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REVIEW: This October's Watchtower (Jehovah's Witnesses)

Hot off the press, folks! The Watchtower is out, and it's sparklingly insightful as always. It's based on three face-melting questions the editors put to God: prepare to have your minds blown.

1. "Why do you allow suffering?"

Any guesses as to how the Watchtower answers this (unfortunately God didn't show up as guest editor, so they have to provide their own answers)? No prize for guessing right... clue: it involves the words 'mysterious' and 'strange'.

Come on all ye faithful, it's basic Sunday School material, not rocket science. Switch your brains on. God allows suffering because he's so strange and mysterious, OK? Like David Copperfield making a guest appearance at a Derren Brown gig, God will leave you reeling with awe, shivering with delight at the cleverness of His mystery when the chips are called in on Judgement Day. It's all a big cosmic joke, with millions of children dying of unnecessary painful diseases and preventable illnesses in the punchline.

Funny, eh?

2. "Why is religion full of hypocricy?"

Now this is a new one for the good old followers of Jehovah. We like surprises, and aren't used to them from this magazine. But while the question is new, the answer; not so much. Again, it can be boiled down to Free Will.

You see, like all Christians, the Witnesses explain God's creatures being allowed to do evil to one another by invoking Free Will. You know, that idea that the boss wants you to think for yourself and then condemn you to hell fire when you didn't guess his intentions right? Just like we do with our own children. Let them do what they like, and burn them forever when they choose wrongly. Fair and balanced.

and finally...

3. "Why are we here?"

This time it's the other way round: the Witnesses take a very tired question and answer in a way I haven't heard from a theologian before, this time through Bible citation: "God created humans to live forever here on earth, and he has not abandoned his purpose" - (Psalms 37:11)

This is a new one. I knew the Bible writers regarded humans as God's chosen people, and most Christians tacitly think that this isolated planet, surrounded by nuclear waste and destruction, with its multiple mass extinction events, is the object of a divine plan. What I didn't know is that the Bible directly contradicts our Hubble telescope pictures showing the Andromeda Galaxy heading right for ours, as well as our knowledge that the sun is destined to explode and destroy earth and everything on it within a few million years.

I wonder who I trust more: the scientists with the super-telescope or the desert goatherds who wrote the Gospels while obsessing over the evils of using yeast in bread and marvelling at a burning bush?

You see, according to this scheme, humans are meant to stick about forever. That's a heck of a long time. Infinity. After planetary collisions, after heat death, for EVER. Clinging to exploded remains of nuclear radiation... Sounds like God has condemned everyone to hell, if the living forever bit is to be believed.

Then again, so does heaven: compulsory worship is pretty hellish at the best of times, let alone for all time. And the Witnesses really do think they'll all be gathered there and live forever while myself and other non-Witnesses develop a whopping heat rash. But we're arrogant and judgemental for disputing their claims, of course. Naughty atheists.

My Post-Watchtower thought for October: If the afterlife is littered with articles from the Watchtower for us to read, then they are welcome to it. I'm out.


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