"I'm firm in my beliefs": Hypocrisy and Delusion

by schnell 11 Replies latest jw friends

  • schnell

    I have a friend who said he'll have to stop listening to me after I told him about Yahweh's origins in Canaanite religion, because he's firm in his beliefs.

    I have a mother who said she goes to the meetings even if it's wrong, and I should too. She is also firm in her beliefs.

    I have talked to an elder about evolution, and as I made the case for it and against creationism, he said that at some point I have to decide that there is a creator. He too is firm in his beliefs.

    All of these people will also talk about going out in service. What do they do? They tell other people about their beliefs and look for interest (or circumstantial misfortune). However they slice it, they are confronting other people about their beliefs.

    I don't understand this at all. When your beliefs are scrutinized and beaten down and on the ropes, you can't defend them anymore but maintain them anyway because you're "firm in your beliefs". And so are those at home when you knock on their doors. Confronting them is thus hypocritical, and that kind of faith is intellectually dishonest and delusional.

    This is why I was so passive on my last days in service. I was the one on the nice lady's front porch, and she was the one telling me about the Trinity. I just listened to her. You know. Like a person. She was happy in her beliefs and I was essentially trespassing if I didn't behave. Had I been paired with an elder, it may have turned rather ugly, and yet that elder would not then ever consider that he's worshipping a Canaanite storm god.

  • Village Idiot
  • evilApostate

    I can accept someone having faith in something which has not been disproven. However, I think its rather foolish for one to place faith in something which has been disproven quite thoroughly.

    An honest and intelligent person would accept it if they realise they have incorrect beliefs and continue searching for real truth.

    Take for example exams. If you were in an exam and you knew your answers were wrong and you also still had time, would you knowingly hand up your paper with the wrong answers? An intelligent person would try their hardest to hand up the correct answers rather than handing up incorrect ones, simply because it's easier.

    Those knowingly placing faith in false belief systems are mentally lazy, dishonest, cowards and foolish. A man can believe that he can fly. However, when he jumps from a cliff he is sure to fall to his ruin.

  • tepidpoultry

    It's religion,

    Religion is blind belief,

    You know what it was like in field service,

    Did you ever make a point with a Moslem?

    How about a Trinitarian?

    People will defend their belief system BEYOND ALL REASON,

    How come you and I are out?

    We're different,

    We're rational,



  • David_Jay

    It is not merely religious people that can be stubbornly stuck in their beliefs. Facts, figures, and even empirical evidence can sometimes be dismissed by the most critical of thinkers due to everyone's distaste for being wrong.

    Kathryn Schulz, a journalist who is often noted as starting the new field of study dubbed "wrongology," has pointed out that humans will do just about anything to avoid being proven wrong. We are taught from childhood onward that being incorrect, being wrong makes us a "failure." Mix that with religions that teach that doctrines must be accepted with faith-like credulity, these religious adherents will equate being "wrong" with being "bad," being "unfaithful to God." No one who believes in a deity that they've chosen to worship wants to think of themselves as "unfaithful" to their god.

    Again, this isn't limited to the religious. Anyone can suffer from what wrongologists call "error blindness." This is the denial that one is wrong or can even be wrong. Scientists have been known to ignore evidence and even sabotage the work of other scientists who may be disproving their own views or see another's work as challenging their own theories. People tend not to embrace the idea that being mistaken is human. We rend to forget that we are always capable of being in error at any time about anything.

    To demonstrate that this can happen to even unreligious people, though the above information linking the Canaanite deity El to the Jewish God is popular on the Internet, it is also not very correct. I'm Jewish, an instructor on critical Hebrew philology, and I see this mistake all the time.

    The link between the the Canaanite El and the Jewish God appears to work on the surface, but is an etymological anachronism. Both deities were worshipped during the same periods, and it was common for Semitic language to share words, using EL or forms thereof to refer to deities and grand storms. For instance, another word that was commonly shared by Semitic communities for deities was BA'AL, and not only is the Hebrew God referred to as BA'AL in Scripture, the Hebrews named their children employing this name of God as in Jerubbaal, Ishbaal, and Meribaal.

    Aramaic, Phoenician, Ugartic, Hebrew, Syriac, etc., shared similar words for deities much as Latin, French, Spanish and Italian share similar words for similar things. The connections between the deities, however, can't be made from this shared vocabulary. The Canaanite El, for instance, was a rival to El of the Hebrews as they were worshipped around the same time in the same area.

    Also, the concept of God shared by my people the Jews is quite the opposite of what most non-Jewish readers of Scripture understand. For Jews, "God" is actually not a god. In very basic terms, the concept of "God" for us Hebrews is that there is no such thing as gods, that all deities are false and subsequently all religions are a waste of time. As Jewish tradition, the Mishnah, and the Talmud state, "God" is the great "Cause" of all that we witness in the physical universe. "God" may actually be the universe, or greater than the universe, some Jews hold. Above all, Jews for millennia have seen "God" are transcendent of understanding, mysterious beyond our learning, incapable of conceptualizing, escaping definition. The ancient story of Abraham destroying his father's collection of idol gods upon realizing this concept of the "Great Cause" has led one Jewish teacher I know to refer to God as the "un-God."

    This is why some Jews are atheists, others agnostics, some humanists, and others even Buddhist (which has no god at its center). These Jewish "atheists" will still observe Shabbat and pray the Shema, celebrate Chanukah, and observe Passover, leading the prayer and chanting during the Seder. Belief in a god or deities is not required of Jews because of this unique monotheism we possess in our culture.

    Despite the etymological and philological evidence for this (which can be found by going to Jewish resources), most proponents of the "EL is YAHWEH" argument have not only failed to dip into Jewish studies on the subject, most have never asked a Jew (or believe them) when the subject arises.

    I am not the only one who has attempted to discuss this with persons who hold this "EL is YAHWEH" view as "truth," and I am surely not to be the last, but many of these have "error blindness," not seeing what a mistake it is not to apply the scientific method rule of having your conclusions verified by several disinterested parties. A lot still fall into the old Watchtower trap of singing the old "I did the research myself, and now I know the truth" song, and can be quite nasty when you try to demonstrate that just failing to go to Jewish sources or walk into their local synagogue or temple and ask someone about this is quite a mistake.

    Wrongology teaches that it is "error blindness" to believe that there are "beliefs" that cause people to be "mentally lazy, dishonest, cowards and foolish." In reality, we need to face the fact that we are all prone to acting the same when it comes to acknowledging we might be in error. It isn't intelligence that is lacking when people get "error blindness." It's often the understanding that we are all prone to be in error, and that it is not only human to err, it is also human to claim we haven't.

  • Crazyguy

    The fact is people that have strong religious beliefs are usually very ingnorant. Let's consider the fact that theres a bunch of prophecies in the Bible that didn't come true and most Christians don't even know it. All one can do is try to educate the ignorant and if it doesn't work then move on.

  • smiddy

    Just because a person firmly believes he/she has the truth in no way validates they have the truth.

    Poor sods.

  • evilApostate


    I appreciate your commentary on the issue but I respectfully disagree with some of your points.

    1) Nobody wants to be wrong - While this may be true I don't think that it is a valid argument to make. I often hear people saying, "Everyone does this." Or, "Nobody does that." However, what justifies doing or not doing something isn't how many people do it or not do it. The questions we must always ask are, "Is it rational? Is it correct? Is it beneficial?" It doesn't matter how many people partake or do not partake in an activity. What matters is that they have valid reasons for partaking.

    I may also be prone to not wanting to be wrong. Yet, it doesn't mean that I can't fight the urge. One needs to recognize it when they are wrong and make appropriate adjustments for their own good. Just because everone makes mistakes, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't avoid making them.

    I know many people who try to accept it when they are wrong. However, some don't even put in the effort.

    2) The El of the Hebrews is not the El of the Canaanites - I find this hard to believe when all the evidence points the other way. Many parts of the Old Testament support the view that they were were the same.


    a) Abraham accepting the blessing of the Canaanite El.

    b) Yahweh recieving his rights over Israel from El.

    c) Canaanites worshipping Yahweh (E.g. Baalam was not an Israelite and yet sought to curse Israel via Yahweh. (Numbers 22:1-12)

    d) The mention of other gods in heaven's courts with Yahweh being the most high.

    There are many others. I mentioned some in a recent thread of mine. (I would like your opinion on it if you have the time.)

    3) Jews know more about their own religion than anyone else - To me, it seemed like you implied this. Someone who already has a bias towards a particular belief will most likely defend it even if they are wrong. Jews already think that Yahweh is not El. Real Christians already think that God is real. Hence, they possess a bias. I am not trying to say that any information from a Jew about Yahweh and El is incorrect. However, it seems logical to think that such a person would likely be biased. Therefore, I don't think that being a Jew or Christian makes you more qualified to speak about Yahweh, El or God than anyone else.

    4) The last bit about Wrongology - It seems that I upset you a bit. This was not my intention. However, I didn't mean that beliefs cause people to be "mentally lazy, dishonest, cowards and foolish." In fact, I stated that if someone knowingly places faith in a belief system that is incorrect then they are displaying mental laziness, dishonesty, cowardice and foolishness. i.e. People should give their best effort to reform ideas which they themselves know to be incorrect. Someone who knowingly accepts a false belief system displays cowardice by not facing their fear of being wrong.

    I started off my post by stating that I have no problem with anyone displaying faith in something which has not been thoroughly disproven. Hence, belief is not something I have a problem with; our very lives rest upon a multitude of them. What I do not accept is the inability of some to face the fact that a belief may be incorrect.

    Therefore, if you can thoroughly disprove that Canaanite El = Hebrew El, then I am obligated to discard a false belief. However, if you cannot then I will keep my current belief since all the evidence I have seen points in that direction.

  • schnell

    Wrongology sounds like it was a fun topic for NPR at some point, but I was not just talking about people with wrong beliefs.

    Evangelizing an idea that you cannot substantiate, and confronting others on their own beliefs whether they can substantiate them or not, is wrong or at least a waste of time.

    Saying that you are firm in your beliefs upon scrutiny just puts you at the same level as everyone else you hope to preach to.

    I could add making them wake up to answer the door on a Saturday morning, too.

    Also, I too would like to hear your input on the Hebrew/Canaanite El, David_Jay. My understanding has been that the Hebrews were roaming pastoral Canaanites, so either way I don't see a huge difference in details yet.

  • evilApostate

    People who act in opposition to their own beliefs or who hold two or more contradictory beliefs may eventually suffer from cognitive dissonance. If someone knowingly places faith in a false belief system then they are acting in opposition to what they know in their heart. This causes stress and may result in depression and even physical illness.

    This is why I said it is foolish to put faith in a belief system you know to be false. It's like pretending your partner is faithful when you know they are cheating.

    I have a mother who said she goes to the meetings even if it's wrong, and I should too. She is also firm in her beliefs.

    schnell, your mom is only hurting herself. You say she goes to meetings even though she knows it is wrong. Hence, she is acting in opposition to what she knows in her heart. Cognitive dissonance is wide spread among JWs. Consider shunning someone (an unloving act) who you love. Such action is painful to the person doing it; probably even more than the person receiving it.

    In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time; performs an action that is contradictory to their beliefs, ideas, or values; or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values.

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