Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jehovah's Witnesses Are Hypocrites and Cowards

Tip of the hat to Phil at Skeptic Money for the new issue of Awake! (link to pdf), a magazine published by Jehovah's Witnesses:

Apparently I missed that march.  How come no one told me?!

The kicker is this sentence:
 A NEW group of atheists has arisen in society.  Called the new atheists, they are not content to keep their views to themselves.  Rather, they are on a crusade…
Yes, because when I think of JW's, I think of people who keep their views to themselves.  Shame on us atheists for not following their example.  I can't believe a JW actually wrote that seriously.  Maybe it's a clever Poe?

We also get the standard false dichotomy of chance versus design (which Dawkins has refuted over and over again, for a decade or so now), using the peacock mantis' eye

The peacock mantis shrimp, found on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is equipped with the most complex eyesight in the animal kingdom. “It really is exceptional,” says Dr. Nicholas Roberts, “outperforming anything we humans have so far been able to create.”
Consider: The peacock mantis shrimp can perceive polarized light and process it in ways that humans cannot do. Polarized light waves may travel along a straight line or rotate in a corkscrew motion. Unlike other creatures, this mantis shrimp not only sees polarized light in both its straight-line and corkscrew forms but is also able to convert the light from the one form to the other. This gives the shrimp enhanced vision.
DVD players work in a similar way. To process information, the DVD player must convert polarized light aimed at a disc into a corkscrew motion and then change it back into a straight-line format. But the peacock mantis shrimp goes a step further. While a standard DVD player only converts red light—or in higher-resolution players, blue light—the shrimp’s eye can convert light in all colors of the visible spectrum.
Researchers believe that using the peacock mantis shrimp’s eye as a model, engineers could develop a DVD player that plays discs with far more information than today’s DVDs. “What’s particularly exciting is how beautifully simple it is,” says Roberts. “It works much, much better than any attempts that we’ve made to construct a device.”
What do you think? Is the remarkable eye of the peacock mantis shrimp a product of chance? Or was it designed?

Apparently they think that if a human couldn't make the eye, it couldn't have come from evolution and must have been designed.  How humble of them...

I remember the time I was given a copy of Awake!  I was at a train station, and a woman asked me if I was concerned about global warming.  I said yes, and she told me to read this magazine about it.  At the time, I had never heard of Awake! before, so I had no idea I was being proselytized to.  I read a bit, noticed all of the religious language and bible verses, and realized what I had actually been given.  I took a quick look online and learned that it was a JW magazine.

After thinking more about the interaction with that woman, I started to get really angry.  Not because of her specific religious beliefs, but because she didn't even have the decency to be truthful to my face.  She  was a coward, handing me some piece of paper and running away before I even had the chance to ask her about it in more detail.  What happened to the stereotypical Jehovah's Witness; the one that came to your door, and to your face told you who they were and what they believed?  I may disagree, but at least they are being honest with me.  Do they still do that?  I've never seen one, but perhaps there are some that still do.

This story on Phil's blog got me thinking more about something Hemant at Friendly Atheist wrote about being an outspoken atheist:
When the topic of gay marriage came up, my friend and I had a similar exchange. She believes GLBT people deserve equal rights. She thinks it’s absurd that anyone would oppose gay adoption, gay marriage, gays in the military, etc. But that’s about the extent of her activism.
I’m not gay but I understand the injustice that’s currently taking place in our society and I want to help fix the problem. For the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone could possibly say, “Yeah, gay people should be allowed to get married, but I’m not going to argue with someone who disagrees.” 
So what, you’re just going to stand there and do nothing?! 
How dare some Christians get away with thinking that their relationship is more meaningful than a gay couple’s? Or that their love is deeper? Or that it alone deserves official recognition? 
How could anyone sit on the sideline while this debate gets played out and just shrug it off without saying anything?
Hemant finishes the post with:

I can’t just sit back if I think they’re being irrational. I might not have arguments with every religious person I meet just because the person prays to a god, but if the topic comes up, I’m not about to let it slide.

And I have a lot of respect for anyone else who does the same. 
which actually got me really fired up about logging again, especially since I've had so much trouble getting back into writing regularly since I moved back to Long Island.

And after thinking about my experience with the Jehovah's Witness woman, I realized that its not even enough to just express your opinions, you need to do it openly and honestly.  That's why I don't blog under a pseudonym (although I understand that's not an option for some; I'm lucky enough to have fairly liberal-minded family and friends, and don't feel much personal persecution for my beliefs.  Many others wouldn't be as lucky as I am).

Being willing to openly express my beliefs and opinion gives my message a power that the JW woman's message did not.  It means I have to be open to the possibility that others will publicly disagree with me.  That's not always easy, but it's necessary if you really value the truth.  Lucky for JW's, the truth doesn't seem to be too much of a concern, and so they will continue to be ignorant cowards.

And so like Hemant, I want to say that I respect anyone willing to openly express their opinions honestly, and allow others to express theirs.
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