Tuesdayses, May 22, 2007


Recently reports were received of an annoying whining noise in the blogosphere. Wondering what was up, and wishing not to disturb the peace of the sound of buttering toast, Tektoons on the Trail sent our intrepid reporter, Sheila Rangslinger, to investigate. It turned out that the whining was being caused by THIS character. The result of the investigation is this interview.

SHEILA: Um, so...what should I call you?

MATTCHU: Callssss me Mattchu. I hatessss you. You pretty and made by Holdingses.

SHEILA: Um, right. So what's the point of this, um, "blog" you've started?

MATTCHU: I hates Holdingses! Holdingses insulted my Precious!

SHEILA: Your..."precious"?

MATTCHU: Yessss! Loftuses! He calls him nameses! He insults my Precious!

SHEILA: Um....are we talking about JOHN Loftus? The guy who calls people "stupid" all the time and is always insulting people? THAT Loftus?

MATTCHU: Uhhhhh....yessssss.....

SHEILA: So it's all right for Loftus to dish it out, but not take it, right?

MATTCHU: Grahh! If you have a problem with Loftus or his character, then you need to take it up with him at his own blog, not here. End of discussion.

SHEILA: In other words, you're not going to face up to your own inconsistencies, but hide behind them? Look dear....Loftus can't be trusted. He's not worthy of your friendship. He's willing to tell bold-faced lies and pretend to create support for his own views. He's committed adultery -- do you really think he'll be any more loyal to you? He's insulted and denigrated someone on TheologyWeb because they had a disability. Is THIS who you want to hide behind?


SHEILA: Not really, no. But let's get down to business. So you "hates" Holding. Okay. So how do you plan to show that here?

MATTCHU (grins evilly): I will provides a critical evaluation, critique, and anssswer-resource to hissss garbage! Show him who is ssssmarter! Ha!

SHEILA: Um, okay. And why do you want to do that?

MATTCHU: Becaussssse! Because Holdingses ALSO makes fun of peoples! Peoples I likes!

SHEILA: You mean, besides your "precious"?

MATTCHU: Yessss!!

SHEILA: And who are these "peoples"?

MATTCHU: My semi-Preciouses! Ha haaaa!

SHEILA: Uh HUH. I mean NAMES. Who are these "peoples"? I mean, you're saying you don't like the name calling...

MATTCHU: Yessss! Holdingses has a serious ego-problem! Hisss arrogance [is] be borderline pathological! He isssss an egomaniac who believes that he is God's gift to academics! He --

SHEILA: Um, are you calling him names here?


SHEILA: You're complaining about HIM calling people names and insulting them, but then you turn around and do the same thing.


SHEILA: Whatever. You know, you seem quite happy to insult or denigrate Mr. Holding because you think he deserves it, but don't think he's allowed to do the same. Is that right?

MATTCHU: ......

SHEILA: Right. So, Mattchu, do you know what a double standard is?

MATTCHU: I not stupid! I am universssssity ssssssstudent.

SHEILA: Sure you are. Do you know what the Relativist Fallacy is?

MATTCHU: .... uRRRaahhh.

SHEILA: "The Relativist Fallacy is committed when a person rejects a claim by asserting that the claim might be true for others but is not for him/her." That's according to Dr. Michael C. Labossiere at Florida A&M. How about special pleading? Do you know what that is?

MATTCHU: .... uRRRaahhh.

SHEILA: "Special Pleading is a fallacy in which a person applies standards, principles, rules, etc. to others while taking herself (or those she has a special interest in) to be exempt, without providing adequate justification for the exemption. This sort of 'reasoning' has the following form:

1. Person A accepts standard(s) S and applies them to others in circumtance(s) C.

2. Person A is in circumstance(s) C.

3.Therefore A is exempt from S.

The person committing Special Pleading is claiming that he is exempt from certain principles or standards yet he provides no good reason for his exemption."

Or, as the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy says, "Special pleading is a form of inconsistency in which the reasoner doesn't apply his or her principles consistently." You understand, don't you, Mattchu?

MATTCHU: .... uRRRaahhh.

SHEILA: And did you know that Double Standards, the Relativist Fallacy, and Special Pleading are logical fallacies?

MATTCHU: .... uRRRaahhh.

SHEILA: Which means you're not thinking rationally. Right?


SHEILA: Oh...kay. Well. How about we get to names of some of these people, your, um, "semi-preciouses"?

MATTCHU: Yesss!!! For starterssss, there's peoples with degreeses! They NOT deserve to be insulted by NO ONE! Like Robert Prices....

SHEILA: Waitaminit. Robert Price? Are we talking about the Robert Price who has said things like:

If anyone needed further proof that apologetics as practiced by Josh McDowell is merely an exercise in after-the-fact rationalization of beliefs held on prior emotional grounds, I welcome him to Chapter 8 of Evidence That Demands a Verdict. One can only say again that McDowell is the worst enemy of his own faith: with defenders like this, who needs attackers? The more seriously one takes him as a representative of his faith, the more seriously one will be tempted to thrust Christianity aside as a tissue of grotesque absurdities capable of commending itself only to fools and bigots. Before I turn to the smorgasbord of fallacious arguments, let me point out the massive irony of the chapter as a whole. McDowell is concerned here to answer the question, "'If God became man THEN what would He be like?'" Since McDowell is in great danger of losing sight of the enchanted forest for the trees, an initial look at the whole approach will be helpful. Here is his thumbnail sketch for recognizing God next time you see him in the Burger King line next to Elvis...
(McDowell) shows himself as heedless of the original context of biblical prophecies as his colleague in charlatanry Hal Lindsey (you know you're dealing with real scholarship when your authorities go by names like "Josh" and "Hal").
At this point McDowell's argument is simply moronic, unworthy of a pimply adolescent Hi-BA member...
...(McDowell) just ignores the context and pretends Isaiah was an ancient Jeanne Dixon...
With arguments like this, one is forced to conclude that McDowell is either just plain stupid or a damn liar.

And heck, he's STILL at this kind of stuff. In Deconstructing Jesus, just one example of many is how he says N. T. Wright is just an "Evangelical apologist" who "has merely used Schweitzer's Jesus as a cloak to sneak reformed theology back into the mouth of the 'historical Jesus' ventriloquist dummy."

MATTCHU: Haaa haaa! That funny!

SHEILA: It is pretty clever wordsmithing, sure. But Price can be every bit as "spiteful, abusive, and denigrating" to people he disagrees with as Mr. Holding can be, if not more so. So why does Price get a break in your book while Mr. Holding doesn't?

MATTCHU: Uhhhhhhh.....sssssss........because Price is my Precious?

SHEILA: Okay...sure. You just keep up with a guy who supports the idea of the Christ myth, and thinks the Toledeth Yeshu is a more reliable source for information than the Gospels, and see how much credibility it gets you. Now then. Who else did Mr. Holding insult that you love so much?

MATTCHU: Ahhhhh....Bart Ehrman!

SHEILA: Uh HUH. And what did he say about Ehrman that bothered you?

MATTCHU: Uhhhhhhhhhhhh.....

SHEILA: You know, nearly all of Holding's criticisms of Ehrman -- and more -- are found just as readily in the response of Dr. Daniel Wallace to Ehrman. Even though JP wrote his without knowledge of Wallace.

MATTCHU: Psss! Wallaces can kissssss my --

SHEILA: Look, buddy....the deal here is simple. You whine on and on about Holding, then turn around and do the same thing to him yourself -- and you also did it to the guys at Triablogue over and over, including Engwer and Hays, who you now act like you feel sorry for because Mr. Holding took HIM on. The real question here seems to be, can you keep your mind in one place long enough to back up any of these complaints while keeping a straight face?

MATTCHU: Baaaaaahhhh! Graaaaaahh! Yaaaaaaaah! Boooyah!!!

SHEILA: And another inconsistency. You say, One particular theme in [Holding]'s apologetic style is his emphasis on scholarly credentials. Of course, [Holding] would be a better position to bring this criticism up against skeptics if he, himself, had a scholarly degree in biblical studies or theology. But he hasn't. As of this writing, I know that he has a Master's of Library Science. [Holding]'s criticism in regards to scholarly credentials is a valid and pertinent one, but one that I, as with many others, feel that [Holding] is not in a position to make. Well, 'scuse me there, but what were YOUR credentials again?

MATTCHU: Gahhhh....ahhh... I am a university student majoring in history. I hope to get into graduate school so I can earn advanced degrees in ancient history, New Testament criticism and Hebrew Bible criticism.

SHEILA: Right. But for some reason you consider yourself competent to criticize people like Blomberg and Craig who have doctorates, huh?


SHEILA: The point here is, Holding's criticism on this comes mainly against those who neither HAVE such credentials, nor make USE OF those who have them as sources. That's what he says time and time again. Did you happen to forget that second part, Mattchu?


SHEILA: That's nice, dear. By the way, since you also say, I figure that I am at least on the same level to offer comments and arguments that [Holding] is, doesn't that mean that you also are in no position to argue with someone like Craig, for example?

MATTCHU: Gaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

SHEILA: Now let's try this. You say Mr. Holding has been known to make some embarrassing blunders over the years. Like what?

MATTCHU: Gah! Software error! Ha!


MATTCHU: Ahhhh....ahhhh...ahhhhhh....

SHEILA: Take your time.

MATTCHU: AH HA! Says, on the day of judgment "God" will say to non-Hebraic people, "You are going to hell, and it is your own fault. You shouldn't have made your language less colorful and less idiomatic than Hebrew."

SHEILA: Um...no, dear. That's your persecution complex at work again. Look at what Mr. Holding said: It is we who choose to look down on other cultures and pronounce them inferior, rather than trying to understand them. He isn't even mentioning salvation; what he's talking about is people who judge the text without even bothering to do some looking into what it means. He is not saying that a person is responsible for the language that he learns as he is growing up but that if they plan to judge ANY text, they need to do it in its contexts. Now dear, you spend several pages on crude psychoanalysis of Holding; don't you think that would have been better spent doing more careful reading?


SHEILA: Oh, I'd like to see that. Can you do it in stereo?


SHEILA: Not bad. You know, all of this rap you're offering about Mr. Holding might have some pull if you could behave yourself as well as you want Mr. Holding to, and also be consistent in criticizing Loftus, Price, and others when they do exactly the same thing. You say things like, ...it takes a bigger man to walk away from a fight! Only someone with a wounded sense of pride would sink so low as to engage in a fight out of the need to avenge his sense of pride. I really do believe that someone with a lot more security would see the fight for the stupidity that it is and chose the mature way out. You're just like the Energizer Bunny: You go on and on and on, yet your responses to apologists from Craig to Mr. Holding to Engwer to Hays are just as much "fighting words", if not more, than anything Mr. Holding ever said. Goodness, HE certainly never pledged for anyone to "rot in hell" like you did, and HE is the one who's supposed to believe in a hell, not you. Right now you sound more like Fred Phelps than he does.

You can't have it both ways, dearie. You can't ask readers not to imagine that I will always be polite, friendly, or civil and then rail against Holding, or anyone else, for violating your sense of decorum.

MATTCHU: Baaaaah! He's going to fall big and the abuse that he has dished out towards is going to come back and bite him.

SHEILA: Not from the likes of you, dearie. Your own "precious" has committed blunder after blunder, has heaped abuse on abuse, but your charity does stay at home, doesn't it? Does the word "hypocrisy" come home to roost, you think, faster than "abuse" does?


SHEILA: Whatever, dear. You just keep rolling around in your torment. I'm through for now.

MATTCHU: ...what?

SHEILA: I said, I'm through for now. That means I'll be back later.

MATTCHU: Graaah! When that rotten Holdingses replies --

SHEILA: He won't, dear. He'll be sending ME to do it. Me, and my other friends. Beamer, Eidolon....

MATTCHU: Whats????

SHEILA: Why should Mr. Holding address someone who's emotionally unstable, or spends paragraphs trying to avoid their own contradications, or else repeating the same thought thirty different ways, or constantly harp on about deficiencies in others they don't like while ignoring the same deficiencies in others you want to be your friends, or else make excuses for them you'd never allow for someone you didn't like? In fact, why should Mr. Holding take you seriously any more? That rant over the title Engwer chose for his blog entry was a real piece of work, and the thing that convinced Mr. Holding more than anything that far from being rational, you're just a spoiled brat at heart who uses rationality as a tool to secure social rewards. Academically, Mr. Holding just can't take you seriously any more. I mean, just look at this:

All I will say to you is I seriously hope that you heed Proverbs 16:18 as a sort of warning like the writing of the wall in the Hebrew biblical book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar fell, as the story goes, and don't think some of you [Holding]ites won't be smitten the same way you love to smite others and that pride will not be your downfall.

The king in that story of the writing on the wall was Belshazzar, dear...not Nebuchadnezzar. So with that blunder on your part, are we free to ignore you? And how can you claim any credibility as a historian with a blunder like that? Say, here's an idea: Ask your professors to read your blog. That will help them evaluate your mental marbles. You'll do that, won't you, Mattchu?


SHEILA: What is it that's coming, an earache? Just remember, dear, since you want to harp on blunders, this one will now follow your forever. We'll make sure of that, as well as make sure you hear about any others you make, constantly. If you want to be Farrell Till, we'll let you be Farrell Till. And then you can be just like him someday -- miserable, bitter, and endlessly repeating yourself because of your psychosis. If Mr. Holding has any hope for you at all, it is that you'll realize that your "precious," Loftus, is just using you for his own ends. He doesn't care about you except to the extent that you can make him more notorious and get more people to buy his book. As for you -- remember, it's only because of Mr. Holding that you're even getting a more serious education -- you owe him. Big time.


SHEILA: That's nice. Ta ta for now.