In early 2010, my questions took a different track that I hadn’t expected, and it happened quite by accident. I was writing material for the adult and high school Bible classes. We were about to begin a study of Christian Evidences, and I was writing a couple of lessons that showed some of the flaws in other religions, like Islam. Basically, it was an attempt to explain why we were Christian instead of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. In researching the problems in other religions, I also came across articles that talked about the problems in Christianity, including a series of articles on the historical contradictions in the Book of Daniel. I read the articles out of a sense of curiosity. I had been a Christian for a long time, and I had done a good bit of personal work. Though I had heard people claim the Bible had flaws in the past, I had never seen anyone present any. So I was very skeptical, even a little dismissive, of these articles. Until I read them, that is.
If you’d like to see them for yourself, I’ve reposted them on my blog. Links to all the articles can be found here. For now, I’ll simply say that the articles had much more substance than I had assumed they would. I was troubled by what they said, but I wanted to verify the information before I got too carried away. However, it didn’t take very long to find out that the main points of the articles were correct. Daniel, in my view, had a lot of problems.
At first, I didn’t really know what to make about this. I had always believed in biblical inerrancy, but now I was faced with a part of the Bible I no longer believed was inerrant. Could it be that only Daniel was the problem? Could the rest of the Bible still be okay? Thus began a period of time in which I began hunting for all the reasons to believe in and/or be skeptical of the Bible and Christianity. This was a really crazy time for my wife and I. I read everything I could get my hands on.
I came across Farrell Till fairly early in my search. He had an ascerbic tone, but he did an excellent job of digging into the details of the Bible and pointing out its flaws. He had written countless articles on contradictions and problems with prophecy fulfillment. He had been part of the church of Christ, though I think a slightly different flavor than the one I had been raised in. But he had still held to biblical inerrancy when he was a Christian, just like I had. And it was through that lens that he critiqued the Bible.
I quickly found that the problems in the Bible were not isolated to the Book of Daniel, they were littered throughout. It was incredible to me that I had been a knowledgeable Christian for so long and never realized these problems were there. But I had always studied my Bible to learn its lessons, not to critique its facts. I had just assumed it was true, since it was written by God. So in February of 2010, I began asking to borrow some apologetic books from some of the people I went to church with. I don’t remember if I told them why I was interested, but even if I had, they would have assumed it was just a passing interest that would quickly be satisfied. In reading those books, I didn’t find their explanations of the Bible’s problems to be very convincing. They sounded more like the kinds of arguments one makes when trying to convince himself to have a second piece of pie. He wants the arguments to be true, so he readily accepts them. I wanted sound arguments that would actually show the skeptic’s accusations to be completely groundless. That’s just not what I found.
Early on, I had shared my growing concerns with my wife and a couple of other close friends. I’ll always appreciate the way they stood with me — they walked a lonely path with me for quite some time. My wife was shocked by the things I had begun to find, and she was initially just as skeptical as I had been. But many of these problems in the Bible are very easy to see once you’re aware of them. And it didn’t take long for her to agree with me in thinking that the Bible was just not what we had always believed it to be.
One of my friends took a more cautious approach, and I think this was good. He willingly read everything I asked him to, and he met with me many times and listened to me talk about my growing concerns very patiently. In the end, he viewed the Bible’s issues as complicated things that we may never have answers for. But they were not of a high enough magnitude to make him question the entirety of his faith. I didn’t share that position, but I understood and respected it. In return, he also understood why this was such a big deal to me. And he never discouraged my looking into these things, nor did he ever criticize my character or attribute base motivations to me. That was a huge comfort, and I’ll always remain grateful for it.
By the time April of 2010 had rolled around, I realized that I needed to tell a few more people about my severe doubts — by this time, my faith was extremely weak. I knew that my parents and my wife’s parents would need to know. I’ll explain more about that in the next post. And if you would like to know more about the prophecies and contradictions I had problems with, the links are provided in my About section.