Jehovah’s Witnesses put a book stand outside Mesquite Library with free books and I just couldn’t resist this title. Of course, I had my own answer to this question. I know what The Holy Bible has taught us so far: intolerance, bigotry, sexism, and foolish and harmful nonsense, but I figured that their answers ought to be worth looking at.
This book immediately switches direction me and asks ME some questions in the context of crime, war, and terrorism:
“Is this what God wants for me and my family?“
Belief? (Mark 16:16) Irrationality? (1=3, Jesus=Jehovah) Bigotry, sexism, disdain for other cultures? It seems to my poor brain that the “God” of this person’s Bible wants confusion and irrationality.
If we’re talking about an actual God, the possible actual Creator of all that is, it would seem we should be in the science section of the library rather than the dogmatic religious section. We now know Mars is not a god but a world somewhat like our own but colder, smaller, and with a much less dense atmosphere. We now know that the man or men who wrote Genesis were NOT writing facts but letting their imaginations go, unfettered by logic, valid information, or any real understanding.
“Where can I find help to cope with my problems?“
I developed an answer to THAT question by spending 20 years in 12-step meetings, which included developing a God of my own understanding who was entirely different from the intolerant, dogmatic, violent bigot of the Old Testament. I made a searching and fearless inventory of my own misdemeanors. I changed my attitudes and behavior so that I wouldn’t keep making the same damn fool mistakes over and over again. And, finally, I sponsored others and served others at all levels of several organizations as a way to make my life meaningful and fulfilled.
“Will there ever be real peace?“
This struck me as ironic. The armed invasion of the Western Hemisphere was carried out by Christians in the name of Christianity with the full approval and support of the Pope. Christianity and Judaism crafted the concept of Israel and created ongoing war in the region, not peace. And Christians disagree violently with almost everyone else and even with other Christians! Our Founding Fathers came here in desperation to escape Christian intolerance. I can think of dozens of wars sponsored by Christianity beside the First Crusade which the Pope concocted out of thin air as a “solution” to a problem that was solved before the lawless (but forgiven) Crusaders ever got to the “Holy Land.”
Wow! Apparently, this book is going to turn the tables on me. All along, I’ve been thinking that the Bible caused problems for me and my family and helped us get into most of these wars. It seems that the JWs have the solution to the problems their most famous and well-read book has — in my mind at least — caused.
On the very next page, I learn that:
“People will no longer feel pain, grow old, or die. (Revelations 21:4)“
Is this the answer? These books (both this tract and the Bible) are going to fix everything because the Bible says it will fix everything. And it’s going to do what it hasn’t done in all the time it dominated and controlled Western Civilization, fix all the misery it exacerbated for 17 centuries? No pain. No aging. No death?
Not in my experience. My grandmother was a Christian missionary and she died a horrible death in excruciating pain. I watched it happen. I was eight years old and smart enough even then to know that this stuff was improbable at best.
“The lame will leap like the deer.” (Isaiah 35:6)
I’ve read about this: Coleridge’s willing suspension of disbelief. We can choose to believe anything. My aunt had childhood polio and was delighted to be able to put on braces and hobble around on two crutches. “Walking” was enough for Aunt Ellen. Yes, she died also, many years ago.
“The eyes of the blind will be opened.” (Isaiah 35:5)
Well, NOW we’re getting somewhere! I’ve read about this. Cataract surgery in Africa and Asia with amazing results!
“The dead will be brought back to life. (John 5:28-29)“
Yes, well modern medicine has done some amazing things with people whose hearts have just stopped, but if it’s been over 30 minutes, the brain is gone unless the temperature is really low.
“No one will get sick. (Isaiah 33:24)“
This Isaiah seems to have a fertile imagination. He’s channeled modern medicine, but I think he’s fudged or missed a few of the details.
“Everyone on earth will have plenty to eat. (Psalms: 72:16)“
Now THIS is definitely possible! First, however, we need to get those Catholics in Italy to allow family planning and send condoms, birth control pills and firewood to Africa. And it might be advisable to stop global warming before we recreate greenhouse conditions similar to Venus (which was also very different from our once-popular anthropomorphic fantasies).
What I’ve learned so far is not to trust my life experiences. This book knows more than I do and Isaiah is smarter than I am. Except he’s not.
I was kneeling beside my father when he died less than a month shy of his 98th birthday. His magnificent brain had been mush for several years and his body, which had been fit into his nineties, was finally failing him. Death was a blessing and I welcomed it for him. He’d had several cataract surgeries, but eventually his body just shut down and stopped working. His sister made it to 102, but without eyesight or hearing. There wasn’t a lot of leaping in either case. My mother, another fundamental Christian, wasn’t leaping at the end, either. She had a malfunction of the blood brain barrier and her brain gradually calcified and robbed her of control of her muscles with contracted involuntarily. Again, death was a blessing and, though she believed in life after death, that seems unlikely to me and unverifiable in any case.
So, what I’ve learned so far is that I can’t believe anything I know or have experienced. Isaiah knows better and promises that, while God has seen fit to inflict lots of pain, suffering, and death in front of me, He’s going to do something entirely different behind my back in the great hereafter. I cannot trust my 73 years of life experience because everything is different after I die. The rules change. God likes destruction, war and suffering here, but banishes it entirely if I can manage to be credulous and willingly suspend my enormous disbelief.
This has all the earmarks of a con. And I’m just turning to page 4, with the heading, “BENEFIT FROM WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES.”
The problem is that I know what the Bible teaches. And I know a fair bit about history. From 325 AD to the reformation, the Bible taught everyone in Europe. It was a lot like the Islamic world today. Christians were in charge of all teaching. The Bible was law and irrefutable. And life was dreadful!
Disease was rampant and unchecked. Childbirth was perilous. Everyone was stuck in a system of stasis where wars were constantly being fought between members of the single royal family — all Christians. Our ancestors were stuck in the Dark and Middle Ages with no hope in sight, having the Bible read or explained to them (like this tract is attempting to do) and believing it all despite constant evidence against it.
During this time, it was illegal to say anything contrary to or derogatory about The Holy Bible. The penalties were severe. And the church had total control of all scholarship and the religious education of all children. All the serious scholars were sequestered and tightly controlled. When a clergyman translated the Bible into English, he was put to death for his effort to allow common man access to this book.
People were taught that God, if angered, was capable of destroying everything but one small family and a large boat full of land animal mating pairs. (However, archaeology, genetics and translating Egyptian hieroglyphics have all proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the story of Noah and the flood is entirely fictional.)
People were taught that God required obedience and that he was pleased when a father was willing to murder his infant son because God told him to. I find this “Jehovah” to be a fictional being. But IF He were real, I wouldn’t worship or even like Him. I definitely don’t like or trust the men who created Him — apparently in the image of their own twisted, power-hungry, misogynistic, racist selves.
People were told that God would favor them, if not in this life, then in the next, if they believed what the priests taught, if they practiced the seven sacraments, and if they went to a priest and confessed their sins periodically.
People were taught — and believed — that women were designed to serve men; that sex was distasteful to their maker despite being the vehicle of their making; that disdain for the current world gained honor and respect in the world to come, after death and/or after Jesus takes over political control in this one.
And this godawful pack of lies is still being taught to our children — my grandchildren as we speak — by people who should know better.
Things got worse the more influence Christianity and its offshoot, Islam, had in this world. The only remission Europe has gotten from this ideological plague of non-thinking, illogical nonsense was when Henry VIII, arguably a nutcase himself, wrested control of English minds from the pack of ideologues in Rome. Suddenly, people like Sir Isaac Newton were allowed to think without being muzzled and a sane world emerged, not out of religion, but out of science.
Admittedly, wars didn’t stop. Admittedly, disease still occurred. But we began to notice that disease wasn’t caused by sin at all. Rather, it was caused by viruses and bacteria and by the body’s own defenses against foreign agents. We learned that the Earth, rather than being the center of the universe as stated in our Bibles, was in an unremarkable backwater of an unremarkable speck of it. And we learned that the Bible not only lied to us about disease and our place in the universe, it lied to us about our place in history!
So, having been enlightened about the clear dishonesty we know about, JWs are busy telling the same stories they read and believed in childhood, the fables about 900-year-old men and their tight relationships with their Creator, and, of course, fictions about what happens after death, embalming, and burial, and, of course, predictions of a Jesus who CLEARLY refused this role the first and second time around, and has since NOT returned to become a brutal dictator and damner rather than remain the kind and generous healer and philosopher he was for almost all of his first life.
Their optimism clearly overrides every bit of common sense or modesty as these people seek to revoke the work of our founding fathers and return us to the clutches of irrefutable dishonesty.
These guys even elected a President to champion their self-aggrandizing delusions of superiority to the rest of us less gullible folks. They’re not satisfied with just “under God” in our pledge. They want Creationism and prayer in our schools as well.
OK. I admit I had a good idea of what would be said. Several pairs of JWs have knocked on my door and engaged with me with one a “missionary” and one an observer with steadfast and unwavering loyal to this stuff that I KNOW is utter nonsense.
How do you combat this unthinking gibberish in otherwise kind and rational people? What magic pill or incantation can end this nightmare of well-meaning people earnestly promoting idiotic ideas and blind credulity?
What re-engages the brain into patterns that are consonant with reality?
Anyone got any ideas??