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Great minds who went from skeptics to Believers

27 February 2013, 13:03

Here are some viewpoints from world-renowned intellectuals that are based on facts as opposed to mere emotion. There are two distinctive types of skeptics:

- Emotional skeptics deny the truth in advance and refuse to give proper consideration and time to the evidence (Hello there...! You know who you are!!).

- Progressive skeptics have their doubts, but are willing to pursue the truth and evidence.  It is difficult to dispute the logic of skeptical intellectuals who intended to systematically and scientifically disprove the historical accuracy of Biblical events. The learned men listed below were willing to accept the reliability of Biblical facts, once they closely examined the historical and scientific evidence:

Sir William Ramsay
Sir William Ramsay graduated from Oxford University with a doctorate in philosophy, for his work with ‘orthotoluic acid’. He discovered Krypton and Neon and received distinguished awards from numerous societies (including Pope Leo XII, and the Royal Geographical Society). He taught at Cambridge and Oxford. Ramsay was raised as a Biblical non-believer, by his atheist parents.

Sir Ramsay, was determined to undermine the historical accuracy of the Bible (which he preferred to call a “Book of fables”).  He studied archaeology with the aim of disproving the Biblical account. Once ready with the necessary scientific tools and learning, he travelled to Palestine and focused on the book of Acts, which he fully expected to refute as nothing more than myth.

After 25 years of work and research, travelling Asia and the Middle East. Ramsay was awestruck by the historical accuracy and evidence of the New Testament. In his quest to refute the Bible, Ramsay discovered many facts which confirmed its precision. He was forced to concede that Biblical events and settings were exact even in the smallest detail. Far from attacking the Biblical account, Ramsay produced a book, St. Paul, the Traveler and Roman Citizen, which supported Biblical events.

Eventually, William Ramsay shocked the intellectual world by writing that he had converted to Christianity. Ironically, this man who set out to refute the Bible, found himself accepting the Bible as God's Word because of his academic explorations and factual discoveries.

Dr. Simon Greenleaf
Dr. Greenleaf was the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University. He  was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He specialized in evidence law. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, (3 volumes), and which remained a standard textbook in American law throughout the Nineteenth century.

Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the "myth" of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion.

He wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In which he emphatically stated: "it was impossible that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus Christ actually risen from the dead,” (Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice).

Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best supported event in all of history! Dr. Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence that he committed his life to Jesus Christ.

C.S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was a British literary critic, scholar and author. Lewis took the chair of medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge. He was an intellectual giant and arguably the most influential Christian writer of his day. His major contributions in literary criticism, children's literature, fantasy literature, and popular theology brought him international renown and acclaim. Best known for authoring “The Chronicles of Narnia” and other popular children’s fantasy novels, Lewis also wrote numerous works on apologetics such as “Mere Christianity”.

He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. During his time at Oxford, Lewis went from being an atheist to being one of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th century; 1931 marks the year of Lewis's conversion to Christianity. He became a member of the Church of England. Lewis cites his friendship with J. R. R. Tolkien, as well as the writings of the converted G. K. Chesterton, as influencing his conversion.

In addition to his career as an English professor and an author of fiction, Lewis is regarded by many as one of the most influential Christian apologist of his time. Mere Christianity was voted best book of the twentieth century by Christianity Today magazine in 2000.

Lewis was very much interested in presenting a reasonable case for the truth of Christianity. Mere Christianity, the Problem of Pain, and Miracles were all concerned, to one degree or another, with refuting popular objections to Christianity. He also became known as a popular lecturer and broadcaster, and some of his writing (including much of Mere Christianity) originated as scripts for radio talks or lectures.

Due to Lewis's approach to religious belief as a sceptic, and his following conversion, he has become popularly known as "The Apostle to the Sceptics." Consequently, his books on Christianity examine common difficulties in Christianity, such as "How could a good God allow pain to exist in the world?” which he examined in detail in The Problem of Pain.

Professor Antony Flew
Professor Antony Flew was a prominent British philosopher, belonging to the analytic and ‘evidentialist’ schools of thought. He was considered to be one of the most influential and committed advocates of atheism. Flew took the position that atheism should be presupposed until the evidence for God was presented. However, in 2004 he shocked the academic world by stating his allegiance to a belief in the existence of God, and authored the book "There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind".

In a published interview shortly after his conversion Flew stated that, “reason, mainly in the form of arguments to design, assures us that there is a God…and the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries.”

Flew expressed his belief in God was the result of his “growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientist that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe” and “my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself, which is far more complex than the physical universe, can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source.

While Flew has continuously reaffirmed his belief in God, he has also stated that he is not a Christian convert, and his “God is not the God of any of the revealed religions.” But, Flew has stated, “since the beginning of my philosophical life I have followed the policy of Plato’s Socrates: We must follow the argument wherever it leads.” Indeed, it seems Flew is still following the evidence, for in his most recent book, he has allowed a chapter arguing for the historical resurrection of Christ. In addition, Flew joined eleven other academics in urging the British government to teach the scientific notion of intelligent design in state schools.

Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist, theologian mathematician, astronomer and natural philosopher. His brilliant work in physics has influenced all of science; in 1687 he published Philosphiae Naturalis Principia Mathamatica, which historically impacted all of science. He established the foundation for mechanical science, with his work on laws of gravitation and the three laws of motion.

However, many are not aware of his factual Biblical writings, spending more time on Christian Theology than on science. His methodical scientific nature caused him to approach the Bible on a more pragmatic factual level. Newton was not one to waste his time on mythical fiction. He was motivated to pursue factual truth writing over 1.2 million words on Biblical subjects. One will have to question what logical premise motivates brilliant individuals to pursue the Biblical truth and why many skeptics choose not to understand or pursue the truth.

Gerald L. Schroeder
Gerald L. Schroeder was a scientist, author, and noted lecturer. He attained a reputation of focusing on a perceived inherent relationship between science and spirituality.

In 1965, Schroeder received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts institute of technology in nuclear physics and earth and planetary sciences. His authored works include Genesis and the Big Bang, the Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom and the Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth.

Professor William F. Albright
He received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University, and was best known for his role in the authentication of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948.

He is considered the leading authority in theorist and practitioner of Biblical archaeology. Albright was awarded the "Worthy One of Jerusalem”- the first time it was awarded to a non-Jew. He insisted that the Biblical book of Genesis was historical and the details should be considered accurate.

Sir Frederic Kenyon
He was President of the British Academy and also director of the British museum. His expertise in archaeology showed us how science can corroborate many of the historical events of the Bible. A British palaeographer, Biblical and classical scholar, he made a life-long study of the Bible, especially the New Testament as an historical text. His book Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, showed how Egyptian papyri and other evidence from archaeology can corroborate the historical events in the Gospel.

Sir Frederic Kenyon is considered second to none, as an authority on ancient manuscripts by secularists, Muslims, and Christians. A former Director of the British Museum and one of the greatest authorities on the subject, said in his book Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts: “The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, or early translations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world”.

He was convinced of the historical reality of the events described in the New Testament - and is often quoted by those who share this most commonly with these words: “the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.”

Professor Nelson Glueck
He was President of the British Academy and also director of the British museum. His expertise in archaeology showed us how science can corroborate many of the historical events of the Bible. Specifically, he pursued the correlation between history and Biblical facts.

Gluck’s contention is that very little was lost in the transmission of text from more than 24,000 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament. He states, “There is more evidence for the reliability of the text of the New Testament than there is for any ten pieces of classical literature put together. It is in better textual shape than the 37 plays of William Shakespeare which were written a mere 300 years ago, after the invention of the printing press!”

Besides the massive numbers of early New Testament documents, the Old Testament can also be substantiated by the Jewish community who continue to corroborate the proof for its accuracy, as well as documents such as the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls which give added weight to the claim that it has never been changed. Even the Qur'an, possibly written during the 7th-8th centuries recognized the authority of our scriptures (see suras 2:136; 3:2-3; 4:136; 5:47-52, 68; 10:95; 21:7; and 29:46).

It has been proved that, outside of the very few scribal errors, the historical events and personages are adequately correct, as they do not confuse names, dates and events, and in fact, surprisingly, continue to coincide with current archaeological findings. This is indeed significant, since with each successive year, ongoing documental and archaeological discoveries fail to divulge any historical contradictions. Instead they continue to corroborate what the Bible has been saying for 2,000-3,000 years (examples such as the Ebla tablets, or the newly discovered tomb of the priest Caiaphus give continuing credibility to the scriptures historical trustworthiness).”

Conclusion
This article serves to encourage the emotional skeptics to try and understand the lives of other (credible & great) skeptics who were willing to spend the necessary time pursuing the science. 

If these men, who are unquestionably some of the greatest minds that science and learning has ever produced, could become so utterly convinced by the evidence they studied that they changed from skeptics to believers, then I lay this challenge all the non-believers in the NEW24 forums: What's the matter with you lot?  Are you simply too lazy or are you just intellectually challenged?  

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

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