I’ve just had two very pleasant visitors from the Jehovah’s witnesses. They wanted to talk to me about Jesus.
“Ok, no problem, let’s have a chat”, I said.
We started with a discussion of whether the bible is literally true or not. They were certain that it is and so I pointed out in their bibles the blatant contradiction between the two different versions of the creation myth in Genesis. Their only answer to this, despite me reading the relevant parts aloud to them, was to deny it, but I could see on their faces that they weren’t convinced by their own argument – or lack of one really.
We then took a brief stroll through the history of the bible, focusing mostly on exactly how inerrant a book would be that was edited and transcribed numerous times starting off from a most ancient Hebrew work that completely lacked vowels, spaces, punctuation of any kind, capitalisation of first letters to demark sentences and the first book of which was entirely based on oral tradition and some pictorial etchings in leather. None of these facts are disputed by any of the Christian sects as far as I am aware so we were on pretty solid ground.
“But when you read it you know it is true. But some of it is allegorical” they said.
“OK, so you’re admitting that you do not believe in the literal bible?” I asked. You see Jehovah’s Witnesses do indeed believe in the literal bible. “And even if some of it is allegorical how do you know which parts? What makes you so sure the creation is true, pick which ever version you like, and not just allegorical?”
Some smiles and worried looking eyes but other than that silence. Let’s move on.
“What about the numerous failed predictions for the return of Christ since the founding of your organisation in the 1870’s? Are you at least able to consider being less certain about all of this?”
“There have been no failed predictions of the return of Christ”, they said.
“Yes there have, at least seven. The last one of which was the predicted visible return of Christ in 1975 and when that didn’t happen the prediction was changed to an invisible return of Christ. Membership dropped considerably directly after that last failed prediction”
“Oh but we have lots of members, millions of them” they said.
“That’s right, approximately 6.5 million door to door preachers and around 16 million in total. So doesn’t it bother you that only 144,000 of you get to be saved and live forever?”
“That’s right, only 144,000 and they will be part of the 1000 year reign”, they agreed
“That’s less than 1% of your current membership”, I said, “and 1000 years doesn’t seem like very long.”
From that we moved on through God’s various massacres – they denied all of them. And I moved on to massacres commanded by God, starting with Joshua’s massacre at Jericho and skimming over the 170 year murderous bloodbath that ended with David’s conquest of Jerusalem at the cost of the complete destruction of some 400 cities and the murder of pretty much everyone living in them.
They told me, “That wasn’t God. That was the devil.”
“But you told me that the bible is literally true and it says very clearly in the bible that it was God’s command”, I answered.
Now, this wasn’t an argument. We were being nice to each other. I wasn’t aggressive and the tone was genuinely friendly. As we moved on to the flood and the fact that a number of civilizations failed to notice their complete destruction and left records to prove it, the absolute lunacy of supposing that two of every animal on Earth could fit inside the ark along with food for a years voyage, or for that matter enter two by two through a single door (I believe for the number of known species that would require about 30 species per second to have achieved it in the stated seven days) it became obvious that I was making sense. This was reinforced to me by the fact that one of the two ladies was nodding in agreement with practically everything I said and the fact that the smile of the other one was becoming increasingly more desperate and she was edging towards the elevator door.
We continued our chat with a brief discussion of the age of the Earth, the dubious history of the Watch Tower organization, the logically fallacious idea of an all good and all powerful God, the fact that there is a great deal more to learn than only what is in their bible and that context is important, as is evidence, and I finally allowed them their get out of jail free card by letting them get away with suggesting that maybe I wasn’t fully understanding them because Spanish is not my first language.
We agreed that they would send someone to talk with me in English. For some reason they seemed quite keen to stress that it would be a girl and I said I’d be only too willing to welcome her or any of their colleagues again for a chat if they’d agree to at least have a think about things we’d discussed and reread Genesis looking for the contradictions I’d already pointed out.
I wished them a good day, they wished me one and I very much doubt I’ll ever see the same two ladies again (I did invite them to come round for a few hours on Sunday to learn about evolution as they seemed a little confused). But I shall look forward to meeting their reinforcements. Let’s see if I can’t get another deconversion or two under my belt.
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