I’d be among the first to admit that the existence of spirit beings is something that can neither be proven nor disproven. You and I are limited to our five senses, and spirits by definition cannot be sensed by any of these senses. After all, even the Bible admits that “No one has ever seen God.” (John 1:18) Even the Governing Body doesn’t claim to hear their god’s voice, and I’ve never heard anyone say that they have smelled, touched, or tasted a spirit. Spirits are thus unknowable to us. This means no one knows more about spirits than you or I do: which is exactly zilch.
This limitation includes knowledge of their very existence.
Having said that, I am still prepared to tackle the question: “Can God exist?” Why? Because we’re going to focus in on one particular god. This god has a defined set of attributes and is claimed to interact with the material world. That gives us something we can actually work with even given our five-sense limitation.
So, does this particular god exist? We’ll answer this question in a moment. But first, let’s take a look at exactly whom we are dealing with:
A Brief History of Jehovah
The Watchtower has borrowed its god from the Protestants, who borrowed him from the Catholics, who borrowed him from the Jews, who borrowed him from the Canaanites.
The Canaanites? Yup, that’s what I said. It seems that originally there were these two Canaanite gods:
- El [aka Elohim, or Elyon], from Syria [biblical Aram].
- Yahweh, from Edom.
The former was favored by the 10-tribe kingdom of Israel, and the latter by the two-tribe kingdom of Judah. Merging the two traditions, Yahweh became one of the sons of El, and was allotted the people of “Jacob” as his inheritance:
When the Most High [Elyon CJB] gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the LORD’s [Yahweh’s WEB] portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.
—Deut 32:8-9 (ERV)
From the Egyptians, with their short-lived monotheism, the Jews added the god Aten (aka Adonai) to the mix. In a savvy political move (probably by Jeroboam I) to establish Israel’s dominance over Judah, all of El’s sons were killed off [which, as we’ve just seen from Deuteronomy, would have included Yahweh], and the Jews embraced monotheism. This is demonstrated in the Bible at Psalm 82:
God [Elohim CJB] presides in the great assembly. He judges among the gods…
I said, “You are gods, all of you are sons of the Most High. Nevertheless you shall die like men, and fall like one of the rulers.”
The Jews were thereafter prohibited from calling their god Yahweh: instead, they now had to say “Lord” (Adonai) or “God” (El, as that god became synonymous with Adonai.) This is the real reason why the Jews do not speak the name Yahweh to this day, and the real reason why Yahweh is not found mentioned anywhere in the “New Testament” [other than in bogus “translations.”]
An interesting, little known fact about Yahweh is that he had a wife! No, it wasn’t Mary; we all know that was just casual sex with a woman who was betrothed to another man [which, awkwardly, resulted in a bastard son that had to be killed.] No, Yahweh’s wife was the goddess Asherah. She was worshiped right next to Yahweh’s altar in the temple. (2 Ki. 21:7.) Her worship was so prevalent among the Jews that the writer of Deuteronomy found it necessary to explicitly forbid putting her symbol (a wooden pole with big boobs) next to Yahweh’s altar for worship (Deuteronomy 16:21) . But Yahweh must’ve divorced Asherah somewhere along the way — you know how jealous the old guy was: he couldn’t bear “sharing his glory” with anyone.
From his humble beginnings as the war god of an ancient barbaric tribe, and despite having been killed off, and having his very name banned, this god has risen to prominence among millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses (not that any of them have really ever actually witnessed him.) Their preferred name for Yahweh is Jehovah, thanks to a creatively bogus latinized version of the name dreamed up by a Catholic monk in the thirteenth century.
But, can this god possibly exist?
You and I are both atheists when it comes to thousands of other gods. Click here for a partial list of the gods I trust that you don’t believe exist. (And no; they are not just different names for the same god. Many of them have opposing attributes and histories. Some were contemporaneous in the same polytheistic cultures.) When it comes to all of those gods we are both atheists. I just disbelieve in one more god than Witnesses do: Yahweh.
Why don’t I believe that Yahweh exists? Well, for the same reasons we don’t believe the other gods exist. These gods were stupid, cruel, jealous, and vain. They were obviously patterned after barbaric tribal chieftains whose behavior was evidently regarded by their ancient subjects as admirable.
But there are more reasons specific to the particular god Yahweh.
This god’s attributes were well defined by Catholic theologians long ago, and they have carried across Protestantism and down to the Watchtower religion with no appreciable changes.
Here they are:
- Omnipotence or being All-Powerful (“The Almighty God”)
- Omniscience or being All-Knowing
- Omnipresence or being All-present (being everywhere at once)
- Omnibenevolence or being All-good
That last attribute includes being a “god of love”; all merciful, meting out perfect justice.
In addition, this god is held to be the creator and sustainer of the universe.
The “Problem of Evil”
When considering the evil present in the world, Epicurus (a Greek philosopher from the third century BCE) put it succinctly:
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? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?
A moment’s reflection will prove the truthfulness of those words. We live in a world filled with evil. I’m not talking about “human-caused” evil such as rap music and Brady Bunch reruns: I’m talking about disease and what are referred to in the insurance industry as “acts of God.” Humans have never caused a hurricane, tornado, lightning strike, earthquake [with the possible exception of the oil industry with its fracking], or a tsunami. So we can’t blame these evil things on people nor on their freewill.
How can such things exist if there is an all-powerful all-good god of love watching over us at all times and in all places? To paraphrase Epicurus: this god either doesn’t care about human suffering or it is powerless to prevent it. Either way we see that the evidence does not support all of the attributes assigned to this god. If an entity has incompatible attributes then we know it cannot possibly exist any more than a square-circle can exist. People can claim to believe in a square-circle only if they don’t understand the definition of those shapes. Once you understand the incompatible attributes of a square and a circle you cannot believe that a square-circle can possibly exist — try though you might.
The evidence proves that this god, as it has been defined, cannot possibly exist.
The Watchtower’s rebuttal to this is that their god is both all-powerful and all-good, and loves us. But, his sovereignty has been challenged, and his perfectly loving and just response to that challenge has been to:
- Allow evil and untold suffering into the world
- Demand the sacrificial offerings of untold numbers of animals
- Have his own son executed
- Plot the ***Coming Soon!*** violent deaths of over seven billion people.
“Well,” Witnesses tell us, when we look incredulously at them: “it’s all because this god gave us freewill. Unfortunately our first parents used their freewill to disobey this god, and we are bearing the just consequences of their action to this day.” That’s why children die of leukemia, and hurricanes devastate us: Adam ate a piece of fruit 6,000 years ago.
Can Freewill Rescue This God’s Attributes?
No, it can’t. Here’s why.
First, the obvious and most important reason: no one has ever used their freewill to choose hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, or cancer.
A second reason is that freewill is incompatible with the inspiration of the Bible (the source of the freewill excuse!)
This story about our first parents disobediently “choosing Satan’s rulership over them instead of Jehovah’s” is based on the Bible. Why do we believe the Bible? One of the main reasons the Watchtower gives for believing the Bible is that it prophesied many things which came true. This, in itself, is highly debatable, but let’s assume it’s true.
In order for this god to have prophesied the future accurately (assuming such prophecies were not just lucky guesses) it would have to know the future. This accords with its attribute of being all-knowing.
But here’s the problem with knowing the future: if the future is a knowable thing then freewill cannot exist.
Permit me to elaborate on that very important italicized point above: If this god has foreseen our future actions, then we have zero freedom to act in any other way than what this god has foreseen. If Jehovah has foreseen that I will marry Jasmine tomorrow, I cannot now decide that I love Lulu better, break off my engagement with Jasmine, and marry Lulu instead. If I were to go my own way then it would make this god wrong, but this god can never be wrong because it is omniscient.
We even have examples in the Bible of this god forcing men to do his bidding as he “hardens their heart” [Pharoah and his men] or “gives them a new heart.” [King Saul] in order to carry out what was foreseen rather than what they as individuals might do of their own freewill.
The only way out of this predicament would be to say that the future is not a knowable thing. However, that limits this god’s omniscience attribute, as well as invalidating the inspiration and truthfulness of the Bible (where we got this whole excuse from in the first place!) So, it really doesn’t help.
- If freewill exists, then we’ve lost the “prophets” (because they depend on the future being a knowable thing, which destroys freewill) and we’ve pretty much lost the Bible as a whole (and with it our belief in the Bible’s god.)
- If freewill cannot exist (because this god knows the future), then we’ve lost our excuse for the existence of evil.
- If we’ve lost our excuse for the existence of evil, then god cannot be all-good and all-powerful.
- Since the god we have defined is all-good and all-powerful, this god cannot exist.
If we have freewill, I assume Yahweh has it in spades. Since this god is the all-powerful law-maker, he certainly would be above the law (else the law would be more powerful than this god.) So, if this god came upon a circumstance where its omnibenevolence would call for a law to be superseded, it surely would not hesitate to act in the interests of love over law.
So, let’s take a look at this god’s son, begging him in the garden of Gethsemane to rescue him from his coming execution. Why doesn’t Yahweh rescue him? Christian theologians will answer that a human sacrifice to himself was needed, and not even the love he had for his own son could move him to break his own law. This calls into serious question both the omnipotence and the omnibenevolence of this god, as well as his love and justice. If this god had no choice but to follow the law requiring a blood sacrifice, then he lacked freewill.
The same can be said of the condemnation of Adam and Eve and their descendants; if this god were truly all-powerful and all-loving he would’ve forgiven them [and by extension: us] on the spot: law or no law. (Especially since they didn’t know right from wrong until after they ate from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”)
If this god does not have freewill, then what are the chances that we lowly humans possess it?
In any case, the combination of omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and freewill simply cannot exist together in this god, given the existence of evil, or even just the Bible story that is meant to give an excuse for the existence of evil.
So, How Did the Universe Come About, Then?
This favorite question of believers can be classified as an “argument from ignorance”: a logical fallacy. If we don’t know exactly how the universe came into being, or how life began, that doesn’t mean that Yahweh created them.
One thing we know for certain: the stars were not created by Yahweh or El in the manner the Bible states. There we read that this god created the stars on the fourth day.
And God went on to make the two great luminaries, the greater luminary for dominating the day and the lesser luminary for dominating the night, and also the stars… And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
Now, according to the Watchtower religion, each creative day was “thousands of years long” (not millions or billions, mind you, but thousands.) In fact, they used to insist that each of these days was exactly 7,000 years long — but Armageddon would’ve been here by now if that were true, so now they think that each of these days was slightly more than 7,000 years.
That would mean that all of the stars were created within a span of a little more than 7,000 years, and they were created about 27 thousand years ago. However, in reality we have light reaching the Earth from stars over 13 billion light-years away. That means it took the light from those stars over 13 billion years of traveling through space before we could see them from the Earth (which hadn’t even formed when the light from those stars began its journey.) So, these stars could not have been created just 27 thousand years ago. When we see these stars we are looking back into the far distant past of those stars: a past that could not exist if the Bible’s creation story were correct. So, the physical evidence proves that the Watchtower’s creation event is wrong by an order of magnitude of at least 48,518!
The Watchtower tries to weasel out of this by saying the stars were already in existence prior to the fourth day, and were just “made visible” to the Earth on that day. But that is not what the Bible says. Reread Genesis 1:16: it clearly states that the stars were made on the fourth day.
The evidence also shows that the universe is expanding. This means that at some earlier point in history everything was closer together. Go back far enough and you come to a densely compacted single entity which exploded (in a “big bang”) to form the expanding universe that we see today. We even have background radiation from that event that we can listen to.
Now, could this explosion have been caused by some entity in an “adjacent universe” (or “spirit realm”?) We can’t know, and so can’t rule it out. Maybe our universe was some kid’s science project in another universe: he blew it up, showed it off at school, and now it’s sitting in a shoe-box in the back of his closet: forgotten. Maybe this kid’s name was Yahweh, and his father El helped him with it. We can’t rule that out any more than we can rule out the existence of your fairy godmother. But as soon as we claim that this kid cares about us and every little sparrow and is constantly watching over us with loving care, I think we can safely holler Bull Sh*t!
But, back to our Christian concept of Yahweh. If this god does nothing without a purpose, then what was the purpose of creating so many stars? [Or, for a question closer to home: why create hundreds of thousands of species of beetles?] We know that there are at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars out there (that’s roughly a million stars for every grain of sand on Earth.) Most of these stars cannot be seen with the naked eye, and none will ever be reached by humans (we’d be long dead before we ever arrived in our spacecraft — if it could somehow survive the journey.) So, other than the Sun, these stars serve no purpose for humans (except for astrologers — whom Yahweh reputedly hates.)
Our ancient ancestors didn’t know what we know today. When a boulder rolled down a hill and wiped out half a village, they assumed the gods were angry, and they’d sacrifice a goat (or a virgin girl) to appease them. Today we know about gravity. We realize that when our ancestors said “God[s] did it” they were just ignorant of the real cause. As more knowledge was gained, the “God[s] did it” explanation was needed less and less, until eventually it was no longer needed at all. Now we can see that god was just our ignorance.
Our ancestors assumed that there was some big chief in the sky who made everything, and designed it specifically for man’s use. Today we know better. Cancer cells, for instance, are not made for our benefit. Nature does not reveal a perfect creator. We have evidence of many things in nature that, if they were designed, were poorly designed.
Take our eyes, for example. In vertebrates, the nerves and blood vessels block the light, causing a blind spot due to their lying on the surface of the retina instead of lying behind it as they do in many invertebrate species.
Want another quick example? Just ask any guy if he thinks it’s a good design to have his ever-so sensitive and vulnerable testicles hanging between his thighs.
We also have vestiges of things that nature tried and abandoned (the trial and error of evolution, or the mistakes of a perfect all-knowing being?) Again, we need look no further than our own bodies to see some of the evidence.
I am a male, but I have nipples that no offspring will ever find nourishment from. Why is that? We’re told that Yahweh doesn’t do anything without a good purpose, so why would he give men nipples when they serve no purpose? It makes no sense. For this and other perplexing questions, evolution has the answer while Yahweh’s supporters are left without a clue. The answer, by the way, is that we all start out in the womb as female, until about day 60 when — if you have a Y chromosome — testosterone kicks in and starts changing your genitals. But by then the nipples are already developed, and natural selection doesn’t eliminate them since they are harmless.
Christian apologists explain male nipples as God’s use of “economy in creation” — conveniently forgetting that Adam was supposedly created first (with nipples, according to every Christian painting and even every Watchtower illustration of the man) and Eve was just an afterthought, taken from his rib!
We also have evidence of things lacking economy, such as the recurrent laryngeal nerve which unnecessarily loops around the aortic arch on its way from the brain to the larynx (resulting in a superfluous twenty feet of extra nerve in the case of the giraffe!) When presented with such evidence, of course, the apologists simply change their tune to saying “God’s an artist; not interested in optimal design.” [Though no one but an anatomist would see such “artwork.”]
Can you wiggle your ears? I can: slightly. The muscles controlling ear movement are vestiges from a time when our evolutionary ancestors relied more on their hearing for survival. They also left us with: a remnant of a nictitating membrane (the plica semilunaris — which you can see every time you look in the mirror); “goosebumps” (for raising the thick hair that no longer covers our bodies); a tailbone; a plantaris muscle (for grasping things with our feet as chimps do); and the appendix [though the latter may still have some reduced functionality.] That’s just to name a few. We even have a gene that synthesizes vitamin C! This gene is active in most mammals, but unfortunately is vestigial in us.
Why would Yahweh — the all-knowing god of love — create these useless and/or poorly designed things, especially when some of them can cause us serious health problems, such as a ruptured appendix or scurvy? Pointing the finger at our sinful first parents can’t account for it: the non-human animals also suffer from poor design. To take one example, the recurrent laryngeal nerve commonly causes health problems in horses.
The evidence around us in nature (“red in tooth and claw”) and even in our own bodies shows the trial and error of an uncaring evolutionary process rather than an intelligent, loving designer.
“Creation Demands a Creator”
Jehovah’s Witnesses will commonly make the statement: “Things don’t come from nothing. They must’ve had a creator.” But that is begging the question. If everything that exists requires a creator, and Yahweh exists, then who created Yahweh?
If the answer is “No one created Yahweh,” then the Witness has just put the lie to their first premise, and it turns out that it isn’t true that “everything that exists requires a creator.”
By introducing a god into the equation all one has done is push the question of existence back a level, which solves nothing. If the Witness will allow an uncreated creator then they should have no objection to an uncreated single entity. The two propositions are not equal. We have evidence for the latter, and it doesn’t require that we believe in the everlasting existence of a powerful all-knowing spirit being.
There is no more reason to believe the god Yahweh exists than to believe in the existence of the god Zeus or Thor or (my personal favorite) Aphrodite. Take a moment to look at her picture and compare it to the one of Yahweh we saw at the beginning. Which one do you honestly find more adorable?
The existence of a god with Yahweh’s attributes is inconsistent with the evidence. The only logical conclusion is that Yahweh does not exist.
Since Yahweh does not exist, there is nothing to “witness,” and the appellation “Jehovah’s Witness” is seen to be pointless.
Did Jesus Christ exist?