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Windup Weasel Toy

Or, More Feathers from Foo-Foo
James Patrick Holding

Like the Energizer bunny beating his drum, he keeps going and going and going...and as before we continue to derive entertainment value from it. I'll assume by now that everyone has read parts 1 and 2, and just dive right in:

[Holding]'s final comment above shows his ignorance of Church-of-Christ logic, because these preachers are just about as bad as any other fundamentalists in arguing that "all" doesn't mean all, "soon" or "at hand" doesn't mean soon or at hand, "dead" doesn't mean dead, etc., etc., etc.

X doesn't get the point too well, perhaps because of humor impairment. ;-) The Church of Christ preacher referenced is none other than himself. So the point is, I will interpret his EVERYTHING stricture as literally as he does in the contexts stated.

At any rate, I gladly accept this condition if [Holding] will in turn agree to some of my own counterproposals. contains [Holding]'s fractured attempt to reply to my point-by-point rebuttal of his attempt to explain the Jehu problem in 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4. I call it a fractured attempt, because whereas my reply to him presented a point-by-point rebuttal that deleted NOTHING in his article, his "reply" to me only selectively quoted my responses.

Sorry, but I have no idea what Foo Foo is on about here. The item referenced does not contain any reply to Skeptic X's rebuttal. It contains some general comments about scholarly consensus -- which is not what I want Skeptic X to reply to here, though of course he can if he wants -- followed by a full recounting of one of Skeptic X's responses to me, in italics. Within these italics in bold are the portions of this response I quoted in a previous response (the actual reply) -- about 5-10% of the total Skeptic Xspeak. My challenge is for Skeptic X (as he would know, if he read it carefully) to prove to us that the other 90% is needed to make his argument complete and that the 10% leaves non-sacrificable data or arguments out. He does not need to "reinsert my arguments and rebuttals that he skipped" -- this is his arguments reinserted, showing that they were overwhelmingly fluff, repetition, and nonsense that did not need to be quoted and whose removal in no way detracted from the arguments. I am not interested in what an "authority on written debating" has to say (if such exists!), though I would wonder if they have a rule equated with, "Thou shalt not be a windbag." So, X, back up and try again. I have already shown, in this item, that 90% is fluff and blather. Now go thou and prove otherwise.

I will reply separately to [Holding]'s other conditions. He may be surprised at what I say about his financial stipulations.

Probably not -- in fact the financial stipulation was the one I figured would be easiest to accept. Skeptic X throws around bets for amounts like $5K and $1K, and presumably has it either on hand or accessible, otherwise he wouldn't make the bets. Skeptic X is an incompetent at scholarship and logic, but he is not frivolous. I would not be surprised if this one was accepted (which it was, after a sort -- see below further).

In material following, we have more fluff and blather and accusations of cowardice on my part -- I'm still wondering why the Secular Web does not count as an open forum where Skeptic X can peddle his ideas peacefully and unedited for those who care. Skeptic X also wants to know why, if I don't work in a prison anymore, I still use a pseudonym. Well, gee -- let's put it this way: Does anyone out there know a JP Holding? Yes, I thought so. Right now JPH is a known name. I have published under that name in two major periodicals. So why change it all? Actually I do this mainly to make X upset and give him something to nitpick and sound petty about. But allow me to repeat this point, re the following:

Ostensibly, he was using the pseudonym because he was afraid that prison inmates upon their release would do harm to him and his family for [Holding]'s having written articles in defense of the Bible. That the vast majority of inmates give at least lip service to Bible belief doesn't do much to support the legitimacy of [Holding]'s fears, and certainly now that he is no longer a prison employee (if the report was true), he should have no reason to continue hiding behind anonymity.

This is X's twisted half-true version of what the story is. "Afraid" of prison inmates, yes -- anyone with sense is. For having written stuff on the Bible, no. I could have written articles on tomato gardens and I still would have used a writing name. It's just good sense for anyone who works in a prison, or used to. And actually, the majority of inmates are deists if anything; after them we have Muslims. And as noted, I continue using JPH even here because I know X likes to complain about it, and that makes him look petty, and fewer Christians will listen to him. So just keep chewing on those toenails, X. You're doing exactly what I want you to. Now some points back from Skeptic Xstill01, the first in this series:

An examination of my articles will show only a minimal of reliance on what so and so said about the subject under discussion.

True -- as noted, X relies mainly on himself and his own opinion. As I said, it's all "Skeptic X says..." i.e., himself as an authority, which is no more than the same thing, only with far less training involved. More words and three more paragraphs follow which roll out from this point, keeping the fluff ratio at 90%.

[Holding] again shows that he either hasn't much familiarity with my articles or else he is intentionally misrepresenting me. Those who have seen my debate with Hatcher on the errancy list (which Hatcher seems to have put on hold) know that I do exactly what [Holding] said above would be a "proper" response to an "Archer says...."

No one said that Skeptic X never does this; it is that he does the opposite at all. Blathering about, for example, items being published in Grand Rapids is never a proper response, no more than it would be for me to say, "Oh, that's published on the Secular Web" or "That's written by X Skeptic X or C. Dennis McKinsey" or "What do you expect, it was published in Buffalo", but Skeptic X makes sure to insert it at regular intervals just to score points and add irrelevant fluff. Such data only belongs in bibliographic references, not in "arguments". As for a reply, that's what my Daniel item is for.

Perhaps [Holding] would also care to help Hatcher out on the "image of gold" matter. He quoted Collins, Montgomery, and others to show that they thought that the writer meant that the image was only overlaid with gold. I took the quotations from these scholars one by one and showed that NOT A ONE of them had given any reason from the text of Daniel that even hinted that the writer meant that the image was just overlaid with gold.

Ah, yes, X's little teapot tempest crusade about gold statues. Well, I have a few points about this in my Daniel article, but to save X the trouble of trudging around and winding himself on his keyboard, I'll repeat the main point here. It goes like this: Daniel 3:1 refers to an "image of gold" -- X says it is solid gold, and that would be absurd for a statue of such size. Hatcher (and I) say it is gold-plated. Now for completeness I should mention that some argue that the height given in 3:1 arguably refers to the pedestal the statue was on as well, and that was not of gold; but for the sake of argument, and to save X some hard library time, we'll just assume it means the whole burrito.

Now Foo-Foo's premise here is that in order to argue for a gold-plater, we need to unequivocally show that Daniel really meant a gold-plater, or else we have a possibly unresolved discrepancy. Well, first off, only a nervous tic and former fundy like X would think it is cause for psychological dyspepsia if we can't find an absolute solution. In genuine historical study, such mild uncertainties and probabilities or possibilities do not make the real scholars nervous wrecks.

It's also rather off kilter, since if we really want to quibble-bibble, Daniel does not say "clearly" that the statue is solid gold, either. If Daniel had wished to "clearly" indicate a solid gold statue, he would have used kol, as in Zech. 4:2. On the other hand, does "of gold" indicate solidity? It does often when referring to jewelry and small items, but in at least one parallel phrase, the "bronze/brazen altar," what we have is not solid bronze, but something overlaid with bronze (Ex. 27:2). Yet if we did not have that last verse, we could see X arguing that an altar of solid bronze is intended.

Skeptic X is not acquainted with the rigors of scholarship, but in typical historical study, such evidence is considered to provide sufficient probability to agree that Daniel here is indicating an overlay job, and that is why even some liberals (who Skeptic X then accuses of "inerrantist thinking") think so, too. We have at least one cite showing that "[item] of [metal]", a phrase parallel in nature to "[metal] [item]", indicates "[item] overlaid with [metal]." To even start the ball rolling, Skeptic X needs first to show that "[metal] [item]" means solid [metal] [item]." And then at best all we would have is a tie: it could mean either thing. So we have a tie-breaker: given the size of the item, it is more likely that Daniel is talking about an overlay job. This is no more and no less than the standard "benefit of the doubt" given to any ancient author (and it does not matter here whether Dan is 6th or 2nd century BC). If Skeptic X wants to rob Daniel of this benefit for his own purposes, we really don't care -- he can scream in the corner all he wants, and no one will listen but his thralls. The only thing that would really do the job is for Skeptic X to collect citations from Biblical and secular sources of "[metal] [item]"/"[item] of [metal]" phrase combinations, tied in to items of comparable size of the image or larger, and show that this phrase combination was used only of solid [metal] items if he wants a "definite" error (this is already impossible, given the bronze altar), or show that it was the sufficiently, overwhelmingly predominant meaning (which would only give him a "probable" or "possible" error).

However, I do not look for Skeptic X to make such an effort. As he finds treading through even a short article by Hatcher tedious, I can only imagine that treading through a work of scholarly discipline, or the works of ancient historians, looking for "[metal] [item]" combinations, would be far too much for his patience before he would feel the need to lay down and take a nap.

Now here's a fun one. From the Skeptic X Archives of Haha our friend found this bit of history, a comment by me from some years back on the subject of the plague of blood on the Nile. Apparently Skeptic X keeps this thing to give himself comfort every time I roast his hide, but anyway, when the old bean noted that Philo said that there was no water found by digging by the riverbank, only blood, I noted:

That's nice, but Philo is simply reading into the text what is not there. So if I find a Jewish commentator of equal worth that says the opposite, is it a draw? If I find two, do I win? Remember that Philo is trying to promote Moses and Aaron here and would maximize their feat to the greatest extent possible.

To this, Foo Foo has the following:

This was [Holding]'s opinion of quotations from outside sources back then, so I wonder if he still maintains this opinion. If our debate materializes--and, of course, it won't--will I be able to reply to his "scholars" by just quoting one of my own, and if I quote two when he has quoted one, do I win?

This is my opinion of "outside sources"? No -- it's my take on Philo and commentators of "equal worth," a far narrower category. Philo was a bright guy and all, but not exactly a match for a Samuel Driver or a Ben Witherington on the scholarship front. So, sorry, Foo Foo, this is a Not Applicable again. And he wonders why we call him, as Mencken might have said, a rant in need of an editor.

But now back to my second condition, for payment for site space:

If [Holding] were urging me to meet him in a public oral debate for which there were several possible sites (churches or other buildings with auditoriums) available at no cost, and I insisted instead that the debate be held in a civic auditorium for which rent would have to be paid and that he pay 90% of the rental cost, I wonder what his reaction would be to this demand?

I'd say, look for the most affordable venue and we'll see if I have the resources. No cost, as he says? Cool. But this is a fractured analogy because the parallel would only be if I paid to rent the building myself and had a lease on it. Skeptic X apparently can't construct a viable analogy. Skeptic X goes on to suggest setting up another site and says he'll pay 100%. He can do what he wants. He can already do this on the Secular Web for free, so why hasn't he? The point again is, as shown in the article, Skeptic X operates as he does because he has no other weaponry at his disposal. This is how Skeptic X works: by throwing quantity at people to confuse them into thinking it is quality; to either tire out opponents by making them respond to constant diversions and irrelevancies, or else leaving the temptation open to skip things and open themselves to charges of leaving things out. The linked article is a challenge to Skeptic X to prove that he isn't merely blowing smokescreens. It has been up for years and he has repeatedly been pointed to it, but has ignored it. Until he answers it and proves that his every word is too precious to be edited, I will not capitulate to his games. He'll either tighten the noose around his own neck or get enough rope to hang himself -- if he does not yet again run away. Appealing to the "rules of written debate" is also a smokescreen, like taking advantage of the presence of a public paper receptacle to dump your sewage and nuclear waste.

Pay eight years in advance? Yeah, right, do I look as if I just fell off a turnip truck?

No, it looks like that happened several years ago, and that is why I want payment in advance. The injuries caused by the fall indicate imminent mortality. As of the writing of this item, and now over a month later, no response had been received regarding our 3rd challenge point (re: Marco Polo) so we'll return when or if X gets back to it -- assuming he isn't trying to disappear quietly into the woodwork again like he did with the Hosea/2 Kings issue.

Continued here.

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