The Dangers of Independent Thinking

by daystar 11 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • daystar
    daystar

    "The Dangers of Independent Thinking"

    Reading Mary's thread regarding the July 15th WT, I began to really consider what the WBTS' problem is with "independent thinking".

    What exactly is "independent thinking" and what about its opposite, "dependent thinking"? I think the following excerpt from an article here does a good job of defining them. (Read the rest of that article.)

    What is Independent Thinking?

    The Oxford Unabridged Dictionary offers many definitions of "independent," including "not depending on the authority of others" and "not dependent on others for forming an opinion." Making up your own mind, in other words. But what does that really mean? Does it mean forming an opinion without input from others? No, of course not, otherwise we "reinvent the wheel" every time we make a decision. We all need relevant information and data on which to base our opinions. It's the way that we seek information and how we apply it that makes us dependent or independent thinkers. If we uncritically accept whatever values or ideas we've been taught by parents, teachers or church, never questioning these ideas or asking ourselves if these ideas really make sense, then we are dependent thinkers (even if the ideas are true!).

    If we reject what our parents, teachers or church have taught us simply because they say something is right, does that make us independent thinkers? No, that's just what psychologists call "anti-conformity" rather than non-conformity. Making up your own mind is an action, not a reaction.Independent thinking means making sense of the world based on your own observations and experiences rather than just depending on the word of others. It means trusting your own ability to make judgments, even if they contradict what others say. It means acting in accordance with these judgments, even if you sometimes make mistakes. Independent thinkers know it's psychologically better to make your own mistakes than someone else's. Independent thinking is not necessarily rational or critical. Sometimes you make mistakes; sometimes it's difficult to know whether your beliefs are your own or simply uncritically borrowed. No one ever said independent thinking is easy. Critical thinking is a tool that can help you decide whether your old beliefs are sensible. It can help you examine new ideas or help you solve problems in reasonable ways.

    What happens when an organization derides independent thinking? It is asking for dependent thinking (a phrase I don't think I have ever seen in any WT article or publication). In the case of the WBTS, it wants their congregation members to rely entirely upon the GB reasoning on any given subject. Is this not evident?

    But why is this the case? Why such an emphasis against independent thinking?

    My opinion on this matter is a bit controversial. Can one be an independent thinker and yet also worship Jehovah and/or follow Jesus' path? Can one be an independent thinker and be a member of an organized religion? Can one be an independent thinker and truly be a Christian at all?

    As I see it, the very basic conflict is set up in Genesis. God says "obey", don't eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad or there will be consequences. In other words, God reserved the right to judge whether something is good or bad. Why is that? Then the serpent says that if you eat from the ToKoG&B, their eyes would be opened and they would be as God, able to judge for themselves whether something is good or bad. In other words, they would become independent thinkers.

    So, if one ascribes to the independent thinking model, are they following the model that the Edenic serpent supports? Assuming, as many do, that the serpent was Satan, does that make independent thinkers followers of Satan by default. Satanists today are considered very humanistic individualists. What about a Christian who thinks of herself as an independent thinker? Isn't that person belying their own faith?

    How can one accept rulings from God, as filtered through the bible, or religious authority and yet also be an independent thinker? Can one be an independent thinker in all ways except when it comes to rules passed down to humanity from God, through holy books such as those in the bible? What about those books that are not a part of the current bible? How can one be an independent thinker and yet shun the books such as the Book of Enoch and others, when the books in the OT/NT were chosen by a fleshly order, the Nicean Councils?

    Does independent thinking ultimately equate to Satanism? And if so... well, that could be quite a crisis for many people.

  • daniel-p
    daniel-p

    Very thought-provoking article, thank you.

    One line I especially apreciated: "they would be as God, able to judge for themselves whether something is good or bad. In other words, they would become independent thinkers."

    The essence of faith is to halt thinking, as an undercurrent that one tries to ignore. To the extent they can ignore it is the "greatness" of their own faith. By your reasoning above, I wonder if Adam and Eve were ever "free moral agents" before they ate from the Tree. I'm begining to think Satan is the shit, even as a fictional character.

  • daystar
    daystar

    daniel-p

    The essence of faith is to halt thinking, as an undercurrent that one tries to ignore. To the extent they can ignore it is the "greatness" of their own faith. By your reasoning above, I wonder if Adam and Eve were ever "free moral agents" before they ate from the Tree. I'm begining to think Satan is the shit, even as a fictional character.

    I've probably thrown out this quote a dozen times, but here it is again:

    "I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.” - Aleister Crowley

    As far as I can tell, truly free agents, with free will, are not enslaved by such rules decreed from authority on high without question, with only faith. It's like a child being told not to do something, and told to never, ever question. And if they do question, being told "because I said so!"

    At some point, we have to become adults. I have a theory, and it is only a theory, that Lucifer, the light-bringer is the initiator into adulthood, individuation and hence, individuality for humanity, and an end to the slave-gods... all of them.

    (For what it's worth, when this theory occurred to me, it freaked me way, way out. I went through a bit of a crisis myself.)

  • greendawn
    greendawn

    To them anyone that opposes the doctrines and assumed status of the GB is an independent thinker. They don't even make an allowance for erroneous doctrine of which they have produced plenty because only the GB is allowed to correct erroneous doctrine, as and if ever they decide to do so.

    That's where they are showing their real babylonish self, being too proud to accept reasonable and constructive criticism. They want total control over everything, they believe the WTS is their personal property.

  • daystar
    daystar
    being too proud to accept reasonable and constructive criticism.

    Just like God had no ear to hear any alternatives to his setup in the Garden? "Obey or die!"

    I'm suggesting that a truly independent thinker, whether they realize it or not, may be ultimately opposed to God, based upon the basic conflict set up in the Garden regarding the two trees and the consequences of questioning the assumed authority.

    The Serpent as the first "apostate" with Adam and Eve soon to follow?

  • LittleToe
    LittleToe

    But what do the trees represent?

  • Elsewhere
    Elsewhere

    I was wondering... do any of the Watchtower articles actually define "independent thinking"?

  • Star Moore
    Star Moore

    Independent thinking is when you are willing to stand up for something you believe in, even when it's a very unpopular idea..

    Hmmmmm....sounds like JESUS!!!!

  • undercover
    undercover
    I was wondering... do any of the Watchtower articles actually define "independent thinking"?

    *** Watchtower 1983 January 15 p.27 Armed for the Fight Against Wicked Spirits ***

    Fight Against Independent Thinking

    19 As we study the Bible we learn that Jehovah has always guided his servants in an organized way. And just as in the first century there was only one true Christian organization, so today Jehovah is using only one organization. (Ephesians 4:4, 5; Matthew 24:45-47) Yet there are some who point out that the organization has had to make adjustments before, and so they argue: "This shows that we have to make up our own mind on what to believe." This is independent thinking. Why is it so dangerous ?

    So making up your own mind on what to believe is "independant thinking" per the WTS. What that boils down to, as pointed out already, is that anyone who questions or doubts is "guilty" of independant thinking. A bad thing in their eyes, but a good thing in most civilized and educated places. That's why the WTS has always hated colleges. They're a cesspool of independant thoughts and ideas.

  • Merry Magdalene
    Merry Magdalene
    But what do the trees represent?

    As far as I can figure, they may represent the Law (Tree of Knowledge) and Grace (Tree of Life)...???

    I can't help myself but everytime I hear the phrase "independent thinking" or hear of someone getting in trouble with a JW spouse or elders for the same, this always comes to mind:

    alt

    ~Merry

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