Answering the Skeptic: Is the Bible a Myth?
Recently, I received some e-mail from an avowed skeptic that repeatedly made the following claims:
"Is not the bible simply a book of parables and mythology, written by men for men? Is not the parable simply a short story, never intended to be taken literally? With the events of September the eleventh behind us, is it not reasonable for humanity to take another look at religion and it's contribution to the chaos in the world?"
Such a sentiment is common. So many people today think that belief in the Bible is for the simple-minded of the past whereas we are now "enlightened" through science and discovery. However, in that view lies some unfounded assumptions - making the position as unreasonable as that which they object to.
Assumes Myth With No Good Reason
When a skeptic asserts that the Bible is merely a collection of myths, he must put forth evidence to bolster his claim. But if we are to compare the Biblical texts against other ancient documents, we find a marked difference. The Bible speaks about real people, places and events and dates many of those events within an historical framework. The New Testament especially reads not like myth at all, but like recorded history. In fact, if we use the rules of textual criticism consistently across all ancient documents, we find the Bible to be some of the most reliable historical documents of antiquity.
More importantly, it is evident that the authors of the Bible intended for the readers to take them literally. Luke begins his gospel by explicitly stating, that he has carefully investigated the accounts of Jesus from the eyewitnesses and he seeks to write out "the exact truth about the things you have been taught." To claim that this was intended as a parable or myth is wholly without merit.
Assumes The Evil In The World Is Attributable To Religion
The more prevalent assertion today is that religion is at the root of much of the world's evils. Skeptics will argue that a serious belief in Christianity promotes a type of fanaticism that causes more harm than good. Again this assumes much, but provides little support. Where are the facts? Exactly what evils are we talking about and from where are they drawing your data?
If faced with having to provide proof for the above claim, most skeptics tend to either reassert their assertion or shrink into anecdotal tales of a particular event (such as the Crusades.) However, it is illogical to argue from a particular to a general. Therefore, the skeptic's claim dismissed as irrational.
The One Question
The main problem with both these objections is that the skeptic assumes Christianity to be false a priori. In other words, they are coming from an anti-Christian bias and then trying to muster support for their position. But this is neither fair nor rational. A sincere seeker of truth would look for just that - truth. We all have biases and we all start examining truth-claims leaning in one direction or another. But if we're honest, we will study all positions with an open mind until they have proven themselves to be not true.
The most reasonable stance to take on any position is the one that is true. If the Bible records history accurately and it portrays Jesus' life, death and resurrection as history, then it follows that Christianity is true. If Christianity is true it becomes the only rational position to hold. In rejecting Christianity out of hand, one runs the risk of rejecting the truth - and to reject the truth is the most illogical thing someone could do.