As is well known, conservative Christians usually tend to take a dim view of other religions; at best, they are seen as mere human gropings the dark; at worst, they are Satanic counterfeits created to deceive humans. A partial exception is often made for Judaism, which is seen as merely “incomplete”, but as having a continuing positive role of some kind (particularly in inspiring Jews to move to Israel), and Mormons are increasingly accepted as being Christians. These days, hostility is particularly focused on Islam, and self-styled prophecy teachers have scrambled to explain how perceived threats to US interests and to Israel foreshadow a “Last Days” conflict in which Muslims will be under the direct control of the anti-Christ.
However, Islam is not the only tradition to be singled out: there is particular horror at anything which might be termed “magical” or “occult”. Interest in supernatural or “psychic” forces is seen as the channel by which demons directly intervene in the world and take control over individuals’ lives, which is why neo-Pagans, Wiccans, and New Agers are sometimes abused by some Christians as being “Satanists”.
So it’s rather odd that a prominent Christian fundamentalist teacher and writer should have been found to have plagiarised an author associated with the “New Age”. Christian website Herescope has compiled a dossier which shows that Chuck Missler’s book Alien Encounters (co-authored with Mark Eastman) has cut and pasted a number of passages from a book called The Holographic Universe, by Michael Talbot.
Gaylene Goodroad gives 17 examples, and writes:
I wasn’t prepared for what I actually found. Not only do these identical quotations appear in both books—but so do multiple other passages as well. I searched in vain for a single mention of Talbot’s name (or book) in Missler;s Cosmic Codes. He is not cited anywhere in the 372 pages of text, nor is he listed in the appendices, endnotes, or index. This is an inexplicable omission, especially because Talbot’s words and source work are clearly incorporated into Missler’s book. Entire paragraphs have been imported from Talbot’s book, many times word-for-word, without any attribution—even including Talbot’s original source work in the footnotes.
Talbot (who died early from leukaemia aged 38 in 1992) does not appear to have been associated with any particular New Age group, but Goodroad notes that he acknowledged a debt to Marilyn Ferguson’s Aquarian Conspiracy. His book seems to be at the more intellectual end of the New Age spectrum, drawing on the work of quantum physicist David Bohm and neurophysiologist Karl Pribram. Wouter J Hanegraaff‘s academic survey New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought is somewhat dismissive of his oeuvre, describing him as:
…representative of a trend in popular New Age science to convince the reader by simply overwhelming him with a mass of accumlated facts, theories, conjectures and speculations.
Talbot enthuses over all kinds of psychic phenomena that most Christians would regard as taboo, which could create difficulties for Missler beyond the simple fact of the plagiarism itself.
As I’ve noted previously, Missler is known for his particular focus on exotic subjects such as UFOs (and for arguing that peanut butter disproves evolution), but he interacts with a wider Christian Right scene: he has featured on GOD TV, his “Strategic Perspectives” conferences have attracted a range of high-profile speakers, and the “Board of Regents” for his Koinonia House “Christian Think Tank” includes Joseph Farah, Ergun Caner, Jerome Corsi, Alan Keyes, Tim LaHaye, several Calvary Chapel pastors, and others (including Binyamin Elon MK, a long-time US Christian Right ally).
Goodroad also draws attention to a previous example of plagiarism involving Missler, although this time fellow Christian author was plundered (links added):
Back in 1992, Missler and fellow Bible author Hal Lindsey had published a manuscript called The Magog Factor utilizing large portions—as much as 25 percent—of unattributed material from Edwin Yamauchi’s 1982 book, Foes from the Northern Frontier.
(H/T Ed Brayton)
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