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|Doctrinal Commentary on Especially for Mormons #2: “Men of Determination”|
Jun. 3rd, 2009 at 2:32 pm
The second installment in a continuing series in which the author probes the hidden treasures of wisdom in that bastion of seminary education, Especially for Mormons. The first issue can be found here. Today’s text: “Men of Determination.”
Abstract – A recent study involving DNA analysis has cast a shadow over the traditional Mormon perspective on genetics as propagated by this influential text. Mormon apologists question both the study’s methodology and its interpretation of the word “determination.”
In March of this year, a group of scientists from MIT led by Dr. Will Schreiber published an article in Nature presenting the results of a study that replicates the conditions delineated in the seven verses of this text.
120 male test subjects between the ages of 18 and 35, all in good health with no known pre-existing medical issues, were selected and divided into twelve groups of ten. All were psychologically conditioned to believe that consequences of a catastrophic nature would ensue should they not arrive in Fort Lauderdale, FL, by 10:30 AM the following Tuesday. They were then dropped off alongside I-35 outside of Duluth, MN, on a Wednesday evening at 7:23 PM.
It should be noted that all subjects “refused to stop” when first confronted.
DNA testing was subsequently performed on all subjects. No matches were found for Sir Walter Scott, John Bunyan, George Washington, Winston Churchill, or Joseph Smith.
A few points of interest:
Mormon apologists are quick to discredit the study, questioning the degree of the subjects’ “determination” as well as to what extent they “decided” where they were going of their own accord. “You can’t manipulate someone into being determined enough to become Abraham Lincoln any more than you could have brainwashed the Brother of Jared into having enough faith to move Mount Zerin,” noted FARMS scholar Nephi Allred.
Furthermore, Allred and his colleagues point out that the text, while simplified, is historically accurate in its essence and allege that the scientists directing the study relied on an outdated, traditional reading. “Today,” Allred explains, “most Mormon scholars view ‘Men of Determination‘ as a mistranslation. ‘Men of Determinism‘ more accurately conveys the text’s purpose as illustrative: a simple account of ‘noble and great ones’ fulfilling their foreordination. The study in question is therefore not germane to this context.”
Dr. Schreiber counters that his team’s interpretation of the causal relationship between the premises and resulting DNA mutation is the simplest and most logical given the wording of the passage.
A recent survey of Mormons that consider themselves “active” indicates that over 90% remain untroubled by the study’s findings, while 62.7% expressed the belief that the ten members of the sixth group have since accepted the gospel on the other side of the veil.