Does God Exist?–Armstrong’s Weak Sauce Theism

"Prove all things, bitches." I Thessalonians 5:21.

“Prove all things, bitches.” I Thessalonians 5:21.

The brand of theism preached by the churches of Armstrongism is different from mainstream theism in an important way. While most people who believe in God will readily admit they do so on the basis of faith, Armstrongists insist they can prove that God exists. But how special is this Armstrong-style theism really? Was it invented by Armstrong, or did he merely co-opt an obsolete ideology and put his stamp on it, as with so many of his other supposed innovations? Continue reading

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The Plain Truth about the Flood

This children's story has a few holes in it.

This children’s story has a few holes in it.

“Why would a God of love drown and put to death all of humanity?” These are the words of Herbert W. Armstrong. “Science can’t give you the answer, and religion can’t give you the answer.” You’re only halfway there, Herbie, but you need to take me all the way.

One of the oldest works of writing contains a myth about a flood, but it’s not the biblical old testament. It’s the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem out of Mesopotamia. It includes gods that deliver a flood to punish humanity, and a man and his wife are chosen to survive. Pretty similar to the biblical story. China, India, Thailand, and many other cultures have flood myths in their history. Like with many grand aspects of the bible—a god who creates and controls existence, a savior who dies and is resurrected—the great flood is not an original tale. It is a retelling of a very old myth also known as the deluge myth.

Despite this universal idea that there was a worldwide deluge, there’s no way that it actually really happened. Continue reading

Just What Do You Mean, “Blessings of Abraham”?

Sarai had even tried luring him with promises of raunchy sex, but it was no use: Abram was definitely addicted to sky porn.

Sarai had even tried luring him with promises of raunchy sex with a real woman (her handmaid, Hagar), but it was no use: Abram was addicted to the sky porn.

For anyone who has been paying attention, it is now a trivial matter to appreciate that British-Israelism is a failed hypothesis. Some contend, however, that there is still some explaining to do with regard to the supposed “blessings of Abraham”. How did Britain and America become so great, they ask, if it weren’t for the “promise of race” given to Abraham by old Yahweh? It should go without saying that such reasoning is completely backwards (the required genetic connection between Europeans and this apocryphal patriarch of the Hebrews–or, more to the point, to the Hebrews themselves–has been shown to be thoroughly, exactly, and precisely nonexistent–and yet they want to know how we could have such shiny toys if the connection doesn’t exist–boggles the mind, really). In any event, whether the fortunes of modern nations can be explained by recourse to an ancient prophesy (uttered by an invisible man in the sky to a bronze age sheepherder who probably himself never existed) is considered to be a separate question (and the real proof of British-Israelism) for some, and always was a mainstay of Armstrongism. And that latter fact means we have some scrutiny to spare for the claim.

Continue reading

Torah to Tampons

women

It should not be a big surprise that the churches spawned from Herbie Armstrong’s teachings would choose to interpret the bible in a way that generally denigrates women. Much of the doctrine of “the church” seems to have stemmed from his own personal misgivings about things such as going to the doctor, military service, and—of course—women. After all, women in the bible typically fill the roles of wives, mothers, and daughters. In their relation to male figures, they are given their own unique voice within the biblical realm, but it is one that mostly revolves around familial ties and responsibilities. The vast majority of women in the bible are characters who act in supporting roles while the men produce action, and the teachings of the COGs reflect that about women.

The assumption that the bible discriminates against women is largely based on two accounts: Eve’s creation and the words of Paul in books such as 1 Corinthians and Colossians.

Continue reading…

Timberrrrrr!

We all knew it would happen, but now that the end is so close it is hard to imagine. As I sit here and think back to the various meetings, emails, and phone calls involved in planning this site I really am amazed at how much we’ve accomplished! I mean, to be honest, I didn’t expect us to do half as well as we have at what we were eventually able to articulate as our goal–to cut down “the trunk of the tree” (as Herbie liked to phrase it) of Armstrongism. Continue reading

Apostasy of the Pedants–How Faith and Fear Are Bouyed by Religious Illiteracy

Kermit might have known…had he paid a bit more attention.

(Originally posted on the old site in April and March of 2010. I think it belongs here.)

I have always been enthralled by words and ideas. As a boy I would spend countless hours poring over old encyclopedias and dictionaries, each new discovery an initiation into a kind of sacred communion with the Universe. My memories of those Halcyon evenings are thankfully not haunted by my later metaphysical rationalizations: at the time I had no clear conception of the indoctrination to come, and my autodidactic adventures were, for that brief period, free from theological mind-wrenching.

As Armstrongist propaganda began to wrap me in its obscuring embrace, however, I gradually and inevitably turned my inquisitive mind toward the task of reconciling dogma with knowledge. Being a mere human, I didn’t have time to study everything, so I of course focused on the beliefs that were relevant to the subjects I was most keenly interested in, while the rest wastaken for granted. I failed to prove the claims behind British-Israelism, for example, or the contradictory propositions for the nature and character of Armstrong’s god. And all the while, everything was being filtered through my Armstrongist indoctrination: the claims were fundamentally true, I assumed; how they were true was the only question.

The cult’s teachings on evolution are a good example, since their arguments I found to be lacking in rigor. Even so, I took the basic position for granted in that I spent a lot of time looking for arguments that would support Creationism over evolution, instead of simply following the evidence. I was toiling under a confirmation bias in the form of a proposition hoisted upon me by the cult, and which I accepted without complaint or investigation: that a particular conception of God exists as a person and created humans in his image for an astounding purpose. Part of what led me to accept it, certainly, was its sheer elegance. Something that made that much sense, and which was so soul-crushingly beautiful, just had to be true! (I wouldn’t learn what a non-sequitur was until I had left the cult.) Besides that, it was biblically sound (you’ll notice this statement contains two more assumptions I took for granted as true).

The point of all this is to show the reader that even an obsessive pedant like me took a lot for granted; so, where does that leave the great multitudes for whom careful reading for more than ten minutes at a time sounds like cruel and unusual punishment? It leaves them believing, apparently. … Continue reading.

Without Form and Void (Part One)–Intro to Gap Creationism

Dude, it's 4,000 BCE and I totally just created you.

The entire edifice of Armstrongism is founded upon a false premise–or, rather, it is founded upon a whole series of false premises, but one is especially problematic for the belief system. No, I’m not talking about British Israelism. That fatal flaw has been dealt with elsewhere. What I’m referring to is the Creation myth of Armstrongism. Despite its valiant effort at evading destruction from the realm of geology (by embracing “Gap Theory”), Armstrongist Creationism still runs afoul of ironclad science.

In this two-part article, we will be covering this very fundamental doctrine of Armstrongism and discovering what fields such as paleontology, anthropology, and biology reveal about its veracity (or lack thereof). It will be necessary first to describe what Armstrongist Creationism is and how the claims it makes differ from those of more mainline forms of fundamentalist Creationism. In the second part, we will examine those claims in light of the scientific evidence that can be brought to bear on the question. And, finally, we will discuss the implications of this critical study for Armstrongism as a whole. … Continue reading.

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers!

One might be well within the bounds of reason to surmise that being disfellowshipped and Marked means our access to inside information for the PCG is severely limited, if not downright cut off completely. However, you would also be mistaken! You see, while the prospect of being cut off from friends and family does keep many in the “pews” (chairs), it is not a policy that engenders loyalty. So, in truth, PCG is merely keeping spies in their midst that would happily fade away given the chance.

More’s the pity.

However, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, and that is where we come in. AD has a network of insiders passing us vital documents, like the most recent Co-Worker letter! … Continue reading.

A Cult In Decline – Armstrongism In The 21st Century

Hoeh officiates at Armstrong's funeral.

Armstrongism’s death knell?

This is a subject that I’ve been wanting to write about for some time now. In fact, I started writing the article several months ago but it’s taken me a bit longer to get all of the pieces assembled than I thought it would. The subject? The slow but inevitable decline of the religious movement known as Armstrongism (my former religion and possibly yours). The irony should not escape us, considering that decline appears to be their favorite subject. For over 75 years, the general theme of Armstrongism has been “Nation in Decline” (regarding America, Britain and other western nations). Today, I’d like to focus on the tragic irony of this theme.

I’ll be discussing the factors that ultimately led to the success of the movement in the first place and those which have led to its steady decline in recent years. I’d like to take a look at the most “successful” splinters of Armstrongism, to see how they’ve succeeded at all. Lastly, I will hypothesize on the bleak future that will be faced by so many people still caught up in the grip of these cults.

This is a subject of great importance to those with friends and family still stuck in these cults. Understanding the decline of these groups will enable us to help these people when they need help the most. To be there for them when their religious “support system” no longer operates. But first, a look back at how it all started… Continue reading

Science Envy: The False Epistemology of Armstrongism

For "Knowledge" read "unsupported belief".

At the outset of the 20th Century a slow-turning cultural revolution began to take shape in Western society, one which eventually would collide with the solemn bulwark of tradition in all areas of life–art, music, science and religion–nothing was to be sacrosanct. All assumptions would be uprooted, critiqued…and some discarded. This avant-garde tide would come to be known as Modernism, and not all were happy to find themselves awash in it. Especially chafed were the proponents of traditional Christianity, who saw the concepts of inerrant scripture and a divine Christ cast down before the new liberal exegetes. These Modernist theologians showed themselves willing to alter traditional interpretations of scripture to accommodate the findings of science and higher criticism, viewed a belief in miracles as superstitious and preferred a metaphorical reading to one which would invoke claims of the supernatural.

A Protestant reaction to Modernism quickly gave birth to the counter-movement now known as Fundamentalism. This was an attempt to assert the traditional view of scripture and Christian theology and to defend it from subordination to scientific reasoning. A subset of this movement was yet another inter-sect movement called Adventism, characterized by a belief in an imminent return of Jesus Christ to earth. It was within these anti-Modernist environs, under the tutelage of Adventists, that Herbert W. Armstrong developed his religious ideas, founding the Worldwide Church of God as a Seventh-day Adventist splinter group in 1933. … Continue reading.