Watchtower articles misquote or misrepresent source quotes to a shocking extent. This used to be difficult to identify because Watchtower rarely provides the source of quotes, but now that an internet search makes it simple to identify the source and context of a quote, the extent of such misquotes has become available.
Two common Watchtower practices are to use ellipses (…) to change the meaning of a sentence, or to quote a sentence accurately, but without indicating that the sentence does not represent the view of the author in the context of the entire paragraph. Following are a range of examples covering numerous topics. Some are one-off in a article, whilst on detailed topics such as evolution or the Trinity, a single Watchtower article will contain numerous misquotes.
Table of Contents
In the article "Winning the Battle for Your Mind," Watchtower 2017 July page 28 includes a quote regarding propaganda:
"Therefore, it is likely to be most effective if people ... are discouraged from thinking critically."
What has been cut out and replaced by ellipses (...)?
"Therefore, it is likely to be most effective if people do not have access to multiple sources of information and if they are discouraged from thinking critically. Michael Balfour has suggested that the "best touchstone for distinguishing propaganda from science is whether a plurality of sources of information and of interpretations is being discouraged or fostered." Media and Society In the 21st Century: A Historical Introduction p.78 or Media and Society In the 21st Century: A Historical Introduction 2009 p.83 depending on edition, Lyn Gorman, David McLean
Watchtower's misuse of ellipses is very important when considered in light of the Watchtower article, which says to trust a single source of information, follow the organisation regardless of how imperfect and dismiss alternative information regardless of how plausible.
"... you—like any other soldier in the heat of battle—need a source of trustworthy, reliable information to prevent the enemy from playing tricks with your mind. Jehovah has provided this. In the pages of the Bible, you can find all you need to combat Satan’s propaganda." Watchtower 2017 Jul p.28
"Be determined to stick to Jehovah’s organization and loyally support the leadership he provides—no matter what imperfections may surface. (1 Thess. 5:12, 13) Do not be “quickly shaken from your reason” when faced with what appear to be damaging attacks by apostates or other such deceivers of the mind—however plausible their charges may seem." Watchtower 2017 Jul p.30
The Watchtower quotes the Gazette for support that in 1914 World War 1 changed the world for the worse. Taken in context the article says something quite different.
“News columnists recently commented on the end of World War I 60 years ago. Gwynne Dyer of the Montreal “Gazette” wrote: “World War I—simply The Great War to its survivors—remains the watershed of modern history in men’s minds. Before 1914, the figures in the fading photographs live in another world . . . marked by a peculiar innocence. . . . It was the period before 1914 that was the island in time, when men could believe that progress was changing us as quickly as it was changing our machines. Then World War I tumbled us back into reality.” Watchtower 1979 Fe 15 p.13
Between these carefully chosen comments and the ellipses the Gazette includes the following paragraph.
"This is of course a hopelessly romantic view of the world we are idealizing the past, and over-dramatizing our own circumstances. The 20th century is certainly no worse than the 13th for mass slaughter, nor than the ancient empires for regimentation." Gazette 11 Nov 1976
The Watchtower employs a range of methods to convince members that blood transfusions are unsafe. This is such an important topic, due to ongoing lives being lost, that it is recommended to consider the information at Blood Transfusions, and also Jehovah's Witnesses, Blood Transfusion, and the Tort of Misrepresentation by Kerry Louderback-Wood.
One outstanding misquote regards the risk of refusing a transfusion for renal transplantation. Not only is a full stop added, but the quote hides the context that shows a significant increase in death rate for Jehovah's Witness renal transplant patients with anaemia.
“The overall results suggest that renal transplantation can be safely and efficaciously applied to most Jehovah’s Witnesses.” How Can Blood Save Your Life? p.16
The full quote is:
"Jehovah Witnesses had an increased susceptibility to rejection episodes. The cumulative percentage of incidence of primary rejection episodes was 77 percent at three months in Jehovah’s Witnesses versus 44 percent at 21 months in the matched control group. The consequence of early allograft dysfunction from rejection was particularly detrimental to Jehovah’s Witness who developed severe anemia (hemoglobin (Hgb)* 4.5 per cent) – two early deaths occurred in the subgroup with this combination. The overall results suggest that renal transplantation can be safely and efficaciously applied to most Jehovah Witness patients but those with anemia who undergo early rejection episodes are a high-risk group relative to other transplant patients."
Misleading comments are made such as that erythropoietin (EPO) can help a patient "form replacement red cells very quickly”, “three to four times faster than normal.” (How Can Blood Save Your Life? p.15) A reader quite likely would think "very quickly" means hours or days, yet "EPO can take four or more weeks to begin to relieve some of the symptoms of anaemia." (myeloma.org.uk Erythropoietin Infosheet Oct 2011)
The information supplied in How Can Blood Save Your Life? also attempts to create unrealistic fear of the risks of blood transfusion. For instance, page 11 quotes from The New York Times July 18 1989 that "A panel of health officials … [all] answered no" to accepting blood from a person who tested positive for Lyme disease. What is not stated is that there have never been any "cases of Lyme disease … linked to blood transfusion …." (http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/ as of 22 Apr 2013)
The year 607 B.C. is pivotal to Jehovah's Witnesses, as it is the foundation for calculating 1914 as the start of the Last Days. This topic is so detailed that it warrants its own discussion at 607 - 1914 - Last Days. Relevant to this article is that while the Watchtower says Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C., virtually every other source, including encyclopaedias, historians and scholars, state that Jerusalem fell in either 587 B.C. or 586 B.C.
To arrive at the spurious date of 607 B.C., the Watchtower needs to re-work the dates for other significant events, also without any historical support. For this reason, the Watchtower has resorted to misrepresenting quotes to make it appear its date system is correct. For example, in the following quote the Insight Book inserts the year 624 B.C.E. as the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar. Though done correctly by use of [ ], the reader is left with the impression this date is supported by the original source.
"In this his accession year he returned to Hattu, and "in the month Shebat [January-February, 624 B.C.E.] he took the vast booty of Hattu to Babylon." (Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, by A. K. Grayson, 1975, p. 100)" Insight on the Scriptures - Volume 2 p.480
However, on checking Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, Grayson does not use the date of 624 B.C., but rather on page 19 gives the accession date as 605 B.C.
In the 2010 book God's Word for Us Through Jeremiah, a statement is made regarding a find by Eilat Mazar, supporting two Characters mentioned in Jeremiah.
"Archaeologist Eilat Mazar reports unearthing a small clay seal impression, or bulla. (below left) It was found in 2005 during a supervised excavation of a layer dating back to when Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E." God's Word for Us Through Jeremiah p.55
The reader may get the impression that Eilat is supporting the year 607 B.C.E., whereas she presents that the destruction was in 587 B.C. (See articles at jpost.com and archaeology.hui.ac.il) There was no need to mention the date 607 B.C.E., as it was not relevant to the topic, and for the sake of accuracy the writer could have referred to "when Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon." The Watchtower inserts this date to deceitfully condition Jehovah's Witnesses that 607 B.C.E. is historically accurate.
The Watchtower discourages advanced education. The following quote contains a number of flaws in how information should be presented.
“Of this important library of books, Phelps added: "Our ideas, our wisdom, our philosophy, our literature, our art, our ideals, come more from the Bible than from all other books put together. … I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible." Awake! 2000 Dec 22 p.3
This quote encapsulates the misleading way the Watchtower commonly includes quotes.
First, no source for the quote is provided, so it is difficult and time consuming to verify. It turns out to be from the Encyclopedia of Sermons and that Phelps was a nineteenth century preacher. Such information is important in understanding the purpose and bias of such a comment. More importantly, the quote misrepresents the intention of Phelps' sentence, by the use of "…" to hide the first part of the quote;
"I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women', said Dr. William Lyon Phelps of Yale University, 'but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible. Every one who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated, and no other learning or culture, no matter how extensive or elegant, can form a proper substitute.'" (Encyclopedia of Sermon Illustrations)
In context we have a preacher recommending university, yet the Watchtower presents the quote in such manner to make it appear Phelps is downplaying the value of advanced education.
There is a volume of evidence that Jesus died on a Cross. (See Cross or Stake.) Since there is little evidence to support their theory that Jesus died on a stake, the Watchtower has resorted to misquoting.
The Imperial Bible-Dictionary is partially quoted to make it appear that stauros must mean a stake. By partial quoting, it hides critical information that stauros was being used to refer to a cross in the first century.
"The Greek word rendered "cross" in many modern Bible versions ("torture stake" in NW) is stau·ros´. In classical Greek, this word meant merely an upright stake, or pale. Later it also came to be used for an execution stake having a crosspiece. The Imperial Bible-Dictionary acknowledges this, saying: "The Greek word for cross, [stau·ros´], properly signified a stake, an upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling [fencing in] a piece of ground. . . . Even amongst the Romans the crux (from which our cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole."-Edited by P. Fairbairn (London, 1874), Vol. I, p. 376." Reasoning from the Scriptures p.89
Ellipses (…) are used to change the meaning of this quote. The full quote is:
"The Greek word for cross, (stauros), properly signified a stake, an upright pole, or piece of paling, on which anything might be hung, or which might be used in impaling (fencing in) a piece of ground. But a modification was introduced as the dominion and usages of Rome extended themselves through Greek-speaking countries. Even amongst the Romans, the crux (from which the word cross is derived) appears to have been originally an upright pole, and always remained the more prominent part. But from the time that it began to be used as an instrument of punishment, a traverse piece of wood was commonly added: not however always then.
… There can be no doubt, however, that the later sort was the more common, and that about the period of the Gospel Age, crucifixion was usually accomplished by suspending the criminal on a cross piece of wood.
… But the commonest form, it is understood, was that in which the upright piece of wood was crossed by another near the top, but not pricisely at it, the upright pole running above the other, thus "a cross" and so making four, not merely two right angles. It was on a cross of this form, according to the general voice of tradition, that our Lord suffered.
… It may be added that crucifixion was abolished around the time of Constantine, in consequence of the sacred associations which the cross had now gathered around it." The imperial Dictionary p.376
The Imperial Dictionary shows that crosses were the prominent form of execution in Jesus day, and it was Constantine that put an end to them, quite the opposite of what the Watchtower used the quote for.
The 16th century De Cruce Liber Tres by Justus Lipsius is misrepresented in a different way. The Appendix to the 1950 and 1969 editions of The New World Translation and the Kingdom Interlinear reproduces a woodcut illustration by Lipsius of a stake, stating, "This is the manner in which Jesus was impaled", giving the distinct impression that Lipsius supports Jesus death on a stake. A 1980 Watchtower article attempts to give the same impression that Lipsius supported a stake.
"Whether the wooden sculpture is the work of the 16th-century artist Michelangelo or not, it illustrates that the impalement of Christ on a cross frame has not always been so certain as Christendom’s leaders today would have people believe. For example, the 16th-century Roman Catholic scholar Justus Lipsius illustrated impalement on an upright stake in his book “De Cruce Liber Primus.” This fits the meaning of the Greek word used in the Bible to describe the impalement of Christ." Watchtower 1980 Feb 15 p.30
This misrepresents Lipsius, who taught that Jesus died on a cross. His book included a total of 16 woodcuts, 9 depicting various forms of crucifixion. Under one of the crucifixion woodcuts is inscribed in Latin with, "In the Lord's cross there were four pieces of wood, the upright beam, the crossbar, a tree trunk placed below, and the title placed above."
The Watchtower also draws on unreliable sources for support. The Reasoning Book on page 89 goes on to quote "The book The Non-Christian Cross, by John Denham Parsons" for support that Jesus did not die on a cross. Yet John Parsons was a Skeptic who also wrote Our Sun-God: Or Christianity before Christ, trying to prove a connection between Jesus and the Egyptian God Horus, and was a member of the Society for Psychical Research to promote information on psychics and the paranormal. The research provided by Parsons regarding crux is flawed. For instance, he quotes Livy as using crux to mean stake (Livy, xxviii. 29) but was mistaken. Livy used the word palus not crux in this passage - "Bound to a stake (deligati ad palum) they were scouraged and beheaded" (28.29.11). Parsons also quotes Lucian saying Jesus was "fastened to a skolops;" (De Morte Peregrini) and claims Lucian used skolops to mean a single piece of wood. Yet this too is wrong, as Lucian uses the same verb anaskolopizoó in Lis Consonantium, 12 to refer to crucifixion on a two-beamed stauros.
The worst example of dishonesty amongst Watchtower literature regards the Trinity. When attacking the Trinity doctrine, the Watchtower resorts to a multitude of deceptive tactics, including the straw man technique of misdefining the Trinity, misquoting sources, and presenting specifically false information.
The doctrine of the Trinity is that there are "three persons in one God". At times, the Watchtower uses the straw man technique of misdefining the Trinity doctrine as "three Gods in one", such as in the following quote, so as to attack this incorrect definition.
"The disgusting idolatry of the religions of Christendom and pagandom has been set aside by Jehovah's restored people. Their worship is not distributed to three gods in one, the so-called godhead of some mysterious Trinity, but they are united as the one people who worship the one God, Jehovah. Watchtower 1984 Mar 1 p.23
When discussing the Trinity, they have almost never mentioned the concept of economic and ontological equality, yet this is key to understanding the Trinity. Nor do they discuss Modalism, which is an alternate doctrine about the nature of God that is believed by many Pentecostals. Watchtower discussion melds Trinitarian and Modal concepts into one, and then attacks the inaccurate hybrid straw man that they themselves have created.
The Watchtower also presents the history of the Trinity incorrectly, attempting to lead its followers to believe the Trinity did not develop until centuries after Jesus, and under pressure from Constantine. Should You Believe in the Trinity? p.7 states "… history makes clear that the Trinity was unknown throughout Biblical times and for several centuries thereafter." It goes on to make the inaccurate claim that the Antenicene fathers, including Justin Martyr, Iraneaus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Origen were against the Trinitarian concept, yet each of these people had an instrumental part in the development on the Trinity. Page 5 claims "this is no proof in itself that Tertullian taught the Trinity." Yet Tertullian stated;
"The connection of Father and Son, of Son and the Paraclete [Holy Spirit] makes three who cohere in a dependent series. And these three are one thing; not one person." (Against Praxeas ch.25)
"The Son of God is identical with God. The Spirit of God is God." (Against Praxeas ch.26)
See The Watchtower and the Ante-Nicene Church Fathers by Michael J. Partyka for an in-depth article with full source quotes of the partial quotes used in the Watchtower brochure Should you Believe the Trinity. In each case it is readily apparent that the Watchtower Society has distorted what the early Church Fathers were attempting to say.
Should You Believe in the Trinity? also makes classic use of ellipses to hide words like "but", "however" and "therefore" in order to twist the point being made by the source. Quotations are only partially referenced, making it difficult and time consuming to locate the original quote for verification purposes. The following partial Watchtower quotes are compared with the original quote to highlight how significantly the Watchtower is prepared to misrepresent sources to convince followers of their viewpoint.
|Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethic, James Hastings, Trinity, p.461
|"At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian . . . It was not so in the apostolic and sub-apostolic ages, as reflected in the N[ew] T[estament] and other early Christian writings."-Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics. (ti pp. 6-7)
|"At first the Christian faith was not Trinitarian in the strictly ontological reference."
|The Triune God, Edward Fortman
|"Jesuit Fortman states: "The New Testament writers . . . give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. . . . Nowhere do we find any trinitarian doctrine of three distinct subjects of divine life and activity in the same Godhead."" (ti p.6)
|"They give us no formal or formulated doctrine of the Trinity, no explicit teaching that in one God there are three co-equal divine persons. But they do give us an elemental trinitarianism, the data from which such a formal doctrine of the Triune God may be formulated. "
|The Encyclopedia Americana
|"The Encyclopedia Americana notes that the doctrine of the Trinity is considered to be 'beyond the grasp of human reason." (ti p.4)
|"It is held that although the doctrine is beyond the grasp of human reason, it is, like many of the formulations of physical science, not contrary to reason, and may be apprehended (though it may not be comprehended) by the human mind".
|The Catholic Encyclopedia (newadvent.org /cathen/ 15047a.htm 21/12/2006)
|"The Catholic Encyclopedia also comments: "In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together. The word ????? [tri´as] (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A. D. 180. . . . Shortly afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian."" (ti p.5)
|"The word [tri'as] (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A. D. 180. He speaks of "the Trinity of God [the Father], His Word and His Wisdom" ("Ad. Autol.", 11, 15, P. G., VI, 1078). The term may, of course, have been in use before his time. Shortly afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian."
|Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity
|The Catholic work Trinitas-A Theological Encyclopedia of the Holy Trinity, for example, notes that some of Tertullian's words were later used by others to describe the Trinity. Then it cautions: "But hasty conclusions cannot be drawn from usage, for he does not apply the words to Trinitarian theology." (ti pp.5-6)
|"The great African fashioned the Latin language of the Trinity, and many of his words and phrases remained permanently in use: the words Trinitas and persona, the formulas 'one substance in three persons,' 'God from God, light from Light.' He uses the word substantia 400 times, as he uses consubstantialis and consubstantivus, but hasty conclusions cannot be drawn from usage, for he does not apply the words to Trinitarian theology."
|New Catholic Encyclopedia - p.306
|"And the New Catholic Encyclopedia also says: "And the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the O[ld] T[estament]."" (ti p.6)
|"The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not taught in the OT. In many places of the OT however, expressions are used in which some of the Fathers of the Church saw references or foreshadowings of the Trinity ."
|Origin and Evolution of Religion
|"Yale University professor E. Washburn Hopkins affirmed: "To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the trinity was apparently unknown; . . . they say nothing about it."-Origin and Evolution of Religion." (ti p.6)
|"The beginning of the doctrine of the Trinity appears already in John (c.100 AD.") To Jesus and Paul the doctrine of the trinity was apparently unknown; at any rate they say nothing about it."
The 1985 Creation book (Life - How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?) is similar to the Trinity brochure in being another epic presentation of false information. Evolutionary theory is mis-represented, Creationists are put forward as Scientists, and Scientists are quoted out of context. At times, when a scientific article states a problem, followed by its solution, the Creation book quotes the problem as an unsolved confession from a scientist, neglecting to advise that the article addresses the issue that it raised.
The following quotations are from the original 1985 edition of Life - How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? These same misquotes were carried through to the 2006 edition. The original quotes were largely sourced by Jan Haugland as sighted at Misquotations in the Creation Book 2006-02-15 as of 15 Feb 2021.
|Original Quote and Comments
Page 15 Para 4
“The scientific magazine Discover put the situation this way: “Evolution ... is not only under attack by fundamentalist Christians, but is also being questioned by reputable scientists. Among paleontologists, scientists who study the fossil record, there is growing dissent from the prevailing view of Darwinism.””
James Gorman, "The Tortoise or the Hare?", Discover, October 1980, p. 88:
"Charles Darwin's brilliant theory of evolution, published in 1859, had a stunning impact on scientific and religious thought and forever changed man's perception of himself. Now that hallowed theory is not only under attack by fundamentalist Christians, but is also being questioned by reputable scientists. Among paleontologists, scientists who study the fossil record, there is growing dissent from the prevailing view of Darwinism. ...
Most of the debate will center on one key question: Does the three-billion-year-old process of evolution creep at a steady pace, or is it marked by long periods of inactivity punctuated by short bursts of rapid change? Darwin's widely accepted view -- that evolution proceeds steadily, at a crawl -- favors the tortoise. But two paleontologists, Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History and Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard, are putting their bets on the hare.""
Pages 15,16 Para 6
“Paleontologist Niles Eldredge, a prominent evolutionist, said: “The doubt that has infiltrated the previous, smugly confident certitude of evolutionary biology’s last twenty years has inflamed passions.” He spoke of the “lack of total agreement even within the warring camps,” and added, “things really are in an uproar these days . . . Sometimes it seems as though there are as many variations on each [evolutionary] theme as there are individual biologists.””
Natural History, “Evolutionary Housecleaning,” by Niles Eldredge, February 1982, pp. 78, 81.
“I mention this only to illustrate the lack of total agreement even within the warring camps: things really are in an uproar these days, and each of the "basic" ways of looking at evolution has its minor variants. Sometimes it seems as though there are as many variations on each theme as there are individual biologists. But that's as it should be; this is how science is supposed to operate. ... When they [Creationists] misrepresent the exuberant, creative doubt and controversy permeating evolutionary biology these days, they are actively promoting scientific illiteracy.”
"In fact now, after more than a century of collecting fossils, "we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time," explained the Bulletin." "
"Conflicts between Darwin and Paleontology", Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin Jan. 1979, Vol. 50 No. 1 p. 22-29.
This quote from David Raup is taken out of context, as the paper was not about the fossil record's evidence of common decent, but whether the mechanism of natural selection at the level of species is shown in the fossil record. On page 22, Raup had prefaced his comment with, "We must distinguish between the fact of evolution -- defined as change in organisms over time -- and the explanation of this change. Darwin's contribution, through his theory of natural selection, was to suggest how the evolutionary change took place. The evidence we find in the geologic record is not nearly as compatible with darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be."
He goes on to state, "Now with regard to the fossil record, we certainly see change. … If we allow that natural selection works, as we almost have to do, the fossil record doesn't tell us whether it was responsible for 90 percent of the change we see or 9 percent, or .9 percent." (p.26)
Darwin acknowledged this as a problem. For example, he wrote: "To suppose that the eye ... could have been formed by [evolution], seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 1859, p. 133:
"To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory."
"At this point a reader may begin to understand Dawkins' comment in the preface to his book: "This book should be read almost as though it were science fiction.""
Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, 1976, p.ix:
"This book should be read almost as though it were science fiction. It is designed to appeal to the imagination. But it is not science fiction: it is science. Cliché or not, "stranger than fiction" expresses exactly how I feel about the truth."
"Richard Dickerson explains: "It is therefore hard to see how polymerization [linking together smaller molecules to form bigger ones] could have proceeded in the aqueous environment of the primitive ocean, since the presence of water favors depolymerization [breaking up big molecules into simpler ones] rather than polymerization.""
The quote is from Scientific American, September 1978, p. 75. The purpose and content of the article goes on to address how polymerisation may have occurred.
"Fossil hunter Donald Johanson acknowledged: "No one can be sure just what any extinct hominid looked like.""
Donald C. Johanson and Maitland A. Edey, Lucy -- the Beginnings of Humankind, New York: Warner Books, Inc, 1981, p. 286.
"No one can be sure what any extinct hominid looked like with its skin and hair on. Sizes here are to scale, with afarensis about two feet shorter than the average human being."
"Zoologist Richard Lewontin said that organisms "appear to have been carefully and artfully designed." He views them as "the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer." It will be useful to consider some of this evidence."
This quote is a shocking twist of the writers intent and vastly changes the meaning of what Lewontin said.
Richard C. Lewontin, "Adaptation", Scientific American, vol. 239, September 1978, p. 213:
"The manifest fit between organisms and their environment is a major outcome of evolution.... Life forms are more than simply multiple and diverse, however. Organisms fit remarkably well into the external world in which they live. They have morphologies, physiologies and behaviors that appear to have been carefully and artfully designed to enable each organism to appropriate the world around it for its own life. It was the marvelous fit of organisms to the environment, much more than the great diversity of forms, that was the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer. Darwin realized that if a naturalistic theory of evolution was to be successful, it would have to explain the apparent perfection of organisms and not simply their variation."
"Francis Hitching, an evolutionist and author of the book The Neck of the Giraffe, stated: "For all its acceptance in the scientific world as the great unifying principle of biology, Darwinism, after a century and a quarter, is in a surprising amount of trouble.""
The Bible - God's Word or Man's? p.106 describes Hitching as a "scientist" and "authority". He is also quoted in the Watchtower 1994, 1990 and Awake 1994.
|Hitching is a favourite for quotes by Creationists. The Creation book quotes his book Neck of the Giraffe 13 times. However, he has no scientific credentials, which he lies about in his book, as discussed at Hitching 12 Fe 2013). He is a paranormalist, and his book Earth Magic describes his belief in pyramid energy, astrology, ESP, dowsing and psychic research. The criticism of evolutionary theory in Neck of the Giraffe is used to advance his own theory regarding paranormal forces directing evolution. He is in no way a credible source, yet the Watchtower uses him as one of their primary sources of information in the Creation book.
"The science of mathematical probability offers striking proof that the Genesis creation account must have come from a source with knowledge of the events. The account lists 10 major stages in this order: [...] Science agrees that these stages occurred in this general order. What are the chances that the writer of Genesis just guessed this order? The same as if you picked at random the numbers 1 to 10 from a box, and drew them in consecutive order. The chances of doing this on your first try are 1 in 3,628,800! So, to say the writer just happened to list the foregoing events in the right order without getting the facts from somewhere is not realistic."
This section of the Creation book is terrible at several levels.
First, scientists do not agree with the order of creative days in Genesis. Scientists say the source of light, the sun, was before the earth. Also, science lists the order of animal evolution as fish, reptiles, birds; not fish, birds, reptiles/animals. At least two of the days are out of order.
Second, there are two creation stories in Genesis, with the order in Genesis 2 differing from the the order of creation in Genesis 1. The Creation book does not clarify which story it claims Scientists agree with, and science agrees with neither.
Third, it cannot be equated to the simple probability of drawing the numbers 1 to 10 from a box. Even the simplest person would assume that the sun and earth were first. The earth is a prerequisites for containing the water, plants and animals. Light and water must precede plants, which die without them. Plants must have been created before animals, birds and fish, whom depend on plants as food. Therefore simple logic will put most of the creative days in the correct order, significantly reducing the chances of an agreement with science to well below one in over 3 million.
The Creation book was replaced in 2010 by The Origin of Life - Five Questions Worth Asking and Was Life Created? These are of similarly poor quality, and the document Weighed and Found Wanting shows how both misrepresent evolution and distort almost every quote included. Critique of the March 2014 Awake Article "The Untold Story of Creation" shows that the 2014 Awake is similarly dishonest.
Watchtower articles on evolution contain a consistent pattern of poor research, such as quotes from both the January and August Awake! magazines in 2015. The following attributes a quotation to Dawkins.
““The filament of DNA is information, a message written in a code of chemicals, one chemical for each letter,” wrote evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.” Awake! 2015 Aug p.5
This is not a quote from Dawkins, but from Ridley. A little bit or research uncovers this statement appears on page 37 of Richard Dawkings book The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing. However, Dawkins is quoting from page 13 of Matt Ridley's 1999 book Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters.
The Awake! January 2015 manages to be deceptive in 3 different ways within its first half page. It starts by using another famous scientist to garner misleading support for creation, quoting Rama Singh as saying "The opposition to evolution goes beyond religious fundamentalism and includes a great many people from educated sections of the population." (Awake! 2015 Jan p.3) This poorly referenced quote is from Darwin’s legacy: why biology is not physics, or why evolution has not become a common sense, (as of 2 Jan 2016). Whilst the quote is accurate, it misrepresents Singh's intention. Singh continues in the same paragraph, "There are several reasons why facts of evolution are not easily comprehensible by the general masses." He continues by explaining why educated people lack comprehension of evolution. Prompted by Singh officially complaining about Awake! using “intellectual dishonesty” when taking him out of context, see inquisitr.com, Watchtower retracted the statement, reloading an edited version of the Awake! issue to their site without the reference to Singh.
Awake! 2015 Jan p.3 before and after revision.
As of 6th January 2016, the English audio version and most non-English language PDF editions still retain Singh's quote.
The second scientist quoted, Gerard, is not identified as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. Whilst only a first name is given in the English Awake!, the German issue includes his full name as being Gerard Hertel, described in his Alumni (6 Jan 2016) as being one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
The article then goes on to ask:
"Why is it that even some scientifically-minded people have trouble accepting evolution as the origin of life?"
Evolution does not study the "origin of life," research into the "origin of life" is referred to as abiogenesis. Evolution is the study of "the process by which changes in plants and animals happen over time." There is a huge amount of evidence for evolution, in fact, even Watchtower promotes a rapid form of evolution, when it claims all millions of species of animals on earth evolved from the few thousand that were able to fit on Noah's ark 4000 years ago. On the other hand, even Richard Dawkins admits we know little about the origin of life.
"We know a great deal about how evolution has worked ever since it got started, but know little more than Darwin did about how it got started in the first place. ... We have no evidence about what the first step in making life was ... We don't actually need a plausible theory of the origin of life, and we might even be a little bit anxious if a too plausible theory were to be discovered!" The Greatest Show on Earth, The Evidence for Evolution (2009) pp.416,419
Jehovah's Witnesses sadly trust Watchtower writers on matters of science, whose bias overwhelmingly affects the accuracy of the information they present. Their research skills are so fundamentally inadequate they are unable to correctly identify the source of information, let alone accurately understand and explain matters of science.
The Watchtower is also known to misquote Scriptures, such as putting a full stop where there was not one, which changes the true meaning of the verse. The Watchtower concentrates on a select few Scriptures to support their doctrine and by hand picking and quoting catchy portions of Scriptures, the doctrine may seem solid, when it is not. For example, in order to support the concept of soul being non-existent at death, Reasoning From the Scriptures p.100, quotes Ecclesiastes 9:5 as:
“The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.”
This is misleading, as it adds a full stop, whilst in the Scripture there is a comma. In entirety it states:
"For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten. Also, their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished, and they have no portion anymore to time indefinite in anything that has to be done under the sun."
Ecclesiastes is a poetic work about the vanity of life, and it is not generally taken literally. The aforementioned Scripture cannot be taken as literal, as the sentence continues with the comment that there is no remembrance of the dead. Further, it removes the resurrection hope, stating that the dead “have no portion anymore to time indefinite….” Read in full, the verse only says what the Watchtower wants it to say if they dishonestly add a full stop.
One of the most significant flaws in the New World Translation is the inclusion of the word Jehovah in the New Testament. Of the many thousands of early New Testament fragments, not a single one includes God's name. Including Jehovah means that many Scriptures have their meaning changed.
One Scripture that quite clearly refers to Jesus, Romans 10:13, is changed to Jehovah in the Watchtower Bible.
Romans 10:13 "For "everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.""
This has an important effect, as the Watchtower attempts to use this Scripture to prove that only Jehovah's Witnesses will be saved.
"We stand now at the brink of the greatest tribulation of all, when Jehovah's storm wind will sweep wickedness from the face of this earth, clearing the way for a paradise of eternal peace. Will you be one who "calls on the name of Jehovah" in faithfulness? If so, rejoice! You have God's own promise that you will be saved.-Romans 10:13." Watchtower 1997 Dec 15 p.21
An examination of the Emphatic Diaglott, published by the Watchtower Society shows that the word used in this passage is not YHWH but Kyrios (κύριος) - Lord.
Just prior to this verse, Romans 10:9 states, "Jesus is Lord (Kurios)". It follows that Romans 10:13 refers to Jesus, and identifies Jesus as the requirement for salvation.
"Do they believe that they are the only ones who will be saved? No. Millions that have lived in centuries past and who were not Jehovah's Witnesses will come back in a resurrection and have an opportunity for life. Many now living may yet take a stand for truth and righteousness before the "great tribulation," and they will gain salvation." Jehovah's Witnesses, Who are they? What do they believe?(2002) p.29
Not content with mis-translating the Bible, the Watchtower criticises other religions that don't use the word Jehovah through deceptive quoting of their sources.
"By and large, Christendom's churches have distanced themselves from God's name. For example, the Revised Standard Version states in its preface: "The use of any proper name for the one and only God … is entirely inappropriate for the universal faith of the Christian Church." Watchtower 2013 Mar 15 p.24
"That version omitted the name, reversing the policy of the editors of the American Standard Version of 1901. Why? The preface says: “The use of any proper name for the one and only God . . . is entirely inappropriate for the universal faith of the Christian Church.” Watchtower 2015 Dec 15 p.10
What the Revised Standard Version quote says in full carries a different meaning backed by solid reasoning.
"The form "Jehovah" is of late medieval origin; it is a combination of the consonants of the Divine Name and the vowels attached to it by the Masoretes but belonging to an entirely different word. The sound of Y is represented by J and the sound of W by V, as in Latin. For two reasons the Committee has returned to the more familiar usage of the King James Version: (1) the word "Jehovah" does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever used in Hebrew; and (2) the use of any proper name for the one and only God, as though there were other gods from whom He had to be distinguished, was discontinued in Judaism before the Christian era and is entirely inappropriate for the universal faith of the Christian Church." (ncccusa.org as of 12 Mar 2016)
The article Pagan Practices shows that Watchtower forbids a number of practices by using the line of reasoning that they are of pagan origins. It inconsistently allows Jehovah's Witnesses to use a wedding ring, despite acknowledging that it is pagan. In one instance it has included a quote that claims the wedding ring is pagan, but on other occasions removes that part of the quote, preventing followers recognising that their reasoning on pagan practices is neither consistent or logical. The full quote is:
“Indicating the non-Christian origin of many of apostate Christendom’s doctrines, ceremonies, and practices, 19th-century Roman Catholic cardinal John Henry Newman wrote in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine: “The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison [the song “Lord, Have Mercy”], are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church.”” Revelation, It's Grand Climax p.236
Usually the part about rings is removed from this quote.
“On this point you may recall that John Henry Cardinal Newman in An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine gives a long list of traditional practices, including “incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings . . . holy water; asylums; holydays . . .” and then says that they “are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church.”” Awake 1983 Aug 22 p.17
“In An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, Roman Catholic John Henry Cardinal Newman admits that items Christendom has used for centuries, such as incense, candles, holy water, priestly garb, and images, “are all of pagan origin.”” Isaiah's Prophecy 1 p.152
“Back in 1878, Roman Catholic prelate John Henry Newman wrote: “Confiding then in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of evil, and to transmute the very instruments and appendages of demon-worship to an evangelical use, . . . the rulers of the Church from early times were prepared, should the occasion arise, to adopt, or imitate, or sanction the existing rites and customs of the populace, as well as the philosophy of the educated class.” Newman added that such things as holy water, sacerdotal vestments, and images were “all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church.” God’s people are grateful indeed that divine teaching protects them from such apostasy.” Watchtower 1994 Feb 1 p.11
“As John Henry Newman, whom Pope Leo XIII made a cardinal, said of some of these practices: “The use of temples . . . incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons . . . images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin.”” Watchtower 1964 Apr 1 p.196
Referencing source quotes is a strict requirement when presenting legitimate research. Watchtower rarely provides full references, but taking the effort to locate original sources shows a unexpected level of dishonesty in Watchtower publications.
It is ironic that Watchtower warns against information that is poorly documented by unidentified and unqualified people, yet its writers are unidentified, unqualified, and rarely provide sources for their information.
"The Writing Department follows the pattern of ‘tracing all things with accuracy.’ But where can reliable information be found? While the Internet is a convenient and quick source of vast amounts of information, our researchers do not rely on blogs or poorly documented Web entries written by unidentified or unqualified persons." Yearbook 2011 p.9
The examples in this article show Watchtower misquotes are not simple errors, but information specifically intended to be deceptive and misleading.
Originally published Feb 2013, last update Sep 2021.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2024