Do atheists and agnostics actually have open minds to the evidence? Or, are atheists and agnostics too prejudice to consider evidence for God even ex-skeptics turned believers? If a skeptic would be convinced and converted to believe, would he not have to consider the reasoning of those who have converted to believe?
The very admission of so many agnostics to be atheist (or atheists to be agnostic) does in itself show confusion. Agnostic atheists have already made up their minds. Claiming to not know, they already lean toward or choose atheism over theism. The agnostic is not supposed to know for certain, but strangely, most have already chosen a position.
They are admittedly agnostic concerning God. Agnostic comes from the Greek word agnoia meaning “ignorant”, and the word “ignorant” originated from the Latin equivalent of agnostic. To admittedly be a skeptic and preferring atheism also shows a lack of opened-mindedness.
How could someone who doubts God also believe that there is most likely no God? No longer are skeptics truly doubters when they prefer one belief system against God over belief in God. These have contempt for one side and choose another.
Reconsider the Converts
My hope is that skeptics open their minds to reconsider, be skeptical of even skepticism, and be willing to consider God. After all, the origin of the Universe comes down to one considerable and rational conclusion. The Law of Entropy excludes an eternal Universe, and the Law of Cause and Effect excludes a self-created Universe or an accidental Universe originating from nothing. There is only one option left, which is that there is the intelligent Creator.
Would the skeptic, agnostic, and atheist be able to consider those who have converted? Would they consider converted skeptics from the Bible or have they already close their minds off to the Bible? Within the records of the Christian Scriptures, there are Dionysius on the council of Athens, Joseph of Arimathea, the Jewish ruler Nicodemus, and the 3,000 doubters on the Day of Pentecost were all converted skeptics. These are admittedly converted skeptics in the New Testament. Even the Twelve disciples of Jesus claimed to have been skeptical of Jesus raising from the dead. These converts could not be openly fabricated without being openly rebuked by the enemies of Christianity in the first century.
Truly, converted skeptics do not resolve doubt, but for a skeptic to not consider the words of those who were once like-minded is bias and even more so dishonest. The Christian Scriptures record the findings of the first skeptics converted to faith for the purpose of observing the merits of their conviction.
Among these converted skeptics is a writer of Christian Scripture, the Apostle Paul. This previous skeptic converted according to him by the resurrected Jesus Christ in a bright light while on the road to persecute Christians. Again, accepting or not accepting his belief is not a prejudice, but not considering his belief is the result of bias than reason.
Along with the Apostle Paul, there are the Dozen Disciples and all the Apostles of Christ, the opponents of Christianity executed all but one. This leads to a very fair question. Could men of apparent sincerity lie, claiming to be eyewitnesses, have submitted to martyrdom, also convert others in a dishonest manner, and still have been able to elude discovery? How could everyone of these escape from being revealed as frauds or be so gullible as to deceive themselves that they were “eyewitnesses”?
There is not one ancient opponent of Christianity who knew any witnesses that the Christian Scriptures were not written by the ascribed names. There is not one attack from the opponents of early Christianity in all of antiquity against the character of the martyred eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. There is not one accusation against the persecuted and martyred Apostles of Jesus as frauds. All such assertions are speculative conjectures.
Does persecution and martyrdom really prove anything? It is true that many would rather die for their lies, speculations, and assertions than retract their statements and their pride. The mistaken martyr of speculations dies saying, “I sincerely thought.”, but the martyr of truth dies saying, “I certainly saw or heard.”
True martyrs die for which they certainly witnessed through their senses. This is true of the Apostles who were certainly eyewitnesses. These are neither deluded nor are they lying. They died for what they saw with their own eyes. These are the eyewitness martyrs of Jesus’ resurrection. They recorded their testimonies for cross-examination. Just as legal records today, two or more confirm an event coinciding reports whether in person or in record. By this, the Scriptures were open to such scrutiny and proved in the first and following centuries.
Setting Aside Prejudice
Skeptics may suppose that these eyewitnesses were not eyewitnesses at all. Some conjecture that early Christians invented the writers of the Christian Scriptures. There are essential difficulties to such skepticism. First, there is a book of the collected writings of eyewitnesses of Jesus. Second, the book has existed for many centuries. Third, the book came into existence some way, by some means, and at some particular time. Fourth, the New Testament claims to be authored by God via Apostles and prophets who are specifically named. Names attributed to written works are universally admitted to be rational and conclusive evidence of authorship. Can any of these be denied? Yet, prejudice gets in the way again. The only reason to question the authorship would be through contrary evidence such as contradiction reports from witnesses. Where are those contradictions?
The New Testament scriptures were diligently scrutinized, and remain the authentic records undoubted by believers and unchallenged by its opponents in the early centuries of the Christian faith. In the first century, historians, geographers, judges, and scholars were able to test the Christian Scripture, and so were tried in this age and in the age of these writings. The New Testament was universally received by primitive Christians and by opponents and apostates of the Christian faith.
These early Christians authenticated the identity of the writers of the Christian Scriptures throughout the world. These witnesses and their locations were Clement in Rome, Ignatius in Antioch, Polycarp in Smyrna, Justin Martyr in Syria, Irenaeus in France, Tertullian in Carthage, Origin in Egypt, and Eusebius in Caesarea. The early opponents and apostates of primitive Christianity, who admitted the authorship of the Christian Scriptures, include Celsus, Trypho, Lucian of Samosata, Porphyry of Tyre, Hierocles of the Proconsul of Bithynia, Julian the Apostate, and Peregrinus Proteus.
See, even Celsus neither questions the Scriptures nor the identity of the writers. Origin recorded concerning Celsus, “Thus it is written, not in any private book, or such as are read by a few persons only, but in books read by everyone.” These opponents never even questioned the authenticity of the Scriptures. All of antiquity does not present a trace of any contradicting testimony against any historical event or any miraculous sign presented in the New Testament scriptures.
The simple truth is that skeptics are prejudice against the eyewitness records in the Christian Scriptures, and this prejudice disqualifies them from fairly and impartially judging the New Testament upon the merits of evidence. Yet, they question the integrity of witnesses and would rather defame such men as “false witnesses” who died for what they saw, heard, and therefore had to believe. Believers are fair and open-minded to judge by examination the writers of the Scriptures to be reliable and honest witnesses.