Floods in Our Enlightened Age

Let's face it, Noah and the flood and the ark and the animals boarding two by two is hard for people to swallow. So, sure enough, after I posted I Don't do Floods this email landed on my desk:
 


I truly wish I understood the mind that can accept, on faith and believe them to be factual events, such tales as a World-Wide flood not more than a few thousand years ago. I read the Little Red Book, God's Word or Man's and found it amazing that in this enlightened age, it could be taken seriously. Sticking strictly to the Old Testament, I asked a Jewish friend of mine how the Jews dealt with such stories as that of the flood. She mostly, just smiled.
 
Speaking of science in connection with the Bible, I use the following quote from one of my all-time favorite writers. "Pure science is necessarily godless. It is incapable of worship. There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the cradle. Reason, Observation and Experience, the Holy Trinity of Science have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others happy."
 
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Dear Person:
 
 
 
“I truly wish I understood the mind that can accept, on faith and believe them to be factual events, such tales as a World-Wide flood “
 
It’s because we approach the subject from two different vantage points. If I am cruising on the freeway at 60MPH, I’m not sure why I should be especially concerned about the scientist on the radio telling me my car doesn’t run. But if my car is up on blocks, I’ll pay him more attention.
 
Put another way, if my multi-piece puzzle is fully assembled and I’ve reproduced that vista on the box cover, I may not pay too much attention to news reports that the product’s been recalled, the manufacturers jailed as hucksters. But if I’ve worked for weeks and can’t get any of the pieces to fit, I will turn up the volume and say “so that‘s why the damn thing won‘t come together!”
 
And so if I am to answer your question, I must launch into another discussion of why I think Jehovah’s Witnesses have the truth and other religions don’t. And you will hate it, or at least you have hated it when I’ve ventured there in the past. But it’s the only answer to your question I can give; I’ve conceded more than once that current scientific consensus is not on my side. If I am to overlook such consensus, I have to give you a reason. You would take me to task if I did not.
 
From prior discussions, I know we agree on the hellfire doctrine being nonsense. Punishment ought to fit the crime. To wit: putting a vile person to death does no injury to our sense of justice. Most human governments have seen fit to do that. But to torture someone forever for a few decades of wrongdoing? It’s vengeful and repulsive; we all know that. Issac Asimov observed that hell was "the drooling dream of a sadist" crudely affixed to an all-merciful God; if even human governments were willing to curtail cruel and unusual punishments, he muses, why would punishment in the afterlife not be restricted to a limited term.Of course, JWs have never taught hell. Most other faiths have; many still do.
 
If there is a God who cares for us, you would hope that he would make himself knowable. The Trinity doctrine makes him absolutely incomprehensible. Father and Son being two separate beings, which we maintain, squares perfectly with our common sense. Jehovah’s Witnesses have never taught a trinity. Most churches have and do. Specifically, a trinity doctrine makes Christ’s sacrifice for humankind’s sins an unfathomable, syrupy mess. But if God caused his Son to be born a perfect man, and his life course counterbalances that of the only other perfect man, Adam, and thus he can buy back, or redeem, what Adam lost - listen, I’m not saying you have to believe it, but you must admit there is some internal logic there, and not just some gooey “God died to show how much he loves us.”
 
Moreover, if God wants us in heaven, as all religions except for Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, why didn’t he put us there in the first place, for crying out loud??! What’s with this shell game of a stepping stone earth, from which we get promoted to heaven or sink to hell? How does that make any sense? But a promise that, under the proper government of God’s Kingdom, humans may live on earth forever ….well, that sure does square with his original act to start humans on earth with instructions to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the place. If God suspends this purpose temporarily while he works out the bugs  - bugs introduced through Adam’s rebellion - well, that’s not too hard to understand. We all know about working out bugs.
 
The foregoing points have an internal logic to them…..the pieces fit together, much like a completed jigsaw puzzle. I realize that completing a puzzle does not prove the puzzle is genuine, but it sure is more impressive than not completing it. That’s what the churches are stuck with - a mess of ill-fitting pieces that you can’t do much with, so that you either sweep them into the wastebasket or say “ah, well, I’ll just believe it anyway.” Only a certain type of person can take the latter course. Jehovah's Witnesses don’t have to.
 
So that’s why I’m not as influenced by the conclusions of our current "enlightened age" (is it really that enlightened?) as you may think I ought to be. We have a strong counterweight. Religions in general have no such counterweight, so their adherents are more easily toppled. You quoted your favorite writing on science. Here’s mine, from Max Planck the physicist: 


 
 

 A new truth does not establish itself by opponents seeing the light. Rather, the opponents eventually die, and a new generation arises who is familiar with the idea [paraphrased] People run in herd mentality, be they scientists or laymen.

 

I’ll even add to that flood post a little. One commenter spoke of an ancient flood in Africa, and I responded with another example and the observation that there are probably many. In fact, as I’ve since read, there are; geologists find evidence of scores of massive ancient floods. Is it really so great a stretch to link them together? Another comment spoke of a possible fallacy in current (biological) dating methods. Now, assigning, from our time, the dates of eons-ago events is intriguing, to be sure, but I sometimes wonder if it is not like swinging a baseball bat while gripping only the sixteenth of an inch on the end. Are we really so adept at it as we think we are? Or might some new view come along someday to sweep all our current understandings away? It’s not as if such things haven’t happened before. Lastly, accounts of a worldwide flood abound in the legends of many peoples, which is not proof, I understand, but not bad corroborating evidence.

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Tom Irregardless and Me       No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 


 

 

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Predestination and the Last Days

If you purchase and run a car without a clue how to take care of it, and for some reason you refuse to read the owner's manual, it is certain you will end up with a pile of scrap metal. That's not predestination. It's a certain prediction, and the dealer could have made it the moment he discerned your nobody's-gonna-tell-me mindset. When it comes to the Bible and the "last days," this is the analogy that fits.

The auto-purchase analogy can be seen in the Genesis account, which most people count as a fairy tale. God did not create humans with the ability to govern themselves. Power corrupts, absolute corrupts absolutely, and so forth....God knew it all along. He did not create humans with self-rule ability, just like he did not create them with ability to fly or to walk through walls.

But the first humans ignore him and disobey the only command he has issued, [Gen 2:17] a command which symbolizes their reliance upon him. They embark on the path of self-rule.

Genesis 2:17 says: "But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.”

Disobeying, eating from the tree, means not respecting God’s right to decide good and bad. Instead, those first humans, by their actions, declare they will decide such matters themselves, in effect, rejecting God’s right to rule in favor of self-rule.

Thus begins a long experiment of human rulership, which God permits as it is the one way of permanently settling the issue of rulership. God knows how the experiment in governing will end, just as the dealer knows how your car stewardship will end. In time, the evidence mounts to the point where all but the most pig-headed can see that God had it right all along....humans just make a hash of things with self-rule. God can then bring "the end of the world" and restore matters to the default position....the one where he governs. He's not upset with the earth; he's fond of it. It's his handiwork. He's upset with those who have ruined it, and he tosses them as a landlord might toss a bad tenant. Thereafter, the earth can be brought to the paradise condition envisioned from the outset.

His rulership....this is what the Bible means by "God's Kingdom." It is proclaimed ahead of the eviction, and people are able to respond for or against. There’s no predestination. Everyone has opportunity and God’s will is for all to respond, though he knows not everybody will.

This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.               1 Tim 2:3,4

How exactly this plays out in every detail is unclear, but it certainly makes sense for a person to act in harmony with knowledge acquired.

And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.                 Matt 24:14

When the books are finally closed on the experiment, a thousand plus years from now, will humans once again get it in their heads that self-rule is the way to go? Hopefully, Mark Twain's words will apply:

A cat which sits on a hot stove will never sit on a hot stove again. In fact, it won't sit on a cold one either, for they all look hot.   

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Tom Irregardless and Me                No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Mitochondria DNA and the Y Chromosome

 

Some scientists were reading a post on this blog or somewhere else when they came across a serious reference to Adam and Eve. They laughed so hard they fell off their perches and cracked their heads, whereupon they were rushed to the hospital. After some patching and a blood transfusion each to top off the tank, they were released.

Alright, alright! So they weren't scientists. I mean....they were, but they were specifically evolutionists. Not all scientists believe evolution, though most do.

But why should they laugh till they hurt themselves? Do we not hear all the time about the missing link that connects us to primates? That's link, (singular) not links (plural). If the necessary mutation needed to separate our ancestors from those of the orangutan has a one in bazillion chance of occurring, are we to believe it happened numerous times? So even from their standpoint, if it just happened once, why not term that being Eve, and its first mate Adam? (or vice versa)

This conclusion is supported by some evidence. Scientists have studied mitochondria DNA, inherited only from the female, and have traced all living humans back to a single female, a MRCA (most recent common ancestor). They have studied the Y chromosome, inherited only from the male, and traced us all back to a common male ancestor as well!

Now don't get all excited. Evolutionists don't say they were married, or even lived at the same time. The dates they assign, depending on who you read, are within the framework of Genesis. But they don't say these were the only two persons alive in their time. Far from it.

They do agree on a common male and a common female ancestor. Some agree on a time frame compliant with Genesis. And that's something.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Yes, with regard to the evolution/creation debate, we do think it's well to weigh in on behalf of the good guys, not only of account of the question itself, but also on account of its clear implications. If God truly did create the earth and humankind, maybe he has a purpose for them. Maybe he just won't stand by and see humans wreck everything he has made. Maybe he will toss the destructive louts, just like a landlord will toss rotten tenants. In short, maybe there's light at the end of the tunnel.

On the other hand, if earth and everything on it are merely the result of blind chance, of mutation, preserved only by natural selection, then if humans have any bright future, it lies in efforts they themselves are making.

And they’re not doing so well.

 

Tom Irregardless and Me                No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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The Two Trees of Eden

In general, churches portray the earth as a launching pad from which to leap into an eternity of heaven or hell. We don't. God did not put us on earth because he wanted us somewhere else. He wanted us here and he wanted humans to expand the boundaries of Eden to embrace the whole planet. He did not create humans to die at all, but to live indefinitely, which they would have done had they not rebelled against him.

The Genesis account tells, not of one tree, (the tree of the knowledge of good and bad) but of two. The one we don't hear much about is called the tree of life. They are both introduced to us in Gen 2:9:

Thus Jehovah God made to grow out of the ground every tree desirable to one’s sight and good for food and also the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.

Though real, neither tree conveys magical properties. Their qualities are symbolic. The tree of the knowledge of good and bad represents God's right to rule over his creation, that is, his right to determine what is "good and bad," as opposed to humans usurping that function. The second tree, the tree of life, represents God's guarantee of life. That guarantee was withdrawn after the first humans ate off the former tree, disobeying his direction and rejecting his rulership.

The original command given to Adam:

From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.    Gen 2:16

They did eat from it, as noted, and so we come to the second tree:

And Jehovah God went on to say: “Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad, and now in order that he may not put his hand out and actually take [fruit] also from the tree of life and eat and live to time indefinite,—”  With that Jehovah God put him out of the garden of E´den to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken.  And so he drove the man out....Gen 3:22-24

The point is that humans were designed to live on earth forever, to time indefinite. Death after 80 or 90 years was not God's idea.    

This fits in very well with what we observe about ourselves. For example, we use (what is the correct percentage?) one tenth of one percent of our brain's capacity. How did that come to be? Evolution can hardly be responsible. In the absurdly unlikely event that super-brain storage could mutate into existence, natural selection dictates that it is passed on to progeny only if it offers a substantial edge in the fight for survival. But the bigger brain hard drive offers no such edge....we have already defined that it is unused. It's a bit like having a house the size of Europe when we only use 3000 square feet. Wouldn't you scratch your head and wonder what the realtor had in mind?

But if we recognize that we were created to live forever....well....then it all makes perfect sense. We would eventually find a use for all that brainpower.

That indefinite life was dependent on those first humans remaining in harmony with the Creator's purpose and design. Once that first couple pulled away....well....it's somewhat like a fan pulling itself out of it's wall socket. Those blades, spinning like mad, begin to slow and eventually stop. And it's hardly the fault of the wall socket, especially if you, the fan operator, were told to keep it plugged in.

But now, how will God yet achieve his original purpose towards earth and humankind? He will, of course. He has a plan set in motion, a plan hatched immediately upon that original rebellion.

It is cryptically referred to in Gen 3:15 [And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.] and is frequently discussed in the literature of Jehovah's Witnesses.  The "plan" makes for lengthy discussion. Some of it is here:

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Tom Irregardless and Me        No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Ah, Those Were the Days, those Genesis Days!

It’s getting so a guy hates to admit he believes in creation.

Not because the position is untenable. On the contrary, it’s very easy to ten.

Ccf07162006_00006_2 Wait a minute....is that really a word?

It's because when I identify myself, people assign to me all sorts of baggage that the fundamentalists believe…..but that Jehovah’s Witnesses sensibly reject. The seven literal days of creation, for example. The Bible does not insist on literal days. Days can be unspecific, just as a geezer will speak of events back “in his day.”

That’s why I was happy with the September 2006 Awake! special issue, special because the entire was devoted to the one subject.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe in creation, the magazine points out on its first page. But they are not creationists. That term belongs to the fundamentalists and it implies ideas which we do not hold.

Literal rendering of the 7 days, for instance, when science has produced solid evidence that millions, even billions, of years may be involved. Creationists also bring with them a slew of doctrines, such as hellfire (which, they insist, will be your lot if you don't come around to their viewpoint), that are not taught in the Bible. And they are usually to be found twisting arms of judges, politicians, and educators…trying to get them to adopt measures to force others to believe as they do.

Our only unbendable condition is that humans appeared about 6000 years ago. Other life forms may be considerably older - earth itself, gazillions, or whatever scientists say. We have no issue with that. The figurative use of "days" allows for it.

The 6K years stems from the Bible's internal chronology, which starts with Adam. Who begat whom, and who lived how long, and a few instances of so many years from this event to that one. It is complicated enough that many have made errors in calculation. Isaac Newton calculated 2060 to be the last year! Someday I will research how he figured that. Does anyone know? Post a comment if you do.

The Genesis account puts creation of the animals before Adam, thus before the chronology just referred to. Animal creation takes place within the context of the creative "days," time periods of indeterminate length. That is why Jehovah's Witnesses have no issue with any claims about how old animal fossils are. They may be correct, they may be incorrect....but it doesn't conflict either way with the Bible's record.

As for creation of the earth itself, that occurs even before the creative days. Gen 1:1 states "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." After that statement, not before, the account tells of the creative days. So when it comes to age of the earth and universe, we have no conflict. Let em say millions, billions, trillions, gazillions. Maybe. It's outside of our realm.

 

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

The Holocaust and God's Permission of Evil

The answer the Bible provides as to why God permits suffering: does that really wash? Does it really account for God standing aside while atrocities such as the Holocaust ravage us all? Isn’t that the time for God to intervene if He’s ever going to? And wouldn’t it have been better to educate Adam regarding the consequences of rebellion, rather than see him plunge himself and all his offspring into misery?

One must remember that the stakes are high. God’s rulership is to produce everlasting life in perfect health on a paradise earth. Human rulership is producing exactly what we see today. Anyone delighted over it?

If you are the teacher and you are faced with a wiseacre student who insists he knows a better answer, who will not follow your course, who accuses you of wrong motives, and who is gathering an audience, how do you handle it? You know his answer will not work, yet the student insists. Don’t you just hand him the chalk and let him work out his dumb answer? And when his approach creates the chaos that you knew it would, do you help him out? Won’t that just prolong the misery?

http://www.watchtower.org/e/publications/index.htm
(2nd listing. Chapter 11, which features the above illustration)

Imagine that you have had parents who have provided for your needs in every conceivable way and have done so from infancy. Physical, spiritual, emotional...every need and proper desire was provided for to the fullest degree. They've done nothing but show love. And along comes a stranger and tells you that your folks are lying to you, have always lied to you, and that they are trying to deprive you of what is best. And you immediately side with the stranger! What does that say about your heart? And isn't this the situation with Adam and Eve?

One must remember that Adam, the first of God’s human creation, was created perfect. While you and I may do dumb things, acknowledge them, correct and recover on the basis that we are imperfect, subject to mistakes, a perfect creature doesn’t do that. Any wrong course he chooses is deliberate. He doesn’t afterwards turn around. You don’t educate him.

And so God is extending time, soon to run out, for humans to act on their boast of self-rule.

Also, the Bible’s provision for resurrection ensures that no lasting harm is done anyone through God’s present permission of evil.

...and I have hope toward God…. that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.    Acts 24:15

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Whenever one recalls rotten things that God has permitted, the Holocaust tops the list.

Thousands of German Jehovah's Witnesses were among the very first concentration camp prisoners, preceding the far-more-numerous Jews, and other groups. This because they absolutely refused allegiance to the Nazi regime, which the latter demanded. JWs are the only inmates who can properly be termed martyrs (as opposed to victims) in that they had power to secure their own release by signing a document renouncing their faith and pledging cooperation with the Nazis. Only a handful  took advantage of the opportunity.

You (and I) can lament how unjust God must be to permit such a thing. But we didn’t live through it. They did. They experienced the vilest that mankind has to offer. And the above explanation of why God permits suffering is what sustained them.

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“All those who suffered persecution because of their religious or political beliefs and who were willing to accept death rather than submit deserve our great respect, such respect as is hard to express in words. Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only religion that completely refused to accede to the demands of the Hitler regime: They did not raise their hand to give the Hitler salute. They refused to swear allegiance to ‘Führer and State,’ just as they refused to perform military and labor service. And their children did not join the Hitler Youth Movement.”        Peter Straub, president of the State Parliament of Baden-Württemberg - from a speech made on the 58th aniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

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Tom Irregardless and Me                   No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Genesis Old-timers...Why so Old?

How come in Genesis people get so old? That was my question at Presbyterian confirmation class, eons ago. I wasn’t such a hot student, nor was I overly interested. But you have to say something to justify your existence, and so that was my question.

The answer was disappointing and dull, but I had no reason to think it was not legitimate. They had different calendars back then! What they called a year was really a month. Thus, the eight patriarchs of Genesis chapter 5 who live almost 900 years apiece, give or take, really live only 75 years, just like us in suburbia.

In fact, the calendar answer is not legitimate, or at least it is not complete. For Arpachshad fathered a son at 35 years of age. Under the different calendar theory…..let’s see….ah!…he was 3 years old when he became a dad! This is clearly impossible, because…..well, it just is.

Furthermore, Genesis chapter 11 has people living about 500 years, no longer 900. Later, Abraham and Moses lived less than 200 years. By the time Psalm 90 was written, the common lifespan was 70-80 years. So are we to believe there is a regulatory agency sliding time calibration as the Fed slides interest rates? Plainly, something doesn't fit with the different calendar explanation.

It does, though, fit perfectly with the Bible's teaching that man was made to live forever, and that death only came about after the first man disobeyed God. Of course, this view requires that we accept...gasp... Adam and Eve!…..whadaya think, we’re 5 year olds??!

Accept it for a moment…you can always take it back later… just as the mathematicians assume certain conditions and then see where it leads. Valuable math has been discovered that way.

When Adam disobeyed God, yes, in the Garden of Eden, it was as if he pulled the plug on himself. Pull the plug on a fan and the blades don’t immediately freeze. Instead, they gradually slow. So Adam, designed by God to live forever, still coasts to over 900 years after rebelling.

If you put a dent in a cake pan, any cake you bake will also have the dent. Similarly, Adam passes on imperfection to his offspring. And like the slowing blades, lifespans of successive generations are ever shrinking, from 900 (Gen 5) to 500 (Gen 11) to 200 and less.

I’d always been taught that Genesis was a fairy tale, for the consumption of dumb people and children, beneath consideration for we wise ones of modern times. When I came in touch with Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, and saw loose ends such such as this example coming together with satisfying logic, it changed my view of the Bible. Assemble a few key pieces of a jig saw puzzle, and you gain confidence that the rest will come together as well. And that is just what happened.

Greater detail can be found in the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? available from Jehovah's Witnesses.

Genesis chapters 3, 5, 11, 25:7, Rom 5:12

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Tom Irregardless and Me        No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)