Monday, September 16, 2013

On Brett Keane's new Theist belief system.

Recently, Brett Keane came out as a theist.  For the past ten years he was a very vocal atheist and has put out countless videos against religion.  Over the past week he has announced several things.  First that he now believes in God and has evidence for it, second he cites errors in the theory of evolution, and finally that he is parting ways with non-believers and ending friendships with anyone who is not a believer in God and or those who join in Google Hangouts with people who are critical of him and or his friends.  The videos will be embedded below along with my opinion of this.

I was keeping an eye on this for the past several days waiting to see if someone would do a video on this that I could also respond to.  Vogter finally put one up.  In his video he incorrectly defined Brett Keane as a Christian.  To my knowledge Brett has never come out as a Christian, but rather simply as a theist.  For those who do not know a theist is a person who simply believes in a god.  It literally can mean any god.  For example if my god happened to be Ronald McDonald that would make me a theist, or in this case a Burgertarian.  Give us this day our daily bread but let it be on a sesame seed bun.  

So let's start out with what Brett has been up to.

This is one of the first videos he did in his transition from Atheist to Theist.  This one is way back from July 22, 2013.  Now first let's define what evolution is.  It is important to remember, just like gravity, evolution is just a theory.  It is science's explanation for species adapting and changing as their environment changes.  It is important to remember that evolution does not explain how life began, merely it explains how lifeforms adapt to their changing environment.  

The information presented here is from 9th grade science.  Consult any high school text book for citations.  You can also consult the internet if you need to I guess.

The first point Brett makes at 1:07 is sadly one of the more common mistakes people make when being critical of the theory of evolution.  They want to know how life began.  Specifically how life could spawn from non-life.  Evolution does not explain this.  Brett is thinking of abiogenesis.  Abiogenesis is the explanation of how life began from nonlife.  Evolution explains how life adapted to ever changing environments.

First there is an old video from cdk007 one of the best science channels around and well worth your subscription.  

Then there was recently news of this discovery.

How did life begin?

Now of course the question has to be asked, ok how then did the bacteria get there?  Well we still don't know, and absent from a time machine we probably never will.  There is an interesting interview with Harvard Professor Andy Knoll on this very subject and he even says that we don't know how life began, I encourage everyone to read it.  Thankfully with the advent of space exploration we are learning more and more about our universe and how the building blocks of life were formed.  Imagine what we will know in 100 years from now?

Now back to Brett's video.  At about 2 minutes in he starts talking about how this single ancestor we all have began to evolve.  Once again this is NOT what the theory of Evolution explains.  Just like gravity, the theory of evolution only explains what has been scientifically observed.  In order for there to be a change, there must first be a change in environment.  Then only those who have useful adaptations continue to survive and reproduce.

Long story short, we did not evolve from a single cell organism.  Rather what science explains is that a single cell organism eventually evolved into different life forms who then each in turn evolved into different life forms who each in turn ect.  This is why you never see people of science say that we evolved from monkeys.  Rather, humans and monkeys simply share a common ancestor.

So to answer Brett's question that he asks at the 4 minute mark, what started the process of life.  We do not know.  Science does not have the answer.  However, this does not mean that religion has the answer either.  Creationist Kent Hovind often tells his audience that scientists teach that we evolved from rocks.  He fails to mention that at the same time he teaches that people came from dirt.  Surfice it to say that religious texts such as the Bible and the Qu'ran have been found lacking in science and flat out get many things wrong with what we now know about our world.  At least scientists are honest enough to say that they do not know how life began.

At 4:42 Brett asks the question why has the human brain evolved far above the others.  Why is it that we were able to build cities and design tools where no other animal has shown this behavior.  Well there are several factors at play here.  First let's get the errors in Brett's logic out of the way.  The first is that we are the only ones to build cities.  Now while it is true there is no group of monkeys operating a crane building a skyscraper, there are many complex societies in nature.  The first is in the insect world.  Ant's, bees, and wasps come to mind when it comes to building complex cities.  While humans primarily build with asphalt and cement, the insect world can be far more precise when it comes to building complex societies.  Likewise, we have animals such as beavers who build dams.  Vampire bats is a good example of communal living.  The bats live together in groups of thousands but are divided into groups known as harems.  The offspring tend to stick with the group they were born into.  Each harem has a few breeding males and the non-breeding males live away from them, unless weather dictates the need for them to live closer together for thermal regulation.  We even have nomadic animals such as apes who travel as a group but each night set up a series of nest for various needs such as those nursing young, or those who are injured.  In addition to primates, many in the animal kingdom have societies based on class.  The most common reason is which dominant male gets to breed.  However, other such creatures such as bees, have a system which favors the females and generally treats a few males as breeding stock, killing off the excess males who are not needed.

However this goes on to ask the bigger question.  Why is our brain the most advanced in nature.  Brett appears to be asking with his statement that all animals went through the same evolutionary process that we did, why is it that we are the only advanced animal on the planet.

Why have we not seen reptiles evolve?

Why have we not seen dogs evolve?

Why have we not seen cats evolve?

Essentially, it is the theory of evolution again.  Specifically, survival of the fittest.  We are the dominant species because we have dominated other species.  In fact several species no longer exist as a direct result of our hunting or taking over their habitat.

There are several factors at play here.  The first is our diet.  For these facts please refer to  It shows that mammals have better brains, and carnivores have better brains than plant eaters.  One possible explanation is that hunting prey requires strategy and depending on the species, teamwork.  So obviously diet has something to do with this. Animals with bigger brains in proportion to their body size have a proven track record of accomplishing complex tasks and showing detailed behaviors.

Another thing to consider is over the past 1.7 million years our brain size has doubled, while our body size has only grown slightly.  Another thing to consider is the size of different parts of our brain such as the frontal lobe which controls cognitive thought.  Another evolutionary trait is the fact that many many years ago we began cooking our food.  This led to smaller jaw size, and a far more efficient way to digest food.

However, the biggest evolutionary explanation for our dominance is from the Neanderthal.  The Neanderthal was a humaniod species that is now extinct.  It's shorter limbs and stockier frame gave them a disadvantage athletically compared to humans.  There different explanations to how the became extinct.  One is genecide, the other is failure to adapt to climate change as hunting and gathering became more difficult as compared to the more athletic humans.  There was a time when Neanderthals and Humans lived and possibly lived together.  However survival of the fittest decided their fate and they died out because they could not compete with us.

So our ability to form languages, build complex societies, solve problems is a result of our frontal lobes being more adapt based on our diet, and ability to eat cooked food.  Again survival of the fittest meant that those who were better at solving problems lived and procreated more than those who did not.  As such each generation was smarter than the one before it.

Now does this mean that if a bunch of monkeys start cooking their food, we are going to see the Planet of the Apes thing going on?  Probably not.  As being the dominant species on this planet it would be in our best interest to remain the dominant species.  Time and time again, mankind has shown little regard for the lives and habitat of species who stand in the way of progress.  We pollute our lakes and rivers, we tear down forests, we send smog into the air.  In order for another species to rise up, mankind would either have to die out or at the very least suffer a severe set back such as disease.  This would have to last a few million years to really take hold.

Back to Brett's video at 7:50 mark.  The animal kingdom is not stuck.  Just like humans, they are constantly evolving, adapting to an ever changing environment.  One of the most important things is the domestication of certain types of animals.  For example the dog.  It could be over the next million years the dog could undergo a major transformation as a result of eating cooked food, just as we humans have.  Dogs have already proven to have the ability to follow commands and complete complex tasks such as searching for drugs, bombs, or even people.  We have dogs that can be trained to assist the disabled.  Dogs no longer rely on hunting to find their food.  Rather they feed on a diet that is specifically designed for them based on their nutritional needs.  However, this does not mean that one day dogs will be equal to us, because in a million years we will no longer be the same as we are now.  As long as we remain the dominant species, we will be way ahead of other animals.

In the next video, Brett Keane shows proof that God exists.  It is a 15 minute long video.

Atheists in Denial-Proof God Exists

Now this is the first time on YouTube that we have had proof that God exists.  At 2:30 he states that it would be impossible for anyone to disprove him.  In other words we have a personal anecdote and the invisible pink unicorn.  For those who do not know what an invisible pink unicorn it is a parody of theistic beliefs.  Essentially imagine I have a pink unicorn but you can not see it.  You can not touch it, and you can not hear it.  There is no way to detect the presence of the pink unicorn but you must rely on faith that there is a pink unicorn and accept that it is invisible.  Anything that happens in your life that you can not explain is a result of the invisible pink unicorn who works in mysterious ways.

This is the only known photograph of the invisible pink unicorn.

Now I don't mean to mock Brett's beliefs, as this is the reason last year in 2012 I disabled my videos critical of religion.  I remember how painful it was for me to leave my Christian beliefs after reading the Bible.  I did not wish to cause others similar pain as a result of my videos.  I do however, wish to remind Brett that his beliefs are simply that, beliefs.  His anecdotal story is NOT proof as he claims in the title of his video.  There have been many who claimed to have been healed by their god, or have spoken to their god, or on their death bed saw visions of the afterlife.  Brett's story is no different.  I am happy for him finding his wife.  (In case you didn't watch the video he states that meeting his wife was an answer to prayer.)  I can also tell you that Brett and Dawn have a happy marriage and two wonderful children.  There are many who envy him, at least I do that is for sure.  For the year and a half that I was friends with him, despite his decision to end the friendship, I can tell you that he is one lucky man.

Now let's move to another video.

Essentially, this video leads me to believe one possible motivation for his new belief in God.  I do hope that I am wrong.  As you know most of his critics are atheists on YouTube.  He cites these atheists as examples of how evil and corrupt non believers are.  It is because they have attacked him personally, gone after his family, ect.  Of course Brett Keane has done this to others as we all know, but in his defense he did this as an Atheist.  Hopefully, as a believer in God, his behavior will change for the better.  

Brett Keane on Child Abuse

In this video KaptainObvious responds to Brett's baseless accusation of child abuse

I do hope that his new belief in God is not due to him feeling rejected by atheists on YouTube, but rather due to a new found love and desire for God.  Right now he is only identifying as a theist, he so far has not publically come out as a member of any particular religion.  In his recent videos however he has been quoting the Bible, which may indicate a leaning towards Christianity.  

I would encourage Brett to seek out a house of worship.  Being around other believers is crucial.  I do understand with agoraphobia and panic attacks this can be a challenge but perhaps finding a small church of less than 100 members would be more suited for him.  One thing that he needs to do is to be under the teaching and more importantly the authority of a local preacher.  Another thing he can try is going to prayer for his agoraphobia.  Although I myself do not believe in a god, that does not mean that I do not recognize the power of prayer.  I have seen people do amazing things after praying or being prayed for.  Granted I have never seen an amputee healed, but prayer does have a placebo effect that is for sure.  

In addition, attending a house of worship, can help him form new friends, help his addition to tobacco, and improve his language so he can be a better ambassador for his God.  Brett's wife and children can also benefit as well.  I would also encourage him to commit to a belief system rather than just identifying as a theist.  Finally, decide to become an ambassador for your religion.  When I was a Christian, evangelism was very important to me.  One of the most effective ways is what is called Lifestyle Evangelism.  Basically it means you live your life as a good Christian and the people around you such as family, friends, and co-workers would begin to see how different you are and come to you to find out why.  Obviously your YouTube channel could be an evangelistic tool as well.  This leads me to the final video.

In this video he states that he has removed people off of skype.  (Including myself I checked)  Brett incorrectly states the reason he ended the friendship with me was because of the falling out I had with AgentofDoubt.  This contradicts what has already been stated HERE.  What started this was when he lost his Youtube channel and I failed to get it reinstated.  The friendship was on again and off again many times.  Each and every time until the very end it was ended by him.  At the very end I finally had enough, when he posted nude pictures of a friend of mine without her knowledge or consent it was crossing the line for me.   For the record however, he only removed me off of skype in the past few days.  

Anyway back to the video and his reasons for ending friendships with so many other people.  He lists two criteria for doing so.  The first is anyone who does not believe in a god.  The second is anyone who who engages in Google Hangouts where they interact with people critical of him or the people he interacts with.  I wish to address this second point first.  It should be pointed out that while Brett and I were still friends he frequently interacted with people who were very critical of me.  People such as ChickenDoodleSauce (who I tried in vain to warn him against until he finally fell victim of ChickenDoodleSauce himself.)  He has frequently interacted with Corky despite what he has done towards me.  He has interacted with many people far too many to count who have said lies about me, but I let Brett Keane do it.  I didn't make demands that he only interact with people I approve of.  Granted a few times I tried to warn him about a few people, such as ChickenDoodleSauce, but for the most part I felt I had no business dictating who Brett Keane could associate with.  

However, even if you could make the argument that Brett Keane has the right to dictate who his friends can talk to on Google Hangouts where should you draw the line?  Say I am in a conversation with a few people and CardinalVirtues comes in the room.  While he and I have certainly been at odds in the past, am I supposed to leave the conversation I am in, because he has said some pretty hurtful things towards my friend BionicDance?  Or am I to demand that the host of the call boot him because of what he has said towards BionicDance.  Heck, Brett you posted nudes of BionicDance to your website without her knowledge or consent and when I protested you did it a second time.  I had to get on skype and in tears explain to BionicDance what you did and how sorry I was that you were using her as a weapon to attack me.  Thankfully, BionicDance is a good enough friend to understand.  Long story short, I do not believe Brett has any business dictating who his friends talk to, especially when he has demonstrated his willingness to engage with people who hurt his friends.  It is a double standard to demand that his friends not be allowed to talk to people who likewise hurt him.

At 5:50 into the video he states that he wants nothing to do with anyone who does not believe in a god.  He only wishes to be friends with Muslims, Christians, pagans, ect.  The pagan beliefs are far to diverse for me to narrow down in this blog so I will just focus on the Muslim beliefs and Christian beliefs when it comes to friendships with non-believers.

First, for the most part, the Qu'ran forbids close friendship with non-believers but you can have non-believers as aquaintances.  .  However, based upon my experience in the taxi industry and the muslims I knew this is not widely practiced at least over here.  In America, Muslims of course are a minority religion so friendships with Muslims may be harder to foster.  It is possible in a more Muslim dense country the rule might be more in use.  

Now I have limited knowledge of the Qu'ran and I have never read the Hadith.  However I have found several passages through websites such as Quran Q and A  A kaafir (or kafir) is simply a non-believer.  Not to be confused with kaffir which is a slur about blacks.  According to this website there are cautions to take when making friends with non-believers.  A much better website that I found is this article by Afroz Ali which breaks down the various Arab words that have been translated into friend and cites how and when each word was used.

On the Christian side I am a bit more of an expert.  Of course it is well known that Jesus was a friend of sinners.  In fact his association with sinners was one of the complaints the religious leaders had against him.  Of course there is the passage in 2 Corinthians 6:14 about being unequally yoked but most scholars interpret this to refer to marriage.

Regardless of your religion, in order to spread your religion, you will need to have friendships with those outside of your faith.  This of course does not mean head down to the local strip joint and pass out the dollar bills to all the strippers as you tell them about God.  Rather, the whole point of a religion is to tell others about it.  If you feel that others are on their way to hell because they lack a belief in your God, then you have a moral obligation to try to save them.  This means you have to form trust, which can only come from friendship.

Your decision to cut off access to anyone who does not share your belief in God will only further isolate you.
Your decision to demand that people only interact with people you approve of in order to be your friend is arrogant and selfish, not to mention being a double standard which I already pointed out.

You are more than welcome to live your life as you wish, I just hope you make the right decision.  I for one am happy that you have a new faith in God.  I do hope that I am wrong about your motivation to turn to God and that it is on a desire to know God better and not simply because you feel rejected by the Atheists on YouTube.  I can not stress how much I want to be wrong about that.  Some of my happiest memories come from the time when I was a Christian and when I still believed in God.  I truly hope you too can find this happiness.

I would encourage Brett to commit to a religion and look into finding a house of worship for you and your family.  I would encourage Brett to try prayer to rid his life of agoraphobia and his panic attacks that prevent him from being in crowds and large open areas.  I would encourage Brett to submit to the authority and leadership of a local preacher.