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Jehovah's Witnesses' Superstition

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion.christian,alt.christnet,alt.religion.jehovahs-witn,,alt.recovery.religion,talk.religion.misc,alt.skeptic,
From: (SOD of CoE)
Subject: Jehovah's Witnesses' Superstition (10/22/99 Article in "Awake!" Magazine)
Date: 5 Nov 1999 17:26:03 -0800

49991104 IVom

the following essay was recently placed at:
 A Response to Jehovah's Witness Propaganda contained in "AWAKE!"
 Magazine, Dated October 22, 1999 and its Articles Including:
 "Superstitions: Why So Dangerous?" by the Watchtower Bible and
 Tract Society.
   In "Superstitions: How Widespread Today?" the Watchtower Bible
   and Tract Society (abbreviated 'Watchtower' in this response)
   compares "superstitions" with "common courtesies rooted in social
   etiquette", presenting a definition derived from "Webster's Ninth
   New Collegiate Dictionary" ("a belief or practice resulting from
   ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a
   false conception of causation") as an ambiguous support for
   considering as 'superstitions' the consultation of psychics and
   soothsayers, the observance of omens and signs, the adoption of
   lucky charms and talismans, social and folk customs, bibliomancy,
   Christian rites of self-protection and (even Christian) folk
   At no point in this introductory article is it clear how the
   reader is to discern superstition from reliable knowledge (such
   as that received from gods, books, or other students). We are
   told that "superstition is widespread" and "well entrenched" as
   if it is a category whose borders have already been determined.
   The second article in the same publication, entitled
   "Superstitions: Why So Persistent?" explains that superstitions
   are "irrational", "without sound evidence", may be the
   re-interpretation of old customs, often have a close connection
   with religious beliefs, and are used by believers to calm their
   fear and uncertainty.
   Not only are divination, magic, oracles, omens, and sorcery
   described as forms of superstition (without evidence), but we are
   provided with no description of why, if all of this is based on
   "rationality", these practices should be considered superstitious
   while other metaphysical beliefs are somehow exempt. There is no
   mention, for example, what the sources being used for reference
   (e.g. "Lest Ill Luck Befall Thee" by Hyman, "A Dictionary of
   Superstitions", "The Encyclopedia Americana", "The New
   Encyclopaedia Britannica", among many others) have to say about
   where superstition stops and religion begins.
   "Superstitions: Why So Dangerous?", the third and showcased
   article in the publication, archly warns that superstitions can
   be dangerous if they lead one to spend large sums of money on
   them or if they help one to maintain problem gambling. While this
   may very well be true, why superstitions only include the
   mentioned "psychics, fortunetellers [sic], numerologists, or
   Tarot-card readers" and not some religious cult is not explained
   or supported.
   Also not addressed are reasons why we should accept these notions
   of superstition and exclude a variety of religious beliefs which
   are touted as worthy causes for the donation of money or labor.
   Most religious 'scriptures' "serve to allay fears about the
   future" (as the Watchtower describes the application of
   superstitions) as well or better than any of the "psychics" or
   others mentioned above. How we can, as the Watchtower says,
   "distinguish... between superstition and reliable knowledge about
   what lies ahead of us" is the main issue, however, and a
   discussion of methods (beyond the ambiguous 'rationality') is not
   included in this publication.
   The Watchtower reveals on page 9 its major premise: "the Grand source of [reliable knowledge]" and "the
   predictions of fortune-tellers, psychics, crystal-ball gazers,
   and tarot-card readers are from a different source, one that is
   in opposition to Almighty God." We are not asked to rationally
   consider the activities in question and decide for ourselves the
   relevance and accuracy of the information they each make
   available, including an exploration of the sources involved.
   Instead we're asked to accept what could quite easily be a
   "belief resulting from ignorance" (one of Webster's criteria for
   superstition): that the Bible (no doubt the "New World
   Translation of the Holy Scriptures" that the Watchtower Committee
   in 1961 rendered into English from their all too human
   perspective) is a valuable authority on this, being a book of
   historical fiction that portrays superstition as knowledge and
   antiquated cosmology and metaphysics as truth. As it attributes
   to an unseen "God" these Witnesses call 'Jehovah' the
   responsibility for a fabled Creation, we are neither offered any
   justification for this claim, nor support for why we should
   accept any particular book which is labelled 'Bible' as an
   authority on any subject.
   Instead the Watchtower places its complete trust in the accuracy
   of its Bible (apparently remaining ignorant of the bulk of
   scholarly research which demonstrates the blatant
   self-contradictions of scriptural text), and resorts to
   superstition itself in claiming that our future is determined by
   a deity for which no convincing evidence has been gathered.
   There is no consideration of where reliable knowledge should be
   obtained, whose standards should be used, and when certainty
   becomes liability. "How We Can Know the Future" (page 10) may, by
   the standards expressed, relate a superstition about a Creator
   god whose followers have crafted post-correlating "predictions"
   about historical fiction. We ought to apply a greater degree of
   scrutiny and criticism than are applied to the various
   "superstitions" described in the "Awake!" articles, and the text
   by Jehovah's Witnesses should present to us a complete picture,
   inclusive of the bias and limitation of the sources for the
   information which the Watchtower presents. As is usual for tracts
   and pamphlets from the Watchtower, however, this is not done and
   instead the article merely smacks of religious bigotry.
   The series of articles ends with a fantastic prediction:
   "Gone, too, will be the wicked demons and Satan,
   the source of superstitious fears and evil lies.
   These thrilling truths are found in the Bible."
   Statements such as this are so incredible that we must wonder if
   some Witnesses are sure where their 'rationality' ends and their
   fantasies begin. We must ask them to show us these demons and
   Satan, and we might wonder whether, if belief in them is
   "rational", why we haven't put them on trial for all the mischief
   they've caused, why scientists aren't attempting to discover
   weapons to use against such formidable foes. We have to wonder
   whether these supernatural entities are in league with this
   "God", since we can't get any of them to appear anywhere that
   scientists congregate.
   It's as if there was no such beings and the religious cosmology
   associated with them results from ignorance, a fear of the
   unknown, a trust in the magic power of some supernatural entity,
   or a false concept of causation (that is, this religion may be
   based upon superstition as Webster has defined it). Being a
   Witness for Jehovah, given this, may be a dangerous enterprise
   according to the values promoted in "Awake!", because any
   religious activity may itself be based on irrational beliefs in
   fictional, supernatural agents. We might explain all this easily
   as the propaganda of a group of humans rather than magical or
   supernatural forces.
   Much of what the Watchtower's "Awake!" magazine maintains about
   superstition is very important. Superstitious minds do believe in
   fictions (whether about divination, magic, the origin of all
   things in some mythological "Creation", or some cosmic future
   Judgement after which all things will be magically
   reconstructed). They dismiss data that competes with their
   premises and/or the authority underlying their superstitious
   notions. Quite often religious ideas are the focus of
   superstition, and this is why it is so difficult to decide where
   to draw the line between supernatural truths upon which to base
   one's life and fantastic, deceptive fictions.
   Superstitions can be quite dangerous. They can (especially as
   part of religious instruction) delude one into thinking that one
   holds the only truth. If one hasn't researched the material about
   which one is reading, superstitious literature may inspire rumor,
   miscommunication, and prejudice .
   Superstitious writings and practices should be respected as such,
   with all the tolerance that goes along with freedom of religion
   in civilized societies. What one does not wish, personally, to
   read or to undertake is one's own business, and is sometimes the
   business of one's religious peers. Beyond this we ought to make
   allowances for those whose preferences include the practice and
   reading of superstitions, helpfully providing what data we have
   acquired about them when they ask for it.
   For example, I consider the interpretation of Judeochristian
   religious text (as in the body of translations called 'The
   Bible') by orthodox Jehovah's Witnesses to be ill-founded and
   fraught with errors. Rather than understand its beauty as a myth
   of important and relevant symbolic value (indicating a type of
   experience which is available only to true millennarians), they
   make of it a superstition relating to historical and prophetic
   fantasy based on little more than their desire to construct a
   dramatic context for their activities.
   What's worse is that many Jehovah's Witnesses are completely
   ignorant of the history of lies and deceptions delivered unto the
   faithful by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, whose leaders
   remain obscured in a semblance of humility. For those who are
   actually interested in some valuable information about this
   dangerous and deceptive cult, I recommend the wonderful and
   revealing book by Brother Raymond Franz (one of the admirable
   liberated Witnesses for Jehovah who are making themselves known):
   "Crisis of Conscience". My review of it indicates that it is a
   reliable, respectful and rational disclosure of the problems of
   the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, and would be of great
   assistance to anyone who has an interest in becoming affiliated
   with or aware of this organization, its history, and politics.
   Reviewing this text, wrote to the Amazon Books web
   site on August 15, 1999, giving it 5 out of 5 stars and claiming
   that it "does not glorify [Franz or make] excuses for him" and

	"this book will unwind any good hearted person who through
   	 no fault of their own have been fooled by this the evil
   A Canadian source writes to the same web site, also giving it 5
   out of 5 stars, stating that it is "sadly 'The Truth'":

	 "having spent most of my childhood and early adult life
   	  affiliated with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society,
   	  I can attest to EVERYTHING that Raymond Franz states in
          this book. Throughout all my years as a JW, I knew some-
          thing wasn't right, but did not know what a fraud this
          organization really is. ...I cried and cried as I read 
	  experiences that were similar to my own. The emotional 
	  pain of growing up 'not of the world' will remain with 
	  me for the rest of my life. Thankfully, people like 
	  Raymond Franz, and many others are exposing this 
	  organization for what it really is: A CULT...."
   "Crisis of Conscience", published in 1992, is available from
   Amazon Books for the reasonable price of about $11 and has earned
   an Average Customer Review of 4.5 out of 5 stars. By rationally
   considering the experience of one who has been integral to the
   development of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, it
   provides a very valuable avenue for overcoming superstitions to
   which many faithful Jehovah's Witnesses have been subjected.
   Another possible remedy for such superstition available to
   sincere Jehovah's Witnesses might be: "Index of Watchtower 
   Errors: 1879 to 1989", by David A. Reed (Editor), et al. 
   (also sold at
   It is important that, as the Witnesses for Jehovah, we base our
   statements and faith on rational expression and scrupulously-
   examined data rather than relying on the research, judgements, 
   and contentions of those who have a proven record of falsity, 
   duplicity, and extortion, twisting the meaning and context of 
   scripture for their own uses, and promoting a level of rumor 
   and prejudice unbecoming of Christians.
   (c) 1999
   6632 Covey Drive
   Forestville, CA 95436

-- (nagasiva);
notification: I may post any email replies; cc me if some response desired.

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