A Few Links About James P. Holding

James Patrick Holding changed his name to Robert Turkel and changed it back to JP Holding. There are several sites dedicated to exposing his disgusting and depraved tactics, along with the way he dishonestly mischaracterizes his skeptical opponent's arguments. He riles atheists and agnostics not because Holding effectively refutes our arguments, but because he's an obnoxious know-it-all who treats those who disagree with disdain, even credentialed scholars. He's spread his cancerous type of Christianity over at Theology Web where he has been given an area as his own, which he says is his "exclusive place to debate." Any skeptic who dares to challenge his views there will not be able to take the ridicule and abuse he and his followers will heap on him. It will not be a free discussion of the ideas. Expect to be mocked. This is his version of Christianity at its best, and it's ugly. You will feel as though you're back in High School trying to carry on a reasonable discussion with a gang of adolescents who don't care, who mimic their hero J.P. Holding. And Holding likes it this way, because then he doesn't really have to deal with the opposing arguments.

I want to comment about JP Holding's recent Blog he's involved in that is dedicated to personal attacks on me [Edit he now has two, count 'em two Blogs dedicated to Lil ole me. Tee hee. They say you can tell how famous a person is by the number of stalkers he or she has. I have a few of them. But Holding is obsessed with me]. He claims he's focusing on me because of my "entertainment value." Hmmmmm. What's that exactly? And if so, is this a good "stewardship" of his time? The truth is he's being disingenuous, for he later adds that I am an "enemy of the common good." Lot's to say about that one. He cannot honestly or consistently tell us why he's targeting me. No one bothers targeting people who are not influential or important, now do they? Besides, most of what we get from him are ad hominems. He's the one who has entertainment value I think! ;-)

I don't plan on giving Holding much attention here at all. Attention is what he craves for it validates him. In fact, among his ignorant followers they think he's important precisely because he gets some pretty important skeptics to turn our guns on him. His followers conclude he must be doing something right if we go after him. But the truth is that Holding merely annoys us by treating us with such disrespect that we feel compelled to respond. He makes us angry, not because he has great arguments but because of his demeanor toward us.

Dr. Keith Parsons calls him an "idiot loser" and writes: "If you elicit foaming rants from Holding and his ilk, you must be doing your job." "Holding is like the big, fat cockroach that scuttles across your kitchen floor. You just can't resist the temptation to stomp on him."

In one of his diatribes Holding called Dr. Hector Avalos "Dr. Stupid" not long ago. As you'd guess that got a rise out of him. So Avalos powerfully responded to Holding right here. Dr. Avalos points out "A series of self-assured statements (from Holding) that turn out to be false, sloppy, misleading, or outright lies." He continues:
In general, Holding’s review relies heavily on the following types of arguments:

1. Ad hominem argumentation

2. Ad vericundiam argumentation, an “appeal to authority” that is inadmissible in logic, especially without further explanation of why such an authority is correct.

3. Juvenile rhetorical devices usually repeated ad nauseam (“whine” “rant” etc.) that could apply equally to his complaints about my book. These devices serve to deflect attention from the lack of substance in Holding’s posts.
Then there is the case of former DC member, Matthew J. Green, who as a skeptic tried to be Holding's friend to no avail, and finally wrote him off.

One of the most important debates about Holding and his clowns has to do with his Biblical justification for ridiculing and belittling apostates, skeptics and yes, even other Christians he thinks are heretics. Holding’s justification for being obnoxious to people who don't accept the "truth" can to be found here. Most everyone would disagree with Holding on this. He and others like him live in a tiny tiny part of the world. I've weighed in on this matter here. There are Calvinists who think God has predestined people like me to hell and so I deserve nothing from them, not any dignity, respect or truth. So why would anyone trust much of anything these Calvinists or Christians like Holding say about skeptics like me? They have all but admitted I don't deserve being treated charitably with dignity and respect. Holding is a grand master of what is called "terrorist apologetics," and he's focused on me.

Holding hangs out at TheologyWeb. The first time I went online in 2004 Ed Babinski pointed me to TWeb. I didn't know any better. So I went there. All I have wanted to do is to discuss the issues and the evidence for my claim can be found here at DC every single day. But what I found at TWeb were juveniles, hacks, hyenas and jackals who were not interested in an honest respectful debate for the most part. Holding was the ring leader. People there followed his example of "terrorist apologetics." But I stayed because I wanted to see if I could break through to them. And I didn't know where else to go. It's the one forum I emphatically do not recommend if you're looking for an honest and thoughtful discussion of the ideas. They are juveniles. They act like juveniles, think like juveniles, and argue like juveniles, after their juvenile leader, Holding. To deal with the likes of them is to wallow in the mire with pigs.

When I first self-published my book, Why I Rejected Christianity, it appeared on Amazon without any description of the contents inside. So in order to tell readers about it I wrote a description and posted it as a review using my name. In order to do so I had to rate it, so I did what most other self-published authors do, I rated it with five stars. Then when the description of it appeared three months later I removed it from Amazon. Three years later someone on TWeb claimed I wrote a deceptive review of my own book hiding the fact that it was me. I denied it partially because of how this accusation was made. I emphatically did not attempt to deceive anyone. My name was on the review and I said I was the author and that in order to tell readers what was inside the book I had to rate it. I also denied it because I had forgotten that I wrote it. But Holding and company claim I deceived and denied the truth. I didn't. It was the nature of the accusation and the fact that I had forgotten I did it. When shown that I had written it I remembered and admitted I did so.

In complete frustration with the likes of Holding I went on the attack and started a blog about Holding with numerous quotes and links that people who have dealt with him before wrote (what you will find below). Even a cuddly dog can be provoked to take a bite out of you, and I did. Holding is lying when he says that when confronted with it I denied it. I most certainly did not. I admitted it. Prove me wrong or shut up!

There is another guy over there named Nick Peters whom I debated on the problem of evil a few years ago. Why did I debate him? Who knows? When I first came online in 2004 I didn't know where else to go. In any case, every single one of the Christian TWebbers said I had lost the debate to Nick even though he lost that debate miserably. But rather than say anything critical about his performance all he received was unqualified praise for beating me when he didn't. TWebbers basically lied to him. Nick was at the time a college student working at a Walmart. The only thing I could figure out was that these Christians were encouraging Nick despite the evidence and despite the truth. Liars for Jesus they proved themselves to be. Liars to Nick. I really think we should not lie to people like they were lying to him. Christians will do this out of faith. They'll say "yes, you'd make a good minister," only to have such a person fall flat on his ass figuring out years later he should never be in ministry in the first place. That's why I wanted Nick to hear a second opinion, mine, since he was aspiring to be an apologist and showed no signs of being able to comprehend a simple argument in that debate. I said the reason they encouraged him and put him on staff at TheologyWeb is because he has a disability and the staff felt sorry for him.

Now they go around lying about why I said what I said, without the whole context. Maybe Nick will indeed be a good apologist. He certainly has improved himself somewhat over the years. But there is no crime in telling the truth when everyone else he knew was not doing so. You might be able to fault me in the future for being wrong (or blunt in the heated aftermath of a debate). But it is an absolute lie for them to say what I said was spoken out of hate for a man with a disability.

Nick can show himself to be an adult. Rather than doing the right thing and telling people to drop it since it makes no difference now, he's playing the sympathy card: "Poor pitiful me," he's now acting, "look how a big bad atheist told the truth as he saw it at the time." And that is what I thought at the time, although I also said that even if he proved me wrong he can thank me for inspiring him. It's like I must have actually kicked him or something. I didn't. Get over it Nick. Grow up. Do the adult thing. Tell people to drop it. It's over. Move on. But he's learned from Holding. He'll not amount to much of anything so long as he seeks to mimic Holding and that has nothing whatsoever to do with any disability he has.

Holding also lies when he claims I misused Norman Geisler’s 'endorsement' of my book. I did no such thing. What, must I quote everything Geisler said to provide the context for one or more of his sentences and if I don't, I'm misusing the quote? Who in their right mind would ask for that? I quoted him accurately and even included another personal note inside the book from him later, where he states he does not agree with me.

Holding and crew will throw up other accusations at me from when I was visiting TheologyWeb a few years back. All they can show is that when visiting an insane asylum I can act as crazy as the inmates since I was completely frustrated with that forum and the people there. There comes a point when a person can be so frustrated with a group of people who are not interested in a decent discussion that there is nothing left to do but blast them. And I did. I have no respect for them and do not try to have a rational decent discussion with the likes of them any more. They deserve only my disgust.

So now I have a problem. What I know without a doubt is that Holding and his ilk are swine and they continually try to drag me down into the mire with them. If I don't respond then it seems they win. If I do respond I am equated with him.

But I am not like him. He is below me. He dogs my steps with a couple of blogs dedicated to personal attacks on me on a monthly basis, if not more (plus a few sticky posts at TWeb about me up front and center). He claims I'm obsessed with him but if so, why is it I hardly ever mention his name? Remember, it's not me who has two Blogs dedicated to debunking him. He's not worth it. I merely respond to his false and childish accusations once in a long while. If he didn't do this from time to time I'd never even bother thinking about him or his clown followers. [No wonder they hate me 'cause I call 'em clowns. I maintain they are. No one but a clown would be a follower of Holding].

As far as I'm concerned except for this lone post, Holding doesn't exist. This probably bothers him greatly because he craves validation and I refuse to give it to him. That's why he continues to bring up these false and out-of-context accusations in order to get a rise out of me, to see me mention his name again and again. I suppose he'll bring up these old accusations five years or ten or twenty years from now as if they are relevant to who I am. They aren't, not at all.

Until he comes up to the respectful adult world of discourse who treats his intellectual opponents as human beings, and until he displays a greater level of education and thinking skills, I will ignore him.

I call upon his own Christian friends to bring him to his senses. He is the one who initially poured gasoline on the fires on my passion. I warned him about this that as a passionate man he ought not to have done it with me. I am motivated by believers who think they can dehumanize a person simply because he does not believe the exact same way. I dare say that Holding's efforts his whole life will not be in the plus column after you factor in the way he motivated me to go for the jugular vein of the faith that allows him to justify dehumanizing people like me. It's that same faith that led to the burning of heretics. The only difference is that people like Holding do not have the political power they once had.

But he still laughs even though I am dedicated to the destruction of his faith. Evangelicals have him partially to thank.


Here are what others have said about him:

Joe E. Holman wrote:
"Holding is nothing but a balls-to-the-walls, obnoxious prick who thinks the world of himself and exalts his views to the level of the bible which he tries to defend. To have to fight through someone's mockery and disrespect and insults to get to a good debate isn't worth it. I've debated better credentialed people than him who were openly respectful and decent. They were good exchanges -- without the bullshit! That's what we'd prefer."

"Holding has the annoying tendency of many apologists of looking up facts and presenting himself as an authority on the issues he just looked up. He fronts himself and the select group of 'scholars' he considers valid. To him, everyone else is 'stupid' and he says so specifically. No one makes as many ad hominem attacks as this guy. He'll quickly make you want to hit him in the mouth as hard as you can. No kidding."

Jason Long responds to J.P. Holding here, where he writes, 
"He is most notorious for redacting and editing his debates, misrepresenting his opponents, editing his opponents’ responses, refusing to link to his opponents’ responses because 'it gives small-minded people something to complain about,' invoking insults and other ad hominems, outright lying, appealing to authority, dodging questions he cannot answer, constructing absurd rationalizations to make biblical harmonies, and justifying cruelties if carried out in the name of God."

exapologist said... 
I want to take a moment to point out that John's most fundamental point is actually correct, viz., that Holding systematically mischaracterizes the views and arguments of his "opponents", and his argumentation is characterized by strings of ad hominems, non-sequiturs and other sorts of fallacious reasoning. This has can be shown by simply looking at the dialogues themselves in which he has engaged. See, for example, the exchange between Holding and Keith Parsons.

Now this doesn't mean that Holding is incorrigible, that he should be written off forever. If he decides later on that it would be better to listen to people's arguments and characterize them fairly and sympathetically, then we welcome discussion with him. There are plenty of Christians who are very smart, but who are also civil and honest, and who care about following a line of argument wherever it leads. Victor Reppert is an example. So are christian philosophers like John Hawthorne, Dean Zimmerman, Michael Rea, William Alston, etc. We are happy to listen to them, since they're reasonable people who recognize the importance of the free, civil, democratic exchange of ideas in the pursuit of truth. There arguments are also forceful, and worthy of consideration in their own right. But Holding, at least for some time and (apparently), is not in that camp. As long as he's not willing to engage in the civil exchange of ideas, there are principled reasons for not engaging him. For one thing, abusive language is contagious and gets everyone angry, leading to the deterioration of the pursuit of truth and serious discussion. For another, systematically misconstruing the views of others positively prevents the pursuit of truth, and stifles inquiry.

In short, there's not much point trying to engage in serious inquiry with someone who has the goal of shutting it down -- it's self-defeating. Since Holding does this (again, at least he does so now -- if he turns over a new leaf, then things will be different), the only reasonable thing to do is to ignore him. Instead, we'll happily listen to Christians who have the same basic interest of careful, civil inquiry about fundamental questions and hopefully have fun and make friends along the way).

Chris Hallquist sums up the consensus opinion about J.P. Holding, here. Hallquist said, 
"The consensus seemed to be that he was an arrogant, inflammatory, buffoon, not worth taking seriously. I think Matthew in particular nailed him on his ridiculous attempts to belittle the intelligence of scholars who specialize in ancient history/Biblical scholarship, when Holding only has a degree in library science." "Holding has demonstrated that he simply cannot be trusted to accurately represent his sources."

As a former dialogue partner with Holding Matthew J. Green just got fed up with him, seen here. Matthew says,

"My friends, I am sorry I defended Holding. My opinion of him now is that he is an arrogant spin-doctor of questionable honesty who enjoys insulting people and arrogantly scoffing at those who disagrees with him. I cannot believe that I even wrote a response to a blog post on here trying to defend him by asking blog members on here not to take him so seriously. I would like to offer a bit of friendly advice to people here: don't take him seriously at all. He's a sad joke!"

Matthew J. Green later responds to J.P. Holding, here in these words: 
"Turkel has adopted a style of viciously attacking skeptics and, sometimes, even Christians who have been known to have opinions that differ from himself. I believe that the reason Turkel acts this way is because, frankly, he has a serious ego-problem. I consider his arrogance to be borderline pathological. He resorts to abusive name-calling, treats atheists and other skeptics who disagree with him with the utmost contempt, and goes out of his way to make them feel completely and utterly stupid. His favorite defense mechanism is to dodge criticism by redirecting it at those who make the criticism. Thus if someone criticizes Turkel for his behavior, Turkel will latch onto a fault of that person, no matter how minor, irrelevant, or what-not and dish it out at the person making the criticism. I am continually bothered by Turkel's alarming egoism, the abuse that he continues to dish out at skeptics, and the silly arguments that he will often prop up in support of his faith. I would hope that other Christians who are embarrassed by Turkel's behavior and his fellow Turkelites will join with me and others in denouncing Tekton, Turkel, and others as in need of humility and reform."

Ebon Musings said this about Holding's tactics, here
"Mr. Holding's interest in having an honest and open discussion is doubtful at best." And here he says, "Mr. Holding's position is one that will concede no ground and countenance no loss, no matter the evidence or logic arrayed against him, no matter how soundly he is trounced, no matter how hopeless his case is. In such circumstances he will clutch at any argument, no matter how strained, and present it with a belligerence usually inversely proportional to its strength. His repeated use of ad hominem attacks, his sneering demeanor, his contemptuous and dismissive tone, his scorn and derision of anyone who differs from him - such patterns of expression permeate his site, and are often deployed to intimidate opponents and camouflage arguments that are patently weak, faulty, or irrelevant."
Earl Doherty responds to the "style" J.P. Holding, here in these words: 
"The heavy sarcasm, the open derision, the sophomoric recourse to insult, the sneering tone: these are readily recognizable as the all-too-common reaction of those whose cherished beliefs are being threatened or even questioned. His lengthy critique of my site is one vast ad hominem diatribe. To perceive, much less to appreciate, the counter-arguments he offers to some of my ideas, one has to wade through a distracting and distressing overlay of insult, innuendo, scorn and ridicule, delivered with a ‘wit’ and word-play of questionable sophistication. Such heavy-handed invectives often serves to bolster what are weak, or beside-the-point, or even fallacious arguments on his part. This is not the mark of the professional scholar, and I suspect that few genuine members of that category, or even the discerning layperson who is interested in learning something on the subject of Jesus’ existence and the reliability of the New Testament record, would bother to read through much of this overblown exercise in self-indulgence."
J.P. Holding's dishonesty is exposed, here. There we read,
"Robert Turkel uses a number of deceptive and dishonest rhetorical tactics in his efforts to "win" religious debates. Among other things, Turkel will make up answers off the top of his head; he will hide damaging information from his readers; he will take another person's argument, make a caricature of it, and attack the other person on the basis of his misrepresentation; he will distort and misrepresent the writings of scholars and historians to support his position, he will use insults to minimize those who disagree with him (see here); he will employ insults and bluster to dodge troublesome questions; he will respond to questions with questions; he will make unreasonable demands in exchange for answering a question or questions that he does not want to answer; he will rewrite his responses in debates after the other person has already responded; he will claim to have answered a question or to have addressed an issue when in fact he has not; and so on and so forth. Not all of these actions are blatantly dishonest-but many of them are and all of them, taken together, reveal a basic dishonesty in his approach to discussion and debate."

Jim Lippard points out J.P. Holding's dishonesty, here. He says, 
"In Turkel's response to "The Jury Is In," he criticizes me on the basis of arguments I never made, writing that I "botched" three points. I pointed out that I hadn't made those arguments, but rather a different argument that he doesn't address." Then after a response from Holding Lippard says, "He still doesn't get it. No, I don't mean he misunderstood my arguments, I mean he mistakenly attributed statements to me which I did not author and which were not attributed to me by Robby Berry--the error is Turkel's, but it's unlikely he'll ever own up to it, since he doesn't care."
Keith Parsons replies to J.P Holding, here. He says, 
"Apparently, attacking a straw man whenever he pleases is a convenience that Mr. Holding likes to take advantage of."

Farrell Till responds to J.P Holding, here, and here, and here. Till says this of Holding: 
"He has a habit of either removing or revising articles after errors in them have been exposed or he has been caught with his pants down on some issue."
Kyle Gerkin responds to J.P Holding, here. Gerkins writes, 
"Holding starts out with ad hominem attacks, lampooning me as an author in an effort to denigrate my credibility. These are cheap rhetorical tricks, that have no bearing on the truth or falsehood of the propositions laid out in my article. This is certainly not the tone of an objective analysis."
Brian Holtz responds to J.P. Holding, here. Holtz wrote:
"In our debate over the Trilemma (that Jesus was liar, lunatic, or lord), Robert Turkel's latest response to me contained no less than 137 polemical blunders, each categorized and separately identified below...."

G.A. Wells responds to J.P. Holding, here. He wrote,
"Most of Holding's article is devoted to appraisal of the pagan and Jewish testimony to Jesus. This is not, and never has been, my position." And he says, "Holding begins his criticisms, as do many of my critics, by questioning my qualifications to say anything on the subject at all. His final dismissal of my views as "the result of a fallen and sinful human nature, and nothing more" is just childish. His case is not improved by his accusations of "outright misrepresentation to get round the evidence", of ignoring "a great deal" of it, and of treating what is left "most unfairly". Characterization of me as "a measly professor of German spouting balderdash dug up from old books by F.C. Baur" well illustrates the abusive and vituperative material that dominates these responses. One cannot expect to find much in such writing that is worthy of serious attention..."

Richard Carrier responds to J.P. Holding, here. In response to Holding's argument Carrier says this, 
"Holding does not make any effort to answer these questions even vaguely. Thus, his conclusion can only be vaguely certain at best." In responding to Holdings' counter argument, Carrier says, "Most of Holding's criticisms worth responding to are not important enough to warrant emending the text of my critique. Rather than identifying actual errors of fact or critical omissions that significantly affect my arguments, or clear flaws in my reasoning or manner of expression, most responses amount to an unjustified misunderstanding of what I actually wrote, or new groundless assertions or even outright false claims."

Thom Stark, a liberal Christian scholar writes the following about JP Holding:
Holding does not trust in his ability to present the facts in such a way that they are able to speak for themselves. He has to employ character assassination, prefacing all his criticisms with assurances that the object of his critique cannot be trusted. In this way, Holding is profoundly disrespectful to his readership; he displays a disdainfully low estimation of their intelligence.
[Please note: I update this post periodically.]