Authors: C. J. Silverio (, Robert Derrick (, Al

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====================================================================== Authors: C. J. Silverio (, Robert Derrick (, Alan M. Feuerbacher (, Robert Day ( Title: Dishonesty of Jehovah's Witnesses ====================================================================== By C J Silverio: This book [_Life: How did it get here?_] is the straw that broke the JW's credibility for me as a "Witness youth". Five minutes with this book & some of the references, and I realized how boldly dishonest the JWs are. How can they get away with it? They have their rank & file too cowed to check references. I hate being lied to, especially when the liars are people who label themselves as "The Truth". Hypocrites! An easy example: Then, according to Dawkins' description, "a particularly remarkable molecule was formed by accident"-- a molecule that had the ability to reproduce itself. Though admitting that such an accident was exceedingly improbable, he maintains that it must nevertheless have happened. Similar molecules clustered together, and then, again by an exceedingly improbable accident, they wrapped a protective barrier or other protein molecules around themselves as a membrane. Thus, it is claimed, the first living cell generated itself. At this point a reader may begin to understand Dawkins' comment in the preface to his book: "This book should be read almost as though it were science fiction." [_Life-- How did it get here? By evolution or by creation?_ p. 39, paragraphs 4-5] That preface reads: This book should be read as though it were science fiction. It is designed to appeal to the imagination. But it is not science fiction: it is science. Cliche or not, "stranger than fiction" expresses exactly how I feel about the truth. We are survival machines-- robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment. [Dawkins, _The Selfish Gene_, p.ix] And of course Dawkins doesn't just "maintain that [the appearance of the remarkable molecule] must have happened." The JW book refers to the very page this discussion is on: This may seem a very unlikely sort of accident to happen. So it was. It was exceedingly improbable. In the lifetime of a man, things which are that improbable can be treated for practical purposes as impossible. That is why you will never win a big prize on the football pools. But in our human estimates of what is probable and what is not, we are not used to dealing in hundreds of millions of years. If you filled in pools coupons every week for a hundred million years you would very likely win several jackpots. [Dawkins, p. 16] I found it dishonest in the extreme to quote out of context in this way. It's a very transparent attempt to manipulate their readers into thinking that Dawkins "knows" he's being unrealistic & has no good arguments to make in favor of his position. The JWs, though they read Dawkins' argument, make no attempt to refute it. Instead, through selective quoting, they pretend it doesn't exist. On page 44 of their book (paragraphs 18 & 19 of the same chapter), they make the tired old improbability argument. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- By Rob Derrick: stevep@Cadence.COM (Steve Peterson) writes: [ some stuff asserting the integrity of Jehovah's Witnesses in general, and the WTBTS, their propaganda arm, in particular ] I would never misquote you, Steve, but, you see, it works like this: Steve Peterson, an experienced Jehovah's Witness, says, "... the WTBTS is dishonest in their use of quotes." He also remarks that some people "have said that the WTBTS is so blatent in this that it has led them to stop being a JW ..." And I could not agree with you more. I think I speak for most of us here on t.o. that your expose' of the shoddy publishing practices of the WTBTS is exemplary. Bravo! .. While you'll agree that I didn't literally misquote, you'll submit that if *some* readers come up with some implied meaning, then I am somehow guilty. Or are those literal quotes above what you really meant to say? Is it really ok with you if I quote you literally, but not completely, so that your original meaning is reversed, and simply trust the reader to infer the correct meaning of what you intended? But as for that hallowed book in question: The WTBTS book, Life -- How Did it Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? Requoting Jim Lippard > > That question has already been resolved--they sure have. For examples, > see Hector Avalos, "The Jehovah's Witnesses and the Watchtower Society," > _Free Inquiry_, vol. 12, no. 2, Spring 1992, pp. 28-31. A couple > instances: > > _Life_, p. 143: "Zoologist Richard Lewontin said that organisms 'appear > to have been carefully and artfully designed.' He views them as 'the > chief evidence of a Supreme Designer.'" Note what the book says - "He [Lewontin] views them as [literal quote]the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer.[end literal quote]" Now if this doesn't say that Mr. Lewontin holds this view, then I'm not who I think I am! If you think that it doesn't say that, then English is not something with which you are especially skilled. The complete Lewontin response: > Cited source: Lewontin, "Adaptation," _Scientific American_, September > 1978, p. 213. > Lewontin himself, complaining about this exact same misquotation as > presented in an issue of the Institute for Creation Research's > _Acts & Facts_: "But the point of my article, 'Adaptation' in > _Scientific American_, from which these snippets were lifted, was > precisely that the 'perfection of organisms' is often illusory ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ > and that any attempt to describe organisms as perfectly adapted is > destined for serious contradictions. Moreover, the *appearance* of > careful and artful design was taken *in the nineteenth century before ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ > Darwin* as 'the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer.' The past tense ^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^ > of my article ('It *was* the marvelous fit of organisms to the > environment ... that *was* the chief evidence of Supreme Designer') has ^^^^^ > been conveniently dropped by creationist [Gary] Parker in his attempt to > pass off this ancient doctrine as modern science." (Lewontin, "Misquoted > Scientists Respond," _Creation/Evolution_ VI, Fall 1981, p. 35) He clearly shows that He does not hold that view, and that the original quote cleary stated that he was referring to belief's of people who are all DEAD now! But the WTBTS clearly states that it is indeed _his_ view, now! If this was an innocent mistake, then I would be loathe to trust their ability to quote anything anywhere reliably. If it were the only one in the book, maybe, but the book is riddled with misinformation. How, really, could that possibly be an innocent mistake? But I will leave you with one other "mistake" that they "apparently" made: In the text they quote a "scientific journal". In the back of the book, the quote is attributed to "Popular Science." Would you like to buy a clue? "Popular Science" is NOT a scientific journal! Hmmn? Could the reason the good folk at WTetc chose not to identify the journal in the text be because they knew that even some JW gomers would suss that PopSci is not exactly the cutting edge of scientific endeavor? Just maybe? ---------------------------------------------------------------------- By Alan M. Feuerbacher: (Antti Siivonen) writes: > writes: >>Then how come you think the book is so wonderful? > > I give you a reverse answer: It doesn't contain trickery. > > Trickery is what magicians do: They make audience look to the right > hand when the left hand is working. The same is done in science, but > using words, references and charts. > [deleted] > > Andreas - Siperian Sirri Siberian Stint The book most certainly contains trickery in precisely the manner you describe. The following discussion shows a clear example of it. If you can show how the trickery is not really trickery, let's hear it. Would anyone like to count the number of tricks? THE GENESIS ACCOUNT AS EXPLAINED BY THE _LIFE_ BOOK We will consider in some detail how the Watchtower Soci- ety's book _Life--How Did It Get Here? By Evolution Or By Creation?_ handles the Genesis creation account. Chapter 3 explains the account. It gives details of each creative day, and assigns to them "long periods of time--milleniums." Paragraph 32 draws the conclusion: From what we have considered, the Genesis creation account emerges as a scientifically sound document.... The trouble is, up to this point chapter 3 has considered nothing that leads to this conclusion. The only things it has covered are descriptions of Genesis' creative days and certain obvious facts, i.e., light exists, night and day exist, there is dry land, the sun and moon can be seen in the sky, there are seasons and there are many forms of life. Only in the discussion that follows paragraph 32 does the writer touch upon the idea that Genesis is scientifically sound. Paragraph 33 continues: All the knowledge of the wise men of Egypt could not have furnished Moses, the writer of Genesis, any clue to the process of creation.... Where, then, did Moses learn all these things? Apparently from someone who was there. Note here that the writer has _already assumed_ Genesis to have been proven scientifically sound, even though he has not yet done so, and he says explicitly he is _about_ to prove such by his next argument, in paragraph 34, which states: The science of mathematical probability offers strik- ing proof that the Genesis creation account must have come from a source with knowledge of the events. The account lists 10 major stages in this order: (1) a beginning; (2) a primitive earth in darkness and enshrouded in heavy gases and water; (3) light; (4) an expanse or atmosphere; (5) large areas of dry land; (6) land plants; (7) sun, moon and stars discernible in the expanse, and seasons beginning; (8) sea mon- sters and flying creatures; (9) wild and tame beasts, mammals; (10) man. Science agrees that these stages occurred in this general order. What are the chances that the writer of Genesis just guessed this order? The same as if you picked at random the numbers 1 to 10 from a box, and drew them in consecutive order. The chances of doing this _on your first try_ are 1 in 3,628,800! So, to say the writer just happened to list the foregoing events in the right order without getting the facts from somewhere is not realistic. The key point claimed is that science agrees that the stages of creation occurred in the general order stated in Genesis, and therefore God must have informed Moses of them. How does the writer show the order in which science says the stages occurred? He does not do so in the main text. How- ever, in a side box not referenced in the main text he says the following: A well-known geologist said this about the Genesis creation account: "If I as a geologist were called upon to explain briefly our modern ideas of the origin of the earth and the development of life on it to a simple, pas- toral people, such as the tribes to whom the Book of Genesis was addressed, I could hardly do better than follow rather closely much of the language of the first chapter of Genesis." This geologist, Wallace Pratt, also noted that the order of events--from the origin of the oceans, to the emergence of land, to the appearance of marine life, and then to birds and mam- mals--is essentially the sequence of the principle divisions of geologic time. So _Life_ supports its key point with a quotation from a single geologist. It provides no geological data, and no references to geology texts or any other science reference material. From this one quotation and the list of ten cre- ation events, it draws the conclusion that there is next to no chance that the writer of Genesis just guessed the right order of creation. But is the key "fact" correct, i.e., is it really true that science agrees that the stages of cre- ation occurred in the same general order as presented in Genesis? I here present a summary of what most geology books say. Note that what science says concerning the early universe and earth is highly speculative because of the scarcity of data from those early periods. This is widely acknowledged by geology texts. The most recent theory on the origin of the universe pos- tulates that everything began in a sort of explosion called the "Big Bang." Science can make no statement about what existed prior to the Big Bang because the physics are not * understood. So science and Genesis may agree that there was a beginning, but the details are radically different. __________________________ * A number of physicists question the Big Bang theory, because of its increasing inability to explain cer- tain types of new observations, such as the homogene- ity of the cosmic microwave background radiation. This radiation is said to be a kind of echo of the big bang. The theory has also been said to suffer from too many ad-hoc patches. __________________________ This eliminates agreement with point (1) above. What was the primitive earth like? Again science cannot say with any certainty. Many theories have been advanced, but almost all are acknowledged to be speculative because there is no conclusive evidence. One category of theory postulates that the early earth was extremely hot because of the gravitational energy released by matter falling onto it as it condensed from the primordial nebula from which the solar system formed. The earth then slowly cooled, releas- ing the gases that formed the atmosphere and the water vapor that eventually condensed to form the oceans. Another cate- gory of theory postulates that the early earth was rela- tively cool at first, and the interior gradually heated up to its current state because of radioactive elements it con- tained. [1] The gradual heating released the various gases during volcanic eruptions. So the composition and evolution of the early atmosphere is poorly understood, as is the mode of formation of the oceans. What is agreed upon is that a solid surface existed before any oceans accumulated upon it. These things eliminate agreement with points (2), (3), (4), (5), and (7) above. _Life's_ author is aware that science does not say any- thing conclusive about the early atmosphere, because he says on page 41: The fact is, any attempt to establish the nature of earth's primitive atmosphere can only be based on guesswork or assumption. No one knows for sure what it was like. Apparently by page 41 he has forgotten the above points, because if no one knows for sure what the atmosphere was like there can be no agreement on what it was like. It is evident the author claims that science and Genesis agree on the state of the primitive atmosphere when it suits his pur- pose, but later he claims science really knows nothing about the early atmosphere when it suits a different purpose. This choosing among "facts" to suit preexisting notions is inappropriate in a book published by an organization that claims to be interested in truth. What about the order of creation of life? The geological record of the rocks is much clearer on this than on the early history of the earth. Due to the scarcity of evi- dence, much is speculative about early one-celled forms of life, but there is a great deal of evidence regarding life after hard-shelled forms appeared. According to most geo- logical source references, first came one-celled organisms called prokaryotes, which do not contain a nucleus. They appeared at first in the form of anaerobic bacteria, then in the form of photosynthetic bacteria, next aerobic bacteria, and finally blue-green algae. Next came one celled organ- isms called eukaryotes, which contain a nucleus. Finally came multicellular organisms in great variety. The multicellular organisms were at first marine inverte- brates of various types. Then fish and higher marine plants appeared. Next came land plants, amphibians, and insects. Next reptiles, then birds and mammals, and finally man. Note especially that science says fish came _before_ land plants, and some land animals such as amphibians and scorpi- ons came before _any_ flying creatures, including flying insects. If Genesis were correct, whales in particular would have come before dinosaurs, and so would birds, because the simple pastoral Israelites would have understood "the great sea monsters" to include whales, and the "flying creatures" to include birds. The fossil record shows there were both swimming and flying dinosaurs that often were built along the same lines as their mammalian and avian counterparts. But this was unknown to the Israelites. These things show that (6) above is out of order, and (6), (8), and (9) are mixed up. The only thing that is entirely in agreement with science in the above list is that man came last. __________________________ 1 Stephen G. Brush, "Finding the Age of the Earth by Physics or by Faith?," _Journal of Geological Educa- tion_, vol. 30, p. 40, 1982. __________________________ _Life's_ statement that the Genesis stages of creation agree with science is true in only the loosest sense. If you consider that Genesis' saying that the universe had a beginning is significant, then other primitive creation sto- ries must be just as significant, as virtually all of them say there was a beginning. So what is the extent of the agreement between science and Genesis? After a beginning, life forms appeared, among which man was last. That's it. There is no agreement in the details. Therefore _Life's_ claim that the Genesis account came from a source with knowledge of the events has not been shown. In fact, where science makes a definite statement, it disagrees with the Genesis account in almost every detail. It should be clear why the _Life_ book refers to no geo- logical data to prove its point, because the data disprove it. Instead, it has to resort to quoting a single geolo- gist, who, not surprisingly, was a creationist who believed the earth was created in six literal days. This is typical of the Watchtower Society's arguments with respect to sci- ence and the Bible. When there is no support in scientific publications the Society quotes other religious or creationist writings without telling the reader the nature of the source. So what is the probability that the Genesis writer got his knowledge of the order of creation from God, based on its "agreement" with what science says? _Zero._ Note that this conclusion does not depend on whether the "facts" of science are correct. It depends only on the fact that science and the Genesis account do not agree. Whether the "facts" of science are correct is another matter entirely. . . . The _Life_ book's quotation of geologist Wallace Pratt, as mentioned above, is an example of how the Watchtower Society fails to include significant points about a refer- ence, even though the points left out can make a decisive difference in the reader's judgement of the subject. Wal- lace Pratt was a geologist and an executive for Humble Oil Company and Standard Oil Company (Exxon) at various times in his career. Here is the full context of _Life's_ quotation of him. [2] Let the reader make his own judgement. Pratt is as much at home in the worlds of literature and philosophy as he is in those of science and indus- try. He is intrigued by the power of poetic expres- sion. In "Sermons in Stones," a lecture which he gave in 1928, he said, "If I as a geologist were called upon to explain briefly our modern ideas of the origin of the earth and the development of life on it to a simple, pastoral people, such as the tribes to whom the Book of Genesis was addressed, I could hardly do better than follow rather closely much of the language of the first chapter of Genesis." He noted that the order of events--from the origin of the oceans, to the emergence of land, to the appearance of marine life and then of birds and mammals--is essentially the sequence of the principle divisions of geologic time from the Cosmic Era to the Psychozoic. He was undis- turbed by the way Genesis compresses millions of geo- logic years into six days, for "Are we not assured, indeed, that with the Creator, `a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day?' " Many of the theories of the origin of the earth to which scientists gave credence in 1928 have been sharply modified in the light of new discoveries in geology and astronomy, but not enough, Pratt feels, to disrupt the parallelism with Genesis. "Science is like that," he says. "No scientific theory is sacro- sanct. Somebody has said that the great glory of sci- ence is that its truths of today are its absurdities of tomorrow. And that is so. New facts always inspire scientists to devise new hypotheses and to demolish old ones." __________________________ 2 W. L. Copithorne, "The Worlds of Wallace Pratt," _The Lamp_, vol. 53, pp. 11-14, Standard Oil, Fall, 1971. __________________________ Note two important points from this: (1) Pratt was a cre- ationist who believed the earth was created in six literal days, and (2) _Life's_ reference was to a lecture he gave in 1928. _Life_ is silent on these points because they deflate its argument, in spite of comments from Pratt. Here again the Watchtower Society withholds information that could help a reader evaluate its argument. An interesting point about Pratt was his religious belief that the earth was created in six literal days. Pratt was legendary for his ability to find oil fields based on the geology of an area. He regularly used the idea that oil bearing strata were laid down over a long period of time, so that the strata had a certain consistency he was able to discern so as to pick out likely oil fields with great suc- cess. How was he able to reconcile the two conflicting sets of beliefs? . . . The above information showing that Genesis and science do not agree on the order of creation of life is not new. An article by Stephen Jay Gould appeared in the column "This View of Life" in _Natural History_ [3] and described a series of articles written in 1885-1896 by onetime British premier W. E. Gladstone and paleontologist T. H. Huxley con- cerning the Genesis creation account. Basically they argued about whether Genesis agreed with geology, and Huxley showed conclusively that they disagreed. There is nothing new under the sun. The old argument the _Life_ book revives is no better than it was one hundred years ago. The same mistakes of fact are made. Therefore, _Life's_ key argument in Chapter 3, that science and Genesis agree on the order of creation, which it bases on a state- ment by a geologist with six-literal-day creationist beliefs, is incorrect. When the details are examined, it is evident that Genesis cannot be reconciled with the fossil record, just as Thomas Huxley pointed out one hundred years ago. __________________________ 3 Stephen Jay Gould, "Genesis and Geology: Are you in- terested in the rock of ages, or the age of rocks?," _Natural History_, vol. 97, pp. 12-20, September, 1988. __________________________ ---------------------------------------------------------------------- By Rob Day: Last year, a couple of Witnesses came to my door, waving that particular book [_Life_] around. I invited them into the living room, where they had no choice but to stand next to my bookshelf filled with all of my books on religious criticism and evolutionary biology. They were just a touch uncomfortable but, sensing an open mind, pulled up a couple of chairs and we were off to the races. The elder of the two (with a young, thoroughly brainwashed acolyte in tow), proceeded to quote at me from their little blue book. At one point, he brought up Francis Hitching, quoting him, "For all its acceptance in the scientific world as the great unifying principle of biology, Darwinism, after a century and a quarter, is in a surprising amount of trouble." I stopped him there, and tried to explain the difference between an acceptance of evolution, and an adherence to Darwinism. To no avail. I did not have my Hitching ("The Neck of the Giraffe") handy, but I told the elder to please call back in a few weeks and I would be happy to dissect his little tome. Shortly after they left, I tracked down Hitching, and perused carefully the first few pages. The little blue book gives a reference for the above quote as page 12 -- that's wrong, it's on page 4. What is more shocking is what follows immediately (and I mean IMMEDIATELY) after that quote in the text. And I quote from Hitching: "Evolution and Darwinism are often taken to mean the same thing. But they don't. Evolution of life over a very long period of time is a FACT (emphasis added), if we are to believe evidence gathered during the last two centuries from geology, paleontology, molecular biology and many other scientific disciplines. Despite the many believers in Divine creation who dispute this ..., the probability that evolution has occurred approaches certainty in scientific terms." In addition, in the edition I have, the opposite page has a chart of the geological ages, quite clearly going back hundreds of millions of years. It is difficult to believe that whoever wrote the little blue JW book could have actually read Hitching and not continued to read the very next paragraph or seen the geological chart. To present Hitching as rejecting evolution is either blindingly incompetent or hideously dishonest. Quite simply, "Life -- how did it get here?" seems no better or worse than the standard dishonest creationist dreck one would get from the ICR or the Creation Research Society Quarterly, possibly even a little worse. Hard to believe.


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