This Was Really in a Jehovah’s Witness Publication…? November 11, 2010

This Was Really in a Jehovah’s Witness Publication…?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses put out a monthly magazine called Awake! which is a companion publication to the Watchtower.

In this month’s issue (PDF), the cover story on “Atheism on the March” has a very interesting beginning…

Yes, how dare those New Atheists not keep their views to themselves!?

It’s so rude when people just intrude upon you as if they have all the answers…

(The publishers really don’t see the irony in that sentence, do they?)

(Thanks to Caleb for the link)

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  • gsw

    um … I think they meant it as a compliment!

  • They say we’re on a “crusade.” That’s an interesting word to use.

    I believe that publication has featured articles about the REAL Crusades, wars fought for the purpose of taking “holy” land from other societies.

    That’s a type of war we Atheists won’t be declaring. But they want to loop us into their cosmic soap opera, so they use the other definition of “crusade,” and the emotional hint at the bad definition often rides piggy-back into the mind of the reader.

    I would LOVE to obtain a copy of that. All I really need to do is visit my old apartment complex, where Awake! and Watchtower are routinely placed by those obnoxious folks, against the clearly posted rules of that complex.

  • Bubbaj

    Ohh, the iron-knee. It HURTS!

  • Jim

    Pot, meet, Kettle!

  • Im okay with people talking about their religious/political views if they think they have an answer; I respect the JW’s who knock on my door over the apathetic Christian who don’t.

    If only they wouldn’t be dogmatic…

  • Claudia

    From what I can tell, irony gets washed off you when you’re saved.

    I find it endlessly amusing when one of the harshest criticisms the religious can throw against atheists is that we’re…like them. Mind you, it is pretty harsh and I strongly disagree that it’s true, but the fact that they fail to see how they are implying that acting the way they do is a bad thing is always fun to see.

  • When you join the cult your ability to detect irony is surgically removed. Sometimes they remove the entire brain at the same time. At least that’s what I heard.

    You know what though: so what if we are refusing to hide our lack of god belief? So what if we think that believers are wrong and tell them so? So what if we are angry at the special privilege enjoyed by adherents to an ancient Jewish cult?

    If they don’t like even a hint of a taste of their own medicine then they really aren’t going to cope when our numbers grow year on year.

  • Min

    And remember, we’re ANGRY! RAWR!

    But on a more serious note, I feel the need to point out that this isn’t irony, it’s hypocrisy. Actually, this is practically the opposite of irony — it’s exactly what I’d expect a JW article about atheists to sound like.

  • Nick Andrew

    Oh, this looks like fun.

    “Religion poisons everything,” says one leading atheist.

    Now who would that be, perchance? Somebody whose name the JWs would perhaps prefer their readers not look up? Sorry, faceless JW writer person, all the google first-page hits on that phrase link to Christopher Hitchens.

    The first page ends with a pair of weak hypotheticals – “Is belief in a Creator intrinsically harmful?” and “Would universal atheism make for a better world?”. Yes, and yes. They should have stopped there.

    The rest of the article is an unimaginative rehashing of tired old religious fallacies:

    Antony Flew, who flew back to the arms of the church in his dotage;
    Everything which looks designed must have had a designer;
    Atheism requires faith;
    Scientists cannot explain the origin of life;
    Information can only come from intelligence;
    Luck was the first cause;
    20th century genocide due to atheism;
    Evil on earth not god’s fault;
    Bad acts of religion came from false religions, “no true christian” …
    god will punish the unbelievers.

    Yes, it’s tedious but it will probably impress a lot of JWs to exclaim “wow, I never thought of it that way!”.

    They end the self-imposed misery with an article about František Vysko?il, a neuroscientist who fell victim in a big way to the “argument from ignorance” logical fallacy. Enabling this was an unnamed Russian scientist who had calculated that 3-4 billion years was not enough time for random mutations to form complex life. Another creationist fallacy! This awesome argument was enough to set Vysko?il upon the path to becoming a JW who now apparently denies all science which disagrees with the bible:

    Second, the Bible, though not a science book, actually harmonizes with true science.

    That would be as opposed to the fake science which disagrees with the bible!

  • If only the Jehovah’s would keep THEIR views to themselves…can’t imagine such a world.

  • Hitch

    I’m still waiting for atheists to knock on my door and give me books on rational discourse, scientific method and enlightenment philosophy.

    For now I still have to buy all that and none comes to explain it to me in person. Shame really.

  • bLaKouT

    @ Joe Zamecki – you can obtain a copy as I did by downloading from the link in the article.

  • Think I might print this out and point to it if any of them ever show up at my door. Wonder if they’ll get the irony, or if they are irony impaired…

  • Thegoodman

    Well we are the bad guys; we should keep our mouths shut. They are the good guys; its their job to spread the love of…whatever Jehovah’s Whitnesses do.

    Peoples’ inability to see from a perspective that isn’t their own is baffling to me.

  • JoeBuddha

    I seem to recall something in their own book about specks and beams and eyes and such. Maybe they need to do more studying?

  • We need a list of Jehovah’s witness folks, and then knock on their door, wearing bow-ties, and telling them that we don’t believe in a god. The just stare at them weirdly.

  • Ben

    Funny thing…I don’t even talk about Gawd unless someone brings it up. So in essence, I DO keep my opinions to myself…unless provoked.

  • The next time they knock on my door interrupting my busy day, instead of just telling them politely that I’m not interested, I’ll politely tell them I’m not interested and slip in that I’m an atheist (because I’m a “new atheist”). Unfortunately, that only makes them want to talk longer because of the mistaken believe that if only the unchurched were exposed to the bible, then they would all become devout believers.

  • eric536

    The latest (Jan) issue of the Awake! also makes some references to atheists:

    “Leading scientists have gathered to discuss what they consider to be the urgent need to eradicate religion. An emerging wave of atheists is flooding the media with their unapologetic hatred of religion.” (pg. 7)

    The whole thing can be found here:

    Hey, at least they’re talking about us! I don’t ever remember atheists being mentioned often in their earlier publications.

  • Looking through their publication, I can only see a few major problems.

    Their view of evolution is simplistic, for example.

    …which is encoded in DNA.
    Hence, when we talk about the origin of life, we are also talking about the origin of biological information. What is the only source of information that we know of? In a word, intelligence.

    Their view of “information” seems to be rather limited here. They go on to make further errors:

    Would chance accidents produce complex information, such as a computer program, an algebraic formula, an encyclopedia, or even a recipe for a cake? Of course not.

    I’m not sure how to convince somebody who thinks this sort of nonsense that “Of course not” is the wrong answer to their questions, because the answer is really “Yes, they could, given enough time, mutation, and a selection factor.” I suppose one could point to Genetic Algorithms for the computer programs one, and Evolutionary Computation for the “formula” one (although we know that these are really the same thing… all programs are formulas, and vice versa). With the encyclopedia and recipe ones, you could use the monkeys at typewriters analogy, but that one is rather weak.

    This one is fun:

    Imagine this: An archaeologist sees a rough stone that is more or less square. He may attribute that shape to chance, which would be reasonable. But later he finds a stone that is perfectly formed in the shape of a human bust, down to the finest details. Does he attribute this item to chance? No. His logical mind says, ‘Someone made this.’

    The problem with their analogy here is that the shape of the human bust is defined as some thing which the archaeologist recognizes as already existing in some other form. Since it’s not normally carved from stone, he has an extra piece of information to work with. Thus, this is really a line of circular reasoning. They’re saying that the form of the human is obviously designed because the archaeologist seeing it in another format will assume it’s designed because he’s seen it before.

    Later on, they at least have the guts to state that Hitler had church backing, which is surprising. At least they’re learning. Unfortunately, they trot out Khmer Rouge as an example of atheism in the same breath, when that was merely a power thing. Khmer Rouge wasn’t and atheistic movement, it was a communist movement that tried to eliminate religion in order to secure its power base. Which is a fancy way of saying that the religions had the power and those who wanted it therefore had to eliminate them. Not really an atheist movement so much as a, you know, war.

    They go on to draw a distinction between “good religion” and “bad religion”, making a rather obvious No-True-Scotsman fallacy in the process.

    There’s also an article about a scientist who found religion, which is pretty much null on the scale of things.

    On the whole, there’s about 10 pages there of errors, fallacies, wishful thinking, and misinterpretation of facts and accepted scientific theories. Not the worst I’ve seen, but pretty terrible for any publication. Oh well, what can you do? This is just the kind of ignorance we’re up against, people.

  • Digitus Impudicus (formerly Aaron)

    We need a list of Jehovah’s witness folks, and then knock on their door, wearing bow-ties, and telling them that we don’t believe in a god. The just stare at them weirdly.

    That made me spit a beverage from my nose.

  • Oh, shut up, JW’s. You’ve had your turn to speak; now we are too. Deal.

    Seriously, of all people to complain about other people expressing their views on religion.

  • Vas

    These folks are a joyless dower lot, I’ve been to kingdom hall and seen it for myself… bleak. What amused me most about this issue of Awake was the fact that they at least allow that the atrocities committed by Pol Pot and Stalin were not caused by or committed in the name of atheism… “Granted those evils can not be directly attributed to atheism”. I guess it’s true that even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.

  • bob42

    I’m always nice to the JWs and Mormontologists that stop by from time to time.

    If there is a god, I wish she’d arrange for both groups to show up here at the same time.

  • Michael

    Hey Jahovah’s Witnesses, next time you knock on my door, I’m calling the Police & filing a complaint.

  • someone

    You can download the articles here if you want to see it.

  • altho ultimately i’m pretty sure it’s fear, doubt and stupidity that cause them to write stuff like this, they do have a “logic” to explain it. religion isn’t just a social quality to them, it’s a sort of imperative demanded by gawd. it’s right up there with air we can breath and water we can drink, and just as people who foul those latter are evil and hurtful, so too are we imagined to be enemies of right, good and truth. of course this “logic” doesn’t hold up to even the lightest scrutiny, but for believers, it’s iron clad. you don’t kick puppies, you don’t starve children, and you don’t say naughty things about jeebus. all on the same order, in their minds.

  • Christine
  • Yoav

    How rude of us to not hide in the closet anymore. don’t forget that we are just the last in a series of attacks the faithful had to endure in the last century. Remember when those evil wimeen started claiming they deserve equal civil rights instead of accepting the role god assign them as a slave/sex toy for men or all these dark people forgetting that as the decedents of Ham they are cursed and should be submissive to the good white Christians, and that’s before we even start with the homos. Being a white male christian have been a nightmare of persecution for decades now, the poor bastards.

  • JW personnel have been mailing copies of this issue to secular organizers all over the country. I’ll email you, Hemant, the exchange I had with the guy who mailed me mine. Feel free to excerpt any part, if you like.

  • Richard Wade

    Yeah. I’m so sick of those damn “new atheists” waking me up on a Saturday morning out of the best erotic dream I’ve had in years, with their mincing drivel about reason and rationality and a load of hooey about thinking for myself, then handing me copies of Skeptic Magazine, or that infernal National Geographic. Be off! or I’ll set the dogs on you!*

    This is the first time that I’ve wanted the JWs to knock on my door. I’ll have a printed copy of this handy, and ask very politely, in my softest coax-the-kitten-out-of-hiding voice, how do they account for their apparent hypocrisy.

    Then when they can’t, I’ll say, “Be off! Or I’ll set the dogs on you!”*

    *I don’t have any dogs, and the distance from my door to the boundaries of my vast estate is only 35 feet, but I always wanted to say that like an indignant English lord.

  • meggafish

    who said the JoHo’s have no sense of humor?

  • Richard,

    My vast estate apparently is about the same size as yours, but I do have two dogs and I will set them loose!!! 🙂

    Unfortunately, they are spaniels and were bred to fetch birds so they don’t bite hard.

  • Seriously, though, I did have the JWs coming to my house every so often and I finally decided to have some fun with them. I feigned interest in their literature and they brought me all this stuff and I had some good conversations with them on a number of occasions… They eventually realized that I was just playing with them and they must have black-listed my house because they haven’t been around for quite a while now.

  • James

    As a Jehovah’s Witness I can assure you this was merely a recognition of the fact. It was not a comment on the value or worth of their proselytizing. Come on people, pull your heads out of your asses. Do you really think we are not painfully aware of how the rest of you view us? 😛

  • Beardo

    *knock knock*

    Them: “Who’s there?”

    Me: “Not God, that’s for sure.”

    I totally have a plan for my Saturdays now.

  • I’m sorry, when did we start knocking on people’s doors and haranguing them on streetcorners.

  • HAHAHA… I love irony… I wonder if the MORmONS were thinking this too.

  • For anyone interested in the subject, I recommend I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing by Kyria Abrahams. Very funny in places, although some of the things the author was exposed to definitely made me cringe.

  • I used to be a JW. I used to deliver pizzas. I almost got a job as a political canvasser (too reminiscent of childhood preaching and I balked). Now I’m a process server.

    Could y’all please be nice to the door-knockers?

    Michael, it’s not against the law to be at your door, knocking on it at pretty much any time of day. It is legal to proselytize or solicit until 8:30pm (might vary by municipality). They are also allowed to call you on the phone until about 9:00pm. I think UPS delivers until 8:00?

    Set your dog on me, and I’ll call the county. They won’t put it down the first time it bites me, but if I’ve got to come back, and it does it a second time, your precious little Jack Fucking Russell Terrier is toast!! (all right, I’ve only been bitten once, but I called 911 instantly even though my wound was minor.) I give (healthy) treats to NICE dogs.

  • Caleb

    FollowupI forwarded Hemant’s blog post to my coworker from whom I obtained the original article. The truly strange thing was that he didn’t seem to understand the irony.

    A different creationist friend at work – a rather thoughtful individual despite being woefully incorrect (re: Molokan) – tried to calmly explain why this was so funny multiple times in different ways.

    My JW coworker just didn’t get it.
    I’m a bit puzzled; are JWs as a general whole oblivious to how others perceive their proselytizing?

  • JustSayin’

    Tizzle, I’ll assume that your almost-job as a political canvasser was after your defection from the JWs? ‘Cause their refusal to participate in the political process is, for me, their saving grace (if you’ll pardon the pun). Now if only we could get the freakin’ Mormons on board with that concept…

    And yeah, the complete lack of self-awareness on display in the statement above. Wow.

  • @Tizzle,

    I really wouldn’t let my dogs bite anyone…

    Although I have purposefully wasted (religious) door knocker’s time…

  • Tizzle

    @Justsayin’ — JWs have 2 saving graces: the apolitical thing, and the I don’t have to buy anything (including plane tickets) for Christmas thing. I call them “mostly harmless”. They can’t do much outside their minor sphere of influence. They are actually on the atheist side of the separation church/ state argument.

    I got way more hate knockin on doors as a kid preaching the “good news” than I do serving folks papers these days.

  • Cynical Citizen

    1. Being an athiest seems to be about on par with being gay as far as many religious types apparently feel about us.

    2. Sign on my front door:

    No sales or solicitation.
    No political or religious proselytizing.

    Pretty well stops everybody in their tracks. Even, one time, the pizza delivery guy!

  • Bob

    I have many JW friends and have discussed their beliefs with them.
    I don’t agree with a lot of it, and I think they make major issues out of minor points. However, they do practice what they preach – as do the Mormons. For this, I respect them. Beats the alternative.

  • Secular Stu

    Second, the Bible, though not a science book, actually harmonizes with true science.

    That would be as opposed to the fake science which disagrees with the bible!

    You can always tell what’s fake science, though. That’s the science that’s in actual science books.

  • Cest Moi

    And ps… I truly don’t like it when JW’s come knocking on my door… So Don’t! Just go away, don’t expect me to be particularly nice to you because you think you need to preach about something to somebody… I hate that! And I could care less about the feelings you have and your religion, take it else where, not everyone feels about it the way you do! Period! I can promise you that I am not the only soul who feels this way thank you.

  • *giggles* thanks

  • JustSayin’

    However, they do practice what they preach – as do the Mormons. For this, I respect them. Beats the alternative.

    Well, the Mormons are almost single-handedly responsible for the Prop 8 debacle in California in ’08. Their pretty hate machine really amplified the terror in some voters’ minds (not that anyone’s civil rights should have rightfully ever come to a vote to begin with). That’s a pretty vile legacy. Consequently, the difference between the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons is, to my mind, akin to that of night and day. I’m curious as to how much worse your “alternative” could be, Bob.

  • A JW tried to give me this in the grocery store parking lot yesterday. If I had known this was in there I would have grabbed it but I just don’t like encouraging them (however being approached in a public place is preferable to them knocking on my door).

  • tizzle, I am spared from everything you’ve ever done by being a paranoid NY’er. I don’t open my door to strangers period. Won’t and you can’t get me to no matter the claim.

    Of course, I’ve only been served once and the process server just laughed and said, I’m taping it to your door now, consider yourself served. He did to. I won the damned case too. One of two landlords who shouldn’t have bothered bringing me to court because I got back security deposit I wouldn’t have bothered with. I almost never bother with it. Though with what rent’s are getting to be these days, perhaps I should start…

    I’m hoping I’m at my current apartment for one hell of a long time though. It’s the best I’ve had in decades.

  • pnutts

    From the looks of it the article achieved it purpose. It got people talking – pro-neutral-con.
    This is what I gleaned from the article.
    it started off referring to some columnist in a newspaper or stated that the religious and atheist governments don’t have any better record than the other for atrocities.
    In speaking against Darwin – even the forward of the centennial edition stated it did not show the origin of the species.
    Many very learned men (when their job isn’t on the line) believe in the bible. Very high math is found in nature. I took higher math and was not taught some which is found in nature.
    p.s. I’ve been a techie/nerd/geek for decades

  • Dan W

    How dare we be open about our atheism! It’s not like Jehovah’s Witnesses are out talking about their religious views all the time or anything… oh wait. If there were such a thing as an irony meter, mine would be broken by this.

  • We received a letter from someone in ‘the borg’ along with a copy of Awake!

    Did anyone get a similar letter? This was not an email but an actual letter.

    I’m not exactly sure what this guy is trying to say…

  • Robbo

    I was raised a JW and found this hilarious so at least not all of my brain was taken;)

    It doesn’t surprise me that a JW wouldn’t get the irony because they are taught that everyone who doesn’t believe is not as good as them and doomed to die at Armageddon. They are saving lives! *eye roll*

    I escaped from the religion with my belief of God intact, but I wish all you guys well- to each his own=)

    Have fun aggravating those crazies!

  • Hilarious.

  • Well, it isn’t as if we didn’t already know how hypocritical theists always are. Nor that we didn’t know they want to stifle free speech unless it’s for themselves only. Nothing new here. No wonder theists are ridiculous and contemptible.

  • Dan

    They’ve done this already. Same cover and everything, just a few months ago. Or am I having some insane deja vu?

  • Gale

    There is a double message here, one for the outsiders and one for the “believers”. The JW administration has been teaching for many years that government will turn on religion and destroy it, and this will mark Armageddon beginning. They have been saying for years that governments are trying to eradicate religion, to help fulfill their own translation of prophecy and retain the believers in their twisted faith. By forcing their message on people, they also further their own ends by being “persecuted” for doing so and making governments and people biased against them. An interesting study in people control tho.

  • Inthewater

    I love this web site. This is just such great stuff. The Watchtower getting after folks for “not keeping their views to themselves…”

    Just classic.

  • pnutts

    just came across website about a book and related DVD about how mathematically perfect our spot is in the universe, etc. Only read synopsis and watched 3 minute flash video.
    The higher math angle got my attention.
    Maybe the JWs are not dumb nor alone in their view of scientific matters as one would assume.
    Remember – those in control of of our scientific processes fire when ever possible( make lose your cushy job ) those who disagree with them. Yes I do know they do-a professor personally told me this, didn’t happen to him – he kept quiet. here is the site.

  • just came across website about a book and related DVD about how mathematically perfect our spot is in the universe,

    Was it the perfect planet? I attended a Hector Avalos lecture about that book. Dr Avalos is one smart guy, he exposed it as a fancy creationist document.

  • pnutts
  • chickadee

    Ah I believe if you read the whole article it is made up of quotes even from atheists and it is a frank disscussion of the way the world is viewing religon today! It is not “bashing” atheists or their beliefs, but rather asking questions for you to consider.

  • Jackson

    Read the publication in it entirety while at a hospital a few weeks ago. Just keep adding fuel to the flame.

  • Jay

    Still waiting for someone other than JWs to knock on my door with something good to tell me.
    Is it that conviction in a cause or idea is lacking or does everyone else . . . ?
    Right or wrong, at least the JWs are trying. More than one can say about most in this world.

  • Brandon Cheshire

    As a former jehovah’s witness, one who used to have “priveledges” within the organization, and “new atheist”. I believe this article was meant to be informative, and coercive to their general readership. I highly doubt most jw’s will actually read the article in it’s entirety, or be able to grasp the “science” badly portrayed within. I just finished reading the article, and it does render the same old fodder they pander to their audience. I truly wish they had a comment page, or an actual way to contact the hierarchy of the dogmatic pious. Please visit their website at and request a free bible study. Two men will arrive at your home, free of charge, and attempt to circumvent your intellect. This way you don’t have to find them, they will find you. You can be prepared to have the discussion, and speak to them about reason, and rationality openly and honestly. Best of luck to all my friendly atheist friends!

  • Dez

    Once, many years ago, my husband was cleaning our lovely boa constrictor’s cage while I had her draped around my shoulders and was stroking her and giving her lots of attention when the doorbell rang one Saturday morning. Entirely forgetting the presence of the snake, I answered the door. Two Jehovah’s Witnesses were on our doorstep. They sprang away so fast I thought they had somehow been catapulted. After that, I always scooped her up and brought her to the door with me when there was an unexpected knock. Worked every time. P.S. — do not obtain a pet snake solely as an evangelical repellant. You must be committed to the lifetime care of the animal. But if you like snakes, or already happen to have one, it works.

  • Cat

    Dez wrote: “But if you like snakes, or already happen to have one, it works.”

    Guns work too. I had my dad’s service revolver holstered on my hip one late evening when I was a teen and my parents were gone for the week (cop’s kid, I *like* toting firearms – LOL) and there’d been a robbery in the neighborhood. They looked at me . . . looked at the gun . . . looked back at me . . . looked back at the gun . . . asked if there was anyone *else* home . . . and left in a hurry. No JW ever came back, not even years later.

    As an adult, in a different community, I had a JW who came to “study” with me. I was bored, she was a nice person (if somewhat misguided, from my perspective), so what the hell, right? She finally gave up because I was coming close to converting her!

  • Ron

    Awake! merely states a fact. Nothing in the article is even remotely critical of the atheists’ sharing their views; it’s simply pointing out something that anyone can see: many atheists in the past kept their atheism to themselves, whereas now, few are content to do so. They want to be heard. The article doesn’t object to that; it goes on to analyze the substance of what the atheists are saying (and to disagree with it, quite respectfully). To present the magazine as saying “how dare atheists not keep their views to themselves” is to misrepresent the sense and intention of the writers, as anyone who reads the full article can readily see.

  • juliet

    I’ve never made my kids go knock on doors on Saturday morning to shove atheism down anyone’s throat. (Although when I was a child, my JW parents made me go knock on doors and “witness” about something I did not even understand…)

  • Crystal

    I am a Christian and I find it hypocritical that they would write that.

  • angela

    I read that article from beginning to end unlike those who took the opportunity to attack Awake! and it’s publishers by taking it out of context, to ‘expose’ the perceived hypocrisy. It simply opened with an attention getting statement (which worked)..then quotes individuals and their atheistic views. Look at it as free publicity for your views. Or you can read it with an attitude adjustment and be advised.

  • j-qwo

    Irony LOL!

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