Holding has written probably the worst response yet. In my last response I demonstrated how Holding’s arguments were so bad he began contradicting himself and I showcased the numerous fallacies he used throughout the discussion. And he continues to refuse to link to my original review or link to my responses where anyone with half a brain can easily see these facts.
In this reply, Holding ignores over half of my response and mostly complains that I don’t engage several of the side issues that he brought up, such as the Trinity and he further ignores the context of my arguments.
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.
It’s kind of difficult to respond to a “scholarly definition” of Christianity when he’s yet to provide one.
Regarding the misuse and incomplete quote of Niditch, and 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.
He ridicules me because I admitted my error in not checking Hector Avalos’ source about eugenics in the bible. I’ve looked into many other of Avalos’ sources and claims in the past and have almost always found them reliable. This time, when I was unable to check at the time of the writing of the response, Avalos happened to have taken the author out of context. Yes, I was wrong, and I admitted it, but this fact does not subtract from the facts I laid out. Eugenics is featured in the bible, and I gave reasons for this, but Holding ignores these facts and instead ridicules me about my mistake. Ultimately, the opinion of one scholar is not the end of the discussion (and this is another fallacy of Holding’s. That brings the tally of logical fallacies throughout Holding’s replies up to eight). Putting the facts I cited aside, many scholars have identified eugenics in the bible. According to Sevasti Trubeta, several scholars have identified eugenics in antiquity, citing the fact that “advocates of Jewish eugenics saw the Bible and the Talmud as containing eugenic legislation.” Trubeta continues to argue how “historian A.G. Roper […] has shown that infanticide was practiced (mostly for religious reasons) in several historic cultures worldwide.” (Physical Anthropology, Race and Eugenics in Greece (1880s–1970s), by Sevasti Trubeta, Brill, 2013; 207)
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.
Gandhi did not believe in a creator, interventionist god, unlike the Nazis. He simply believed that “God is Truth,” a very vague definition he chose because it would avoid dividing people over religious beliefs. (Gandhi: The Meaning of Mahatma for the Millennium, by Kuruvila Pandikattu; 140-141). On the contrary, the Nazis clearly believed in an intervening god, a Christian god, and in Jesus, and held Jesus “in high esteem,” unlike Gandhi. The Nazis also believed Jesus was the son of god. Holding ought to know this because these facts about the Nazis can be found in one of the book he read: The Holy Reich: The Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, by Richard Stegimann-Gall. This is in stark contrast to Gandhi. What more does Holding want? Oh yeah… he wants them to believe exactly as he does or else they’re not “real” Christians.
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.
This is why I suggested Holding read The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity but he continues to misconstrue it and make himself look like the fool he is. Regarding the environmental theory of racism, allow me to quote Isaac in case it was not clear in my previous reply. He wrote: “Collective characteristics, then, are determined by climate. The implication is that changes come from the outside, will remain stable, and do not occur through evolution, or conscience choice. Individuality is ignored. This is proto-racism as defined in the Introduction, for climate and geography rather than genetics are said to determine group characteristics. Large groups of peoples, indeed entire nations, are believed to have common characteristics determined by factors outside themselves, which are, by implication, unchangeable. These presumed characteristics are then subject to value judgments, in which the others are usually rejected as being inferior to the observer, or, in rare instances, approved of as being untainted and superior.” (p. 74) (emphasis mine) The definition of racism chosen by Isaac and cited in the Introduction was “an attitude towards individuals and groups of peoples which posits a direct and linear connection between physical and mental qualities. It therefore attributes to those individuals and groups of peoples collective traits, physical, mental, and moral, which are constant and unalterable by human will, because they are caused by heredity factors or external influences, such as climate or geography.” (p. 23)
It’s pretty silly that Holding continues to claim I do not own the book seeing as how I’ve quoted from pages not even seen in the Google Books preview, such as pages 74 and 199 (yes, I’ve checked). Even if his silly and pointless allegation were true, it would not negate the fact that racism can be found prior to the 19th Century. It’s more than clear that this is a diversionary tactic to distract from the real issue: there is racism in antiquity. Holding has yet to directly confront any of these facts.
While Holding nitpicked on a few other minor issues, such as his distortion of my counter arguments regarding anti-Semitism and the bible, he further ignores key facts of my arguments, and his outright dismissal of my arguments on other issues, there isn’t much of anything else worth responding to.
After reading through each of his responses, it should be obvious to any literate reader that Holding has completely failed to prove his case and has not provided any facts that rebut my main arguments, particularly, the one about Holding’s lack of “objective” criteria for determining what counts as a sect of Christianity and what doesn’t.
Let’s recap. Holding has lost this debate and his book’s main premise has been completely discredited. In the course of his attempted defense of his book he has repeatedly committed the following logical fallacies:
1. Ad hominem; Holding has employed personal attacks against myself and McDowell.
2. Strawman Fallacy; Holding has continuously failed to address key aspects of my arguments and often fails to even cite my arguments in their entirety, providing to his readers a skewed perception of my case.
3. Shifting the Burden of Proof Fallacy; Holding has continually failed to address my main argument about his lack of “objective criteria” in his determination that Positive Christianity is not a legit form of Christianity. Rather than providing any reasons why the criteria cited is invalid, Holding tries to shift the burden to me, and insists I provide reasons why Positive Christianity is a legit form of Christianity (which I did in fact attempt in this reply).
4. Holding, rather than rely on actual research, instead uses ad hoc argumentation (another fallacy) to justify many of his interpretations of scripture, and to dismiss many of my arguments, such as Hippocrates’ racist remarks in On Airs, Waters, and Places.
5. Moving the Goal Post Fallacy; Earlier in this reply, I demonstrated how Holding in his book argued that one criteria of a person being Christian is adhering to the teachings of Jesus. When I demonstrated that the Nazis did this, Holding claims that adherence to Jesus’ teachings is irrelevant.
6. Holding’s main argument relies on the No True Scotsman Fallacy, and he has failed to address this critical flaw, which destroys his entire case at its foundation.
7. And finally, in his latest reply, Holding employs the oft-used argument from authority fallacy, and completely ignores all of the facts I laid out, explaining how the acts of David easily fall under the definition of eugenics.