The Watering Hole, Monday, March 10th, 2014: Jehovah: IMHO, Not Much of a God

This is going to be a bit long, but once I read it I knew that I had to share it with you. What follows is a section entitled “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” of one of the tracts that the Jehovah’s Witnesses dropped off last weekend. The tract itself is titled “Does Death End It All?” For your examination, in its entirety:

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

“The following is a typical conversation that one of Jehovah’s Witnesses might have with a neighbor. Let us imagine that a Witness named Michelle has come to the home of a woman named Sophia.”

HOW DOES GOD FEEL ABOUT OUR SUFFERING?

Michelle: Hi, Sophia. I’m happy I found you at home.
Sophia: Me, too.
Michelle: The last time I was here we discussed how God feels about our suffering. You mentioned that this is something you have wondered about for a long time, especially after your mother was injured in a car crash. By the way, how has your mother been doing?
Sophia: She has good days and bad days. Today, she’s doing OK.
Michelle: I’m glad to hear that. It must be a real challenge to keep your head up in a situation like this.
Sophia: It is. Sometimes I wonder how much longer she will have to suffer.
Michelle: That’s a natural response. You may recall that at the end of our last visit, I left you with a question about why God has allowed suffering to continue if he has the power to end it.
Sophia: Yes, I remember.
Michelle: Before we consider the Bible’s answer, let’s review a few of the points we covered last time.
Sophia: OK.
Michelle: For one thing, we learned that even a faithful man in Bible times wondered why God allows suffering. Yet, God never scolded him for asking about it, nor did God tell him that he simply needed more faith.
Sophia: That was a new thought to me.
Michelle: We also learned that Jehovah God hates to see us suffer. For example, the Bible says that when his people were going through distress, “it was distressing to him.” [here footnoted “See Isaiah 63:9”] Isn’t it comforting to know that God feels for us when we suffer?
Sophia: Yes, it is.
Michelle: Finally, we agreed that considering the vast amount of power our Creator possesses, surely he has the ability to step in and end suffering at any moment.
Sophia: That’s what I don’t understand. Why does God let all these bad things happen when he has the power to stop them?

WHO WAS TELLING THE TRUTH?

Michelle: We can start to find the answer to your question by turning to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Are you familiar with the account of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit?
Sophia: Yes, I learned that story in Sunday school. God said not to eat from a certain tree, but they went ahead and ate from it anyway.
Michelle: That is correct. Now, let’s focus on the events that led up to Adam and Eve’s sin. Those events have a direct bearing on the question of why we suffer. Would you please read Genesis chapter 3, verses 1 through 5?
Sophia: OK. “Now the serpent was the most cautious of all the wild animals of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it said to the woman: ‘Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?’ At this the woman said to the serpent: ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But God has said about the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden: ‘You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it, otherwise you would die.’ At this the serpent said to the woman: ‘You certainly would not die. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.'”
Michelle: Thank you. Let’s examine these verses for a moment. First, notice that a serpent spoke to the woman, Eve. Another part of the Bible shows that it was really Satan the Devil who was speaking to her through the serpent. [here footnoted “See Revelation 12:9.] Satan asked Eve about God’s command regarding a certain tree. Did you notice what God had said the penalty would be if Adam and Eve ate from it?
Sophia: They would die.
Michelle: Correct. Then, with his very next words, Satan made a major accusation against God. Notice what he said: “You certainly will not die.” Satan was calling God a liar!
Sophia: I never heard that part of the story before.
Michelle: And when Satan called God a liar, he raised an issue that would require time to settle. Can you see why?
Sophia: Hmm. I’m not sure.
Michelle: Well, maybe I could illustrate the point this way. Let’s say that one day I approach you and claim that I’m physically stronger than you are. How could you prove me wrong?
Sophia: I suppose with some sort of a test.
Michelle: Yes, exactly. Maybe we would choose a heavy object and then see which one of us was able to lift it. Actually, proving who is stronger is pretty straightforward.
Sophia: I see your point.
Michelle: But what if instead of saying that I’m stronger, I claimed to be more honest than you? That’s a different matter, isn’t it?
Sophia: Yes, I suppose so.
Michelle: After all, honesty is not something like strength, which can be proved with a simple test.
Sophia: No.
Michelle: Really, the only way to settle the challenge would be to let enough time pass for others to observe the two of us and see who really is more honest.
Sophia: That makes sense.
Michelle: Now, look again at this account in Genesis. Did Satan claim to be stronger than God?
Sophia: No.
Michelle: God could have quickly proved him wrong. Instead, Satan claimed to be more honest than God. In effect, he said to Eve, ‘God is lying to you, but I’m telling you the truth.’
Sophia: Interesting.
Michelle: In his wisdom, then, God knew that the best way to settle the challenge would be to allow time to pass. Eventually, it would become clear who was telling the truth and who was lying.

AN IMPORTANT ISSUE

Sophie: But as soon as Eve died, didn’t that prove that God was telling the truth?
Michelle: In a sense, it did. But there was more to Satan’s challenge. Look again at verse 5. Do you notice what else Satan told Eve?
Sophia: He said that if she ate of the fruit, her eyes would be opened.
Michelle: Yes, and that she would become “like God, knowing good and bad.” So Satan claimed that God was withholding something good from humans.
Sophia: I see.
Michelle: And that too was a major challenge.
Sophia: What do you mean?
Michelle: By his words, Satan implied that Eve – and by extension, all humans – would be better off without God’s rulership. In this case too, Jehovah knows that the best way to address the challenge would be to let Satan try to prove his point. So God has allowed Satan to rule this world for a time. That explains why we see so much suffering around us–it’s because Satan, not God, is the real ruler of the world. [here footnoted, “see John 12:31, John 5:19.] But there is good news.
Sophia: What’s that?
Michelle: The Bible teaches these two beautiful truths about God. First, Jehovah is there for us when we suffer. For example, cosider the words of King David, as recorded at Psalm 31:7. David experienced a lot of suffering during his lifetime, but notice what he was able to say in prayer to God. Would you please read the verse?
Sophia: OK. It says, “I will rejoice greatly in your loyal love, for you have seen my affliction, you are aware of my deep distress.”
Michelle: So even though David experienced suffering, he found comfort in knowing that Jehovah saw everything he went through. Do you find that comforting–the thought that Jehovah is aware of everything, even our painful emotions that other humans may not fully understand?
Sophia: Yes, I do.
Michelle: The second beautiful truth is that God will not allow our suffering to go on indefinitely. The Bible teaches that he will soon bring an end to Satan’s wicked rulership. And he will completely undo all of the bad things that have happened, including the things that you and your mother have suffered. May I come back next week and show you why we can be sure that God will soon end all suffering?
Sophia: That sounds good.”

Okay, my immediate response to this whole thing is:

– Sophia is amazingly gullible;
– Michelle’s words and examples are hardly irrefutable proof of anything;
– Since Eve did NOT die when she ate the forbidden fruit, it would appear that Satan was right, God IS a liar; and
– It’s a poor excuse on God’s part that he can’t intervene in human suffering because, for some strange reason, God is letting Satan have a turn at ruling the world.

This is our daily open thread–your thoughts?

106 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, March 10th, 2014: Jehovah: IMHO, Not Much of a God

  1. And Chicken Little said: “The sky is falling, the sky is falling”.
    So I said to myself: Holy shit, a talking chicken! This thing’s got to be worth something to the Fox News Network as a news reporter.

  2. I’ve only ever asked a JW one question: If god is so all-powerful, why the hell doesn’t s/he/it use that power to wipe out Satan once and for all? The answer was mostly a stammer until I closed the door. Apparently these days they’ve come up with an “answer” at least, no matter how ridiculous.

    I don’t recall for sure when it was, but I pretty much abandoned the religious mythology I had been taught as a child by the time I was in seventh or eighth grade. Had some help (when my mother wasn’t around) from my non-theist father, but I didn’t really need much help at all to dismiss the whole pile. And I haven’t missed it.

    These days, whenever a JW shows up I politely say nope, no thanks, not interested, and then I shut the door in their face.

  3. God and Evil

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able, and willing?
    Thence whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?
    ~Epicurus

  4. Shit. Two people from my work died in an avalanche on the weekend while snowshoeing. Very sad.

      • I didn’t know them personally but they both came from Spain in the fall to work at my company. Tragic….

        • Tragic and premature I am sure, but I bet it beats many other ways we have to croak – doing something like that in country such as your Dycker?

          • Oh yes many gruesome and painful ways to be sure. This weekend we went for a couple of hikes and one is a canyon with beautiful frozen waterfalls. As we were walking we noticed several spots with rocks the size of baseballs. That could be another way to go!!!!

            • That would be a frighteningly painful way to go, dycker. Thank the stars you and Mrs. D are sure-footed!

  5. Yes, knowing that god is distressed about your bone cancer, but can’t be arsed to do the smallest thing to ease your agony, is a great comfort.

    Such a god can’t even manage a disingenuous “I feel your pain.”

    People who buy into a conversation, like the one in this post, are beyond help.

  6. Sometimes I come across some weird shit on the internet:
    ” And many of us are aware that Walmart will be used as detention centers in the upcoming martial law. ”
    Walmart = FEMA camps, who knew?

    • I’ve read where Walmart stores have had empty shelves and no doubt its to facilitate the horizontal storage of bodies of those who will die while confined in these big box detention centers. Obama is poised to nullify the results of the 2016 elections to maintain his dictatorial control of the nation despite being the weakest President in 500 years!😯

      • Those mom jeans gonna fly just off the shelves eh? They are the new brown shirts dontchaknow?

  7. Sarah Palin even plagiarized that Dr. Seuss bullshit from an email meme that was popular three years ago. Plus, there’s the irony that at the end of ‘Green Eggs and Ham’, the narrator does a total about-face and it turns out that he actually loves the very thing he’d just been railing against out of complete ignorance. Maybe Sarah never made it that far.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/palins-green-eggs-and-ham-cpac-bit-was-ripped-off-a-chain-email/

    —————————–

    Charles Pierce just unloads on ‘The Princess In Excelsis’:

    “A friend bailed on the speech, making the very plausible case that Palin is simply another political celebrity freakshow, like Donald Trump. I can see the point there but, with Palin, and watching the hysterical reception her puerile screed received, there is something more serious going on. She is the living representation of the infantilization of American politics, a poisonous Grimm Sister telling toxic fairy tales to audiences drunk on fear, and hate and nonsense. She respects no standards but her own. She is in perpetual tantrum, railing against her betters, which is practically everyone, and volunteering for the job of avatar to the country’s reckless vandal of a political Id. It was the address of a malignant child delivered to an audience of malignant children.”

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/sarah-palin-cpac-2014-030814

    • Btw, Pierce nails Palin, her influence and her minions in one succinct sentence:

      “She is the living representation of the infantilization of American politics, a poisonous Grimm Sister telling toxic fairy tales to audiences drunk on fear, and hate and nonsense.”

    • It’s really kind of sad that someone can grow to adulthood without being able to understand that Green Eggs and Ham is a lesson in trying new things. It’s even more sad that the entire GOP seems to be made up of such people.

      • My five year old boy gets Green Eggs and Ham, but he still won’t eat some foods he hasn’t tried.
        He’s five.
        What’s Palin’s excuse?

  8. Hi,
    if you’re really interested in an answer: Eve definitly died! Not while eating, but some years later. According to the bible, Eve could have lived forever without ever dying. The reason the bible gives for evil is anything but strange. People who really are interested in the end of all suffering make more research to understand. Others are not motivated to because why think about what doesn’t really bother him. A site to do more research ist http://www.jw.org.
    Decide!
    Sorry for my english – I am not a native speaker

    • No, because people do not live forever, not even in the bible.

      Believing and praying do not “end all suffering.” Hard work, kindness, and valuing human life, no matter what sex or color it is, will help to end suffering.

      I have decided that gods do not exist, and far too much horror has been visited on this world in the name of religion.

      But thanks for stopping by the Zoo anyway.

      • The wording of the piece clearly implied that, if Eve ate the fruit, the punishment would be immediate death. Sure, Eve eventually died, but she certainly wasn’t smote down by the wrath of god for her transgression.

      • Thanks for your answer; I really agree with you concerning what “religious people” have done. I also wish all people would do hard work to end suffering. But history teaches us that most people are indifferent, they could not care less.
        So why not examine the facts that there is an intelligent creator, who cares and wants to help?

        • That’s the problem, Anton. (BTW. How often do you find it necessary to change your screen name?) There simply is no evidence for a caring creator. Zero. Nada. Zip. Scarce as hens teeth. If there was any such evidence then every university in the world would have science departments collecting, collating, and and describing it in great detail. That’s not what we find. We find science departments doing science and theology departments doing theology.

    • Dude, can you tell me why you people refuse to drive up to the speed limit on the street outside my house? I mean it’s three cars wide of road, straight for nearly 2 miles and yet, all of you do no more than say 21mph? I know the speed limit is a bit tight at 25mph …. but for fook’s sake live a little, eh? You are not going make old Jehovah sad by squeezing the gas for a touch of 25mph thrill. I’m trying to get home for tea you know? And tell them to stop pulling out in front of me too, wait for the faster traffic going by first, Ok? Thanks, mate.

  9. Wondering about the missing Malaysia airplane? Rupert has it covered:

    • And the qualified ‘apology’:

      Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo Apologizes for Offensive NBA Tweet

      “I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized,” said Garofalo, who’s seeking a sixth term in the fall. “The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize.”

      Garofalo also apologized for remarks about the NBA’s policy on drug enforcement, saying it is “stronger than I previously believed.”

    • Having spent much of my life in rural Minnesota I can assure you that:

      a. One will hear something similar in virtually any gathering of rural Minnesotans.
      b. This guy will never, ever, believe he’s a racist.

      Why did we get the standard non-apology? Because Minnesota has a NBA team that is owned by very rich people who contribute to Republican campaigns.

      Don’t get me wrong. Rural Minnesotans are not bad people but they are unsophisticated. It’s still possible to live an entire life and never have a conversation with an African American, or an Asian, or a Hispanic, or an atheist, or a Jew, or even a Catholic in some communities. They also tend to think that “the news” is the 7 minutes they use to grab their desert between the weather and sports. They get their political opinions from their pastors, campaign ads, and their Grampa who watches FAUX”News” 24/7.

      I am just thankful that our national politics are driven by more sophisticated people who live in the Twin Cities or else we would be every bit as “red” as Florida Texas or Arizona. Our local politics? That’s what gives us sterling examples like this creep and, my all time favorite, Batscat Bachmann who is not just embarrassing; she should be strapped to a floor and pumped full of psychotropic drugs until the voices stop yelling in her head.

      • Sounds like rural Pennsylvania. I noticed that these rural areas are mostly Republican and I think that is because they can’t live with other people.

  10. Eve died within one of God’s days, a 1000 years. One day is with God as a 1000 years and 1000 years as one day. 2nd Peter 3:8. So God is not a liar, you are just ignorant of the “facts”.

    God has been challenged by satan the devil before all intelligent creation over who has the right to rule the earth. Only time could pass to allow this challenge to be settled once and for all.

    God will soon end this trial period(been 7,000 years now) and remove the “real liar”(satan) and all who oppose Jehovah God, the Almighty Creator.

    Now is the time to stop joking around and dig into the Bible and learn the truth. Your life and the lives of your loved ones is in the balance.

    “Sophia” is a brave, kind soul trying to help you. It’s God’s command that true Christians preach and teach the Good News of the Kingdom before the end comes. Matthew 28:19,20 That’s what Sophia is trying to do. It is showing true love for your(her) neighbor!

    Todd

    • Hi Todd,

      Sorry, but your basic ignorance about the limits of the human body is disturbing.

      Yes, all of our lives are in balance, aren’t they? Foul water, bad food, dirty air, buses, drunk drivers, idiots with guns, idiots who don’t vaccinate their kids, staircases, viruses, etc. All things that can snuff out our lives in the blink of an eye. But unless someone leaves a bible on the staircase, they are only dangerous in the hands of those with influence over the lives and thoughts of others.

      I’m sure “Sophia,” were she an actual person, would be a lovely person, but, like you, she is delusional.

      Thanks for stopping by the Zoo!

      • Hi Zooey, sorry about the “ignorant” reference. This is the future I look forward to. If you study the Bible and develop faith in it, you’ll see it is a book from the Creator and as verse 5 says in the scripture quoted below “these words are faithful and true”. God will right all wrongs in the future, He has the solution!.

        Revelation 21: 3-5; With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. 4 And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
        5 And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.” Also he says: “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

        Todd

        • Todd,

          You will not be able to convince me to go against my inherent critical thinking skills. The bible is not a credible source document, for anything but a few positive life lessons, which anyone with a moral compass is following already.

          Why would I want a god to take away my tears, my mourning, or my pain; or give me happiness and joy? They would be utterly false emotions, since they would not be my own.

          You describe a hollow existence that I would never want to live, on this plane or the next.

        • That’s the problem, Todd. I have studied the Bible in depth as academic exercise and each successive word I read reduced my faith in it. The same is true of every other scripture I have read. (BTW. DO you realize that almost every religion has their own scripture?)

          If you really want to preach to us Zoosters I, for one, welcome it. Most of the happiest moments of my life have come when I understand someone who thinks differently than I do. But. if you want to have any effect on us you will have to come up with some outside corroboration if you have any hope of winning converts.

    • “One day is with God as a 1000 years…”

      One post from Todd is an eternity.

    • Wanna know what turned me from an agnostic to an atheist? Digging into the Bible.

      The internal contradictions alone convinced me that it’s merely a collection of poorly translated fables that weren’t particularly original or relevant to those of us who need evidence to form a conclusion on how to live in the cause and effect universe inhabited by sane people. You say that the Bible imposes the duty of preaching and I say that the 1st Amendment assigns me the duty to keep religion out of our government.

      Wanna know something else? I am far more empowered by the knowledge that I’m the result of a couple billion years of the struggle for survival than you are by your belief that you are just a failed project of a psychopath’s art class.

      Cheers!

    • Well heck, if you weren’t born before 1936, you won’t get in to heaven anyway.

      • Sh*t I was born in ’64 and you mean I have been keeping my nose clean for nothing!?

    • Hasa diga eebowai is the only response I have for people who feel the need to share their biblical references.

    • “God has been challenged by satan the devil before all intelligent creation over who has the right to rule the earth. Only time could pass to allow this challenge to be settled once and for all.”

      That’s quite the ‘fact’ you have there Todd. Sounds like a science fiction series. Do we find out who wins in Book 10 of “Look what people can be made to believe as ‘fact'”?

    • Hi, Todd,

      I find it hard to believe that we have to get all the way to the Second Book of Peter in the New Testament to get an explanation that the Universe was created in 6,000 days, not 6. Personally, I don’t think Peter’s explanation for the length of a day has anything whatsoever to do with the Creation story, and if that’s the only “evidence” in the Bible that a day for you and me is not the same as for God, then it’s a very weak argument and I reject it. I do, however, like how you put the word “facts” in quotation marks. Putting a word in quotation marks like that generally means it should not be interpreted literally, that’s it’s just a euphemism.

      I point that out because shortly after, you imply that the earth is only about 7,000 years old. I’m sorry, but Young Earth Creationists have no valid argument in my book, because the “facts” in which they deal are not facts, in the very real sense of the word. What you have are “elements” of a story, and nothing more. Plot points, if you will. The only connection to Reality those “facts” have is that someone in the real World dreamed them up and wants to believe them to be literally true. They are not.

      You say we should “dig into the Bible and learn the truth.” What makes you say we’ll find the truth in the Bible? How is that possible? The Bible contains many internal contradictions. For example, what were Jesus’ last words on the cross? Each Gospel gives a different answer. It’s almost as if someone made up the whole story because he wasn’t there at the time. Which is actually what happened. The King James version of the Bible (is that the one you consider “official”? Why that one and no other?) was written nearly 1300 years after the Nicene Creed. The authors did not use the same original essays used by the Council to come up with their Bible. And, of course, none of the people at that time in Ancient Rome spoke English (the language hadn’t been developed yet), so how can you be so sure the King James Bible is “the literal word of God” (as many claim)?

      I applaud your bravery in coming to a site founded and frequented by a bunch of people with less religious fervor than yourself. But we are not the type who accept Faith alone as any reason to believe something is true. We prefer Evidence, Facts, and the Truth before we’ll change our minds and accept that we’ve been wrong all this time. I think the difference between us is that you won’t.

      But do feel free to stop by and comment on the post of the day. It’s not always about Religion, and often isn’t. We’re Liberals, and we like to talk about things of interest to us. Thanks for stopping by. Good luck.

      • He got old? What’s that old saying?

        When we are young the days are too short and the years are too long. When we get old the days are too long and the years are too short.

  11. Per Todd’s post:

    It’s God’s command that true Christians preach and teach the Good News

    The god who made everyone and everything singles out one religion (christianity) to save?
    hmm, that does not compute…
    that does not compute…

  12. Speaking of mysteries, and I mean REAL mysteries, what did happen to that Malaysian jet? Lots of speculation but the experts don’t seem to have a good idea as yet.

    • That is a puzzler, especially since the ‘oil slicks’ weren’t related to the crash.
      No debris has surfaced (if indeed it went into the sea).

      • Naturally there is an explanation. All planes should broadcast there location to some central location via satellite. Will be one day I imagine.

      • It’s at 11. Any minute now the whole house of cards will come crashing down. Or, maybe, tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year. Or sometime after the first human traveler reaches another world inhabited by intelligent beings (That I sincerely hope we don’t kill off because we can’t understand them.). But, definitely, at some point before the earth is consumed by our dying and expanding sun.

  13. atheism vs. christainistas. Cool, opposites attract. A fictional vortex spiraling through the ether of the innertubes, and touches down at The Zoo. What one can find at the library, doodling, moodling, and then there’s Jane, QZ, and Todd. Delicious thread. Thanks guys.

    • Speaking of longest things, there was a college hockey game last weekend, a championship of some sort, that went to SEVEN OVERTIME PERIODS! The coaches and owners decided to call it a tie and share the ‘cup’ for fear that they were harming the players. The players looked like death warmed over and were still pissed that there was no winner!

  14. QOTD:

    “Canadians are so polite, mild-mannered, modest, unassuming, open-minded. Thank God my family fled that oppressive influence before it could change me.” – Sen.Ted Cruz, at Saturday night’s Gridiron Dinner in D.C.

    • In a sane world; even saying such a thing as a joke should exempt one from being elected POTUS even if one is a “natural born citizen” and even if one is more Caucasian than the current POTUS.

      You know what just might be the happiest event in American history? If the Cruzer is nominated by the GOP and the Supreme Court declares him ineligible a few days before the general election. There’s still about 24% of the electorate who wouldn’t care but there’s that other 10-30% who just might realize the GOP is FUBAR.

  15. 50 years ago today, Simon and Garfunkel record ‘The Sounds Of Silence’ as an acoustic duo. Here’s the original version, before record company producers added electric guitar, bass and drums, without their knowledge.

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