Certainty, truth, and the JW's

by Check_Your_Premises 21 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Check_Your_Premises

    Pardon me while I think out loud. This is kind of half baked. If you see what I am trying to get at, and can say it better, please do so.

    To know truth is perhaps the most illusive and yet most important things. Many of us have experienced the painful consequences of living under false assumptions. Unfortunately we are very limited in our ability to perceive and understand. Over thousands of years people have found that the best way to arrive at truth is to seek information, process that information using logic, validate that information and logic by seeking new data and ideas to test and validate against, and subjecting our conclusions to the scrutiny of our peers. The genuine truth seeker realizes this process will never end. We will never know all truth. The truth we know will always need to be refined in light of new facts.

    As limited as we are and this process is, it still has had remarkeable success. It has brought us from cave dwelling, hunter-gatherers cowering from predators, to a complete domination of the planet. We have mapped the human genome. We have even "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to set foot on the moon. The power of truth and knowledge are unmistakeable.

    One key flaw in this process is us. The simple fact is that two people can process the same information, use the identical system of logic (or so they think), and arrive at completely different conclusions. Human beings are simply incapable of being perfectly objective. This is the one thing that no person can deny, and is a key aspect of our fallibility. No matter how smart or knowledgeable we are, no person is immune from the need for self-delusion. It is the one common denominator we all share, and is implicit in all compromise. No person can ever be completely certain that they aren't biased in some hidden way to a certain conclusion.

    So when we realize how difficult it is for us to understand and perceive reality, when we further realize how difficult it is for us to detach ourselves from what we want that reality to be, how completely obnoxious and laughable we find the jw who claims an absolute certainty in their beliefs, doctrine, and claim on "the truth".

    Rather than constantly seeking new facts or ideas to refine their concept of truth, they build a wall and only dwell on the data or ideas that support their faith. They label any information or reasoning that challenges their beleifs as "apostate". They completely ignore the idea that their might be things they don't yet know, which they aren't even aware of, that might lead them to change their opinions.

    But most importantly they refuse to admit that no matter how certain they are in the completeness of their knowledge and ideas, they themselves might be skewing the data to reach the conclusion they require. And when they claim absolute, complete certainty that they are right, you are wrong, they are actually saying that only you, and never they can be biased. They are denying that one common denominator we all share in our search for truth. They are denying their own humanity.

    "doubts complete faith, and keep it from become fanaticism" -some smart Rabbi MJ quoted to me


  • Check_Your_Premises

    My head hurts.

    One aspect I would like to explore is the idea in Christianity that you need to beleive something is true to have salvation.

    The JW share this, but with the addendum that you need to believe that the jw are the right religion as well.

    If the jw or the Christianity aren't "true", would the jw or Christian want to know it? And by admitting that, does that mean they are willing to renounce their faith?

    Discuss. (if the topic is at all interesting)


  • Will Power
    Will Power


    did you read this one?

    The Myth of Certainty, by Daniel Taylor - The Reflective Christian & the Risk of Commitment.

    pg 20

    Being reflective is both a blessing and a curse.... can lead equally well toward truth or error. Life can be richer, more textured, more challenging, more meaningful. Likewise, it can become more barren, more threatening, more overwhelming.


    The more one tries to restrict it [reflection], the more power one gives it; for reflection is suspicious of nothing so much as attempts to quell it. It may lie low for a time, but will blaze back all the fiercer for having been suppressed.


    When people defend their world view, they are not defending reason, or God, or an abstract system; they are defending their own fragile sense of security and self-respect.

    pg 80

    Ironically, the instance on certainty destroys its very possibility. The demand for cerainty inevitable creates its opposite - doubt. Doubt derives its greatest strength from those who fear it most. Unwisely glorified as the primary way to truth by many secularists, it is equally unwisely feared by many in Christendom as truth's mortal enemy.

    p 133

    How sad to have one's eternal relationship with God threatened by ways of thinking which may not even last a decade, much less a generation...... We are responsible to work out our salvation in our time, in the midst of our culture, not in some other time or place...


    First & foremost, no impatience... A direct attack only strengthens a person in his illusion, and at the same time embitters him. There is nothing that requires such gentle handling as an illusion, if one wishes to dispel it. If anything prompts the prospective captive to set his will in opposition, all is lost... The indirect method... loving and serving the truth, arranges everything.... and then shyly withdraws (for love is always shy), so as not to witness the admission which he makes to himself alone before God - that he has lived hitherto in an illusion.

    Are we both going thru some cycle?

    my head hurts too.

    maybe you need a vacation!


  • Will Power
    Will Power

    yikes! I should've spell checked!

  • Check_Your_Premises
    The Myth of Certainty, by Daniel Taylor - The Reflective Christian & the Risk of Commitment.

    I spotted that one on an Amazon search one time. If you recommend it I will get it! Screw Oprah! I subscribe to the UBM book club! I absolutely love your last recommendation, although I think (at least from what I read so far) McLaren left the myth of certainty fairly untouched... other than to acknowledge the difficult balance of knowledge and faith.


  • GoingGoingGone

    Hi CYP

    I completely understand what you're getting at. A few comments...

    To know truth is perhaps the most illusive and yet most important things.

    That depends on who you are. Truth is not equally important to all people. It's one reason people with symptoms of a serious illness can avoid going to the doctor, for fear of what the doctor might find, until it's too late. The 'what I don't know can't hurt me' syndrome.

    The power of truth and knowledge are unmistakeable.

    In the large-scale picture, I agree. On an individual basis, though... denial is a powerful tool, too.

    No matter how smart or knowledgeable we are, no person is immune from the need for self-delusion. It is the one common denominator we all share, and is implicit in all compromise. No person can ever be completely certain that they aren't biased in some hidden way to a certain conclusion.

    Very well stated.

    If the jw or the Christianity aren't "true", would the jw or Christian want to know it? And by admitting that, does that mean they are willing to renounce their faith?

    The answer to this, depends on the individual. The degree of honestly they have towards the question of their need for self-delusion and bias, can be a major factor in determining this, imo.

    What is keeping them in the JW religion? There is always something. For many it's family and friends, and not wanting to be shunned. For others, it's power and prestige. Still others like the security that comes with 'knowing' you have the one true religion in the world, and that you're approved by God. And for some, it's a job issue.

    People who say that they know it's the truth, and thus will not look at any other information, are using a cop out. You don't just take some organization at their word in such an important issue. There is something else that is keeping them in the WT and prompting their intellectual dishonesty or laziness.

    Just a few thoughts.


  • Check_Your_Premises

    Thank you GGG and WP for your comments. You guys were on my list of people I hoped would read this.


  • anewme

    CYP I am starting to really like you sir. You are tackling a very interesting subject here.
    The Box of Our Beliefs

    The other day I watched the Dr. Phil show and Dr. Phil had on a guest, a man, who suffered his whole life from what the doctors suggested was Bi Polar disorder.

    He did alot of crazy stuff in his life and admits it. He really does wig out sometimes and you coud see it happening before your eyes during his interviews and video.

    He has suffered so much anguish from this disorder and requested help from Dr. Phil. He is very bright and intelligent otherwise and your heart really went out to him during the show.

    Dr. Phil sent him for a brain scan and DANG!!!!!! The scan shows he had early trauma to his brain!!!!!
    Several experts agree the guy was either dropped or suffered some viral thing as a child.

    Oh my God I thought. All the years this guy has suffered trying to find the answers to his huge questions of why why why and all the time there was no way in the world he was going to fix his limitations.

    All day long I deal with the big issues of life. Many nights I am tossing and turning the big questions over and over in my mind like so many humans have done for thousands of years.

    Does my new husband ever lose sleep or give two hoots about eternity or whether he is a sinner or which religion is the right one or whether elder Br. So and So approves of his behavoir??????

    He is an electrician who deals in known facts and measurements and the peculiar behaviours of electricity and metals and physics.

    I got to thinking all this worry about God and if we are good or bad and what if this or that and who is right about God and who is wrong, and what of the future of the world???

    I feel like the guy who got dropped on his head!
    There is no way in hell I am ever going figure it all out! Why am I punishing myself with this absurd quest for answers to questions that no human may know???

    Many of us cop out of the angst and create "the box" and put our trust in it. "The Box" is the little collection of beliefs we all gather to ourselves which our minds have accepted and we have carefully alphabetized them and categorized them by subject and arranged them by color and there they are neat and orderly and in a row. Some we found by ourselves and others have been bequeathed to us by parents, teachers, and religious institutions. We tend to it like a garden and weed out any beliefs that upset the order of our neat little mental box.

    Others, like astronauts and explorers face their fear of the unknowns of life and boldly go into the future without hesitation, without fear. They are confident people. These people know in their hearts that life begins and ends and while they are alive they are going to live as fully as they can.
    Hell with the unanswerable questions that only leave you miserable and vulnerable to cultish recruitment!

    Anyway, thats how I feel today, this hour, this minute. And with the dent in MY head and reading all your posts here I may feel differently in an hour about everything!

    Forgive me. Im growing and morphing daily.

  • MsShockJock

    Hey CYP. Not sure if you have ever checked out anything on cognitive dissonance and jehovah's witnesses. I found it very interesting. When I was first studying with the witnesses I had problems accepting what they were teaching as truth, but at some point I just gave up these thoughts, all the doubts I was having, repressed my feelings and rationalized that if they don't have the truth then who does and deadened my conscience and accepted it ALL as truth.

    After reading many articles on line about the cognitive dissonance theory I believe this is exactly what I did in my mind. I threw out all my knowledge of what I knew to be the truth and started believing the lie. I deadened my own conscience and accepted blindly everything the WTS handed out. It's at that point that your mind shuts down and doesn't question anything any further, until one day you wake up (hopefully) and say to yourself, wait a minute, this is not right, and start questioning things again.

  • Check_Your_Premises
    Forgive me. Im growing and morphing daily.

    I know that feeling... eventually it starts to taper off some. You get so you are pretty sure about a few things, you have some pretty good ideas about the best ways to go about things, you are way to humble to ever again think you got it all figured out, and you are ok with not knowing all the answers. You are finally content to know that the good Lord does know all the answers, and he will let you in on things in His own good time.

    Thanks so much for letting me vent Anewme. I can' t tell you how cathartic it was. I just have to remember that there is another person on the end reading the massive emotional dump.

    Love you too.


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