Sunday, June 8, 2008

My Visit from Jehovah's Witnesses

Yesterday I got my wish to have a discussion with two Jehovah's Witnesses who came to my door. There was a man and a woman. Only the man chose to argue with me. I warned them that I was a devout atheist, but this only served to spawn the discussion with a comment on my use of the word devout. I explained that Christians often say that atheism is just another kind of religion, complete with its own dogmatism and closed-mindedness. I freely admit that I am just as passionate about my position as most theists are about theirs, so I have adopted the term to indicate that. But I do try not be be dogmatic or closed-minded.

So this guy basically expounded the JW philosophy, without really trying to convert me. Theirs may be a brighter, more peaceful version of Christianity. They seem to be Bible literalists, but want to separate themselves from other denominations which have distorted, modified, and misinterpreted the Bible to the ends of power, greed, and war. But of course they have their own interpretation, which seems to me to be no less distorted, even though it seems to allow for a somewhat more modern liberal morality, as well as for modern science, including evolution. They do the latter by saying that we are still in the middle of the seventh "day" of creation, and God is resting.

I tried to get him to say what made him think that the Bible was literally true, but he wouldn't. I enumerated all of the usual sources of faith, with the counter-arguments for each. He seemed to politely agree with all of my arguments, but only kept trying to read from the Bible that he had with him, claiming that each passage was marvelously accurate. I tried to point out in each case how he was twisting the interpretation, and that there was no real scientific accuracy. I even pointed out the circularity in Bible belief, that if you start out convinced, then you can find interpretations that justify your conviction.

One of the passages that he read to show how the Bible was scientifically accurate was this: the water comes down from heaven as rain and snow, and it waits to nourish the plants before it goes back up to heaven. The idea was supposed to be that the Bible is teaching about the water cycle, which was not well understood at the time. I think it is safe to say that this is not only inaccurate (the water doesn't really wait to evaporate), but it is a stretch to think that such a statement could not have been written by ordinary people over 2000 years ago.

In addition to other reinterpretations, the JW seem to have a different view of heaven, hell, and revelations. They seem to think there is a heaven, but that it is reserved for a very select few, which does not even include themselves. Apparently there either is no hell, or it is not such a bad place. We didn't discuss this. They do, however, believe there is some sort of rapture-like event coming soon. The difference is that the earth, rather then becoming hell, will become a paradise, and be unified and ruled by heaven and the few people who are taken there to be angels.

So, despite being non-confrontational and mildly interesting, the discussion was somewhat disappointing. I really want to understand the source of people's faith, because I think that this is the key to any hope of breaking it down. And this guy succeeded in keeping this well hidden.

8 comments:

Danny Haszard said...

Watchtower gospel of gobbledygook

The big difference between Jehovah's Witnesses and Christians is that the Watchtower Society's central core creed proclaims Jesus second coming in October 1914.
They sometimes try to obscure this today and say that he came 'invisibly'.Yes,all other Christains are awaiting Jesus return,the JW say he ALREADY came.

Jehovah's Witnesses door to door recruitment is by their own admission an ineffective tactic. They have lost membership in all countries with major internet access because their false doctrines and harmful practices are exposed on the modern information superhighway.
There is good and valid reasons why there is such an outrage against the Watchtower for misleading millions of followers.

Many have invested everything in the 'imminent' apocalyptic promises of the Jehovah's Witnesses and have died broken and beaten. Jehovah's Witnesses are a cult because they try to cut you off from others who do not have the same beliefs, including family.
Yes,you can 'check out anytime you want but you can never leave',because they can and will hold your family hostage.

The Watchtower is a truly Orwellian world.

W. Dennis said...

I was baptised into the JW faith in June of 95 and slowly by surely got out of it by 2000. It was my choice not because JW is a cult, but because I can't find the will to stop celebrating holidays, or going door to door to minister to people who hate to see you coming. I know that there is one God whose name is Jehovah and his son, the first created being Jesus, but was created the arch angel Michael. Jesus is a God but not almighty God and this is the major difference in belief between christianity and Jehovah's Witnesses. There is no trinity and even christianity can't explain it so that any logical person can understand it. In the end they claim you just have to believe it. I can't so I am a hybrid of sorts. I see nothing wrong with holidays with the acception of Halloween. Or celebrating birthdays, or fighting for my country. Even Isreal had an army in the bible. I am off on a tangent aren't I? Well, back on track I say that JW is not a cult but I can't rightfully say I am convinced they have the truth either.

Melody said...

I have a friend who was reared a Jehovah's Witness, and she has nothing but scathing words for them. *She* does not seem to think it is a benign religion, and she would agree with Danny H. that they try to cut members off from non-members, including family. It is really just another example of the us against them mind-set that is part and parcel of most religions.

James said...

I am Catholic by birth, but now I consider myself Eclectic Christian. I believe that you become what you believe. And when believing in something, you lend power to give birth to existence. However, there are still laws governing these growths. And your believes will fashion which fruits you bear and what you become. Just like science is also part of our imagination and part laws of the universe. Everything we see here is the result of the two.

Perhaps an Athiest will cease to exist after this life as they believe there is none to have after the brain stops its functions. Or perhaps not believing in a world other then this one we have, they will return again through incarnation. Perhaps the God we believe in, is a God we created and is ourselves. Or perhaps there is a true God that oversees and sets the laws. Perhaps it is apt to call God and Angel Aliens, as they are not born of this world.

No one can give a firm answer to all these questions, as the truth is kept from us. We are in a way, being isolated. But if you look deep inside yourself, you will find the path to follow.

Now to answer your question, I will tell you the source of my believe. I believe in the goodness in my heart. The times when I felt loving and kind to another person. The times when I know right from wrong. The times when I was greater then myself, by denying myself for betterment of others. The times when I know how to use what is presumed evil to yield life giving results. I believe there is a source to this goodness as many things I know not from experience. There is the love I feel and I know there is a source. I first heard a good explanation of this source, and it was from the bible. Jesus said that God is our father and he loves us.

Summer said...

The simple laws of the universe exist, that causation creates effects and effects condition new causation and so forth - that's what we are now, results of previous causation. With all the elements, dimensions and grandeur of the universe (with infinite space you have infinite possibilities. While some argue first causation (one might also argue the God singularity - that asking who created the universe is just one step away from asking who gave the birth of god which automatically is answered, no one, he's just always been there - is it so hard to believe then that the universe - in any shape or form, whether a singularity or the size it is now hasn't always just been there too) - anyway, forms or life, whether a star or a plant or a bubble or a human is just the result of effects of energy compressed into new form, perhaps unconscious or perhaps preordained by life itself (if we consider the universe to obtain everything in existence it also contains intelligences) - the universe using us as a vessel to look back unto itself. As far as heaven and hell are concerned - again - cosmic cause and effect - create heaven there it is, create hell, there it is, create nothing and there it is....


I am glad to be a Buddhist - it seems this God dogma just confuses everything or is just ways that people spoke of creation when they didn't know how to explain it properly. Like telling your kids stories to get a point across.

Luci Ardelean said...

Can I hate Jehovah's witnesses?

thewhiteninja said...

Trying to breakdown faith is impossible u cant prove faith thats y its faith and if u never have read the bible for ur self by ur self then no wonder u dont belive u would be a sheep if u did my advice would be to read the whole book then say u dont belive

Curtis Wood said...

Look- You have to believe in something. I rather have inner peace and tranquility than wondering all the time if aliens exist or if we're being misled by the government. You end up not trusting anyone and you end up being paranoid- what a miserable way to live. All you have to do is believe in something. Jesus sd the true identifying mark of TRUE Christians is LOVE. So have LOVE for others and respect their beliefs and believe in something yourself. JWs are a threat to traditional Churches. Churches are looking to make money instead of really preaching the truth. They have so many followers because they tell you what you want to hear. Its ok to celebrate this and that..etc.. The point is, believe in something so you can be at peace and show love to everyone. Thanks for reading.