I tried using lynx (the text browser) and got the error:
Can't access startfile: http://lynx.isc.org
and then it quit (doh). So, the error message would seem to be incorrect because the problem is not that it cannot access the startfile. It is that it cannot access the default web page specified by the startfile. One could also question why a browser would ever terminate just because it cannot access its default page. No other browser behaves this way.
In any case, how do I handle this problem? Is there some way to tell lynx not to use a default web page?