Thanks for responding. I thought I'd respond to your post in detail....
I hear you, but cannot agree with your bitternness.
I wish you could hear me speak in person, because honestly, there is not a shred of bitterness about me. Perhaps to some degree you are hearing what you expect to hear from ex-Witnesses. Also, it may be that you sensed bitterness because you read my reply at the same time as Gary's, and Gary is explicitly angry. I am not, and I have found bitterness to be counter-productive. I am a calm and happy person.
But, tell me, who or what is responsible for all the 'good things'? Is it not the same as saying 'there cannot be a God because of all the bad things'.......but who gets any credit for the 'good things'?
Actually, you misstate my position. I do not claim that "there cannot be a God because of all the bad things." In my opinion, the evidence is sadly lacking to make a statement such as that, just as it is unfortunately lacking to make much of any kind of solid assertion regarding the existence of higher beings, creators or otherwise.
If there is a Creator in the Bible sense, then he may have good reasons for the bad things, and obviously deserves credit for the good things. No problem. That's totally reasonable. Now if there were just reasonable evidence that he existed, or that he was anything at all like the God portrayed in the Bible, I'd have no issues with believing in the Bible. As it is, however, the evidence against taking the Bible as a literal book from God is incredibly strong. I don't think God would create us as intelligent beings and then expect us to believe unbelievable things. It just doesn't make sense to me.
When the creator does act toward mankind (and none on earth will ever know) are you and I able to stand before the judgment seat of God with honest hearts? That's really it, isn't it. In the meantime, you and I are wrong and sinners in one way or another. I have never felt that a 'name-tag' or 'label' has anything to do with God's approval.
Well, in that, I think you are fairly rare among Witnesses. The party line states quite clearly that association with "God's Organization" is a prerequisite for survival. Your statement, on the other hand, seems to acknowledge that people outside the JW organization can have honest hearts.
For my own part, I can tell you with absolutely clear eyes that I am acting as completely honestly as possible with myself and the rest of the universe. Leaving the Witnesses was the biggest step toward a clear heard and an honest heart that I ever took. The sense of happiness and equillibrium that I felt on getting honest was the most incredible feeling I had ever felt. And I have no fear of standing before God, because I know that if should ever have to do so, he would know that I have acted as sincerely as possible, to the limit of my faculties. I certainly hope I should get to meet some Creator at some point, because I would have a lot of questions.
Are you recommending any particular organization I should research for more truth? Any particular man? Who are your 'brothers in the faith'? Who do you believe is 'the entire association of brothers in the world'?
I do not recommend any organization as the source of "Truth," as I think that notion itself misses a few import points. However, I could give you a list of books that have helped me to understand the human condition and the nature of reality thus far.
My "entire association of brothers in the world" is every man, woman, and child who approaches life with bright eyes and a happy, open heart. There are many, and it is wonderful.
I will gladly listen to your answers, in the meantime, really be 'mr nice guy' and withdraw your strong judgment of me, unless you have something superior to really offer. And I'll still be happy to share a coffee/beer next time in Seattle!
Again, Geoff, I don't think I've expressed any strong judgment of you, and I don't harbor any whatsoever. This would be true regardless of whether I think I have "something superior to really offer or not." It would be silly, arrogant, and counter-productive of me to judge you. I'm happy to converse with you, and I'm glad to see you here. I'll be waiting on that coffee engagement. :-)