All Along The Watchtower

One post in and already a diversion from my planned ’12 Rules’ series. This is because I was fortunate enough to receive a letter in the post recently from my ‘neighbours’, Jim and Sandra. You can see it above. I’ve no idea who Jim and Sandra are – I’ve changed their names here to protect the guilty – but they tell me they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses. They want to convince me of their God, first by pointing out that we are, everyone of us, created by him. They then proceed to demonstrate their God’s existence with rather weak versions of the weak ‘argument from design’, with a spot of the so-called ‘argument from incredulity’ thrown in. Having ‘proved’ God, they conclude with a lovely non-sequitur, that God = purpose.

As they had gone to a lot of trouble to do this, I felt Jim and Sandra deserved a reply, specially as they were kind enough to include their email address. So here it is.  

Hi Jim and Sandra,

I was interested to get your letter recently. I notice you ask the question, ‘was life created?’ Of course it was! You’ll get no argument from me there. Nature and the processes of natural selection and evolution created life as we know it today. You of course want to draw God into these processes, but actually he’s not needed to explain them. 

Your ‘argument from design’ doesn’t work at all, because if God created all the wonderful, intricate things you talk about, he also created viruses, including covid-19, cancer and parasites. You can’t say he created everything and then discount all the nasty things as the product of natural processes or man’s sin or whatever. Either everything was made by God or everything is the result of natural processes – you don’t get to pick and choose. 

You say that only (your) God could make all the complexities of life, as complexity necessitates a creator. But that creator must, by definition, be more complex than his creation – yet you don’t think he had a creator, do you. But he must have done – because according to you, complexity has to have a creator. This principle doesn’t grind to a halt with God just because you or your church or holy book says it does. 

The intricacies and complexity of life that we see are the result of organisms, including ourselves and all other life & non-life, like viruses, adapting to their environments over billions of years. That’s it – no need to add another layer of complication, like a god, to this explanation (you may have heard of Occam’s razor, which is what I’m applying here). If something complex has existed for eons it is far more likely that it is something we know for sure exists – nature – rather than something we don’t. 

Life has in fact many purposes; one doesn’t need a God who doesn’t exist to discover them. I’d be happy to share some of these with you, though I imagine you are already quite set in your beliefs. That’s a shame.

Best wishes,

Neil 

2 thoughts on “All Along The Watchtower

  1. My understanding of JWs is that they are required by their church to spend a minimum amount of time proselytizing. It doesn’t matter whether they are successful at it, just that they get in their mandatory hours doing it. That’s why I see them standing outside in the cold with a rack of leaflets, but making no effort to engage with people. I expect your neighbors counted the time they spent crafting and carefully handwriting that letter to you as part of their mandatory preaching time. If that’s the case, it won’t concern them whether they have persuaded you of anything, only that they got their hours in.

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  2. Absolutely right. I don’t think I conveyed the snark well enough in my introduction to the post- I didn’t really think my new neighbours were being thoughtful in spraying their territory with Xeroxed letters. I’ve had quite a bit of experience with JWs, mainly professionally (parents of kids in my school, but also as colleagues in a later job) so I know what motivates them. I replied to this particular pair partly to amuse myself (what else is there to do in lockdown?) and partly so they could be made aware that they can’t spread their BS with impunity
    The good news (no pun intended) is that I’ve had a reply! Betcha can’t wait!

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