Friday, November 1, 2013

Desert Delusions III

Wile E. Coyote is at it blowing himself up again. The insensate critics of Hitler’s Christianity (HC), Arizona Atheist (AA), has found new ways to achieve national embarrassment with further commentary.

He begins with his greatest embarrassment, professing not to understand the “Turkel trap” he fell into. It’s quite simple, and he links to the very website (the one by Farrell Till) that causes most people to fall into the trap. 

One of Till’s most engaged hobbies was wasting time distracting from his inadequate answers to my material by raging about how “Holding’s real name is Turkel.” One of the hilarities of this tactic – aside from its utter irrelevance, and how ably it demonstrated Till’s inability to engage arguments intelligently – is that my real name at birth was James Patrick Holding. The “Turkel” name was a legal change made when I was an infant. In July 2007 I reclaimed “James Patrick Holding” as my legal name in court. Since then, dozens of Skeptics (at least) have fallen into the “Turkel trap” – they have found Till’s pages where he calls me “Turkel”, and assumed them to be accurate, even though it is incorrect. Till was so stubborn about this issue that he even refused to acknowledge the change for a while. He finally did so, but even after his death last year, many gullible Skeptics (like AA) continue to use “Turkel”.

There is no doubt AA now knows he fell into this trap, since he links his readers to one of the sole places where Till admits to the name change. Hilariously, AA plays his usual game of “dumbth” and professes that his only point was to say I didn’t link to him. True, it’s my policy never to link to trash. Nevertheless, he knows exactly what the trap is – and that he fell into it. And it speaks volumes for his inability to think critically or do sufficient research.

The trend in poor research continues with further comments on HC. AA insists he did a “careful reading” but no, he didn’t. He did a hack reading, one that would receive a failing grade from any professional book reviewing source like The Library Journal. He also showed a complete inability to engage the most critical questions, particularly on how he would draw the line where authentic Christianity begins and ends with issues like the canon. That he thinks the question is difficult to answer isn’t going to cover for that – it simply shows that he is, as I have said, an incompetent reviewer.

On the point that his logic makes Judaism responsible for the Holocaust – since Christianity was originally a cult of Judaism, just as Positive Christianity was a cult of mainstream Christianity – AA mindlessly reiterates his original claims and my replies in an effort to fill space and make it seem as if he is responding substantially and carefully. He then tries to convince his reader that I confused and evaded his argument, which was that “Holding’s own definition of cult would also apply to his own religious beliefs.” But contrary to AA, I didn’t “ignore” this – I totally agreed with it. Yes, by technical definition, I have clearly said, Christianity started as a cult of Judaism. And this is precisely the point that twists AA into a pretzel in which he is forced to either admit that this means that Judaism caused the Holocaust (since it was a “cult” of Judaism that caused it, by his reasoning), or else must divorce Christianity from Judaism – which in turn means he has no way to avoid divorcing Positive Christianity from mainstream Christianity.

AA tries to avoid my point on this by telling his gullible readers I engaged in a “rant” and presenting a single counterpoint, which is that, “if Christianity is still Judaism as he claims, then he is practicing Judaism, and therefore, he is still a practitioner of a religion that murdered millions.” That is precisely where AA’s “ridiculous” logic leads, yes. And it leads him to the absolutely insane conclusion that the Holocaust was a mass suicide rather than mass homicide. There’s nothing quite like oblivious atheist logic to start the day. And yet he still thinks he made the “opposite” point from what I did. No – in reality, I exposed the idiocy of his original point, which fails precisely because AA refuses to engage in any objective defining criteria for a religious system and who counts as a believer in what.  He claims: “Positive Christianity is simply one branch on the tree of religions that are called Christianity. Judaism makes up another branch, and evolved separately, and while they are related, are not the same religion. However, Positive Christianity clearly sits just off of one of the sub-branches of Protestantism, which has its roots in First Century Christianity.” But by his logic, Christianity IS a branch on the tree of a religion called Judaism. (And in fact, religious scholars would agree with this.) So that makes Judaism responsible for the Holocaust. If a “branch” like Positive Christianity isn’t enough of a branch to be declassified from the rest of the tree, then the same applies to Judaism vis a vis Christianity. He can’t escape this.

Amazingly, AA thinks it proper to define “Christianity” by way of a source better suited for kindergartners, the Merriam-Webster dictionary! It is telling that he avoids definitions by credentialed scholars of religion, and the sort of precision that such scholars would bring to the table. Even so, the dictionary definitions are notable precisely because of how general they are. It is because AA wants to avoid specificity that he turns to such sources.

But even more amusing is that even Webster undermines AA’s contention. The Webster definition he uses defines Christianity as, “religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies.” But Positive Christianity was full of beliefs that were NOT professed “by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies.” Indeed, as I showed in HC, members of Protestant and Catholic groups in Germany, on the one hand, designated Positive Christianity a cult; and on the other hand, the Nazis persecuted those two bodies (the Orthodox were a non-factor in Germany at the time), and said that they had resurrected the true teachings of Christianity that those two bodies lacked. So clearly, Positive Christianity was not a “religion professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies.” And we haven’t even got to the problem that something like “religion derived from Jesus Christ” would include any group that e.g., claims the Jesus Christ is an alien from another planet, and would claim to have “secret teachings” by him. That is precisely why a simple dictionary definition is not up for a complex task – one it is increasingly clear AA cannot handle.

This is also shown in his reaction to my material on the Trinity, which he merely dismisses as a “side issue.” That is a wise move on his part, for otherwise he would be compelled to actually perform an evaluation of an aspect of the very issue he is trying to avoid, which is which of Ehrman’s alleged “Christianites” has a claim to authenticity. In turn, it would also compel AA to evaluate ALL “side issues” to make a determination of the whole. That is the real reason he doesn’t want to become “bogged down” – it would result in him being “bogged” to the extent that he would be wearing mud as a skullcap.

Although I noted that I have many articles and books on how we “determine Jesus’ true statements or teachings” – and also on how we do indeed have some “first hand accounts” – AA waves this off as me simply saying I have material on it, but it must be wrong, because he studied the issue and he says so. As usual, AA is well aware, rather, that he is in over his head if he tries to go past popular treatments like Lataster’s, which is again why he must cower under the premise that these matters are just “side issues.” It takes a great deal of mental ossification to refuse to deal with “side issues” when one relies on such “side issues” to support main points, as AA does.

Now we get to where I asked again, How much of the Bible must a sect remove before AA decides they are not Christian after all?  As predicted, AA dances and ducks and dodges, and claims there is no “cut off limit” “for how much of the bible a Christian must accept to be a ‘Christian.’” In that AA is to be congratulated, for he has now admitted that his definition of “Christian” is so meaningless as to be useless. If there is no “cut off limit,” then he must designate as a Christian even the so-called “Christian atheists” who only accept the moral teachings of Jesus. Or, he must accept as “Christian” someone who believes nothing in the New Testament is correct except Romans 6:3 and Galatians 5:7, while thinking everything else is false. The absurdity of this speaks for itself; but it is the inevitable result of the ridiculous claim that there is “no cut off limit” when it comes to the canon. Now AA has trapped himself in that absurdity, and will pay the price.

He says, “I could just as well argue that Holding doesn’t accept the Gnostic Gospels, and therefore he isn’t a ‘true’ Christian.” Yes. That is precisely how absurd his argument does get, and that is my point. AA claims I have “not outlined an objective criteria for determining what counts as authentic Christianity” but it is the very articles he refuses to read, and dismisses as “side issues,” where I do that. So likewise he dismisses the material on Semitic Totality, where I provide the very “objective criteria” he demands.

He further misconstrues my point about Goebbels and the Sermon on the Mount as saying “Jesus’ teachings don’t matter.” Apparently AA does not have the intellectual ability to grasp the difference between the teaching of morals and the teaching of doctrine, and why Goebbels could accept the latter and still not be a Christian. So likewise, “Christian atheists” can accept the Sermon on the Mount – and now, AA has admitted that this is sufficient for them to be termed “Christian.” I did not move the goal post – AA is kicking the ball into the wrong goal.

That is shown further in his issue with Gandhi. He says Gandhi was not a Christian because “he did not accept the inspiration of scripture, did not believe in the Christian god, nor did he believe that Jesus’ teachings were unique, nor superior to his own religion’s teachings.” Well, AA just nearly described Positive Christianity: They did not accept the inspiration of 90% of scripture; and they did not believe in the Christian god, as believed in by the mainstream denominations (remember, that was part of the Webster definition). They did regard Jesus’ teachings as unique, but so do Christian atheists. So once again, AA’s criteria are so useless that they prove nothing.

On the matter of everyday Germans, I relate that AA’s refusal to engage the issue shows he is lost. He mistakenly says that I say data about such people doesn’t exist, but that’s not what I said. I said rather that what data exists leads to specific conclusions which it is the burden of any doubter to refute.  Once again, AA can’t engage the real argument, so he ignores it. (One reason he also fails is because he does not comprehend what I mean by “spiritual profiles.” This was the term I used to describe the extended accounts of the religious beliefs of leading Nazis. Had AA read those chapters rather than ignored them, he would have understood that when I said we cannot compose “spiritual profiles” of everyday Germans, I simply meant that we can’t write whole chapters on them, the way I did for the leaders. That does not mean data “does not exist”!)

Regarding race, I noted AA’s error in appealing to Isaac, as established by a scholarly review of Isaac’s book and his need to clarify what he meant by “racism.” He claim I provide no evidence for what I say about ethnic group interaction; well, that’s again in the articles he refuses to read, as well as in book like those authored by the Context Group. AA is the one who needs to do his homework; no one is obliged to inform his ignorance except himself.

Regarding the misuse and incomplete quote of Niditch, while AA admits (indirectly!) that the quote of Niditch is incomplete, he nevertheless still claims that the explanation Niditch rejects is true! He claims that David’s very act shows that he understood a principle behind eugenics, but this is simply nonsense: David would not even have the remotest idea that e.g., he could get rid of tall Moabites forever by killing tall Moabites. There is nothing in the text, nor anything in any ancient text, that shows that any person at the time had even the slightest idea that such a process could work. AA is simply reading it into the text, on the “face of it” as he admits. There is no sign that “David is taking stock of the physical characteristics of the Moabites” for a eugenic purpose. Rather, as Niditch says, it is simply a random act where people were chosen for execution based on a simple criteria. The most that could be said is that David thought to eliminate the tallest people as a present threat, since taller people would make better warriors using the weapons of the time. But there is nothing to show that he or anyone else would have been aware that this eliminated "tall genes" from the Moabite gene pool. And furthermore, let's keep in mind that eugenics isn't the same as racism.

On the matter of Isaac being misused, AA merely dismisses the reply information as a “book review,” never mind that it is by a credentialed scholar writing for a respected academic journal. The review shows why Isaac’s presentation is flawed, and is very critical of a central definition in the book which AA relied on. For that reason, it is of no moment, as AA says, that the review is also “not critical of the book’s thesis” (which I never said it was) and that others praised it. That is beside the point, which is that AA misunderstood and misused a very critical point from the book. All of AA’s remarks in reply are a distraction from this critical error, which he continues to ignore: That of confusing “racism” with “proto-racism.”

AA’s point that “[r]acism is a form of stereotyping” also evades the issue. While racism is a form of stereotyping, stereotyping is not always racism. That is why it is a false move to note ancient stereotyping and claim it is evidence for racism.

AA did not read Isaac, and still has not, save what he can glean from Google Books. That is why he also fails when appealing to the “environmental theory” of racism. This is not strictly racism at all --  because it does not make race itself the root cause of an alleged inferiority. Rather, it makes environment the root cause.

On whether the Biblical interpretations of von Liebenfels and Hitler were valid or not, AA first errs by failing to understand the difference between Hitler alluding to Leviticus (as I said) and citing it. He defers to the parallel being seen by Avalos, and whines about alleged distortions of what he said about Lanz, but still doesn’t say whether he thinks they are correct or valid as interpretations. He said they were “weird”  but that does not answer the question, which AA, as predicted, continues to evade. It does not matter that other ancient people assigned animal-like traits to other people. I am asking AA to explain why Lanz and Hitler gave valid readings of Leviticus. If they are not valid readings, then AA cannot accuse Lanz and Hitler of representing authentic Christian teachings in these interpretations. That is precisely why he must continue to avoid my question.

As far as ”Jews” being a geographic designation, AA likewise ignores my critical central point that “Jews” (Judeans) is used in John in contrast to Galileeaans and Samaritans, which are nation-groups, not religious groups. He now claims to be pointing out that “Romans who hailed from Judea were not disliked.”That is because such people were not considered Judeans. They were considered Romans. That is where their ancestry was from. Is this so hard to grasp?

For the “synagogue of Satan” reference I noted both the localized nature of the references (in Smyrna and Philadelphia) and the use of internecine language (such as “n words” among African Americans).  While he concedes is error on this one, he nevertheless insists the passage is anti-Semitic “since Christians are converted Jews…” But wait! By AA’s logic, again, Positive Christians are Christians who have “converted” to Positive Christianity, the same way Christians were Jews who converted. Please note that Paul, for example, still called himself a “Jew” even as a leading Christian missionary. So clearly, first century Jewish Christians like John thought they were still Jews. In the same way, Romans treated Christianity as a subset of Judaism. They would not agree that this changed because their beliefs did. So AA is once again caught in the trap that his useless criteria of self-definition as a lead criteria creates.

Regarding 1 Thess. 2:14-16, AA again refuses to engage the details of the arguments I made, save he repeats the idea (and will do so again later) that once Jews converted to Christianity, they were no longer Jews. As noted, Paul and others at the time disagreed. By AA’s logic, Paul’s self-profession to still be a Jew counts as much as Hitler’s self-profession to still be a Christian.

The matter of original sin is dismissed, predictably, as a “side issue” and no doubt for the same reasons we have noted. Matthew 27:23 is likewise dismissed without engaging any of the responding material, save by claiming AA’s arguments were ignored. No, they were not. Rather, I noted that AA did not even respond to my original argument, he merely repeated the argument I refuted.

But this is the story of one in over his head, as AA is: To claim his arguments were “ignored,” to refuse to engage the issues by calling them “side issues,” is really his best option -- because those very issues are what will expose his arguments as paper tigers.


  1. AA said:

    "Similarly, no one could argue that Judaism is Christianity and vice versa."

    Messianic Jews would.

    Jews don't cease to be Jews when they accept Jesus as the Messiah.

    Benjamin Disraeli, England's first Jewish Prime Minister, said:

    Nor is it indeed historically true that the small section of the Jewish race which dwelt in Palestine rejected Christ. The reverse is the truth. Had it not been for the Jews of Palestine the good tidings of our Lord would have been unknown for ever to the northern and western races. The first preachers of the gospel were Jews, and none else; the historians of the gospel were Jews, and none else. No one has ever been permitted to write under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit except a Jew. For nearly a century no one believed in the good tidings except Jews. They nursed the sacred flame of which they were the consecrated and hereditary depositories. And when the time was right to diffuse the truth among the ethnicks, it was not a senator of Rome or a philosopher of Athens who was personally appointed by our Lord for that office, but a Jew of Tarsus, who founded the seven churches of Asia. And that greater church, great even amid its terrible corruptions, that has avenged the victory of Titus by subjugating the capital of the Caesars and has changed every one of the Olympian temples into altars of the God of Sinai and of Calvary, was founded by another Jew, a Jew of Galilee.

    From all which it appears that the dispersion of the Jewish race, preceding as it did for countless ages the advent of our Lord, could not be for conduct which occurred subsequently to the advent, and that they are also guiltless of that subsequent conduct which has been imputed to them as a crime, since for Him and His blessed name they preached, and wrote, and shed their blood 'as witnesses'.

    ...The wildest dreams of their rabbis have been far exceeded. Has not Jesus conquered Europe and changed its name to Christendom? All countries that refuse the cross wither, and the time will come, when the vast communities and countless myriads of America and Australia, looking upon Europe as Europe now looks upon Greece, and wondering how so small a space could have achieved such great deeds, will find music in the songs of Zion and solace in the parables of Galilee.

    From Lord George Bentinck: A Political Biography,

    Disraeli has credibility. AA does not.

  2. Orthodoxy was certainly not prominent in Nazi Germany, but it wasn't quite a non-factor. One of the members of the White Rose Society, Alexander Schmorell, was Orthodox (and was recently canonized - ).

  3. I'm speaking in relative terms, of course. Besides, Schmorell was an immigrant from Russia; I'm talking there about the presence of institutional churches within Nazi Germany. In lists of affiliations within Nazi Germany, I don't recall seeing Orthodoxy listed; but if anyone has any further information I'll take it.