Fact vs Faith vs Delusion
Religious groups regularly refer to their belief system as truth. Religious truth is generally a mix of fact and faith. For some groups, truth extends beyond faith and into the realm of delusion.
Facts pertain to knowledge gained in the form of experience and learning. A hypothesis is postulated, tested and if verified becomes considered a fact. For instance, earth's gravity was perceived to be an agency of attraction. This was verified through testing and so it is accepted as fact that earth's gravity causes objects to accelerate toward earth at 9.81 m/s2. Being a fact, there is no dispute as to whether earth's gravity goes up or down. There is no disagreement over the rate of earth's gravity; it is universally accepted as 9.81 m/s2. Factual knowledge is beneficial in making decisions that prevent humans from harm.
Faith is used to describe beliefs that are not proven. These unprovable assertions rely on faith to be accepted. Descriptions of life after death are a common underlying theme in religion, but require faith as no one has proven what the afterlife is like or even if it exists. For this reason, religious teachings regarding the after life vary greatly. Similarly, God has not been proven to exist and requires faith based on observations of "creation" and personal experiences of God in ones life. Due to this, religious descriptions of God vary greatly regarding his appearance, name and qualities.
Delusion is a step further from reality than faith in that it is the deliberate suspension of factual knowledge in favour of belief. The Watchtower is a prime example of a religion promoting delusion. For instance:
- The Watchtower claims its predictions regarding 1914 were directed by God, even though every aspect of the Watchtower's expectations for 1914 failed to eventuate. They now claim they "consistently presented evidence ... that Jesus' presence in heavenly Kingdom power began in 1914" (Watchtower 1993 January 15 pp.5,9), despite followers being able to quickly prove that for generations the Watchtower said this occured in 1874, if they are so inclined to do such research.
- The Watchtower ignores historical evidence when claiming that famine, disease, lawlessness, earthquakes and war have become worse since 1914 and disregards proof that Jerusalem did not fall in 607 B.C., in order to uphold preconceived notions of 1914.
- The Watchtower claims its appointment of elders is guided by holy spirit. Yet, regularly the men appointed are engaged in practices forbidden by the Watchtower Society.
In each case cited above, the Watchtower does not require an acceptance of fact or even faith; it is delusion that is being promoted because it is simple to prove these teachings unfactual. These types of examples provide unquestionable proof that God or holy spirit does not direct Watchtower teachings or practices and it is delusional to think otherwise.
When the Watchtower writes about gravity it is accurately promoting facts. When it writes about God, it presents concepts it followers can accept based on faith. But when it demands not to be questioned because it is being actively directed by God, it forces its followers to accept delusion.
A child cannot proceed through life believing fairy stories are true. Otherwise they will make harmful decisions based on misconception. Likewise, Witness lives are damaged when making decisions regarding healthcare, shunning family, or putting off advanced education, marriage or bearing children on the basis of delusional Watchtower teachings. No long term benefit arises in leading a life based on delusion and falsehood.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2016