The Watchtower Didn't Make Me An Atheist

by B_Deserter 111 Replies latest jw experiences

  • B_Deserter

    I’ve posted on this before, but I figured I should lay my thoughts out again on the subject. There are some in the ex-JW community who are saddened because the Watchtower organization has turned me and others like me “off to God.” I understand why they feel that way. The Watchtower attacks and debunks other religions on a regular basis, often giving us the sense that if the Watchtower is wrong, then there can’t be a God. It’s either their way or the highway.

    With this in mind, it is admittedly easy to think that just by debunking the Watchtower means that a Jehovah’s Witness will become an atheist. Naturally, this is not always the case. Ray Franz, a prominent figure in the ex-JW community, is still a bible-believing Christian as are many others of his generation. So why am I and other ex-JWs atheists?

    Before I answer that question, I want to make mention of some attitudes I’ve perceived in still-religious ex-JWs I’ve encountered. The first one is that it seems hard for some to fathom that atheism can be a rational conclusion, having nothing to do with a bad experience with religion. I understand how hard it can be for a devoted Christian to recognize this. He or she may feel that accepting the atheist position as a rational one is to denounce Christianity as irrational. But that still doesn’t mean that I haven’t done my homework.

    Atheists and Christians really aren’t that different. I, like most Christians, reject 99.9999% of all the Gods man has ever worshipped. I don’t believe that Apollo tows the sun across the sky in a golden chariot. I don’t believe that dying in honorable combat will reap rewards for me in Valhalla. I don’t believe that if my corpse is mummified in the proper 70-day ritual it will become reanimated each night and I will get to have sex with the goddess of the sky.

    On all of these possibilities and many more I take the exact same position as many Christians do: they’re ridiculous and I don’t believe in them. The only difference is that I simply go one God further. I don’t see any reason to believe the Bible over any other of these ancient mythologies. I am simply treating it as I believe it should be treated, and not accepting simply because of the completely improbable accident that I was born in a Christian household in the USA. In other words, I look at the Bible as objectively as I can, without using any form of apologetics or “that scripture doesn’t really mean what it says” rigomoroll. I simply do not accept the Bible as the Word of any God.

    That is why I left the Witnesses. Not because I had a bad experience or got in a fight with someone, but because when I looked at the Bible with an unbiased mindset, I was not convinced of its divine authorship. Since I didn’t believe the Bible to be what the Witnesses claimed, their specific doctrinal points ceased to matter. It didn’t really matter to me whether or not 1914 was an accurate calculation. It didn’t matter whether or not Birthdays and the holidays were wrong. It didn’t matter whether or not Paul’s words about blood included transfusions or not.

    Basically, I didn’t deconvert from Jehovah’s Witnesses and decide there was nowhere else to go. I deconverted from Christianity as a whole, and it wouldn’t have mattered if I was a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon or a Lutheran or a Catholic. I stopped believing in the supernatural. Did the Watchtower have a role in my development as a skeptical person? Perhaps, but I still took it further than what even the Watchtower intended, and didn’t find the Bible as convincing as others have.

    That’s why I almost find it insulting when other claim it was the Watchtower who turned me off to God. To me, it’s implying that I didn’t put any thought into it whatsoever, that it was an emotional response and I’m still under the spell of Watchtower reasoning. Atheists come from every religion and every denomination, not just the Witnesses, and the idea that no one can read the Bible without becoming convinced its the word of God is, pardon my bluntness, quite arrogant I think.

  • besty

    well said B - I've had this said to me by sympathetic Christians as well.

    as you note religion is an accident of birth - no reason to take your religion any more seriously than whether you have brown eyes or blue eyes IMHO

    What color eyes would you have had if you were born in Afghanistan? I suggest Muslim colored eyes.

  • leavingwt

    Well-stated. Thanks.

  • DJK

    I'm sure I would not have believed in God regardless of what religion I was raised in. My father, (a JW) just didn't have and was unable to aquire the ability from the WTS to brainwash me or anyone else into believing in God. Sad that many people were raised by parents with that ability. Sad to think they grow up and use the ability to brainwash their own children.

    "Jehovah is the one and only true God". Listen to that over and over, meeting after meeting, year after year. I'm not surprised that some become Athiests after leaving the Witnesses.

  • parakeet

    I was a happy little atheist before my parents dragged me into the WT cult. After leaving many years later and researching religion in general, I'm now a happy atheist again (unfortunately not so little anymore).

  • Witness 007
    Witness 007

    Makes sense and I totally agree with you...I don't need a substitute.

  • Awakened at Gilead
    Awakened at Gilead

    Well put, B. I echo your sentiments.

    I guess you could say, God made me an atheist.

  • awildflower

    Very well stated

  • bluecanary

    If I had been part of a community of ex-JWs when I left, I may have studied other forms of Christianity more and found one of them acceptable. However I did not seek out others experiences immediately. Rather, I meditated upon my own experiences, and since it was no longer taboo, this led to questioning the liklihood of a God altogether and I came to the conclusion that it's so improbable as to be not worth my time.

    So you could say that while leaving the WTS was the catalyst for my atheism, it is not the direct reason.

  • Shepherd Book
    Shepherd Book

    Your example of Ray is a good one. I am currently reading In Search of Christian Freedom, and from what I can tell, it's simply a big, long tale of how he escaped the pen, but has no intention of leaving the zoo.

    On the phone with my mom the other day, she repeatedly asked me what religion I now belonged to; it seems unfathomable to most JWs that a Witness could leave ALL religions. Like you, however, once I accepted the bible for what it really was, I became an atheist by default.

    Thanks for the great post; one of the finest I've read in a while.


    editor, the Minnesota Atheist

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