Tuesday, 26 April 2011

my response to a mormon questioning her faith

today i got a mail from a friend who is still in the church:
So Nick. How are you? I have to say that I was pretty surprised to see that you left the church. You always seemed so devoted to me when we were kids. I was hoping you would be okay if I asked you a few questions. You've been pretty open in a more public discussion, but if you aren't comfortable with a more private one, I understand.
I kind of always thought of church as a fun place to mingle, basically. My dad is, well.. I'm not even sure what he is. He neither agrees or disagrees with the idea of God. Whatever that means. And my mom is like yours. Or at least how I remember yours.. fighting for the church even though everyone else in her life seemed to be against it. I never really cared for or against it until I was 17. I started going back to church because I started dating a member who wouldn't marry a nonmember. Long story short, 13 years later I find myself wishing I had 13 years of my life back. I decided years ago to make my peace with the church and fake it til I make it. It's not really working for me real well. So now I want to learn. Being that you were so devoted and then walked away, I kind of feel like you are a good person to ask questions to. Right now, my questions are pretty basic. I just want to know why I have always felt so creepy in church. How can something that seems so good and pure envoke these feelings in a person? Joseph Smith. He's never really set very well with me. Historically and reasonably, the Book of Mormon seems like such a fairy tale! And I would LOVE to kow why this church is the only church that insists on striking so much fear in a member and then chastize them for being less than faithful if they have fear in their hearts. The principles of the church are very scary and intimidating! How can you not be afraid? Any member who truly believes in the gospel and claims it doesn't frighten them, is a liar.. in my opinion. Anyway, as you can see, I have a lot to learn. I'm having surgery tomorrow and will be down for 6 weeks. It seemed like as good a time as any to start reading!
Thanks Nick!
and here is my response:

Hi, it was great to read your message =) yes i was the most devoted of all my brothers, probably even more than my mom. there were always things that didnt make sense to me, but i tried to either rationalize them away or just hope for an answer some day. for someone like me, i "needed" an experience that conflicted with my values down to my very core and that happened when our bishop here in norway told me and my wife that we needed to repent of oral sex. the church deciding what me and my wife could do in our bedroom? that was it. i started on a major study of church history and to see what other people were saying about the church--members who had left. i started reading about psychology. i quickly saw how the church (mis)uses principles of psychology to influence and control members. i read about cults and cult psychology and found that the church easily fits the cult profile. for example, in this list of 100 attributes:
i could immediately identify at least 65 traits found in the church:
1, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 43, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56, 59, 60, 61, 62, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 72, 73, 75, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 97, 98

i started reading about science (archeology, anthropology, dna, cosmology, etc) but the most important issue is this: the old testament claims that homo sapiens began in the garden of eden. the christian world puts the date to around 6500 years ago. if you ask the jews, the ones who *wrote* the old testament, they put the date to around 5800 years ago. this is around 200,000 years off by what scientific evidence shows:

this one fact alone disproves all religions based on the old testament (abrahamic): judaism, christianity, islam, etc... -- 38%-61% (low/high estimate) of religious belief in the world:

it disproves everything that follows--all their creeds and claims to revelation, the whole shabang. anything else i tell you now is just additional, supporting evidence against the church.

i started writing my exit story here:

there i've listed a LOT of additional evidence against the church. the hardest thing for people questioning the church is the feelings and spiritual experiences they think they've had. the church uses this for all it's worth to get people to prioritize that over fact and reasoning or even conflicting feelings/emotions. up until recently, it has been quite difficult to help people realize that these experiences are merely psychological and are a result of preconditioning, brainwashing and social psychology techniques, BUT then i found something wonderful:

bonneville is the church's PR firm, and when i say "church's" i mean *owned by the church* and *started by the church*:

on that bonneville homepage you can read about their product called HeartSell:
"Our unique strength is the ability to touch the hearts and minds of our audiences, evoking first feeling, then thought and, finally, action. We call this uniquely powerful brand of creative "HeartSell"® - strategic emotional advertising that stimulates response."

if a member reads this and still cant see that he/she is being duped, then there seriously is no hope for that person. this is the church's MO in black and white--and for sale even =)

when i realized that the church was a sham, it was seriously like waking up from a bad dream. i have never enjoyed life more than i do now and have never known what *true freedom* really is until now =)

i am totally here for you, you can contact me whenever you like and ask me anything you like =)

i hope your surgery goes well and it might sound odd, but i totally envy you that you will have 6 weeks to just sit/lay and read! (my favorite thing to do)

here are some great videos to watch while you're resting:
the stanley milgram experiment:
the stanford prison experiment:
the asch experiment:
christopher hitchens (the best of):
christopher hitchens' ten commandments:
sam harris - religion as a failed science:
richard dawkins (pascal's wager - what if you're wrong?):

and really anything by any of these people is great:
richard dawkins on youtube
christopher hitchens on youtube
sam harris on youtube
dan dennett on youtube
michael shermer on youtube
victor stenger on youtube
james randi on youtube
pat condell on youtube
richard feynman on youtube
carl sagan on youtube

if you want a good book to read, i suggest reading "the god delusion" by richard dawkins:

if you want specific lds stuff to read then you should read the research on the book of abraham:

irr.org will send it to you for free! (you only pay 5 dollars shipping). watch the video first:

if you want to read other people's experiences then hang out here for a day:

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