Breaking the Skeptical Mold
Why You Shouldn't Take This Website Seriously
Dr. Imus Keptic
About the Author
Dr. Imus J. Keptic is a former fundy that founded the prestigious "Apostates R Us" Freethinkers' society based in Walla Walla, Washington. Among the list of high-quality books written and self-published by Dr. Keptic include "Fighting Fundies Along the Road to Reason," "The Legalization of Marijuana: A Proponent's View," and "The Benefits of Pornography." In addition to his written work, Dr. Keptic is one of the world's leading manufacturers of Darwin fish and atheistic bumper stickers.
This website came to my attention some time ago and I have lately been surveying the dialogues of James Patrick Holding with his skeptical counterparts. It has become increasingly obvious that many great arguments against Holding have come to surface and I am here to collate these arguments into one presentation as well as add my own thoughts into the debate. What follows are the fruits of my labor.
[Note: You may be wondering how I managed to get this article onto the very website that I am refuting. I sent Holding a copy to read prior to publishing it anywhere, and he replied that he would be glad to place it on his site to "give his readers a good laugh." However, I think it will be clear that we skeptics will have the last laugh in the matter! This will turn out to be a major mistake by Holding, but I'm glad to take advantage of the situation!]
What's in a name?
Before we get into the actual substance that will put Holding out of business, we need to discuss the very interesting fact that the name that he uses to write with speaks volumes about the quality of his work. First of all, we have "James." It should be more than obvious that this name implies a code to Holding's ultimate position. He is obviously a "King JAMES only" proponent. This already places him among the most fundy of the fundies! Next, there is the last name, "Holding." Again, it is so clear from his unsuccessful encounters with skeptics that we literally can sense him "holding" on for dear life to the viewpoints he expresses. The middle name, "Patrick," doesn't seem to tell us much. Holding probably realized that a particularly clever skeptic such as me would one day figure out the code behind his name, so he simply inserted a non-coded name in the middle to try to throw us skeptics off the scent. If this is the case Holding, it didn't work! I figured it out anyway! On the other hand, what we may have here is something more cryptic. It could be that the use of "Patrick" is a reference to a particular television character. Patrick Stewart, well known because of his role as Captain Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" could be Holding's motivation. Holding has demonstrated an interest in the Star Trek series in some of his articles. But the reader may ask, "What does Star Trek have to do with a coded name?" Well, think about it! Where does Star Trek take place? In outer space! Thus, Captain Picard was, in a sense, closer to God! The "Patrick" in Holding's name may well reflect his belief of being close to God as a fundy "King James only" man. If we were to stop the article right here, this would be enough to prove that we skeptics need not take Holding's site seriously. We have proved that he is a KJV only man, holding on for dear life to this beliefs, possibly thinking he is close to God, and shouldn't be taken seriously.
Carrying on the Skeptical Tradition
As mentioned in the introduction, my goal here is simply to put together common, irrefutable arguments against Holding's site. Fortunately, I have the work of a virtual Dream Team of skeptics upon which to build. To save space, I will discuss here only a few in passing. For starters, we have C. Dennis McKinsey and Joe Wallack. Both of these highly admirable skeptics have managed to compile quite lengthy lists of errors. Holding, of course, has written thorough responses to each of these great skeptics, but since we have proven that he is a fundy "KJV only" proponent, his arguments against the more intelligent people of skeptical persuasion are automatically rendered moot. We also have the marvelous work of one that goes by "Vorkosigan" over at TWeb. Vorkosigan is very good at answering arguments by touting that the majority of scholars agree with his position and disagree with his opponent's position, and he has used this very instrumentally against Holding! Holding thinks that something more specific should be offered in refutation, but who is he to demand such a thing? He is a KJV-only man for crying out loud!!! Next, we have Skeptic Bud. He has certainly proved himself to be a major thorn in Holding's side. Consider a TWeb debate the two had on Holding's article The Impossible Faith. Holding asserts that the public of 1st century Palestine would have considered the crucifixion very shameful, and that this would have been a major deterrent to belief in Christianity. However, Bud asserts an analogy to refute the argument that this was an absolute rule:
"Also, there is the fallacy of "accident", which is very similar but a refined form of the division fallacy, which Holding also commits, and which I now define and document.
"The fallacy of accident begins with the statement of some principle that is true as a general rule, but then errs by applying this principle to a specific case that is unusual or atypical in some way…The truth of a general rule, on the other hand, leaves plenty of room for exceptional cases, and applying it to any of them is fallacious…fallacy of accident...mistakenly applies a general rule to an atypical specific case (as in "Ocelots have many health problems, and Sparky is an ocelot; therefore, Sparky is in poor health"). (http://www.philosophypages.com/lg/e06c.htm)"
After some back and forth debate on this issue, Holding eventually writes,
"You assert that individuals must have existed who were exceptions; that all the literary and documentary evidence must have somehow "missed" all the people that were exceptions; that every sociological model and study has somehow managed to miss these people (the Chinese are agonistic and collectivist, well, just the ones we've met anyway! -- the other kinds, we just happen to miss them!); that conveniently, these "missed" people must have been the ones who were Christianity's converts. This is YOUR burden against the metric tonnage of scholarship standing on your head. Go on then and continue to make a fool of yourself. "
Come now Holding! There are several problems with your "response." First, the scholars that study the social data clearly have axes to grind. How do I know this without reading them? Because they are fundies! Although Bud is not a scholar, he should be afforded higher credibility since he is an objective, open-minded skeptic and your context scholars are not. Furthermore, since Holding, a KJV-only man, is the one that recommends these scholars, how scholarly can they possibly be?
Finally, we move to the king of all skeptics. That is, of course, Farrel Till. This skeptic has been so successful in refuting Holding that Holding's whole team is falling apart at the seams! It has become clear that one of his writers, that goes by the name "Phantaz Sunlyk," is a secret Farrel Till supporter. Check out this very revealing line from one of Sunlyk's articles:
"And then, on the other hand, there are skeptics such as Ferry-Berry Go-Go Till, and the inspiration of the present essay, Bud. I make it a point to ignore such as these, for the simple reason that I know their arguments to be worthless." (From here)
The admiration for Till in Sunlyk's words ring loud and clear in this article. Notice that Sunlyk used the words "Go-Go" in his description of Till. Well, everybody knows that cheerleaders will often use these words. And when do they use this phrase? When they are cheering on their team! It is more than obvious from this that Sunlyk is a secret supporter of Till, rooting for him to defeat Holding. Corroborating this is the fact that the name "Phantaz" is very close to the word "phantom," which means "illusion." It is more than obvious that Sunlyk is using this name as a code to indicate that he is secretly part of the Till camp.
It is upon the unshakeable foundation that these skeptics have built that I will construct my case, and in the end, you'd have to be a fundy of the worst variety to see that I am not right in what I say!
The Mission Statement
Holding is rightly criticized because of the fact that he has a mission statement on his site that clearly exposes his motives: to defend Christianity. This proves that he is biased and unable to think rationally. It is pointed out in response that his opponents are also trying to defend their non-theistic worldviews and that even their websites, at times, contain mission statements. However, this is not really true. Some atheistic sites may contain PURPOSE-statements explaining what they are trying to accomplish, but if you see such statements as "Statement of Faith" or "Mission Statement" on these sites, it would be a misnomer, not to be taken literally. The reason is that atheism has nothing to do with "faith." Atheism is rational, unlike theism, and atheists do not have "missions" to convert people to atheism, and I encourage you, the reader, to recognize that only atheism is rational and join us in our cause to spread the truth of atheism to the world. However, since religion has everything to do with "mission" and "faith," such purpose statements on theistic sites are based on biased, irrational thinking and should not be taken seriously. This, along with Holding's coded name, are 2 good reasons why we shouldn't even consider his work.
We now turn to the issue of Holding soliciting financial support from his readership. Holding writes: "Ever since Jim Bakker and Oral Roberts made a strain with their machinations, it seems the Skeptics have always felt it some kind of "answer" to point out when a ministry asks people for financial support. That and quoting their mission statement. It's enough to refute the entire site, so don't bother any further."
That's right Holding, it is enough to refute the entire site! And this gives us a 3rd reason already not to have to deal with your articles. TV evangelists like the ones you cite demonstrate to us that people that ask for money cannot be trusted. Case closed! Holding mentions skeptic Dan Barker and his $500,000 budget. However, this will not vindicate Holding for a couple of reasons. First of all, as the Tillmeister has rightly pointed out, Barker does more than merely write articles; he appears on programs in the mass media and participates in public debates. It is quite simple Holding! There are obvious, unwritten pre-requisites involved in soliciting financial support, and writing articles does not fit the bill (The conversation between Till and Holding can be accessedhere). Holding might complain that he is straightforward with his readers by simply claiming that his goal for funding is to keep his ministry full time to write articles, and that since he is not dishonest about his reasons for requesting financial support, there is nothing wrong with his asking for money. However, this is not sufficient. We have already established that you must participate in public debates or appear regularly on radio or TV programs to ask for support. It is an unwritten rule among us skeptics for Pete's sake! Holding might then complain that he shouldn't have to play by skeptic's rules, but this is not the case since skeptics have the right to make the rules given that they have proven to be intellectually superior by rising above the shackles of theism!
Secondly, Holding is forgetting something very important, which is related to my point above. Skeptics have emerged as the people of intellectual honesty in this superstitious, theistic world. In short, we skeptics are teaching the truth, and have a right to ask for financial support. Since people like Holding are not promulgating the truth, they have no right to solicit financial support. Holding might retort, just like we'd expect of a fundy, that he is promoting the truth and that we are wrong. However, this is based on his own presuppositions. Fortunately, we skeptics have risen above the need to operate on presuppositions. We form our opinions based on where the evidence is clearly pointing. Furthermore, I have already determined that theism is mindless superstition, and no amount of evidence can convince me otherwise!
(Note: If you would like to support our cause, please send money via personal check or money order to "Apostates R Us." P.O. Box 666; Walla Walla, Washington, 99324; care of my financial handler, Sese Mukombo. With donations of $100 or greater we will send you your very own Darwin fish and "Freedom From Fundies" bumper sticker, free of charge!)
It is a well known fact to us skeptics that Holding does not provide direct links to his opponents' arguments. It is obvious that he wants to obscure our skeptical Dream Team to his readers as much as possible! Holding says that anybody that wants to find the article that he's responding to can simply perform a search using a phrase from the the article that Holding quotes into our web browser, but give us a break Holding! Think of how much extra time that would take! It would take a good 2-3 seconds to copy a phrase. It would probably take another 2-3 seconds to paste it onto the web browser. We have already used up by now a quality 5 seconds of our valuable time! By the time we move the pointer over to hit the "search" command or hit "enter" on our keyboards, we have used up another second or two. Then, it will take at least a second or two to actually do the search, and then another few seconds to find the actual article! If a person is fast, this could be done in about 15 seconds, but it may well require 30 seconds or more for some people, especially if their computer is slow. I'm amazed that you actually expect people to take this much time out of their busy schedules to find these articles. In 15-30 seconds I could walk to my refrigerator and get something to eat for dinner. What, do you want us to use up these same 15-30 seconds to search for the article you're rebutting instead of eating dinner!? Do you think we should have to starve to death in order to look for these articles!!?? Perhaps that is your motivation! You want us to have to go hungry and get weak from malnourishment if we decide to look for these articles. That way we are too weak to use our mental capacities properly to see the fact that you can't deal with arguments from the Skeptical Dream Team! That's very clever Holding, but it isn't going to work! I'll just eat a big lunch on days I decide to compare one of your rebuttals to the skeptical article!
The Bible in Context
We have already demonstrated 4 absolutely airtight, irrefutable reasons why Holding should not be taken seriously. We now turn our attention to a common complaint by Holding who argues that the Bible must be understood in its cultural, sociological, linguistic etc. contexts, especially if substance is to be established for skeptical claims regarding errors in the Bible. The problem for Holding and other fundies is that a truly inspired document should conform to a modern Western context. Holding often complains that this viewpoint is ethnocentric and arrogant, but let's face the facts: It is clear that our society is superior to all others since we have managed to rise above superstitious religious beliefs. While Holding and other fundies may continue to whine that the Bible needs to be understood in the contexts in which it was written, and held to such standards, it is clear to the intelligent person that it should actually conform to the superior culture, and that would be our 21st century Western culture. Only a theist would disagree with this.
Skeptics rightly point out that the Gospels cannot be harmonized because these writers, if truly inspired, would not write their documents in ways that make them different from each other. Harmonists argue that the Gospels were written from different perspectives, for different audiences, and for different purposes. But the fact remains that the documents should not look any different if they were truly inspired. All of the narratives should read the same without variation. Holding might retort that the ancients knew no such definition of "divine inspiration" as it is argued by skeptics today, but that's the point. The ancients were not nearly as intelligent as we are today and we are the better judge of how documents should truly be inspired. Holding makes the mistake here of insisting that the Bible be tested against the standards prevalent in the day that it was written in, but we have proven beyond the shadow of any reasonable person's doubt that the Bible is better held against 21st century Western standards.
Are you Qualified?
Much has rightly been made of the fact that Holding lacks the credentials to be an apologist. This is once again enough for us to simply brush off the 1,500 plus articles he continues to throw in our faces! Holding responds by saying that the work he presents is a collation of the arguments of various credentialed scholarly authorities that he studies, and thus his articles provide pertinent information regarding the issues that are being addressed. He even chides his opponents for not doing their "homework" before "passing themselves off as authorities of the Bible." Well Holding, once again I fail to grasp your logic. First of all, your opponents are skeptics. Since skeptics are, by definition, more intelligent than any fundy, they do not need to do "homework." Their opinion is automatically of more value regardless of documentation. Secondly, all your scholars do is show us that these problems can be solved when considering the various contexts that they were written in. But we have demonstrated in the previous section that the Biblical documents must conform to 21st century Western standards. It will not due to say that it makes the most sense that the Bible writers would have been inspired to write in styles acceptable in their day because we have proven that our culture is vastly superior to all other cultures in the contemporary world as well as in world history. It follows logically from this that the Bible must conform in every way, shape, and form to our Western sensibilities.
Proof of Evolution?
We have nearly reached our conclusion, but an interesting observation emerges from this study that is worth mentioning. It is obvious that skeptics are open-minded, non-superstitious people and that theists are closed-minded, superstitious, and clearly unintelligent people. Since there has been a rise in the number of atheists in recent years, this is a demonstration that the average person is getting more intelligent with time. This is what we would expect from an evolutionary worldview. Evolution is, of course, an absolutely proven fact. Although the number of scientists that question the adequacy of evolutionary theory to explain life is increasing, it is clear that such scientists are fundies. Or, for those allegedly "agnostic" scientists that are coming to doubt the veracity of evolutionary theory, they are obviously either fundy-wannabes or fundies incognito. Their opinions need not even be considered. However, it is clear that the rise of skepticism in the last couple of centuries demonstrates evolutionary theory in action!
I have demonstrated in this article the inadequacies of Holding's site. Holding complains that most of his "scholarly" articles find no response in the skeptical world and that the ones that do miss the mark by not providing ample documentation for the skeptical assertions being made. We have shown why this is beside the point. Regardless of the apparent irrefutability of his articles, Holding lacks credibility due to the following reasons:
We skeptics can confidently assert that the answers to your assertions, Holding, are out there somewhere. We just don't know where they are at. And since we have proven that your opinions are worthless anyway based on the 6 factors discussed in this article, it does not behoove us to have to deal with your articles. All that is necessary for us to put you in your place is to continually mention the fact that you have a mission statement, that you request donations, that you don't provide links, etc.
Holding has met his Waterloo by posting this article, and you are a mindless fundy if you do not recognize this! In closing, I'd like to share with the reader the following inspirational poem, which also gives you a glimpse of my road from fundyism to freedom. I call the poem "Farewell to Fundyism."
Fundies, fundies everywhere; they drove me to the brink.
Those fundies got me so upset I couldn't even think.
Then one day I found the truth at the age of twenty two.
To all those fundy moral teachings I gladly said adieu.
It was time for me to have some fun, so in the world I placed my trust.
My only goal from day to day was to indulge my every lust!
Some fundy apologists confronted me at the age of thirty eight.
It was at this time I decided to engage in skeptical debate.
They showed me reasons why they thought I'd certainly gone astray.
But they never did convince me, for I knew skepticism was the way.
We constantly debated all the issues of every theme.
And it was Dr. Keptic every time that eventually reigned supreme!