Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Book of Mormon's New Testament plagiarism challenge!

When I first started this blog, I felt like most of the posts would be from comments I've left on other blogs.

Ironically, I think this is the first one.

Anyways, I'm sure you're familiar with the claim that the BoM plagiarizes from the Bible. More importantly, it contains KJV-styled NT verses in the BoM's OT times.

I brought this up in a debate against someone in Mormanity (viewable here; started with the post's topic being "Amlicites = Amalekites and Joseph = Translator, Not Author" and me presenting evidences that challenge the claim that Smith was a translator and not an author (where do we even begin on that one, I know)).

So aside from the other evidences of authorship I mentioned, I definitely included NT plagiarism in OT times. For support, I gave three quick and thorough citations of plagiarism.

In response, I was given a challenge:
CF:"You discovered a total of three verses in the BoM out of 6,604 which you claim were plagarized and you make the ridiculous assertion that your argument holds weight.

If you can show me a meager 10 percent of pre-3 Nephi text was copied, I'll admit you have a point. That's just 660 verses. If you cannot even do that, we'll call your claim debunked. Sound fair?"

Oh buddy. It was time to flex my critical thinking skills a bit, and I'm kinda proud of myself.

My reply:
"To be specific, I showed three verses that were repeated almost word-for-word from a KJV New Testament that appeared in pre-NT times in the BoM, and significantly so.

I'm going to call you out on the cop-out here. This is an obvious attempt to avoid having to answer why almost exact copies of NT verses appear in OT times in the BoM.

But you're right on one point: if Smith plagiarized, he surely did it more than just three times.

I can find you more plagiarized verses, no prob. but 10%? Let's fix something first: there are significant portions of Isaiah included in your number that needs to be subtracted.

There are also verses that just carry on the story and don't need to be plagiarized from the NT (we'll call them storyline verses. Ex: nearly all of Omni and Words of Mormon, and verses that go along the styles in there).

Why not storyline verses? Because they don't hold much (if any) theological substance. NT verses do, however. And we could agree that the majority of NT verses do, because aside from some parts the Gospels and Acts, the topics these books cover are almost purely theological (and correct me if I'm wrong). And considering that Smith wouldn't want to copy the storyline of the NT into the BoM (save for the visitation of Christ), it's safe to assume that he would only plagiarize from the NT when a line about theology was needed.

I think the best places to find NT verses will be in expositions of what God is saying, what Nephi says to himself, and really anything involving dialogue/monologue or interpretations of spiritual experiences (dreams, for instance).

Also, I would subtract any verses that are copied from the OT. That's mostly Isaiah, but I'm sure there are others.

And really, those are the only places we should expect NT verses in the OT times of the BoM to be in.

So in regards to your challenge, how bout we do this: agree on the number of verses that contain theological substance rather than just pure storyline, subtract verses that already come from the OT, and I'll bump the number of verses I need to find to 15% of the new number.

Then I think we could both properly see how much weight this argument holds.

If I lose, I'll shut up about NT plagiarism in OT times. If I win, then my argument holds substance. I'll be honorable and mention when I think a verse is somewhat disputable.


I'll let you know the results. I'm really eager to do this.

EDIT: to add to the utility of this challenge, I'm going to try and catch the theological points being made as well. It'd be interesting to see what the BoM is trying to say from a theological standpoint and how much it agrees or disagrees with the NT (ha, maybe I should leave out disagreement in case the Evvies attack..).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Brief moment of insight

Quick thought on why people discount atheists on the spot.

I mean, I'm sure people like me, who are debating a theist in some random blog somewhere, worry about mentioning this in an argument because, all of a sudden, the other side will think you're starting out with these preconceptions that all religion is false (and then you build all of your opinions from there).

But what about those of us who reached that conclusion rather than started out with it? Atheism was an end, not a means to an end. And still isn't (for me, at least).

I have no idea how to counter this, but after reading a comment on facebook to someone's irreligious status, I began to think.

Do people judge atheists this way because they, themselves, start out with a preconception about their religion and form opinions from there?*

(*disclaimer: probably happens everywhere.)