Hello everyone, I am new to the post-mormon world and would like to tell my story. I am feeling a little alone right now and hope to connect with other ex-mormons to talk to and relate with. I live in North Carolina and I only know of one ex-mormon here - ironically I sometimes wish I lived back in Utah since I would have a larger ex-mormon community to connect with!
I was raised in Utah in a true-believing active family. I served a mission and was active in the LDS Church until just six months ago. However, my doubts started about 8 years ago, and I slowly grew apart from the church intellectually and only left the church formally in 2011. I was studying a lot about the origins of the universe at the time and remember specifically a book I read that laid out, with scientific information how the universe came to be, and I became open to the idea that maybe the universe just "is" - that there really may not be this divine person in heaven who created it all with his ultimate powers.
I began my skeptical study of the existence of God, not the shake my faith, but because I wanted to know if there really was an afterlife. Increasingly, through studying science and religion, it became more and more likely that God does not exist, that religion is just man's way of dealing with the very painful possibility that this life is all there is. Religion makes you feel good that there is more, that it's not pointless. When I doubted God and told someone, they said, "well I believe in God because if there wasn't a God, none of this would make any sense. What would be the point of it all?" Well, in my head I thought, why would there NEED to be a point? Nature, the universe, everything doesn't have to explain itself, it just IS. After several years of sitting in church, listening to people say "don't think too much about it, don't rely on science, just have faith", it really turned me off more and more that the Mormon church is anti-intellect, anti-science, anti-skepticism. They will claim they are not, point you to small shallow books like Mormon Scientist, which doesn't tackle the big issues and treads very lightly and unconvincingly, or say that "well, scientists don't know everything." That always makes me laugh. While true, scientists DO know a lot. Evolution has been proven as one example, but that's very hard to reconcile with the LDS and Biblical interpretation of earth's history.
So I became agnostic (not atheist, as I think any scientist or skeptic should be open to all possibilities, however how unlikely until proven otherwise) but remained in the church for several more years, even serving in very prominent positions and teaching others, all the while feeling hypocritical and that I was among blind believers - people who relied solely on "faith" - just believing because any doubt was heresy and sinful. Moroni said you can pray and ask if the book is true, you can be skeptical but get an answer. I prayed many many many times, especially at the end of my crisis of faith, and never had any spiritual experience, never had any feeling or answer. God did not respond to me. If he exists, he seems to be very elusive and difficult to communicate with. Scripture study, living the “clean life”, prayer, temple attendance, paying tithing, none of that would seem to allow me an answer to my prayers asking if God exists and the Mormon church is true. Why at the time when I would need an answer the most, would God not send his spirit to testify to me? The answer became clear, because he doesn’t exist. Therefore there must be no God, no devil, no Boogie Man out to get me, no Holy Ghost, no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus, elves, ghosts, leprechauns (though I do believe Garth Brooks exists, I saw him in concert once and while I don’t listen to country much, he was f’ing amazing!)
Once I was down that path, I freaked out a little, knowing this life is IT, how sad! I hoped the church was still true, I started investigating for myself. If it was true, the truth should reveal itself. However, learning about the problems with the Book of Abraham and it’s Egyptian translation was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. How could an entire religion believe one man’s claims he translated it correctly, when Egyptologists have independently verified the translations are not as Joseph Smith’s claims.
Next came the church’s homophobic policies. I am straight, but I have a friend who is gay, and I don’t see how there is no place for her in this church. She was born that way, she didn’t choose it, yet she cannot find attraction to men. She has always been attracted to women since she was little, yet the church would say it is her choice to be that way, that having sexual relations (or even just kissing) someone of the same gender is sinful. There is no place for her in this church, nobody she can marry in the temple without it being a lie to herself and to them.
Finally, what I really cannot get past is the church’s historical racial policies against African-Americans. Why would Brigham Young and other church leaders say such hateful things about race, and why would the church not allow African Americans to hold the priesthood until 1976 – even long after the Civil Rights movement had died down and been resolved? The church had adopted un-popular policies in the past (Polygamy) without regard to consequence, why not allow Black to hold the priesthood? Why hide the statements by church leaders about the curse of Cain and the dark skin references in the Book of Mormon?
Other things that caused me to leave the church: Belief in a literal flood in Noah’s time (seriously Christians around the world accept this as fact?), Joseph Smith’s polygamist practices to marry teenage girls and women who were already married, Moses committing genocide on women and children in the book of Numbers, death before the fall, Jonah and the Whale (really?), Joseph F. Smith’s failed prophecies, DNA evidence and the Book of Mormon, Translation errors in the bible’s book of Isaiah also appearing in the Book of Mormon, evolution, Adam-God as pronounced to be true by Brigham Young, Blood Atonement, hiding things from church history, I could go on.
After a while, you realize that all of this doesn’t add up. I am no longer a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and despite what just about every mormon would believe would happen, I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER! I am living the life that I have, as I CHOOSE, loving my children, and working to establish a better relationship with my ex-wife, who is still a faithful member, and believes I am going to hell. That makes me sad – not just that she judges me, but that she is in an intellectual trap that won’t allow her to see outside the church, that will forever hold her hostage. Its just sad that my move towards aethiesm/agnosticism would contribute so much to the downfall of our marriage. There were other factors, but that was one of the major issues that came between us.
Being “born under the convenient”, I did not choose the church, it chose me. I have chosen to leave it and it is the best decision I have ever made. I just wish I had made it earlier. Seeing the church from the outside looking in is simply amazing and while I would never try and lead others out of the church or encourage them, I hope to help anyone who is opening their mind and thinking for themselves, realizing they have been living a lie. I hope to hear from you and what you think of my experience. There is a lot more to tell, but not what I would feel comfortable saying here, but thank you for listening!
Oh and if anyone is in the Carolinas, I would love to meet up for coffee sometime!!! Let me know!
I don't understand how people can think everything just happened by chance and that there was no higher power that created this all. Just look at the human body, the brain, the heart, the eyes, the ears, the 60,000 miles of blood vessels traveling through our bodies. All of this just happened by chance? The ability to reproduce and create. Oxygen, the sun, water, animals, fruits and vegetables, and everything else the human body needs for sustainability is just conveniently available? Matter just appeared out of nowhere I guess? The conscience and emotions just happened to be apart of human nature?
I used to think the same thing, until I studied science and evolution deeper. Yes, when you consider the eons and eons of time for chances to occur, and the fact that evolution of the species provides a way for continual improvement, it's easy to see how a complex organism like the human body could evolve from tiny cells over eons of time. Its not chance, it's evolution. People often can't grasp how many billions and trillions of times in the universe it probably DIDN'T happen - the fact that it did happen makes sense to me. Just because something is complex does not prove any existence for God.
And you are not alone--the modern world and history is filled with people who attribute a human-centered reason for events.
Not that long ago, people believed that thunderstorms occurred and crops failed because God was angry. The Aztecs believed their droughts were due to a lack of human sacrifices. The Hebrews believed that insect were sent to invade crops n order to teach the Egyptians a lesson (rather than natural increases in insect populations during droughts). The Christians believed the black plague came from sinning towns, rather than microbes on fleas on rat s brought by the recent increase in navigation. Many evangelical preachers claimed AIDS was a plague sent by God to punish homosexuals.
You and I look up at the sky and say--wow its amazing--it must be there for me to appreciate it! But a flower can be beautiful--without existing so that I can think it is pretty. (A flower is pretty because it represents eventual fruit. And fruit does not exist so that I can eat it, but so that the plant can reproduce). You see where I am going with this...
It seems we look at the world around us and conclude that its all about us. I have often wondered why we do this?
I think maybe its because, in recent history, we have managed to dominate most of our predators and possess most of the planet--even though its actually insects that posess more of the planet and since we are made up of a significant percentage of bacteria you might argue we exist so the bacteria can flourish.
Also, we see cause and effect in the world around us, so we apply that reasoning to the Universe as a whole. (But the rules in the Universe do not follow the rules on the planet and we have learned that elements can appear out of a vaccuum). What works on earth, doesnt necessarily work in the rest of the Universe, so we cant apply the same reasoning.
This is whythe Scientific Method has been so successful at telling us how the world really is--it has a built in system for eliminating our natural human bias.
Thanks for sharing your story Soloshotfirst.
Welcome Solohotfirst... well put. Enjoy life now! We do get but one to live for sure!
Thanks everyone, great to hear from you all!
I like your story soloshotfirst. My escape was also started by science and reason.
I agree solshotfirst and enjoyed your story. I have chosen to stay agnostic leaning towards Christianity fully aware that there is a good chance I could be wrong. It just seems easier to life following the teachings of Christ instead of the guilt, and strong arming of the church.
BTW I'm sure you have figured out who I am as you sent me your story. ;) Can't wait for a trip either direction to hang out now that we are both out and can enjoy an adult beverage every now and then.