeptics and needed to get on with writing the next article.

What is a Skeptic?

  1. a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.
  2. a person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.
  3. a person who doubts the truth of a religion, especially Christianity, or of important elements of it.
  4. (initial capital letterPhilosophy.

a) a member of a philosophical school of ancient Greece, the earliest group of which consisted of Pyrrho and his followers, who maintained that real knowledge of things is impossible.

b) any later thinker who doubts or questions the possibility of real knowledge of any kind.

Category 3 is probably correct for my usage, though some of my critics certainly fit #1 and #2 towards almost anything I write, making me wonder if they fit the classical definition #4. More than likely, though, it’s just personal against me (#2) because of some past writings, or they just like to argue. So is it a waste of my time to try to dialogue with them?

A more modern definition of (#3) would be someone who minimizes the credibility of the Bible, either through ignorance or deliberately. Certainly Mark Twain qualifies as a skeptic. He famously said the Bible “is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.” Really? Where is Twain’s list of the lies?

Or “When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn’t know.” Really? Sounds like modern “open theism”: a theology of a god who is evolving and learning from His mistakes.

I don’t mean to criticize Mark Twain (he wrote some really great books!), but one would think a man so learned would have read some good Christian authors of his day or from previous generations and at least written from a neutral point of view. Unless, of course, his objective was just to tweak the sensibilities of Christians and increase his book sales. Many modern people do the same.

Plenty of people profess the Christian faith, supposedly including tyrants like Hitler (“proven” to be a Christian with many logical fallacies by an atheist apologist quoting Christopher Hitchens). Did Hitler possess true Christian faith, though? This author also proves Stalin and Pol Pot were not atheists, at least to the satisfaction of some of his readers.

Let’s not forget Vladimir Putin, who claims Christian faith, and certain U.S. Presidential candidates who claim faith and behave otherwise (at least in the eyes of their political opponents).

So really, what is a skeptic? Only 28% of Americans in a Gallup poll taken 2 years ago would say the Bible is the Word of God, while 83% in a recent ABC News poll identified as Christian. This Pew Research Center study describes the American religious landscape more completely, including changes from 2007 to 2014. Pew has good solid data; interpretations of it vary and could be the subject of another blog article summarizing much that has already been written.

I believe the loss of the Bible’s credibility is fueled by those who try to discredit the Bible, who try to prove it false, an anachronistic source of lies and superstitions rather than a wonderful guide: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”

Psalm 119:105 is part of a beautiful acrostic poem which is written praising God’s Word. Each stanza of 8 lines begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Surely this fits Mark Twain’s definition of noble poetry. Few professional poets have written acrostic poems; Psalm 119 was written in this manner so it would be possible to memorize.

Inspired and inerrant – the Bible is unique

Reformed theologian R.C. Sproul tells the story of a challenge he had from a friend while in seminary who lost faith in the inerrancy of the Bible by his senior year, making the oft-repeated statement, “The Bible is full of contradictions.” They examined all twenty of his classmate’s contradictions and by the time they were done, they concluded together there was a difference in the accounts, but not a contradiction.

Skeptics of all types would do well to read Christian apologists, who have answered every objection raised by atheists, agnostics etc. over the centuries since the Bible was received by the Church. You are a product of what you read, after all.

Next time you’re traveling, pick up a Bible in the motel room (most are donated by the Gideons, an organization started by Christian business travelers), and start reading it: one of the four gospels (I suggest Matthew or John). After reading about Jesus’ life, the book of Acts describes the rapid growth of the early church. The New Testament letters like Colossians, Ephesians etc. by former persecutor Paul, and letters by the Apostles Peter and John can all be read in 15 minutes or studied carefully for several hours. The Bible has truths that a child can understand and is deep enough for a lifetime of study. Topical verses are usually listed in the front of Gideon Bibles.

Better yet than just reading a Bible, visit a Bible-believing church near you and find fellowship with other Christians who can answer your questions. Some things in it are difficult to understand or hard to accept. The Bible’s overarching theme, however, is the loving Creator of the universe reaching out to the people He has created in His image.

Other articles

In previous blog posts, I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it. The second article in the series described my faith in God which sustained me through both trials.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I introduced the project and published Matthew Chapter 1 . Later I wrote commentary on it; my church background and theological training is in my USA Melting Pot bio.

Dale Murrish writes on historytraveltechnologyreligion and politics for the Troy Patch and USA Melting Pot club. You can help this non-profit club by making your Amazon purchases through the link on the left side of their website. You can also see over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.

Other interesting articles on the USA Melting Pot website have recently been written by Bilal Rathur on his hajj to Saudi Arabia (Part 6) and by Carl Petersen. Thanks to both of them for their contributions.