Tektonics Ministry "J.P. Holding"/Robert Turkel
Dishonestydiscuss this topic hereRobert 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 (see here and here), he will spew insults to denigrate and minimize those who disagree with him (see here); he will employ insults and bluster to dodge troublesome questions; he will dodge and block questions with his own questions; he will stall by making 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. (For more information on Turkel's tactics, go here.)
Why does Turkel use dishonesty to promote his religious beliefs? There are several possible explanations for this, or a combination of explanations. One very good explanation is that Turkel views himself as a valiant Christian holy warrior in a cosmic battle for "souls" and believes that the the ends-saving "souls"-more than justifies the means-using dishonesty. Turkel has written the following:
Since Turkel believes that many of those that he debates are "dragging" others into hell-that they are, for all intents and purposes, fighting for Satan-he very likely judges that these evil, horrible people have no "RIGHT" to the truth. After all, when "eternal souls" are hanging in the balance between Satan and God, isn't using "strategic deception" to "save souls" an absolute moral imperative?
- "Yes, I admit it: I have a desire to crush the ignorant who take life from others." (source)
- "If you're in hellfire, that's your choice. Getting disturbed about it won't help, but at least if you want to remain stubborn we can keep you from dragging others with you...deceive others into jumping into hellfire with you? I have a REAL problem with that!" (source)
- "Free my warrior side from its shackles, and let the destruction of strongholds begin in earnest." (source)
- "...there are times and places where strategic deception (not 'lies') are permitted." (source)
- Defending what he calls his apologetic "strategies" in a discussion on Theology Web, Turkel wrote, "It's quite clear that even you admit that 'honesty' works under the assumption that the recipient has a RIGHT to the truth. When they don't, the moral hierarchy shifts and it is patently absurd to call them 'lies' or 'deceptions' in a derogatory sense." (source)
Another good explanation for Turkel's dishonest behavior is that Christianity is just as false as it seems to be and he finds himself at a serious disadvantage when he is faced with the logic and facts that demonstrate this. Since Turkel defines himself by his religion, since he supports himself through his religion, and since his entire world view is based on his religion, he has a lot to lose if Christianity is shown to be false. So he may use dishonesty in desperation when he is confronted by the mountain of evidence, logical arguments and scientific and historical facts that expose Christianity as fraudulent.
It could also be that Turkel employs dishonesty to protect a very fragile ego that is nurtured by the adulation of Christians who praise his apologetic efforts. To maintain this praise from his Christian brethren and thus to keep his ego nourished and protected, he has to appear to win religious debates. In order to appear to win religious debates, he is forced-by necessity-to resort to less than ethical tactics. (Go here to see several examples of Turkel's egotism)
Of course Turkel's income is now more or less dependent on how successful people perceive his "argumentation" to be. Could this encourage him to use the kind of deceitful tactics noted above? It is certainly not outside the realm of possibility.
Let's review, shall we? The possible motivations for Turkel's dishonesty include-but are not limited to-the following:
- To protect Christians' eternal souls
- To protect his worldview
- To protect his ego
- To protect his income
Regardless of the reasons for his actions, the fact that Turkel engages in fibbery and deception is undeniable. Therefore, people who try to have intellectually honest and fair debates with him should be forewarned and should take what he writes with a very large grain of salt.
Below are just a few examples of Turkel's dishonest debating stratagems.
Internet Infidel Jim Lippard describes how Turkel criticizes him for arguments that he never made and avoids the one argument that he did make. Lippard points this out to Turkel, but Turkel ignores him and writes, "...let it be noted that Lippard has not even acknowledged his errors delineated above! This is as much as saying, 'Well, you got me on points one, two and three, but YOU FORGOT POINT FOUR! HA HA HA HA!'"
Steven Carr explains that Turkel quoted him on his site, but altered a link in his quote to direct readers to an article on the tektonics.org site rather than to the "Software Blunder" article Carr cited. Steve claims that when he caught this and spoke up about it, Turkel quickly restored the link, but didn't make it active and explained away the link change as a perfectly innocent mistake, entirely beyond his control. His excuse is not believable, as is shown below.
Turkel lies in response to charges that he altered a quote.
An article about an explanation Turkel used to justify a repeated word in a Bible verse. The word, it turned out, was not repeated twice-it was just Turkel's buggy Bible software that repeated it. So Turkel was shown fabricating an explanation for a non-existent problem.
Robert "no link" Turkel doesn't link to many of the responses of those he debates with and he avoids linking to many of the articles that he attacks. Till examines Turkel's various improbable and unbelievable explanations for his behavior.
Where are Turkel's claimed explanations? Farrel Till writes:
"He (Turkel) is using a tactic of cutting and pasting irrelevant comments over and over to make the debate so long that some readers won't remember whether he has answered specific points 'above and below.' His dishonesty has become so flagrant that it amounts to outright lying."
"So Turkel cut and pasted another evasive comment. Why didn't he just cut and paste his explanation from 'below'? If he actually had an explanation, he could have pounded me mercilessly by just putting it into all of the places where he has cut and pasted his evasive comments like those above. Well, he didn't do that because he knows that he has not explained anything 'above or below.'"
"In a word, Turkel is a liar, who hopes that inattentive readers won‘t notice his lie."
Turkel shows again that he makes things up as he goes along.
In this lengthy debate reponse to Turkel, Brian Holtz documents various dishonest rhetorical games that Turkel plays. In the introduction to this page, the Secular Web describes Turkel this way:"This is Turkel's modus operandi: he avoids linking to or even naming the essays he rebuts, and usually avoids so much as naming the author he is attacking. He also routinely changes his essays after being refuted, yet rarely announces the changes or concessions in any way, and he also employs childish insults and other rudeness. Because this unethical and shameful behavior of Turkel's has truly run amok for too long, the Secular Web has seen fit to publish this essay to document his behavior,..."
Unsurprisingly, Turkel does not name Brian Holtz in his replies nor does he link to this or to any of Brian Holtz's responses.
In an afterword to a critique Carrier wrote about Holding's essay The Impossible Faith, Carrier highlights some of Holding's word games, rationalizations and falsehoods.
From the discussion board (copy):to be continued...
"Wait a second... Someone named J.P. Holding has been coming here using a pseudonym, and posting 30 messages a day in support of...J.P Holding? Is there even a question about whether we should let him get away with this?"
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An examination of "J.P. Holding"