The Biblical book if Daniel is particularly attacked by skeptics and critics, both inside and outside the church. The attacks are due to the very detailed prophesies found in the book, telling precise things about four major world kingdoms. Liberals inside the church attack Daniel by denying miracles before they get to the text, and skeptics outside the church tell us historical details are incorrect — they tell us Darius the Mede was not emperor when Daniel says he was.
As background, Daniel makes clear prophecies about kingdoms which will follow Babylon. These prophecies are quite detailed, and the predictions align with Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
I happen to trust the good scholarship that holds to the early date and inerrancy of Daniel. But if we were to take the minimal facts method of defending Daniel, we can accept merely the most undisputed facts about the book and still have Daniel as a valid book.
The dead sea scrolls have parts of Daniel that date to at least 150 BC, possibly a bit earlier. With that date, even if we take the most skeptical approach, Daniel predicts the disintegration of Rome and the rise of Christianity. Such a prediction given hundreds of years before the event supports the divine origin of Daniel.
As to details such as Darius, several responses can be given. First, whenever the skeptics see the slightest disagreement between the Bible and secular historians, they are quick to blame the Bible. Why not hold the Bible true and the other historians false? Given that the Bible is demonstrated true in so many other places, it is reasonable to consider that there might be an explanation, rather than being quick to blame the Bible. At the very least, it does not follow that we should automatically dismiss Daniel and accept other accounts without carefully balancing the rest of the evidence.
Second, reasonable explanations are possible. The Bible Knowledge Commentary gives at least four possible explanations for Daniel’s account of Darius, all of which are reasonable and fit well into the historical account.
Third, even if we have no explanation for the existence of Darius, it is not reasonable that Daniel merely invented a world leader that the readers of the day would identify as a fairy tale. The Jews especially would have discounted the entire book. Instead, they held Daniel to be a true prophet.
Fourth, even if we were to have no explanation for some details in Daniel, it does not follow that the whole of the book, indeed even the whole of the Bible, should be discounted. As we demonstrated above, taking the most skeptical of approaches and considering even the most minimally true facts, we still find Daniel’s key prophecies to be true.
Lastly, there is some external support for Daniel. The historian Josephus tells of Alexander the Great laying siege to Jerusalem, only to be invited in by the priest and shown the prophet’s account of him. Alexander is said to be so impressed that he spared the city.
In reality, Daniel is complete and inerrant, was written early, and predicts accurate details of history. We would all do well to read Daniel afresh and heed the words God has revealed to us.