Religious neutrality is an essential element of JWsurvey
Religious neutrality is an essential element of JWsurvey

Frequent visitors to JWsurvey will be familiar with this website’s posting guidelines for comments, which include the following rule regarding religious neutrality: “Do not post comments that are evangelical in nature or may be construed as imposing one person’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) over those of another.”

I firmly believe that religious neutrality is one of the most important elements of the work we do here on JWsurvey. It is crucial that visitors to this website, especially those who are currently Jehovah’s Witnesses (or who are struggling with JW indoctrination) do not feel that they are being preached to or ushered towards some alternative set of beliefs.

I know a lack of restraint in this area turned me away from so-called “apostate” sites when I made a brief online foray years ago while still a Witness. I wanted to see whether I could find any meaningful arguments against Watchtower teachings. Instead I was confronted by websites urging me towards born-again Christianity – which only reaffirmed my suspicions about “apostates.”

I can similarly remember recoiling a little when, in an email conversation with Paul Grundy of JWfacts.com back in 2011 (when I was midway through waking up), I learned that he was atheist. Though I was still in the process of figuring out what my own beliefs were at that stage, I couldn’t help but feel dejected that someone as knowledgeable as Paul had concluded that there isn’t a God after all.

As it turns out, I myself am now atheist regarding theism (the existence of the God of the bible) and agnostic regarding deism (the concept of some intelligent, creative force behind the universe).* But I can well imagine how such a position would be a stumbling block for a Jehovah’s Witness searching for some kind of common ground with former members.

This is why JWsurvey’s religious neutrality policy is supremely important. Visitors need to feel that they can view objective information about Jehovah’s Witnesses and their beliefs without being preached to, or coerced to ditch their belief in God entirely.

But religious neutrality only really works if it is tempered by secularism, defined by one dictionary as “the belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society.” Why do I say this? Because most (if not all) religions are mutually exclusive.

For example, you cannot subscribe to both Islam and Hinduism, or both Judaism and Christianity. Religion by its very nature is contentious. Religious beliefs compete with and exclude one another. Only by assuming a secular position, namely that no one religion is more true or untrue than another, can there be real tolerance and religious plurality – a respect for the diversity of religious views, including the right to have no religious views at all.

Accepting science

Secularism also insists that religion and education should be kept separate. I have already written a handful of articles touching on the subject of evolution, and on each occasion I have unashamedly taken the position that evolution is not just a “theory” but a scientific, observable fact. Accepting evolution is not a religious or even an atheist position – it is a scientific one, regardless of what Watchtower says.

There is no reason to feel ashamed of our kinship with other living things through evolution
There is no reason to reject our kinship with other living things through evolution

You CAN be both religious and accept that living things evolve gradually over time. Those who claim that life doesn’t evolve are usually trying to assert their religious views, often inherited (at least in part) from their parents, and/or are ignorant as to what evolution actually is and how it works.

If you deny evolution but embrace other areas of scientific discovery, perhaps even benefiting from them in day-to-day life, this could be considered “cherry-picking.” You would be embracing only those scientific discoveries that conveniently suit your world view, and discarding those that don’t. Of course, you are entitled to do this if it makes you feel happier and more fulfilled in life, but you cannot expect this website to censor itself to conform to such a distorted approach.

When I (or others) write about evolution we are not disrespecting a creationist’s beliefs any more than Galileo was disrespecting the Catholic church by insisting that the earth rotates around the sun rather than the opposite being the case. We are merely telling it like it is. Whether you choose to believe in God or not remains absolutely your decision and right.

The bible and prophecy

I found myself caught in a dilemma recently when filming my rebuttal to the latest JW Broadcasting episode, in which Gerrit Lösch argued for the reliability and authenticity of bible prophecy. I could have merely retorted (as I did) that it is perfectly possible to believe in the bible’s authenticity and not believe, as Jehovah’s Witnesses do, that unless you bow to the authority of seven men in New York you will join billions in being slaughtered at Armageddon.

But this argument on its own seemed rather hollow, especially when the elephant in the room was the fact that the bible is NOT a book of prophecy – it merely purports to be one.

I therefore pointed my viewers to the fact that most scholars agree that Daniel was not written in the 6th Century BC but much later, some time in the 2nd Century BC – decades after many of the events it “prophesied” took place.

It can never be asserted definitively that this is so (because no one actually saw the book being written), but neither can it be asserted that the book of Daniel was written by Daniel himself while in Babylonian exile.

Watchtower relies on general ignorance regarding the work of bible scholars like Bart Ehrman
Watchtower relies on general ignorance regarding the work of bible scholars like Bart Ehrman

Why? Because the character of Daniel, a senior court official, would not have incorrectly named the line of Babylonian/Persian rulers of Babylon. (Try researching “Darius the Mede.”) He would at least have got it right with their names, even if he could be forgiven for getting it wrong about the fate of Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel 11 (who wasn’t to die until the 2nd Century BC, apparently after Daniel was written).

Then there was the problem of messianic prophecy, also raised by Lösch as an argument for the bible’s authenticity. How does one bring up the awkward fact that it’s highly likely at least one “prophecy” (the virgin birth) was inspired by a mistranslation of the original Hebrew in the Greek Septuagint?

My only solution was to run the gauntlet and do it anyway, but as respectfully as possible – all the while acknowledging that it is the absolute right of people to believe that the bible is inspired, but not to expect others to believe likewise.

You can claim, for example, that Jesus really was born of a virgin, but this can never be a historical or scientific claim – it can only ever be a religious claim. The same applies to the Hebrew Scriptures (or Old Testament). You can believe that the events from Adam and Eve to King Saul really happened if you like, but good luck trying to find a shred of archeological evidence to prove anything in the bible narrative from earlier than King David.

Or to put it another way – if 2.5 million Israelites really did spend 40 years meandering across the Sinai desert some time in the 13th/14th Century BC, sacrificing animals, waging war and observing rituals along the way, they apparently managed this feat without leaving behind so much as a toothpick for archeologists to uncover. (If you didn’t know this already, don’t take my word for it – do the research for yourself.)

Religion is a choice

This is why religion will always be, not unquestionable truth, but a choice.

You, dear reader, have the absolute right to decide what you believe or don’t believe; what evidence or scholarly consensus you accept or dismiss. Anyone who tries to take this right away from you should feel ashamed of themselves. But this does not mean that I, as a writer and speaker, must skirt around scientific fact and scholarly consensus as though these things are irrelevant or somehow taboo. I am allowed to tell it like it is, and leave you to decide for yourself what to do with the information.

Some would say it’s dogmatic to embrace the views of scientists and scholars, but this would be forgetting what dogmatism means: “positiveness in assertion of opinion especially when unwarranted or arrogant… a viewpoint or system of ideas based on insufficiently examined premises.”

The wonderful thing about the scientific method of establishing facts based on evidence is that views and conclusions can change as new evidence is presented.

Religious fundamentalism, on the other hand, is the very embodiment of dogmatism. It is the unyielding insistence that something is true and can only ever be true because an unquestionable sacred text says so. Speaking for myself, I can offer no apologies for instead basing what I say on evidence, and on what people who are vastly more knowledgeable than me have to say about the bible and other issues.

In summary, what you WON’T find on JWsurvey is any effort to lead you off into belief or unbelief. I personally lose no sleep if a person leaves Jehovah’s Witnesses only to become enthralled by some equally spurious (if less harmful) religious code. But what you WILL find on this website is a stubborn, unapologetic dedication to established facts and scientific/scholarly consensus. What you choose to do with the information will always be up to you.

 

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* I now find an outlet for being free about my atheism/agnosticism on Facebook and on JWpodcast episodes, but I try to keep JWsurvey and my YouTube channel as free as possible of anything that could be construed as pushing my non-belief on others. I believe that the focus of my work should be helping Jehovah’s Witnesses out of a harmful cult, not espousing my personal views on religion (which, in any case, are far better articulated by the likes of Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens).

Related video…

90 thoughts on “What is JWsurvey’s approach to science, religion and the bible?

  • March 19, 2015 at 6:44 am
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    I felt your uneasiness in your last rebuttal but thought you handled it very well in that video but your post here articulates your view and the the point of your website in pinpoint accuracy.

    The internet needs sites like these that are free from everything you say and I think 99% of readers on here, myself included, will agree you do what you set out to do.

  • March 19, 2015 at 6:56 am
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    I too felt your ‘uneasiness’. Our own beliefs evolve as long as we live, and that’s so healthy and awesome! I definitely have a sense of wonder, as well as the ability to not know all the answers. I have dogs; dogs are so easy to breed traits into or out of in just 3-5 generations. My head hurts now when people are writing or speaking about their religious beliefs; I don’t care right now, I sort of tune it out with a smile, and judge each person on their personality and actions. I do far better in life to look for the best, expect the best, and encourage the best in us all. I’ve put absolute certainty on pause, and I feel free for the first time in awhile! Thank you all!

  • March 19, 2015 at 7:00 am
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    Extremely well said, Cedars. Thank you.

  • March 19, 2015 at 7:12 am
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    I prefer it when people stick to the facts and allow their listeners to draw their own conclusion. I noticed on an ex Mormon site, how many of them were now atheists. They have a greater respect for science than Jehovah’s Witnesses or ex members, most likely I imagine because they are better educated from university. Religion has always pushed its own agenda and beliefs, and forced members to accept them by faith alone and without any evidence whatsoever. In this age of internet and technology, people are able to do their own research and come to their own conclusions.

  • March 19, 2015 at 8:34 am
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    A comprehensive, clearly expressed and sensitive
    explanation of JWsurvey’s stance. Thank you for
    all the time and effort you put into it, I have benefitted
    personally from your work.

    Although I quit the wt, in 82, it’s only in the last 2 years
    I’ve been able to completely clear my mind of the
    controlling dogma and this site has played a big part
    in that. Thanks again cedars.

  • March 19, 2015 at 9:47 am
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    Reason and logic, something JW’s hand over to the Watchtower and allow the Gov Body to ‘use’, happens to be the most powerful arsenal in the protection from ignorance and lies. Once I felt it was safe to look at my own data, my own information and make my own decision on it….something everyone did before becoming a JW (and shocking that it is taken away from you!), the ‘truth’ became self evident.

    Anyone left to read the bible alone will realise the God of the bible is the most abhorrent character in it. Try it.
    Anyone that researches the history of the bible and its writers will realise how wrong and deceitful Watchtower are.

    Anyone picking up a child’s book on evolution will realise what Watchtower described as evolution was false and a lie. Research into evolution is powerful because you find a mountain of evidence on one side and a pathetic pile of misquotations, assertions and 300 year old claims on the other. It’s a huge eye opener.

    Anyone that comes to value the power of desicion making and holds ‘truth’ as an ultimate valuble thing, will eventually come to admit that we can’t provide ANY evidence for a god. What we then decide to do is personal. Some are well aware and continue to worship a god. Some are honest and simpky state we just don’t have any evidence.

    I simply decided to look at all the evidence and see what I discovered, first with a 4 year examination of the JW’s, then 3 yr study of the bible and lastly a continuous lifetime examination of whether there is a god.

    I am an exjw, who rejects the bible as a plagurised book of borrowed stories, of human origin…and I am an atheist.

    There is no secret relationship between leaving the religion and respecting science. I went from an organisation of rules and regulations where ‘independant thought’ was a bad thing and where 8 uneducated old men interpreted our whole universe to us, even down to telling us what history and science was true. Now I am a scientist myself. Science respects evidence and data alone. There is no agenda at all and proving ‘science’ wrong is the objective of every scientist, that’s how you REALLY get to the ‘truth’.

    We all live lives of 70-80years, maybe more if we are fortunate. It is NOT a very long time. How you spend it is up to you. Me personally, I now value truth over comfort, fact over opinion, evidence over hope. I want to be sure of as any true things and deny as many false things as possible. This is not an option until you are brave enough to research your own beliefs…..

    I would just say one thing in conclusion, life is too short to be wrong all your life, don’t wait too long to be brave….

  • March 19, 2015 at 9:57 am
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    For current JW’s and yes, that is what some of you were, the process was an arrival at “the Truth” (yeah, yeah, ttatt…) and once there following edicts and a structure to remain at that destination. However, throughout the history of religion–Christianity, included–the process is more of a journey. And, for many former Witnesses, and current, it remains a personal journey of experiential discovery–what the person experiences and learns from life as it relates to spiritual fulfillment. One philosophy doesn’t fit all occasions or for a lifetime. Not that one must be a “new age” or philosopher contemplating a fuzzy navel (the button not the drink), but after being goaded into one belief structure with severe borders, some prefer to greatly widen their horizons. And, to the angst of some Christian preachers and pastors not limiting themselves to one particular denominations or religious system. Some prefer to settle into the least hierachical system they can discover, others find the solace of regimental, 2000-year old traditions of comfort.

    For those negotiating the acceptance of their sexuality, the traditional paths of Christianity can be off-putting because of the tug-and-pull between condemning voices and affirming voices, so some choose less traditional religions or affirming Christian denominations and congregations.

    Coming to awareness of Watchtower contradictions and failures was daunting to face living without a sense of structure, a collective (the BOrg as it were), and that instant support network from location to location, week to week. And, that is also something an individual wants to measure before deploying their parachute for the leap of faith–covertly replacing the network of support and social structure that will be instantly vanishing.

  • March 19, 2015 at 10:26 am
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    That is what I like about the site. Everyone should have religious neutrality, if someone is happy and wishes to be a JW or a christian or whatever and if they are not hurting nobody then fine, do as you please. But don’t be so closed minded either, the bible is not complete, think about the apocrypha and history and science and other books as well that can be just fascinating to read though you may not agree on all these different belief systems its good to expand your mind and educate yourself. Nobody should force any other human being to believe or practice something they do not want to practice.

    C M

  • March 19, 2015 at 10:53 am
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    I agree with a lot of what you write. However with regard to your view that Evolution is a scientifically observed fact is stretching things to0 far. The general theory of evolution is a theory about the development of life.( once it arrived here on earth) Bio-genesis is a theory about the origins of life. Neither have been observed for the simple reason that they are historic events that are not observable. According to Karl Popper scientific theory has be be falsifiable at least in principle. And it is very difficult to conceive of the circumstances by which these theories could be falsified. Also a further dimension are the Philosophical assumptions upon which these theories are based. Are we making naturalistic assumptions about the nature of the universe, that then bias the theories which we favor ? To put this into context. There are. 1) Naturalistic theories of evolution. 2) Theistic evolution. 3) Non biblical creationist theories. There is nothing inherently ‘scientific’ about naturalistic philosophical assumptions, eg Newton worked in a theistic assumption of the order of nature because God had created it that way. We need to be aware of the different dimensions of any ‘theory’ and the different paradigms within which they exist. I think your hard line ;’fundamentalist’ approach to Evolution could be quite off putting to some people, as well as not really justified by an analysis of the issues involved. Just a thought.:-)

    • March 19, 2015 at 10:57 am
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      Abiogenesis and evolution are not the same thing. Evolution is scientifically proven and accepted. If you have information to disprove it, get it peer-reviewed and published and collect your Nobel prize! ;)

      • March 20, 2015 at 11:44 am
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        Hi Me Cedars. I did not say evolution and abiogensis are the same thing. (re-read what I said and you can check this out for yourself :-) The subject is not simple, and there are a number of aspects to it, including philosophical paradigm that is assumed, the actual evidence itself ( which is common ground, eg fossils geology etc) and then how the evidence is interpreted. A Man I knew from a previous church, received his PHD from the University of London, ( it was a science subject but I forget the title and am no longer in that church)
        _ which was written from a Old Earth creationist perspective. it was highly controversial at the University, because of the dogma of naturalistic evolution, but was accepted because it was well argued and well researched. To take a hard line, on naturalistic Evolutionary approach seems to be contrary to reason, and may be off-putting for people emerging from this cult. Naturalistic evolution, is no less religious than Old earth Creationism, and Old earth creationism no no less scientific that naturalistic evolution. What ever your personal views on this, I do think broadening out the perspectives and be constructive to intellectual dialogue !

        • March 20, 2015 at 11:58 am
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          If abiogenesis and evolution are not the same thing, why did YOU raise abiogenesis (or “Bio-genesis” as you put it) when trying to argue against evolution?

          And I agree that JWsurvey’s acceptance of evolution will be jarring to some Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been indoctrinated to deny science as you do, but this is not something for me to apologize for any more than a biology teacher should have to apologize for teaching evolution and thus explaining the universe the way it is. Or will you be writing in with the same complaint to your local schools and colleges?

          Again, if you have information to disprove evolution, get it peer-reviewed and published and collect your Nobel prize. Which part of that simple challenge must I explain?

          • March 20, 2015 at 12:31 pm
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            John I feel upset by your response. I do not deny Science ( as you put it) and would ask that you withdraw that accusation. I simply put science into a broader philosophical perspective. Also I have not asked you to apologize for anything. I have simply expressed a different perspective. I have obviously hit a raw nerve with you and for that I apologise. I would not misrepresent a JW or anyone else that I disagree with. Please do not misrepresent me and I will not do that to you either.

          • March 20, 2015 at 12:47 pm
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            Your challenge simply misses the points that I have made. So I will make it plain,
            1) Naturalist evolution is not only a Scientific theory. It has philosophical assumptions ( Naturalism) that is not a necessity for Science to operate.
            2) Science can operate within other philosophical paradigms.

            3) There are Scientists who hold to Theistic evolution. They would disagree on the philosophical paradigm of naturalism while seeing Evolution as the method of creation.
            5) If you admit to the possibility of falsification ( eg Newtonian physics has given way to Quantum physics) then scientific discoveries may also make evolution ( theistic or otherwise) redundant. I hope I have made myself clear. :-)

          • March 20, 2015 at 2:37 pm
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            You haven’t made anything clear. You’re muddying the waters with word salads about philosophy and naturalism. Admitting that evolution is falsifiable does not mean that I think falsification is likely, because evolution is happening all around us and can be proven. Ask any microbiologist worth his salt. You are entitled to believe evolution has a theistic cause if you like, but I would appreciate if you don’t use this website to evangelize these purely religious and non-scientific claims. Now are we finally clear?

  • March 19, 2015 at 11:29 am
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    John.. You sound like you’re finally ready to embrace Allah!

    • March 20, 2015 at 11:58 am
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      Hi Zebo not sure if that comment was aimed at me, but if it was it made me smile ! Actually i am a Christian Quaker. I am also a creationist, on the simple basis that I have had various experiences that convince me of the existence of God and the spiritual world. The mechanism of creation ( maybe theistic evolution) is open for debate at least from my perspective. :-)

    • March 20, 2015 at 2:12 pm
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      Sorry Zeebo for wrongly spelling your name. I am dyslexic, as well as being a dyslexic typist :-)

  • March 19, 2015 at 11:58 am
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    yes twice XX I used to proudly say baptisted 2 times,being that my mother was expecting me,when she took the plunge…anyway,no such claim these days!! Thought I’d share a poem. I’m not sure if it’s on topic,maybe in parts,anyway the title is Farty-Farts. so be it!! that’s just fine!! you let some gray-haired Farty-Farts in N.Y. Control your mind. No long hair,get out in service,no tight pants. tight pants Tony says No,No. all the “others” are destin to Go,Go,Go. so be it that’s just…that’s just fine. Following Ice Age antics That blows my mind. everything will be so much better if we gather ourselves together. Making meetings& keeping field service time. Control me…control you. Looking good ..pretending to climb an imaginary,grapevine So be it !! That’s just fine!!! I’m free today& that’s Divine!

  • March 19, 2015 at 12:13 pm
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    I believed the Bible was a holy book when I was a 7th Day Adventist! You know they have their own interpretation of Daniel’s book and Revelation… I had seriously read of Ellen White and the prophet influenced me so deeply that I still regret the time I lost reading her books.

    When I became a JWs, I was surprised to discover how much Adventists’ interpretation of the beasts of Daniel and Revelation and the number of the beast (666) were different from the interpretation of JWs… Imagine now how much pain I felt when I read the following:

    *** re chap. 10 pp. 53-54 par. 20 Abhorring the “Deep Things of Satan” ***
    Some based their beliefs on the teachings of strong-minded women of the 19th century, such as Ellen White of the Seventh-Day Adventists and Mary Baker Eddy of the Christian Scientists, and more recently many women have been preaching from the pulpit. (Contrast 1 Timothy 2:11, 12.) Among the different forms of Catholicism, Mary is often honored ahead of God and Christ. Jesus did not so honor her. (John 2:4; 19:26) Could organizations that admit such unlawful female influence really be accepted as Christian?

    “unlawful female influence”!!!!!

  • March 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm
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    Hi John, I was happy to see you address this issue because it has been on my mind lately. Since ‘the scales dropped from my eyes’ over this last year, I have been very vulnerable. When all this started happening,I would sneak up to my bed early while hubby (JW extraordinaire) was watching TV, pull out my tablet, click, and this kind face of a young (young is relative, I know!) man (that being you, of course) would appear from half way around the world and say,”Hello there!” It was like a lifeline was being tossed to me. I can’t tell you what that meant to me. I remember telling my son that the difference between your approach and WT’s was that you wouldn’t scorn people who disagreed, we all know WT’s approach. I realized that as much as WT touts their loving ways, they when it comes down to it, they have a lot to learn.
    So, you can imagine my dismay when comments were made on the podcast that seemed to convey the thought that if you believe in God, you’re not too bright.(Although I could tell you were trying very hard not to be rude or unkind.) Because of being subjected to WT’s attitude of being judgmental of anyone who disagrees, it would have been very disappointing for me to see anything that smacked of that attitude on the venues I get so much support from. But it turned out to be a learning experience for me. First of all, I realized some of what was said was due to poking fun…sometimes we all need to lighten up a bit! And it is Jaymes’ (and by extension, they rest of the group’s) podcast, which basically means you can say anything you want! If I don’t like it, I don’t have to listen to it. But I found that I do want to listen. I do want to hear contrasting views. That’s something we weren’t allowed in WT and I, for one, would like to broaden my horizons after all these years. I don’t really know much about evolution, so I’ve decided to do more research…to avoid discounting something I don’t really understand just because the GB told me to!
    I also like that you clarified what you want JW Survey to be, your Facebook page, and the podcast. That way, people can choose which approach they want to avail themselves of.
    Anyway, thanks for all of the hard work you do to help and support the ex-JW community and, as you say on occasion, ‘thank you for listening!’

    • March 19, 2015 at 12:54 pm
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      Thanks Mara – it’s reassuring that people of belief can be gracious and accommodating when on the receiving end of light-hearted banter by unbelievers! :)

  • March 19, 2015 at 12:38 pm
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    I agree! My sisters left the JWs, only to go into a non-denominational religion that teaches judgement and intolerance for Catholics. Now they are shunning me because I’m Catholic; a Christian religion that believes God can create the world by whatever means he wants- including evolution.

    If you leave the JWs and you are still shunning people, then you haven’t learned your lesson.

  • March 19, 2015 at 2:16 pm
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    When I studied in the 1960’s, it was the “Truth that leads to Eternal Life” book and not knowing anything at all about the Bible, left me open to believe that the Bible was “inspired” by God etc.

    As I recall, it was something like telling me about all the prophecies that the Bible had that all came true and the foods that the Israelites were supposed to eat that today would be found to be safe to eat and the fact that the Bible says the earth is round.

    Then it was the Evolution or creation books explaining how the earth is just right for life etc. So, all that convinced me of a God and that he created everything and wrote the Bible.

    Then all those years of reading Watchtower literature, I became even more convinced of it all, especially when you aren’t allowed to and even discouraged from looking at anything that might disagree with Watchtower and the Bible.

    Once I let myself open up to the idea that maybe God wasn’t directing the Watchtower Organization, I also began to test, not only the Watchtower but also what the Bible says.

    All those years, I had depended on only Watchtower’s explanation of the Bible. If there was a scripture that didn’t make any sense to me, I’d get out my indexes and look up the Society’s explanation and they’d always have a way of explaining the scripture that would make sense to me.

    Now, instead of getting out the indexes and looking at the Society’s explanation of scriptures that don’t make any sense, I look on the internet and Wikipedia etc. to get a more well-rounded explanation and I can see now that when the Bible clearly says something that doesn’t make sense, that the Watchtower “rewrites” the Bible.

    They even “rewrite” the dates of when the Bible books were written and who wrote them and rewrite words that supposedly were in the early manuscripts and take out scriptures that don’t suit them. I am sure all religions do the same thing. If they want people to go to their churches, other religions will also rewrite their Bibles that might have made the Bible seem unbelievable or didn’t agree with their particular doctrines.

    Twenty or 30 or 40 years ago, we didn’t have this knowledge at our fingertips of the internet and Google and Wikipedia. For instance, not only was the Society fooling us with the book of Daniel being written 400 years before it was actually written, they deliberately lie about the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as to when they were written and who wrote them. There is a reason for misrepresenting those facts. They want people to not lose faith in the Bible, thus losing faith in the Watchtower along the way.

    Matthew wasn’t written first. Mark was written first and Matthew and Luke copied from Mark and added to the stories and by the time it got to John, the stories had gotten really embellished and outlandish.

    They didn’t have Bibles then. It was word of mouth and stories got read and as with any story, over the passage of time, get added to and parts get forgotten. Every gospel account has some similarities but a whole bunch of accounts that just plain don’t agree at all at how the story went. Just that alone should make a person who believes in the Bible wonder just how much of it actually happened or not.

    The whole Christian religion depends on it being “inspired”. Just saying it is “inspired”, doesn’t make it inspired. It has to be “perfect” if it’s from a perfect God.

    • March 19, 2015 at 3:02 pm
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      Great link Gareth! :)

    • March 20, 2015 at 12:18 pm
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      Iv just read this link. it rather illustrates some of the points that I have raised :-); Read carefully and their are naturalistic assumptions made in the article. Also the the ways Naturalist Evolution can be falsified ( eg Fossil records out of order) are simply not admitted in practice. there is circular reasoning used in evolutionary text books, with fossils being used to date the different gelogical strata even when they are out of sinc.. But broader than that everything in the article could be interpreted from a naturalistic or a theistic perspective and that’s my point :-)

      • March 20, 2015 at 2:45 pm
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        “Also the the ways Naturalist Evolution can be falsified ( eg Fossil records out of order) are simply not admitted in practice.”

        You seem to be deliberately trying to mislead readers into assuming that evolution has been falsified and that fossil records have been found out of order, when they are not. The point of the linked article was to show that, if someone wanted to prove evolution false, there are ways they could do it – not that anyone has actually done this or is likely to do it.

        Any more of this rather cynical anti-science diversionary drivel and I’m afraid you will leave me no choice but to exercise restraint on your behalf. You are welcome to set up a website to espouse your Christian Quaker views if you wish, but I’m afraid JWsurvey is not available to serve this agenda.

  • March 19, 2015 at 3:24 pm
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    “I myself am now atheist regarding theism (the existence of the God of the bible) and agnostic regarding deism (the concept of some intelligent, creative force behind the universe).” This makes perfect sense to me, except I might be considered an optimistic deist. Let me thank you for all your hard work Lloyd. I learned a lot in your last video about Daniel. When I was a sincere witness I always suspected these books of prophecy were written after the fact. Please keep up the intelligent and thought provoking videos.

  • March 19, 2015 at 3:43 pm
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    @ Cedars

    Great article. Thank you for emphasizing the need for separation of religion from government, education, etc. Very eye-opening that there is not a shred of evidence that two-and-a-half million people wandered the desert engaging in all those activities. Never thought of that. And there’s no way to prove the authorship or timing of bible writings, as you say, because we weren’t there. There are some Jews today who even doubt the existence of King David! The Scientific Method is a FAR FAR superior way to establish TRUTH, since it is based on things like observation, analysis, experimentation, and research into OBSERVABLE FACTS, also known as “REALITY”!
    That having been said, I can honestly say I personally have no idea how we got here. It’s probably mostly irrelevant anyway. If God wanted me to follow some ritualistic system of worship, I would probably hear a booming voice out of the sky every morning, issuing instructions on what to do for that day, maybe along with some kind of light show, fire in the sky, or screaming angels. There would be no doubt. There would be no confusion. There wouldn’t be 50,000 different religions with a couple million different gods. I mean, wouldn’t the true God want to make something like that perfectly clear to EVERYONE? And He could easily do it, without having 50 different “manuals” lying around, for thousands of years, having been transcribed and translated so many, many times, all preaching different things, causing so much confusion (not to mention wars and genocides). The God of order, who designed the universe, can certainly do better than that!!!
    Personally, I see no conflict between belief in God, and evolution. It is possible that God “created” life through the process of evolution. Could be He “zapped” that pool of primordial ooze 50 billion years ago to get it all started. I’m just sorry we lost the ability to peel bananas with our feet. I’ve tried. Doesn’t work. Though, from time to time, I meet folks who might be good candidates.

  • March 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm
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    Wikipedia
    “However, almost all recent commentators on the book of Daniel either choose to ignore these ancient sources that name a king Darius before Darius I Hystaspes, or they are not aware of them, incorrectly saying instead that Daniel’s Darius the Mede is not found in any ancient source except the book of Daniel or writings derived from it.”
    I know its just Wikipedia but Cedars you referenced it in your video. So in the article it stated to try to look up Darius the mede and i found it quite quickly. Im not going to say he realy exhisted but there seems to be secular proof that says he might have!!!!

    • March 20, 2015 at 1:17 am
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      From the World Heritage Encyclopedia:

      “Although mentioned in the Book of Daniel, the works of Flavius Josephus, and Jewish midrashic material, Darius the Mede is not known from any other primary historical sources. Neither the Babylonian nor the Persian histories record such a person. Herodotus, who wrote his Histories about 440 BCE, records that Babylon fell to the Persian army, under the control of King Cyrus, who had conquered the Median Empire as early as 550 BCE.

      The conqueror of Babylon was Gobryas, governor of Gutium, a general of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia. A successor of Cyrus as king of Persia was known as Darius the Great. John J. Collins, who shares the Maccabean thesis view states that the author of Daniel inherited a schema of four kingdoms in which Media preceded Persia. He suggests that it was highly probable that Daniel created the figure “Darius the Mede” to fit this schema.[1] However Darius the Mede is never described as king of the Medes, only as king of the Chaldeans (Dan 5:30-1, 9:1), and the Book of Daniel never mentions an independent Median kingdom, only the joint Medo-Persian kingdom (Dan 5:28; 6:8, 12, 15; 8:20).[4]”

      http://self.gutenberg.org/articles/Darius_the_Mede

  • March 19, 2015 at 10:32 pm
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    To all present Witnesses who read this, particularly those raised in the “truth”, I have a Revelation for you that could actually be useful. You already know that most people born Catholic, die Catholic. Most people born Muslim, die Muslim. Most people born Hindu, die Hindu, etc, etc, etc. Coincidence??? Parents, clerics & their parent organizations (such as the WTBTS), along with their literature and other forms of propaganda, do a TERRIFIC job of brainwashing babies. What you may not be aware of, is that we have ALL been conditioned to be BIASED toward our “native” ideology. So even when you think you are doing independent research or analysis, your brain WANTS that research to turn out in favor of your “native” ideology. Maybe it’s some kind of primordial survival instinct. When Mr. Brain starts to experience doubt, and starts getting confused, he reverts back to his original programming, which restores that warm fuzzy feeling he likes so much. Kind of like “running home to Mama”. You have to dig really really deep inside, to erase that programming.
    The circus trains a young elephant by tying its leg to a pole with a chain. Eventually, the chain is replaced by a rope. The adult elephant has been conditioned to believe it can never break free. So even though it could easily tear the rope to shreds, it never bothers trying.

  • March 19, 2015 at 10:59 pm
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    What always confounded me was WT’s preoccupation with ancient Jewish tradition. I mean, 50% of their literature is based on that stuff! What did the High Priest wear on the Day of Atonement? What color were his robes? What about the “frills” on the bottom? How many days was the Festival of Booths? The details of all the Israelites’ military conquests. I remember one talk on the correct pronunciation of the word “Sanhedrin”, the high Jewish court. WHO GIVES A FLYING F***???!!! Even Jewish people don’t go into such ridiculous details about their OWN history!!! I mean, studying History is one thing, but turning it into an obsessive-compulsive wet dream is quite another. Then there were all the names you had to learn to pronounce – from Jehonadab to Hezekiah – and those are 2 of the EASY ones!! It’s like they’re trying to acquire or “steal” some mystic power from the ancient Hebrews, like the Nazis tried to do with the Ark of the Covenant, in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. If they watch the movie, they’ll see it didn’t work out too well for the Nazis!!!

  • March 20, 2015 at 6:43 am
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    Another really good Bart Ehrman video.

  • March 20, 2015 at 7:02 am
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    I went to that special meeting in 2013 when we all got the new “silver sword”. I remember handling that Bible like it was “holy” and thinking it was such a “treasure” from God at the time. I remember the feeling and probably most Jehovah’s Witnesses felt the same way about the new Bibles.

    That feeling about the Bible is what Gerritt Losch was going after with the latest JWbroadcasting video. The whole thing was about the Bible and how “holy” it is. If they can make a person revere the Bible then they will believe that it’s from God and then they can believe all the prophecies from God and then follow the Watchtower’s rendition about the preaching work before the war of Armageddon and instill the fear of Armageddon into them as well.

    The Society lies about when Daniel was written to convince people who are ignorant of the real history of when those books were written so that they will believe that the whole Bible is true and accurate and that if those ancient prophecies supposedly came true then the one about Armageddon will also come true. That is why it is so important for the Society to lie about the dates when those books were written.

    The gospel of Matthew wasn’t written in 40 C.E. like the Watchtower says. That would be only 6 1/2 years after Jesus died, making it seem like it was eye witness accounts but in reality, Matthew was written decades later than that. All of those lies from the Society about when those books were written are now easily proved false now with the use of the internet.

    I wonder if Losch went on and on about the Bible in the latest jwbroadcasting because people are losing faith in the accuracy of the Bible by going on the internet and doing independent research?

    It doesn’t take much research at all to go on Youtube to find videos that call into question the accuracy of the Bible with logic and historical evidence. If a person loses faith in the Bible, they will lose faith in the Watchtower too.

  • March 20, 2015 at 8:06 am
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    Most witnesses will never question anything that comes from the watchtower – either they are too afraid, too tired, too depressed, too brainwashed, or they just don’t want to rock the boat.

  • March 20, 2015 at 8:21 am
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    First off John your hair just cracks me up in the video. Lol. I am bald now and may have a few combs or brushes I could send you but I know your not gonna use them. Lol
    Just kidding with you. Anyway I have been around awhile and have viewed a lot of stuff on the internet and I find your balance of reason and style of writing most refreshing. I know most folks will always believe what they want to believe right or wrong if it fits their needs and circumstances. And if that paticular belief system floats your boat then so be it. Where I take issue having been a former forced into it JW is that they push their agenda on you no matter what. Their stance on exclusivity to them and no one else is just downright wrong. It is in total conflict to the principles they claim to purport based on their interpetation.
    I find it hard to even waste my time watching anything spewing out of the mouths of these Governing Body members. They themselves present a pre-packaged market media driven presentation that simply is ridiculous in nature. It however does reassure me of how really delusional they really are.
    They are dealing in delusions and not reallitys.
    So I as well as many appreciate your approach, honesty and desire to be real about helping those still duped into this religion.

  • March 20, 2015 at 9:28 am
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    Neal Krouni made some good points here! Catholics are born, raised and die Catholics as are Muslims, Hindus, Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most people do not change religions and if they do it is to marry someone that is of that faith, or they’ve moved countries or had some other kind of upheaval in their life.
    It is refreshing to see many people leave religion completely! What is even more uplifting is to see these “godless” people maintain their morality and in fact become more accepting, helpful and caring human beings.
    Some things are so obvious I don’t know why everyone can’t see it! Almost every Congreation of JW’s you go to are ‘controlled’ by one or two families. At some time in the distant past, some guy became a JW and then took power in his area. Now all of his children, grandchildren and the people married to them run the business of that Kingdom Hall. This just never seemed right to me. If Jehovah, the one and only true God was in charge, then people would be streaming in and there would be a good mix of families in each area, at least.
    I don’t know, does anyone else feel this way?!?

  • March 20, 2015 at 12:25 pm
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    @JJ. There’s truth in your observations. I’m out of touch
    with wt, now, but I do know of 2 Congs, in the area where
    the prominent elders ( The well known ones) are the sons
    of former well known elders who are now deceased .

    I think there’s collusion with the C,O, in this family succession
    ( actually I’m pretty sure of it ). He spends most of his time with
    elders and gets to know their families, so is more inclined to
    recommend due to his familiarity with them.

    Now who has more influence than JHVH over elders? It’s the
    elders WIVES that you mention. Discretion is not a strong point
    with many elders, his better half gets to know the details of
    of the elders meetings, even judicial matters. She then gives her
    two bits worth as to how things should be dealt with.

    Yes, the lady elders have their impact on the cong, and bask in the
    reflected light of their husbands. It’s just the kind of monkeyshines
    that go on in all walks of life. The wt, wants you to think they are
    different. but it just ain’t so.

  • March 20, 2015 at 1:32 pm
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    @ JJ

    @ Ted

    “We are SO part of this world.”!!!

  • March 20, 2015 at 1:44 pm
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    @ anonymous

    “Silver Sword”!!! What a laugh!!! What are they now? Spartans?

  • March 20, 2015 at 1:57 pm
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    Interesting article.
    You should know that–in spite of what the Wikipedia article says–there is no such things as THE Scientific Method.
    Science is a philosophy with a variety of methods and techniques designed to get at that which is objectively true, at least as much as we humans can ask questions, conduct experiments, collect data and analyze it.
    It is a process.
    You may find this website on the Philosophy of Science from the University of California, Berkeley informative:

    http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/philosophy

    Enjoy!

    Oubliette

    • March 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm
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      Thanks for the link Oubliette. I’m personally not convinced philosophy and science are always the best of bedfellows, but I appreciate the alternative viewpoint! :)

  • March 20, 2015 at 5:29 pm
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    Science a variety of methods and techniques. Surely this all
    comes under the umbrella of learning, no need to dissect it.

    This has got to be more sound than an unyielding implacable
    closed mind. They’ll probably still be arguing, evolution or creation
    In a thousand years time, what’s the point? You’ll never prove God’s
    existence in a million years. He’s never manifested himself and he
    never will. Don’t bother referring to any of the countless man made
    religious books, including the Bible

    All any of us have to to reason with are our human faculties. Leaving
    out science for the moment, let’s look at things from a moral
    perspective. If we assume there is a God who made us, we must
    also assume, that he made the organism that caused the Black Death
    that killed 200 million, also leprosy, smallpox. Meningitis, etc, etc ,etc,

    What does he want with us, life is sweet it’s true but there’s a constant
    threat lying over it. My daughter has recently had a leg amputated and
    the other one has to come off sometime soon. I’me not bitter against
    any God. It’s pointless. I might as well curse the man in the moon.
    It’s just life, reality, the way things are. Everything else is creative fancy,
    self deception.

  • March 20, 2015 at 7:07 pm
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    To add to my last comment, I’d be delighted to change
    my mind, if anyone can come up with proof of the
    existence of a loving creator who is personally
    Interested in each one of us.

  • March 21, 2015 at 12:26 am
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    @ Cedars:

    What will be JWsurvey’s approach toward science, religion and the bible when “net neutrality” takes over the net?

    Both President Obama and Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler have stopped tiptoeing around net neutrality and seem to finally embrace the idea of using Title II of the Telecommunications Act to reclassify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and regulate them as common carriers, like the phone companies and other public utilities.

    While many people advocate the government’s hands on approach to the internet there are others that fear the government’s new concerns now have a more sinister outcome and people’s ignorance is being exploited with this issue.

    Net neutrality is a government takeover of the internet and a threat to online freedom.

    The way net neutrality is defined now is nothing more than doublespeak to cover up the fact that we already have it and we do not need the government regulating our free internet.

    The reason why the government wants control of the net is so they can fight their silly wars and continue on the path of corruption, without the internet creating problems with independent journalists revealing their dishonesty.

    The greatest casualty of war is truth and the more they have control of the zeitgeist the more power they have of taking advantage of people’s ignorance.

    As I read this report I thought it said WT, my bad, its Obama net, your thoughts please.

    . . .

  • March 21, 2015 at 3:19 am
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    @ Ted

    I agree. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that God is keenly interested in our happiness and well-being. I mean, He put us on a planet that’s constantly trying to murder us, from the weather to tiny micro-organisms. Sure, it looks great from space, but it’s mostly covered in water, and much of what’s left is barely habitable. Realistically, up until about 150 years ago, it was the Stone Age. Thanks to brilliant people, we now have central heating, microwave ovens, toilets, toilet paper, etc! We no longer have to go outside in a blizzard just to use the bathroom, or hunt woolly mammoths with a pointed stick. But that was the reality at one time. If God truly cared about our happiness, it would be a very different world. I see God as a Mad Scientist, and we’re His experiment. Kind of like an ant farm. To many, that may sound cold and hopeless, but as you implied, the reality speaks for itself. Why subject oneself to delusions of rainbows and unicorns? Better to live in the real world and just deal with it. Happiness comes from living in the real world.
    Bottom line, if there is a God, he doesn’t owe us a thing. I see life more as an opportunity than a gift. A Ferrari is a gift. A trip to Hawaii is a gift. Life is just an opportunity. Just be thankful and make the most of it.
    Religion just gives people a false sense of security.

  • March 21, 2015 at 3:42 am
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    This is off topic but has anyone watched the latest video on jwbroadcasting? It starts off with Chas. T. Russell putting on his pinky ring and cross and crown pin. It’s the one about the last 100 years with all the old people.

  • March 21, 2015 at 3:58 am
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    @minion, time to take off your tin foil hat ;-)

    Governments regulating markets != Thought control

  • March 21, 2015 at 4:31 am
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    Here are 2 sentences (below) from your article. The first one refers to “such a distorted approach.” That clearly is derogatory of the belief of others which clearly contradicts what you point out in sentence 2, where you say, “we are not disrespecting a creationists beliefs.”

    1,but you cannot expect this website to censor itself to conform to such a distorted approach.

    2.When I (or others) write about evolution we are not disrespecting a creationist’s beliefs any more than Galileo was disrespecting the Catholic church by insisting that the earth rotates around the sun rather than the opposite being the case.

    Using casual dismissive adjectives such as “distorted” belies your statement.

    It is interesting about “evolution” the word. It is comparable to the words, “dark and cold.” There is no such thing as “dark” it is a word that means an absence of light. In other words it is an abstract thought and description of what the person viewing it interprets it to be. Same with cold. It describes what happens when you eliminate heat from something. Cold doesn’t actually exist in that sense but it is convenient to describe lack of heat.
    Evolution doesn’t actually exist either, but it is a word used to describe the observer’s INTERPRETATION OF WHAT HE/SHE SEES (italics for emphasis not shouting) or think they see.
    What this means is that in logical thought when speaking about evolution then words like design, adapt, architecture et al should not be used because they tend logically to go with conscious thought. The two things are mutually exclusive.
    I don’t care which ideal you or anyone else holds, but it is hard to reach a point where it becomes a little trite to say we respect others beliefs. For example some people respect suicide bombers but I certainly don’t.

    • March 21, 2015 at 5:07 am
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      uh…what? Is this comment about nit-picking use of the word evolution or the sites rules for being respectful of others viewpoints?

    • March 21, 2015 at 6:36 am
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      You’re taking that first sentence out of context. The “distorted approach” is applied to taking some scientific facts for true and useful, and rejecting others that have been found through the same method. Nowhere in the article is having your own beliefs called a distorted approach; it says that this website is does not censor itself by accepting some scientific facts and rejecting others (you did quote that part).

  • March 21, 2015 at 6:10 am
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    anonymous, is that really Russell putting on a pinky ring? The guy doesn’t seem to have a beard (visible in a later shot where he is facing away from the camera). And when you freeze the image with Russell spreading his arms wide and clapping, he doesn’t seem to have a ring. But I don’t know who else it could have been… and the woman shown is the earlier guy’s wife, as Russell had divorced. I thought it was quite confusing, especially as it’s reenacted.

    What disturbed me more was the very first sentence of Herd lying: “In 1914 the Bible Students were not exactly sure what was going to happen….” Well… Russell did write 7 expectations for 1914, including Jesus coming to earth to overthrow all the governments… Herd continues “…but they knew it would be a pivotal year.” Yeah, yeah Herd! You’re saying that after the fact. It could also have been a ‘1975’ where nothing interesting would have happened at all.

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:23 am
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      Gareth, I watched it again and yes, you are right. I think it’s a guy that is bald and not Russell. It switched over to Russell coming through that door right away and that’s what tricked my mind into thinking it was Russell. I wonder if wearing a pinky ring now is going to be the “thing” among the Witness men? If somebody wants to make a ton of money they should start making jw.org pinky rings and sell them on Ebay.

  • March 21, 2015 at 9:44 am
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    I’ve taken all this evolution – creation stuff on board, but I’m really struggling.
    Will someone please tell me how to get this damn pet monkey to peel a potato or answer the ‘phone for me, it’s so frustrating. Oh, and how many times do I have to show him before he evolves into something that can even use the toilet successfully?? Help!
    (Just throwing a little humour into this somewhat heated debate.)

    • March 21, 2015 at 10:43 am
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      Bad Penny, Scientists are not trying to say where life began. Nobody is that stupid to say how life began. It can’t be proved one way or the other.

      This is how my synonym finder describes the word evolution: 1. evolvement, unfolding, flowering, ripening, unrolling, succession, fruition; development, elaboration, growth, production, creation. 2. rotation, turn, turning, convolution, circuition, gyration.

      This is the synonym for evolve: v. develop, grow, become, become more complex or sophisticated; grow, become, become more complex or sophisticated; grow out of, turn into, derive from, result, emerge; progress, go forward, increase, expand, snowball; produce, construct, formulate, build up; unroll, unfold, uncoil, open.

      If the Bible is accurate, then Noah would have had to load millions of animals, snakes, bugs, etc. etc. even intestinal worms etc. on that ark and then when the ark landed, all those animals would have had to travel to different parts of the world and remember how few of each of those animals he would have loaded, ie. 2 of each animal and in also in Genesis, it says 7 of each animals. So, was it 2 of each animal or 7?

      Think of 8 people taking care of all those millions of animals for a year. Think of all the food they would have had to put on that ark and all the poop to clean up. Think about putting rhinos on that ark and elephants and alligators and the list goes on and on. The Society is delusional in trying to convince Witnesses that they didn’t need all that many animals on the ark because how did all those millions of species develop in such a short time after the ark. For you to believe in the Bible’s account, you have to accept the account of Noah. If the ark account fails, so does the whole story of God’s creation.

      Think about over a million of Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. How did they eat? How did they go to the bathroom? How did they have all those animals? How did they feed those animals and themselves? Where did they come up with all those weapons where they were able to kill all those people that they supposedly killed? What about the 10 commandments? Read Exodus chapter 20. Those first 10 commandments weren’t on two stones. They were verbal. Read Exodus chapter 35. That is where you see the 10 commandments on stones and they are not at all what most people say are the 10 commandments. One of the actual 10 commandments was not to boil a kid in it’s mother’s milk.

      Witnesses have no idea what the Bible actually says, even in such a basic teaching as the 10 commandments. If people read their Bibles, they would realize just how little sense it really makes.

      Scientists don’t try and explain how life began. They don’t insist that life began from a one-celled amoeba like what the Watchtower would like you to think that they teach.

      Scientists don’t have the answers but clergy will use the Bible to make you think you owe your life to God and make money off of your guilt at just being born and supposedly inheriting sin from Adam and Eve.

      You have been led that you owe it to God to believe in the Bible, no matter how little sense it makes to a thinking person. Clergy make money off of people’s not thinking about Bible accounts. They use your guilt to make money off of you. Did you commit a sin by being born? That is what clergy want you to think.

  • March 21, 2015 at 11:38 am
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    Excellent article!

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