Every word put to paper was purposefully done. There was no randomness to this intentional act. There may be a smattering of randomness in the course of this work, but the result of this undertaking was calculated. What was my purpose in writing this book? Is this a writing of passion or anger? Contempt or concealed contrition? What was my motive?
I was born into the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses and was raised by my forebears with the single-minded goal to be baptized in the name of the Lord, Jehovah. Lucky me. There was a problem with this monomaniacal plan. I was an atheist as far back as I could remember.
Before I continue, I’d like to make the following requisite statement which I think is very important to articulate. I promised myself that I did not want to make another Jehovah Witness bashing book. There are plenty of those available that convey the intentional internal conflict that is nourished in the congregation and the ideologies used as brainwashing you to accept the “truth.” However, I think some background is required to understand the vector of my thoughts and how I ended up on my laptop, typing away feverously on the topic of religion.
Like I said previously, I was an atheist as far back as I could remember. I was always interested in science. It seemed to be the only thing that could quench the innate thirst of my mind. Very quickly, I started to realize that religion and reality could not coexist and that lies were being told.
My first encounter was with dinosaurs when I was about eight years of age. I would ask, “Why would Jehovah create dinosaurs, just to kill them later?”. It didn’t seem moral to me that these creatures were not given a chance to survive. The answer that I received was “Jehovah had his reason for creating dinosaurs, and once his will was accomplished, they were no longer needed. All we can understand is that there was a purpose to these dinosaurs and that their removal from this world occurred after their purpose was fulfilled”. That concept seemed quite difficult to comprehend. If we were created by the Lord, like the dinosaurs, it would not matter if a mystical book described our future destiny. The bible could be a lie; we could fulfill our “purpose” in the mind of God and be next on the extermination list! It also shows that murder was prevalent before the sin of Adam and Eve. If moral perception is somewhat logical, then it should be distributed evenly, regardless of our biases.
Things became progressively worse. Now being fully entombed in the study of science, studying physics, astronomy, and cosmology, I come to the theory of the Big Bang, with the discovered cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) providing corroborative evidence to this theory which was in direct contrast to the indoctrinated idea of creation. Did God create the Big Bang? Jehovah’s Witnesses do not ascribe to this mode of thinking, regularly invoking the scripture that “God is not a God of disorder but of peace – as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” – 1 Corinthians 14:33. Because of this scripture and others, they will hold hard onto the ideology promulgated by the creation story in the book of Genesis that states that God created all personally.
Afterward, the study of evolution was the next point of contention. What I learned was disheartening, due to my forced faith. If God created all animals and the first humans at the Garden of Eden then why are there fossils of animals of prehistoric origins found throughout the entire world? One can argue that God created animals throughout the world at different times, but the Bible clearly states that man, the first man was placed in the Garden of Eden. This is delineated as the starting point for humanity. Therefore, we should find the first human fossils in this area or the surrounding areas. This is not the case. We find the first early human fossils in Africa, not in the area we now call the “fertile crescent.” The fossilized evidence clearly circumscribes the epicenter of origin for humans in Africa, in clear contradiction with the bible creation story. It essentially negates the Garden of Eden concept, unless you interpret that scripture as a parable. It is this reason why many people do. More on this evasion of doctrinal responsibility later.
I also questioned the makeup of ourselves. If God created us, why is our physiology extensions of other animals? If you look at the bone structures of all vertebrates, they are all essentially the same! The human, the dog, the bird, and the whale all have the same arm bone structure. Yes, we look very different on the outside but look inside, see our skeletons and realize that we all have fingers, wrists, and joints, all relatively placed in the same manner as other vertebrates. We all predominantly have eyeballs, teeth, and noses. Even fish have noses! These are all shared commonalities in all vertebrates. What does that say? Is this blueprint for life perfect? Far from it. It shows that we all essentially came from the same predecessor; that we are all animals and are related. The scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming. The theory of evolution and the bible do not align with each other. In a fundamentalist household, fact remained in the aisle of science and would never trespass onto scripture. If there was a contradiction between the two disciplines, I was told that the Bible was the authority and should be upheld, regardless what some “worldly” scientist may state. Without going into detail, I could say that I was thoroughly confused.
The problem with my childhood indoctrination was that, as you will come to realize in the book, religion is a parasite and you are going to run into some issues when you try to escape from its possession, whether you like it or not. Once you are infected, it stays with you for life. Religion is quite similar to alcoholism or any illicit drug dependence. The best form of treatment is to abstain.
After some time had passed, with much toiling and churning, I was baptized at the age of 17. I remember that I proceeded forward with the ritual of baptism not because I believed in God, but because I wanted to be accepted among the young group of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was really “the thing”! It was comparable to a sweet sixteen for a woman or turning 21 and having your first legal drink. It was a coming of age moment, and yet that in itself is not philosophically honest. If you passed a certain age (this applies only to those being born into the faith) and you were not baptized, parishioners suspected there was either something wrong with you or that you were a bad association.
After baptism, I became quite religious, studying the bible intensively, trying to reconcile my concrete foundation of scientific knowledge with my faith. I became an introverted apologist. I tried to quiet the logical screaming in my mind with bible based principles.
At 18 I realized that this path of life was ridiculous! Nothing made sense. No amount of faith-based gymnastics could subsume all of the terrestrially discovered and acquired evidence into the biblical text. No matter how many scriptures the elders (pastors of the Jehovah’s Witness religion) threw at me; “the earth hangs upon nothing” or “circle of the earth”, it truly made no sense and my sticking point in this tribunal of my consciousness was the book of Genesis, the 1st and 2nd chapter. I go into detail about my objections in the book. All that was offered to me as an explanation to my queries were Watchtower articles that attempted to reconcile the Bible with science and constant inquiries as to whether or not I still believed in God.
I felt the armor of my calloused faith chipping away with each intellectual blow, freeing myself from the petty attachments of doctrine. The issue however with the parasite of religion is that it is similar to the AIDS virus and many other virulent strains. Once you catch it, it stays with you forever. You may be able to sever the connection of this sinister symbiotic relationship, but it is always lurking in the back of the mind, once you have been exposed to this mental empathogen.
I stopped going to “church,” met my wife and dated only five months before getting married. We were married in a civil ceremony because our families (my wife was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness as well; the irony) would not attend a “worldly” wedding.
My wife and I were married, and everything was fantastic until the birth of my first biological son Cristian, aptly named. My “stepson” Taylor is obviously from a previous marriage, although I would never dream of using the prefix “step” in my house. He was my “first son.” Regardless, something peculiar immaterially occurred. I felt compelled to go back to the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I still realized in the privacy of my mind that everything that was wrong with this faith was still active, but the “devil’s advocate” housed in the frontal lobe of my cerebrum asked me, “what is a better gift to give your child than everlasting life?” I wanted to give my child the best there was to offer in life, knowing full and well that this religion was not going to accomplish my directive. Nonetheless, something in my mind compelled me to continue in this direction.
A week after my son was born, we migrated to a Kingdom Hall located in Astoria, Queens for the annual commemoration of Jesus death called “The Memorial.” This is the most sacred event you could attend in the Witness faith. We were one of the last ones to get there, and it was packed. We were literally touching the back door. We stood for an hour as they went through the procession of the event and listened to the discourse.
My wife was up in arms over the sudden change in belief and my compulsion to revert back into a wholly religious person. I again told her that I wanted to give our children the gift of everlasting life. She was so perplexed with my abnormally capricious behavior, and she fought me on the matter till the very end. Unfortunately, I won the argument.
We went back. We went back the “truth.” Afterward, a few things happened. Some of the things I cannot explain and I don’t plan to in this book. The main point of religious contention however that allowed me to pivot out of the “Witness Organization” was the situation that occurred with the birth of my second biological son (3rd son), Preston.
Preston was going to be born with a rare heart condition known as “Transposition of the Great Arteries,” also known as TGA. Without going into the details, the layman explanation of the condition is that the heart was fine, but the arteries, the plumbing of the heart, was inversely installed. The oxygenated blood that was meant for the body was re-pumped back to the lungs, and the deoxygenated blood destined to be replenished with oxygen in the lungs was redistributed into the body again. In essence, he was going to choke to death almost as soon as he left the safety of the womb. He would die in minutes, hours or days. If there were sufficient mixing in the heart (something that occurs in almost all newborns), he would live a month or two tops. The diagnosis of TGA was a death sentence. A baby born with TGA, if no remedial is done, will die. It is certain death.
Herein lies the issue. The Jehovah’s Witness organization does not allow the use of blood transfusions. They use the bible as evidence that God would not allow such a thing. If a Witness were to proceed with a transfusion, they would be disfellowshipped, the most severe form of excommunication that exists.
Here is the defining moment for me personally. My wife followed her own path to emancipation, and I am happy to say we all met at the same destination of peace. We found the best doctor in the world to do the procedure, Dr. Jan Quaegebeur and the procedure in his hands had a 99% success rate. We discussed with the other doctors that we needed this to be a bloodless surgery, and they agreed to do their best. They gave our son blood expanders and would recycle his blood as required.
However, the day of the surgery came and Dr. Q, as he is called at the hospital came up to us and said that he would do the best to avoid a blood transfusion but that he could not guarantee a bloodless surgery. There is a certain amount of blood required in the blood pump before it can operate and being that Preston was two weeks old, he did not have a lot of blood available. I kept saying out loud “this is supposed to be a bloodless surgery!” but my loving wife intervened and said, “Please do whatever it takes to save our son” and she signed the requisite waivers. I felt relieved that my wife made the tough decision but also ashamed. Did this false religion mean more to me than my son? See chapter 4 for a more in-depth view of this situation under the discussion of “Social Compliance.” I feel that in the end, I would have caved in and accepted the procedure with blood, but I will never truly know. I only know that I have Dr. Q and my loving, intelligent wife to thank for in saving the life of my son. A blood transfusion was, in fact, necessary or the chance for death was certain. I never wanted to broach the subject again, but my wife did and one day said “Are you ok with my decision for a blood transfusion? I pick the life of my son over God”. I agreed with her decision, with the weight of my shame in full view of my facial features. I thanked her for doing what I was not ready to do, save our son.
The damage was done, however. There was a point that I may have allowed my son to die for the cause of religion. This was tantamount to a mother of a radicalized Muslim being happy that her child was martyred for an Islamic cause. I will carry this burden of disgust for the rest of my life. I hope that Preston will forgive me when he is older and hears this story for the first time.
The surgery was a success! He healed perfectly and is now a rambunctious 6-year-old. In addition to the second chance my son was given, I was given a second chance in life as well. I felt the connection with the parasite of religion sever. Unfortunately, I continued to go to the Kingdom Hall, not out of belief in God but out of necessity. My friends and family were there, and the roots that I grew in the new neighborhood we moved to was entrenched with the religion. I was invested in the “truth.” As you will see, although you may have severed the connection of the parasite, you are still infected, and it cannot die. It can merely go into remission. Then the following happened.
I remember the day clearly. I was sitting in the Kingdom Hall during the study of the Watchtower; the magazine Witnesses hawk to people during their required door to door preaching. The Elder asked a question to a particular paragraph. There are predetermined questions to paragraphs that are created by the organization to force feed doctrine. There is no thought given to the question. You literally can read the answer from the paragraph.
A young brother (a male Jehovah’s Witness), who was a friend of my son Taylor, who will remain nameless, raised his hand to answer. I didn’t prepare for the study, so I had no idea what was about to occur.
The question was (I can’t remember the exact phrasing of the question) “what should you do or think if you come across a scripture that troubles you?” The answer from this young man struck the very fiber of my mind.
“If you don’t understand a scripture or find it troubling, maybe the issue is not with the scripture. Maybe the problem is with you! We need to know that God is a loving God and even if we feel that he was too harsh in a scripture, he was just. Also, as we have learned in previous studies, we should avoid individual thinking. Individual thinking is dangerous! We need to remain steadfast to Jehovah and his word” this young man answered.
I was horrified. All of the study I put forth to science is worthless because I should not think individually as a person? I knew that this was part of being a Witness all along but having it said for all to hear was unbearable. Did I want my children to be raised in the brackish stench of this environment, their mental faculties removed and replaced with autonomous robotic programming? Did I want to raise non-thinking drones?
I remember thinking “What the hell?” My wife turned to me. With eyes wide open I realized that I was dictating my thoughts out loud! I stood up and went for a walk in the parking lot, pacing back and forth, pondering on why I was still here, after the near-death experience directly created by the religion and its people.
I decided to refuse to be part of this militaristic theology. The Jehovah’s Witnesses request to quash individual thinking was an attempt to delegitimize my voice and the voice of others. After that, my family and I quickly degenerated from the “truth.”
So, why am I writing the book? I realize that I did not write this book out of passion, anger, contempt or hidden contrition. I wrote the book because through experiences I realized that there are many ways to reach people infected with the religion parasite, but in many instances, the blunt force trauma of knowledge was the only way to sever the symbiotic connection truly. The connection will always be there but the more you damage it, the harder it is for the parasite to resurface.
If we truly want to liberate our minds from the teachings of mythology purported in the guise of the omniscient God, serious damage needs to be done to this parasite to release ourselves from this epistemological bullshit. Now, some of the phrasing in this book may be harsh. It is intended to be this way, so that maximum damage can be inflicted upon this illness and so that true abandonment of this religious garbage can be achieved.
I am thankful for the Atheists and Agnostics who purchase this book because it may provide some additional ammunition in the war between religion and reality. I am, however, more thankful for the Deists and Theists who purchased this book, in hopes that this writing may dissolve the chains of mental shackles that have been imposed upon you by this hateful illness. There is no salvation in God, regardless what the person at the platform may say. There is no future, except for the one you are currently facing. Please hold on with both hands as you embark on the journey called life because not only is it a bumpy ride, it’s the only ride you have. Please enjoy every emotion and experience that you have, regardless if it is good or bad. In the end, those feelings are yours and yours only. There is no God.