Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jehovah's Witness Creationist Writes Me

I don't get that many creationists writing me, but I am indebted to a certain J. M. of Massachusetts, who has recently written to send me a copy of the November 2010 Jehovah's Witness publication, Awake!. He claims "This magazine points out some flaws in the atheists' reasoning."

Well, no, it doesn't.

The first article is entitled "Atheists on a Crusade", and is just one in a long line of articles by theists using religious language to denigrate atheism and evolution. "Called the new atheists," the article says, "they are not content to keep their views to themselves".

This just cracks me up. The Jehovah's Witnesses - you know, the folks who go door-to-door to spread their religion - are complaining because atheists are not content to keep their views to themselves. My irony meter just broke.

Another article, "Has Science Done Away with God?" repeats the canard that "everyday experience tells us that design -- especially highly sophisticated design -- calls for a designer". Well, no, it doesn't. That was resolved 150 years ago, when Darwin published The Origin of Species. We know now that mechanisms like mutation and natural selection can produce complexity and the appearance of design. The article goes on to ask, "What is the only source of information that we know of? In a word, intelligence". But anyone taking an introductory course in information theory at my university knows this is a lie.

It's a shame that creationists have to resort to untruths like this, but it's all they have.

19 comments:

blueollie said...

I live in Peoria, IL (I am a math professor at Bradley University)

The J.W. have gotten so aggressive here that they actually drive by and stop people on the street! I've had this happen to me twice while I was walking for exercise. Each time, I didn't stop but said "no thanks; I am an atheist."

Chris said...

I've received a copy of this "Awake!" pamphlet too, while I was living in Guelph. The funniest part was the introduction claimed that they were NOT promoting creationism, because creationism is a ploy to interject religion into the classroom using the courts, or something very close to that.

The pamphlet then featured an interview with a "prominent" biochemist... one Micheal Behe! The same guy who was the star witness in the Dover trial where creationists attempted to interject religion into the classroom using the courts!

Eamon Knight said...

We finally got our copy (from some door-knockers). That first article is a pathetic bunch of quotes from random "authorities" strung together.

Just Sayin' said...

"Atheists on a Crusade",

I guess I missed all of the media stories about atheists waterboarding and other "aggressive interrogation" techniques used on Christians and Muslims in an attempt to convert them.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

What I like about these morons (jehova's witnesses) is their business-like looks (with suits and ties). As they say in the UK, they look pretty smart in them.

Curt Cameron said...

That "information comes from intelligence" bit of course comes from Stephen Meyer at the DI (at least the most recent revision of it). I guess the JWs are not quite as sophisticated, but at least Meyer is aware of information theory, and qualifies it as "specified complexity" that has to come from intelligence. Somehow he forgets to specify exactly what "specified complexity" is.

Your typical lay creationist does seem to fall for the argument that complexity implies design, so I like to pop that little bubble whenever I hear it. What makes them think that? Complexity is usually a marker that stuff just happened.

One Brow said...

Dr. Shallit,

Having studied with the JWs for a number of years, I don't think it is fair to interpret "they are not content to keep their views to themselves" as an indication that they feel atheists should be so restricted. In general, JWs are very much infavor of all groups being able to express their own opinions, and are proud of the efforts they have made to extend freedom of religion and of speech in the USA.

Sure, they are garden-variety YECs who freely use dishonest argment techniques, but lets not plater them with offenses they don't commit.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

OneBrow:

Then tell me what you think the phrase means.

One Brow said...

Dr. Shallit,

The public perception seems to be that atheists have become much more vocal, or at least been better able to to express their opinion, than even a decade ago. I interpreted the "they are not content to keep their views to themselves" to be in opposition to the prior generatio of atheists, which seemed more content (from the viewpoints of JWs) to keep their views quietly. YMMV, but that is based on my experience with them.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

OneBrow:

That doesn't make any sense. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, leader of American Atheists, was extremely outspoken -- and far more so than Dawkins or Harris.

KeithB said...

Good point, Ms O'Hair was well known - I would bet that most people of a certain age would know who she was.

The new atheists, not so much.

Of course, this says more of the fracturing of The Media than the quality of the argument.

One Brow said...

Dr. Shallit,

I agree with that Ms. O'Hair was far more outspoken and confrontational. However, in terms of public perception (as opposed to intent), I don't think she registered to the same degree, certianly not after the early 70s. I freely acknowledge that much of that is probably due to the changes in society more than the changes in atheists. However, I don't expect the JWs are well-versed in the history of atheists in America.

Anonymous said...

O'Hair was regarded as a solitary outlying kook. The new atheists are regarded as a more threatening mainstream force.

jah

Rocky said...

Bertrand Russell was another prominent figure that used to be fairly well known for his atheist views several decades ago.

Der Hammerman said...

Let's not forget Ayn Rand, another prominent atheist. I'm sick of this ridiculous term "new atheists". Notice Christians are the only ones who use it? They are attempting to create a new pejorative term. Anyone who does not accept the claims of this or that religious group is an atheist of some sort. Atheism and skepticism are as old as history--older than Christianity.

Anonymous said...

What is One Brow referring to in commenting that Jehovah's Witnesses "are proud of the efforts they have made to extend freedom of religion and of speech in the USA"? I know the ACLU won a Supreme Court case on behalf of the Jehovah's Witnesses affirming that schoolchildren cannot be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But the ACLU has also won First Amendment cases on behalf of Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Credit for defending civil liberties is due to the ACLU, not their (often odious) clients.

One Brow said...

I know the ACLU won a Supreme Court case on behalf of the Jehovah's Witnesses affirming that schoolchildren cannot be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

So, you think that one case is the extent of their hisory in this regard, or that they were defeneded by the ACLU in every case?

Anonymous said...

It's the extent of my knowledge of their history in this regard. Hence my question.

One Brow said...

This is a summary of a few of the earlier ones. There is more detail at another article here.

More recently there was the case from Ohio.