So you think you’re smarter than all of us? You’re just so smart that you were able to figure this all out?
Intelligence capacity has very little to do with finding out that what the Watchtower Society teaches is not true. The vast majority of facts and arguments needed to show this are actually quite simple.
Intelligence is highly relative anyway. I know many, many Jehovah’s Witnesses who are much more intelligent than I am, as well as better read, more learned and in some cases university educated. One does need a few things however. Just as a computer needs a program and input in order to get anything done, we must learn how to reason logically (the program) and then make sure we are getting good information (the input). We can’t expect a computer to give us back accurate results if there are bugs in the software or we’re inputting inaccurate information to begin with (see the principle of “garbage in, garbage out”). Being able to use logic actually needs to come first so that we can understand how to vet our sources and acquire facts.
What one does not need to have is any sort of training in ancient languages, astrophysics, biology or theology to sort out the matters in question on this blog. If figuring out what to believe was just a matter of finding earth’s most capable brains to represent every particular group or angle and throwing them into a room together to see who comes out victorious, there would be no reason to consider anything for ourselves. That is not how life works though, nor would such a scheme satisfy even a simple majority of people. We have to put in the work to discover facts for ourselves and be convinced of where they lead us. (If you do want to see a theist and an atheist debate down to the nubs of reality itself however, I highly recommend this debate between Matt Slick, a Reformed Calvinist, and Matt Dillahunty, one of the hosts of The Atheist Experience TV Show.)
What is needed by all persons seeking to learn truth however, is intellectual honesty. Wikipedia defines it this way:
Intellectual honesty is an applied method of problem solving, characterized by an unbiased, honest attitude, which can be demonstrated in a number of different ways:
- One’s personal faith does not interfere with the pursuit of truth;
- Relevant facts and information are not purposefully omitted even when such things may contradict one’s hypothesis;
- Facts are presented in an unbiased manner, and not twisted to give misleading impressions or to support one view over another;
- References, or earlier work, are acknowledged where possible, and plagiarism is avoided.
The article also includes this quote:
In other words, even when a person has the opportunity to use a belief or teaching to obscure the truth or ignore it, they choose not to do so. They allow the data, results, or facts to lead the way despite the consequences and despite their previously held presuppositions. As Matt Dillahunty frequently says: “I want to know as many true things as possible, and as few false things as possible.” That attitude is really all you need to understand why JW’s don’t have the truth.
If god doesn’t exist, why are you so angry at him? Why do you waste time speaking against him? Doesn’t that show you actually believe that he DOES exist?
Our brains possess the ability to conceptualize things that we have not experienced and even things that aren’t real. And just because we can conceptualize something does not make it real. Unicorns, a planet made of cheese, fairies, a teapot orbiting the sun somewhere between earth and mars…we can conceive of all of these but they do not actually exist. This applies to conceptual individuals as well. For instance, if you were to tell me how awful Cruella DeVille is or how menacing Darth Vader can be, I would never accuse you of believing these fictional characters exist. That would be absurd! You and I are capable of thinking about them as if they were real and even making a judgment call on whether or not we like them as individuals. This ability is plainly evident to us and it applies to a god as well, now matter how he might be described by any individual believer.
With this is mind, any time I talk about the god of the bible and make a judgment call on his actions or character, I am talking about the concept of this God as presented in those pages. Calling into question his personality and actions helps to show just how inconceivable and illogical the existence of this proposed being really is. And as a sentient being with the ability to make judgment calls, just as I can feel disgust at Anakin Skywalker for killing younglings, I can absolutely feel disgust about the concepts of the things that god does in the bible. (See my article on David’s Census Sin)
No one or thing gives me the authority. These are just my thoughts and ideas based off my reading and research. The arguments I present fall or stand by their own merits.
Where appropriate, I try to use the findings, discoveries and sayings of individuals who are qualified in their fields to lend weight to the discussion and to share good resources for further examination.
Some of my posts simply use Watchtower’s world view or teachings and follow them to their logical conclusion. In these posts, I’m just using what they have laid out to see where it really leads.
Why can’t you just leave quietly and leave us alone? / Why do you want to destroy the faith of others?
My purpose in sharing any information that I do is not in an attempt to wrest every single witness away from their beliefs. It would be foolish of me to imagine that I could do so. As I mentioned in my purpose for writing my blog, I want to help those who are doubting and need the assistance. I do not have a system or a plan for creating a system of going door-to-door and trying to convince everyone on the globe of my way of thinking. I am merely putting down my thoughts and the thoughts of others to create a resource and to engage in conversation about these topics.
Freedom of ideas and conversation is integral to having a free and democratic civilization. Jehovah’s Witnesses place a high value on having freedom to share their beliefs openly and without persecution. I share that value. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been granted this freedom in many countries, not for the reason that they are correct in their beliefs, but rather out of respect for their right to freedom of expression. I would expect any witness to grant me that same respect. Please feel free to criticize my ideas in the same way I criticize those of the Watchtower Society. I would just ask that we all show decency and remember that we are judging ideas, not people.
Why do you want to destroy the faith of others?
I don’t seek to destroy faith. I seek to encourage all to use their power of reason and logic to examine evidence and come to sound conclusions. The tough part with faith is highlighted perfectly by the question Matt Dillahunty routinely asks of those who tell him they take something on faith. “Is there anything a person couldn’t believe based on faith,” he asks. After having no alternative but to reply in the negative, he points out to them that faith, then, is not a reliable pathway to truth. All faiths are equal. Since faith is believing in something without evidence, there is no difference between the faith of someone who believes that god hates killing and the other who believes that god will reward their suicide bombing by giving them a place in heaven. These faith statements are equal in their amount of proof since faith does not require evidence.
1. To help for those who have doubts to understand where they come from and why they won’t go away.
By laying out the discussions that I do on this site, I’m hoping to help give voice to some of the reasons that people may develop doubt or concern over JW teachings and/or bible content. When I finally allowed myself to seek objective information, albeit at the time not anything specifically about JW beliefs, I finally was able to hear people speak about topics that had caused me a lot of frustration and confusion. To hear them flesh out those topics far more fully than I could have on my own was an absolute relief! For the first time I didn’t feel alone and isolated by my thoughts. I would like to provide just one more resource that might help some to find this same relief.
As a faded witness, and particularly one who carried the burden of doubt for an extended period of time, I know how difficult it can be when you have questions that you don’t feel safe asking. There are certain points that don’t strike you quite right during meetings, or a passage in the bible or a publication might raise considerable red flags but you may not have anyone to go to who will listen to you, much less help you with why these things are bothering you. In some cases, bringing these types of concerns to the attention of others can be dangerous because it could cause them to question the strength of your belief and become wary of you. They may even tell the elders which could lead to unwanted attention being paid you, congregational discipline, and even disfellowshipping if things go awry.
2. To help those with doubts to understand that they DO NOT need to be afraid or feel guilty. There is a lot of good to be done and to be found outside of the organization.
It is a common thread in many exiting stories told by ex-JWs that dealing with doubts over extended amounts of time and not being able to get satisfying answers to their questions lead them to frustration, guilt, depression, anxiety, fear, suicidal thoughts, and in some cases even attempted suicide. Often, the person will go through multiple phases of doubting, each time eventually “pushing down” their doubts and trying to “double down” in their organizational activities. The frequency with which those two expressions appear seems to show a shared pattern for many who have gone through this process.
A particular aspect of the searching process that can cause anxiety is the sense of impending loss. When one has been raised as a witness or has been in the organization for some time, all of his or her hopes for the future, system of values, sense of purpose and social network is tied to being a JW. The thought of losing any one of those things much less all of them and much more can cause dread. Through the Watchtower publications, witnesses are taught that non-witnesses are in darkness, blind, misled, immoral, without hope, etc. It is said that the world will chew you up and spit you out. Some individuals even go to the extent of saying that if someone doesn’t believe in god, they might as well rape, steal and kill since without god there is no real and objective morality and, thus, no reason to act in a “moral” way. “Just follow your impulses, then” they may say. This is nonsense (see my article here to learn why) but it is just one of the many things that they use to put up a wall of fear to keep you inside of their system of thinking.
3. To catalog my own thoughts and keep a journal of what I’m thinking about for the benefit of others and my future self.
A third reason for my writing is to catalog my thoughts at this point in time before my ability to think like a witness fades. Being able to understand both sides is key to having a good debate. I want to get my ideas recorded before it becomes harder to do so.