Friday, May 12, 2017

Atheist Compliments on Daniel

As many readers of this blog may know, I have written an apologetic work entitled The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God.  I used the arguments in this work in my debate last year with Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, Not Fact," and it came up again in my most recent debate with him, "Prophecy and Archaeology Validate the Bible as the Word of God."  Mr. Barker did not have a good explanation for the overwhelming evidence of plain, specific predictive prophecies in Daniel, nor did he have an explanation for the powerful evidences that Daniel wrote the book in the 6th century, far before the time that the predictions in the book were fulfilled.

I am pleased that two significant anti-Christian skeptical writers (both of whom do a better job than Mr. Barker trying to attack the Bible, although they are unsuccessful), have given my work on Daniel very notable compliments.  One said:  "Tom . . . has compiled the most thorough and reasonable defense for the traditional view of Daniel that I have ever encountered.  I commend him for the time and effort."  Another said: "I agree . . . that Tom's efforts at defending the traditional dating of Daniel were the best I'd seen." I am thankful for this praise from these anti-Biblical skeptics, although they were not willing, at least as of now, to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Please note that I am absolutely NOT recommending their blogs or their writings by posting this information, although the objections to Scripture are the typical sort one encounters in works of theological liberalism.  Young Christians and/or unsaved people could definitely be harmed by the misinformation and attacks on God's Word in their blogs.)

Both skeptics argued that Ezekiel's reference to Daniel was actually not to the man Daniel, but to a pagan Baal worshipper named Dan'el who is found in the Legend of Aqhat.  The response to such a highly problematic argument is contained below (reproduced from a footnote in The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God):

The desperate anti-supernaturalist argument that the Daniel referenced by Ezekiel is not the righteous and wise servant of Jehovah who authored the book of Daniel and who is compared to Noah and Job as comparable righteous worshippers of Jehovah, all three of whom are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, but is an ungodly worshipper of the god Baal called Dan’el who is referenced in a ancient legend, is surely an argument made out of desperation in order to avoid the obvious implications of Ezekiel’s validation of the Jewish prophet Daniel and his inspired Book.  Archer comments:
[The anti-supernaturalist theory that] the Daniel referred to in Ezekiel must have been the ancient hero named Dan’el, whose life story is narrated in the Ugaritic legend of Aqhat (dating from about the fifteenth century B.C.) . . . [has extremely] serious difficulties[.] . . [T]he Lord’s declaration quoted in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and 28:3 amounts to this: Even though such godly leaders as Noah (at the dawn of history), and Job (in the time of Moses or a little before), and Daniel (from the contemporary scene in Ezekiel’s own generation) should all unite in interceding for apostate Judah, God could not hear their prayers on behalf of that rebellious nation. . . . The . . . difficulty with identifying the Daniel of Ezekiel 14 with the Dan’el of the Ugaritic epic is found in the character and spiritual condition of Dan’el himself. When the legend of Aqhat is studied in its full context, which relates the story of Dan’el, the father of young Aqhat, it is found that he is praised as being a faithful idol-worshiper, principally occupied with seven-day periods of sacrifices to the various gods of the Canaanite pantheon, such as Baal and El. His relationship to Baal was especially close, and he made bold to petition him for a son, so that when Dan’el became so drunk at a wild party that he could not walk by himself, his son might assist him back to his home and bed, to sleep off his drunken stupor. Later on, after the promised son (Aqhat) is born, and is later killed at the behest of the spiteful goddess Anath, Dan’el lifts up his voice in a terrible curse against the vulture (Samal) which had taken his son’s life. He prevails on Baal to break the wings of all the vultures that fly overhead, so that he can slit open their stomachs and see whether any of them contains the remains of his dead son. At last he discovers the grisly evidence in the belly of Samal, queen of the vultures. He then kills her and puts a curse on Abelim, the city of the vultures. The next seven years he spends in weeping and wailing for his dead son, and finally contrives to have his own daughter (Paghat) assassinate the warrior Yatpan, who was also involved in Aqhat’s murder seven years before.
         From this portrayal of Dan’el it is quite apparent that he could never have been associated with Noah and Job as a paragon of righteousness and purity of life. Nothing could be more unlikely than that a strict and zealous monotheist like Ezekiel would have regarded with appreciation a Baal-worshiper, a polytheistic pagan given to violent rage and unremitting vengefulness, a drunken carouser who needed assistance to find his way home to his own bed. Apart from a passing mention of Dan’el’s faithful fulfillment of his duties as a judge at the city gate—a requirement expected of all judges according to the Torah—there is no suggestion in the Ugaritic poem that he is any outstanding hero of the faith, eligible for inclusion with Noah and Job. It is therefore quite hopeless to maintain this identification of Ezekiel’s “Daniel” with the Dan’el of Ugaritic legend. (Ibid).

Thus, the Legend of Aqhat frequently mentions Dan’el’s worship of Baal, frequently connects Dan’el and drunkenness, emphasizes Dan’el’s son Aquat disobeying the goddess Anath, who kills Aqhat for his impiety, and speaks of a plot with Dan’el and his daughter to deceive and commit murder.  The Legend of Aqhat never even once uses the adjectives “righteous” or “wise” for Dan’el.  A simple reading of Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3 and the pagan Legend makes any identification of the person spoken of by Ezekiel and the person specified in the Legend an instance of insanity.  Only the extreme difficulty for anti-supernaturalism contained in Ezekiel’s reference to the man Daniel, author of the inspired book of Daniel, explains anyone’s affirming what is so obviously false.  The fact that such extreme measures must be pursued in order to attempt to eliminate Ezekiel’s testimony illustrates how powerful an evidence it is in favor of Daniel’s sixth century authorship of the book bearing his name, and thus of the reality of predictive prophecy.

I should also note that attempts to make Daniel's fourth empire Greece instead of Rome, and to make the 70 weeks prophecy end in the Maccabean period instead of in the time of Christ's ministry, require one to torture the plain meaning of the text of the book.  The obvious sense of Daniel must be changed if one is to attempt to get out of its predictive prophetic content, its plain evidence of the miraculous at work in the composition of the Bible.

Copies of this apologetic work on Daniel can be downloaded as MS Word files here and personalized for use in your Bible-believing Baptist church.  I have added in pictures to the second half of the work dealing with Daniel's authorship, and am planning, Lord willing, to update the first half as well, and then make the book available for both electronic and print acquisition.



HEM said...

I've never understood the purpose behind the atheist vs theist argument (actually I do, it's egotistical; as are most abstract debates). It's literally apples and oranges (apples and cinder blocks would be more accurate). Christianity is a belief system based on faith (Hebrews 11:1 defines faith). Atheism is a religion in nothingness, which is absurdity when you ponder it (atheists would probably make the argument that they are logical; logic is the God of the Godless). The Russian novelist Dostoevsky refers to atheism as a belief in zero. Belief should always be rooted in something, not nothing. That alone debunks atheism. Agnosticism is the more logical position.

The argument comes down to logic vs faith, which are polar opposites. Or more simply put, logic is the enemy of faith.

KJB1611 said...

Dear HEM,

Thanks for the comment. The purpose for an obedient Christian in doing a debate is not ego, but love for the Triune God and obedience to 1 Peter 3:15; Mark 16:15; and other texts. I cannot see inside the minds of atheist debaters, so I will not make a blanket judgment on their motivations. I will remain agnostic on that during this comment.

Furthermore, Biblical faith is not the opposite of logic at all. The same God who commands all men to trust in Him also says "Come, let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). The Biblical worldview is coherent and logical in a way both atheism and agnosticism are not, and the indubitable evidence that the God of Scripture has done miracles, such as repeatedly and specifically predicting the future in a manner that is fantastically improbable apart from Divine acts in history, make both atheism and agnosticism unjustified systems of faith, in contrast to the logical and justifiable Christian faith. The idea that faith and logic are opposite is influence on you (direct or indirect, most probably the latter) from Emmanuel Kant, not the Biblical definition of faith.

I would encourage you to read the work on Daniel, watch both debates, and read the debate review at

Also, when I wrote this post the 2nd debate with Barker over prophecy and archaeology was not yet available, but between the time I wrote it and when this post went live the 2nd debate also went live, so both debates are available. I have updated the content of the post to reflect this reality.