These infidel books habitually assume that, if we refuse their nostrums, superstition is our only refuge. This is quite in keeping with the amazing conceit which characterises them. Wisdom was born with the Agnostics! They have monopolised the meagre stock of intelligence which the evolutionary process has as yet produced for the guidance of the race! But there are Christians in the world who have quite as much sense as they have, who detest superstition as much as they do, and who have far more experience in detecting fallacies and exposing frauds. And if such men are Christians it is not because they are too stupid to become infidels.
For faith is not superstition; and in presence of a Divine revelation unbelief betokens mental obliquity, if not moral degradation. Thoughtless people are betrayed into supposing that there is something very clever in “not believing.” But in this life the formula “I don’t believe” more often betokens dull-wittedness than shrewdness. It is the refrain of the stupidest man upon the jury. A mere negation of belief moreover, is seldom possible; it generally implies belief in the alternative to what we reject. The sceptic may hesitate, in order to examine the credentials of a revelation. But no one who has a settled creed ever hesitates at all. And the Atheist has such a creed; he believes that there is no God. If we do not believe a man to be honest, we usually believe him to be a fraud. If we refuse the testimony of witnesses about matters that are too plain and simple to allow of mere misapprehension or honest mistake, we must hold them to be impostors and rogues. And nothing less than this is implied in the position held by men like Herbert Spencer and Leslie Stephen.
But the infidel will deny that he impugns the integrity of the Apostles and Evangelists; he only questions their intelligence. He asks us to believe that they were so weak and credulous that their testimony to the miracles, for example, must be rejected. But the miracles were not rare incidences of dark-room seances; they were public events which occurred day by day, and usually in the presence of hostile critics. No person of ordinary intelligence, therefore, could have been mistaken as to the facts. What then do we know of the men on whose evidence we accept them? Their writings have been translated into every known language. They hold a unique place in the classic literature of the world, and the sublime morality and piety which pervade them command universal admiration. Certain it is therefore that if the New Testament is to be accounted for on natural principles, its authors must have been marvellously gifted, both intellectually and morally. And yet these are the men whose testimony is to be flung aside with contempt when they give a detailed description of events which happened in open day before their eyes. To talk of offering them a fool’s pardon is absurd. If their narratives be false, we must give up all confidence in human nature, and write them down as an abnormally clever gang of abnormally profane impostors and hypocrites. But this alternative is more untenable than the other. It is absolutely certain that the men of the New Testament were neither scoundrels nor fools.
And no more than this is needed to undermine the infidel position. It is not necessary to prove that the Gospels are a Divine revelation; it will suffice to show that they are credible records; and this much is guaranteed to us by the character of the men who wrote them.
Sir Robert Anderson, A Doubter’s Doubts about Science and Religion (New York: Gospel Publishing House, 1909), pp. 92-95.