by Giles Gray 8 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Giles Gray
    Giles Gray

    “After our discussion last week I asked myself ‘do I need to go into the depth of science to make sure of what I believe’, and my answer was that I don’t need to go into science because science would be a distraction to what I already know with my faith…”

    The above is a quote from a conversation I had with two JWs who called on me at the weekend. I knew that the standards of the JWs had declined, but what I experienced the weekend really highlighted that fact and it was quite a surprised.

    Amazingly they came back, but this time I had the presence of mind to record the entire visit which is really going to help me examine how these people think.

    They were coming back on the topic of the evidence of evolution and how this contradicts their interpretation of the bible. I had sent them an email that dealt with the topic of nature’s vestiges and I asked them to explain the biological atavisms that occur in whales and humans. I also asked them to look at a video that went into the laryngeal nerve in giraffes. This was in response to the claim of intelligent design. All very controversial topics that I thought they should know about. They had said on their previous visit that they had never heard of these vestiges, so it was going to be interesting to see how they coped with such facts of nature.

    One of the reasons why it was going to be so interesting is the fact that there is nothing in their literature that tackles the topics that I had sent them. So what were they going to do without the help and support of the Watchtower?

    It didn’t take too long to find out. The first thing they did when they came back at the weekend was to read me something from a creationist website. What stood out to me was when the JW read from the creationist website, it was evident that she didn’t have a clue what she was reading. She struggled to pronounce some of the technical words in the article and you could tell from the way that she was reading it that she didn’t understand the implications of what the article was saying.

    Because I suspected that they didn’t understand it, the first question I asked them both was how they felt about it. They were stumped. The best they could do was just to repeat a few phrases that they could remember from what the girl had just read and say that it stood to reason in relation to the information I had sent them.

    The ensuing conversation ended up more of a lesson about the basics of the theory of evolution than it did a debate about the technicalities of the specifics that I had challenged them with two weeks previously. I found it very disappointing, but I half expected it at the same time.

    What was astounding was how bold their opinion was on a topic that they were clearly ignorant of. I don’t mean that as a pejorative. But what they said exposed just how little they knew about even the most elementary facts of the Theory of Evolution.

    Some of their misperceptions were very clichéd. For example, one misconception they came out with was the idea that evolution was the beginning of life. From that point they promoted the idea that evolution requires faith. They then went on to ask why evolution is only a ‘Theory’. Later on, they claimed that the theory of evolution teaches that man evolved from chimpanzees and monkeys and they asked me why there is no evidence that we are evolving from chimpanzees and monkeys today.

    Their lack of knowledge was far below a general education. At one point we were talking about how the migration of dolphins came about from land animals to sea dwelling creatures. One of the JWs thought that they had a winning point to make by saying that land animals have a completely different breathing system to dolphins. She pointed out to me that land animals can’t breath under water. She was totally shocked when I replied to her the fact that dolphins can’t breath under water either. It was one of the many moments when they were stunned. She honestly didn’t know that dolphins breath air through a blow hole. That is quite shocking ignorance of the natural world. She honestly thought that dolphins were the same as fish. It made no impression when I explained that dolphins were mammalian and fish were not.

    They talked to me about the fact that a fish can’t breath out of water. They said that “the minute the fish comes out of water it would no longer be able to breath and would (subsequently) die”. She had no concept that sea creatures living by the side of the water would have adapted to breathing air long before they migrated onto land.

    We then went onto the topic of cross breading of species. This point always tends to bring out the paradox in their belief. It would be interesting to see how they would cope with this paradox, but until they understand the fundamental aspects of the theory of evolution, they are never going to be able to recognise the obvious paradox their belief has.

    Their answer to cross breading is to point out that the bible speaks of creating ‘kinds’. So they claim that a donkey and a horse are the same ‘kind’ of animal as described in the bible. They also claimed that a lion and a tiger are also of the same ‘kind’.

    But when challenged with the fact that these separate species can bring forth offspring, they went onto use the phrase ‘mutations’ to describe these hybrids. But later on they claimed these animals are ‘kinds’ and they are “one and the same”. So if these species of animals have diversity in the same ‘kind’, doesn’t that mean they are evolving? If Noah only took on the ark one ‘kind’ of animal, how come there are so many variations of species now?

    But it got better. They talked about the cross bread that results from mating a lion with a tiger, otherwise known as a liger. They went on to tell me all about the fact that a liger has a shorter life span than a lion or a tiger and are generally not as healthy. They didn’t see the obvious contradiction that comes from this fact. If these cats are the same ‘kind’, why is it that the liger is weaker than both the lion and the tiger from which it comes from? If lions and tigers are just one ‘kind’, there should be no detrimental effect from breading from the separate species of that one ‘kind’. So why does this happen? Why is a mule born infertile if it is the result of two of the same ‘kind’ of animal? This point they are making actually undermines their own belief in animal ‘kinds’.

    I had to explain what abiogenesis is on a few occasions during the hour and a half conversation. They had never heard of the word before and I had to keep referring back to it to iron out their confusion regarding creation and evolution.

    So with all of the above points in place, one of the JWs said that even though finding out about all these things was interesting, and they confessed that some of the points I had made they had never heard of, there was nothing that they looked into that would cause them to change their faith. I made the point that it wouldn’t. But then I asked them why a god would make a whale with legs. She just said that it didn’t change her position on her beliefs. She said that the tail on humans can happen and that it is nothing out of the ordinary.

    To make these conclusions in spite of the fact she obviously had no idea why she was rejecting them was very audacious. Their ignorance of the subject matter was stark, but it didn’t stop them just rejecting it anyway.

    But then came the confession that exposes it all. What she said next explains their position very comprehensively. She said to me that after the last time they came to see me, she had asked herself if she now had to go into the deep and complex subject of science to be able to be sure that what she believes in is right. She then said that she realised that she doesn’t have to. She said that she doesn’t need to know everything about science. Her friend chimed in and said that it was too hard. They then said that there is so much to learn and that science was such a distraction from what they had already leaned about god, there is just too much to go into. One of them said that she would look into evolution if she found something that would cause her to question, and she would keep digging and keep going. But because there were some scientists that had studied evolution who had claimed to have seen so many inconsistencies, these scientists had decided to give the bible a chance and when they went through the bible they knew it was from god.

    So as they had said that they didn’t feel the need to go into science they then tried to claim that they had been taught science when they had gone to school and they had been exposed to what the curriculum had taught them but they had found it very biased against creation. I didn’t bring up this point, but if they had learned anything about evolution, then the very simple facts that I was discussing with them would have been known. The fact that they had never heard of atavisms or abiogenesis shows that they really didn’t take in what they were being taught and that is why they were ignorant to these topics now.

    But they honestly thought that what they learned at school and what they had learned on the internet was sufficient enough for them to reject the idea of evolution. The transparency as to why they were saying this was all too evident.

    So then one of them confessed that because they have a personal relationship with god, to say that life wasn’t created was hurtful and that they were fulfilled in the knowledge they have already and they were not going to be waived by what evolutionists say or what evolutionists prove because there has been so many theories that have been readdressed in later years and they have been found to be incorrect or scientists change their theories.

    Near to the end they said that they wanted “solid evidence” of evolution for them to change their mind with regards their faith. At this point I ask them what ‘solid evidence’ they are looking for. They had no answer apart from ‘solid evidence’. The only thing I can think of that would give them the evidence they require is for something to evolve right in front of them. That is the only thing that would convince them, and I’m sure that if that was even possible they would disregard that as well. The situation was impossible.

    So in summery, they used their ignorance of the subject matter as a means to disregard it. They thought that they didn’t need to know about the evidence that would contradict their faith because if they were to find out about it then it would upset what they already have with their faith and that was not a situation they were happy to subject themselves to.

    What a great way to face the challenge of evidence that disproves their belief. Don’t even bother looking at it just in case it contradicts what they already believe. I’m speechless.

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    Thanks Giles, I think you had a very good approach to stick to things which the WT has no sensible comment on, namely the evidence for evolution in atavistic organs etc.

    If as schoolchildren we had all studied the geological 'column', i.e. the sequence of deposits in the earth's crust which records amongst other things the development and divergence of living things from common ancestors, it would be difficult to avoid the facts of evolution.

    However humans are not fact processing robots, we have feelings which are easily swayed by the behaviour of our community. With emotionally focussed religious salvation at Armageddon in mind, JWs happily suppress and dismiss factual evidence for real things such as Darwin's big idea.

  • Vidiot

    "I reject science because it conflicts with what I('m required to) believe."

  • Vidiot
    Giles Gray - "...Don’t even bother looking at it just in case it contradicts what they already believe..."

    It's quite the paradigm shift when you realize that's precisely what devout JWs do.

    Hit me like a ton of bricks, immediately followed by the question, "are they crazy, or just plain stupid*???"

    *(note: Decisions and policies that prompt that question have come up so many times since then, I've literally lost count.)

  • Heartsafire

    Ridiculously painful to read. I'm embarrassed for them. Good job Giles. While they walk away thinking they are 'right' they now have learned a few basics of evolution (and even natural science) from which to build a foundation of real truth.

  • Heaven

    Giles, well done!

    What a great way to face the challenge of evidence that disproves their belief. Don’t even bother looking at it just in case it contradicts what they already believe.

    Religion is ignorance, delusion, and intellectual dishonestly. I see no redeeming qualities in this.

    Edited to add this excerpt from True Detective about Religion. It's spot on from what I have observed:


  • Giles Gray
    Giles Gray

    Sorry for not getting back to everyone sooner. I've had a bad eye infection.

    Half banana -" ... I think you had a very good approach to stick to things which the WT has no sensible comment on, namely the evidence for evolution in atavistic organs etc"

    Thank you. Having left many years ago, I no longer have any need to confront the JWs with 'apostate' topics like I did when it was all still raw.

    These days, as an ex-ex-JW, I tend to approach debating with JWs more from the vantage point of an anthropological study. I love to see how the JWs deal with subjects I know they have no answers to, not even in their societies literature.

    I can't agee with you more about people learning geology at school. I don't know what the curriculum teaches nowadays, but even if schools taught each period from the Cambrian era onwards, it would be a great exposure of the true history of life as opposed to the biblical creation account.

    Vidiot -" Hit me like a ton of bricks, immediately followed by the question, "are they crazy, or just plain stupid*???"

    Ha! I understand your sentiments, but I'm not sure they are either 'crazy' (in the classical sense) or 'stupid'.

    I believe these JWs are wilfully ignorant. These people calling on me are very intelligent, as were the Mormons who called on me a few months prior.

    I'm sure if they studied the evidence objectively they would be able to fully grasp the implications of the points I am making.

    I think they are all too aware of that. It is that reason they refain from investigating further. I am just surprised they would so blatantly reveal such a stance to someone in the ministry. Quite a confession.

  • Giles Gray
    Giles Gray
    Heartsafire -" While they walk away thinking they are 'right' they now have learned a few basics of evolution"

    I get the feeling that when they leave they have not got the feeling they are 'right'. Just their manner is a big give away. They are very much on a back foot.

    But they deffinatly have had a huge learning curve on the topic of evolution.

    I was surprised they didnt know that dolphins can't breath underwater though. Most children would have known that.


    What a great video. Funnily, in an attempt to get a point across, I have been using similar comments about the teachings and beliefs of other religions.

    I will pick a point that I know the JWs won't agree with and then I highlight the fact that the other religion will vehemently defend an unreasonable position.

    I then turn the same reasoning on what they believe, to highlight why I don't agree with what the JWs are telling me. I'm finding this tactic works very well.

    I'm now looking forward to next weekend's visit. They wish to talk about the bible this time. They will think they are on safe ground. It will be interesting...

  • Heaven

    Giles said: I was surprised they didnt know that dolphins can't breath underwater though. Most children would have known that.

    Perhaps this lack of Scientific knowledge is more common than we realize.

    A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with a couple of Christians. Their lack of basic Scientific knowledge was quite surprising. For example, they did not know what the Earth would be like if there was no sun. Now they live in the Northern Hemisphere of this planet and have definitely experienced winter. These were the same Christians that told me I was taking the order of creation in Genesis "out of context" when I pointed out that the Bible states plants, soil, water, and an atmosphere were all here on the Earth before the sun was created. This is not possible. When I asked them to explain how I was taking those scriptures out of context, they could not.

    In the video, right at the end of the discussion, Woody Harrelson's character walks away and flips Matthew McConaughey's character the bird. This is the type of response one receives from believers when logic and reason are unable to be overruled. Belief and faith are highly based on emotional ideals, instead of reality, facts, logic, and reason.

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