Regular visitors to this website will be aware that I welcome readers of all religious or non-religious backgrounds and persuasions.
Though I am personally agnostic/deist (open to the existence of a creator of the universe but doubtful that he, or it, takes an interest in human affairs), my aim is to avoid offending any individual, especially on the issue of whether they believe in God or not.
I welcome open, honest and dialectic discussion from all quarters in pursuit of truth.
That said, I unashamedly embrace the theory of evolution as, not just theory, but proven fact. The evidence is, from where I stand, all around us if we will only look at it.
Those brave enough to peer beyond Watchtower’s bubble of influence (and ignorance) will note that evolution has long ceased to be questioned by serious scholars and academics, who have moved on to more productive discussion as to whether there IS a God who employed evolution as a creative tool or not.
With this in mind, you will understand the dismay with which I received the new March 2014 Awake!, which bears the title “The Untold Story of Creation.” As you can imagine, there is nothing “untold” about Watchtower’s story of creation. They have merely repackaged it, divested themselves of words they disapprove of, and spun it as something unique and revolutionary – a rare epiphany to which they are the sole trustees.
Before getting down to business with their article, the Awake! writers engage in some light target practice against their favorite bad guys – Christendom.
“…Christendom’s leaders, including so-called creationists and fundamentalists, have spun the Bible account of creation into numerous tales that deviate from what the Bible really says. These interpretations fly in the face of scientific fact.” (March 2014 Awake!, page 4)
The reader is thus left with the impression that (1) Jehovah’s Witnesses are not “creationists,” and that (2) they adhere to “scientific fact.”
As I have already explained on this website, Jehovah’s Witnesses are unquestionably creationists, whatever Watchtower may say to the contrary. Creationism is (according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary) “the belief that God created all things out of nothing as described in the Bible and that therefore the theory of evolution is incorrect.”
Watchtower would struggle to argue that this is NOT what they believe, and yet they firmly repudiate the “creationist” tag for no other reason than that they don’t like the stigma associated with it. They shudder at the thought of sharing the same cramped pigeon-hole as the likes of Ken Ham and the Creation Museum, so they denounce creationism entirely – even though not all creationists believe in literal 24-hour creative days, or the Earth being only six thousand years old.
And so we find the following words on page 5 of the same article…
“What about the widespread creationist belief that God created the universe in six literal 24-hour days? This concept, widely rejected by scientists, is based on a gross misunderstanding of the Bible account.”
Watchtower overlooks the fact that there is considerable latitude for positing varying “stories” of how creation took place within the creationist sphere, provided these are broadly united in their condemnation of evolution.
By thus pedantically dancing around and repudiating the creationist label, Watchtower engages in ‘word snobbery’ as I suggest in the above YouTube video. Even if the shoe fits, Watchtower refuses to wear it if it isn’t trendy enough and makes them look silly.
Though claiming they honor “scientific fact” and denouncing those whose views are “widely rejected by scientists,” Watchtower is quite happy to trample all over the conclusions of the scientific community when it suits them. Take for example the following, also on page 5…
“In the Bible account, each of the six creative days could have lasted for thousands of years.”
To most Witnesses, this will seem a reasonable statement on the face of it. But as with most Watchtower pronouncements, the devil is in the detail. When you consider that the Earth is known to be 4.5 billion years old, Watchtower’s “thousands of years” quote falls woefully short.
Simply put, six creative days which “could” have spanned only “thousands of years” would not come close to covering the colossal age of our planet. It would be like saying: “the ninety-year-old man is six ‘days’ old, with each ‘day’ lasting a few hours.”
“Thousands of years” just doesn’t cut it, and the lambasting of other offshoots of Christendom as unscientific becomes remarkably hypocritical.
But the most reprehensible part of this magazine is its utter misrepresentation of evolution, and attempts to smear it as foolish and silly. Take, for example, page 5 which says…
“Supposedly, at some point a bacteria-like, self-replicating organism arose, gradually branching out into all the species that exist today. This would imply that ultimately the mind-bogglingly complex human actually evolved from bacteria.”
Of course when you take the utmost extremes in the journey of life from microbial form all the way through to intelligent homo-sapiens, you make evolution appear insane. But just because something is unlikely doesn’t make it impossible – and it becomes far less impossible once you factor in billions of years and almost limitless possibilities for subtle mutations and incremental adaptations forged by environmental influences.
But that wasn’t what really made my blood boil.
It was this…
“The kinds of animals and plants created by God have obviously undergone changes and have produced variations within the kinds. In many cases, the resulting life-forms are remarkably different from one another. The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind.”
Again, most Witnesses will nod in agreement and find this a reasonable position to assume – a sort of “halfway house” between fundamentalist nutbags and non-believers.
But wait – did Watchtower not just acknowledge that animals and plants “obviously” undergo changes? Is this not what the scientific community calls “evolution?”
You would think so, but you must then remember that only as recently as the October 15, 2013 Watchtower (pp.7-11) was the following assertion made…
“One widespread false teaching that blinds people to the truth about God is the doctrine of evolution.”
The only way to marry the Awake! acknowledgment with the Watchtower denunciation is to say that YES animals and plants change, but only within a species (or “kind”) and thus we are not allowed to use the word “evolution” to describe these changes because it has been declared a “false teaching.”
The above obviously makes no sense at all. It is nothing more than playing word games and losing badly.
If you admit that living things change on whatever level, and adapt to their circumstances, then you simply must admit that evolution is fact. Instead, Watchtower shirks the term either because it doesn’t like the connotations, or (more likely) because it wants to stick with what it has been saying for decades and avoid backpedaling.
But it gets worse.
Take another look at the following assertion: “The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind.”
You would think that, if the above wording is a widely accepted “scientific observation,” there would be no shortage of instances where the phrase “variations occur within a kind” is employed. So, what does a quick Google search of this phrase reveal?
I tried this yesterday and found six search results for this phrase. One result was the Awake! article itself, so immediately we were down to five results for the whole internet. Of the remaining five, three originated from the written work of one man… Ray Comfort.
Specifically, Ray wrote a 50-page foreword to his abridged version of Darwin’s Origin of the Species, criticizing evolution, in which he said the following (bold is mine)…
“Small scale variations occur within a kind, though nothing new actually comes into being (“evolves”) in microevolution.”
If you are unfamiliar with who Ray Comfort is, please look him up. He is a well-known Christian evangelist and proponent of, you guessed it… creationism.
By way of a character reference, I would urge you read his Wikipedia page and learn of how he deleted four chapters from HIS version of Darwin’s great work – chapters that offered the “strongest evidence” for evolution. The man is therefore both a religious fundamentalist and an obvious charlatan, and yet this is precisely the sort of person Watchtower simultaneously condemns and agrees with in its war against a common enemy… evolution.
If this is not clear hypocrisy, ignorance and duplicity, what is?
By this point in my article, many Witnesses and readers who have been taught by Watchtower to repudiate evolution will be feeling distinctly uneasy with my defense of it. I know only too well how you will be feeling, because I was the same until very recently. In fact, one of the public talks I used to give as an elder (circa 2008) was a half-hour rebuttal of evolution using Watchtower’s flawed reasoning (I still have the recording).
All I would say to such ones is to please look at the evidence, and at least furnish yourself with some grasp of what evolution purports to be rather than Watchtower’s demeaning caricature of it.
I know a little on the subject, enough to grasp the basics, but I still consider myself a layperson. For a decent outline of what evolution is, I would strongly recommend you listen to the following words of the late Christopher Hitchens, a hero of mine, who died within a year of speaking in this debate.
I know this article will not meet with universal approval from my readers, but I cannot apologise for defending scientifically established fact. Whether you are a believer or not, I’m afraid evolution is here to stay. Those like Watchtower who insist on denouncing it and/or replacing it with their own half-baked unsupported pseudo-science will only become more isolated and discredited as human knowledge continues its relentless advance.
What really bruises me in all of this is the thought of all the Witness children who will pick up and read this magazine, perhaps as part of their “family worship.” If Watchtower succeeds in duping thinking adults into swallowing its backwards lies and quackery, at least some blame can be apportioned to those who readily allow themselves to be swept along without doing objective research.
The same cannot be said of young, impressionable minds that can be only too easily stultified and hindered by the preachments of a cult that has nothing more than self-perpetuation as its sole preoccupation.