“WHY BELIEVE IN GOD?”- ANSWER TO AN EX-JW ATHEIST
“I write to you as an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness and current atheist. Quite frankly, I find your website astounding. You do a great job trashing those Watchtower Governing Body scammers, but then you lead your readers straight into another religion!
In my opinion, you are like paramedics doing your best to rescue people in some perilous situation and having rescued them, then administer poison to them. You may not have the numbers or the money of the Watchtower Society but you both claim to know for certain that there is a God up in the sky; you both claim to have an insight into what that God wants with regard to mankind; and as His chosen ones, you both claim the authority to tell other people how they should live their lives. So really, what’s the difference?! My goal is to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of religious people and encourage them to think rationally about why they believe what they do. I applaud your efforts in helping people free themselves from the tyranny of the Watchtower Society, but I find it so sad that you cannot then leave them free to decide for themselves whether or not to have a relationship with a God or a soccer ball or anything else!”
Dear concerned atheist friend,
We appreciate your desire to help religious people “think” about what they believe and do. It is true that many lives have been ruined in the name of God, not only in the Jehovah’s Witness religion, but also in many other religions. We are sincerely sorry for the pain you have experienced in this false religious system. It is a tragedy that so many like you have lost complete faith in “God” because of the tyrannical rule of a few men. We hope that someday your heart will be healed from the pain you experienced so that you can be free to lift up your eyes to the true God of the Bible who loves you with a greater love that you can imagine. Please know that the cruel “God” you were taught to obey in the Watchtower is not the God of the Bible. Our hope is that some of the thoughts we share below in response to your concerns will help unravel the differences.
When you were a Jehovah’s Witness, did you ever feel like the promise of living in “paradise” was an illusion or an impossible reality? Did you ever question if you were “good enough” for Jehovah God? How did you feel when you reported the door-to-doors hours you contributed for the month and your leaders told you that you could have done better? Did you ever collapse in exhaustion, feeling like a horse running after a carrot held out at the end of a stick its rider positioned in front of its nose, urging it to run faster, but never granting the carrot?
This is what false religion does to its followers through oppressive rules and regulations. The promise of “paradise” is never granted and lives fall apart under the pressure to perform to every expectation of the leadership. In false religion, man attempts to gain the approval of “God” through his or her own best efforts, but in true Biblical Christianity, God reaches down to men in the gift of His Son Jesus Christ who offers His perfection in exchange for mankind’s failures.
Although our ministry seeks to advocate a healthy view of God that balances personal freedom with the moral principles found in the Bible, we do not set ourselves up as God’s “chosen ones,” nor do we tell people how to live their lives. Unlike the Watchtower Governing Body leadership, we have never claimed to be a religion, nor have we set our leadership up as a spiritual “authority” to be obeyed. Rather, we point people to the Bible alone as the supreme authority and guide for true Christian living, and we encourage individuals to place their personal trust in Jesus Christ to establish a direct “relationship” with God, apart from the dictates and control of human, man-made religion. The Bible proclaims: “…there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1. This is why Jesus commanded His followers:
“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”—Matthew 23:8-11 2.
This is one of the biggest differences between the theistic view of Christian life that we advocate and that of false “religions” (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses) who claim that people cannot be “saved” apart from obedience to their leaders. We seek to provide evidence against the false religious authority of the Watchtower organization so that the consciences of individual Jehovah’s Witnesses can be freed from the fear and guilt-based control that their leaders use to manipulate them into serving their goals, rather than the true God of the Bible. False religious leaders who draw their followers into service for themselves are not new. The Apostle Paul warned the first century church:
“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember… I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.”—Acts 20:30-31
One of the ways these leaders entice people into false devotion is by claiming that men must earn God’s approval through a set of rules and guidelines that they alone have access to. By promising their followers some type of “paradise,” members work hard and do all kinds of crazy things in the hope of earning the approval of their leaders who claim to represent “God.” Of course, you and I both know that the act of following religious standards doesn’t guarantee “God’s favor,” because every religion has a different set of standards. So, who determines what rules you have to follow and what rules you don’t have to follow? As you have correctly pointed out in the research you shared with us earlier, the fact that contradictory differences exist between religions proves that they cannot all be right. At first glance, one might be tempted to think there are no absolute standards to follow, so it’s anybody’s crazy guess, right? WRONG!
Imagine you were driving and had accidentally overlooked a speed limit sign. You were caught going 15 miles over the limit by a policeman who promptly wrote you a ticket for $150.00 ($10.00 for ever mile over the limit). What would happen if you went before the judge and said:
“Judge I am truly sorry I broke the speeding limit. I don’t have a hundred and fifty dollars and I can’t pay this ticket. Besides, I have been trying the best I can to be a good driver. I always wear my seatbelt and stop at the stoplights. I didn’t mean to break this speeding law. I didn’t even see the sign so I wasn’t consciously trying to disobey the law. I’m truly sorry. Is it fair for you to make me pay this ticket for breaking a law that I didn’t even know about? After all, can’t you see I’m sorry? I’m not a bad person! I even shoveled snow off my neighbor’s driveway the other day. Can’t you just count my good actions and my best efforts to obey the laws against the price of my ticket and let me off the hook?”
Would the judge be righteous to let you off from paying the ticket just because you don’t have the money for it, or because you’ve been a good person and “tried” to obey the laws? Of course, not! The ticket price that the law determines MUST be paid whether or not you agree with the law or the price it requires for your disobedience. You’re not the one making the rules, so you’re not the one who decides the standards to live by, nor the penalty for breaking these standards that has to be paid. You are accountable for paying the price whether or not you are a “good” person in comparison to others and whether or not you agree with the law or the penalty.
In the same way, being nice to others, obeying some kind of man-made rules set by a “religion” or just ignoring the idea of “God” altogether and trying to be a “good” person by your own standards, does not pardon you from the guilt and penalty that you face for breaking the moral laws that the LAWGIVER established from the beginning.
Take for example the 10 commandments. Whether you believe the Bible or not, every person agrees that these are important standards to follow: Do not murder, do not lie, do not steal, do not commit adultery, etc. We all agree with these laws, whether or not you are religions person or an atheist, right?
Who made these rules? If a Moral LAWGIVER (i.e., God) does not exist, where did these rules come from in the first place? Why are they in everyone’s heart and conscience not to violate them if a LAWGIVER does not exist? Does human society determine these moral laws? If that is the case, how do you explain the fact that they exist in some form in EVERY generation and in EVERY culture of the world, regardless of the influence of a developed or primitive society?
The Bible explains that God has written His moral laws on the heart and conscience of every human so that we are all without excuse for disobedience (see Romans 2:12-16). Thus, whether or not you believe in God, you are still held accountable for disobedience to this moral law code.
HOW DOES ONE RID HIMSELF OF GUILT?
People try many things like church attendance, obedience to religious standards and rules, physical punishment, and humanitarian efforts to rid themselves of guilt. Others go into complete denial that “God” exists and some plunge into debauchery in the hopes that when they die, everything will be erased and they will be annihilated. They are betting that the Biblical view of future judgment does not exist. But what if they are wrong? Are they prepared to bear the consequences? Do any of these solutions offer hope or permanent relief to the problems of injustice and guilt? If there is a supreme LAWGIVER and JUDGE, what solutions are acceptable to Him? Since we do not make the rules, shouldn’t we seek to find out WHO does?
The Bible says that there is only one permanent solution to remedy the guilt and pain that the havoc of breaking God’s moral laws has produced. God sent His perfect Son Jesus Christ to die for the sin (disobedience) of the world.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” —John 3:16
He paid the full penalty to account for the laws we have broken, so that those who personally accept the pardon offered in His blood will go free.
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”—2 Corinthians 5:21
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” —1 Peter 2:24
This is what Scripture means when it says:
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”—John 8:32, 36
Because God would not be a righteous JUDGE just to let people off from paying the penalty of breaking His laws because they’ve tried to be “good,” He cannot look upon sin (breaking of His moral law code) with any allowance. The price for disobedience has to be paid. If you don’t personally accept the free gift of the pardon offered in Jesus’ death and resurrection, you will have to pay the price yourself. The Bible says that this penalty is eternal separation from God:
“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” —Matthew 25: 46
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”—Romans 6:23
Finally, the Bible promises that to every person who receives the forgiveness that Christ offers and chooses to make Him LORD of his life (Romans 10:9), God sends the Holy Spirit as a Teacher and a Guide to instruct him on how to live a life that is pleasing to God. So, contrary to your claim that we “tell other people how they should live their lives,” we DO NOT do this because that is the job of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God (the Bible). Religion tells people “how to live,” but a true “relationship” with God is a day-by-day guide to living a moral life through the personal guidance of conscience, the Holy Spirit, and the plain teachings of the Bible.
As an “atheist,” you are probably thinking, “So what? I’m not religious and I don’t believe a moral LAWGIVER (God) exists anyway, so why does any of this matter?” The fact is, every person (whether or not they believe in God), is accountable to a moral law code. For true justice to exist, there must be consequences for breaking this law code.
You claim that your mission is to: “…sow seeds of doubt in the minds of religious people and encourage them to think rationally about why they believe what they do.” I would like to challenge you to live by your own mission in considering “seeds of doubt” about your own atheistic “religion.” I will now “encourage” you to “think rationally about why” you “believe what” you believe. What does your atheistic belief REALLY offer the world?
1.) If this life is all there is, how can atheism spur people to do courageous acts in offering their lives in service to others and the good of mankind? If a person will not be rewarded after death for the good acts they do, nor judged for the evil acts they do, what’s the point of trying to be good? Since people rip other people off daily without getting caught, what does atheistic religion offer to deter immorality and evil in this world? Conversely, how does an atheistic worldview compare to a theistic (God-centered) view in which all evil (including those acts done in secret) is eternally judged and all wrongs are be made right in the end?
“For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.” —Mark 4:22
2.) If there is no supreme LAWGIVER and JUDGE to WHOM people are accountable, how will the injustices of this world (like Hitler who got away with killing millions of innocent people) be reconciled? What does atheism offer as a remedy to balance the scales of social injustices? If people are free to make up their own rules, why not lie and steal and stack your bets against getting caught or setup a social dictatorship (like Hitler did) where he justified the killing of thousands of innocent people and then killed himself to avoid punishment when his dictatorship ended? If Hitler was not an atheist and held to a theistic worldview, would he have readily killed himself thinking that annihilation would grant him freedom from judgment? What redeeming value has the atheistic worldview offered mankind throughout history?
WHAT IF YOU ARE WRONG?
You may still be comfortable in your atheistic religious beliefs, but let me ask you this: What if you are wrong and you end up facing this moral LAWGIVER and JUDGE someday? What do you stand to gain for living as if there is no God — few moments of pleasure? Are you prepared for the consequences if you are wrong about Him and His requirements?
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”—Revelation 20:11-15
It is not about a religion, nor obedience to religious laws and ordinances. It is about getting your name recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life by coming to Jesus ALONE for salvation (John 10:28-29) and being forgiven and cleansed from the guilt you carry so that your personal “relationship” with God can be restored and reconciled (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:20). If you don’t personally ask Jesus for the “gift” of pardon and forgiveness that He offers in His blood, you will bear the guilt and shame of disobedience at judgment day and suffer the consequences. Are you prepared to meet God?
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”—Psalm 53:1
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”—Proverbs 9:10
For more information see:
1. Quoted from 1 Timothy 2:5. Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures in this document are quoted from the King James Bible.
2. Quoted from the New American Standard Bible