Why JWs Often Have a Hard Time Thinking For Themselves

by Jeremy C 20 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • mindseye

    It seems that most young JWs who get a college education do begin to see through the Watchtower rhetoric, but not all of them. I have known many JWs who became highly educated and earned advanced degrees while remaining just as devoted to the Watchtower as anyone. I’ve also known some people who dropped out of high school, yet were still honest-minded enough to be able to pick apart the fallacies of Watchtower doctrines.

    I'm glad that you pointed this out, Jeremy C. I've observed the same thing. To finally leave the Watchtower is not always a triumph of intellect, but rather a feat of emotional courage. You're right on the money in stating that devotion to the Watchtower is much more emotional - it is why there are many otherwise bright people who stay in. It's true that higher education isn't always the silver bullet some of us think it is - some who go to college probably dismiss much of the critical thinking, evolution, and other things taught as 'tools of Satan'. Meanwhile, there are others of average education and intelligence who just see right through the Watchtower. It may be a matter of temperament rather than intelligence. A couple of Philosophy or Logic classes wouldn't hurt, though.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    People pleasing is a strong force in people. It is strong in me. Most people can dissasociate or compartmentalize harsh truths.

    I meet many people without a college education who come across as very sharp and polished. One should not need a college degree to ask questions and use your own mind.

    I read the New York Times voraciously but I am conscious of its progressive agenda and its vast powers. When I was a teenager, I believed everything I read in the Village Voice. Strangely, I believe my born-in background helped me develop certain thinking skills. I tend to question things b/c I was such an outsider and faced discrimination. Power corrupts.

    Ray Franz was able to see a larger picture. I believe others saw a larger picture. It took true courage to walk away with the grace that he did. I wonder what made him different. Maybe part of it is temperament.

  • leavingwt

    Watchtower publications have become a modern day Talmud for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Almost no aspect of a Witnesses’ life has been left untouched by the personal consciences and collective mindsets of traveling overseers and the men who write Watchtower publications.

    Very little is left to one’s thinking capacities, because members have been taught that gaining a “Bible trained conscience” is only possible through studying Watchtower publications. I realize that this is rather blunt, but I believe one could argue that the Watchtower leadership has created a bumper crop of intellectual and spiritual infants.

  • thetrueone

    The fear induced situation of life and death is constantly instilled by the WTS. to hold their inherent followers and to stimulate literature proliferation.

    You could say fear controls the intellect of most JWS, its the catalyst that binds and controls their thinking patterns .

    Inside the WT organization you are safe and made clean and protected from Satan's influence, outside you are at his perilous advantage and

    could be taken by him.

    This insinuation of protection carries itself and actually creates an imposed identity of JW followers as they are something quite unique in the world.

    Another reason JWS tend to block out any contravening self scrutiny.

  • life is to short
    life is to short

    This is a great topic. I remember so many times when someone in the hall would have a questions that so basic 'like is it OK for me to keep hand cream that was given to me because it was hemp hand cream,' (it truly happened to me.)

    It was well what would the WT say about it. I was thinking OMG really? I need to go to the WT because I like hemp hand cream? Or Starbucks coffee cups that are ceramic we cannot own them because some WT said something about the Starbucks logo. So I stupidly asked don't we go to Starbucks all the time for coffee breaks? Yes but we throw the paper cups out we do not keep them I was told like I was an apostate for even thinking of buying and ceramic cup.

    It was like they could not think for themselves to save their lives.


  • Quendi

    I believe that Jeremy C's long post is summed up nicely and concisely by Paul's words at Galatians 6:7. Put simply, 'you reap what you sow.' We must remember that the WTS, like the Jewish religious leaders who compiled the Talmud, wanted complete control over its followers. However, that kind of control comes at a great cost. It is likewise with many, though not all, of those who reach out for offices of oversight in the congregation. Those offices give their holders a measure of control over others, but they are bought at the cost of conforming to burdensome WTS rules. This is how the WTS culture is perpetuated down to the lowest levels. The result is a corps of people who have lost all power of objective thought and the ability to exercise free will. Hence, when a decision must be made, these people find their mental powers have atrophied to the point where they can't make the decision on their own and must turn that over to the higher authority represented by WTS publications, officers, and ultimately, the Governing Body. No wonder they're overwhelmed with questions on every subject under the sun!

    Let me also say, as a holder of two college degrees, that you do not need a college education to develop critical thinking skills. That is a snare we don't want to fall into either. There are other ways to develop critical thinking that don't involve ever walking into a college classroom or laboratory or walking onto a college campus. What a college education does is hone the natural skills of the student to the point where s/he can make good contributions to the community and country in which s/he lives. I've known plenty of college educators who didn't have the sense God gave a goose but who were brilliant researchers and thinkers.


  • J. Hofer
    J. Hofer

    as already has been stated, i too belive that most people, not only JWs, don't make much efforts in thinking for themselves. and this doesn't necessarily have anything to do with education, while it might help

  • LongHairGal

    JEREMY C: You are so very right! Back in the early days just when it was all starting to unravel, I made the observation many people there (mostly women) just could not think on their own and were constantly running to the elders. I felt they needed to be told which shoe to put on first. As a working woman who supports myself, I had nothing but contempt for this mindset! In part, I feel people there want no responsibility for any "wrong" decision. This is why they have abdicated responsibility for their own thinking faculties. Yes, it is quite pathetic.

  • Quendi

    I want to say this also about a college education that seems to have escaped many people. A college education does not mean that a person will inevitably accept macroevolution as a fact. I certainly do not and not simply due to reading WTS publications. I challenged the theory plenty and often during my student years at both the University of Alabama and the University of Colorado. I did not receive satisfactory answers from my professors about this and other tenets contemporary science holds dear. I like to think that the critical thinking skills I had acquired allowed me to ask the right kinds of questions that so baffled my professors.

    It is so easy to characterize those who oppose the belief in macroevolution as "ignorant", "uneducated", "stupid", "flat-earthers" and other disparaging names. If people want to take comfort in that, that is their choice. But my experience at both universities showed me that dispassionate dialogue was much more preferable. I have learned much from those who do advocate macroevolution. They exposed me to thinking and realities that I had never considered. By the same token, I was able to do the same for them.

    No, I have no intention of hijacking this thread to turn it into a discussion on evolution. I merely want to make the point that a college education does not make its receivers homogeneous, even in matters of science. I knew students and professors at both universities who were troubled by the orthodoxy that they were expected to conform their thinking to. That is how it should be. For when the day comes when we all think alike, then the human race will have met its end. The compilers of the Talmud as well as the leaders of the WTS have failed to understand this. But they are not the only one to oppose "free thinkers". Scientists have done so as well and that is something we should not forget.


  • LongHairGal

    QUENDI: Of course intelligent people don't necessarily accept all they learn in college. This is where a person's OWN thinking faculties come into play. But, as Jeremy said, the WT has set up a sort of 'talmud' for its people to follow. I always said the JWs were a "check your brain at the door" religion!

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