Saturday, October 22, 2011

Update: Was the New World Translation mentioned as the most accurate translation of the Bible on Jeopardy?

I wrote about this several years ago and I have continued to get plenty of hits on the subject.  So having this subject kept fresh in mind, I have had plenty of chances to go back and re-look for evidence of its happening.

The myth is (via chain email) that on Jeopardy, Alex Trebek once presented an answer to the effect of "The most accurate translation of the Bible" to which the question was "The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society."

Did this ever happen?

The short answer is no.

I have never found any evidence of it.  Not on YouTube, not on Google Video, and not now that the entire archive of Jeopardy questions and answers is available online.

You are free to check for yourself.  But I have found more evidence for Michael Jackson still being alive.  Michael Jackson was a Jehovah's Witness as well, but that's neither here nor there.

The important thing here, aside from the evidence or lack thereof, is that you need to learn to think critically.

Let's review the situation here:

1.  The claim is from an email forward.  Anyone familiar with these, or or other debunking websites knows that email forwards are almost invariably universally unequivocally always false.  In my estimation, I'd say that upwards of 90-95% of all emails are completely bogus or at the very least offer a real picture with a false explanation.  NEVER place any trust in ANY email forward, it's like going to the casino and betting that you'll win every time.  It doesn't work that way.

2.  The claim is that the topic appeared on Jeopardy, a pop culture and history quiz show where people win actual money, is widely viewed, and features geniuses.  'The most accurate translation of the Bible' is a 100% subjective item, especially between the camps of Jehovah's Witnesses and the rest of Christendom.  Such a thing I dare say would never appear on Jeopardy.

3.  Consider the state of religion today.  If such a thing had happened, it would have been leaped upon by every religious media program there is.  It would be on the Bible Answer Man, it would be heard from the podcasts of innumerable pulpits, and it would be on every apologetics website there is.  However, the truth is, it isn't in any of these places.  There is a simple and overwhelming lack of evidence.  It's as if someone said "in the middle of a cornfield in Nebraska sometime between the years of 1984 and 2005, a man played checkers with a cornbread bust of Abraham Lincoln."  There's just no evidence.

I have heard several anecdotal reports of the question.  However, as we know, anecdotal evidence is one of the most unreliable pieces of evidence there is.  All humans have a propensity to remember things not as they were, but as some sort of glorified or horrified version of events.  The truth is, we make things up and we forget things and in our own minds without corroborating evidence, it always all still fits together seamlessly.  That's how our minds work.  But its only when you go back and watch that old film of the vacation at the lake do you realize that the boat was actually blue and not red.

The best explanation I have found for this happening is that there was some sort of church youth event which taught about different religions and at the end there was a Jeopardy style quiz for the youth to answer questions about what they had learned.  There was a question about which Bible JW's read and the answer was of course the New World Translation.  From there, it morphed into what we know as this phenomenon today where people still insist despite the evidence and logic that they saw that particular episode of Jeopardy even though they can't point to a time and even though the archive of Jeopardy questions contains it not.

It's sad that even today people will hold on to belief in something that doesn't matter in the slightest and that there is absolutely no evidence for.

Let it go.

It didn't happen, and it wouldn't matter if it did.