SKEPTICS ANSWERED

SKEPTICS ANSWERED by D. James Kennedy. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers Inc., 1997. 203 pages. Hardcover; $18.99.

 Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has written more than thirty books, including Why I Believe, Evangelism Explosion, and What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? Kennedy earned a doctorate in Skeptics Answered:comparative religions at New York University.

In this book, Kennedy attempts to answer common questions put forth by skeptics: “Why should I believe the Bibleóisn’t it just a bunch of myths?” (pp.19ñ30), “How do we know Jesus really lived?” (pp.71ñ8), “Why do Christians insist Jesus is the only way to God?” (pp.101ñ10), and “If God is good and all-powerful, why does evil exist?” (pp.111ñ36).

This last question also covers human suffering as a result of natural catastrophes. Kennedy comments:

All of these terrible events ultimately are a consequence of human sin as well. In the beginning, God’s creation was good. Humankind lived in paradise, but Adam and Eve traded it all away in a poor exchange with the devil. They were expelled from paradise. Furthermore, a curse is manifest in nature, which is now “red in tooth and claw,” to quote Alfred Tennyson, but it wasn’t that way in the beginning, and it won’t be that way later when Christ returns (Rom. 8:21ñ22). Meanwhile, we live on a planet that writhes under God’s curse (p.133).

Kennedy tackles the most difficult questions put forth by skeptics with solid answers. However, the best strength of this book may be the revealing quotes from the skeptics themselves: Carl Sagan (p.60), John Stuart Mill (p.92), Thomas Huxley (pp.93ñ4), H.G. Wells (p.95), H.L. Mencken (p.96), Bernard Russell (p.138), Robert Ingersoll (p.151), and Julian Huxley (p.154).

For instance, Kennedy quotes Will Durant concerning Christ. Durant writes:

The contradictions [in the gospels] are of minutiae, not substance; in essentials the synoptic gospels agree remarkably well, and form a consistent portrait of Christ. In the enthusiasm of its discoveries Higher Criticism has applied to the New Testament tests of authenticity so severe that by them a hundred ancient worthiesóe.g., Hammurabi, David, Socratesówould fade into legend (p.78).

Durant was a historian whom skeptics respected. In fact, he received the 1976 Humanist Pioneer Award. Yet he admitted what most skeptics today would deny. Many of the quotes in Skeptics Answered are excellent and well documented with primary sources. However, this strong point does have some weak spots. For instance, Kennedy fails to give any source but attributes the following quote to Voltaire: “O Christ, O Lord Jesus I must die abandoned by God and man” (p.145). John George is author of They Never Said It! and an expert on fake quotes. Concerning this quote he comments: “Voltaire died rather peacefully and, indeed, when asked `Do you recognize the divinity of Jesus Christ?’ the life-long deist replied: `In name of God, let me die in peace.'” George cites two sources: Jonathan Green, Famous Last Words (London: Omnibus Press, 1979), p.203; and Joseph McCabe, Biographical Dictionary of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Freethinkers (Girard; KS: Haldeman-Julius, 1945).

Also Kennedy relates the story told about “a man in 1895 who survived a day and a half in a whale’s belly” (p. 33). However, Edward B. Davis, professor of science and history at Messiah College, Pennsylvania, completely exposed this story as a tall tale in his article, “A Whale of a Tale: Fundamentalist Fish Stories,” (PSCF, Vol. 43, no. 4 [December 1991]: 224ñ35).

Skeptics Answered is a good book for those who want short, easy-to-understand answers to difficult questions. I used the study guide in the back of the book for a lesson series with my ten- and eleven-year-old sons. They found it very interesting. Skeptics Answered has a few bad quotes, but the vast majority of the book equips Christians with intelligent answers for the questions skeptics may ask.

Reviewed by Everette Hatcher III, P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221.

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