Conservapedia:Letter to Douglas Moo

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In-depth analysis

When Andrew Schlafly's Conservative Bible Project came to light, one of its critics was Prof Douglas Moo, the Blanchard Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College since 2000.

Conservapedia describes Wheaton College as "a conservative institution of higher education that was founded on Christian principles in 1860."[1] However, this definition only applied after a former student of Schlafly's had enrolled there. Before that time, it was described as "Wheaton College is an increasingly liberal institution of higher education that was originally founded on Christian principles."[2]

Moo's criticism[edit]

Moo's criticism was reported by in which he said, "Silly is probably as kind as I could be about it. Any serious people working on Bible translation know that you have to leave as much ideology at the door as possible to do a good job." (our emphasis)[3][4]

Clearly piqued by the professor's criticism of his project, Schlafly publicly drafted a letter[5] criticising the lack of progress on the newest translations of the NIV and TNIV bibles, whilst extolling the virtues of his own.

He particularly highlights the speed at which the CBP was completed, ignoring the fact that in-depth research takes time and a little bit more knowledge than a pocket English-Greek dictionary and Google Translate can provide. Schlafly also adds the following header to his letter:

In the tradition of Conservapedia, we send letters of scholarly significance to college professors. Here is a letter we sent on June 30, 2010 to Professor Douglas Moo. Any reply will be posted here also, as done in our famous dialog with Professor Lenski.

The only two "letters of scholarly signifcance" to which Schlafly alludes, are his infamous letters to Lenski and PNAS, both of which resulted in large scale ridicule for Conservapedia. However, as Schafly himself says, "Christianity wouldn't exist if fear of ridicule were a concern."[6]

Text of the letter[edit]

The letter was sent on June 30, 2010. The main body of Schlafly's letter is reproduced below (the emphases are Schlafly's):

I hope this letter finds you well in your capacity as the Chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation, which reportedly oversaw the TNIV translation and, according to an article on Sept. 1, 2009 in the USA Today, is producing a new revision of the NIV translation. In an interview at that time, you mentioned the publishers' "deflecting any possible claim that the 2011 NIV was a secretive project" and that your Committee is "seeking input from anyone who wants to make a suggestion about how the 2011 NIV might be improved."

Ten months later, the question is this: has a single word of your new translation been made available for public review?

I have concern that your Committee might produce a liberal translation that distorts and conceals references to the unborn child in appeasement of the pro-abortion position. Conservapedia has identified nine (9) instances where the NIV obscures biblical references to the unborn child, and in each of these instances the NIV mistranslation denies biblical confirmation of pro-life truths. See the Feminist Bible entry on Conservapedia.

Regardless of what your own views may be, many other college professors do support abortion, and they might prefer concealing recognition of the unborn child. Any unwillingness by your Committee to allow public review of the relevant passages in its work would heighten my concern.

You harshly criticized our translation effort, declaring that "Silly is probably as kind as I could be about it." Yet we completed our work on the New Testament over two months ago, all in full public view. Where is yours?

For reasons unknown, he also cc'ed the letter to Jerry Falwell Jr.

As at 17 September 2010, there had been no public reply from Prof. Moo. It would appear as if he's shown Andy's letter the contempt it deserves.

Views from the blogosphere[edit]

It's early days yet.

Examples of blogs criticising or ridiculing the letter[edit]

  • Total Drek highlights Conservapedia's ongoing "tradition" of making themselves internet laughingstocks and of doing things so stupid that even their ideological allies distance themselves from Andy & company.
  • Randi Foundation Forum while discussing the CBP; "Andy seems to be complaining that Mr Moo is taking too long to come up with a translation, as the Conservapedia version has been completed in record time, and speed is clearly the yardstick we should be using."
  • Even WorldNetDaily thinks they're insane.

Examples of blogs defending the letter[edit]

Two tumbleweeds rolling across the screen, from left to right.

(If you find any, though, please add them.)

External links[edit]

See also[edit]