Monday, 7 June 2010

Can Apostates Be Trusted

StandFirm has once again argued himself into a corner in his efforts to defend the Watch Tower Society and it's adherents, Jehovah's Witnesses.

His latest post states;

Apostates Are Not to Be Trusted

The Internet abounds with apostates on discussion forums talking about their congregation, what Bethel was like, their elders, or any of their experiences while Jehovah's Witnesses. These stories are without fail negative and discouraging. Are these stories accurate? Notice what Bryan Ronald Wilson, Ph.D. at the University of Oxford, says about apostates from the so-called new religious movements:

"Neither the objective sociological researcher nor the court of law can readily regard the apostate as a creditable or reliable source of evidence. He must always be seen as one whose personal history predisposes him to bias with respect to both his previous religious commitment and affiliations, the suspicion must arise that he acts from a personal motivation to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem, by showing himself to have been first a victim but subsequently to have become a redeemed crusader. As various instances have indicated, he is likely to be suggestible and ready to enlarge or embellish his grievances to satisfy that species of journalist whose interest is more in sensational copy than in a objective statement of the truth." [1]
What StandFirm is doing is called "poisoning the well", and it's a often-used tactic of the Watch Tower Society. Here's how it works;

A poisoned-well "argument" has the following form:
1. Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A (the target) is presented by another. ("Before you listen to my opponent, may I remind you that he has been in jail.")
2. Any claims person A then makes will be regarded as false, or taken less seriously.

A subcategory of this form is the application of an unfavorable attribute to any future opponents, in an attempt to discourage debate. ("That's my stance on funding the public education system, and anyone who disagrees with me hates children.") Any person who steps forward to dispute the claim will then apply the tag to him/herself in the process.

A poisoned-well "argument" can also be in this form:
1. Unfavorable definitions (be it true or false) which prevent disagreement (or enforce affirmative position)
2. Any claims without first agreeing with above definitions are automatically dismissed.

This logical fallacy, however, can be used against the very people StandFirm is endeavouring to defend on his blog. For example;

- a Muslim becomes a Christian, making him an apostate of Islam; does this mean that everything he says about Islam is to be viewed with suspicion? Can his views be trusted?
- a Roman Catholic becomes a Jehovah's Witnesses, making him an apostate of Catholicism; should Catholics dismiss what he has to say as being necessarily untrustworthy?

Alternatively, what if a Jehovah's Witness through honest study and research of God's Word concludes that there is no way to know when Christ will return, let alone set the year of 1914 as the commencement of the Lord's parousia and heeds the advice of the June 2009 Awake! magazine article "Is It Wrong to Change Your Religion?" and changes his religion, becoming a Christian?

Are all of his opinions of the teachings of the Watch Tower Society to be viewed as unreliable?

Once again, StandFirm, you've argued yourself into a corner.  As a large percentage of Jehovah's Witnesses evangelists are, by definition, apostates of the religion of their birth (whether Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, etc), how can you expect them to be taken seriously when they proselytise to those who still hold those religious beliefs?


  1. Honestly, I wasn't expecting such an argument from StandFirm. His argument is so fluid that it could be used in any direction.

  2. Sadly, I perceive that StandFirm has run out of apologetic steam.