Mathematics and Everything: From Hannah Fry to Stephen Fry—Part 2

See Part 1 here.

You can always trust Albert Einstein to come up with good questions. You can trust him to dive into the scientific but not abandon the spiritual. You can’t trust everyone to do that but you can trust him. For example, he says:

“Here arise a puzzle that has disturbed scientists of all periods. How is it possible that mathematics, a product of human thought that is independent of experience, fits so excellently the objects of physical reality? Can human reason without experience discover by pre thinking properties of real things?”

Morris Kline answers. He is not dumb, but forgive me if I suggest that his huge oversimplification is: “What we have achieved by way of mathematical description and prediction amounts to the good luck of the man who finds a hundred-dollar bill while casually taking a walk.”

Replace the hundred dollar bill with a hundred trillion dollar bill and then maybe we can talk. My opening remark will be, “When was the last time you found a hundred trillion dollar bill?”

It’s like Douglas Adams (the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), who also isn’t dumb. In fact, he’s smart, just like Kline is. But, like Kline, he hugely oversimplifies it. Try oversimplifying a paragraph of his book, and he’d howl like a rhesus.

Adams addresses people who believe that God must exist because the world so fits our needs. He compares them to an intelligent puddle of water that fills a hole in the ground. The puddle is certain that the hole must have been designed specifically for it because it fits so well. The puddle exists under the sun until it has entirely evaporated.

Whoa! What a great illustration! All you need do for it to be perfect is find an intelligent puddle of water. It is as though these pillars of thought leadership just dissolve into mush when they try to explain away what any 5-year-old knows can’t be explained away.

Take this tweet from Richard Dawkins—no one sneers at God more than he: He quotes Einstein again, just like I did in opening this post: “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible,” the great one says. Dawkins adds: “But what is the alternative to comprehensible? What kind of a world would it be if it were incomprehensible? What would it look like?” He even invites his audience to “discuss” his moronic question.

My contribution was that it would look like this:

249317F3-D2C3-405A-BFEE-FE5B46CE065C

Careful, Tommy, careful. Remember, Dawkins (and Kline, and Adams) is a Great Man, and you are not. You really going to call him moronic? You really going to go the route of the one who doesn’t suffer fools gladly—and a fool is anyone who disagrees? Really?

Sigh...of course I am not. I am chastened. Dawkins has more Twitter followers than I do—and THAT probably is not only what the world would look like if it were incomprehensible, but the greatest proof that it is! Even so, sometimes a child with fewer followers than he must say: “The emperor has no clothes!”

 

Now, if I say that Hannah Fry’s doing a math show to make me mad, it must be conceded that math can make a person mad. It is not so directly transferable to reality as may at first glance appear—and in accounting for this, the renegades are emboldened to take shots at God.

Everyone knows that parallel lines never meet. They know that by looking down the railroad tracks. The rails may seem to converge, but it is just an illusion. So do you think that simple math (geometry) will come down on the side of illusion or sense? It comes down on the side of illusion! In real life, if you walk down a few hundred yards, you see they are still apart—they don’t touch. In geometry, they do!

Do a thought experiment Start in your head with two perpendicular lines; one is horizontal, and one is vertical. They cross. Call the point where they cross ‘P’. Grab hold of the vertical line just above the horizontal line and start to pivot it. What happens to ‘P’—that point of intersection? Doesn’t it move farther and farther down the horizontal line. At what point does it “jump off” to make the two lines parallel?

When I played this trick on guys in the workplace, some saw right away that the lines would never separate—designate a place of separation, and why can you not draw a straight line from the pivot point to a point just a bit further down from your separation point? Some guys walked away scratching their heads. Some got mad, as though I was messing with reality.

It’s like that other scenario of how in a race someone gaining can never pass the one in the lead, since he would first have to close half the distance, and he couldn’t do that until he had closed half that distance. And he couldn’t do that until he had closed half that distance, and so forth. It doesn’t end. The runner catching up can never pass. But go to the races and you will see that he does all the time.. So math can mess with your mind. It does screwy things.

So can you seize upon such things to throw out God? “Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe,” says Galileo, but since there are some strange letters in that alphabet, that means he didn’t write it. Can you go there? Why not do a Job instead?  “Look! These are the fringes of his ways, And what a whisper of a matter has been heard of him! But of his mighty thunder who can show an understanding?”  (Job 26:14)

The woman following Jesus thought it enough to touch his outer garment, and it did wonders for her when she did. She didn’t have to try the garment on herself. Why doesn’t that satisfy the scientists? Why can’t they just acquiesce to “My ways are higher than your ways?” (Isa 55:8-9)

Return to Einstein, and even my observation of him that he will delve into the scientific without junking the spiritual, ofthe developing field on quantum mechanics, he observed:

“Quantum mechanics is very worthy of respect. But an inner voice tells me that it is not the genuine article after all. The theory delivers much, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I . . . am convinced that He does not play dice,”

Alas, Einstein caught Him playing dice!—the weirdness of quantum mechanics has proven true. But it didn’t stumble him. He didn’t say, “Well, I guess there isn’t any Old One.” He said (not literally) “Well, I guess Old One is older than I thought, and a cagier too.” I mean, who says he has to spell it all out for humans to understand readily. He’s God. He can do what he wants. “If I were hungry,” he says at Psalm 50:12, “I would not tell it to you.”

Exactly. Are humans going to help him out?

See Part 3.

 

....Visit Smashwords bookstore.  Also available at Amazon & other ebook retailers.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Mathematics and Everything—From Hannah Fry to Stephen Fry—Part 1

I see one of those mathematics shows trying to make me mad is coming up on PBS. Subject: Is math discovered? Or is it invented? The show is hosted by Hannah Fry. It is entitled: Magic Numbers. “Look hard enough at anything, mathematics is lying beneath,” she says. “Is math all in our heads, invented? Or is it an eternal physical reality, something existing out there, waiting to be discovered.”

Now, can a guy be forgiven for thinking that a dumb question? E=mc2, for example. Why should it be that way? Why should it be writable in such a simple way? Why shouldn’t it be a hopeless hodgepodge? I mean, just try writing the formula for this:

C3030D38-E63E-429D-8375-52D7965D3621

Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe,” said Galileo. Duh. It all reduces to usually very compact math.

But along come others to say that mathematics is not discovered at all. It is invented. The learned one fuss and fret, tossing away one measure that doesn’t work after another, till they finally find something that does work to describe something. You mean that there were a few thousand wanna-be Galileos describing gravity in all sorts of harebrained ways, until the master himself came along and found a way to reduce it all to a few letters and numbers?

Something about this “dissident” (which is now the mainstream) view reminds me of Larry King telling how it was with 7-Up. The soft drink was wildly successful—but only after the inventor flopped with 1-Up, 2-Up, 3-Up, 4-Up, 5-Up, and 6-Up..

So I’m in the mood to be surly. All I can say is that Paul Halpern had better stay on the right side of this. He may. He is a scientist, which is fine. He doesn’t extend it (so far as I know) to scientist-philosopher-cheerleader-atheist, which is not so fine. I am embarrassed to say I have not yet read his Synchronicity (which title implies he is not in the latter category), but I mean to. It’s on the list.

I did start to review his 2019 book, The Universe Speaks in Numbers, only it turned out to be not his book. It was from Graham Farmelo! Paul let me tweet on for quite some time before he said, “Um, you know, you’ve got the wrong guy. Graham’s a good writer, but he’s not me.” I was following them both on Twitter and I got them mixed up!

I had also almost reviewed Morris Kline’s 1985 book Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge. Alas, both reviews are still on the drawing board, and may never get off it (unless they do so right now. Alas, I can no longer find my Farmelo notes—it drives me nuts!) Kline offers gems like: “The work of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and most eighteenth-century mathematicians was...a religious quest. The search for the mathematical laws of nature was an act of devolution that would reveal the glory and grandeur of His handiwork.”

It works for me. But it wasn’t until the second, or maybe even third, reading, that I realized Kline himself doesn’t buy that view. He sides with the inventors, not the discoverers! Is that what is called “confirmation bias” that I had not noticed it before?

“Each discovery of a law of nature was hailed as evidence of God’s brilliance rather that that of the investigator,” he writes, and I should have noticed in the phrasing that Kline seems to think it wrong that it should be that way. Newton, Galileo, Kepler, and others took for granted that it was right to credit God’s brilliance rather than their own. Is it a mark of moderns that they want the credit?

Regarding a contribution of Faraday, Kline writes, “It may be too much to expect that . . . the function sine x should serve. Yet nature never ceases to accommodate itself to man’s mathematics.” Is it only me who draws the parallel of the would-be tourist who envisions paradisiac scenes of Tahiti, then goes and finds such a place, and says, “nature never ceases to accommodate itself to man’s daydreaming!” I mean, what is wrong with people? He saw Tahiti on the brochures—then he went and discovered it.

Kline elaborates: “If math is discovered, not invented, then it must exist somewhere. Where? Would not the plain answer be in the mind of God a la Galileo—god wrote the universe in the language of mathematics. But what if one does not believe in God?”

Well, I would say in that event that nature has provided a fine reason to reconsider, but if you don’t want to believe in God, you don’t want to believe in God. Kline is not so easily dissuaded.

Kline says: “Whereas until around 1850, mathematical order and harmony were believed to be inherent in the design of the universe and mathematicians strove to uncover that design, the newer view, forced on mathematicians by their own creations, is that they are the legislators who decide what the laws of the universe should be. They impose whatever plan or order succeeds in describing restricted classes of phenomena that for inexplicable reasons continue to obey the laws.”

Nah, I don’t buy it. But you might buy it if you think the “inexplicable reasons” is just “one of those things” and it doesn’t otherwise get under your skin.

“Does this last fact mean that there is an ultimate law and order that mathematicians approximate more and more successfully? There is no answer to this, but at the very least, faith in mathematical design had to be replaced by doubt,” Kline says. Is it, “There is no answer to that?” Or is it, “There is no answer that I accept to that?”

Ultimately, is it not other factors, not mathematical at all, that determine whether that “doubt” becomes “conviction?”

“Yet what of the calamities of nature-earthquakes, meteorites striking the Earth, volcanoes, plagues-the unanswered questions of cosmogony, and our ignorance of what lies beyond our ken in our own galaxy, to say nothing of other problems facing humanity, do these not deny any likelihood of ultimate order?” Note that having or not having an answer to the problem of suffering and evil influences one’s assessment of the power of mathematics. The “other problems facing humanity”—problems that he has no answer for—bother Kline. And the only reason earthquakes, meteorites striking earth, and volcanoes registers on his scale is that they cause additional “problems facing humanity.” So it all boils down to: Why is there suffering and evil?

Hannah’s Fry’s kin, fellow Brit Stephen Fry, comedian, is also obsessed with this question. Only they are not kin, but upon doing an online search, I found I was not the only person to speculate they were. Nah, there’s no relation, the fact-check site told me—they don’t even follow each other on social media. But they both in a roundabout way (Fry, through her fellow mathematician Kline) settle into the same question: Why would a supposed God of love permit evil and suffering?

Stephen Fry does more than “settle into” it. He rams it headlong, like one of those horned animals ramming his fellow on Nature just to prove ‘Who’s the man?’ He rams it so forcefully that he triggers violation of the since-repealed Irish Blasphemy law. He figures (not unreasonably) that if an answer exists to evil and suffering, the self-proclaimed experts of the clergy will have it. Since they merely issue such pablum as “God works in mysterious ways,” he erupts into fury.

“Why should I respect a mean-spirited, capricious, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?....Bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. . . . Because the god who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish.”

I develop this topic at some length in the “Fake News” chapter of I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses —Searching for the Why. After all, “Why so Much Suffering?” is a chapter title of their basic Bible teaching book, and has been dealt with in more or less identical words throughout the Witnesses’ history. But the Witnesses stand for the “wisdom that cries out in the street” of Proverbs 1:20. “Hogwash!” the world thinkers are inclined to say. “It cries out from the quadrangles. Only ignoramuses are to be found in the street,”

See Part 2

....Visit Smashwords bookstore.  Also available at Amazon & other ebook retailers

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

What if Atheists Had Learned Accurate Bible Teachings First? Would They Still Have Gone Atheist?

Q: In Bart Ehrman new book, it seems he ...wants to find a way to believe in the afterlife...most of his writings deal with the exploits of noncanon material or the early church fathers understanding of Hades, Sheol.

Bart comes from an evangelical background. In his blog, he speaks poignantly of the tragedy of losing his faith, something that happened once he began to examine the Bible through “critical thinking.” 

He never had a firm foundation to stand on. I would lose my faith, too, if I had to uphold all the nonsense that is part and parcel of church teaching. One can almost feel sorry for him—but one does not, because he does not feel sorry for himself. He has a good gig going—top selling author, nifty website with a paywall that donates to charity, a reputation that prompts the Great Courses Lecture series to engage him as a professor, chair of a university religion department, where he destroys the faith of his students—but since it was founded mostly on the doctrines of churches, it was barely defensible in the first place. No, he has a good gig. Nobody has asked me to chair a Great Courses series.

If not atheist, he certainly is hard-agnostic, unless he has had a recent change of heart. I often wonder what would have happened if those now atheist had been presented accurate Christian teachings first—would they have gone atheist in that case? A naive me once assumed that the answer would be no. 

Sometimes it has worked that way, but these are crazy times, and if you keep up with atheist writings, you find that they are likely to detest JWs most of all! It does not help that JWs have “accurate” Bible teachings. The allure of breaking free from any “control” is just too enticing to be countered by a fresh look at Bible teachings. There is no way that those on the “cramped and narrow road” are not going to be derided as “cult” members by those on the broad and spacious one. This is so predictable that I kick myself for not having predicted it long before—it is so obvious. 

To break free of “control” holds irresistible appeal today, and the atheists add to the list of who does it (and even put foremost) those who would claim to represent God, as our brothers do, and they lambasted them for “controlling”  people by that means. You might think they would look upon Witnesses with admiration for such things as eliminating racism among their midst, or not engaging in physical violence on any account—least of all that of the government trying to sign them up for the latest war.

Alas, to them, JWs are the worst of the lot, because most churches have watered down “speaking in God’s name” to “God works in mysterious ways,” and have pretty much learned to roll with whatever happens, being content to add a smiley “God” emoji to events. Most have made their peace with the world—they seek to hopefully modify it for the better. Atheists are vested in the world even more so, and think the view of JWs far too extreme—even “murderous”—that God means to replace it. 

From the ranks of atheists come those most likely to present the picture that obedience “to men” is essential if you are a JW, how they are under enormous pressure always from top leaders, and how they terrify children with expectations of Armaggedon. (How about when Newsweek surveys the world scene, and presents the magazine cover “What the *@#! Is Next?” I countered to one of them.)

The “obedience” that JWs are expected to render is no more than following directions of the teacher, the coach, the mentor, the employer, the counselor, the traffic cop—something that was once the most unremarkable thing in the world, but is now presented as selling out one’s soul. JWs have not changed—the world has. One may look no farther than it’s collective response to Covid 19 to see what chaos follows. Mark Benioff, the Salesforce founder, the fellow who purchased Time Magazine, has stated that if everyone had masked up for just three weeks, the virus would have been defeated. Of course, this is what JWs have done, because being obedient to authority is not an issue for them, but the illness is out of control today because the world ridicules obedience and challenges the authority of any who would advance it. The very first sign that this would escalate to disaster occurred very early on—when toilet paper sold out, despite knowledge that the virus doesn’t hit people that way. I told Hassan, the CultExpert, he of the“FreedomofMind” hashtag, that my people have behaved far more responsibly than his—you don’t think some will use their “freedom of mind” to tell the government where they can go with their “rules?”

It doesn’t matter if the world’s obsession with “independence” ends in disaster—as it surely will—as it is with Covid 19. As one tweet puts it: “Folks want to believe this pandemic is nearing an end because they’re tired of living in a broken world. But I fear we are just at the beginning, and that we’ve squandered the first six months with our bickering.” You know they will squander the next six months, too—you just know it. That is the way the world works.

To be free of “control” is just too strong a pull for anything to be otherwise. Those on the broad and spacious road—that’s what makes it broad and spacious, ones on it listen to no one but themselves—will invariably present those on the cramped and narrow road as manipulated by a cult. That should have occurred to me long ago.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

NOT Omnipresent, NOT Omnisciencient, and NOT Omnipotent

Q: People make assumptions because they are well rooted in the belief also that God is Omnipresent, which is false. With this idea in mind, they conjure up the notion of God being everywhere, so he should have been able to prevent this or that...

A: Yes. Simply quote one of those verses in which God says he is going to go down and check something out so as to see if it is so—such as the complaint made about Sodom.

Then Jehovah said: “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is very heavy.  I will go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it.” (Genesis 18:20-21) 

He wasn’t there. He didn’t know. I love the personification. So he is not omnipresent. And he is not omniscient. 

The third member of this normal ‘trinity’ is omnipotent. Note how the chart has dropped ‘omnipresent’ to substitute ‘all-loving.’ That way the chartist can harp on anything that isn’t going well and blame it on God—as though God’s role is to bless the doings of a society founded on rebellion against him, or prevent the inevitable bad consequences of such rebellion from occurring. 

Thus, every assumption skeptics make about God is wrong. No wonder their conclusions are so cock-eyed. Now, to be sure, those cock-eyed conclusions might remain even if they had begun with accurate assumptions—the pull away from God is far more rooted in emotion than in reason. The emotional pull is the urge to kick over the traces—to break free from anyone or anything that would tell you what to do. In their insistence upon pursuing the petty freedoms that this world has to offer, chafing at anyone who would seem to restrict them, they end up overlooking the substantial freedoms that spirituality offers.

What can you do with people like that? In the case of those who once believed in God and abandoned it for atheism, you could liken them to the fellow who loses millions in the stock market. Undeterred, he celebrates the $10K that he still has left, reasoning about the rest: “They were just paper gains, anyway.”

M. D. Craven—‘Master Driver’ Craven, he used to tell his employer, Greyhound Bus, for the had the Banger to Boston run for many years, and they would say, “Who gave you that title?” to which he would respond with, “Nobody did—I self-assumed it” (his real first name was Merrill, not Master), whose driving skills fell off precipitously in his older years, and who used to say when his car was on the fritz, “Tom, can I borrow your car?” and whom I just KNEW was going to wrap it around a tree, yet he had been so good to me that had he said: “Tom, can I borrow your car? I want to wrap it around a tree,” I would have felt obliged to hand him the keys—used to love the verse:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” for the appeal from God to reconcile, with the benefit of relieving some heavy matters that might weigh upon one’s conscience. “Come now, and let us reason together,” I can still hear him say, quoting the words from the King James Version of the Bible.

But it is not actually a good rendering of the verse. If you ‘reason’ with God, it will mean that you will take notes. You will not be telling him how to run heaven. It will sort of be like reasoning with Ford about your new Mustang. You will take notes at their owner’s manual that you should run it ‘shiny side up and greasy side down.’ You won’t expect them to be enthralled at how you intend to do it just the reverse.

The New World Translation, which didn’t come upon the scene until the 1960’s, well after M. D. Craven’s hay day, and so he still spoke from the KJV, corrects this faux pas, as do most modern translations. It renders Isaiah 1:18 as: “Let us set matters straight between us.” That’s better. It is the same warm appeal, the same alleviating benefits, but absent any sense that we will be instructing God. He will hear us out, to be sure, but it is not as though he will be benefiting from the pointers we may offer him.

It is like the Zoom prayer the other day to close out a small group meeting, and the one saying it was just a little too obvious in disguising his own narrative to the group and prayer to God. He wove in, as evidence of the stressful times we live in as we try to adapt to Covid, his comment about the lines that stretched from (he named the far-apart streets) as people lined up for free masks. I said to my wife:  “It’s as though he imagines Jehovah saying, “Oh, I didn’t know that.  Backed up that far? Wow. Things are really getting tight down there.”

And the only reason I shoot down ‘omnipotent’ (all-powerful) is because if I don’t, some idiot will be sure to come along, patting himself on the back, with the question, “Can God make a mountain he can’t move?” Sigh...I suppose that he can’t do that.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

My Favorite Tweet of the Day—From Richard Dawkins? Really?

Tweeted Richard Dawkins one fine day (11/13/19): “You could easily spot any Religion of Peace. Its extremist members would be extremely peaceful” 

Can it be? Is Richard Dawkins referring to Jehovah’s Witnesses—universally known for being “extremely peaceful” yet declared “extremists” in Russia? If so, I will take back the relatively few bad things I have said about him.

I have not really said THAT many bad things about him. At times, I have even been complimentary. When he blessed the atheist buses rolling out in London, I said that he raised a good point—his was a reaction to existing “hellfire’ buses, with advertising from the church. He did wuss-out, though, with a: “There probably is no God.” Probably?

It wasn’t until I began following him on Twitter, though, that I noticed how breathtakingly contemptuous he was toward anyone who disagreed with him—not merely about God, but also on geopolitical things—and then I did say a few mean things. For example, I said of him that “he does not suffer fools gladly, and a fool is anyone who disagrees with him.”

However, he has largely repented over this online meanness. I’ve noticed it over the months. He has not banished it entirely, but it is much less prevalent, so that I regret that I ever said what I did.

The temptation to be disdainful of opponents is well-nigh irresistible, particularly if you think that they are willfully choosing ignorance. I have (more or less) mastered the temptation, of course, but I have a source of effective and unending counsel that he does not.

This is no more concisely stated than it was at a recent Watchtower Study. A Bible verse considered how we ought “do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with humility consider others superior to you.” (Philippians 2:3) Practically speaking, this advice is not easy to implement. It may even strike one as nonsensical—how can everyone be superior to everyone else? Said that Watchtower: “The humble person acknowledges that everyone is superior to him in some way.​—Phil. 2:3, 4.”

Of course. In some way everyone is superior to everyone else. Search for that way, hone in on it like a laser beam, and it will not be so difficult to treat even opponents with respect. “Disagree without being disagreeable” is the catchphrase today.

But Professor Dawkins does not have this advantage. Much of his tradition would sway him in just the opposite “survival of the fittest” direction. So he must be given credit for his new, somewhat softer, online personality. Possibly someone who has his best interests at heart—perhaps his wife—said, “Richard, you sure do come across as a cantankerous crank on Twitter,” and he deliberately walked it back. It’s commendable.

Now, I don’t think Richard had Jehovah’s Witnesses in mind with his tweet. He probably has formed his views of them through the contributions of their “apostate” contingent, and those views could hardly be blacker. I looked down among his comments to see whether any of those nasties had reared their heads. Perhaps here was an example:

Not entirely true. Extremists usually have their own misinterpretation of scriptures.”

I responded to this one: “If “misinterpretation” results in a religion of peace, perhaps it is not a misinterpretation after all. Perhaps the mainline view is a misinterpretation.” Is that not a no-brainer?

Another one, disagreeing with the above tweet: “Actually no. Most extremists do exactly what is written in their book. ‘Misinterpretation’ is used as an argument by believers that cherry pick morals that fit our secular ethics today.”

I know this type, too. This is the type that finds slavery in the Bible or war in the Old Testament and rails at the “hypocrisy.” I responded to this fellow as well:

Everything has a historical context and to deliberately ignore such context is to be intellectually dishonest. If our side does it to theirs, we never hear the end of it.

He blew up at this reference to context. Evil is evil, he carried on, across all places and time-frames. These characters are very predictable—you could even write their lines for them and not be too far off.

Has “critical thinking” made us all nincompoops? It was once thought the most intelligent thing in the world to consider historical backdrop; one was irresponsible, even deceitful, not to do it. Very well. If he is going to trash, with blinders affixed, the source that I hold dear, I will do the same with his source:

You should turn your critical thinking skills upon Ancient Greece, the definer of it. When time travel is invented, history revisionists will give a friendly wave to American slaveholding forefathers as they race back in time to fetch wicked Greek pedophiles—it was an enshrined value of that world—back in irons.”

He was not chastened by this. Hijacking Twitter as his personal courtroom, he cross-examined:

Is the holding and beating of slaves, as described in Exodus, morally acceptable? Yes or no?

I countered: “Is the raping of children as endorsed by Ancient Greek society morally acceptable? Yes or no?”

Incredibly, he was not dissuaded. “Last chance!” he shot back. “Is the holding and beating of slaves, as described in Exodus, morally acceptable? Yes or no?”

To the blockheads, I became a blockhead.”—Paul (sort of) —1 Corinthians 9:19-22,” I tweeted back: “Two can play the game of obstinacy. Last chance: Is the rape of children—it was enshrined in Ancient Greek society—morally acceptable? Yes or no?”

Then I went away, and when I came back, he had deleted all this tweets so that it was hard for me to reconstruct the thread. However, someone else had pointed out a grave sin I had committed:

Thomas you are guilty of the moral equivalence fallacy.” Am I? I suppose. You can sort of guess by the wording just what that phrase means—I had not heard it before. At least it is in English. I once heard a theologian quip that if there is a Latin phrase and a perfectly clear English phrase that means the same thing, always use the Latin phrase so people will know that you are educated. But my “moral equivalence fallacy” is still is no more than considering historical context, a praiseworthy intellectual technique for all time periods except ours. 

Besides, I actually had posted something about slavery long ago. But it is not a topic so simple that it can be hashed out in a few tweets, and so I declined to go there with this fellow, who would debate all the sub-points. If God corrected every human injustice the moment it manifested itself, there would be nothing left. The entire premise of the Bible is that human-rule is unjust in itself and that God allows a period of time for that to be clearly manifested before bringing in his kingdom—the one referred to in the “Lord’s prayer”—to straighten it all out. In the meantime, the very ones who work themselves into a lather at religion “brainwashing” people are livid that God did not brainwash slavery away once humans settled upon it as a fine economic underpinning.

If Dawkins’s tweet and my response hangs around long enough before burial in the Twitter feed, I would expect some of our malcontents to observe as they did in Russia, where the only evidence of extremism cited is proclaiming “a religious view of supremacy.” Huge protest will come at how Jehovah’s Witnesses practice shunning and thus “destroy” relationships and even family. But views inevitably translate into consequences and policies. Refusal to “come together” with those who insist on diametrically opposed views is hardly the “extremism” of ISIS—and yet the Russian Supreme Court has declared that it is, with the full backing in principle of those from the ex-JW community—the ones who go crusading, which is perhaps 10%.

I’m going to write this up as a post and append it to his thread. Let’s see what happens. Probably nothing, but you never know.

Plus, let’s expand on that particular Watchtower some more. The particular article covered was entitled: “Jehovah Values His Humble Servants” (September 2019 issue—study edition)

Unlike nearly all religious services, Witness meetings are ones that you can prepare for. You can comment during them. They are studies of the sacred book, not just impromptu rap sessions, acquiescencing to ceremony, or sitting through someone else’s sermon. You can prepare for them, and you are benefited, as in any classroom, when you do. The focus here, as it so often is, is on practical application.

Humility draws persons to us. Haughtiness repels them, and thus makes next to impossible the mantra to “come together.”

My own comment, when the time was right, was that haughty people can only accomplish so much—it may be a great deal, for haughty people are often very capable people—but eventually they run up against the fact that nobody else can stand them, and so people are motivated to undercut their ideas, even if they are good ones, out of sheer payback for ugliness. Humble people, on the other hand, may be far less capable individually, but their efforts add up. They know how to cooperate and yield to each other in a way that haughty people do not.

Someone else on that Dawkins thread, an amateur wit, played with that them of unlikely extremists: “Jehova's witnesses are peaceful but their extremists are better extremely annoying...”

Why fight this? It is a viewpoint. Viewpoints are not wrong, because they are viewpoints—right or wrong doesn’t enter into the equation. Better to roll with it. I was indeed on a roll, and so I tweeted back: 

“I will grant that they can be. Still, if you had a choice between a team of JWs approaching your door and a team of ISIS members, you would (hopefully) choose theformer. Those 2 groups, and only those 2 groups are officially declared “extremist” in Russia.”

And with that, I included a link to my ebook, “Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia.” I am shameless in that. No matter how many books I sell, it is not enough. I don’t sell them, anyway. The book is free, a labor of love. It is an application of the theme: “If you have something important to say, don’t hide it behind a paywall.” It is the only, to my knowledge, complete history of events leading up to and beyond the 2017 ban of the Witness organization in Russia.

As to the latest developments there, another one was herded off to prison, who, making the best of a sour situation, or perhaps genuinely finding value there, said: "I want to thank … prosecution. I don't just thank you, but thank you very much, because thanks to you my faith has become stronger … I see I'm on the right path."

Of course. It is unreasonable to oppose so vehemently a people totally honest, hard-working, and given to peace—and yet the Bible says that such will exactly happen. How can it not serve to strengthen faith?

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

A Review of a Review of the Scorah Book - Leaving the Witnesses

Something is greatly off-base about the New York Times review of Amber Scorah’s new book ‘Leaving the Witnesses’ and it is not Amber. It is the reviewer, C. E. Morgan, who tackles her task with a humanist fervor that merits a review in itself.

She teaches at Harvard Divinity School, per the NYT byline. One wonders what she could possibly teach, or what might be the outcome for students who attend her class—students who presumably went there because they want to learn about God. Her lavish praise of Ms. Scorah’s book: “She teaches us how integrity is determined....by enduring the universe as we find it — breathtaking in its ecstasies and vicious in its losses — without recourse to a God” surely should give those students pause—are they truly in the place they thought they were? Or did they somehow get shunted off into the Atheist Academy? There is such a thing as truth in advertising. 

Ms. Scorah herself, as presented by the Ms. Morgan, is more conventional. Hers is one of the oldest stories of time—of someone disillusioned with her present life, so she reaches out for another, which upon seizing, she finds exhilarating. It is a coming-of-age story, albeit belated. It is a staple of literature.

Since she is ‘leaving the Witnesses’—Jehovah’s Witnesses, a group of Bible-believing Christians—one must at least consider how the Witnesses themselves might have phrased her departure. That can be found in the words of the apostle Paul addressed to Timothy: “Demas has forsaken me because he loved the present world.” Demas himself would not have put it that he “forsook” anyone. He would have presented it as a matter of his eyes at last being opened. “We are regarded as deceivers, and yet we are truthful,” says Paul at 2 Corinthians 6:8. Demas would have been one to say that he had been deceived.

Ms. Morgan cannot be expected to put it as did Paul, but since she teaches at the Divinity school, one might at least expect her to be cognizant of that point of view. Instead, Amber’s departure is a tale of pure heroism for her—that of escape from an “extreme” religion—even worse than a “fundamentalist” religion in her view—and it is “most valuable as an artifact of how one individual can escape mind control.”

“We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one,” says the apostle again. (2 Corinthians 7:2) Demas might have said he had been victimized by all those things. Nevertheless, you say, I was “crafty” and I caught you “by trickery.” (2 Corinthians 12:16) Demas might have said exactly that. Truly, “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccles 1:9)

It would appear that any denomination of Christianity would be fundamentalist in Ms. Morgan’s eyes—at least that would be so of any that haven’t interpreted away the resurrection of Christ into oblivion. “The anti-intellectualism of these [fundamentalist] authoritarian movements, their staunch refusal to cede ground to reason and empiricism, often confounds nonbelievers,” and it is hard to believe that she does not count herself as chief of the nonbelievers—never mind what her teaching title might suggest. “How can people devote the totality of their lives to the unseen, the unevidenced?” she laments, seemingly unaware that such was commonplace until relatively recently. Isaac Newton, oft called the father of science, wrote more about religion that he did about mathematics and science combined. “How can faith subsume thinking?” she continues. Her frustration could not be more clear—‘We have fired everything we have at them and yet they keep standing!’

As bad as fundamentalism is, however, it is not as bad in her eyes as an “extreme religion” like Jehovah’s Witnesses. To establish that she has done her homework, she relates that from its 1870 inception, the faith “rejected Christian doctrines it deemed extratextual, including trinitarianism and hell,” as though providing further evidence of descent into superstition, rather than the advance into rationality that it is—early Witness leader C. T. Russell was known within his lifetime as “the man who turned the hose on hell and put out the fire.” The Witness description of death: “extinction or non-being,” is exactly the rationalist view of today, and it is ‘tarnished’ only by their added take of a future resurrection from the dead.

The notion that Christianity should return to its default state Morgan finds “dubious,” as though the inventors of something couldn’t possibly have known what they were doing. Witnesses have a “hierarchy,” as though no other organization does, their publishing constitutes an “empire,” as evidenced by the fact that it still exists, and they have a following who “actively proselytize, warning of an imminent Armageddon,” as though it is wrong to even suggest that an earth carved up into 200 eternally squabbling nations is not exactly what God had in mind.

In short, she found has people—ordinary people for the most part—who disagree with her, and she oozes disdain for them. Children raised in such religion “experience a totalizing indoctrination that so severely limits the formation of an adult psychology that many don’t ever achieve maturity in the way secular society conceives of it...” Necessarily this means that she thinks the adults of that faith are largely immature children. The patronization is simply too much. Any time someone leaves one culture for another, there is some catching up to do—say, in the case of a person migrating from one country to another. Would Ms. Morgan similarly find it necessary to crow her superiority over the country and culture of emigration—where Islam is practiced, perhaps, or Spanish is spoken? She would recoil at the thought, but when it comes to religious views that stray from her worldview, it is as natural to her as breathing air. Let her “world” prove itself reasonably “free from sin” before she casts stones on those who have come to see things differently,

“Witnesses are forbidden to socialize outside the organization,” she says. How enforceable can such “forbidding” be when people live, school, and work in the general community, as Witnesses do? The forbidding amounts to no more than counsel to choose one’s friends wisely—counsel that should hardly be a shocker. It is surprising that the she does not escalate “higher education is discouraged” also into an ironclad rule. When Witnesses partake of the offerings of “higher education,” they usually prefer to take it a la carte.

For all that she might carry on about “mind-control,” it is her environment of higher education that employs a classic tool of it: cut a student off nearly 24/7 from former stabilizing influences to minimize resistance to the absorption of whatever philosophies are taught. It is her environment that normalizes such a drastic shift as no more more remarkable than pursuing health care. Study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the other hand, and there is truth in packaging—you know full well that you are going off the grid of standardized thinking. Still, one remains in the most stabilized environment possible—one’s normal routine and surroundings are entirely undisturbed—the “safest” setting in which to give any new ideas a trial run. It is the very opposite of how one “brainwashes” people.

“Questioning doctrine is an offense punishable by disfellowshipping, or shunning,” she says. It is a matter of degree. Each side of societal uproar that we see on the television news presents itself as merely “questioning” the premises of the other. Amber ran out on a “loveless marriage,” Ms Morgan states, and the implication is clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses think loveless marriages are the bee’s knees, since she presents love as the balm that finally wakes Ms. Scorah up. Seemingly to her, there is no way on earth that love that could be found within the repressive religion. Few cheerleaders are unbiased and Ms Morgan is clearly is not an unbiased reviewer.

“The bravery of [the book] cannot be overstated,” she gushes. I suspect that, not only it can be, but it is. Certainly it pales next to the bravery of a migrant who arrives in a strange country with no money, no common language, and often without family. Ms Scorah, on the other hand, has a new-found partner—the same one who introduced her to her new worldview, and who will presumably be there to give support. 

Notwithstanding that anything with which you agree is “highly readable” on that account, I will take for granted that Ms. Scorah’s book is as it is said to be—an “earnest one, fueled by a plucky humor and a can-do spirit that endears.” Perhaps one day I will read it. And yet it does not completely satisfy the reviewer—it shows too much the “the remnants of a Christian modesty not well suited to the task of memoir.” ‘Come on, SPILL!’ one can all but hear Ms. Morgan urge. ‘Blow this “juvenile” “fundamentalist” tripe out of the water!’ as she totally redefines “miracle” as “enduring the universe as we find it — breathtaking in its ecstasies and vicious in its losses — without recourse to a God.” What will be the subject of her next lesson at the Divinity School?

But she has not yet come to the most gripping part. When she does, she foresees another book. “Many readers know Scorah through her viral article in The New York Times about the death of her son on his first day of day care....” she writes. “This, one senses, is her brutal but beautiful route into a new book — a shorter, wiser one, sharp and devastating. Here she reveals a chastened existence, steeped in grief and unknowing without recourse to pacifying religious answers.” THAT is the book I will read even before this one. Ms Scorah has exchanged a backdrop of: “We do not want you to be ignorant about those who are sleeping in death, so that you may not sorrow as the rest do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) for one that reads: “Stuff happens. Pick up the pieces and carry on if you can.” Ms. Morgans reckons that exchange an unmitigated triumph of the human spirit. Is it? The apostle would have reckoned it as “shipwreck of a faith.” (1 Timothy 1:19)

- Tom Harley is a practicing Jehovah’s Witness in the United States.  He does not teach anywhere, but has written the ebooks “Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia,” and “TrueTom vs the Apostates!”

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Man of Lawlessness in the 21st Century

Yes, I know, I know. The application of the Man of Lawlessness is to the emergence of the clergy class in the early centuries. That point was repeated in the discussion of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians at the midweek meetings.

But is there anyone other than me that thinks a modern application would be more to the emergence of a modern-day atheist class, today’s apostasy, that turns upon the theocratic organization under the guise of “protecting people” from its “mind-control?”

2 Thessalonians 2:3. Let no one lead you astray in any way, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction. 

4  He stands in opposition and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits down in the temple of God, publicly showing himself to be a god. 

5  Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I used to tell you these things?

6  And now you know what is acting as a restraint, so that he will be revealed in his own due time. 

7  True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who is right now acting as a restraint is out of the way. 

8  Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence. 

9  But the lawless one’s presence is by the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and wonders 

10  and every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth in order that they might be saved. 

11  That is why God lets a deluding influence mislead them so that they may come to believe the lie, 

12  in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.

Verse 4 fits an atheistic Man better than it does a clerical Man. Also verses 9 and 10–with the powerful works and wonders being the application of science, which enthralls them to the point that they forget all about God.

It certainly fits better with the line of Paul from the next chapter: 

Finally, brothers, carry on prayer for us, that the word of Jehovah may keep spreading rapidly and being glorified, just as it is with you,  and that we may be rescued from harmful and wicked men, for faith is not a possession of all people. 

It is not those with faith—even a skewed faith that might be ascribed to a clergy class—that most seek to further the “cult” meme today. It is those without faith.

it is all spot-on to identify the Man of Lawlessness with the emerging clergy class in the first century, with all the infusions of Babylonian and Greek philosophies that it embraced and spread. But today that Man is much weakened. He is casually respected as long as he stays in his place, but his place is much reduced. In the old days his place was anywhere he wanted it to be. He limps along trying to insist that he is relevant, and more and more people doubt that is the case.

The verses of 2nd Thessalonians remind me more today of an atheistic Man than of a religious Man.

~~~***~~

There were some who thought I was trying to change space and time, what with a new interpretation of the Man of Lawlessness. I wasn’t. They pointed out that atheism came about because the clergy class of those early centuries wrestled away the wheel but then didn’t drive people anywhere, so that some became disillusioned. 

They are right, of course, as regards the overall picture. 

“Yes, in her [Babylon the Great] was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.”  Rev 18:24

“All those who have been slaughtered” is a big category, and it is especially huge if we equate slaughter to death, since no one would have died at all were it not for rebellion back in Eden. Most die, not due to acts of commission, but due to acts of omission. The Man of Lawlessness does not teach biblical truth, and the sheep, as a consequence, are found roaming the hills, and land themselves into all sorts of mischief, atheism being one of those mischiefs. Had they not been force-fed a diet of spiritual junk food, they might not have thrown out the baby with the bathwater, asserting that not only are the doctrines untrue, but also is God.

So the origin of the Man of Lawlessness may be correct, but I am not sure that we keep up with its modern evolutions. Sometimes I think that we do the equivalent of railing about Egypt or Assyria, and don’t grasp that other heads have emerged in the seven-headed wild beast. The “apostates” that cause us trouble today are overwhelmingly atheistic. The media people, be it print or video, who “accuse the brothers day and night before our God” are almost always atheistic, Every general needs to know the enemy. We do ourselves a disservice if we imagine that today’s enemy is religious. It leads to miscalculations as to how to oppose him. Sometimes, for example, we imagine that explaining doctrine clearly will serve to rectify things.

 

The clergy class still rears its ugly sting to inflict vindictive damage on true servants of God if possible (See the Russian affair).”

I don’t think that’s true, and it is a good case in point. Buy too much into this and it would appear that if the clergy were to disappear, attacks against us would be over. In fact, the clergy has practically disappeared from the standpoint of influence, and attacks come upon us full-throttle. 

 Nobody believes me on this. They just assume that the Russian Orthodox Church is behind the ban. They have said that they are not. I am inclined to believe them. To be sure, most there squealed with delight when the ban on Witnesses went into effect, like kids on Christmas morning, but the thinkers among them don’t like it. They think that the same legal reasonings being used against us could also be used against them. They also regard themselves as the true church, and THAT is now illegal under the new laws first applied to Witnesses.

The centerpiece of my “theory” is articles such as this one in the Daily Caller:

We fixate on the Russian Orthodox Church because we have not moved on from the days of the Roman Catholic Church in 1950s Quebec, and 1940s America and Europe, when religion truly did orchestrate the mischief. The anti-cult movement of today that would take out ALL religion starts with the biblical faith that is most clearly “no part of this world,” but it is hardly friendlier with other types. We should know the enemy.

Recently in field service a woman answered my companion’s knock and said she wouldn’t speak with us since she “follows the Word of God.” Thus, she drew “battle lines,” and it was hard to not respond in kind. My companion began to go where we so often go, where I used to go, and a silly little contest begins of searching for chinks in her “armor,” since we are loath to leave an “objection” such as hers unanswered. After all, we also think that we are following the Word of God.

After a time, I interrupted to say: “Look, you believe in God and you think we’re doing it all wrong. We believe in God and we think you’re doing it all wrong. We will steal sheep from your church if we can and you will do the same to us. Let’s just accept that as a given. Either way it is a search for God and a desire to worship him.” With that, I made a point about the “shocking disregard for Jesus” prevalent in the world today, and a brief defused conversation ensued. We parted with her thinking that we were, at least in some respects, on the same page. And we were. We both have a common enemy who is on the ascent.

The Western clergy is licking its wounds these days. It is the atheists who are riding tall. It may be correct to identify the Man of Lawlessness with a religious faction—it certainly was that way in the early centuries—but its latest manifestation is not religious and has no use for God, having elevated other concerns to that status.

 
 

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Why Isn’t THAT in Your Museum, National Historic Park Service - Eisenhower’s Mom

They wanted to make him king? And he declined?

“Therefore Jesus, knowing they were about to come and seize him to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain all alone.” (John 6:15)

Few who have read the verse will have had that same offer, much less the experience of accepting it. But Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of the few. The victorious general gets to be president—it worked for George Washington, then Andrew Jackson, then Zachary Taylor, then Ulysses Grant. And it worked for Dwight D. Eisenhower, elected “king” in 1952. He had served as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II.

At the Eisenhower National Historic Site in Pennsylvania, the ranger almost immediately made a mistake. Ike and his siblings were raised in the Mennonite religion, she said. I knew it was wrong. They were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses—‘Bible Students’ was the name back then. Yet even when I had one-on-one time with the ranger, I did not challenge her because 1) I had forgotten about it, and 2) the reason I had forgotten about it is that I had initially told myself that maybe his parents were Mennonites longer than they were Witnesses, or maybe they were not Witnesses during their childrens’ formative years. However, I checked later. They were. She was wrong—amazingly wrong, because the National Historical Park Service is not wrong about anything.

The most authoritative source will be this entry of the Kansas Historical Society. If I recalled the name of that ranger, I would contact her first. Alas—like most of the ‘Aha!’ moments of life, it occurs to me too late to act upon it.

If a Mennonite background might sink you as a Presidential candidate in 1952, God help you if were found to have a Jehovah’s Witness background. The Eisenhower children and their handlers kept that background very very secret, so as not to hurt Ike’s political career. Pundits would have destroyed him. I have to admit, even I would have enjoyed a crack at it—there would be my cartoon of Ike and his wife doing street work in front of the White House, holding aloft the Watchtower and Awake, the cover emblazoned: ‘Can Presidents Bring Peace?’ Oh yeah, they would have had a field day with it.

No U.S. religious group was more unpopular during World War II than Jehovah’s Witnesses, who not only refused military service, but also refused to salute the flag—Witnesses do not salute any flag anywhere. Often Witness youths refusing the military draft were sentenced with considerable emotion. Like this example: “I sentence you to five years in a federal prison to be approved by the Attorney General. My only regret, you yellow coward, is that I cannot give you twenty five years!” [from the book ‘Oer the Ramparts They Watched’ - by Victor V Blackwell, an attorney who represented many of them]

Mob violence was common following a 1940 decision of the Supreme Court that school pupils could be compelled to salute the flag. Mobs formed, waving the flag, demanding Witnesses salute it. When they would not, they were attacked and beaten, even into unconsciousness. Their homes, automobiles and meeting places were torched. In small towns, some were rounded up and jailed without charge. In four years, over 2500 mob-related incidents occurred.

The Solicitor General of the United States took to the airwaves: “Jehovah's Witnesses have repeatedly been set upon and beaten. They have committed no crime; but the mob adjudged that they had, and meted out punishment The Attorney General has ordered an immediate investigation of these outrages...The people must be alert and watchful, and above all, cool and sane. Since mob violence will make the government's task infinitely more difficult, it will not be tolerated. We shall not defeat the Nazi evil by emulating its methods.”

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt echoed the plea of the Attorney General. The ACLU also spoke out: “It is high time we came to our senses regarding this matter of flag-saluting. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not disloyal Americans…They are not given to law-breaking in general, but lead decent, orderly lives, contributing their share to the common good.” The High Court reversed its decision three years later, partly because they were aghast at what they had unleashed.

A question might be asked: Why didn’t Ike defend them? If not he, (for he was at the time fully immersed as brigadier general overseas) then why not one of his several siblings, who were in position to clarify that declining the flag salute had nothing to do with lack of patriotism, but of respecting the 2nd of the Ten Commandments. They would also have been in ideal position to explain that non-participation in war was completely in harmony with Bible standards. Instead, it was left to the ACLU to explain that “Jehovah’s Witnesses are not disloyal Americans…They are not given to law-breaking in general, but lead decent, orderly lives, contributing their share to the common good.” Ike’s kin might have done it, if not for their former faith itself, then for the sake of dear ol Mom, who held faithfully to it.

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s service to his country, and even the world, will be the trump card for most persons. Had he not been appointed Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, maybe someone less capable would have botched the job. Even for Jehovah’s Witnesses, this will likely be the trump card—for he did liberate the German concentration camps where many of them were, after all, and that must have made Mom proud.

Yet the Eisenhower sibling’s service to the cause of faith is not so stellar. When the Word states that Christians will be hated in all the nations on account of Jesus’ name [“Then people will hand you over to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name.” - Matthew 24:9], is it because those nations will say that they hate God? No. They will say that they love God, but there will be some hot-button issues—in this case, refusal to salute the national flag or engage in military service—that will enrage them, be the matter biblically supported or not.

In fact, a third reason that Jehovah’s Witnesses were reviled is that they called out the major churches for their enthusiastic war cheerleading on both sides of both World Wars. Had even one of the major churches in Germany renounced war participation, Hitler might never have become the world threatening menace that he did become. If you are not going to stand up for peace during time of war, just when do you stand up for it?

Eisenhower’s kin could have explained it all, even if not going along with it themselves. They didn’t. One can only conclude that they were deeply embarrassed, if not ashamed, of their Jehovah’s Witness mother, and to this day wish to keep it a deeply held secret—and that even the National Historic Park Service, who seldom miss the slightest detail, acquiesces to their desire to keep this worst of all worst disgraces out of the public eye. Look, nobody cares—the Watchtower organization is certainly not outraged by it—they don’t do celebrities over there. However, the fact that nobody cares can be said of most details of history. It is history, and history is the National Historical Park Service’s reason for existence. They ought to get it right!

In the mid-seventies, Modern Maturity magazine ran this quote from Melvin Eisenhower, Ike's brother:Mother and Father knew the Bible from one end to the other. In fact, Mother was her own concordance: Without using one, she could turn to the particular scriptural passage she wanted. . . . We had an ideal home for I never heard an unkind word between Father and Mother. They lived by the cardinal concepts of the Judaic-Christian religion.” Really? Well what “Judaic-Christian religion” was it? Alas, it must never be told, for fear of dropping in the eyes of others.

From a Bible standpoint, it is not good. “Everyone, then, who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in the heavens.  But whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens,” says Jesus at Matthew 10:32-33. Should a literal observing of his words be treated as a dirty little secret that must never see the light of day for the sake of preserving popular social approval? “How can you believe,” Jesus spoke again, “when you are accepting glory from one another and you are not seeking the glory that is from the only God?” (John 5:44)

The October 15, 1980 Watchtower tells of a World War II American soldier who became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses while enlisted. Efforts to speak with his superiors about his new-found neutrality went nowhere. So the fellow wrote, not to General Eisenhower, but to his mom! Sometimes you have to do that. Do you want President Trump to do something for you? You can’t write him – he’s busy. You have to write his mom, who will nag him into doing what you want.

One testy exchange between this new Witness and his superiors turned around quickly: “As I entered the headquarters tent, where all the ‘top brass’ had gathered, I didn’t salute.”

One of the officers said: “Don’t you salute your superiors?”

“No, Sir.”

“Why not?”

The soldier gave his reasons, based on his new and incomplete understanding of the Bible. At that the officer said: “General Eisenhower ought to line you Jehovah’s Witnesses up and shoot you all!”

“Do you think he would shoot his own mother, Sir?’ The soldier asked. He then produced the reply that he had just received from Eisenhower’s mom. The senior officer read the letter, and the other officers also gathered around to look at it. He then replied: “Get back to ranks. I don’t want to get mixed up with the General’s mother.”

Why isn’t THAT in your museum, you who miss no detail of Ike’s life? The letter is reproduced below:

 

Abilene, Kansas - August-20-’44.

Mr. Richard Boeckel.

 

Dear Sir: A friend returning from the United Announcers Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, informs me of meeting you there. I rejoice with you in your privilege of attending such convention.

It has been my good fortune many times in the years gone by to attend these meetings of those faithfully proclaiming the name of Jehovah and his glorious Kingdom which shortly now will pour out its rich blessings over all the earth.

My friend informs me of your desire to have a word from General Eisenhower’s mother whom you have been told is one of the witnesses of Jehovah. I am indeed such and what a glorious privilege it has been in association with those of the present time and with those on back through the annals of Biblical history even to Abel.

Generally I have refused such requests because of my desire to avoid all publicity. However, because you are a person of good will towards Jehovah God and his glorious Theocracy I am very happy to write you.

I have been blessed with seven sons of which five are living, all being very good to their mother and I am constrained to believe are very fine in the eyes of those who have learned to know them.

It was always my desire and my effort to raise my boys in the knowledge of and to reverence their Creator. My prayer is that they all may anchor their hope in the New World, the central feature of which is the Kingdom for which all good people have been praying the past two thousand years.

I feel that Dwight my third son will always strive to do his duty with integrity as he sees such duty. I mention him in particular because of your expressed interest in him.

And so as the mother of General Eisenhower and as a witness of and for the Great Jehovah of Hosts (I have been such the past 49 years) I am pleased to write you and to urge you to faithfulness as a companion of and servant with those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus”.

There can be no doubt that what is now called the post-war period is the “one hour” mentioned at Revelation chapters 17 and 18. Ten here being a symbol not of just ten nations but rather of the whole number or all of the nations, then if we have a real League of Nations acting efficiently as a super guide to the nations of earth at the close of this war that should be ample proof.

Surely this portends that very soon the glorious Theocracy, the long promised Kingdom of Jehovah the Great God and of his Son the everlasting King will rule the entire earth and pour out manifold blessings upon all peoples who are of good will towards Him. All others will be removed.

Again may I urge your ever faithfulness to these the “Higher Powers” and to the New World now so very near.

Respectfully yours in hope of and as a fighter for the New World,

Ida E. Eisenhower

 

See also the chapter ‘Enemies’ of my ebook ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’

And ‘The Military-Industrial Complex and Jehovah’s Witnesses’

82532695-05EB-439D-9695-6B66D8D16601

See overall post of our visit to the Eisenhower National Historical Site here.

 

 

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

They Surrounded the Hall With Torches!

Guarding the Assembly Hall overnight, the way we used to do, sitting in that guardhouse with hourly walkarounds, it was peaceful and anything but exiting. I checked the logbook of previous shifts, updated hourly.

“All’s quiet”

“Peaceful “

“No problems” and so forth. 

I thought that I would liven things up:

“Building is suddenly surrounded by an angry mob carrying torches, led by priests, threatening to burn it to the ground. Partner & I react quickly, confront & tie in knots mob leaders with selected scriptures, they disperse muttering & scratching heads. Like Saul: “But Saul kept on acquiring power all the more and was confounding the Jews that dwelt in Damascus as he proved logically that this is the Christ.” (Acts 9:22)

I felt bad about it the next day. Had I been too flippant with the ‘sacred records’? It was an assembly day & I stopped by to remove the sacrilege. But the old pages were gone & new blank pages added. Was the old the subject of a Wednesday meeting at HQ?

I might not do it today. But then, we long ago decided not to guard it that way, so the opportunity would not come up.

Would I tease the priests that way, today? Yes, probably, for that was clearly in good fun, but I might be slightly more circumspect....though not decline it altogether—about relating of the minister giving the talk who built his theme around such-and-such material: (turn to the verse and it is one of the blanks)

and then the middle and concluding portions around...(two more verses)

with the immediate result that “some began to believe the things said; others would not believe” (Acts 28:24)

and the long-term result that: “The fact is, some were crying out one thing and others another; for the assembly was in confusion, and the majority of them did not know the reason why they had come.” (Acts 19:32)

That one is clearly an inside joke, and even that one I dial back these days. One not get smug.

We came across a clergyman’s house out in the ministry, attached to the church. I made for it, and a companion wanted to come. “Nah, you’ll get into a fight,” I said. I felt bad and had to dig myself out of it later, but not too much because I know it would have gone down that way. He just likes correcting people. 7F6E3DA4-F1C5-45A6-B28D-202F3212759C

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

$1.4 Billion. Is THAT all?

The article said 1.4 million, someone pointed out, not 1.4 billion.

I wrote this post in too much haste. I should correct it, I suppose. But 1.4 million is still a lot of dough, and a lot of dough was the point. Besides, it is only a matter of a zero or 3. And what is a zero? Nothing! Why make such a fuss over nothing?

...............

You know, it’s all very well that this fellow wins the $1.4 billion Templeton Prize and I don’t. “He’ll be throwing his worthless gold in the street, someday,” I chuckle gleefully. Oh yeah, I am having a wonderful time here.

https://news.yahoo.com/physicist-marcelo-gleiser-science-does-not-kill-god-090100672.html

There’s nothing here that I haven’t said. There’s nothing here that tens of thousands of people haven’t said. “Hee hee, hee,” I mock this poor fellow. “Just wait till he gets his tax bill. nyuk nyuk nyuk.”

Atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method," he told them. “Atheism is a belief in non-belief. So you categorically deny something you have no evidence against."

Everybody who has any sense says that and nobody pays them $1.4 billion.

I'll keep an open mind because I understand that human knowledge is limited," he added. There’s money in them thar open minds.

I mean, he didn’t actually do any work. He just gussied up common sense a little and held out his hand for the payoff.

“The author of five English-language books and hundreds of blog and press articles in the US and Brazil, Gleiser has also explored in depth how science and religion both try to respond to questions on the origins of life and the universe,” the article says. 

Actually, I’ve just written four, not five books, and my blog posts are on many things, not just...oh...wait....the article’s not talking about me. It’s talking about someone with a cool 1.4 billion. I wouldn’t take it if you got down on your knees and begged me.

This fundamental curiosity unites science and religion, though each provides very different answers: science has a methodology, where hypotheses are eliminated.

"Science can give answers to certain questions, up to a point," Gleiser pointed out.

"This has been known for a very long time in philosophy, it's called the problem of the first cause: we get stuck," the physicist, a father of five.”

Maybe that’s where I went wrong. I didn’t have five kids. I should have had more.

"We should have the humility to accept that there's mystery around us,” he says. “He accuses the "new atheists" of doing a disservice to science by making an enemy out of religion: notably British scientist Richard Dawkins.” 

Uh, yeah. Haven’t I said the same thing, like, forever?

It's extremely arrogant from scientists to come down from the ivory towers and make these declarations without understanding the social importance of belief systems.....When you hear very famous scientists making pronouncements like ... cosmology has explained the origin of the universe and the whole, and we don't need God anymore. That's complete nonsense," he added. “Because we have not explained the origin of the universe at all."

Ha ha ha! Wait till he is flooded by “friends” who want a piece of his prize, ‘earned’ by pointing out what any donkey of a believer could have pointed out. Then he’ll be sorry. Then he’ll wish that I had been awarded that prize, and not he.

But it will be too late. He’s stuck with it. Ho Ho Ho. I’ll send him my address just to mess with his mind a little, but I won’t accept his prize, no matter how much he pleads.

Sheesh! 1.4 billion. It’s all in who you know.

Now, hand me that hammer so I can tap the starter on my car, the way you have to do to get it running. “Go get em, Tiger,” I tell myself. They’re running a ‘Buy One Get One’ at WalMart today.

[edit.....The article said 1.4 million, someone pointed out, not billion.

I wrote this post in too much haste. I should correct it, I suppose. It’s still a lot of dough. Besides, it is only a matter of a zero or 3. And what is a zero? Nothing! Why make such a fuss over nothing?

 
 

DABA92EC-71AD-423E-A48F-368A58C9DE4A

 

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)