(I’m sorry, but you just can’t.)
One of the more useful things I do, when I’m not busy scoffing, is to transcribe school textbooks into braille for visually impaired students.
Currently I’m working on a fourth-grade science textbook.
One of the basic lessons that the book teaches is how all life on Earth depends ultimately upon the Sun. Take away the Sun and life won’t last long on this planet.
If you’ve had at least a fourth-grade education there will be no dispute on this point.
So, if you hope to live forever on Earth you need the Sun to go on burning forever pretty much as it does right now: neither hotter nor colder, neither nearer nor farther from the Earth.
Unfortunately, the laws of physics have an annoying propensity for demolishing our castles in the air.
The problem is that the Sun is a star. It’s just an average sort of star, slightly on the small side. There’s nothing special about it, though we of course hold it dear in our Earth-bound hearts. The trouble with stars is that they can’t go on burning forever. The supply of hydrogen they burn is finite. When it is gone, the star burns itself out. It’s a simple law of physics. In the Sun’s case, the fuel is about half gone already, and it’s being used up at the rate of 620 million metric tons per second.
As it burns up its fuel (converting hydrogen to helium in the fusion process) it changes: burning ever more brightly (and hotly). Eventually the Sun will become a Red Giant in its death throes and will either consume the Earth or simply render life impossible (see the video below). This will take place around 12 billion years from now (or on December 23rd of this year if you’re a Mayan.) However, due to changes in the Sun prior to that, it will only be about 800 million years from now before all multicellular life has vanished from our no-longer habitable planet.
Miracles to the Rescue?
Maybe the above point is irrelevant to the Jehovah’s Witness since he or she contends that God can just create some more hydrogen to restock the Sun (and remove the helium) and allow it to go on burning forever. Of course a rational conversation is not possible if in the middle of it someone exclaims “and then magic happens!”
We’re on a whole different platform when we introduce the miraculous since it requires the violation of the laws of physics. Even though it’s a platform where “anything goes” and nothing can be disproven (or proven, of course), let’s step onto that platform for a moment and attempt to use reason even there. Let’s assume the Witness view of things for the next few moments and see if such a miracle is likely within that context.
First we must ask:
If the creator of the Sun meant for the Sun to shine at the same rate forever, why were the laws of physics created in such a way as to make this goal impossible?
The Witness View
The Witness view is that God meant people to live forever on Earth. That divine plan was interrupted by Satan’s tempting the first human couple to sin. They had been perfect, but once they sinned they were condemned to death and all of their offspring (that’s you and I) inherited this sin and death. God’s divine justice required a perfect life in payment. Adam’s death could not atone for the sin since he was no longer perfect due to his sin. So God sacrificed his son (Jesus) as a perfect man to pay the “ransom sacrifice” and redeem humankind from that “original sin”. So now we can indeed live forever on Earth just as God planned from the start. All that is required is to opt-in to the plan by signing your life over to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc.
If we examine this story more closely, however, we find it has more holes than the U.S. tax law.
The Holes in the View
1. What God wants God gets.
If an all-mighty being has a plan, then no one could “interfere” with that plan unless they were also all-mighty. So, Satan could not have interfered with God’s plan for perfect people to live forever in paradise on Earth. Since we don’t see any perfect people living forever in paradise on Earth (well, maybe Hugh Hefner) then this could never have been the plan of an all-mighty God.
2. Not a “Perfect life for a perfect life”
First of all, the Bible shows quite plainly that Adam and Eve could not have been perfect beings who would’ve naturally lived forever if they had not sinned. No; Gen. 3:22 plainly tells us that God had to remove them from the Garden to prevent them from eating from the Tree of Life and thereby living forever. The implication being that if they didn’t eat from that tree they would not live forever. Therefore they were dying from the start (just as we are), and hence were imperfect. So it wasn’t the case that a perfect man had to die to cover the sin of a perfect man; Adam wasn’t perfect.
If we accept the Witness viewpoint that sin can be inherited, then Jesus wasn’t perfect either. He would’ve had half of his DNA from his mother Mary. So Jesus would still have inherited sin from his mother. Also, we know that Jesus sinned because he said that calling someone a fool was a sin, and the Bible records Jesus calling people fools (not to mention his committing an act of vandalism and assault). When he says that “he who is without sin” should cast the first stone at an adulteress, we don’t see Jesus casting that first stone (despite the fact that he said that all God’s laws should be upheld.) This indicates that he did not think himself sinless.
3. Not Just.
So much for the idea of a “perfect life for a perfect life”. But wait: what kind of justice (divine or otherwise) would condemn not only the criminal to death, but a surrogate as well? We covered this in the article: The Only Honest Public Talk I ever Gave, so very briefly here: If your cousin Satchel committed a felony and was sentenced to death (and that sentence was carried out) would you call it justice if the law wasn’t satisfied with your cousin’s death and came after you and executed you as well for Satchel’s crime? This is the type of “justice” the Witness view assumes their “just” God practices!
4. Not Merciful.
They also hold that their Jehovah is a “merciful” God. In civilized human courts we show mercy to those who do not know right from wrong. According to the Bible Adam and Eve did not know right from wrong when they sinned (not knowing good from evil until they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil). Yet we are told that God did not forgive them, but demanded the ultimate penalty three times over.
5. Children aren’t punished for their parents’ sins.
Elsewhere in the Bible we are told that children do not die for the sins of their parents:
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
6. The fundamental contradiction: Can God change his law or not?
If God is able to change his own laws (as he would have to do to keep the sun burning forever), then why didn’t he change the law of “a perfect life for a perfect life?” According to the Bible, God’s only-begotten son pleaded with him in the Garden of Gethsemane to spare him if there were any possible way to do so. Why would the son of God make such a request if he knew it was impossible for God to break his own law of “divine justice”? Evidently Jesus really believed God could change his own law, and would do so [since “anything you ask the Father in my name will be granted”] up until the very last when he cried, “My God! My God, why have you forsaken me?” Having read the Hebrew Scriptures Jesus would’ve been familiar with the many occasions in the past where it was related that God had forgiven sins without the shedding of blood. So why not for him: the most important person who ever lived, and the one with the closest relationship with God? If God was ever going to change his law surely it would’ve been on this occasion to save his beloved son. But he did not. The only explanation is that God cannot change his own law: even his son’s pleading for his very life could not change this.
The Watchtower theology contains this major contradiction which is a fatal flaw. If we are to live forever on Earth then God will have to change his law to keep the Sun from becoming a Red Giant and extinguishing life on Earth. But in order to “save us” from death we have to believe in the Ransom Sacrifice which requires that God cannot change his law.
The Witness view is full of holes. It is inconsistent and self-contradictory. It requires God to break his own law in order to save us from the death of the Sun. But if God can break his own law, then surely he would’ve done so to save his son. Since the Bible shows that he did not do this, but “forsook” his son rather than break his own law, the only reasonable conclusion is that he will not break his law to save us either. That means that the Sun won’t last forever, and so neither will we.
Finally, how likely is it that God will perform the miracle the Witnesses are counting on when the Bible (claimed to be the source of the Witness viewpoint) plainly states in several places that the Earth will not last forever:
Ps:102:25-26 the earth and the heavens… they shall perish
Mt:24:35: Heaven and earth shall pass away
Heb:1:10-11: the earth… shall perish
Sorry people, but it’s time to put away the Watchtower nonsense and face reality: you can’t live forever on Earth.
However, I have a great deal for you on some prime real estate on Saturn’s moons!
See also: “The Post-Armageddon Blues”