Answers to Tough Questions
Answers to Tough Questions Skeptics Ask About The Christian Faith
By Josh McDowell and Don Stewart
[NOTE: The following review appeared in the July/August 1982 issue
of The American Rationalist.
I am puzzled by this book. Is it a sincere work, faulted by the
fact that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, with McDowell
showing only a little knowledge? The other possibility is that
the work is a knowingly devious, lying production, of the "anything
for the greater glory of God" variety. In either case, anyone
with more than a rudimentary knowledge of logic, reasoning, history,
science, and the Bible can make mincemeat of this book. It is
full of half-truths, faulty and incomplete research, logical non-sequitors,
faulty reasoning and outright misinterpretation of history and
I suppose that some examples are needed. The very first answer
betrays the shallow thinking of the authors. The question is
"What makes the Bible so special?" In other words,
why treat it with any special respect? The answer is that 1)
the Bible claims to be God's word, 2) We have proof of this because,
first the Bible says its God's word, and, second, because there
is a unity to the Bible which could not occur among its 40 authors
and 1,000 year period of composition unless God were supervising
it. In reply, we can point out, first, the _fact_ that something
claims to be something is absolutely nothing in the way of proof
of that claim. Secondly, the Bible is not a unity. There are
many places which contradict each other. Thirdly, any appearance
of unity comes from the fact that _men_ selected which books
should be included in the canon of the Old Testament, and New
Testament. They left out as uninspired all of those books which
contradicted the majority of other books. In other words, the
Bible was edited by men to make it _appear_ to have a unity.
Why doesn't McDowell read some of the books which were left out
of the Old and New Testament, to see if _they_ also appear
to give unity. Those left-out books appear in the Apocrypha and
Pseudo-epigrapha of the Bible. They are available in any large
There are errors in almost every question's answer. The date
of Luke's composition is erroneously stated to be before Acts,
and it is placed at about 50-60 A.D. This is a good forty years
too early, and it was not written before Acts. The statement
is made in the same answer that "The life of Jesus was written
by eyewitnesses or people who recorded firsthand testimony."
The first of these statements is absolutely false. There is
not one single part of the N.T. which was written about Jesus
by an eyewitness. The earliest part of the N.T. is the Epistles
of Paul, written about 60 A.D. Paul never saw Jesus while he
was alive. We have no idea who Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
were, except that they were _not_ disciples of Jesus'. No
one can prove that there is any firsthand testimony either. Testimony
which is told to one person by another becomes _secondhand_
testimony by definition. The false statement is made that Matthew
was an eyewitness (p 10), although not a scrap of evidence is
offered to back up this statement.
This book is also a giant step backwards in biblical scholarship.
Most of the knowledge gained during the past 100 years is dismissed
as erroneous. The existence of the "Q" document, the
idea that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch, the dates
of the N.T., the passage in Josephus (now almost unanimously agreed
to be a forgery about Jesus), etc. are all dismissed as errors,
or held to be genuine, _whichever is the direct opposite of
The answer to the question about whether Jesus was an historical
person or not is a masterpiece of lies, half-truths and outright
errors. I don't think I have ever seen so much deception packed
into two pages. The Josephus forgery is accepted as genuine,
with the nonsensical statement that even if it isn't genuine,
it still refers to Jesus as historical. Damn it, if the passage
is a forgery, then _anything_ it says about Jesus is worthless!
I guess that fundamentalists have _no_ brains at all. The
skimpy (probably forged) references in three other non-biblical
writings (which are usually used as evidence that Jesus was _not_
historical) are presented as ample evidence that he _was_
historical. What a travesty of scholarship! The only sources
that McDowell quotes at the end of his chapters are mostly worthless
fundamentalist works, including his own Evidence That Demands
I could go on and on, but the task is both boring and unprofitable.
There is only one chapter in the book which is at all reasonable.
That is the one on the Shroud of Turin. Although a weak case
is presented _against_ the authenticity of the Shroud (a
much stronger one could be presented if McDowell were familiar
with the literature on the subject), at least he seems to be on
the _same_ side as the evidence this time. When Christians
have to stoop to lying, deception and outright ignorance of the
sources to present their case, they are only fooling the fools.
The more intelligent among the readers are only driven further
away from this "pack of lies" that calls itself a religion.
Gordon Stein, Ph.D.
Copyright> © 1995 Internet Infidels
Electronic Reproduction Permission.