Author: Corey Carroll (email@example.com) Title: Review of JW book, _Life_, by a form
Author: Corey Carroll (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Title: Review of JW book, _Life_, by a former Witness
Just thought I'd post this in view of the recent uprise of Antti.
I've been gone due to our system crashing, and I'm pretty tired
of discussing this subject, as I consider creationism basically
debunked. I thought it was funny to see Antti say his beliefs
did not depend on this book. Anyways, here is a semi-long report
on the Jehovah's Witnesses "scientific" book:
_Life: How did it get here? By evolution or by creation?_
Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
First, some background: The Jehovah's Witnesses are basically
old-earth creationists; that is, they interpret "day" in Genesis
to mean a time period longer than 24 hours. Second, this book is
the primary book the JW's use in their campaign to fight
evolution. Third, the JW's don't get politically involved in
things, so it is unlikely that they will pressure the teaching of
"scientific creationism" in schools.
This is the book that really changed my faith in the Jehovah's
Witnesses as a religion who have the "Truth". Earlier, about 5
years ago, I and my family had studied this book in weekly
bookstudies, held at believer's houses. Each study lasted an
hour, and usually 10 or 12 paragraphs were covered in each study.
This was the book that made me a firm creationist. Until I
started reading talk.origins.
The book is divided into two main parts. The first part details
the standard 'problems with evolution' arguments, in an attempt
to prove creationism (Something which is logically invalid).
The last part of the book reveals the true motives behind the
book. Look at what the last chapter, What Choice Will You Make?,
on page 248, paragraph 5 has to say:
"Do not be surprised that the theory of evolution has become so
widespread in modern times despite the evidence against it. The
real message of this belief is that there is no God, that he is
unnecessary. From where would such a monumental lie originate?
Jesus identified the source when he said: 'The Devil... is a liar
and the father of the lie.'-John 8:44."
Thus, the motives of the book are to show that basically,
evolution is a Satanic theory. My own father has used this
tactic on me, telling me that I have been "tricked" by Satan and
his demons, and the demonic influence of college, talk.origins,
and all other sources of evolutionary knowledge. He has even
quoted scriptures to me such as Colossians 2:8, Matthew 11:25, 1
Corinthians 1:19, Isaiah 29:14, and 1 Corinthians 3:19.
At first glance, you can see that the book is lacking in
informational content. It is written on an 8th grade level. Over
half of the book is devoted to pretty color pictures, as opposed
to words. Little quotes are cited on the margins of the pages,
such as : "The primary scientific evidence is a pitifully small
array of bones" (p.85), and "Why did 'inferior' apes and monkeys
survive, but not a single 'superior' 'ape-man'?" (p.84)
The pictures of life on earth are depicted as noble, wonderful,
God-like. Look at the pictures of humans. A particularly
humorous picture is the one on page 33, showing the animals that
were created on day 6, supposedly exactly the same as the 'kinds'
today (they have a modern-day elephant, giraffe, bear, dog,
tiger, rabbit, and a cow). Another humorous picture is on p.34,
with a depiction of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Note the
makeup on Eve. I guess God created her with lipstick and
The 'meat' of the book is laregly contained in the following
2 Disagreements About Evolution - Why?
4 Could Life Originate by Chance?
5 Letting the Fossil Record Speak
6 Huge Gulfs - Can Evolution Bridge Them?
7 "Ape-Men" - What Were They?
8 Mutations - A Basis for Evolution?
Chapter 1, "Life - How Did it Start?" is just introductory and
contains little useful information. After acknowledging that
creationism isn't really a science, however, it tries to prove
that evolution is not a science either, because no one can
"really tell" what happened in the past. Nothing original here.
Chapter 2 is particularly notorious in its misleading use of
quotes. By selective quoting, the chapter makes it appear as if
evolution is a science on the verge of collapse. This sets up
the rest of the arguments in the book to disprove evolution.
Most of the quotes only are dealing with questions on HOW
evolution happened, and the tempo and mode of evolution, NOT the
fact of evolution happening.
Chapter 3, What Does Geneis Say?, is especially funny. Apparently
it is their "Scientific Theory of Creationism". Notable in this
theory is that they do not claim that all life was created in six
literal 24-hour days. Rather, they claim that each Genesis "day"
could have encompassed millenia. However, I have heard some
Witnesses say that the dinosaurs were killed off in the flood,
and Jehovah started getting the earth ready for life a mere
48,000 years ago (implying that all life has been created within
48,000 years), due to their interpretation of a Biblical "day" as
7,000 years. However, they believe that man is only 6,000 years
Chapter 4, Could Life Originate By Chance? contains the usual
probability arguments against abiogenesis. After making it look
like evolution depends upon a theory of biogenesis to make it
complete (which it does not), it quotes Hoyle's _Evolution From
Space_ and even an _Impact_ pamphlet for its probabilities. The
arguments in this book are based on the assumption that for life
to have started would require a modern-day cell with DNA,
proteins, enzymes, etc. No thought is given to the evolution of
the cell from simpler elements.
Chapter 5, Letting the Fossil Record Speak, asserts that
1) Very simple life forms gradually appearing
2) Simple forms gradually changing into complex ones
3) Many transitional "links" between different kinds
4) Beginnings of new body features, such as limbs,
bones, and organs.
After oversimplifying matters, and neglecting the facts regarding
the likelihood of fossilization, they set out to make it look
like no transitional forms exist. Notoriously, they attack the
evolution of the horse, on bad assumptions that horse evolution
is gradual and continuous, is progressive, and leads from the
changing and replacement of one "kind" of animal to another
(Eohippus to Equus).
Chapter 6, Huge Gulfs- Can Evolution Bridge Them? expounds upon
the differences in vertebrates, namely, fish, amphibians,
reptiles, birds, and mammals. It is an example of the "we don't
understand how a [wing, beak, eggshell] could have developed,
therefore it didn't happen" argument. In particular, they claim
that Archaeopteryx is not a transition from reptile to bird,
because it has feathers, and not scales. They fail to note the
reptile-like skeletal features of Archaeopteryx, of course,
because it is contrary evidence that they do not want to deal
Chapter 7, "Ape-Men" - What Were They? sets about to prove that
none of the early hominids were transitional or ancestral to Homo
sapiens. It harps on Piltdown man, and the speculative nature of
different artist's representations of ancient skulls in real
life, while ignoring the trends in enlargement of brain case,
changes in teeth, and the changes in the shape of the face.
Notable, too, is the drawing on page 94 of the Australopithecus
skull, chimpanzee skull, and the human skull. IMHO, the
chimpanzee skull is not drawn accurately; where are the large
Also, it tries to discredit radiocarbon dating that gives ages
greater than 6,000 years to man, using the views of Robert
Gentry, a six-day creationist (although making it look like it is
from a reputable "scientific journal"- see p. 96). It also tries
to explain away earlier hominids as degenerate races of Homo
Chapter 8, Mutations- A Basis for Evolution? uses one of the
worst arguments in the whole book. First of all, they make it
look like all mutations are deleterious. In reality, there is a
spectrum of mutations, ranging from deleterious to neutral to
beneficial. In addition, a mutation that is deleterious in one
environment could be advantageous in another environment. Next,
they use this argument, which is based on a false assumption:
"In his book, _The Wellsprings of Life_, science writer Isaac
Asimov admitted: 'Most mutations are for the worse.' However, he
then asserted: 'In the long run, to be sure, mutations make the
course of evolution move onward and upward.' But do they? Would
any process that resulted in harm more than 999 times out of 1000
be considered beneficial? If you wanted a house built, would you
hire a builder who, for every correct piece of work, turned out
thousands that were defective? If a driver of an automobile made
thousands of bad decisions for every good one when driving, would
you want to ride with him? If a surgeon made thousands of wrong
moves for every right one when operating, would you want him to
operate on you?" (p.101-102, par. 9)
This argument does not apply, because we are dealing with
populations, not individuals. As computer programs show, natural
selection works. No evolutionist is saying that any one organism
suddenly gets 1000 good mutations and evolves "upward". Rather,
species develop relatively few mutations, and over time, the ones
that are advantageous to survival propagate through the gene
pool. The neutral ones become distributed by chance, and the
deleterious ones are selected against.
The rest of the book is devoted to proving the existence of God
by using the argument from design. The next chapters talk about
the wonderful universe, the conditions on earth that make life
possible, the design of living things (ignoring, of course , the
horribly BAD design in many living things), animal adaptations,
instinct, and finally, the "Human Miracle". Then the book goes
into chapters such as "Why Do Many Accept Evolution?", and "Can
You Trust the Bible?" After establishing the "reasons" people
believe in evolution, and the inerrancy of the Bible, they set
out their basic JW doctrines (resurrection, eternal life on
earth, etc etc) and try to convince the reader to become a
All in all, I give the book a horribly bad rating. Useful
information in the book is probably on the order of 5%. I have
read much better creationist books, such as _Darwin on Trial_.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank