Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"Science Trumps Testimony": Another Victim of a Book of Mormon Plagiarism Spoof

The most impressive evidence to date for plagiarism of the Book of Mormon happens to be something I wrote - and I say this in all modesty and fairness. "The Book of Mormon and the Leaves of Grass: The Case for Plagiarism" provides powerful and compelling parallels between the Book of Mormon and Walt Whitman's work - more powerful and compelling, that is, than any of the alleged parallels between the Book of Mormon and other works such as View of the Hebrews or the works of Shakespeare. While some critics exult at finding three- and four-word passages that are shared between the Book of Mormon and various texts, I find examples of five-word, six-word, and even seven-word parallels. I also show linkages to many themes, to numerous stories, and even many Book of Mormon names. The evidence of plagiarism is stronger than anything the critics have provided so far, in my opinion - in spite of one nagging little issue: Leaves of Grass was written many years after the Book of Mormon, and the "parallels" are surely the result of chance, coupled with a little creativity on my part.

My essay is a spoof, intended to actually poke fun at those who claim the Book of Mormon is simply a result of plagiarism. I try to make it obvious that it's a spoof with some of the graphics on that page and other clues, but in spite of my best efforts, a few testimonies have been rattled, some faithful members have been outraged, and a few non-LDS folks have rejoiced. The most recent victim of this page believes that adding some simple chi-squared statistical analysis to reinforce my work would make it become "like an atomic bomb dropped on the Salt Lake City Temple" and that "Mormon apologists would be apoplectic because refutation of chi square requires a refutation of mathematics. In this case, science trumps testimony."

While I normally do not quote significant portions from people's email unless they give permission, I have to make a rare exception in this case for the greater good of humanity because it is so instructive (and because I am a disrespectful old cuss).
I am writing an apologetical book, designed to teach Scriptural proofs for the authenticity of the Bible, and having done that, create a matrix whereby one can easily compare the many infallible proofs for Biblical inerrancy (and supporting Christian doctrines) against other religions.

I found a chi square analysis for the "prophecies" of Islam that proves that they are impossible. And in researching your work, I saw that yours would be a great candidate for similar analysis.

Since the chi square creates an UNBIASED conclusion as to the independence of bivariate variables, your conclusions, using SPSS or something similar would be like an atomic bomb dropped on the Salt Lake City Temple or the other site.

Mormon apologists would be apoplectic because refutation of chi square requires a refutation of mathematics. In this case, science trumps testimony.

Therefore my two questions:
1) Is it possible to do that sort of analysis for Scripture? Prophecies and fulfillments are of utmost importance to Bible scholars.

2) Is it possible to do that for a comparison between the BoM and Leaves of Grass.

BTW, as you might guess, I have no access to SPSS. I am working on my second masters, this time in [non-scientific, non-mathematical field withheld to help maintain anonymity], so I have no spare $ to buy the program.
Shalom,
[name withheld]
Wow, this is a great approach! Science can trump testimony because absolutely UNBIASED scientific tools can be used to support anti-Mormon objectives. In this case, it's impressive and mysterious-sounding chi-squared analysis (is that even better than DNA analysis?). No assumptions, no biases, no pre-conceived notions of any kind are used. Just raw science and mathematics. And this kind of analysis will not only decimate the Book of Mormon and bring Mormonism to its knees (take that, Daniel Peterson and you impostors at FARMS!), but will surely provide many infallible proofs for the absolute inerrancy of the King James Bible and the particular religious views of the unbiased scientist conducting the research. And this will all be irrefutably and scientifically proven with the power of the objective, unbiased SPSS statistical software tool, as soon as the researcher (working on his SECOND advanced degree - with many more to follow, no doubt) scrapes together enough money to actually buy SPSS and conduct the analysis. Donations, anyone? But any scientifically-minded person can already see what the results will be, so we might as well start broadcasting them now: "Unbiased scientists have used the power of chi-squared analysis and bivariate variables to prove beyond all doubt that the 1830 Book of Mormon was plagiarized from Walt Whitman's 1855 Leaves of Grass. Kiss those testimonies good-bye!"

Living Hope Ministries, here we come!

Stay tuned for a spate of press conferences, front-page news stories, and even an occasional candle-light vigil.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yet another proof of Novak's Rule!

Walter said...

Hey Jeff, weren't you home sick from church today? Glad to see you're feeling well enough to blog! :-)

Anonymous said...

We were told at church today to avoid parking in ways that would inconvience neighbors during next weeks Stake Conference.

I told the Stake President that Jeff has been encouraging LDS people to go ahead and park in the neighbors driveways.

Bookslinger said...

Offer the homeowner $5 to let you park in their driveway. Good excuse to knock on their door.

--------

But back to on topic. Jeff, since Leaves of Grass was written AFTER the BofM was published, haven't you then more-or-less proved that Walt Whitman plagiarized from the Book of Mormon?

Bookslinger said...

I heard this from a relative of the missionary involved.

A full-time LDS missionary, an Elder, the young kind, not the older retired kind, has been shot and killed in Argentina.

The family has already been notified.

You'll probably see a story about it within 24 hours on the SL Tribune or Deseret News web site.

annegb said...

Damn.

Kurt said...

A chi squared test is a simple non-parametric statistical analysis. You dont need high-powered software like SPSS for something like that. A piece of paper and a pencil would do it.

Roy W. Wright said...

...create a matrix whereby one can easily compare the many infallible proofs for Biblical inerrancy (and supporting Christian doctrines) against other religions.

Okay, so maybe this is a little harsh, but honestly, how can anyone be so stupid? Proving the historical accuracy of the Bible has absolutely no bearing on its theological accuracy. Proving the theological accuracy of parts of the Bible (such as certain prophecies that have come true) does not prove anything about the rest of the Bible, especially the parts written by other authors. Proving the theological accuracy of the entire Bible, were it possible, would prove little about those who claim to have the correct interpretation of it.

The number of logical problems one has to overlook, and the groundless assumptions one has to make, to adhere to sola scruptura, are breathtaking.

Roy W. Wright said...

scriptura, that is.

Nate T said...

"But back to on topic. Jeff, since Leaves of Grass was written AFTER the BofM was published, haven't you then more-or-less proved that Walt Whitman plagiarized from the Book of Mormon?"

Yeh, It would be like dropping an a-bomb on . . . . those walt whitman fan temples . . . . thingies.

ltbugaf said...

Actually, it's an atom bomb on the theory--popular among anti-Mormons--that commonality of 2-, 3-, or 4-word phrases in two works indicates that one was "plagiarized" from the other. BOOM!

DeathByBlogging said...

I enjoyed your blog. Nice to see some people standing up for the church. There are so many anti sites out there.