If you don't know who JP Holding is, I'll explain in a moment. But for now, here are some quotes to show you what kind of a person he is:
(Holding said this in response to an Amazon Commenter):
"Speculation has it that you have intimate relations with farm animals. I guess that wasn't much fun because you're here posting comments. See? Isn't that great?"
In response to a web-forum member:
"And you? You’re nothing but a sanctimonious ant with delusions of your own grandeur; you’re nothing but a modern day Hugh waving your swollen member around and knocking people over with it or else disgusting everyone by pointing to it and shouting to everyone to look at it."
In response to another person:
"Well, that's Crybaby's fault. He's an expert manipulator, and all I did was make him eat his own upchuck."
I can understand that Holding might get upset and say things like this on occasion (I can be a little testy when certain people make foolish comments on my blog), but believe me, this kind of verbal sewage is pretty typical from Holding. He says this kind of thing CONSTANTLY.
Who is JP Holding? He is an Christian apologist who mainly works through the internet, insulting his opponents and writing illogical and pseudohistorical garbage to defend his faith. You know all those crazy Jesus mythicists who think Jesus was based on a sun god? Holding is the other extreme. If you took someone with the mindset of a really cranky Jesus mythicist and somehow got him to become a passionate and devoted Christian fanatic, and gave him a douchebag goatee (see the picture below) then you'd have JP Holding. Same bad, biased thought patterns. Same biased, shoddy research and arrogance.
Although Holding has only a degree in library science, he feels very confident writing (EXTENSIVELY) about historical, biblical, philosophical and theological issues while constantly making arguments from authority and questioning the expertise of real scholars who happen to hold views that he doesn't agree with (see here). Holding also wrote a book called 'The Impossible Faith' which inspired a certain JohnnySkeptic to hire Richard Carrier to rebut the entire book (which is now itself a book: Not the Impossible Faith).
Now, to be fair, he actually has made a good point relevant to the argument from authority, and one that I am going to use freely to annhilate him later on. Holding said (in reference to Jesus Mythicists):
The critic may say:
"Just because a consensus of historians say that the Jesus-myth is wrong does not mean that it is wrong. The historians could be wrong. They could also be biased. Since this subject is dominated by theological agendas and philosophical presuppositions, a scholarly consensus does not constitute evidence for the existence of Jesus."
Yes, this is actually the core of many arguments made in favor of the "Jesus-myth": Behind every historian there is a conspiracy, a bias, or some gross error of judgment...
Of course, it is possible that all of the professional historians (even those with no religious interest!) are biased or wrong, while proponents of the 'Jesus-myth' are the objective ones. And yes, a consensus does not equate with evidence. But a consensus on any historical question is usually based on evidence which is analyzed by those who are recognized as authoritative in their field, and therefore may be taken at their word.
Let's take this point to its logical conclusion: If those outside scholarship ought to accept the majority opinion of scholars, then Holding had better be ready to admit that the Book of Daniel is a second-century forgery and not a prophetic writing (which he doesn't), or he at least ought not find fault in outsiders who simply take the scholarly majority at their word. Look at what he says in his essay on the book of Daniel:
The whole problem of the dating of Daniel really has nothing to do with evidence. The reason the Maccabeean theory was proposed was because of a prior philosophical belief that fulfilled prophecy can not happen.
Yeah, the majority of Biblical scholars are all out to discredit the Bible. Riiight... : D
Holding also reveals to us what an uncomprehending dumbass he is when he said, in his article about Evolution:I draw from The Blind Watchmaker. The work as a whole runs upon a premise of an immensely begged question (evolution must have taken place, because here we are).
Actually, if you read the Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins not only provides extensive evidence that evolution occurred, but he also argues that it is the only known (satisfactory) explanation for why we are here. The fact that Holding feels so comfortable accusing an esteemed Oxford Biologist of committing such a gigantic, blatant error of elementary logic ought to raise a red flag: Holding is a former prison librarian. Holding, here's some advice: before you open your big mouth about anyone, anyone at all, you had better thoroughly study what they write and if necessary ask someone smarter than you about these issues. You're not an intellectual, or a scholar, or even a bright guy, and writing things like this only shows what a dumbfuck you are.
And now we can leapfrog over to a recent dispute I've had with Holding. First I need to laydown some backround: As you can tell from this post, Holding has a big mouth and makes quite a number of enemies. It just so happens that one of the enemies Holding made (JohnnySkeptic) was well-off financially, and so when Holding wrote up an argument ('The Impossible Faith') Johnny decided to hire a professional historian (Richard Carrier) to respond to Holding's drivel. Da-Da-Daaaaan. I might be tempted to feel sorry for Holding... if he wasn't such an asshole. I mean, most internet apologists (like him) are harmless idiots with emotional problems that they solve by turning to Christianity and insulting atheists (who may or may not be more qualified/intellectual than them) to make themselves feel better. Those apologists seldom have to worry about the sheer terror that Holding faced with Carrier. I mean, hiring Carrier to rebut Holding was like using a nuclear missle to kill a squirrel. When Johnny agreed to pay Carrier for this job, Holding's ass became grass and Carrier proceeded to mercilessly mow him down, light a fire on the lawn, and sow the ground with salt. Listen to what Holding said about Carrier in a comment on amazon:
[T]here's not much confidence to be placed in a guy who took 10 years to get his doctorate, loses his debates badly, and is a proven quack when it comes to Greek.
For the right effect, just picture Holding lying on the floor, beating his fists on the groung and blubbering those words in tears. In fact, if one can recall Holding's responses to Carrier (which have now disappeared from his website) you'll know that he compared Carrier to a hired gun sent to assassinate him. Out of all Holding's rhetoric, I think that bit comes close to revealing how Holding really feels. Holding admittedly wrote his essay to respond to the claims of those who think the early Christians were a bunch of suckers. Holding has major emotional investments in Christianity, and it hurts him to see atheists making statements that are (in my view and probably also in Holding's) mean-spirited and uncharitable to the early Christians. So Holding wanted to devise an argument that no internet infidel could match, and something that would prove once and for all that his faith was not in vain. And to have a professional infidel hired to tear his argument to pieces pushed Holding over the edge. Again, behind the rhetoric and bullshit, JP Holding is a human being, and one with feelings.
Of course, that fact doesn't excuse Holding anymore than it excuses criminals from crimes they committed because they were mistreated and had to lash out at society. Nor was the situation unjust: I've seen Holding be just as mean-spirited and insensitive towards the Mormons. Doesn't feel so good when it happens to you, does it, Holding? Cry me a river.
One more thing: Back when Holding had first posted his little essay 'The Impossible Faith' he actually ridiculed a 20 year old college student, Chris Hallquist, for suggesting that first century Judeans probably didn't have identical (or even near identical) standards or ideas about what constitutes 'evidence' that we 21st Century Americans do. Well, I've done some research and have proven that Holding was dead fucking wrong. If you read chapter 6 of The Social Settings of Jesus and the Gospels edited by Bruce Malina (Holding's hero whom he refers to and generally grovels before constantly) you'll find out that different cultures do indeed have very different ideas about what forms of experience (sensual, dreams, imaginings) constitute valid information in the real world. In fact, I sent Dr. Pilch the following email about his chapter:
Hi Dr. Pilch, I read some of your work. When you say that the people of Jesus' cultural contexts lived under a different consensus reality, it reminded me of something:
In the congo some of the locals have reported an animal, Mokele-mbembe, which is described as looking like an apatosaurus. Apparently a researcher traveled to the congo and asked a local villager:
'There's something I'd really like to know. Have you seen Mokele-mbembe?' 'What a stupid question,' said Doubla [the villager], looking genuinely surprised, stopping with the water-bottle halfway to his lips. 'Mokele-mbembe is not an animal like a gorilla or a python. . . . It doesn't appear to people. It is an animal of mystery. It exists because we imagine it. But to see it--never. You don't see it.' SOURCE
It seems to me like this is a good illustration of how consensus reality can differ from culture to culture: Apparently in this culture, imaginings and daydreams are considered valid ways to learn about reality just as much as more "scientific" types of observation are considered to be valid ways of learning about reality are considered to be in the West.
Would you agree?
In fact he did agree with me, and if you don't believe me maybe you should go to his webpage yourself and ask him. Now, if you read Pilch's chapter, as you can online for free, you'll realize that this has dramatic implications for the supposed post-resurrection encounters with Jesus and on how dreams/strong gut feelings/imaginings/altered states of consciousness in general could have EASILY given the first Christians the conviction that Jesus had been raised. All of this is well documented social science. The fact that Holding was outwitted and outresearched by someone more than a decade his junior just speaks volumes. And remember, Pilch is not some crank scholar. He's employed at Georgetown University and has contributed to volumes edited by Holding's favorite scholar, Bruce Melina. Nor is he some atheist trying to cook up wild excuses to avoid the terrible fate of admitting that Christianity is true: He happens to be a devout Catholic, as I found out in our email exchange.
Now, I know what I've written is going to really stir some people up. I hope it does. I hope Holding's followers stop uncritically trusting his judgement and start thinking for themselves. I hope they read every criticism they can find of him, and I hope they bring it to his attention and demand answers. And the answer that will be given for this essay will be something like the following: Nick Covington is a coward! He won't come and debate me, the great James Patrick Holding, on theology web. And I have a response to that: On theologyweb Holding is given preferrential treatment: He's allowed to curse (calling Doug Shaver 'Dougie Dumbass') and be incredibly nasty to others, while anyone who does the same to him is penalized (I had a post altered and was given a warning on theology web for calling Holding a 'dishonest fag' after I had it up to here with his bullshit evasions). Holding is not acting brave by challenging me to debate in a place where I'll be treated badly and cat-called by his followers. And for him to call anyone else a coward for not coming to debate him there is a great example of how he projects his own identity onto others. Holding is nothing but a quaking, quivering piss-pants coward who is too chickenshit to show up on a more neutral territory and debate me. In fact, if he wants to debate anywhere that is more neutral towards both of us (like debate.org), I'd be glad too. But I just know he won't. C'mon James, show me up. Show the world you're not a big stinking wuss.
And with that, I want to conclude this article with the following: Anytime you see anyone anywhere reference JP Holding or his website tektonics, shame them thoroughly for not checking their sources send them over here. If they don't realize what an unreliable little bastard he is, then they aren't worth your time. Hopefully this will draw a few members of Holding's cult away from donating money to his sorry organization. Holding is NOT the guy you want representing Christianity on any level: his scholarship (if it can be called that) SUCKS, and he's all-around a very rotten individual. Don't support him financially or otherwise, and discourage others from doing so. He's only doing a huge disservice to your faith.