More than Thrilled to Take a Look at it
Jim and Pam and Ray Goth

The Fight to Stamp Out HBB

Years ago I knew a fellow whose dealings would, from time to time, invite scrutiny from the state tax authorities. Whether those dealings were legal or not, I had no idea, but they certainly were slick. At any rate, this was long before the days of computers, and I no longer recall the specifics.

What I do recall was how he dealt with challenges from the tax people. He’d write several letters to them, each one contradicting the other. ‘Your goal is to get them to pull the file,’ he told me. ‘Once they pull it, they’ll lose it.’ He swore by this system.

It’s called muddying the waters. Politicians do it a lot. It accounts for much of negative campaigning. Say there is something about your position that is unpalatable, or even stinks to high heaven. Rather than explain it….perhaps the only realistic explanation is that you are a greedy and conniving so-and-so…’s better to divert attention from it. So you say nasty things about your opponent, or grandiose things that, while true, have nothing to do with the issue at hand, though they are phrased so that their irrelevance is not immediately obvious. Eventually the average citizen, who has much on his plate and is not obsessed with your issue in the first place, will throw up his hands and say ‘oh, the hell with it! They’re all liars, anyway.’ Once they‘ve done that, you can do whatever you want, reasonably free from scrutiny.

Does muddying the waters also account for HBB? Holy Book Belief (7th comment),says Dave from the Freethinker blog, is the phenomenon that other people have their own holy books…’s not just the Bible….which they look to as their authority. Therefore the whole concept of religion must be bogus.

Does it really work that way? To demolish a position, does it suffice merely to point to some who have concluded otherwise? Would that all life were so simple. You can’t get two people to agree on politics, either, or economics, government or philosophy.  Should everyone give up on these topics, then, and conclude they’re all nonsense? Or are we just attempting to rationalize being intellectually lazy (or disinterested)?

Look, ‘disinterested’ is one thing. But let’s not try to couch it as though it were a clinical syndrome. Dave might have gone further. He might have pointed out that, within each holy book, there are sects and divisions. So? All of life is like that. It the subject interests you, you search it through. If it doesn't, you don’t. Time was when the plethora of religions and beliefs would prompt searching, rather than giving up. Among our people, you constantly run across those who say they searched long and hard before finally finding a home here. One of our publications is entitled Mankind’s Search for God. So what are we to make of the fact that others, too, say they have searched, and they have arrived somewhere else as their truth?

I don’t know why we have to make anything out of it. Let God sort it out. If we think that Jehovah’s Witnesses have found the way of truth, then we act in harmony with it. I don’t lose my cookies should I find that others have concluded differently. People don’t agree on anything. Why should it be different when it comes to religion? Different faiths have characteristics appealing to different personalities, perhaps. Often, it’s just a matter of convenience, espousing the path one was born into.

The real issue is, or should be, the amount of disruption a given faith exacts upon society. If everybody propagated their ideas as Jehovah’s Witnesses do theirs, this would be a very peaceful world. Sure, their visits might be viewed as pesky, yet if you disagree with them, they go away. Is that not less obtrusive than what most religions (or atheists) try to do: use the political process to write one’s views into law so that people are forced into them? Some groups don’t stop there: they even resort to violent means. But our weapons are words only. To those who don’t know what they believe, who lack confidence in their beliefs, or who don’t want to believe anything (but don’t quite care to admit it), our visits might seem a bit awkward. But to anyone who knows where they stand and knows how to live and let live, they are no big deal, even when they don’t agree with us.

Anyone familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses knows that, for many decades, we have anticipated a time when the world’s governments would turn upon religion, based upon our interpretation of this verse:

And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put [it] into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out [their] one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished.       Rev 17:16-17

From time to time, there is speculation as to just what will transpire so as to trigger these dramatic events. Religion has been so disruptive for so long to world peace and unity that plausible theories are never lacking. But my bet is that this generation’s new militant atheists will have something to do with it.


Tom Irregardless and Me           No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'



Hi Tom!

First-time visitor here, I just saw a rather thoughtful comment you left at DaylightAtheism and wanted to check you out. This post was great!

Please don't take any of this in offense - I'm not a Jehovah's Witness but I once attended a service and was put off by quite a bit, and in my neighborhood Witnesses would come around at least once a month it seemed. It didn't bother me because I enjoy debate, but never once did I meet a Witness who I would have deemed an intellectual. As soon as I brought up fact X or Y they would just simply not reply and walk away. I thought that was strange.

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley


Does what you've experienced square with Paul's words?

"For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are... " 1 Cor 1:26-28

or these of Jesus?

"At that time Jesus said in response: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes." Matt 11:25

Our people tend to be regular folk, not natural born orators or debaters. For some, door-to-door activity is a significant challenge, yet they do it anyway, understanding it to be part of the Christian pattern. We tend to shy away from debates. Still, I can think of many who would rise to your challenge?

also here:


Perhaps I should add that being an intellectual is no morally or intellectually superior than not being an intellectual? And I heartily agree with the verses you cite. What I'm saying is, if someone can't or won't answer very basic questions I have about their religion, such is not exactly inspiring. Does not 1 Peter 3:15 prove relevant? "...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence..."

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley


It's hard to say from here, but i notice your wording has changed. Here you just mention "very basic questions [you] have about their religion." However, originally you referred to their reaction whenever you brought up "facts X or Y." Is it questions you have or facts you want to bring to their attention?

Generally speaking, they will answer basic questions about their faith. However, if they perceive, rightly or wrongly, that you are really just trying to set up an argument or debate, they may decline to take part. I've often done that myself.

Bill in Detroit

As usual, I agree about 103% with you, Tom. When it comes to beliefs (including atheism), "You pays your money and you takes your pick."

I 'am' an 'intellectual' (I make my living in the realm of ideas). And my response to someone wanting to waste my time with needless fussing over words would be to take my leave. My time is too valuable (and it is too cold this time of year!) for me to waste any of it debating someone in order to entertain them.

What was that about the spiritual man not being tried by anyone? 1 Corinthians 2:14,15



It was actually questions I had about alleged facts I'd heard, and in many cases had been able to independently verify. Sometimes I would have doctrinal questions, other times I would say, "Well what about fact X or Y?"

Nearly every time, I was asked to come down to the Kingdom Hall and inquire of an elder. At any rate, below are just a few of them that typically came up.

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley

It now seems likely that the sole purpose of your prior comments on this post and the one before have been to insert some boiler-plate anti-JW rhetoric into the discussion. I don't link to sites whose sole purpose is to run down Jehovah's Witnesses, not will I get into lengthy discussions with them. Their minds are absolutely made up and they do not quit....a discussion with them takes forever, and, while it satisfies them, I'm not able to keep the discussion interesting to the general reader. Every blogger has a policy; that is mine. I don't want to cater to those who have an axe to grind with regard to our faith.

Your own blog really isn't of that sort, though I've little doubt the post you thrust here is from one of those sources. Very well. I'll address this one. I don't plan to make a habit out of it. Your post consists of material criticizing Charles Russell (first president of the Watchtower Society) and that criticizing the New World Translation. Comments on the first are juvenile; comments on the second are biased and misinformed.

Both sections make a big deal about credentials from learned humans; what theological schools did one obtain ordination from, and what university training in language did one have. I'm reminded of the reception given the early apostles and even Jesus himself:

"Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus." acts 4:13

"When by now the festival was half over, Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. Therefore the Jews fell to wondering, saying: “How does this man have a knowledge of letters, when he has not studied at the schools?" John 7:15-15

Frankly, Watchtower, through its program, structure and dedication, is a "school" in its own right. And one can only learn languages through the world's universities? What of the millions of people today fluent in several languages who never went to any school at all? Yes, ancient language adds a degree of complication, but still, language is just a means of communication and surely there are many avenues through which one may learn it. And if you can point to people mean-mouthing the New World Translation, we can point to people praising it. For example:

“The translation of the New Testament is evidence of the presence in the movement of scholars qualified to deal intelligently with the many problems of Biblical translation.”—Andover Newton Quarterly, January 1963.


“The New Testament translation was made by a committee whose membership has never been revealed—a committee that possessed an unusual competence in Greek.”—Andover Newton Quarterly, September 1966.

And if the committee's membership has never been revealed, (they remain anonymous...see the forward in the current edition of the NWT) how is it you claim to know who they are? Even if it was the case that the individuals you name chaired the committee, that hardly means they alone comprised the committee.

Most criticism of the New World Translation stems from the fact that is does not translate certain verses in the precise words necessary to uphold the Trinity doctrine. This is extremely important to Trinity people, because the teaching derives almost all of its authority from such verses. Now, there are many translations (throughout the past century, there has appeared about one new English translation per year) that render those verses similar to the NWT, but the commercial marketplace assures that these Bible translations tank. The NWT has not tanked, because it does not depend on the world's commercial system for distribution. It thereby becomes a special target of wrath for those who adhere to the Trinity.... a population which includes almost everyone (except for JWs) claiming to be Christian.

Now, regarding Russell and the material I called "juvenile," we've never built him up to be a Pope, as if he was incapable of error. Moreover, your article seems to assume that Jehovah's Witnesses are desperately trying to keep all such material under wraps. In fact, Watchtower publications have several times discussed these be sure, without the knee-jerk condemnation of your post, nor with your insistence that all events be considered minus their context....but they have been discussed. Too, the man has been dead for almost 100 years. If you have to go back 100 years to dig up dirt, there can't be that much to dig up. Russell was a God fearing man who was used in an extensive way. A publication called “The Continent,” in the early 1900's, said about him: “His writings are said to have greater newspaper circulation every week than those of any other living man; a greater, doubtless, than the combined circulation of the writings of all the priests and preachers in North America." He accomplished a lot. But no one ever said that he wasn't human, subject to the frailties all of us have.

Focusing on flaws, real or imagined, in context or out, leads to some unsettling conclusions:

"After a little while those standing around came up and said to Peter: “Certainly you also are one of them, for, in fact, your dialect gives you away.” Then he started to curse and swear: “I do not know the man!” Matt 26:73-74

conclusion: Peter was a liar. (maybe a foul-mouthed one)

"However, when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him face to face, because he stood condemned. For before the arrival of certain men from James, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he went withdrawing and separating himself, in fear of those of the circumcised class." Gal 2:11-12

conclusion: he was also a hypocrite and a coward.

"At this there occurred a sharp burst of anger, so that they separated from each other; and Barnabas took Mark along and sailed away to Cyprus. Paul selected Silas and went off ...".Acts 15:39-40

conclusion: Barnabas and Paul were quarrelsome hotheads

 "But, turning his back, he [Jesus] said to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men. " Matt 16:23

conclusion: Jesus was a slanderer

Your post makes much of failed end-date prophesies. At most, it’s like misreading a bus schedule. It leaves egg on your face. It doesn’t make you a fraud or a liar. In our lifetime, it’s happened once (in 1975, and even then it was stated in probable terms, not as an absolute). It was an error, obviously, yet is in harmony with Jesus admonition to "keep on the watch." The scripture you excitedly point to says no man knows the day and the hour. Accordingly, no such day or hour was specified regarding 1975.

I wrote some about the matter here:

Hope that helps.

I prefer for people to be straightforward. You presented yourself as an essentially neutral person who was genuinely perplexed that visiting JWs would not answer your unspecified heartfelt questions. But the post you've linked to actually says it all: "Bones to Pick with Jehovah's Witnesses." Many of those who comment on my blog do not agree with me. But they are all open as to who they are and what they represent.

Dave McKeegan

Hi again, Tom. Your suggestion that the phenomenon of Holy Book Belief is just another example of people having different opinions - as they do in the realms of politics - economics and other inexact sciences, suggests strongly to me that you have never had any discussions with devout Muslims.

If you had, you would surely acknowledge that there is something out-of-the-ordinary going on there. More than simply agreeing to differ on poltical, ethical, or aesthetic matters, the convictions of the devout Muslim concern matters of *fact* - asserted or denied on the strength of the belief that the Koran is the perfect and unalterable word of the creator of the universe. "Facts", that is, only to those committed to that particular HBB. The rest of the world know they are nuts! They are absolutely convinced, for example, that Mohammed cut the moon in half. Why? Because it says so in their holy book. No other evidence is necessary.

You and I both know that Mohammed didn't chop the moon in half. A human being is not capable, and it plainly is whole (the Koran doesn't say anything about him putting back together!) for starters, plus nobody else in the world seems to have noticed this cosmic event. But a devout Muslim knows otherwise - they even try to use science to support their view, in a tacit admission that "it says so in the Koran" is not really evidence enough. (Watch this for a laugh: )

It's a phenomenon, Tom.

The attribution of divine provenance and infallibilty to an ancient text, the concomitant reliance upon said text as ultimate guide to life, and the circular reasoning, cherry-picking, confirmation bias, tu quoque, obfuscation, equivocation and ad hominem strategies employed to maintain this conviction at all costs - could even be, as you suggest, be labelled a syndrome. I invite you to go to with a few contradictions or adsurdities from the Koran - they will happily demonstrate the syndrome for you.

They start by arguing patiently, but end up by declaring it a "waste of time" to debate with infidels, and triumphantly quote a Koranic passage which states that there will always be unbelievers whom Allah has blinded to the truth (ignoring the fact that all cults have such a clause written in to their constitution somewhere, so it's hardly a show-stopper).

What is more, I think you fundamentally (pardon the pun) misunderstand what I'm talking about when you report my words like this:

other people have their own holy books…’s not just the Bible….which they look to as their authority. Therefore the whole concept of religion must be bogus.

I make no such argument - to do so would be flawed logic. What I'm saying is that knowing that falsely attributing divine provenance to an ancient book is a very common human error, and being aware of the strategies employed to hide this error from yourself, is a very strong vaccination against making such an error yourself. Of course, being made aware of these things after the error is made does not act as an antidote - but what interests me is the strategies employed by believers when faced with these facts.

You denied the phenomenon existed, and then retreated in to a kind of soft relativism ("Different faiths have characteristics appealing to different personalities, perhaps", "Let God sort it out"), before coming to the conclusion that "real issue is, or should be, the amount of disruption a given faith exacts upon society".

JWs are indeed gentle, peacable folk who generally keep to themselves and don't try interfere unduly with public policy-making. But by your "disruption" criterion, Christadelphians are better - they are practically the same as JWs, but without the door-knocking. :-)

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley

Okay, okay, there are some special characteristics of HBB. Nonetheless, I think you overstate the differences between it and other areas of disagreement. Right wing radio or left wing dogma gets very close for showing absolute intolerance for the other side. Throughout history, the 'truth' of various economic and political systems have seemed sufficiently evident to proponents that they've been willing to slaughter entire populations who didn't acquiesce. I'd say that's reasonably close to HBB. It would certainly suffice for those killed.

Meanwhile, as you stated: "JWs are indeed gentle, peaceable folk who generally keep to themselves and don't try interfere unduly with public policy-making." So what really is the issue? Why are JWs a constant target of atheist sites? (not to mention guys like cl....see above.... who comes at us from the other side....I don't know why I can't play you two off against each other. instead, I am stuck between you guys like our Lord was impaled between two thieves (just kidding)) One almost thinks of Orwell's 1984, in which the domineering powers simply cannot bear the existence of any contrary idea. If all groups propagated their ideas as do Jehovah's Witnesses theirs, there would indeed be peace on earth. How many groups can say that?



I still think that *every* worldview, religious or otherwise, has its own peculiar tenets of 'truth' that it holds to and must be defended by its believers. This is not strictly a phenomenon of religion. The truth is that people have *religious* devotion to all different things, even scientists and atheists display these HBB 'symptoms' in some respects.




You said, "It now seems likely that the sole purpose of your prior comments on this post and the one before have been to insert some boiler-plate anti-JW rhetoric into the discussion."

First off, you can take things however you wish, but in full reality, the sole purpose of my prior comments was to complement you for well-written pieces, and that's what I did. Out of respect, by no means would I have left any of those comments here. After I complimented you, you inquired as to what sort of questions I would normally pose to JW's who came to my door, so I pointed you to a post I wrote. What's the big deal if it's all "juvenile, biased, and misinformed," right? Not to be rude, but it seems they struck a nerve.

Second, the post on my blog resulted from my own readings and research, from several sources, not just some other rabid, anti-JW site as you posit.

Third, the credentials issues, important as they are, were only the thrust of the translation concerns. Say you're a publisher (which I happen to be, so I see these scenarios often). Say an author brings you an excellent book about skateboarding that you decide should be translated into Spanish. Now, I can understand having skateboarders present to oversee the translation, but far and away, the matter at hand is language and preservation of words, correct? So, I would hire a panel of experts in Spanish, as opposed to a panel of 6 skateboarders with zero formal Spanish training, and 1 skateboarder who took a few undergraduate Spanish classes. What's wrong with that? Further, I would also hire some rollerbladers, to prevent bias.

Fourth, you quoted this: “The New Testament translation was made by a committee whose membership has never been revealed—a committee that possessed an unusual competence in Greek.” Well that's convenient, no? An unfalsifiable claim about the people who translated a book that my eternal future hinges on? Note that the apostles weren't concealed. How do you think people would take to the Bible if the gospels were anonymous? If your translators are so competent, why the concealment? Seriously? You make a valid point here, though:

"Even if it was the case that the individuals you name chaired the committee, that hardly means they alone comprised the committee."

Correct. Maybe there were many others. But again, in a matter like this, what or why would they hide? Who lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl? Honestly, provide one reasonable excuse why these men should be anonymous.

Fifth, regarding Russell, you offer nothing but an argument from authority. Now, even though he was convicted of perjuring and selling bogus wheat, that doesn't mean all of JW theology goes out the window in my mind. Certainly, there are bad apples of of all stripe and creed, right? If Russell was a God-fearing man, do you argue, then, that he sincerely believed his wheat was miraculous? How do you excuse his claims that his own writings were more central to salvation than the Bible itself?

As far as failed end-times predictions, like misreading a bus schedule? Excuse me, but the end of the world simply cannot be compared to misreading a bus schedule. And the Bible clearly says nobody knows these dates, correct? So why would these learned men of God even have attempted such an inherently blunderous endeavor? How does Jesus admonishing us to 'keep watch' entail that we should proclaim dates and times to our parishes when the Bible clearly states such are unknowable?

Sixth, you didn't even mention my criticisms of Just What Does God Require Of Us? How can you or your translators justify that Jesus was raised a spirit-creature, for example?

Seventh, your closing comment actually saddened me a bit. I was straightforward. I came here, read three posts I thought were each excellent, and left appropriate compliments. As the discussion evolved, you asked about the facts and questions I mentioned, so I pointed you their way. You act as if I'm trying to accost you when it couldn't be further from the truth. Regarding the JW religion, I was an essentially neutral person, but repeated episodes like this leave me no choice but to think something is awry. Also, the phrase "bones to pick" is a rhetorical one people use everyday, no? I occasionally have bones to pick with the woman in my life as well. Does that mean I'm out to get her? To prove her a fraud? Of course not. I love her greatly.

Seriously, all I wanted was some answers to my questions - they are my heartfelt questions - and I didn't really get that many answers - then or now. Now, I doubt I'll be back or that I'm welcome here, but honestly, I did enjoy the posts I read here, and that's why I commented on them as I did. If you didn't want my questions, you shouldn't of mentioned it. Your first reply, that I noticed you changed, said something akin to, "Without knowing what the questions were..." I took that as an invitation to share them. I feel you to be an honest, kind person at heart. Do know, however, that these evasions won't make people like me interested in the JW religion. The relevant verse from 1 Peter 3:15 stands.

And as far as your comment about me to Dave McKeegan, the truth is, I hadn't had a theological discussion with a Witness in several years, and now I remember exactly why. I'm "targeting" you? Please!

Although I cannot apologize that you took offense to my questions, I can state that by no means did I come here to target you. That you'll likely never see me around here again should be evidence enough of this fact.

Bill in Detroit,

Avid Tiger fan here. Don't know what happened in '06. Dropped by your blog and read a few posts, liked 'em. Especially the bit about race and all that, and the iced teas. And the link to "Wrench" was stellar - repeat - stellar. At any rate, I'll add one thing to what you say here, which I anticipate may offend, but that's not the goal. I will share what I truly perceived from your comment:

"And my response to someone wanting to waste my time with needless fussing over words would be to take my leave. My time is too valuable (and it is too cold this time of year!) for me to waste any of it debating someone in order to entertain them." (emph. mine)

So you, who are already presumably 'saved', and your time are more important than questions from someone who wants to know more about your faith? I'll answer people's questions about my beliefs until the sun comes up, and goes back down again. What is it that you're doing that could possibly be more important than another person's eternal future? That's what I get from the comment, and although it's possible I've misread you, there's something very wrong there in my opinion. Note: my opinion.

Dave McKeegan,

"They start by arguing patiently, but end up by declaring it a "waste of time" to debate with infidels..."

Interesting. Exactly what happened to me here.

David McKeegan

Tom (and TJ), I agree that other areas of belief are prone to the same fallacies and can persist in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. HBB is just an extreme example of this.

All the more reason to be aware of the phenomenon and - if truth is important to you - to be ruthless in your self-examination.

In this respect, knowledge and awareness acts as a prophylactic against false beliefs. But not, alas, an antidote once those beliefs have set in.

On another point (but slightly related as it provides an example of sorts), you ask "Why are JWs a constant target of atheist sites? " They are not. JWs are largely ignored in comparison to Muslims and other brands of Christian. The Freethinker, for eg, currently carries 651 articles - all anti-religion in some way. 2 of them are on the subject of JWs. I make that about 0.3%. Confirmation bias?


Hey Tom,

This really has nothing to do with this post, so...yeah...but, I figure you're older and wiser than me; and we've had some fairly in-depth conversations, so, why not?

I'm in a pretty messed up situation with this girl. Morally, ethically,'s just bad. But, it's so right, and I know that we're really right for one another, in a way that I've never felt in any of my previous relationships. Like, all those cheesy 80's and early 90's romantic comedies...for the rest of my life, if nothing works out with this girl, I'll think to myself "There goes my wife..."

But it's a really messed up situation...What do you do? I mean, I guess I'm asking from the point of view of not having you say "Wait and pray about it," because, I feel like that's where I'm at anyway. do you go about your life when you know something is so right, that you want to be with someone for the rest of your life and are so completely happy and comfortable with them and being so unsure that it's ever going to work out for entirely external factors?

I know this is a bit more personal than we've delved into in the past, and if you don't feel comfortable answering it or dealing with it, that's fine. I just...I dunno, I'm close to the end of my rope and I'm reaching out to anyone who might have some guidance.


Tom Sheepandgoats Harley


I ended my last comment to you with what you might construe as a put-down, so it’s not surprising that you might want to respond, and so you have. It is, of course, possible that I misjudged your methods. I’m human. Frankly, I think my instincts are dead-on, but it’s possible I’m mistaken. Other than a defending your motives, you’ve essentially reiterated your original points. If I did not respond to every line you wrote, as you charge, neither did you to my reply. We may have to agree to disagree. Sometimes people don’t agree. I can live with that.

Look, Russell made a lot of enemies. During his lifetime, he was billed as “the man who turned the hose on hell and put out the fire.” At a time when everyone believed in hell, he had the courage and Bible knowledge necessary to show it up for the unbiblical God-slandering teaching that it is. Clergy then did not like to see their sacred cows skewered, same as today. Most New Testament characters, at one time or another, suffered arrest, imprisonment, in some cases execution, for much the same reason, so run-ins with a court doens't necessarily sink Russell's reputation in my eyes. We are not going to convince each other. The trouble is, the only ones who bothered to keep any records are those who have a partisan interest: us and his clerical enemies. Snippets of information exist here and there, and today interested parties interpret them according to their agenda. I've no idea what's unvarnished truth and what's a hatchet job. But even if complete transcripts of all these legal proceedings were available, I rather doubt I’d read them. It’s just not that interesting to me. As I’ve said, we count him just as a man; I’ll readily concede he was imperfect, and we’ve never built him up to be a Pope. All the same, I hate to see him maligned. His ideas (such as no-hell) have endured and spread, as has his basic philosophy. Dave McKeegan conceded Jehovah’s Witnesses today are a peaceable people not given to interfering in public policy. That can’t be said for the descendants of Russell’s clerical opponents.

Did your comments “strike a nerve,” as you say? Perhaps. From time to time, one reads of CURRENT scandals involving LIVING church leaders, not ones who've been dead 90 years. It doesn't sway their followers a bit, yet these same followers gleefully relate any dirt about Russell that they think anyone might believe.

Concerning “Miracle Wheat,” there actually was a strain of wheat that others had grown and brought to his attention. It had won prizes at several fairs. It was subject of a favorable Department of Agriculture Report filed on Nov 23, 1907. In the Watch Tower of March 15, 1908, Russell commented: “If this account be but one-half true [apparently it wasn't] it testifies afresh to God’s ability to provide things needful for the ‘times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.’—Acts 3:19-21.”

It appears he was duped. Should he be lambasted for it today? Perhaps. On the other hand, the most financially savvy and sophisticated people of today - not working joes like you and I - have been shown up as gullible almost beyond belief for handing billions of dollars to Bernie Madoff, who lost it all in his grand Ponzi scheme. This, in spite of many reputable warnings, which were ignored. People get swept along in the hype of their times. Russell is no exception. Still, Madoff’s ‘wisdom’ has been exposed and discredited. Russell’s has spread from a dozen people to a worldwide organization of several million.

With regard to the anonymous translating committee, you challenged: “Honestly, provide one reasonable excuse why these men should be anonymous.”

What’s wrong with modesty? By remaining anonymous, they direct attention to the work, and not themselves. That’s why your application of “Who lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl?” is flawed. They’ve not put the work under a bowl. They’ve done that to themselves. The work has been distributed far and wide by dedicated Christians, outstripping anything the world’s commercial system could do, and at a very nominal cost. Now, having accomplished a great work, most people love to strut around and bask in the recognition of their fellows. To forsake that shows unusual modesty. We live in a culture in which people are obsessed with personalities, and in which they focus, not so much on words said, but on who said the words. Anonymity thwarts that instinct. As you likely know, all material published by Jehovah’s Witnesses is published anonymously.

It’s not hard to judge the quality of the work. Get several Bibles together - not just the popular “church Bibles,” but a real assortment - and compare passages. The NWT stacks up very well. Slobbering over humans and their lofty credentials from prestigious schools frequently leads one astray. It certainly has in the above-related financial matters. You don’t know what credentials the translators had, or even who and how many they were. Nor do I. We are thus forced to focus on the work itself, and the NWT holds up well, though persons steeped in Trinitarian reasoning hate it. (similar to the arguments in this post:
In the hopper is an undated version regarding the handling of the Trinitarian verses)

With regard to an end date and Jesus council to “keep on the watch,” I picture racers in the starting blocks. They are focused, single-minded, intent. And sometimes they jump the gun. No one holds it against them, even though it screws up things and the race must be restarted. The 1975 date was a wrong call - I’ve already acknowledged it. Yet even when it was made, it was not presented as an absolute, but as a likelihood.

There. There are some answers to your Bible questions, which is what you asked for in the first place. As to “Do know, however, that these evasions won't make people like me interested in the JW religion,” perhaps it wouldn’t have happened anyway.

I note that your overture to Bill in Detroit starts pretty much the same as it did with me, with effusive praise for some of his posts. Ah, it should be. It is a good blog. You've also addressed yourself to Dave and find common cause with him, as though you both suffer the same torments in trying to talk sense into an obstinate blockhead.

Frankly, cl, I do like your blog & can imagine spending some time there, perhaps posting a comment or two. You seem quite much so that I begin to think perhaps my instincts were not correct after all. I see you too have taken on the Ebonmuse. I found him to be a capable apologist for his cause.

At this point, I will spare you, lest you imagine writing me a lengthy rebuttal. I would likely not publish it. We've both had two lenghthy communiques, and I suspect we could have 200 and not come to any agreement on this topic. I said at the outset I would only pursue this so far. Even with Ebonmuse, invariably he or I finally gave up, having barely made a dent in the other's thought process.

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley


Every time I buy a car, I thereafter notice how many identical ones are on the road. Presumably, they were always there; I just didn’t notice them. We focus on what affects us. So am I imagining that Jehovah’s Witnesses are more of an atheist target than they really are? Perhaps. It would certainly appear to be so on your blog, as you pointed out. Notice, btw, that your polar opposite, cl, also thinks I have a persecution complex, thus he temporarily makes himself your ally! (though remember the saying: “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” ;-) He also stakes out common ground with you in trying to get through to a blockhead me - see final paragraph of his last comment)

In answer to your prior question, perhaps I should have straightforwardly answered it, rather than writing a whole new (this) post. Recall that you said “So, my question to you is: given that you know this phenomenon exists [HBB], and is endemic among humans, what do you think made you immune to it?

I don’t think I’m immune. I’m human. I don’t think you’re immune, either. Of course, you are to THAT phenomenon, but only because you’ve distanced yourself from religion. But you, too, have many pitfalls that you must seek to protect yourself from as you try to make sense of the world. I’m not sure my admission changes anything. I am not immune to gravity, either, yet I may still decide to climb a mountain, taking what measures I best can so that gravity does not get the upper hand.

It turns out that we are emotional beings. All of us are - atheists are not exempt - and although we say we thread our way among facts, there is a bewildering number of them, and they don’t all point in the same direction. We assign or deduct weight from them according to our individual makeup. Is that so bad? A lot of very noble qualities: gratitude, appreciation, honesty, courage, and modesty, for instance, have little to do with facts or knowledge. So why worship our own “facts,” to the exclusion of all else? What really is the point of this discussion? How would I be benefited if I threw my worldview in the toilet and adopted yours?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to serve as relationship counselor for Ragoth. This will be a challenge for me because he speaks of difficulties and Mrs. Sheepandgoats and I have never known anything but 24/7 bliss. Still, I will think of something. As you can see, (above) I am his last hope. (btw, should you also find yourself in marital or girlfriend difficulties - I don't think you've ever mentioned your relationship status - feel free to contact me.) I wrote this reply before I became aware of his request, so it is good I've started speaking of emotion. You don't go acting like Mr. Spock in these situations. (or at least you park your pointy ears for a time)

Dave McKeegan

Tom, you ask "How would I be benefited if I threw my worldview in the toilet and adopted yours?"

Improved time management. :-)

Must dash now. Lots to do! Nice chatting to you.

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley


I'm not so sure. I don't think I blow any more time blogging than you do.

:-) yourself


Tom Sheepandgoats Harley


Do you mind if I write it in a post of its own? I'll write in the same breezy way I ususally attmept, but I will show the respect for you and your dilemma that I genuinely have. And I'll offer some non-pious observations that I hope will help. I'll even change the names of all those involved, yours being the only one I know, assuming that your actual name is "Ragoth," and what are the chances of that?



That's fine. I appreciate your input. You can just use Ragoth, or "Matt" if you prefer, whatever makes you happy.


Tom Sheepandgoats Harley


It's posted.

Awake In Rochester

It would be a better world if people of all faiths participated in making it better. Meeting others basic needs- food, clothing etc. Like it says in the Bible & most religions.


@ CL
"And my response to someone wanting to waste my time with needless fussing over words would be to take my leave. My time is too valuable (and it is too cold this time of year!) for me to waste any of it debating someone in order to entertain them."

"So you, who are already presumably 'saved', and your time are more important than questions from someone who wants to know more about your faith?"

No. I and my time are more important than empty debates.

Thank you for the compliments about my blog. There are several recent ones.

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