Jan 252005
 

Here is a classic piece of Watchtower quoting. It is from the 5/15/83 Watchtower article “Earthquakes-A Sign of the End?” For years the Watchtower Society has tried to prove that part of the fulfillment of the ‘sign’ of the end of this system given by Jesus in Matthew, chapter 23 is an increased occurance of earthquakes. Since the Watchtower now teaches that the ‘time of the end’ began in 1914, it has tried to show increased frequency and strength of earthquakes. On page 6 the Watchtower says:

Some seismologists believe that the earth is now in an active earthquake period. For example, Professor Keiiti Aki of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology speaks of “the apparent surge in intensity and frequency of major earthquakes during the last one hundred years,” though stating that the period from 1500 through 1700 was as active. In the Italian journal Il Piccolo, of October 8, 1978, Geo Malagoli observed: “Our generation lives in a dangerous period of high seismic activity, as statistics show. In fact, during a period of 1,059 years (from 856 to 1914) reliable sources list only 24 major earthquakes causing 1,973,000 deaths. However, [in] recent disasters, we find that 1,600,000 persons have died in only 63 years, as a result of 43 earthquakes which occurred from 1915 to 1978. This dramatic increase further goes to emphasize another accepted fact-our generation is an unfortunate one in many ways.”

First of all, let’s look at the Watchtower’s quoting Keiiti Aki. The Watchtower says Aki ” speaks of ‘the apparent surge in intensity and frequency of major earthquakes during the last one hundred years,’ though stating that the period from 1500 through 1700 was as active.” This is a quote from a letter from Aki to the Watchtower Society dated 30 September, 1982. Here is the entire text of the letter:

This is in response to your inquiry about earthquakes [EC:ESH September 24, 1982]. The apparent surge in intensity and frequency of major earthquakes during the last one hundred years is, in all probability, due to the improved recording of earthquakes and the increased vulnerability of human society to earthquake damage. The main reason is the well established plate tectonics which indicates a very steady fault motion over the past many millions of years. A measure of earthquake strength more objective than casualty is the Richter scale. It is in general difficult to assign the Richter scale to earthquakes more than 100 years ago. An attempt, however, has been made in China, where historical records are kept in better shape than in other regions. Enclosed figures shows the Richter scale (M) of earthquakes in China during the periond of about 2000 years. The past 100 years are certainly active, but there have been periods as active as that, for example, from 1500 to 1700.

In a letter to Wolfgang Hebst and Carl Olof Jonsson dated 5 September 1985, Aki says the following (body of letter quoted in its entirety):

Thank you for your inquiry re my statement in Jehovah’s Witnesses. I feel strongly that the seismicity has been stationary for thousands of years. I was trying to convince Jehovah’s Witnesses about the stationarity of seismicity using the data obtained in China for the period of 1500 to 1700, but they put only weak emphasis on the published statement. Excellent geological evidence for the stationarity has been obtained by Prof. Kerry Sieh of Caltech, for the San Andreas fault.

So the Watchtower quoted Aki out of context in order to support a position exactly opposite to Aki’s. Copies of Professor Aki’s letters can be found in Appendix A of “The Sign of the Last Days – When?” by Carl Olof Jonsson and Wolfgang Herbst. Now, on to the Watchtower’s quote from the Italian magazine “Il Piccolo” of October 8, 1978. Again, here is how the Watchtower quotes Geo Malagoli of “Il Piccolo.”

“Our generation lives in a dangerous period of high seismic activity, as statistics show. In fact, during a period of 1,059 years (from 856 to 1914) reliable sources list only 24 major earthquakes causing 1,973,000 deaths. However, [in] recent disasters, we find that 1,600,000 persons have died in only 63 years, as a result of 43 earthquakes which occurred from 1915 to 1978. This dramatic increase further goes to emphasize another accepted fact-our generation is an unfortunate one in many ways.”

Now, take a look at an excerpt from the 2/22/1977 issue of Awake!

Interestingly, for a period of 1,059 years (856 to 1914 C.E.), reliable sources list only 24 major earthquakes, with 1,972,952 fatalities. But compare that with the accompanying partial list citing 43 instances of earthquakes, in which 1,579,209 persons died during just the 62 years from 1915 to 1976 C.E.

The 5/15/83 Watchtower is quoting the 10/8/78 Il Piccolo which is quoting the 2/22/77 Awake!