Reject WT Thinking - November 2017 WT article commented (p. 20)
I really liked this kind of articles when back in borg, because they address the issues I was most concerned about. Or at least I thought that they address, because they don't. I marked all the deceptive techniques and logical manipulations they use as a mental exercise and would like to share with you. Enjoy.
Reject Worldly Thinking
“Look out that no one takes you captive by means of the philosophy and empty deception . . . of the world.”—COL. 2:8.
Colossians 2: "I am saying this so that no one may delude you with persuasive arguments."
'persuasive arguments' here is a translation of πιθανολογία, which actually means persuasive speech or "the use of probable arguments, as opp. to demonstration (ἀπόδειξις)" acc. to Liddell and Scott. So Paul probably didn't mean that valid arguments may delude, but that there can exist speech that is persuasive, but is not true. Keep this thought in mind through the article.
worldly thinking may be appealing to imperfect people. For example, it may make a person feel wise and superior to others.
If you think like every person in the world, how can it make you feel superior to others? On the other hand I know a bunch of people how think they are more wise and special because they know some hidden "truth". Have you ever met such a person by any chance?
We will consider five examples of worldly thinking and discuss how we can reject these ideas.
Notice that the objective of the article is to make the reader "reject" ideas, not to examine their validity, because as we will see it fails miserable on the latter.
This paragraph is equally entertaining if we reverse the points of the ‘argument’:
To be a good person I must believe in God.” In many countries, it is not unusual to hear people say that they do believe in God; they consider themselves to be religious. They may not have examined the question of God’s existence carefully, but they are drawn to the idea of having somebody to tell them what to do. (Read Pseudopsalm 10:4 - In his haughtiness, the wicked man makes no investigation; All his thoughts are: “There is God.”) Others may feel spiritually-wise when they say, “In order to have high principles I must believe in God.
Is the claim of unbelievers that there is no Creator based on logical reasoning? When looking to science to determine whether life was created, a person can easily get lost in a fog of information.
Actually information provided by science is concrete and clear, despite WT's attempt to mess it up.
If a building needs someone to construct it, how much more so do living things!
This argument is so old and has been answered so many times, but I will give anyway my best answer below. Then the paragraph mentions reproduction, which actually is an argument for evolution and not against, because it gives the ability to living organisms to evolve.
The Bible answers: “Every house is constructed by someone, but the one who constructed all things is God.”—Heb. 3:4.
If we consider obligatory property for beings the necessity of a causal creator, then for reasons of consistency the existence of a creator of the creator of the living beings has to be assumed, then its creator and so on ad infinitum. Which is absurd. Then so is our initial hypothesis of this property ◼ WT tries to create 'fog' on this matter by saying that God the creator existed forever, but this claim is related only to the temporal side of the matter, it says nothing about the causal relation which is assumed by Ap. Paul's words and is the foundation of the argument.
How can we reason about the notion that a person can determine what is good without believing in God?
The paragraph then argues that people are unable to APPLY what is 'good', it says nothing about their ability to DETERMINE what is 'good'. Nevertheless the last sentence concludes: "So we should not be tempted to think that someone could fully determine what is good without believing in God and adhering to his standards." Not the first time WT arrives to the conclusion it needs without any arguments.
“You can be happy without religion.” This example of worldly thinking appeals to many people because they view religion as dull and irrelevant.
I don't think religion is dull and it finds a way to relate to people in almost every society. But this is of little significance because is says nothing about the necessity of religion for happiness.
a person cannot be truly happy unless he has a relationship with Jehovah
In other words even if you feel happy without religion, it's not enough, because you're not 'truly' happy. But what does the 'true happiness' mean? It's just Newspeak. A cheap trick to shift the goalpost for the argument.
Everything God does benefits others.
Dozens of counterexamples come to my mind within seconds...
Then some obvious admonitions are given, which are by no means exclusive in JW religion.
We will start with the question of the paragraph:
How can we use Matthew 5:3 (Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.) to reason on the question, What makes people happy?
So if you feel happy by any other means it doesn't count, because you're not 'truly' happy.
What makes people happy? Some find satisfaction in a career, a sport, or a hobby. Others find satisfaction in caring for family or friends. All those things can bring pleasure, but our life has a higher purpose that brings lasting happiness.
Plot twist: IT DOESN'T!
In contrast with animals, we can come to know our Creator and serve him faithfully. We have been created in such a way that we find happiness in doing so.
And if you don't find, it's your problem.
For example, true worshipers find delight and derive much encouragement from meeting together to worship Jehovah. (Ps. 133:1) They also enjoy a united brotherhood, a wholesome lifestyle, and a happy hope.
It isn't exclusive in JWs, not even in organized religions.
Till now it's the most argument-lacking paragraph.
“Why condemn sex outside marriage?” People may say to us: “Life is to be enjoyed. Why condemn having sex outside marriage?”
The short WT answer: because we interpret in that way an ancient writing. Even if any other reason exists, it remains a mystery, because the paragraph mentions none.
Here we will just stick with the question:
How can a Christian keep far away from sexual immorality?
Immorality only according to WT's moral code, for any critical thinking person the matter is irrelevant.
“Pursuing a career is the key to happiness.” ... Such a career may promise status, authority, and wealth.
Constructing a strawman. Career is not the key, but is surely important for a decent living, and not for the 'wealth', despire what WT wants you to believe.
Is it true that succeeding in a secular career that offers power and prestige leads to lasting happiness? No. Remember that the craving to control others and the longing to be admired are the desires that enticed Satan, but he is angry, not happy.
Strawman is now alive and kicking. Career = Satan.
The paragraph then talks about competitiveness and jealousy, which are unheard among JWs...
When we focus first on serving Jehovah and teaching others his Word, we experience incomparable joy.
At least that is what Ap. Paul experienced as WT claims. Shouldn't the exact same thing make you experience joy, as it made the Paul character according to WT’s narrative? The truth is no two people are same, let alone a fictional character and a real person.
“Humans can solve their own problems.” ... according to some studies—war, crime, disease, and poverty are all decreasing.
It seems somebody in writing department has read S. Pinker :-) Well, maybe not exactly, but at least somebody was introduced to Pinker's work through Zack Beauchamp's essay found here
Does a comment like that indicate that man is coming to grips with the problems that have plagued him for so long?
The problems haven't been solved, but things are surely getting better. If WT disagrees I hope they will provide a point to point refutation, let’s see :-)
Concerning wars in the last 70 years, accent is made on the big number of refugees and not deaths. Some decade before these people most likely wouldn't have the means to escape the war and would die. It seems that for WT being a refugee or dead are equally bad.
Crime: Although certain types of crime have decreased in some places, other types, such as cybercrime, domestic violence, and terrorism are increasing at an alarming rate.
Guess what, some years before there was literally NO electronic crime AT ALL, the world is surely getting a terrible place. During previous centuries domestic violence was considered normal and was never reported. Terrorism also is also a new term, centuries age it was just part of any war.
"Disease: Some diseases have been controlled. But a report published in 2013 noted that each year a staggering nine million people under the age of 60 die from heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory disease, and diabetes."
According to Zack Beauchamp's report (which is well known to the writer) on 1950 the global lifetime expectancy was 47 years, while on 2011 it's 70. So some decades before 2013 most people (not only nine million) where already very dead before 60 to experience 'heart disease, stroke or cancer'. It’s outrageous how WT dares to talk about diseases, when so much progress is very obviously made.
Poverty: According to the World Bank, the number of those suffering extreme poverty in Africa alone has grown from 280 million in 1990 to 330 million in 2012.
Actually according to the very SAME report of the World Bank:
"the share of Africans who are poor fell from 56% in 1990 to 43% in 2012".
How hypocritical and deceiving data cherry-picking. WT is truly a master of misquoting.
Consider what Jehovah will do for mankind.
Future promises... Sounds familiar. But compared to democratic countries they are much more unethical, because there is no mandate start date, nor end date, as it happens with democratic governments. Also there are no elections provided in case of failure.
Consider why the idea may sound appealing, why such thinking is faulty, and how you can refute it.
Note the imposed way of thinking: world thinking is by default faulty, you just have to find out why - by means of Bible or an 'experienced fellow believer'. It's such a pity that the most experienced JWs who wrote this article will never bother answering the arguments of this post, as well as any other substantial argument.
So who is using πιθανολογία (persuasive speech) and who ἀπόδειξις (demonstration) in order to persuade?
Excellent dissection of faulty "reasoning" Their broad baseless statements make for substandard rhetoric...and never ever do they cite references which is heinous. And when they do make reference to a source it is inevitably pulled out of context and erroneously used. These articles are just geared to keep the flock miserable and uninformed.
To quote from the cartoon series your avatar is from; "Good job, Bob!"
I particularly like the reference to increasing cybercrime.
Their use of the phrase "fog of information" seems particularly Orwellian to me - they use their newspeak to reverse the meaning of words. Suddenly information is confusing, not illuminating. Just like the 'slave' is the one in control and a 'privilege' is just another task heaped upon your shoulders and 'truth' is really a body of lies.
So I presume they are going to bash science, further dumbing down people so they can believe that joke-hova really did create the earth and directly create everything on it in only 47,000 years? This debases proof that might go against washtowel doctrine, or even against the whole LIE-ble. They are also going to bash common sense as "worldly thinking", including that one needs to work to earn money (or go into debt, which enslaves one). Push more stupid hardship, push more damnation, and force the jokehovians to reject any help they might get to work with the soul. Then, they come back with more problems, and eventually they are not able to reincarnate at all. Instead, they languish on the astral until their souls dissipate or joke-hova make a meal out of them.
But, that is just "worldly wisdom".
Great analysis. Thanks for posting.
Yes, thank you for your analysis. I skimmed the article and it is as shallow as a wading pool, making an attempt at some kind of analysis but instead of offering reasons for why an idea should be rejected, it offers belief statements. Unfortunately, most JWs will not perceive the difference.
But interesting that the writer is at least aware of the fact that all of these supposed indicators of the end times are decreasing instead of increasing! And equally fascinating is how the writer is still able to wrest the same-old, same-old interpretation from them.
Thanks a lot for this WT analysis.
Thanks Bob - very helpful overview. I guess you won't be at the Watchtower Study when this article is featured? 👏👏👏👏