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Monday, August 11, 2014

A Sad State of Daniel

Conservative Christian and YouTuber "StateofDaniel" (Daniel) has for the past year been getting under the skin of many internet atheists due to a series of videos he's made defending the existence of God and criticizing atheism in general. Having watched his videos myself, I can hardly blame them. 
Daniel's videos represent some of the most delusional and misguided thinking I have ever witnessed from a Christian. Sitting through them takes an enormous amount of patience, yet finding the flaws in his reasoning takes little to no effort. Here I will examine Daniel's claims regarding God and atheism and show why each of them are hopelessly unfounded. Daniel tends to discuss several different topics in each of his videos, so for the sake of simplicity I will address his claims by subject rather than just each video separately (I'll also provide hyperlinked time-stamps to each his claims). But to ensure that I have not misrepresented him, by all means view the videos themselves in their entirety before reading my critique:

Faith, Science, and Atheism

Daniel is under the impression that science and faith are not in conflict with each other, and that atheists have inappropriately defined faith as something only the religious mind employs. According to Daniel, "science has required, requires, and will require faith." (Time-stamp 0:25) His reasoning is that scientists themselves employ faith regularly, and therefore labeling only theists as employing faith is an unfounded assumption. This reasoning is accurate in one sense, but misleading in another. It's true scientists require faith in many areas of study, since being only human they have no way of knowing everything. But that's the point. This concept is true of every human on the planet, not just scientists or theists. When atheists criticize the use of "faith," they are generally talking about a specific kind of faith. To his credit, Daniel does acknowledge that several different types of faith exist (Time-stamp 3:55), but he fails to see that the specific brand of faith atheists frequently criticize is the kind that is never employed by a true scientist, and is frequently employed by the religious mind. This distinction is summarized by philosopher Richard Carrier, who writes:
Science and faith are not in conflict--unless you want them to be. If someone places faith before truth, then they are stepping out of bounds. But if faith is what one has because something is true, and not the other way around, science becomes the One True Faith... On the one hand science requires faith, a faith that certain principles and models and bodies of knowledge are true. On the other hand, this faith is not blind, but based on evidence. It is justified faith.
Scientists build up faith in science's concepts, principles, and conclusions through repeated practice or testing, and when this faith is challenged, they return again to examine the facts, to see if their faith is justified by them. [Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism, by Richard Carrier, pg. 217-218]
What Daniel refers to as "faith" that scientists employ, scientists themselves would most likely refer to as a "working hypothesis." That is, any idea a scientist wishes to take seriously and explore, they will do so with the intention of testing this idea to see if it is justified. Yet this is the type of faith that Christians and other theists seem to frequently fail to employ. To be sure, there are many theistic scientists and scholars who have attempted to confirm their faith using critical and empirical methods, and such people certainly deserve a higher degree of respect and admiration. However, the type of faith that deserves no respect whatsoever, the faith that atheists frequently criticize, is the type of faith that the religious mind frequently employs.

Take for example the tragic case of John List. Faced with severe financial trouble and wishing to spare his family from a life of poverty, List murdered his wife, his mother, and his three children. List felt justified to do so because he loved his family, and believed that they would all be sent to heaven, and spared from the evil of the world. Yet List had no way of knowing if this was true. He could not speak to God and ask if his family actually would go to heaven. He couldn't ask anyone who had gone to heaven themselves to find out if his family should or would have went there at all. He had no way of knowing whether or not heaven even existed. Yet List felt entirely justified by his actions due to his faith in the teachings of Christianity. This is the faith atheists criticize; faith that is not tested.

It is also through this faith that theists frequently deny that any new evidence they are presented with contradicts what they believe. Whereas new evidence causes scientists to rethink their position and change their views on any given hypothesis, many (but not all) theists do the exact opposite; their conclusions don't change, and the new evidence is simply made to fit with what they already believe. As Christopher Hitchens adequately put it:
The great thing about being religious is this: When the evidence against you becomes overwhelming, and you can see the amazing intricacies of the Big Bang, and the extraordinary matter of the Hubble red-light shift, and things we can now see through Mr. Hubble's telescope, and when you see the extraordinary variety of species, religion says, "Ah, come to think of it, that is true. In fact, it shows that God was even more ingenious than we had thought him in the first place"... Anytime any new evidence comes to light, it's claimed, "well, it fits with the un-overthrowable theory that we already had."
As I said earlier, no true scientist would ever employ such reasoning when developing a hypothesis. Yet it is precisely this type of faith that is frequently (though not exclusively) employed by theists. It was through this type of faith that Christians believed that disease was caused by evil spirits and demons, rather than bacteria and other micro-organisms. It is through this faith that over 40% of Christians believe that the rapture will occur within the next several decades. It is through this faith that Christians believe that Jesus truly died for the sins of mankind. And it is precisely this faith that scientists do not employ. So for future reference Daniel, understand that when atheists criticize "faith," this is what they are talking about.

The "Evidence" for Christianity

Despite Daniel's misunderstanding of the type of faith atheists criticize, he nonetheless maintains that "there's incredible historic evidence that backs Christianity." (Time-stamp 2:02) Yet his "evidence" has repeatedly been shown to be either fallacious or debunked by competent scholarship. Throughout his videos, Daniel lays out four primary pieces of "evidence" that he thinks supports Christianity.

"There really was a historical Jesus." For Daniel, this piece of evidence is "the beginning of what separates Christianity from all those other ancient religions." (Time-stamp 1:11) Now I of course am a mythicist, and have laid out my case for why I believe that Jesus in all likelihood did not exist as a real historical person. But I am humble enough to admit that this position is still regarded as fringe amongst the atheist community. Yet Daniel's statement that "there's no denying that Jesus was a real person" (Time-stamp 0:57) is a gross exaggeration of the current state of the field of Jesus studies. There is in fact a growing number of scholars who believe that Jesus most probably didn't exist as a real historical person. Still, as I said this view is currently fringe, and I will continue studying the question and see what the scholarship has to say about it as time goes on. For Daniel's benefit, the best books currently arguing that Jesus most likely didn't exist as a real person are as follows:
However, even if we assume that Jesus really did exist, this is still a far cry from concluding that this adds any significant weight to the idea that Christianity is true. The fact that Jesus may have existed adds no more weight to him truly being the messiah than the existence of the multitude of other real individuals who also claimed to be the messiah. In fact, all that is really required to show that Christianity is false is that Jesus' resurrection was an entirely fictional event (which even the Apostle Paul acknowledged would falsify Christianity; see 1 Corinthians 15:14). 

The literature debunking Jesus' resurrection is vast, so I will not attempt to lay out any particular case against it here. However, I will point out to Daniel that the concept of a god "resurrecting" long predates Christianity, and can be found in many religions that I assume Daniel has no problem rejecting. For example, the Egyptian god Horus was said to have been "raised... from the dead" in the 1st century, BCE (per Diodorus Siculus, pg. 81-83) Other accounts of pre-Christian resurrections are found in the case of figures such as Inanna, Osiris, and Romulus. One has to wonder how credible Jesus' resurrection seems when we understand that such a miracle was nothing new at that point, and clearly has its origins in mythological beliefs. Jesus himself may not have been a myth, but the miracle that Christianity is founded on sure seems to be.

"We have so many manuscripts." Daniel repeats the largely touted claim that "we have over 5000 manuscripts of the New Testament." (Time-stamp 1:21) This is yet another over-exaggeration of the evidence we actually have in regards to the historicity of the New Testament. The number that Daniel quotes may be accurate, but the state of these documents is something he doesn't discuss. The reality is that the vast majority of manuscripts we do have are copies. And not only are they copies, but they are copies of copies of copies of the New Testament. In other words, they are not the original documents themselves. In fact, we have none of the original manuscripts of any of the books of the New Testament. Rather, we have copies of copies of copies of the supposed New Testament books, which would add no more validity to a document's credibility than simply xeroxing a letter a hundred times and declaring "we have 100 letters!" Furthermore, Daniel is evidently unaware that the earliest manuscripts we have are not complete manuscripts. In fact, most of them are actually just small pieces of papyrus that contain a few sentences at best. When such a document is found, scholars generally count this as one manuscript, yet this has often given the impression that an entire book was recovered, which needless to say is a massive exaggeration.

As Dr. Matthew McCormick summarizes: 
The proliferation of copies has led some to remark that the New Testament is the best attested book of all ancient documents, and more reliable as a source of truth as a result. This is a mistake, however. What we have that is closest to the source is a tiny handful of fragments--they would all fit in a shoebox--that are copies of copies of copies of documents from one hundred to three hundred years after their sources were originally written. Then we begin to find more copies in a greater state of completion in the next few centuries until the number of surviving, complete manuscripts of the New Testament explodes into the thousands. But any connection to the originals is built upon the slender bottleneck of just a few of the earlier manuscript fragments. So we should not think the preponderance of copies validates the content any more than making millions of copies of a Sherlock Holmes book proves he was a real person, or that multiple copies of a document after it is written somehow improves the accuracy of the original contents. [Atheism and the Case Against Christ, by Matthew S. McCormick, pg. 40]
"The Gospels were written as history." Another claim Daniel makes is that "the Bible... was written as historical" (Time-stamp 3:08) There are at least two problems with this assertion. First, it begs the question. We actually don't know for sure what the Gospel authors' intentions really were. In fact, out of all the Gospels, only Luke ever claims to be writing history (Luke 1:1-3). We cannot be certain what the Gospel authors' intentions were, especially given that, as previously discussed, we do not have the original manuscripts and no way to verify their claims as much as we would like. 

Second, even if we suppose that the Gospels were written purely as historical accounts, that still would not be sufficient evidence to show that what they said was actually true. After all, there are plenty of accounts from ancient times that I'm sure Daniel and other Christians would have no problem dismissing, even if they were reported as historical facts. For example, the Gospel of Peter (that's right, Peter) claims, on the basis of eyewitness accounts (a group of Roman soldiers and Jewish elders in fact) that as Jesus exited the tomb a giant cross came out behind him as well, that Jesus himself had grown thousands of feet tall, and that the cross itself spoke. Would you believe this was a historical account? I know of no Christian who thinks so today, yet its historical validity was largely attested to by many prominent second century Christians. 

What about the accounts of Herodotus on the Persian War? This account was certainly meant to be historical, as Herodotus was a very well educated and thorough historian. Despite this, I doubt very much that Daniel or any other Christian would believe Herodotus's account that the Temple of Delphi defended itself with animated armaments; that a sacred olive tree grew a new shoot an arm's length in a day, after having been set on fire; that a horse gave birth to a rabbit; and that an entire town witnessed a mass resurrection of cooked fish. Yet why shouldn't anyone believe this? After all, Herodotus wrote these accounts only fifty years after the fact (roughly the same amount of time between Jesus' death and the Gospels being written), and were (supposedly) based on the accounts of eyewitnesses who were alive during the war and saw what had happened.

The point of all this is that fishy stories (pun intended for the Herodotus account) from that time period were usually complete BS. We recognize such accounts as nonsense because they do not provide the kind of evidence we would need to corroborate them. Yet this is exactly the case for the Gospels as well, a fact which Daniel seems blissfully unaware of.

"Christians were being persecuted for their beliefs." Another reason Daniel thinks we have reason to believe Christianity's validity is because "people were being crucified, stoned, [and] hanged for their religious beliefs... specifically Christianity." (Time-stamp 8:00) From this, Daniel concludes that "they must have had a reason to believe" if they were willing to die for their beliefs. But this argument is flawed in two important ways. First, given the mindset of Christians at the time and what they were promised for their faith (see, there's that faith again!), it's hardly surprising that they would have died for their beliefs. As Richard Carrier explains:
[T]he logic of the Christian situation (as with all other comparable movements in history) is impeccable: if sinners go to hell or oblivion, and the faithful go to eternal heavenly bliss, then nothing else matters, for everything else is temporary and insignificant compared to the eternal future. The faithful will even inherit the earth itself, gaining all the power and plenty they always longed for, while watching their oppressors and exploiters suffer utter downfall and defeat. In other words, "everyone gets what they deserve." Anyone convinced of this will suffer anything. Period. They will endure any death, any torture, any discomfort, any indignity. And all the while they will smile inside, knowing their abusers will "get it" in the end, while they themselves will get twice the reward for having carried such a burden, remaining strong in the face of every effort of those evil powers to knock them down. In human history there has never been so powerful a motivator as this--a point well-taken by the Islamic authorities who found a way to exploit this motivation en masse to command entire armies, and mollify oppressed and exploited populations. The very same motivation led Buddhists to set themselves on fire to protest the Vietnam War... So evidence of a willingness to endure brutal fates and enormous hardships cannot establish the truth of any belief.
Second, the vast majority of Christian martyrdom actually took place well into the second century and later, whereas the amount of Christian martyrdom in the first century was comparably minimal. Considering these two points together, this raises a serious problem for any martyrdom argumentation. Obviously the Christians of the second century were not eyewitnesses, or even knew anyone who supposedly was an eyewitness. This alone tells us that Christians were more than willing to die for a belief based only on second-hand accounts. The martyrdom argument is very weak, and always has been. As Richard Carrier also explains:
From kamikaze Japanese dive-bombers and torpedo-peddlers, Islamic suicide-bombers, to any of the dozens of suicide cults in history, or indeed the whole nation of Israel, twice fighting against an obviously unbeatable and demonstrably vindictive Rome, because of beliefs in prophecies of their victory, it is clear that people have a tendency to be willing to die for a seemingly good cause, even when their reasoning really isn't that good.
As we can see, none of Daniel's "evidence" warrants a belief in Christianity's validity.  The evidence we have for it is in actuality extremely poor, yet it is touted by Daniel as largely supporting his irrational belief. And it is this type of reasoning that has evidently led to Daniel to believe a whole host of equally bizarre ideas.

Biblical Contradictions

According to Daniel, the Bible does not actually contradict itself in several instances, but rather the verses merely "create conflict" (Time-stamp 5:33), and therefore must be placed in proper context to be reconciled. To support this he cites the supposed contradiction between Exodus 15:3 and Romans 15:33, which he claims is a "prominent example" of conflicting statements found in the Bible that actually don't contradict each other. (Time-stamp 4:27) The fact that I've never heard this particular contradiction mentioned before may not mean anything, but there are a number of vastly more contradictory statements found throughout the Bible that seem to have no reconcilable solutions. Despite Daniel's insistence that "I don't think there's any place in the Bible where you can flat-out say 'oh, here's a contradiction,'" (Time-stamp 5:25) I can name several that I feel are definitely "prominent," including (but certainly not limited to):
These are just a handful of the vast amount of irreconcilable contradictions that can be found within the Bible. But what could account for this? Daniel acknowledges in one of his videos that the Bible is "not a book. It's a more of an anthology. It's a library of different books" that were each created by different authors at different times for different audiences within different cultures. (Time-stamp 5:22) I fully agree with this, but I also think this perfectly accounts for why so many contradictions can be found throughout the Bible. Of course, Daniel and other Christians want to maintain that all of these authors were "divinely inspired" by God, so their words and views should essentially be the same. Yet when contradictions and other problems are cited within the Bible, Christians can simply punt to the excuse that "the Bible had many authors." A clear instance of Christians trying to have it both ways.

Slavery in the Bible

Daniel discusses the issue of slavery in the Bible and finds nothing wrong with it, reasoning that "slavery in Biblical times was different than slavery today." (Time-stamp 5:48) To support this, he makes mention of the Biblical concept of owning slaves by means of slaves working to pay off a debt, rather than being simply owned and deprived of their rights and humanity. Interestingly, Daniel notes that people often take this issue out of context to discredit Christianity (Time-stamp 6:23), when in fact Daniel has ironically done just that. For the concept he is talking about is the one found in Leviticus 25:39-41, which states that slaves are only to be kept for up to seven years to repay a debt, in accordance with the year of Jubilee. What Daniel fails to mention is that this particular concept of slavery only applied to Hebrew slaves. As for slaves that came from foreign nations, their situation was quite a bit different. As Leviticus 25:44-46 states:
Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possessionAnd ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.
So, while Hebrew slaves may have only been kept for a limited number years, slaves coming from foreign nations were not so lucky. This certainly seems predicated on the idea that the Hebrews were considered better than those from foreign lands, which sounds pretty similar to southern whites declaring their superiority over their African American slaves. The fact of the matter is that slavery is supported throughout the Bible, and never spoke a word against it as an set institution (thoroughly demonstrated in Dr. Hector Avalos's book Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship). This point regarding slavery in the Bible actually poses a greater problem for Daniel than he may think, as it challenges the basis for yet another idea he holds in regard to the existence of God.


There is clearly no subject Daniel is more misguided about than the issue of morality. The claims he makes about it throughout his videos are what made me nearly fall out of my chair. Below are the primary claims he makes about morality, and I can confidently say he doesn't get a single significant point right.
1. Science can't explain morality. (Time-stamp 1:07) 
2. Atheists have no basis for morality. (Time-stamp 4:52) 
3. Evolution is not a source of morality. (Video)
Before evening addressing the specifics of Daniel's arguments, it's important to note that nowhere in any of his discussions of morality does he himself offer a valid alternative for morality's source. In other words, Daniel believes that if science can't explain objective morality, then the source of it must be God, and in particular, the Christian God. Daniel's entire argument therefore is merely a classic case of the "God-of-the-gaps" argument. Since concept X cannot explain subject Y, therefore God explains subject Y. This is terrible logic, but frequently employed by Christians to defend their faith. Suggesting God as an alternative simply raises more questions than it answers (yet Daniel barely addresses any of them in his videos). For example, how has God imbued us with these objective morals? How do we know these are really the correct morals? Why did God make certain moral laws objectively true instead of making other possible laws objectively true? As we shall see, these are all questions that Christianity has no easy answers for, and for Daniel none of them are even brought up.

(1) Regardless of Daniel's illogical argument from negative evidence, there has in fact been an abundance of research done over the last decade showing that science can explain morality. [See in particular Richard Carrier's peer-reviewed essay 'Moral Facts Naturally Exist (and Science Could Find Them),' published in The End of Christianity, ed. by John Loftus]. That is, through the scientific method we can determine what are the correct morals for us to follow, based on what is inherently the best way for us to live. That, in essence, is all morality really is: the best way for us to live. But according to Daniel, science can't explain this. For example, he insists that science can't tell us things like why rape is wrong. (Time-stamp 1:11) Yet he ignores the fact that the scientific method is based on the concept of observation and drawing conclusions from those observations. And when utilizing this concept in assessing the morality of rape, we can logically conclude rape is objectively wrong. Consider the following hypothetical Q&A:
Q. Why is it wrong to rape a woman?  
A. Because it hurts a woman.  
Q. Why is it wrong to hurt a woman?
A. Because it's uncompassionate.  
Q. Why is it wrong to be uncompassionate? 
A. Because by being an uncompassionate person, your life will suck, more than it would suck if you were a compassionate person. And it is irrational to choose what will make your life suck more, than what you could have chosen instead.
From this, Richard Carrier explains that:
That your life will suck more, ceteris paribus, is due to all the consequences and repercussions of all the things that being uncompassionate causes you to feel and to do (quite apart from what the consequences of any single act will be), which consequences consist not only of external repercussions (personal and social), but internal as well: e.g. the absence of the fulfillments and joys that can be had only from feeling compassion, and the presence of all the miserable feelings that result from the absence of love and compassion, including self-loathing, as you become what you hate in others, or occupy yourself with hating or despising others for attributes that even you yourself possess (or even wish you did).
If such a conclusion can be reached via the methods of observation and conclusion drawing (the very essence of the scientific method), than science can tell us rape is wrong just as well as it can tell us why fish can breath under water or why birds can fly in the air. Science is contributing enormously to our understanding of objective moral truths. Religion, by contrast, is not. 

(2) The idea that atheists have no basis for morality has been asserted by Christians for decades, but it is ultimately an empty assertion. Our morality is derived, again, on the basis of whatever kind of society we want to live in, and recognizing that there are inherently better types of societies we could be living in than others. And we did not need God to figure this out. As Richard Carrier writes:
Just as God did not have to exist for us to invent democracy–or for democracy to be a better way to organize a state–so God does not have to exist for us to invent morality–or for morality to be a better way for us to live. In fact, that simply is what morality is: the best way for us to live, given the physical and biological facts we have been saddled with (such as fragile bodies with persistent needs, in an environment of limited resources of difficult access and constant dangers). In any possible universe in which intelligent life is possible, there will always be some set of behaviors (some set of values and behavioral rules) that is best for that intelligent life to adopt–such that, by adopting it, that life will more easily and reliably sustain its happiness and survival. Therefore, morality will exist in every possible universe in which intelligent life is possible.
(3) It seems that Daniel's assertions regarding morality and evolution are based on his misunderstanding of morality's relation to evolutionary development. He addresses a person on YouTube who posted the following comments.

I personally find this to be an excellent summary of what role evolution plays in the development of morality. But Daniel begs to differ, arguing that, because evolution is based on organisms changing and developing over time, and by definition "objective" morality means morality that doesn't change, evolution therefore contradicts the idea of objective morality. (Time-stamp 0:38) But as I said, this relies on a misunderstanding of evolution's role in relation to morality. 

It is inaccurate to suggest that morality itself evolves along with the organism. Rather, the more accurate way of putting it is to say that our understanding of morality has evolved overtime. That is, objective moral truths remain just that, objective and unchanging, and as we evolve we are able to understand these moral truths gradually over time. For there will inherently always exist an objectively better way to live as a society, regardless of how far evolved a particular organism is. Even in their most primitive ape-like state, our ancestors would have survived and prospered far longer had they developed a society based more on cooperation and logical reasoning. But instead, they most likely behaved as any other animal does today; in constant (and likely violent) competition to survive. 

Another flaw in Daniel's reasoning is that he seems to focus on evolution only in the biological sense, rather than social evolution, which itself has also played a significant role in the development of our understanding of morality. For example, Dr. Victor Stenger has suggested that human beings, in their present form, have entered into a "postevolutionary phase" that is still ongoing. [See: God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion, by Victor Stenger, pg. 259-260] This simply means that we are still learning about what is morally true (that is, the objectively right way to live), and that as we progress we understand what the correct morals are. And it is difficult to disagree with such a notion, as history shows we have grown more morally conscious over the last several centuries. As Richard Dawkins has observed, "we're a lot more moral now than we were 500 years ago, or even 100 years ago."

The point is this: the more evolved an organism is, the more it seems able to understand what is objectively morally right (i.e. what is objectively the best way to live as a society). And it is only when organisms evolve to a point where their cognitive functions allow them to reason correctly will they be able to get to that conclusion. This is what we have done (and are still doing). We are more evolved than any other animal on this planet, and therefore understand the concept of morality better than any of them. This fits perfectly well with what the YouTube user explained to Daniel, and is echoed by others who are qualified scientists. As Victor Stenger summarizes: 
[H]uman beings have always been social animals, and like many other social animals, humans have evolved various behavior patterns that facilitate social living. Moreover, many behaviors are by-products of more basic dispositions and emotions that are themselves adaptively advantageous; for example, compassion in and of itself is adaptively useful to social individuals and their gene pools, even after subtracting the costs of unrewarded exercises of it. That’s why the emotion exists in the first place. ['Life After Death: Examining the Evidence,' by Victor Stenger, published in The End of Christianity, ed. by John Loftus, pg. 324]
Daniel's objections to the idea of evolution explaining morality are astoundingly weak, relying on premises that have either no basis or are extremely unlikely. For example, to explain why morality influenced by "evolutionary pressure" (his words) would be a bad thing, he presents a hypothetical scenario in which there is a nuclear holocaust, and we decided to employ the Dr. Stangelove method of saving the human race via the impregnation of a mass number of women to repopulate the earth. He believes this hypothetically could justify rape, since raping women in order to impregnate them would thus save the human race. (Time-stamp 1:11) Of course, why he thinks women would have to be raped in such a scenario (instead of them perhaps willingly being impregnated, even through artificial insemination with no sex required) is rather puzzling. Does he actually think that is what a nuclear holocaust will logically lead to? Does he think that for some reason women won't want to have sex or be impregnated in such a scenario? The fact is that reproduction via sex is a natural occurrence that is frequently done to ensure a species' survival regardless of the situation I understand this is only a hypothetical he's presenting, yet this a tactic frequently used by Daniel in his videos; relying on hypotheticals instead of deducing what would logically be the most likely outcome based on the current data. Christians frequently want to focus on what is possible rather than what is probable, and Daniel is no exception. 

Daniel then answers the potential objection that morality does change over time by insisting that objective moral truths themselves remain the same regardless of whatever society believes. This is about as close as he gets to getting something right, but he yet again relies on the false notion that objective morality itself changes through evolution which, as we discussed above, it doesn't. Our understanding of morality changes, while objective moral truths themselves remain the same, which is perfectly consist with biological and social evolutionary processes. His example is yet another hypothetical, in which the Nazis had won WWII and convinced the entire world the holocaust was a good thing. From this, Daniel insists that, "the reason we can say that the Holocaust is wrong no matter what the Nazis or anyone else thought of it is because objective morality exists." (Time-stamp 2:19)

-_- .............. Take that in for a moment. Daniel says we know the Holocaust was wrong no matter what because "objective morality exists." Yes Daniel, we got that. But the question still remains; what is the source of that objective morality? We know his answer of course: God. And as we've established, that's as detailed as his explanation gets. Yet again invoking the "God-of-the-gaps" argument. He can't see how objective morality could exist naturally, so God must have just magicked it into us. The circular logic behind Daniel's reasoning is astounding. All he is essentially saying is "I believe objective morality exists because I believe in God, who I believe is the source of objective morality." But without an explanation as to how God has imbued us with objective morality, his reasoning can simply be reduced to "I believe objective morality exists because I believe objective morality exists." (And I can't help but notice how Daniel hesitates and stutters as he claims the reason is that "objective morality exists," possibly implying there is a part of him that recognizes how circular and irrational that statement is).

Daniel is not the first to invoke the "what if the Nazis had won?" hypothetical (itself an extremely bad argument that does theists no favors; see: Christian Apologetics: Hitler can't help you., by NonStampCollector), but the reason we can say the Holocaust would have been wrong regardless of what society thinks is simply by examining the rational behind it and show it was intrinsically illogical, based on the net cost and benefit of it. None of Hitler's justifications for exterminating the Jews had any scientific or philosophical merit to it in a way that it would have helped society as a whole. It would only have helped the society he wanted, yet morality is more universal than that. Again, at its base morality is simply the best way for us to live as a society. Hitler's society, one in which millions of people who did nothing wrong were killed, clearly was not that. Using correct reasoning and armed with all the available knowledge of how and why the Holocaust took place, no sane person could possibly look at that event and believe it was morally correct. And if anyone does think it was morally correct, I await your evidence (though I won't hold my breath).

Daniel also believes morality can't be the product of evolution since "nature doesn't recognize our moral compass." (Time-stamp 2:30) This is true, but I've never heard any atheist claim otherwise. We don't assume that nature is our friend, and that evolution itself is necessarily on our side. In fact, evolution resulted in a lot of negative things we've had to deal with, such as poor eyesight (which we've dealt with using glasses and telescopes), fragile bodies susceptible to extreme heat and cold (which we combat with clothing to deal with either situation), ever-evolving bacteria (which is why we constantly make new vaccinations), etc. Just because all of that is natural doesn't automatically entail that it's good for us, or that it helps us live the best lives possible. The reality is that we've had to fix much of evolution's mistakes, mistakes that do not result in the best society inherently right for us. But through that evolution, we've learned how to cope with it, which in turn has allowed us to develop a better society. So the fact is that nature actually has benefited our understanding of morality, just not in the way Daniel thinks it should.

His claim that "we're the only creatures that stop to ponder whether anything is right or wrong" (Time-stamp 2:37) is true in one sense and wrong in another. It's true we contemplate morality in a way that lower animals can't, yet morality is something that other animals are imbued with. For example, it has been observed that apes such as Chimps and Bonobos are able to express moral emotions and cooperate with each other through care and compassion, even if not as well as humans. Again, the reason we are able to contemplate morality in a larger context is because we evolved brains that allowed us to do that. Other animals are not as evolved as we are, and thus do not have that same luxury.

Daniel insists that "you can't not believe in God yet still believe in fixed moral truths." (Time-stamp 2:57) To back up this claim, he quotes Richard Dawkins as saying:

However, this quote is (perhaps unsurprisingly) taken out of context. For starters, the quote itself is actually two quotes from Dawkins combined into one, thereby giving the impression that both of them refer to the same concept (note that Daniel provides no source for the quote). The first part of the quote (ending in "pitiless indifference...") is taken from page 133 of Dawkins' book River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. In context, what Dawkins is merely saying is that everything in nature that we observe shows no signs of having any special interest in us, that it shows no favor towards us at all, which is precisely what we would expect to see if there was no God. The second part of the quote (beginning with "It is pretty hard to defend") is taken from page 266 of The God Delusion. However, Daniel omits the sentence right before this statement, in which Dawkins writes "Not all absolutism is derived from religion." In other words, it's hard, but not impossible. Furthermore, Daniel fails to mention that Dawkins now believes quite differently, and that objective moral truths can be found through science. In his review of Sam Harris's book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, Dawkins wrote:
I was one of those who had unthinkingly bought into the hectoring myth that science can say nothing about morals. To my surprise, The Moral Landscape has changed all that for me. It should change it for philosophers too. Philosophers of mind have already discovered that they can't duck the study of neuroscience, and the best of them have raised their game as a result. Sam Harris shows that the same should be true of moral philosophers, and it will turn their world exhilaratingly upside down. As for religion, and the preposterous idea that we need God to be good, nobody wields a sharper bayonet than Sam Harris.
The conclusion is clear; despite Daniel's claims to the contrary, science and evolution can explain objective morality, no God needed. But now I would like to turn my attention specifically to Daniel's explanation for morality, and why its flaws dwarf the supposed flaws of naturalism explaining morality by comparison. 

Daniel has, it seems inadvertently, placed himself into a rather difficult position. He is attempting to equate "the existence of objective morality" with "the existence of God." Yet there is simply no justifiable way he can do so no matter how he tries to interpret the data. There are perhaps two ways Daniel believes our moral compass has been derived from God; that either A) God has shown such teachings to us through scripture, or B) that God has somehow inherently imbued the correct moral truths within us that we all just "feel" are correct.

Option A suffers from multiple problems. For starters, many of the moral teachings found in the Bible appear to have existed long before such teachings were ever written in the Bible. For example, the Ten Commandments, which Christians almost universally hold as God's most important objective truths, appear in texts that long predate their conception. Many of the moral teachings of the Ten Commandments can be found in Spell 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, in the "42 Negative Confessions." Compare:

So, even if Daniel wants to claim that objective moral truths originate with God, he cannot justifiably claim that all of them originate with the Judeo-Christian God. 

But setting aside the unoriginality of the Bible's moral teachings, the bigger problem is that, when examined carefully, the morality espoused by the God of the Bible is anything but objective. To be sure, it does appear that this God wants his truths to be objective and unchanging, as is evident from Deuteronomy 4:2. Yet when one actually looks through these supposed "truths," there is no hint that they are objective, but appear entirely subjective. As noted by Earl Doherty:
[N]o better example exists of the difficulties involved in arriving at a biblical morality than the various elements found in the Book of Leviticus. We can start with the passage quoted probably more often than any other in the Old Testament by modern fundamentalists (which speaks volumes in itself): the rabid condemnation of homosexuality in 18:22. Yet how can we accept this as the eternal word of God and "objective" morality in the face of modern medical science and psychology which has identified the gay expression as inherent in nature, including human nature? It is not an aberration (even if due to chance pre-natal factors), but a naturally occurring phenomenon in a minority of the population. Does God not recognize this in his own creation? Apparently not. God apparently has some other strange and subjective ideas as well, at least to our modern minds. Leviticus 18:19 forbids sexual relations during a woman's menstruation. Why isn't that piece of objective morality championed by fundamentalists with equal adamance? 19:13 declares it a law of God that the employer "not keep back a hired man's wages until the next morning." Should the religious community not be agitating for daily paychecks? In 19:19, we are forbidden by God's objective morality to "put on a garment woven with two kinds of material." Where are the evangelical protest marches against the makers of polyester or acrylic and wool sweaters? As for the bulk of Leviticus' priestly concerns, it is apparently an objective requirement of God that animals be sacrificed to him in a unending stream of blood and smoke. If the Lord has changed his mind on that particular predilection, or outgrown such primitive needs, how does this differ from the great bugaboo of "moral relativism"? How can we label God's laws as anything but subjective and lacking in permanence?
By far the best example of this subjectivity found in the Bible is in regards to a topic we have previously discussed: slavery. We have already seen that slavery is condoned in the Bible (even blatantly endorsed in the Ten Commandments), and the concept of slavery was never meant to end (see my discussion of this in 'Delusional Christians Defend God's Atrocities' in the section titled "Slavery"). But I can certainly imagine Christians trying to argue the opposite and claim that slavery was eventually abolished in the Bible (though there is no evidence of this). However, even if that were the case, one would then have to acknowledge that, at one time, God endorsed slavery, but then eventually changed his mind, and decided that slavery was no longer morally permissible. Thus, this would mean God's morals are relativistic, and do not represent any kind of "objective" morality at all. I am not entirely sure what Daniel's belief is regarding this point, but given this dilemma, Daniel ultimately must make either one of two difficult decisions: 

1. If he accepts that slavery was never deemed morally wrong by God in the Bible, then he must accept that slavery is therefore objectively good, and that it should still be practiced today.


2. If he argues that slavery was eventually deemed immoral by God, he then must accept that God's moral foundations are subject to change, meaning they are relativistic, meaning nonobjective.  

There's just no getting around the fact that the God of the Bible is an absolute monster, whose decisions about what is "morally right" seem entirely subjective to our modern minds. Thus, the only other option Daniel can choose is Option B, which is to deem his God an abstract one separate from the Bible, and that rather than informing us of his moral guidelines through scripture, he instead has somehow imbued us with the correct moral standards by which we follow today. This belief is what is known as the natural law theory, which entails that the world's objective moral values have been built into it by God. Yet such a belief is ultimately groundless, since morality in a God-created universe will inevitably look exactly like one in a Godless universe. As John Loftus summarizes:
As far as we can tell the universe does not act morally or immorally. It just is. If such a theory is correct, it means that a universe like ours is indistinguishable from a universe without God in it at all. And if we can derive our morals from the natural world then we don't need God's command to find our morals. [Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, by John W. Loftus, pg. 106]
And as Earl Doherty observes:
If appeal is made to the idea that the reasoning mind can see the 'obvious' valid nature of such commands as "thou shalt not kill" or "thou shalt not steal," then we don't need the bible or God himself to declare them to be so. Atheists thus become as capable as anyone of arriving at and adopting moral standards on a reasoning basis. If, on the other hand, we cannot rely on them through our own rational processes to be valid and worthy of following, if God has not derived these laws from principles that lie outside or independent of himself, then it becomes a question of God's arbitrary whim as to what he is going to make right and wrong; this is also anything but "objective." Indeed, moral laws in this case become entirely subjective—on the part of God himself. If there are no truly objective and independent moral standards adoptable through our own reasoning processes, then we live in a pretty scary universe. This does not mean that the physical universe itself embodies such moral standards, as though "written in the stars." It does not. But to the extent that we ourselves, the human brain and its capacities, are the universe's product through evolution, any moral standards we arrive at on our own through rational judgment as to what is desirable and beneficial (and thus "good") for our own welfare and progress become "objective"—as objective as anything of a non-physical nature can be.
Daniel, I say this with the utmost confidence: objective morality is possible without God, and can be found through science. Period.

The "Danger" of Evolution?

According to Daniel, the theory of evolution by natural selection is "dangerous" to society, though to his credit not in the way usually espoused by creationists. (Time-stamp 0:14) Instead, Daniel believes that the "philosophy" of evolution is the bigger threat to society, in that it "leads to eugenics" and it "devalues human life." (Time-stamps 1:55 and 2:09, respectively) And what is his example of this? If I had a nickel for every time I heard this one, I'd be able to retire at least ten years earlier than normal: Nazi Germany. Yep, that's right. The "Nazis employed Darwinism in their eugenics programs" claim. Daniel also cites a few other more recent examples of eugenics to justify his argument. Yet what he consistently fails to realize is that NONE of these cases have anything to do with evolution in the Darwinian sense. First off, Daniel's insistence that "people are taking evolution, Darwinism, and science and are conflating it not only with morality but with philosophy" (Time-stamp 0:43) is contradicted by the fact that prominent Darwinists have said just the opposite. For example, as Richard Dawkins writes:
The first thing to say is that natural selection is a scientific theory about the way evolution works in fact. It is either true or it is not, and whether or not we like it politically or morally is irrelevant. Scientific theories are not prescriptions for how we should behave. I have many times written... that I am a passionate Darwinian when it comes to the science of how life has actually evolved, but a passionate ANTI-Darwinian when it comes to the politics of how humans ought to behave. I have several times said that a society based on Darwinian principles would be a very unpleasant society in which to live. I have several times said, starting at the beginning of my very first book, The Selfish Gene, that we should learn to understand natural selection, so that we can oppose any tendency to apply it to human politics. Darwin himself said the same thing, in various different ways. So did his great friend and champion Thomas Henry Huxley.
It's perhaps telling that Daniel quotes not a single atheist or scientist who believes Darwinian evolution should be applied to philosophy (the one quote he provides from Sam Harris doesn't even mention anything about Darwinism or evolution in general; Time-stamp 0:52). What Daniel fails to understand is that eugenics itself is not dependent on Darwin's theory at all. In fact, Darwin's theory very much represents the opposite of what eugenics entails. In regards to Hitler's eugenics program, Richard Dawkins explains that:
Hitler did attempt eugenic breeding of humans, and this is sometimes misrepresented as an attempt to apply Darwinian principles to humans. But this interpretation gets it historically backwards, as PZ Myers has pointed out. Darwin's great achievement was to look at the familiar practice of domestic livestock breeding by artificial selection, and realise that the same principle might apply in NATURE, thereby explaining the evolution of the whole of life: "natural selection", the "survival of the fittest". Hitler didn't apply NATURAL selection to humans... Hitler tried to apply ARTIFICIAL selection to humans, and there is nothing specifically Darwinian about artificial selection. It has been familiar to farmers, gardeners, horse trainers, dog breeders, pigeon fanciers and many others for centuries, even millennia. Everybody knew about artificial selection, and Hitler was no exception. What was unique about Darwin was his idea of NATURAL selection; and Hitler's eugenic policies had nothing to do with natural selection.
In other words, had Hitler actually applied the concept of Darwinian evolution to his conceptions of developing a better race of people, he would not have tried wiping out anybody. He would have done nothing at all, and just let other races of people naturally die off. At best, Hitler could potentially have been defined as a "Social Darwinist," yet Richard Dawkins points out that "all modern evolutionists, almost literally without exception, have been vocal in their condemnation of Social Darwinism." 

What Daniel also fails to understand is that the concept of eugenics is one that can be found to have its roots in the Bible. As pointed out by Rabbi Max Reichler:
To be sure eugenics as a science could hardly have existed among ancient Jews; but many eugenic rules were certainly incorporated in the large collection of Biblical and Rabbinical laws. Indeed there are clear indications of a conscious effort to utilize all influences that might improve the inborn qualities of the Jewish races and to guard against any practice that might vitiate the purity of the race or "impair the racial qualities of future generations" either physically, mentally, or morally... The very founder of the Jewish race, the patriarch Abraham, recognized the importance of certain inherited qualities, and insisted that the wife of his "only beloved son" should not come from "the daughters of the Canaanites," but from the seed of a superior stock. [Jewish Eugenics and Other Essays, by Max Reichler, pg. 7-8]
Indeed, we find several instances of the Bible implying this very concept. 
[A]nd I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac. -Genesis 24:3-4 
No bastard shall enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none belonging to them shall enter the assembly of the Lord for ever; because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came forth out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Be′or from Pethor of Mesopota′mia, to curse you. Nevertheless the Lord your God would not hearken to Balaam; but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days for ever. -Deuteronomy 23:2-6
On that day they read from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God; for they did not meet the children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them—yet our God turned the curse into a blessing. When the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all those of foreign descent. -Nehemiah 13:1-3
And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have trespassed and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. Now then make confession to the Lord the God of your fathers, and do his will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives."... Let our officials stand for the whole assembly; let all in our cities who have taken foreign wives come at appointed times, and with them the elders and judges of every city, till the fierce wrath of our God over this matter be averted from us." -Ezra 10:10-11, 14
The passage from Deuteronomy is particularly noteworthy for its declaration that "No bastard shall enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation," because we find this very passage referenced by Hitler in Mein Kampf.
[I]t is one of those concerning which it is said with such terrible justice that the sins of the fathers are avenged down to the tenth generation... Blood sin and desecration of the race are the original sin in this world and the end of a humanity which surrenders to it. (pg. 184)
Does this sound Darwinian? Hardly. In fact, Daniel is evidently unaware that evidence suggests that Darwinism was specifically banned in Germany at the time, as books discussing "a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism" were placed on the Nazis' list of banned books. It's important to keep in mind that the vast majority of Hitler's men were practicing Christians, and would have been far more familiar with the Bible and Christian antisemitism than anything Darwin wrote. As Dr. Hector Avalos has shown, Hitler's policies had very little to do with Darwinism, and instead Hitler found much of his justification through religion and Christian antisemitism. Thus Daniel's claim that "only under evolutionary philosophy and eugenics was it permissible by Nazi Germany to force thousands and millions of people into death camps and exterminate them" (Time-stamp 2:19) is clearly unfounded. Unless he provides any real evidence that there is a correlation between Darwinian evolution and eugenics, his paranoid ideas about the "dangers of evolutionary philosophy"  can be promptly dismissed.

Spaghetti, Unicorns, and Teapots

Daniel criticizes arguments used by atheists in regards to the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" (FSM), "Invisible Pink Unicorn," and "Russell's Teapot" analogies as absurd. When discussing the FSM, he says we know this can be disproved since "the FSM was invented by Bobby Henderson in 2005." (Time-stamp 1:00) In other words, Daniel argues that since we know the origin of the FSM myth, we can know it isn't real. Of course, he ignores the fact that we can (and have done) the exact same thing for Christianity and the creation of God, and shown that they also have their origins in mythological thought. Likewise, he dismisses Russell's teapot analogy because "it's an improbable object." (Time-stamp 1:34) But he completely misunderstands that that's the point.

Analogies such as these are used in relation to Carl Sagan's famous quote that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." To claim that things like a FSM or a teapot orbiting the sun actually exist, one would need extraordinary evidence to prove it. However, there are different levels of extraordinary, and this depends on our background knowledge and what we can infer from previously existing data. Consider the following analogy from Richard Carrier:
If I tell you that I own a car, I usually don't have to present very much evidence to prove it, because you've already observed mountains of evidence that people like me own cars. So that's not an unusual claim. But if I say I own a nuclear missile, you have just as much evidence that people like me don't own nuclear missiles. So you would all agree I would need much more evidence to convince you that owned one of those. Now suppose I told you I own an interstellar spacecraft. That would be an even more extraordinary claim, because there is no general knowledge supporting it at all. Not only do you have lots of very good evidence that people like me don't own interstellar spacecraft, you also have no evidence this has ever been true for anyone. Unlike nuclear missiles, which you know at least some people have. Therefore the burden of evidence I would have to bare here is truly enormous.
As the complexity of a claim increases, so does the burden of proof on the person making the claim. As the above analogy shows, if someone says they own a car, very little evidence is needed to prove it, considering that a) we know cars exist (in abundant numbers), and b) we have seen numerous examples of people owning said cars. So such a claim is quite unextraordinary. But if someone claims to own a nuclear missile, much greater evidence would be needed. And yet, we are still able to interpret this claim with a foreseeable level of probability, given that a) we know nuclear missiles exist, and b) nuclear missiles have been owned by certain people. The only aspect of this claim that is in dispute is how likely it would be for the average Joe to own a nuclear missile, since we have no evidence that people like that have owned them. The claim of owning an interstellar spacecraft requires even greater evidence, yet still possesses a level of foreseeable probability, given that a) spacecrafts themselves do exist, and b) certain people have owned them. Where the burden proof lies is in showing that there are any spacecrafts that do possess the ability of interstellar space travel. Then one would need to show that such a vehicle has been owned by anyone at all, much less the average Joe on the street.

Now consider this in context with the FSM and Russell's Teapot. As it turns out, both of these things are inherently more likely to exist than God. Say wut? Yes, that's right, and here's why. In the case of the FSM, we have no evidence that such a creature has ever existed. However, we do know, at the very least, that spaghetti exists. That is, we have seen and felt spaghetti, so we know that the substance such a creature would be made from does exist. So already we can see there is a chance (even if incredibly slim) that the FSM is more likely to exist than God, who we have never seen or felt (theists can't even define what God theoretically would "look" or "feel" like, given that God, by definition, is said to have no body and be immaterial).

Likewise, Russell's Teapot is even more likely to exist. Although we have no evidence of such an object orbiting the sun, we know there is still a higher chance such an object could exist than God existing since a) we know teapots exist (in large quantities in fact), and b) such an object could be placed into space given the current technology available today. Again, no evidence like this exists for God. As Richard Carrier summarizes:
Consider the generic claims that God exists, God is good, and God created this universe. What evidence do we have for any of these particular propositions? The only evidence ever offered for the "existence" of God essentially boils down to two things: "The universe exists, therefore God exists" and "I feel God exists, therefore he does." Otherwise, we can't prove anyone has ever really seen God--seen him act, speak, or do anything. Even if we could prove a single genuine miracle had ever really happened, we still would not have evidence that God caused that miracle, rather than a misunderstood human power over the supernatural, or the work of spirits, or sorcery, and so on. To confirm God as their cause would require yet more evidence, of which (again) we have none.
However, according to Daniel, "Atheists invoke these teapot-style arguments under the premise that God is as implausible as a teapot [in space]. But they don't provide any reasons as to why their premise is true." (Time-stamp 3:20) Yes Daniel, because apparently the abundance of atheist literature explaining this doesn't count.Smiley

The Problem of Evil

Daniel discusses the infamous "problem of evil" argument that many see as one of the strongest arguments against God's existence. The problem, in its most simplistic form, is that if God is supposed to be perfectly good, why does so much evil appear inherently built into the world? Daniel provides us with three explanations:

1. The "free will" argument.  
2. The "from bad can come good" argument. 
3. The "God suffered for our sins" argument.

(1) The first argument is frequently touted by theists, but it suffers from numerous problems. Daniel insists that "evil isn't a 'thing,'" but rather a "wrong choice." (Time-stamp 1:38) In other words, because human beings are endowed with free will, the evil that occurs is largely our fault. And how does Daniel justify this? By reasoning that "God created everything, and everything God created is good." (Time-stamp 1:29)

For the time being, we'll ignore the fact that much of the cruelty in the world atheists point to are things like diseases, tornadoes, lightening strikes, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc., which are natural forces, and thus not "man-made" (something even Daniel agrees with to some extent). In other words, none of these things are "choices," except perhaps if God exists, then it would be his choice (yep, everything he made is good alright).  And we'll also set aside the fact that many people hurt and killed by these forces are children and infants, who I'm pretty confident didn't do anything to deserve that (although if the God Daniel believes in exists, this would be pretty routine for him). Instead, we'll focus on the fact that free will itself is something God is supposed to have given us, so in regards to the evil humans themselves commit, it seems the blame could be placed squarely back on him. Ah, but Daniel has an answer for that. In response to this objection, Daniel says:
[T]here are gonna be some people out there who say 'if God is the origin of free will, and free will creates room for sin, can't we blame God for evil?' No. Think of it this way. You wouldn't blame parents for the choices of their children, even though they're the origin of their children. Right? You wouldn't blame the Wright brothers for 9/11 just because they're the origin of airplanes. You wouldn't blame eating utensils for obesity. Yes, God is the origin of free will, but it's the people who make evil choices that deserve the blame. (Time-stamp 1:50)
There are a number of factors Daniel fails to take into consideration with his analogies. The most important one being the factor of intent. Of course we wouldn't blame the Wright brothers for 9/11, since using airplanes to commit suicide attacks was never their intent in creating the airplane. The Wright brothers had no idea the extent of what kind of death and destruction versions of their creation would be used for. However, the same cannot be said of God. Or of parents for that matter. Despite Daniel's claims to the contrary, we often do blame parents for their children's choices, whether those choices are good or bad. If they raise their child to be an upstanding member of society, we naturally look towards such people and think of what a fine job they did at raising their child. Or, alternatively, if their child grows up to be a criminal or some other sort of deplorable person, we often look towards the parents and reflect on what a bad job they must have done in raising him or her. 

Of course, this doesn't mean we place all the blame on the parents, since every person does indeed inevitably make his or her own choices in life. Yet the job of any parent is to raise their child the best way they can, and (unless the circumstances are totally out of their control) to nurture him or her with the responsibility of knowing they are sending them out into the world to experience it. Whatever the result of a child's upbringing, the parents must accept their percent of the blame. And the same should be said of God as well. If God has endowed us with free will, then it is his responsibility to anticipate what we are going to do with it. And if we are misusing free will in some way, a way contrary to what God intended of us, how are we to know this unless we are told how we have misused it? If we have misunderstood God's true intentions in giving us free will, and God will not explain to us how to properly use it, how are we to blame for misusing it? At one point, Daniel even says that "Animals hardly understand anything about us or our nature, so how much more are we unable to understand everything about God's perceptive?" (Time-stamp 3:22)

This is an interesting point worth considering, and one that, theoretically, may possess some validity. If God really does exist, and is as all-powerful and all-knowing as theists make him out to be, then Daniel's analogy that "God is to human beings what human beings are to lower animals" may actually make some sense. Yet it is precisely because lower animals are less developed than we are that we don't put in their possession something they can't fully understand. For example, if someone were to give a chimp a loaded gun and it ended up hurting other chimps, people, or itself, we would hardly blame the chimp for it, because we know he doesn't understand what he's been given. He doesn't know what a gun is and doesn't know that pulling the trigger can likely result in serious injury and potentially death. Refusing to give a gun to a chimp does nothing to affect the chimp's free will. It's simply a matter of not giving him more than he can handle, based on what he cannot understand.

And this is precisely the problem we face if God truly did give us free will. If God gave us more freedom than we can handle, how are we to blame for misusing it? And if God's ways are truly "higher than our own," and he understands more than we do, then it is hardly our fault, since we obviously don't possess the knowledge God has. As we're only human, we can only work with what we've got, including available information. If God knows more than we do, and knows there are ways in which free will can lead us to great amounts of misery, it is his responsibility to either keep such a gift away from us, or at least explain to us how we are misusing it and how we can avoid such misery. As Pierre Bayle observed in regards to God's endowing us with free will: 
[I]t is inconceivable that a beneficent being would give such an important gift [free will] unless it would contribute greatly to the happiness of the recipient; and consequently it would have to be the case that he arranged that they gain such an advantage from it, and that he prevent them, if possible, from being desolated and completely ruined by it. If there be no other way of avoiding this result than by revoking his donation, he would have to do this... The same goodness that leads to giving something that one judges is capable of making the recipients happy leads to withdrawing it as soon as it is seen that it will make them unhappy; and if the benefactor has time and sufficient strength, he will not delay taking back this present until after it has already become the cause of misery. He will take it away before it does any harm.
If God is the reason we have free will, then we most certainly can blame him for the evil we've created with it. And if there's a way to avoid using free will that leads to this evil, and God knows how this can be done, we'd be more than happy to hear it. Again, this would have nothing to do with affecting our free will, as God could give us this information and we'd be free to do with such information whatever we'd like. The point is that we would be fully informed, and thus could make a fully informed decision. And if that's asking to much of God, that says much more about him than any of us.

(2) Daniel's second argument is that "not all suffering is bad, and God actually uses suffering for good." (Time-stamp 2:21) In other words, Daniel is suggesting that God can actually use the suffering of others in order to create larger amounts of good that otherwise would never have taken place had the suffering not happened first. And to support this notion, Daniel references the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors, in which Joseph's suffering eventually led him to become Prime Minister of Egypt. Of course, Joseph's historicity has been largely doubted by scholars, thus the event in question may never have even taken place. The fact that Daniel appeals to a likely fictitious story should speak volumes, but never the less we will consider his overall point. Yes, theoretically suffering can lead to good occurring that otherwise wouldn't have happened without said suffering in the first place. But we also know that suffering very often results in nothing but the suffering itself. And in many cases suffering can lead to even more suffering as a result. A family that loses their 3-year-old child to cancer certainly doesn't result in anything "beneficial." In such a scenario, an innocent child dies a miserable death, leaving his or her family to grieve for the rest of their lives. How exactly does God use something like this for good?

Daniel apparently prefers to argue from mystery in deciding how God uses suffering for good, saying that:
The fallacy that a lot of people make is that if they can't see or imagine a good reason for something, there must not be one. But this sort of mindset is blind faith of the highest order. (Time-stamp 2:26)
Huh? So let me get this straight Daniel. If someone witnesses a horrible event occur, and that person sees no evidence that the event resulted in any good whatsoever, and from that concludes that no good came of the event, that's "blind faith of the highest order"? Wut? It's already been very apparent that Daniel has trouble defining what "faith" means, but this is just ridiculous. It is not a "fallacy" to come to a conclusion based on whatever evidence one currently has. Rather, it is a fallacy to insert some explanation totally ad hoc in order to come to a conclusion. Yet this is precisely what Daniel suggests is a valid method of reasoning; that if you can just "imagine" an answer that explains it all away, the problem is solved. Of course you or I or anyone else can "imagine" an explanation for something. The imagination is limitless. But reasoning "possibly, therefore probably," is some of the most fallacy-ridden reasoning one can use. The point atheists frequently make is that if there's no evidence to believe something, there's no reason to believe it. Simple as that. The burden of proof is on the person claiming some sort of good came from the event, and we simply demand that person provide evidence. But not doing so and just assuming that God "has his reasons" or that "he must have a plan," THAT is faith to the highest order; belief with no evidence. Pot call kettle black much?

Here's the point Daniel. When suffering of any kind occurs, it usually results in one of three scenarios: The suffering just happens in that particular instance, the suffering leads to more suffering happening, and yes, in some cases suffering can lead to good occurring. But there is one key factor to keep in mind: there's no pattern to it. These results are completely random and offer no indication that there is any bigger plan or that suffering is being "used" in any way for our overall benefit. Which again, is exactly what we would expect to see if there was no God.

(3) Daniel's third reason why God allows suffering is perhaps his weakest; that "God suffered too." (Time-stamp 3:49) He's of course referring to the atonement of Jesus, that he "died for our sins" so we could be forgiven. Yet the atonement has been demonstrated to be completely illogical, immoral, and incoherent [definitively demonstrated by Dr. Ken Pulliam in his essay 'The Absurdity of the Atonement,' published in The End of Christianity, ed. by John W. Loftus; also humorously shown to be absurd in DarkMatter2525's video The Thing God Can't Do]. The idea that God would need to offer up a human sacrifice to repay the supposed sins committed by all others before (and after) him is one that has long been recognized as absurd, given that it merely demeans us all as sinners, and that Jesus payed for what apparently every human being deserves. If Daniel wishes to believe that, he is free to do so. However, I prefer to be believe less cynically than that. 

In conclusion, Daniel offers no good reason to believe that suffering and evil in this world has any justifiable excuses on the assumption that God exists. The problem of evil has, is, and will continue to be powerful evidence that God does not exist.

Responding to Responses to Responders

I am not the first (nor will I likely be the last) person to respond to Daniel's nonsensical claims. Many of these responses can be found on YouTube. However, I would like to focus on two responses that have been posted against him, given that they are responses that Daniel himself responded to. As painful as it is listening to Daniel's claims, listening to him respond to others calling him out is almost worse.

Jaclyn Glenn

In response to his first video covering religion, YouTuber and atheist Jaclyn Glenn posted a response video titled Atheist vs. Christian. Daniel subsequently published his own response, attempting to explain away all of the problems pointed out by Jaclyn. Yet it's apparent that Daniel either still genuinely doesn't understand what he's being told, or just chooses not to understand. Below I will list the major errors Daniel commits in his response.

(1) In response to Jaclyn pointing out the absurdity of his original statement that "there's an incredible amount of evidence behind any major religion, particularly Christianity," (Time-stamp  0:20) Daniel explains that what he really meant was that there's evidence for the Abrahamic religions. (Time-stamp 3:01) Get it? Because "every major religion" would of course include Hinduism and Buddhism, so now Daniel says that all he meant were the religions derived from Abraham.  I can possibly buy that he just happened to forget the third and fourth largest religions in the world for the time being, but I also have to wonder if this isn't just some post hoc rationalization to account for his screw-up. Keep this in mind as we go along, because we'll be seeing more examples of this. And despite his assertions, we've already seen that the evidence for Christianity is extremely weak, and if Daniel would like to know which religion is actually true, he should take John Loftus's Outsider Test for Faith.

(2) Despite Jaclyn basically explaining what I've already explained above, Daniel maintains that science still requires faith and is not specific to religion. But as I've already explained in depth, there are different meanings to faith, and the type of faith atheists criticize and that any true scientist would never employ is the type of faith frequently exhibited by theists. It's pretty obvious why Daniel is so persistent on this point; because he can't actually demonstrate that his belief isn't built largely on faith, he has to place the same label on his opponents. It's nothing but a classic case of "I know you are, but what am I," which only reinforces the stereotype that Christians behave like immature children who can't stand to have their beloved beliefs challenged. 

(3) In response to Daniel's odd hypotheticals about the laws of physics being different in different galaxies (Time-stamp 0:55), Jaclyn once again explains what I've explained above; that hypotheticals are not arguments, and that Daniel would rather focus more on what's possible rather than what's probable. In response, Daniel maintains that his hypotheticals weren't his arguments, but rather "they were demonstrations to prove [his] point that science doesn't know everything and has to rely on assumptions." (Time-stamp 5:50) However Daniel wants to reinterpret his own words, the fact remains that he relies on scenarios that are extremely unlikely, instead of discussing actual scientific studies being carried out by scientists. Ah, but Daniel actually does point to a real study in this case! He points out that scientists have actually studied the possibility that the laws of physics differ in other galaxies (an idea that incidentally has not been widely accepted in the scientific community). This is ongoing research, and the scientists are adjusting their perspectives based on the available evidence. Again, this is just what we'd expect from people properly employing the scientific method, instead of relying on faith. Why Daniel continues to fail to see this is anyone's guess.

(4) Jaclyn also points out what I've already pointed out (man, it's like I shouldn't even have to be writing this, huh?) that, contrary to Daniel's claims, science can and is explaining morality in human beings. In response, Daniel says this:
Okay, cool. We can study the evolution of morality. But where does the neural network that determines and defines our innate understanding of morality come from? You attacked my point but failed to answer it. (Time-stamp 6:31)
Annnnnnnnd... I call bullshit. Please compare the above statement with what Daniel actually said in his original video:
Science can't tell you the difference between good and evil. Science can't tell us that rape is wrong. Sure, we accept that as a value judgment, but science can only tell us what's observable and testable. (Time-stamp 1:07)
Now tell me, would ANYONE listening to this statement come away with the impression that what he really meant was "the neural network that determines and defines our innate understanding of morality" has not been found? I seriously doubt it. Which is why I don't believe that's what he really meant to say. It's likely just another post hoc rationalization to make up for the fact Jaclyn called him out and showed why he was wrong. Or, alternatively, if that actually is what he meant to say, then it really doesn't help him out that much, since it would only show that he is so phenomenally bad at arguing his points that people don't understand what he's talking about. For the record Daniel, it isn't Jaclyn's fault that you apparently don't know how to articulate your arguments correctly.

Despite Daniel's apparent goalpost moving, his new point is moot anyway. Scientists actually have made progress in identifying the neural centers of the brain that account for our morality and consciousness. Furthermore, scientists have also found that when these parts of the brain are damaged, it actually changes the moral judgments of the person affected. This sounds an awful lot like science is explaining morality inside and out. No God needed.

(5) In response to Jaclyn pointing out the inherent absurdity of Christianity, Daniel responds by saying:
I think it takes more faith to believe in a scientific theory that from nothing came something as finely tuned as our universe than to believe a man rose from the dead. (Time-stamp 6:57)
This one statement is so fallacy-rich that each section needs addressed separately.

"The universe came from nothing." The first of two loaded assertions. It has never been established that the universe had a beginning, and thus needed to come from anything in the first place. In fact, Alan Guth, co-author of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, has recently said that he believes that the universe is "very likely eternal." We know that our universe began at the Big Bang, and many scientists have proposed several viable theories explaining what caused it, including Alex Vilenkin, Stephen Hawking, and Lawrence Krauss. Cosmological scientists are making a large amount of progress in answering this question. Theologians, however, are not. Furthermore, Richard Carrier has explained that even if we grant that there ever was truly "nothing," the universe would ultimately still come into existence, with no God needed.

"The universe is fine-tuned." Another loaded assertion. It has not been established that the universe is finely tuned. Or rather, it is has never been established that the universe is fine-tuned to allow life to exist. Both Drs. Victor Stenger [The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why The Universe is Not Designed for Us] and Richard Carrier ['Neither Life nor the Universe Appear Intelligently Designed,' published in The End of Christianity, ed. by John W. Loftus] have explained why it most probably isn't. I myself have explained why the universe, based on its size and structure, looks exactly the way it would have to look if it wasn't designed by a God. However, even if we assume the universe is fine-tuned for life, this would still be a far cry from proving that God or any other type of "intelligent designer" was the cause of that fine-tuning. Such an idea is based on the weak anthropic principle, which even other theists recognize as fallacious. For example, biologist Dr. Ken Miller, a devout Christian, has said of the fine-tuning issue that:
[T]here's a deep logical problem at the heart of the anthropic principle, and it's been apparent since the idea was first suggested in the 1970s. Taking as a starting point the observation that you and I are alive, at least in the immediate present, it's obvious that we must live in a universe where life is possible. If we didn't, we wouldn't be here to talk about it. So, in a certain sense the fact that we live in a life-friendly universe merits little more than a big "Duh." Of course we live in a universe where the six big numbers make life possible.... Where else could we live? The anthropic principle doesn't prove the existence of a higher power or a higher intelligence. All it proves is that we are indeed alive--something we knew long before anyone thought to attach a fancy name like "anthropic" to the "principle." [Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul, by Kenneth R. Miller, pg. 121-122]
What is also strangely ironic about Daniel's belief in fine-tuning is that he also apparently believes life could not have arisen on its own without some sort of intelligence creating it in the first place. In discussing the idea of scientists creating "live matter out of inorganic matter" (which, incidentally, has been done),  he maintains that it's still "scientists, aka intelligent beings, behind the scenes that the experiment is even able to take place." (Time-stamp 2:26) From this, he concludes that:
In other words, the only reason that live matter is created out of inorganic matter is because there is an intelligent being behind the scenes. This stuff doesn't happen on its own. (Time-stamp 2:52)
Note the astounding contradiction Daniel has created here. On the one hand, he believes life could not have "happened on its own" in the universe without there being "an intelligent being behind the scenes." For him, that being would of course be God. But on the other hand, Daniel also maintains that the universe was "fine-tuned" by God. Yet according to Daniel, the physical laws of this universe could not have naturally produced life, so therefore God is needed to do it. The idea that God would "fine-tune" the physical laws of the universe, but then be required to violate the laws of that universe to get life started, would imply that that universe was specifically designed not to produce life. Doublethink at its finest.

"A man rose from the dead." We've already established that the evidence for Jesus rising from the dead also extremely weak. This is apparent when we put the evidence into context and realize we would never conclude such a thing took place based on the current evidence we have.

(6) Daniel posted a second video criticizing Jaclyn, and it is perhaps more frustrating than the first. The whole premise of Daniel's video is essentially that atheists such as Jaclyn promote an awful message; that life is ultimately meaningless and that we're just a "speck of dust" in relation to the universe. Daniel maintains that life apparently can only have real meaning if it was "created with a purpose by a divine creator, and that we have a creator who loves us very much." (Time-stamp 2:09)

I'd first like to point out to Daniel that, despite what he wants to think about our place in the universe, the reality is that we quite literally are a speck compared to the rest of the universe. Period. We are one tiny planet among many other planets, in one galaxy among billions more galaxies in a huge universe. I personally don't see how this is inconsistent with us being insignificant in relation to the rest of the universe, but maybe I'm missing something. But given our inherent insignificance in relation to the rest of the universe, does this mean our lives are meaningless? 

The idea we need to have been "created" by some higher entity for our lives to have value is an absurd notion, since we know the opposite would be true even if there was a God. After all, I imagine that Daniel is perfectly fine with the idea that nobody created God, yet God's life has value. Right? Just as theists understand God's love as giving God himself and the universe value, so atheists and other naturalists likewise understand our love as giving ourselves and the universe value. Since we have not been granted meaning from any higher power, we understand our duty to create our own personal meaning of life, which is vastly more fulfilling than needing it to be given to us. If that were the case, we would be nothing more than pawns or lab rats who's significance was based solely on how significant someone else thinks we should be. What Daniel fails to understand is that atheists accept that life has no ultimate meaning, but that is does have actual meaning. As Richard Carrier explains:
I believe "life is ultimately meaningless," because the "ultimately" cannot be established. "Ultimately," even God's existence would be meaningless, because there is no other God around to give his life meaning--his actions do not matter for anyone else but himself, and apart from his own arbitrary or unchosen opinion of the matter, even his existing "forever" would be meaningless. Yet if God can thus find meaning without appealing to someone else, then so can we. And that is the difference between an "ultimate" meaning and an actual meaning. Life does not have "ultimate" meaning, but it does have actual meaning...
This actual meaning is one that each and everyone of us finds on our own, which not only provides you with a meaning of life, but one that you yourself created and can cherish as a marvelous accomplishment. If Daniel feels he cannot possibly have a purposeful life unless it was created by a higher power, then I truly feel sorry for him. Such a view seems far more cynical than anything espoused by atheists. 

(7) Daniel also repeats his claim that "atheists have no basis for morality," (Time-stamp 4:54) a claim I have thoroughly refuted above. What's noteworthy is that Daniel actually suggests how he thinks God imbued us with the correct morals, which is that "he integrated [them] into nature." (Time-stamp 5:40) This is odd considering that Daniel has also said that "nature doesn't recognize our moral compass." (Time-stamp 2:30) So which is it Daniel? Is morality imbued through nature or is it not? Yet another example of a Christian trying to have it both ways.

(8) Also of interest is Daniel's criticism of Jaclyn for her saying that "religion is the problem" rather than just pointing out specific things wrong with religion. (Time-stamp 6:21) To support this, Daniel draws an analogy, saying that:
For example, atheist YouTubers... bash Christianity simply because of the gay marriage thing. But that's awful logic. That would be like me bashing science and technology and saying that "science and technology are awful because they're the only reasons that we have nuclear warheads." (Time-stamp 6:31)
I sense awful logic, but it's not coming from Jaclyn or other atheists. An important distinction is that science itself is entirely neutral as to what someone wants to use it for. Science just is what it is, a method of examining evidence and drawing conclusions from that evidence. Science may have led to the creation of nuclear weapons, but there is no doctrine of science declaring that this is the way it has to be. However, when a religious text specifically states that homosexuality is wrong, and the adherents of that religion promote that sentiment, these people can hardly be seen as going contrary to what their religion entails. So this would indeed represent an inherent trait within that religion, not a misunderstanding of it. Furthermore, there is evidence that religion by its very nature produces violence, rather than just misreading what the texts actually say [shown in immense detail by Dr. Hector Avalos in his book Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence]. Regardless of whatever excuses Daniel wants to muster up, religion itself is a problem, and religious people themselves should be sorting this out.

(9) As a final (and rather annoying) point, Daniel says of Jaclyn that:
[A]t least you have the right and the freedom to complain about those things. You know who will never have the right to complain about anything? The 56 million dead babies who have been aborted because of the beliefs that you, other atheists, and liberals have shoved into our legal system. (Time-stamp 7:36)
Yep, Daniel saved just enough time to shoehorn in some ranting about the abortion issue. I won't bother getting into that debate here. Instead, I'll just provide two points for Daniel to consider: 1. The God that you apparently believe in has no problem with abortion whatsoever (and frequently codons and commits it himself in the Bible); and 2. Up to 1 in 5 pregnancies (and possibly much higher) end in a miscarriage, i.e. a "natural abortion" (which would be an odd trait for God to imbue women with). When it comes to abortion, no one seems to do it better than your God Daniel. Might your anger be better directed toward someone else?

In the end, Daniel's rants against Jaclyn come off as immature and completely uninformed. And as we'll see, this doesn't end with his response to another of his critics.

The Amazing Atheist

In response to Daniel's claims regarding the "evils of evolution," TJ Kirk (aka "The Amazing Atheist") posted a video titled 'Evolution is Dangerous and Knowledge Is Scary!?' Daniel responded back, but as with his response to Jaclyn, his arguments and logic fail miserably. The first thing to note about Daniel's response is how little of TJ's video he actually responds to. He refers to most of TJ's video as a "straw-man" (or rather a "straw-man, straw-man!, STRAW-MAN!"  ) (Time-stamp 5:46) Evidently this gives Daniel justification to ignore most of TJ's points (including editing out much of TJ's comments among the clips Daniel actually does show in his video). I encourage you to watch both of their videos to truly appreciate this. Here are the topics TJ discusses that Daniel evidently thinks are "straw-man" claims, and thus ignores. Some of them I've already discussed in this post (again, it's like I shouldn't even have to be writing this):
  • The differences and relationship between science and philosophy.
  • The fact that we are just another animal in the animal kingdom, and our inherent superiority to other animals is due to the fact that we evolved superior brains and cognitive functions.
  • The fact that Daniel contradicts himself in saying that "evolutionary philosophy" will somehow both justify cruelty towards animals, yet also elevate them to our level.
  • The fact that, despite Daniel's apparent concern for animals being treated badly, the Bible itself contains many instances of animal cruelty (which is true). 
  • The fact that the Bible itself demeans human life (again, very true).
  • The fact that the concept of eugenics (that is, "artificial selection") was understood in society long before Darwin ever proposed his theory of natural selection.
  • The fact that science is itself inherently neutral, and cannot be blamed for what individual humans decide to use it for.
That's essentially how much Daniel ignores in his response, because again, this is all "straw-
men." What Daniel does address has mostly already been addressed by me in this post, in addition to one issue that was barely discussed in his original video. Daniel once again asserts that science can't account for objective morality, and says that TJ shouldn't be so dismissive of Sam Harris's comments on what science is. (Time-stamp 2:58) For the record Daniel, it seems to me that TJ is not so much dismissing the quote itself, but just pointing out that Sam Harris does not necessarily speak for all atheists. For example, TJ himself doesn't believe in objective morality, whereas Sam Harris does. The point is that individual atheists don't lump all atheists together (only theists like Daniel do that). I also believe in objective morality, and believe it can be found through science, as I've explained above. Despite Daniel's continued claims to the contrary, so far he has not provided a single valid argument against this position, regardless of who espouses it. He also fails to show that the "philosophy" of evolution is truly a danger to society, whereas the Bible has certainly had a more damaging impact on society based on the philosophy it espouses.

The issue Daniel spends the most time addressing is TJ's insistence that God "guiding" evolution doesn't make any sense. The idea God is guiding evolution is the view Daniel holds, and with the aid of YouTuber Johanan Raatz, Daniel presents an argument for God's existence that I admit I had not heard of before watching his video: The Introspective Argument. (Time-stamp 6:29) That is, the argument that consciousness cannot be shown to rely on a material brain, since it is through that consciousness that you interpret that your brain exists. Thus, you cannot prove the brain itself is actually material, and therefore the mind cannot be proven to be based in a material reality. From this, the claim can be made that nothing is material, and thus everything that we experience is essentially an immaterial virtual reality. According to Mr. Raatz, this points to all of reality existing within the mind of God, because since thoughts are immaterial, and the reality we experience is (based on the Introspective Argument) immaterial, the universe exists within God's mind. (Time-stamp 9:31The way in which Daniel and Mr. Raatz believe this factors into God guiding evolution is that, because the universe exists within God's mind, he is essentially controlling the mutations that occur within organisms (Time-stamp 12:38) An interesting idea to say the least, but upon further examination is shown to be completely fallacious.

Researching the Introspective Argument, I found there are numerous problems with it. YouTuber 'Eclectic Media' has already made several videos exposing the flaws of Mr. Raatz and the Introspective Argument, but the biggest problem I found with the argument was the one that occurred to me when I first heard it; that it appears to be inherently unfalsifiable. I will explain precisely why it is unfalsifiable, but first I think we should let Mr. Raatz speak for himself on the matter. Though I initially thought the argument was unfalsifiable, Mr. Raatz made me think otherwise for a moment, since he asked one of his critics if there existed "evidence" that his argument was wrong.

Logically, there must exist evidence against his position for his argument to be considered falsifiable (and thus testable), and he must recognize this himself. In other words, if he believes the reality we observe is consistent with his argument, he therefore must have some idea of what reality would look like if it were inconsistent with his argument. You can't have one without the other. So I asked Mr. Raatz about this, and requested that he provide me with examples of whatever evidence he would need to see to show that his argument is wrong. I also asked for some clarification on exactly how he thinks God is "guiding" evolution.

Unfortunately, his answers confirmed my initial conclusions.

As we can see, Mr. Raatz himself acknowledges that his argument is unfalsifiable. And there is a good reason exactly why that is. The "a priori" knowledge that the Introspective Argument depends on is the existence of consciousness. In other words, the argument can only ever be made if conscious intelligent observers exist in the first place, for that itself opens up the dispute over whether or not that consciousness is dependent on a material brain, or if the brain itself is also immaterial. However, we already know that the brain exists (that is, we have experienced this large fleshy organ within our heads, whether or not it is material or immaterial). However, we have never experienced a conscious observer lacking a brain, which itself points to mind-brain dependence. Of course, Mr. Raatz would disagree, arguing that you can't know your brain is material since you interpret the brain with the said consciousness it's supposed to be responsible for. But then the question is this: how then can we experience a material universe and know for sure it is not immaterial?

It follows that the only way for materialism to be 100% proven is for a universe to exist that lacks consciousness. That is, if there exists no conscious intelligent observers within a universe, the "a priori" requirement that consciousness itself exists to make the Introspective Argument true is out of the equation. Thus you will only end up with a completely material universe, and that universe can be shown to exist within a material reality. But here's the problem; based on these requirements, we know that we could never be in one of those kinds of universes to begin with. It follows that if conscious intelligent observers are required to experience a universe, that universe can always be perceived as a virtual reality, whether or not it actually is. Thus, it follows that the Introspective Argument can always be made in any universe in which conscious intelligent observers exist, whether or not the argument is actually correct. And therefore, Mr. Raatz's argument is inherently unfalsifiable, meaning it is untestable, meaning it cannot be subjected to the scientific method. As a clincher, Mr. Raatz acknowledges that his argument is "purely philosophical," and thus provides us with no way of testing it to see if it is correct.

Until Mr. Raatz provides a way of testing his argument, it can be dismissed as baseless. Pretty amazing "science" you've placed your faith in, huh Daniel? (And yes, I do mean "faith.") The second part of his answer to me is equally problematic, as he again provides no way of testing his assertion. He believes that "probably ultimately" there are no mutations that occur that are unguided by God. Thus he must believe that every mutation is influenced by God to some extent. A rather difficult position for God then, since this would mean he would literally be responsible for every disease, every deadly organism, and every genetic defect we've experienced so far. His claim that "some are more influenced than others" is entirely unhelpful, since he provides no way to quantify which mutations are more God-driven than others. 

In contrast to Mr. Raatz, other theists recognize that the evidence points to God not being behind every mutation that occurs within organisms, but only certain mutations. For example, biochemist and "Intelligent Design" advocate Michael Behe maintains that many instances of evolutionary development in organisms are not the product of intelligence, but are fully and most credibly explained as the outcomes of gradual evolution by nonintelligent selection [see Chapter 4 of his book The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism]. Likewise, other ID advocates recognize that in order for their arguments to be testable, they must "find ways to reasonably distinguish between what is designed and what is not." But how do we go about doing that? As it turns out, someone has already answered that question. And that someone is none other than leading ID advocate and mathematician William Dembski.

In Dembski's book No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence, one of the things he does is to calculate exactly how much of a gain in information we should expect to see if a mutation in an organism cannot be accounted for by purely undirected processes. Dembski concludes that if a single mutation results in a gain of new, specified information of 500 bits or more, that is effectively impossible as a result of natural selection. Though there are many problems with the claims made in Dembski's book, others have acknowledged that he appears to be right on at least this point. However, the problem is that it has never been demonstrated by anyone that such an event has ever taken place. Dembski fully accepts that information increases of less than 500 bits is not only possible solely due to natural selection, but that it has been frequently observed. Yet there is no evidence that there have been information increases like that in any mutations that have occurred over the span of evolution, and no one has conducted the experiments that could potentially show if it has happened. Thus there is no evidence of Intelligent Design, and no evidence that God has had any influence on any mutation that has occurred in any organism that has existed on earth.

Despite the fact that Dembski's desired conclusion has never been realized, the logic of his argument is nonetheless sound. He has developed a scale for what we should see if God actually does intervene in the development of life on earth, and thus has developed a way in which we can (to a certain extent) test for the existence of a higher entity. And for that he should be commended. It is certainly far more than Mr. Raatz has done, which is to argue two fallacious points (one that inherently cannot be tested, and one that he provides no way to test for). Ultimately, Mr. Raatz's entire argument for God's place in reality can be reduced to "God just explains everything." But as Christopher Hitchens rightly observed, "Arguments that explain everything... explain nothing."

As a final point in regards to this issue, it's worth noting that TJ's original problem with this premise (that God is guiding evolution) wasn't really that there's no evidence for it (though as we've seen there is none). Rather, his point was merely that the concept itself makes no sense. Yes, it's theoretically possible that God would decide to design and create his creations this way, but why do it this way in the first place? Why spend millions upon billions of years allowing simple lifeforms to gradually develop into more complex life, and all the while just "tweak" DNA here and there to build new biological systems out of what's already there? Again, this is a possible scenario, but not at all what we would expect to see if God really does exist, since there are obviously far more direct and obvious ways he could create life in the universe (like, for example, just creating complete, complex life all at once, or generating new species out of nothing when he needed to). As Dr. Ken Miller has put it, to believe God is actually "guiding" evolution would require believing that "the fossil museums of the world are filled with his mistakes."

With his response amounting to nothing more than ignoring most of what TJ said, and relying on a wholly unscientific argument for God's existence, Daniel exposes his poor grasp of logic and unwillingness to acknowledge the arguments presented by his opponents.


If ignorance truly is bliss, Daniel must be in heaven. As I said at the beginning, Daniel's argumentation represents some of the most delusional and uninformed thinking I have ever witnessed. I expect more videos like these to be made by him in the future, and I may respond to them if I think they need responded to. But as it is now, the videos he's made so far can dismissed as groundless and refuted.

You'll note that I peppered this post with links and references throughout, which I did not only to soundly refute Daniel's claims, but also to educate him and show him what kind of evidence truly is out there. There's clearly of wealth of information Daniel has not been exposed to (or chooses not to be exposed to), and it's my hope that he will understand that, despite what he actually thinks, atheists have answered every objection he's raised throughout his videos. Understand Daniel that while you wait for atheists to drop this information at your door-step, they have made it as public as humanly possible for all to read and examine. It's up to you whether or not you want to examine it. The information is there, and if you continue to believe what you believe in spite of this evidence, then I am forced to conclude you believe it based on nothing more than faith. 
"To be highly certain of something, with a very low order of evidence, or in contradiction to a mountain of evidence, is a sign that something is wrong with your mind" - Sam Harris

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