No, not just a copy of their mag, “The Watch Tower”, but all 191 pages of a whole book, “Is There a Creator who Cares about You ?”, first English edition, 1998, (5,000,000 copies !) It is an attractive little volume, with colored photos and illustrations, well-written in parts (it does suffer from the difference in talent of its obviously multiple, anonymous authors). To my surprise it was – at least in its initial chapters – not at all wacko (this to admit my negative prejudices). You might be interested to read some of my impressions of and reactions to this piece of propaganda from one branch of the Opposition.
- Fully half the book is dedicated to a discussion of scientific data, with hardly any reference to the Bible. We are informed, however, in one of the early pages before launching into cosmology, physiology, anatomy and the dismissal of Darwin, that “if many people reject the idea one can have of a Creator, it is above all because they don’t want to believe in Him” (otherwise “they would have the feeling they are endangering their freedom and a way of life they like”). In other words, atheists are accused of refusing to accept the “Inconvenient Truth” of God’s existence because it would … cramp our profligate life-style ! We are invited to practise “intellectual honesty”, “to examine carefully what we believe to be true”, and “to afford sufficient attention to other arguments” (would that they take their own advice !).
We are bombarded with a fulsome summary of astronomical data, including what the authors fail to name, the “Goldilocks” phenomenon, as well as the accelerating expansion of the Universe, as proof of the “Creator’s” divine “intervention and intelligence”. Both elements of “evidence” – Goldilocks and expansion – of course, fail to answer the question we have discussed in earlier posts, as to why “God” would have chosen such a complicated, drawn-out process for creation, and what looks like the pointless mad rush of galaxies to get away from each other in the furthest reaches of an apparently endless Universe.
2. The mystery of the origin of life is, naturally, discussed in detail. Predictably there is no reference to or discussion of Dawkins’ “The Blind Watchmaker” (although this ground-breaking work, published over twenty years earlier, provides compelling arguments against the supposed necessity of an Intelligent Designer). The authors consider it sufficient to dismiss chance over an extremely long period of time as the determining factor in “creation”, because of scientists’ failure to reproduce life in laboratories. Though the phrase “Intelligent Designer” is never used, much is made of the (undeniable) fact that “millions of educated people consider that life on Earth is necessarily (?) the product of a superior intelligence”. (This I call “counting noses”. Until relatively recently, everybody believed that the world is flat.) Detailed attention is given to the capacities and complexity of our human faculties, in particular our brain. When the human brain is contrasted with computers and their capacities, including Deep Blue’s prowess in chess, IBM’s supercomputer is dismissed as having the intelligence of “a flower pot”. The book’s age (twenty years) explains, of course, its ignorance of contemporary research in Information Technology and prodigious advances in Artificial Intelligence.
3. Our appreciation of beauty and our innate “sense of the divine” are evoked as reasons for believing in God (ignoring … ignorance but also wishful thinking and fear). The book tries to score a point by asserting : “Atheism is proper to individuals, never to entire nations.” So what ? The presumed nails in atheism’s coffin, the author clearly hopes, include : “The religious quest for meaning is found in all cultures and in every period of history since the appearance of human beings”, and “Many arrive at the conclusion that there is, necessarily (?), a First Cause”. (This Blog’s early posts amply dismiss this presumed “necessity”.) As for the claim that this “First Cause” is a person, St Paul’s sermon to the agnostic Athenians in Acts 17 is considered proof enough. Curiously, the author of this chapter shoots himself in the foot by referring to the Creator’s “goodness” in providing “rain and food and gaiety” to His creatures (Acts 14:16-17). He dares to add that whether we live in a country where people have enough to eat, or in one where folks “have to strive hard to get bare necessities”, “it is to the wisdom and goodness of the Creator that we owe the food He provides” (!). (Tell that to the starving children !). A second indication of divine generosity is our immune system, graciously bestowed, “independently of our social or financial condition”. It, and the bacteria that make it function, are “a flagrant mark of the love and … impartiality (!) and of the justice (!!) of the Creator”. How kind of God not to favor the wealthy ! (“Free Bacteria ! No Means Test !”).
4. When we arrive at the chapters concerning the Bible, we are told that science has discovered that in fact the world’s development followed exactly the creation account of Genesis ! The question is asked : “How could Moses, thousands of years ago, know about this unless he got it from the Creator in person ?” (!). Ironically, in the same chapter, we read : “Faith does not mean credulity.” (What about all those gatherings of Witnesses who witnessed nothing at all when Jesus was supposed to stage his Second Coming, as, for example, years ago in Sydney’s Botany Bay ?) The realization of biblical prophecies is proclaimed to provide proof of the “suprahuman origin” of the Bible !
5. The overview of Old Testament “history” stresses God’s sense of “justice” (the Deluge ?), but above all His “mercy” (!) and “the goodness of His heart towards His people” (the survivors of the Deluge ?).
6. Preposterous biblical “miracles” are presented as credible, proven facts. I could not stop myself from comparing this blind defense of miracles (“alternative facts” ?) with Trump’s sycophantic, if not hypocritical, credulous spokespersons in the White House who defend the President’s lies, contradictions and outrageous behavior. It seems that both the Bible and Trump are right, no matter what.
7. The final pages of the book are the most pathetic : justification of Jesus’ paying the “ransom” for our inherited Original Sin, which is compared with a … virus in a polluted computer : “Humans received from Adam and Eve a ‘virus’, sin, and we need exterior help to make it disappear (Rom. 5:12).” According to the Bible, God used the death of Jesus to assure this “cleansing” : “It is a benevolent measure from which we can benefit (I Cor. 15:22).” Nice of you, Jesus, to wash away with your blood a sin we never committed.
8. Discussion of the problem of evil is almost as pathetic. “If God cares for us, why is there so much suffering ?” Infections, pain, death, poverty, crime, injustice, aggressions by psychopaths and sex fiends (with no mention of natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes and erupting volcanos) are all cited as examples. Some people, the author says, believe that suffering is “punishment for bad actions committed in a previous life”. But he adds : “Such beliefs are wide-spread, but what proof do we have of their veracity ?” – a question which Witnesses should ask about their own unfounded convictions . . . On the other hand, he reassures us, “God’s declarations are accurate.” Well, all right then !
Suffering is explained, if not justified, in terms of a “congenital heritage”. We are told that we, the descendants of our sinful First Parents, have “inherited imperfection which leads to death”, and that “though not directly responsible”, we can understand this idea better by comparing our suffering to that of inherited hemophilia, thalassemia (a chronic Mediterranean anemia), heart disease, diabetes and breast-cancer (!). “Exempla claudicant” (“Examples limp”); this one is paralytic ! The author dares to tell us : “Man is even sometimes at the origin of natural catastrophes, which many attribute to God.” He may be talking of arsonists’ forest fires – surely not of tsunamis and earthquakes ?
9. In spite of the Book of Job, the author refuses to believe, along with James (in his epistle, 1:13) that God sends sufferings to test us. Like Jesus, we should recognize not only that Satan really “exists but has the power to cause suffering”. Jesus’ example “indicates that at the time (?) God always left humans to demonstrate their fidelity in time of difficulty” (is this not putting us to the test ?). The author seems to imply even that in acting like Adam and Eve, we bring suffering on ourselves as they did ! He concludes with the following incomprehensible peroration : “It is therefore clear that the Creator does not cause sufferings but He permits them to answer capital questions.” . . . W H A T ?
His final word is even more curious. Apparently Witnesses believe that 1914 marked a prophesized period of “universal sufferings”, the “great tribulation” of Matt. 24:21. The good news is that these sufferings will last only for a “short period” (Rev. 12:7-12). (Well, thank God for that !). Witnesses, with or without sandwich boards which read “Repent ! The End is Near !”, seem to have insider information denied to the rest of us.
If you have read all of the above, you should now have the answer to the question in the book’s title : “Is There a Creator who Cares about You ?”. I personally am no more convinced than I was before reading it. But I pity all those poor Witnesses who are not only convinced but try to convince others there is such a Creator. I have little chance of convincing them of the contrary : they are not Believers on the Brink; they are devoid of doubt. But at least we now all know why they believe what they believe and want the world to believe. God help them !