One of life’s greatest mysteries is why Dan Barker is considered an apt representative of atheism and an able debater. During his debate with Kyle Butt that was entitled “Does the God of the Bible Exist?” (hear it here) and which took place on Charles Darwin’s birthday he, yet again, premised his credentials upon being not only an ex-Christian, mind you, but an ex-pastor. Let us apply this concept, perhaps to the extreme but as a logical outcome: Hitler was acting in a morally Barkerian manner since he asked himself “how much harm does this cause and does it cause the least amount of harm to the least amount of people” and his answer was basically that murdering 12,000,000 people caused the least amount of harm considering the great number of people in the various countries which he had under his power. He sought to benefit the majority Germans by eliminating the minority Jews and others—this would provide much needed resources and territory for the majority Germans. “Going too far,” you say? This is what Hitler wrote in his Last Will and Testament, “In these three decades I have been actuated solely by love and loyalty to my people in all my thoughts, acts, and life. They gave me the strength to make the most difficult decisions which have ever confronted mortal man.” Moreover, while Pliny the Younger (Plinius Secundus) was Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor in 112 AD he wrote to Emperor Tarjan in Epistles 10.96—referring to Christians he writes of “two female slaves, who were styled deaconesses.” This again demonstrates a continued Christian practice of having women in leadership and teaching roles.  “This chapter has contained the central argument of my book…who designed the designer”: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), pp. 157-158
I must say that the more Dan Barker boasts of being an ex-pastor the more there occurs within the inner recesses of my brain an exponential increase in my shock as his stunning lack of knowledge of even the most basic concepts and contents of the Bible.
As for Kyle Butt, one thing that comes through very clearly in the debate is that he is a careful researcher and has given Dan Barker enough credit to carefully consider his positions and statements; he knows where Dan Barker made certain statements and cities Dan Barker’s books and even the page number, he has also double checked references that Dan Barker has provided in his books and is able to elucidate these by giving a greater scope than that which Dan Baker chose to provide by self-serving selective allusions.
Dan Barker employs two favorite cheap debater’s tricks:
1) In appealing to the “problem of evil” he pulls on the heartstrings of the audience by referencing, you guessed it, the children. It is not that the subject is taboo or, in and of itself, fallacious but that he makes it a habit of attempting to bypass his audience’s intellect and getting them to focus on their emotional responses.
The advantage of this tactic is that it establishes an emotional, empathetic, sympathetic connection with the speaker. Once the audience is busy experiencing emotions what has intellect to say? How do you argue against an emotion? Any rational counter argument will likely come across as being heartless and utterly ineffective because emotions are tangible while arguments are ethereal abstract concepts.
2) The other tactic is also a favorite of Christopher Hitchens (as I pointed out here) and it is akin to the fallacy of elephant hurling. In his opening remarks Dan Barker claims that we can know that the God of the Bible does not exist because there are contradictions in the Bible with regards to His nature.
First of all, it should be noted that he is appealing to the Judeo-Christian worldview as a premise for his argument. No, not by referencing the Bible but by appealing to the laws of logic (find an argument for God’s existence from the laws of logic here). If atheistic evolution is a fact then, just like everything else, the laws of logic evolved or are still evolving. Thus, in order to argue against God’s existence by appealing to the laws of logic Dan Barker would have present evidence that when the Bible was written the law of non-contradiction was in affect and/or evidence the evolution of the law.
What Dan Barker does is to, in rapid fire succession, shoot off 14 alleged contradictions (plus 6 other alleged reasons why we can know that God does not exist). Kyle Butt mentions this as he pointed out that when a debater shoots off 20 assertions they are doing two things:
1) They are not allowing the audience to digest but are attempting to overwhelm them.
2) They know very well that their opponent simply will not have enough time to respond to each one or perhaps not even half nor a third, etc. Kyle Butt does respond to a few during the course of the debate.
During his first rebuttal period Dan Barker actually manages to sink below merely demonstrating his stunning lack of knowledge of even the most basic concepts and contents of the Bible and poses an argument from Atheist Sunday School: who made God?
In posing an argument from contingency the theist stops at God—a finite regress. Yet, Dan Barker asks, “Why stop there?”—an infinite regress. This argument’s terminology has been updated as “Who designed the designer?” by, as far as I know, Richard Dawkins who made this the very central argument of his book “The God Delusion.”
Succinctly stated the response is that since God is eternal God required no cause therefore, nothing/no one made God/ nothing/no one designed the designer.
But why, it has been asked, as far as I know, since David Hume, could not matter be eternal? Primarily because the very best scientific knowledge at our disposal shows evidence that matter is not eternal (see my correction of a misconception on this matter, pun intended, by the Rational Response Squad’s Brian Sapient here).
Indeed, it is my contention that God is eternal and required no cause. But why?
Premised upon the cosmological argument which makes clear that everything that begins to exist has a cause it follows logically that since time began to exist time had a cause. Since time began to exist whatever caused time is timeless (infinite or eternal). It is the linear time that makes cause and effect relationships possible: a cause is followed in time by an effect.
Yet, since God exists outside of, or without, time; cause and effect relationships are impossible and thus, God is the uncausable first cause: it was God’s first action of creation that brought the space time continuum into being and set cause and effect relationships into motion.
Therefore, in God’s timeless realm there is no such question as “Who made God?” since this is a time space domain based question which simply does not apply.
It is ignorant and superstitious to believe that God made everything out of nothing.
It is rational and scientific to believe that nothing made everything out of nothing.
It is ignorant and superstitious to believe that God is eternal.
It is rational and scientific to believe that matter is eternal.
God is an effect and must have had a cause.
Matter is the uncaused first cause.
If God made everything, then who made God?
Matter made everything and nothing made matter.
Next we come to a discussion of ethics and morals as Dan Barker states:
There are no objective moral values in the universe, there are not. We make values in our brain, a value is a function of a brain…We make values based upon what we need to survive, what we need to enhance our lives, what we need to avoid pain in our lives and we can make, we make comparisons of those values…a value is relative to an organism…
values can be objectively justified. They’re not objective values because to be a, a value is a function of a brain of a mind right? But to be objective means to exist independently of a mind. So how can you have something in the mind that exists independently of the mind that’s an oxymoron. You cannot have an objective value, you can have values that you can objectively justify…we’re all basically situational ethicists in our daily lives and so is the Bible.
Upon this I can agree, “a value is a function of a brain of a mind right”—indeed, the mind of God.
As to the oxymoron: objectivity is more than just existing independently of a mind, it is free of bias, based on facts, observable, etc. For example, it is objective that the Earth is spherical. This is indeed a reality existing outside of our minds and yet, we can commandeer this objective fact into our minds where the fact resides as it accurately reflects objective reality. Thus, we can have something in the mind that exists independently of the mind because having it in the mind that not automatically transform the objective into the subjective—not if it continues to reflect reality once it takes residence in our minds.
Next, Dan Barker then falls back on his absolutist assertion that morals are to be premised upon “how much harm does this cause” which is, of course, a mere authoritarian argument form personalized dogma—thou shall base morals upon this and this alone; thus saith the Barkerian ethic.
Are we all basically situational ethicists, even the Bible? Not exactly. He is making a category mistake: granting that “we’re all basically situational ethicists” we must understand that these are two vast different sorts of “situational ethics” if they both may indeed be referred to as such.
These two sorts of “situational ethics” are the atheistic or Barkerian and the biblical:
According to the Barkerian; the premise is “how much harm does this cause” or as Dan Barker alternately categorizes it does it cause the least amount of harm to the least amount of people. Now, of course, he presupposes that we ought not to cause harm.
Moreover, referencing his alien rape voyeur argument, during the debate Dan Barker proclaims that if it would save humanity he would rape 2,000 women (he would not like it and would consider suicide afterwards but he would do it).
As for biblical “situational ethics” Dan Barker fails to note something which places it and the Barkerian in separate categories: the biblical may be situational but it is premised upon an absolute and ontological foundation while the Barkerian is strictly situational being premised upon Dan Barker’s baseless assertions which amount to nothing but an ethereal concept.
A little later in the debate he attempts to disregard the Ten Commandments as irrelevant because,
only three of which are relevant to modern American law, the other seven are totally irrelevant. The first four have nothing to do with ethics…the atheistic way is actually a superior intellectual and moral way of thinking.
Stating that only three are relevant to modern American law is making modern American law the standard by which to judge the Ten Commandments. Yet, when when he states that the first four Ten Commandments have nothing to do with ethics he fails to note, or notice, that it is the first commandment upon which all true ethics, in fact the ethos itself, are premised, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Furthermore, in relation to Hitler; Dan Barker asks Kyle Butt if he had heard him correctly, had he stated that Hitler was an atheistic Communist? Kyle Butt responds in the affirmative to which Dan Barker correctly responds that Hitler was not a Communist but a National Socialist and states that Hitler was a Chrisitan. Kyle Butt states that referring to Hitler as a Communist was a simple misstatement and goes on to demonstrate that Hitler, whatever he was, was certainly no Christian by quoting Hitler.
Dan Barker further stated,
Hitler believed in a God, was not atheistic, he talked about the creator all the time, he was a creationist, he credited Jesus as an inspiration for exterminating the Jews, they wore Gott mit uns – God with us on their belt buckles. Those Nazis where Lutherans and Catholics…he was a lousy Christian, I have to admit he was really a weird Christian but he was not an atheist.
These assertions are fallacious in many levels:
Primarily that it presupposes that Hitler was honest—he said it so it must be true.
Since Hitler was a Christian he defines what is and what is not Christianity.
What Hitler claimed or whom he credited does not necessarily reflect reality.
Stating that they wore Gott mit uns fails to ask who this Gott was and it fails to note that Gott mit uns dates to Otto von Bismarck’s 1870 imperial standard and that the SS’s motto was “Meine Ehre heißt Treue” (my honor is loyalty).
To state that Nazis where Lutherans and Catholics, again, leaves it to them to subjectively define what is and what is not Christianity. Moreover, it proves, by application of the same “logic,” that Communist regime leaders where atheists (because they said so) proves that Communism is atheistic (because the claimed atheism to be its premise) and proves the crimes of Communist citizens, soldiers and Gulag torturers may be blamed on atheism since they were atheists.
As to the statements “he was a creationist…he was not an atheist” let us ask Hitler to describe his view of creation, not when he is merely seeking politically expedient brownie points but when he is actually elucidating his views:
The first step which visibly brought mankind away from the animal world was that which led to the first invention…the struggle with other creatures for his existence and often to provide him with the only means he could adopt to achieve success in the struggle…His first skilled tactics in the struggle with the rest of the animals undoubtedly originated in his management of creatures which possessed special capabilities…all these inventions help man to raise himself higher and higher above the animal world and to separate himself from that world in an absolutely definite way. Hence they serve to elevate the human species and continually to promote its progress….
Without human beings there is no human idea in this world, therefore the idea as such is always conditioned by the presence of human beings and hence of all the laws which created the precondition for their existence…ideas, which have nothing to do with cold logic as such, but represent only pure expressions of feeling, ethical conceptions, etc., are chained to the existence of men, to whose intellectual imagination and creative power they owe their existence…
This planet once moved through the ether for millions of years without human beings and it can do so again some day if men forget that they owe their higher existence, not to the ideas of a few crazy ideologists, but to the knowledge and ruthless application of Nature’s stern and rigid laws.
These are not “creationist” views but “atheistic” views. So, he held “atheistic” views but was he an atheist? I will conditionally say “No” but could also argue for his being a pantheistic-atheist. There is a lot more that I could say on this whole issue of Hitler, Christianity and atheism (and on what a “pantheistic-atheist” is) but will withhold until around mid April when I will provide some very detailed essays on this topic.
In referencing the point, agreed upon by both debaters, that truth is not established by majority opinion, Dan Barker references the USA’s founding fathers and states,
women should not vote, women should stay home, women should not go to college, women should not own their own property, this all comes out of the Bible, by the way.
Unfortunately, he does not provide citations so you either have to ignore this statement, take his word for it on authority (the authority of an ex-pastor mind you, he must know what he is talking about), or practice the skepticism which the Bible enjoins upon us (Acts 17:11; 1st Thessalonians 5:21, etc.) and take the time, energy, and trouble to double check his statements.
This was more elephant hurling-like tactics as Dan Barker builds a virtual tel of elephantine fossils. While Kyle Butt could also not respond to each in turn, I can and will. As I have previously elucidated in a post on Biblical Women; in the Bible we find that there women had the right to own land, they were prophetesses (in both testaments), judges, disciples, deaconesses, teachers, worked/owned their own businesses, two OT books are named after women and women were the first at the empty tomb while the male apostles were hiding in fear (see Exodus 15:20; Numbers ch. 27; 2nd Kings 22:14; 2nd Chronicles 34:22; Proverbs 31:16; Isaiah 8:3; Judges 4:4; Luke 2:36; Romans 16:1-2; Acts 16:14, 21:7-9, 9:36, 18:26; Titus 2:3-4).
As it often occurs with various atheists, and Dan Barker in particular, there comes a point when the veneer, the façade, of intellect, rationale and erudition are worn away and expose what is truly fueling the fires of their unbelief: pure rejection of God, open and proud rebellion against God, emotional reactions to various things such as their unwillingness to accept that there is something, someone, up above and beyond them and adherence to the atheist motto, “I shall have no other gods before me”—before the one in their mirror.
Thus, Dan Barker can contain himself no longer and gives vent to a litany of emotive, childlike, capricious rants to the likes of,
if he [God] wants to prove what a big macho man he is by sending someone like me to hell then let him do it. Fine, I’ll go to hell gladly, proudly, knowing that I resisted somebody like, a dictator like that who would create a hell in the first place….I would say to that God, “You created hell, you go to hell, if you wanna torture me forever fine, prove what a big macho man you are, you do not have my respect!”
Yes, I can feel the adrenaline the emotionally charged excitement but I am also considering whether he is correct. Kyle Butt rights points out that Dan Barker is engaging in an argument from outrage.
And yes, Dan Barker does manage to mention children in promulgating his misunderstanding of what hell is, how children are terrified by the concept, etc. something I have discussed here. He then appeals to the very, very popular but utterly fallacious argument about reward/punishment morality which I have posted about here and here.
I might as well also mention that earlier in the debate he had also demonstrated further lack of knowledge with regards to Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac which I have written about here. And also that he does not seem to understand that the human eye is meant to see through the atmosphere while the eyes of ocean dwelling creatures are meant to see though water.
Three points are to be made about Dan Barker’s rage against the God who created hell:
1) God did not created hell for humans.
2) In this case, Dan Barker actually elucidates theology accurately.
3) Unbeknownst to him, Dan Barker has solved the “problem of evil.”
1) Matthew 25:41 refers to, “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” This means that hell was specifically created for beings for whom God’s existence was not an issue, it was not a question. In counter distinction, note that the Qur'an states that hell was created for sinners (Surah 3:131). Thus, God created a place where those who rebelled against Him could get what they wanted—eternal separation from Him.
2) Since hell was created for fallen angelic beings, humans can go there is they want to—if they choose to go there. In his rage against God we see the whole purpose for hell. As it has been said; there are two sort of people, those who say to God “Thy will be done” and those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.” Dan Barker is so very angry at God that he basically challenges Him to send him to hell.
Let us imagine that, may God forbid one thousand times, Dan Barker ends up in hell we may imagine that he will be quite happy having done away with God forever yet, note that Dan Barker is in a rage and this is his attitude towards God. Eternity is about experiencing, living, the lives we have ultimately chosen: those who choose acceptance of God accept God eternally and enjoy an eternal relationship with Him while those who choose rejection of God reject God eternally and rage against Him eternally.
Thus, it would seem that being in hell would not endear God to Dan Barker and so he will be eternally enraged with God—eternally rejecting God. Hell is eternal because the sin of those in hell is eternal—they have chosen eternal sin, “I’ll go to hell gladly, proudly.”
Let us also take a moment to carefully note that another emotive tactic was employed by Dan Barker repeatedly during the debate as he referred to hell as a place of “torture.” While it is true that some translations employ the term “torture” this is a misnomer as the implications of the word torture denote something unknown to the Bible.
Torture denotes the infliction of physical pain, while torment denotes mental anguish. Thus, let us be absolutely clear in understanding that nowhere in the whole Bible is it even hinted at that hell is to be pictured as a Gulag-like torture chamber. Neither is it even hinted at that there will be people or demons whose job is to inflict physical pain. Neither is the devil ever pictured as the king of hell but rather, he is pictured as one who suffers like the rest, and indeed more so. With regards to torment; Alfred Edersheim comments thusly with regards to “weeping and the gnashing of teeth”; “In Rabbinic thought the former was connected with sorrow, the latter almost always anger - not, as generally supposed, with anguish.” 
3) Dan Barker claims that evil disproves God via the “problem of evil.” Of course, this conclusion is reached by his relying on theology of his own making. It is the God he imagines that is disproved by the existence of evil.
Now, note very carefully that in arguing that, for example, rape is not absolutely immoral Dan Barker stated, “You cannot name an action that is always, absolutely right or wrong, I can think of an exception in any case.” There you have it Dan Barker has solved the problem of evil. This is because, as philosophers commonly affirm, if God has even one reason for “allowing” evil or momentarily allowing it to exist—even one single reason, even a reason of which we are not aware—then the problem of evil is solved. If God be charged with negligence by allowing any evil whatsoever but can says, “I can think of an exception in any case”—problem solved.
Dan Barker mentions that many of what are claimed to be Old Testament messianic prophecies are,
Christian reinterpretations of Old Testament verses they thought where prophecies; especially Matthew. Matthew was fond of digging through the Old Testament and saying, “Oh, there’s a child mentioned here, let’s connect that with the child Jesus,” he was a very sloppy scholar.
Here I must admit that I get very frustrated with Goyim who are, as Dan Barker proves himself to be, very sloppy scholars who do not consider the traditional Midrashic method of Rabbinic interpretation. They do not consider, if they are even aware of them, the various concepts of Jewish interpretation such as remez, peshat and derash.
He also does not understand the traditional Jewish view of dual fulfillment of prophecy whereby a prophecy points to a contemporaneous event and also to a future event. Later this year I will be posting the results of my studies of Rabbinic literature in relation to Jesus, Christianity and prophecy at my apologetics blog and so will merely assert, at the moment, that Dan Barker is simply not considering historical/cultural context with relation to the manner in which Jews, like Matthew and the other Jews who wrote 25 of the 27 New Testament books/epistles, elucidated layers of interpretation.
Paul wrote in the Bible, ‘God is not the author of confusion’ but can you think of a single that’s caused more confusion than the Bible?
Excellent point actually, let us consider it slowly and carefully: since God is not the author of confusion it follows logically that whatever confusion is caused by the Bible, or by people’s misunderstandings of it, was not authored by, was not caused by, God. This is not even to mention that the context of the half a verse is that of how to maintain order when the church gathers to worship (1st Corinthians 14:33 and surrounding).
Overall, this was a very informative debate in that Dan Barker presented a litany of atheist bumper sticker slogans while Kyle Butt was not only able to respond aptly but presented clear and concise arguments and refutations.
 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 2, Ch. 4, “Nation and Race” and Vol. 1, Ch. 11
 Edersheim’s footnote #35 “In Succ. 52 a it is said that in the age to come (Athid labho) God would bring out the Yetser haRa (evil impulse), and slaughter it before the just before the wicked. To the one he would appear like a great mountain, to the other like a small thread. Both would weep - the righteous for joy, that they had been able to subdue so great so great a mountain; the wicked for sorrow, that they had not been able even to break so small a thread.”
 Edersheim’s footnote #36 “This is also the meaning of the expression in Ps. 112:10. The verb is used with this idea in Acts 7:54, and in the LXX, Job. 16:9; Ps. 35:16; 37:12; and in Rabbinical writings, for example, Jer. Keth. 35 b; Shem. R. 5, &c.”
 Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883), Book III: The Ascent: From the River Jordan to the Mount of Transfiguration, Chapter 19: The Return to Capernaum – Healing of the Centurion’s Servant (St. Matthew 8:1,5-15; St. Mark 3:20,21; St. Luke 7:1-10)
Let us apply this concept, perhaps to the extreme but as a logical outcome: Hitler was acting in a morally Barkerian manner since he asked himself “how much harm does this cause and does it cause the least amount of harm to the least amount of people” and his answer was basically that murdering 12,000,000 people caused the least amount of harm considering the great number of people in the various countries which he had under his power. He sought to benefit the majority Germans by eliminating the minority Jews and others—this would provide much needed resources and territory for the majority Germans.
“Going too far,” you say? This is what Hitler wrote in his Last Will and Testament, “In these three decades I have been actuated solely by love and loyalty to my people in all my thoughts, acts, and life. They gave me the strength to make the most difficult decisions which have ever confronted mortal man.”
Moreover, while Pliny the Younger (Plinius Secundus) was Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor in 112 AD he wrote to Emperor Tarjan in Epistles 10.96—referring to Christians he writes of “two female slaves, who were styled deaconesses.” This again demonstrates a continued Christian practice of having women in leadership and teaching roles.
 “This chapter has contained the central argument of my book…who designed the designer”: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), pp. 157-158