This past year has been the most life changing year anyone could ever go through. Waking up, leaving the cult, separating from my wife, research, research, research, reading, pondering etc. and I've found myself having to re-learn and re-evaluate everything i thought i knew. I just want to explain where i am now in terms of what i think and believe and i'd be interested in getting your thoughts. Particularly from cofty (the most atheist atheist i've read on here) and from full-on religious ex-JWs.
1. There probably is no God: If there ever was a God it appears to me that we should refer to this deity as "it" because it'll neither be male or female. So maybe this God sets in motion the process for creation then steps back and leaves. It doesn't care, it doesn't intervene, it doesn't want or need our prayers. Therefore, if God does exist, it's not worthy of my attention. Testing mankind? Punishing children and all their descendants for parents mistakes? Allowing children to come to harm? A loving god wouldn't allow this to happen at all, never mind about "he'll step in at some point in the future". The future is no good, we need help now. Admittedly, im not the most well read on evolution (I've read The God Delusion, and Cofty's posts but that's it) but it makes a lot more sense that living things are constantly adapting to their environment and the "weaker" ones dying off. So we'd only see the ones that "make it". To look at these and say "oh God designed them" is absurd because there's so many terrible "creations" out there like the guinea worm or that other one that's only purpose in life is to burrow into the eyeballs of animals and humans to make them blind.
So lets look at it this way, what if there is no god? What if the universe that we know of came about on it's own. An infinite amount of time with an infinite combination of conditions, probabilities, planets, stars, solar systems, and one pops up which we now call earth. After billions of years conditions eventually become right for simple life forms to exist. Then conditions get better still due to distance from the sun, humidity, gas levels etc and we have the Cambrian explosion. This means there is no "sin". There is no predestination, no afterlife, just a cold hard truth that everything has a death. Stars die, plants die, animals die and we too will die. So it's important that we live the life we have now.
2. Humans seem to have higher morals than any of these "gods": Dont kill, dont cheat others, be nice to everyone where possible. Simple, yes? You dont need a book or a religion to do these things. Yet, in the bible we see Abraham with a wife and Hagar. Who was Hagar? What was she for? Well, she had at least one child with him so we know what one of her purposes where. She wasn't his wife. Solomon, he had 300 wives and 700 concubines. What are concubines? What's their purpose? They weren't his wives but it was perfectly acceptable for Abraham and Solomon to have - what i believe to be - sex slaves, or at best, maids that they can have sex with.
And then there's stoning. Can you imagine being accused of something and knowing you're going to be stoned to death. Members of your own family are to be the first to throw the stones too. These arnt little pebbles, and they're not big bricks either, they're a certain size with the purpose of giving you a horrific, traumatic, slow, painful death. What sort of god sanctions this?
There are many people out there who tell me that without the bible you'd have no morals. I find the opposite to be true. If someone is not killing someone simply because they're told not to and being "good" simply because they're told to, then they're not really righteous at all.
3. If there is no God then we're all responsible for our own actions: Which, to me, is a lot more comforting. It makes things easier. I dont sit there hoping God will feed the poor people in Africa, or rescue someone from a landslide in Colombia, not will it end homelessness. We can stop those things if we work together. If i eat a nice meal, i thank the farmers who grew the crops, tilled the soil, and cultivated the food. If i overcome hardship, it was my own actions and anyone else who helped me. See, i used to think anything good = thank Jehovah. Anything bad = it's this wicked world. That's black and white thinking and we're not giving credit where it's due to ourselves and those around us.
4. Jesus was a deluded, apostate Jew who started a cult: Whether he was sincere or not, this character of Jesus was - no matter how you cut it - an apostate Jew. He was raised a Jew then in his late 20s/early 30s he "draws off followers after himself" (WT definition of an apostate) and "explains" the Torah to his followers. His miracles as recorded in the bible didn't happen. It's very common for people to have legends and stories told about them after their death to make them sound better than they actually where. Also, if you take someone like David Blaine or Derren Brown and put them in AD 30 they would easily pass themselves off as divine. And there were other messiah claimants back then who also had followers. In the case of Jesus, his one stuck.
5. Paul started his own brand of Christianity: I dont know if Pauls conversion was genuine, but it's clear to me that Paul's view of Jesus's teaching were not the same as Jesus's. For example, Jesus was more about mercy, love and forgiveness - with Paul we see him not allowing women to teach, to remain silent etc. Also, it's interesting that Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:4 "For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere human beings?" - this, to me, tells me that Paul is teaching one version of Christianity, Apollos another, Jesus apostles are doing theirs too. But it's ok. As long as Christ is at the center it's all good. This is where things go wrong. These little groups split off into other religions and those religions split off again, and again until we have literally thousands of interpretations of Christianity.
6. The Watchtower Society is a cult: Maybe the governing body is sincere, i dont know. But the very fact that they will make independent research a sin and demonize the reputations of those that leave for any reason is very suspect. The ever changing doctrine re-branded as "new light" is a work of genius, in that you can claim it's God's will to clarify your beliefs rather than "changing" beliefs. It seems to me that it became a cult when Rutherford got his hands on it. He knew what he was doing. Deluded, con-man, mentally unstable, maybe all three - but he took a millennial doomsday movement (by fraudulent underhanded ways if you look into it) and turned into his personal printing press to promote his own ideas. Don't like his ideas? Then prepare to be vilified and expelled and your reputation destroyed in his books. The fact that he wrote to Hitler prior to WWII indicates that he was playing the game. "Dont ban my cult Mr Hitler, we agree with many of your policies, the Jews are crooks" then when it doesn't work he suddenly becomes anti-facist.
So far, this is where i am. I'm open to scrutiny and critique in my search for facts and truth.