I have just spent ten days working in
France, I arrived late on Friday night and the first thing Saturday morning two visitors ominously
strolled into my garden.
I was offered the flimsy Awake which I opened and was immediately struck with a very false image. The article gave the feel that the magazine was scientifically credible. It targeted young people; those who would recognise that an unduly cheerful and very young scientist peering down a microscope was what JW religion is all about. What deception! I struggled for half an hour in my less than perfect French and the couple wisely suggested they could send round someone who speaks English.
Early the next morning two enthusiastic JW men about fifty years old arrived who indeed spoke good English. I was not going to let their visit pass without some hard hitting exchanges. Now my old farmhouse is built from granite and I have got used to cutting this material to make alterations. To get a purchase on a granite surface you need to send shock waves into the stone with heavy hammer blows with the chisel at a steep angle to get started, then you progressively lower the angle and get the granite to flake off. With this as a metaphor, I politely but firmly approached the conversation.
I told them from the start that I was not a believer in the Bible because it was unscientific (being annoyed at the misleading impression the Awake had made) but that I would be prepared to listen to their argument. I asked, “Why should I believe the Bible?” The reply was feeble, just the old chestnut that the Bible recognised the sphere of the Earth. Hardly a reason to believe in the Bible and not impressive since the NWT only refers to the “circle of the Earth”, it could have been flat, and that Eratosthenes back in the Classical world already showed how to measure fairly accurately the circumference of the globe on which we live.
“So you believe in Adam and Eve?” “Yes”. “And Noah’s flood? “ “Yes.” These were the big hammer blows because I knew they could not support the ideas with evidence and I explained that I have for many years worked on archaeological sites and I am familiar with the relevant stratigraphy of the period in question.
“A global flood would leave evidence... and there - is - none - at - all.” I said.
So bamboozled and corrupted is the JW mindset that they imagine that centuries of careful recording and measuring by multitudes of scientists can be dismissed with an off-hand comment as long as it comes from the Bible. Earth sciences, archaeology and the continuous run of the written narrative of history do not allow for a global flood in the Biblical timescale. “The flood is a myth”, I said. “A myth is a story with a backbone which keeps an idea in shape even when re-told over time and geographical distance; but it is not a factual thing.” They went off on a tangent of backbones and skeletons but I drew them back to my argument.
“And what about Adam and Eve, where’s the evidence? “ I said. No evidence was offered. The conversation by the way was friendly and not hostile on either side but clearly I was leading the train of thoughts and they were listening and not preaching. “As it happens,” I said,” this local area of northern France contains a vast amount of evidence for two very long periods of Neanderthal occupation. In point of fact at one dig nearby, about 2000 Neanderthal artifacts turned up in one cubic meter of excavation. And yet Neanderthals moved out from here around sixty thousand years back and became extinct about forty thousand years ago!” I pointed out that If Adam and Eve were created by God how did Neanderthals get in on the act since outside of Africa we all carry a small percentage of their genes in us?
For the moment they actually became silent, thinking through the consequences; they had no answer. The slightly older man finally said in defence that he was not ashamed but proud to declare his belief in creation and in Adam and Eve. “Yes I think pride in one’s culture is normal” I said, “but believing in ideas with evidence to the contrary makes no sense for anyone...and that’s why JWs are going in reverse, where the rest of the world is going forward in knowledge”.
Therefore, they could not tempt me with their information.”How can JWs teach anything when they do not put up evidence first?” They have no credibility. I had to admit to them that I had been the one doing the preaching but stressed that JWs seem nice people yet sadly, although adult, still believe in childish fairy tales!
I’m sure they were not convinced (a JW never wants to escape from the mutual comfort blanket supplied by his religious club) and also because it takes time, a lot of reflection and evidence to learn TTATT. The JW sense of conviction appears to be hard as granite but ultimately it does yield to well directed blows. We left the confrontation amicably but I think they were aware they had some serious thinking to do.