Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Jehovah lite

The much improved design
We were sitting at breakfast and the others saw someone approaching the door. I was sitting with my back to the window, so didn't realize what was about to happen. The doorbell rang.

'You go,' they said.
'It's Jehovah's Witnesses, isn't it?' I asked.
They just smirked.

And it was, but interestingly this was a JW visit lite. Rather than attempt to engage me in conversation, the female member of the (inevitable) pair just told me they were distributing these leaflets across the country and gave me one. And went. So I was immediately in a good mood, as the toast was still warm.

The good news about the leaflet is that they've finally hauled the typography into the 21st century. The old JW leaflets were so old fashioned looking, and very alien in presentation for a UK audience - they were very obviously American. I'm not talking spelling, but rather the design just wasn't the way a UK leaflet looks. Now, as you can see, they've improved things enormously.

It's only 8 out of 10, though, guys. Why not 10? The paper is still wrong. I don't know why, but US leaflet paper feels totally different - less glossy, more flimsy, than UK leaflet paper: and this was still wrong.

As for the content,this was also much more clever. Just one Bible quotation. Mostly advertising the free resources on their website. In fact with its 'Where can we find answers to life's big questions?' header, it was very reminiscent to the advertising you see on posters for an Alpha course. The front also says 'Are the answers in... Science? Philosophy? The Bible?' And then inside we read that 'the Bible is providing answers to millions of people.'

Clever again, as it's not explicitly knocking science - though we clearly get the message that science can't answer life's big questions. In case you aren't sure what these are, the back suggests:
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Is God to blame for our sufferings?
  • What happens when you die?
These are questions that indeed are 'big'. But my suspicion is that for many people these questions aren't as imminent as various ones that science can probably do better at than the Bible. For instance, the (old testament) Bible is pretty strong on mass extermination of your enemies, and I'm pretty sure that isn't the right answer with the various Middle East problems underway at the moment.

For me, that highlights the mistake of comparing the Bible and science as an answer to some problems. Although I admit there will always be alternative theories under development, at any one time, science has a single, mainstream consensus answer - our current best theory. The Bible and other religious texts, though, can almost always deliver conflicting answers, so you choose the one that suits your preferences. How to deal with your enemy? If you're a hawk, you can use the Old Testament as the reason for smiting them and wiping them out to the very last person (children included). If you're a dove, you can use the New Testament to make it obvious that loving them and turning the other cheek is the answer.

So, well done Jehovah's Witnesses for pointing out the underlying flaw in your own argument. I'm impressed.

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