Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What Does Strobel Read?

I ran across a review of Lee Strobel's The Case for the Real Jesus in which the reviewer wrote "It is clear that [Strobel] has read their books, heard their arguments, and has given them their say. It got me to wondering and I posted the following comment:

I am not convinced that Lee Strobel really does read the skeptics that he purports to refute and he certainly does not let them have their say. I could easily believe that he simply works from questions that are scripted by the experts he interviews. As an agnostic, I can assure you that any self-respecting skeptic could come up with much more challenging questions than Strobel does.

In The Case for the Real Jesus, I was particularly struck by the relationship between the response to Challenge #4, "Christianity's Beliefs were Borrowed from Pagan Religions," and the response to Challenge #5, "Jesus Was an Impostor Who Failed to Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies." The response to the former was that the events in the Gospels must have really happened because they have no meaningful parallels in the beliefs of the pagan religions. On the other hand, the response to the latter was that Jesus must be the Messiah because the Old Testament contains so many parallels to Jesus life. I think any skeptic worth his salt would have asked both experts whether it was possible that the stories about Jesus were simply “borrowed” from the Old Testament rather than pagan religions. The fact that Strobel did not ask this makes me wonder how much skeptical literature he has actually read because I have seen both John Shelby Spong and Dominic Crossan make that exact point.

In The Case for a Creator, I am convinced that Strobel’s questions were scripted by his experts from “The Discover Institute.” I have read many of the transcripts from Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District and I know what kind of questions real challengers asked when they got to cross-examine those same experts (at least the ones who did not withdraw from the case before trial).

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