Maths, Pyramids and Inconvenient Truths – Part 1
If you are one of the active Jehovah’s Witnesses that visits my blog, I welcome you and I hope you can take some time to read.
Colossians 2:8 reads, “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.” What sort of “philosophy and empty deception” should you be wary of? Of course, mankind has shown itself to be a danger unlike any other to both itself and to the rest of nature – but perhaps by simply labelling anything that argues with your current standpoint – your own philosophy and beliefs – as “empty”, you are failing to investigate and analyse evidence. Likewise, Proverbs 2:10,11 comments that “knowledge itself becomes pleasant to your very soul” and that “thinking ability itself will keep guard over you” – so surely, to gain accurate knowledge is essential! After all, knowing not to walk at night in certain areas or avoiding suspicious tradesmen can save you a lot of worry, pain and, ultimately, keep you alive.
Some years ago, I was about to begin studying with my Jehovah’s Witness father. Like many others, I was jealous of the other teenagers in my congregation getting baptised and beginning their pioneering. The prospect of attending Bethel, giving public talks and pleasing my Witness family members spurred me on to work hard to understand what the Bible taught. When I felt my spiritual identity was in danger, I wrote a heartfelt letter to an elder and he advised me on how to combat negative emotions towards the meetings and to rearrange the way I viewed my relationships with non-believing friends. I began to listen to the talks, pray hard and write notes.
However, before my studies began on the long road to baptism, I left the congregation. I refused to attend any more meetings. I have since been in a Kingdom Hall only once – that was for the Memorial, and only because I did not want my father to feel bad going alone for the first time. So, what changed? Was I tricked by Satan? Did I fall victim to the “empty deception according to the tradition of men”? Was I enticed by drugs, promiscuity, alcohol or violence? Or was it something else?
An Inquisitive Mind
Questions. They are amazingly good things. Are there bad questions? No. Simply not – unless it’s something like, “How would you feel if I told you I had smashed your iPhone?” . Our first signs of an intellectually healthy mind when we are very young are the questions we ask. I am told that when I was very young, I suddenly began to ask mountains of questions – my mother tells me this happened almost literally overnight. Something ignited inside me and I had to know the world, the universe. I had to know why and how and when and what.
At age 15, my father told me about the complicated maths involved in calculating the prophetic date of 1914.
He was preparing for a public talk and wanted to be thorough. This got my attention. I was terrible at maths and have still only slightly improved since, but I felt the desire to do the same. I wanted to work out how the organisation gets to the year 1914. I wanted answers to my questions.
Now, researching a Watchtower teaching is risky. Why? Because they dissuade you from going on secular websites – and that’s where the vast majority of information is, with the inevitable commentary on websites run by ex-JWs. The 2004 Watchtower (February 15) reads, “It would be a mistake to think that you need to listen to apostates or to read their writings to refute their arguments. Their twisted, poisonous reasoning can cause spiritual harm and can contaminate your faith like rapidly spreading gangrene” – but surely not all information is apostate? Of course not! In fact, the overwhelming majority of information concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, Babylon, and the subsequent process of reaching 1914, is from academic sources. So what do the experts say?
Before we do go into this, let’s define the word ‘expert’. Google says it is a “person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.” And how would this be decided? The ancient Greek, and as Cicero called him, the”father of history,” Herodotus was the first to begin to employ the scientific method; from there the specific skill of cross-referencing information to gain clarity has only been tightened, reformed and cleansed of error. Of course, in recent years, ‘science’ has become a word associated with Biology, Physics or Chemistry, but its actual practical implications spread across all of academic work – all knowledge is subject to scientific standards of inquiry. For example, academic Theories are not guess-work, they are actually the grouping of known facts of a certain avenue of study, then analysed and given a title that encompasses all what they cover – like the Theory of Gravity or Relativity – these are then reviewed, not only before publication in the Peer Review process, but unendingly by academics across the road after publication. I study Linguistics and the moment any publication is criticised, not only ourselves as undergraduates are required to analyse and find errors, but also the faculty of the university will actively engage in developing an improvement. Simply put, an expert is one whose main achievements are those that have withstood an onslaught of criticism and rectification to make it to the point at which they can be called an ‘expert’.
With this now in mind, I did – as I do now, having refreshed my memory – leap into the mountains of information concerning Jerusalem’s destruction. And what did I find?
The Watchtower’s claim that Jerusalem fell in 607 B.C.E. is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence – unfortunately for them, the evidence is thin and unsubstantial at best.
To explain plainly to all those that do not know of the relevance of the fall of this ancient city: if the organisation’s claim that the destruction happened in 607 B.C.E. (instead of the universally accepted 587 B.C.E.) is correct, then – after utilising prophecies found in the book of Daniel, chapter 4 – 2520 years later (a span of time deciphered from Biblical analysis) would mark the beginning of the end, and the year known today as 1914. This was when Jesus Christ is believed to have returned invisibly and, after an inspection of the Christian denominations, appointed the Watchtower movement in 1919 as his sole “mouthpiece” and “channel” on earth.
The first president of the Watchtower Society, Charles Taze Russell, presented this date, alongside many others, as a monumental moment for true Christians. Since then, all of his other prophetic dates have been dropped by the Society, yet 1914 remains, floating alone in a sea of reliable, secular historical records and pieces of evidence that completely refute the claims of Jerusalem’s fall as 607 B.C.E.
Scholars that Support 607
Many Witnesses may be inclined to suggest that this secular disagreement is just another attack on God’s People from Satan’s worldly rule and influence. They may also, as one Gilead Missionary School student did in an internet forum, try to support the claims by offering the details of ‘secular’ scholars that agree with the Watchtower teachings. Who are these scholars?
- Morton Edgar
- Julian T. Gray
- Charles F Redeker
- Jerry Leslie
- Paul S. Johnson
Morton Edgar was a Pyramidologist. In a collection of his letters published online here, the frequency of terms are this: References to ’607′ = 0; References to ’1914′ = 8; References to ‘pyramid’ = 62. Are we to then decide that his is work worth counting towards a secular argument for the Watchtower’s teaching? After all, working closely with Charles Taze Russell would suggest clear religiosity. Finally, when Joseph Rutherford, the second president of the Watchtower Society took control of the organisation, all work concerning the pyramids was banned from being offered by the Witnesses, which prompted Edgar to refer to him as the ‘Evil Servant.’ Secular? No. Reliable? No.
Julian T. Gray authored a book entitled, ‘Which is the True Chronology?’ and in it (pages 97, 98) he refers to the “Biblically proved and scientifically verified measurements of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, the “Bible in stone.”” Is this appropriate for a secular, balanced review of evidence? of course not. Once again, we have a Pyramidologist – the very type of biased, pseudo-science that Rutherford threw out at the first opportunity. Secular? No. Reliable? No.
As the author of “Pastor C.T. Russell: messenger of millennial hope, distinguished founder of the Bible Students and his legacy”, Charles F. Redeker is, once again, not the kind of ‘scholar’ the Witnesses should be quoting from. First of all, let’s note that for searches of Charles F. Redeker online, we are inundated with links for the Pastoral Bible Institute, a Pyramidological, Russellite Bible organisation. Surely the two organisations can’t be justifying their beliefs by each other? Wouldn’t this weaken the importance of the split when Rutherford took over? In his work, he can be quoted in direct support of Russell: “Pastor Russell was convinced that “the uncertain dates of secular history [should be made to] conform to the positive statements of the Bible,” and not the other way around.” Secular? No. Reliable? No.
Jerry Leslie is a particularly weak reference for a Witness to rely as he himself quotes Russellite Bible Student literature, pyramidology writings and Morton Edgar to a great extent. There is simply very little reason to even include his name as a defence of the Watchtower teachings. In a piece written by Leslie, we see an insight into the internal quotations that loop around the same sources, giving the illusion of evidence: “Although Edgar does not deal with the archaeological record, he does address the Scripture record extensively.” So, is this secular? No. Is it reliable? Not even slightly.
Finally, we come to Paul Johnson. This man is like quoting from someone who is presented as a villain and thief – but, well, that’s exactly what they’re doing. Johnson is an ex-Bible Student. In the Proclaimers book, we read:
“Johnson appeared at meetings of the Bible Students and made it seem that he was in agreement with their beliefs and activity. But after gaining the confidence of some, he would sow seeds of doubt. If anyone suggested a break with the Society, he hypocritically discouraged this—until the loyalty of the group had been thoroughly undermined…. Over 20 years later, prior to his death, Brother Russell expressed his intention to send Paul S. L. Johnson, a very capable speaker, to Britain to strengthen the Bible Students there. Out of respect for Brother Russell’s wish, the Society dispatched Johnson to Britain in November 1916. However, once he was in Britain, he dismissed two of the Society’s managers. Seeing himself as an important personage, he argued in speeches and correspondence that what he was doing was foreshadowed in the Scriptures by Ezra, Nehemiah, and Mordecai. He claimed to be the steward (or, man in charge) referred to by Jesus in his parable at Matthew 20:8. He tried to take control of the Society’s money, and he instituted a suit in the High Court of London to achieve his aims.”
Do we need to say it? Reliable, or secular, this man was not.
And there we have it. The ‘scholars’ are not scholars at all. But OK, so they scholars aren’t worth mentioning, but what about the solid, mathematical calculations made by the Watchtower? Surely these are consistent – especially when the doctrine is so important?
Another source that the Watchtower uses is the work of Rolf Furuli. This man has written two books defending the Watchtower’s chronology and is speculated to have been relied upon for their October and November 2011 issues of the Watchtower magazine. He is however, highly criticsed by experts. Most notably by those who work within the field and provide much of the information that the organisation uses.
Calculating 587 B.C.E. using only the Watchtower publications
As many of my active Jehovah’s Witness readers may not want to stray onto what they may see as an apostate website, I will reproduce a table found on jwfacts.org. Surprisingly, the lengths of Kingly reigns and the dates supplied in the Watchtower publications actually contradict their own claims. As you will notice in the table, all information is taken from Society literature and yet still points to the date of 587 BCE, and not 607 *. If it were a complete, solid claim to factual evidence, then why the contradiction? Truly then, the organisation is coming across yet another dramatic error in their basis for the 607 BCE teaching.
For confirmation of the quotes from Babylon the Great Has Fallen, please ask. I am aware it is not widely available in digital form.
PART 2: What Biblical Scholars say; How the night sky proves the correct dates; and What the Bible really teaches…
RECOMMENDED READING MATERIAL
An extremely interesting article from Jonsson http://kristenfrihet.se/vtsvar/vtsvar1.pdf
Jonsson’s English website http://kristenfrihet.se/english/epage.htm
607 vs 586
Watchtower 2011 Jul 15 p.11 ”The Bible says that apostates are mentally diseased and that they use their teachings to make others think like them.”