JW.org has posted an FAQ page in response to the question “Do You Believe in Creationism?” Watchtower’s response? “No.” The reason? “Jehovah’s Witnesses do believe that God created everything. But we do not agree with creationism. Why not? Because a number of creationist ideas actually conflict with the Bible.”
Anybody who understands the meaning of the words “creationist” and “creationism” and who is familiar with Witness teachings will find the above answer both perplexing and self-contradictory.
Put simply, Watchtower is suffering from an identity crisis. On the one hand it rejects evolution, and on the other it seeks to dodge the creationist label because it doesn’t agree with what all other creationists believe. Such reasoning is tantamount to a person refusing to accept the designation “christian” because he or she doesn’t agree with what all professed christians believe.
Witnesses might be surprised to learn that Watchtower’s ‘refuting’ of creationism is nothing new. Back in 1986 a Questions From Readers article was published which stated, in part (bold is mine)…
“In these 1980’s, ‘creationism’ has become a true ‘ism’ because of its adoption by political pressure groups, such as the Moral Majority. It is no longer a neutral term, but embodies extreme fundamentalist views of the Bible, such as the view that God created the earth and everything upon it in six days of 24 hours each. There are now more than 350 books in circulation setting out such “creationism” dogma. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the unreasonable theories of ‘creationism’ in favor of what the Bible really teaches about ‘creation.’” (w86 9/1 p.30)
What both this 1986 article and the JW.org FAQ page fail to acknowledge is that not all creationists necessarily share the same views, in just the same way as not every christian denomination shares identical beliefs. There is room for variety. For example, it is possible to declare yourself a creationist but not be a “young earth creationist,” i.e. someone who believes the earth was created in six literal days.
Numerous sources confirm that creationists do not necessarily have to agree on every point. In Darwinism Comes To America Ronald L. Numbers observes, “Creationists of today are not in agreement concerning what was created according to Genesis.” And, as the book Science, Evolution and Creationism explains, “Advocates of the ideas collectively known as ‘creationism’ and, recently, ‘intelligent design creationism’ hold a wide variety of views. Most broadly, a ‘creationist’ is someone who rejects natural scientific explanations of the known universe in favor of special creation by a supernatural entity.”
This is where a Witness might argue, “Ah, but Witnesses do not reject ‘natural scientific explanations of the known universe.'” Indeed JW.org’s FAQ declares that Witnesses “have no objection to credible scientific research.” But is that really the case?
Evolution – a “false teaching?”
In a recent Watchtower magazine the Society reaffirmed its condemnation of evolution as a “widespread false teaching that blinds people to the truth about God.” (w13 10/15 p.7) Now, as unpleasant as this may be for some readers to consider, whether you believe in God or not, it is now impossible to justifiably deny that evolution is a real process. It is an astounding mechanism that has been unfolding for countless millennia, and is even happening right in front of us.
The reason why hospital superbugs exist is because successive generations of bacteria with the necessary genes flourish due to having developed an immunity to antibiotics, which flush out any strands of bacteria without the needed adaptations.
In essence, this is an accelerated version of “natural selection” where the changing environment determines the survival of the species, which (in the case of bacteria) reproduces over minutes or hours rather than years or decades. Just because bacteria are small, doesn’t mean that similar environmental forces are not influencing the development of much larger organisms including animals and humans – albeit incrementally over unfathomable periods of time.
If you disagree with the above, and believe that each “superbug” is created on the spot by God the moment new drugs are developed as some kind of cruel joke to thwart the efforts of doctors, then you are of course entitled to your opinion. But in denying the process I have described you are denying clear evidence of evolution, which is precisely what the Watchtower continues to do right up to the present.
And yet, Watchtower wants the outside world to think of it as trendy and not “anti-science.” It sees itself as accommodating towards the latest scientific evidence, which is why it refuses to accept its proper designation as a fundamentally creationist faith.
“Limping upon two different opinions”
Ironically, the scripture in 1 Timothy that the Society has used to label apostates as “mentally diseased” actually applies that expression to those who work themselves into a frenzy “over questionings and debates about words” – which is precisely what the Society seems to be doing with regards to creationism. (1 Tim 6:4) They are arguing that the word doesn’t apply to them because they don’t like the image it portrays.
Moreover, at 1 Kings 18:21 the prophet Elijah condemned the unfaithful Israelites of his day for being similarly indecisive. He said, “How long will you be limping upon two different opinions? If Jehovah is the [true] God, go following him; but if Ba′al is, go following him.”
In dancing between designations, and picking and choosing which words should or shouldn’t be applied to them, Watchtower is similarly “limping upon two different opinions.” On the one hand they dismiss evolution, but on the other they don’t like the stigma surrounding creationism. So, which is it to be?
- JWsurvey articles on JW.org
- Wikipedia article on young earth creationism
- Article explaining the evolution of superbugs