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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bogus Parallels Versus Christianity: Don't Be the Next Naive Victim

Recent posts here have explored how parallels between the Book of Mormon and a modern book have led to some foolishly proclaiming to have exposed the Book of Mormon as a fraud. Creatively molding parallels into seemingly convincing but bogus evidence for fraud isn't just a hobby for anti-Mormons, but has also been a tool of some seeking to undermine Christianity in general. Daniel Peterson laments a recent victim of these tactics who abandoned not just her LDS faith but her belief in Christ after reading a book explaining how Christianity is a fraud that has simply been lifted from other ancient religions that all had the very same concepts, including a son of God who came to earth and was crucified--yes, many pagan gods came to earth and were crucified, just like Jesus Christ, so it is said--, then resurrected and ascended to heaven, just like Christ. Pretty impressive, right?

In an article for the Deseret News, "Defending the Faith: 'Parallels' of prophets not parallel," explains that this assembly of parallels, now found in many sources in print and on the web, ultimately derives from a single source: "The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors: Christianity Before Christ," an 1875 book by an American atheist named Kersey Graves. The book in several forms is available at Archive.org. With no references cited, Graves simply declares that extensive parallels exist between the details of Jesus Christ and numerous other ancient deities, showing, he claims, that Christianity was simply made up, swiping concepts already out there. The virgin birth, His status as Son of God, the miracles, the teachings, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, etc., all are allegedly plagiarized from Mithra, Osiris, Baal, etc. And it's all nonsense, Peterson explains. In many cases Graves is simply making stuff up, creating parallels that aren't really there. Sad that some have lost their faith over such stuff. 

Yes, there are interesting parallels between religions, and as Latter-day Saints, we understand that many ancients including Book of Mormon writers had teachings about the future Messiah who would come as Son of God, be slain, and rise again. The theme of ascending to God is an important one in the ancient world, and we should not be surprised to find scattered parallels between our faith and many other faiths. See, for example, The Sacred and the Profane by Mircea Eliade. Properly understood, the parallels that actually do exist can be meaningful and can help us better appreciate other faiths and the possibility of some common ancient roots. But when it comes to the extreme parallels that are used to declare Christianity a fraud, the real basis for fraud is in the fabrications from Kersey Graves. His undocumented allegations are not to be trusted at all.

One resource for exploding the bogus parallels against Christianity is "Evidence for Jesus and Parallel Pagan 'Crucified Saviors' Examined" by Philip J. Porvaznik. Gets into the details of each of the alleged 16 crucified saviors of pagan lore. Interesting.

Don't be the next victim of bogus parallels undermining Christianity, including LDS Christianity. Parallels, like scientific data, can be meaningful when the right questions are asked and the right tools are applied. But when the data are simply fabricated or twisted beyond recognition, look out.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've heard that The Book of Mormon is actually a rip off of "Leaves of Grass". Do you have any information about that?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Cute joke, right? If not, then I'd have to say this: Uh, yes. I'm the one who started that ill-informed rumor. Leaves of Grass was published in 1855, after the Book of Mormon, but one can find many curious parallels in it with a bit of creativity, making it seem much stronger than many of the sources critics have been pointing to. If it can provide such strong parallels by chance, then lesser parallels in other text don't do much, in my opinion, to "explain" the Book of Mormon. See http://www.jefflindsay.com/bomsource.shtml.

Anonymous said...

Of course there are parallels between religions, and between Christianity and mythology. There have been at least a couple of times in history when everyone was on board and knew about Jesus and his atoning mission. People split off, apostatize, their religion becomes corrupted, and voila, multiple religions, myths, and folklore that bear some resemblance to the original.

Anonymous said...

(From Nauvoo Times on a related post):

Well, then, Tolkien must have plagiarized the Book of Mormon for his portrayal of the Battle at Helms Deep, where all of those details are exactly the same, including the bodies of the slain enemies filling the dike outside the walls.

There have been fortresses protected by ditches, dikes, moats, etc. since ancient Eqypt. Forces which assault such fortresses suffer heavy casualties, more than enough to fill ditches and dikes. And "white" (or shining, as in describing an emperor) leaders conscripting native populations into an expeditionary force is hardly a unique concept in world history.

Joseph Smith didn't make these up or plagiarize the concepts. They're part of the military history of ancient civilizations, particularly those of Egypt, Assyria, and China.