Why I Love Reason

‘Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord’ in Isaiah 1:18. For me things should make sense and when they do, it feels good to me. Puzzles were meant to fit together. Things should work out. Being reasonable is an important trait in my life. I am sure that is why I couldn’t ‘stop thinking about it’ when I stumbled onto issues with church history and religion all together. It should be no surprise that my chosen profession is engineering. Figuring things out, making stuff work is what I love to do.

This explains why for a time I loved apologetics. I got pretty good at it. I could weave a string of unfounded logic almost on demand. It was thrilling too. People would come to me at church with difficulties in their beliefs and I would set their mind at ease and help them feel better, it was a very spiritual experience for me. Some point along the way though I noticed that I often wouldn’t tell the questioner the whole story, they didn’t need to know about the polyandry, or the fraudulent bank, or the stone in a hat, they didn’t need to know about Adam-god, or blood atonement or anachronisms or fake translations and so on. Sure they had discovered something that bothered them about their faith but that didn’t mean I should give them more to worry about. Because in my mind their testimony didn’t need any more battering. They were on shaky ground as it was and their shelf didn’t need anything else on it. After all only the deepest thinkers of the highest levels of faith could handle all the knowledge that I had and still believe….

Wow, I look back at the old me and see so much arrogance it almost makes me sick. Such is apologetics, it is a world where the goal is to appear reasonable and logical without hurting the faith of the believer. A good apologist first and foremost is a great apologist to himself in much the same way the best liar believes his own lies. The trick to becoming a great apologist is learning to redefine things. If you don’t like what the word myth means, then change the definition. Claim for yourself that myth can mean reality. 1 That way when you are talking to the anti-faith heathen if he says the word you can respond using your own definition and be totally truthful…. to yourself …. sorta.

moving-the-goal-posts_dilbert_9498
After you get good at changing definitions of words try changing whatever requirements originally stated that caused the difficulty in the first place. It is called moving the goal posts. If you are good at it you can keep changing the pattern of proof until you reach something that can’t be proven either way. These tricks are all known as logical fallacies and they are how words like ‘translate’ completely change meaning and people are willing to believe convoluted 5 page explanations vs a simple ‘he was making shit up.’

When I first discovered what logical fallacies were and realized how I was using them on myself, I initially couldn’t believe it. After all it meant admitting that the person most responsible for fooling you was well… you. It is a double whammy, you are the idiot, being fooled by you the jerk. Pretty hard to accept, especially if like me you are packing a decent size ego.2

If you want to be a good apologist you should also toss out Occam’s Razor so you don’t get cut. If however you want to actually use reason rather than just sound reasonable I’d suggest this is the best razor to shave with. Because if you find yourself not looking at the simplest explanation and honestly evaluating how it fits the facts, this is a sign of cognitive dissonance and indicates your are deep into self apologetics. It’s not unusual even for highly intelligent people. On the contrary it is perfectly normal, the fact is we humans are subject to illusion no matter how smart we are.

I guess what I am trying to say is don’t be afraid of the simple explanation, even if if means you have been made a fool.

fool

Defending the truth is far easier than propping up the lie. If you love reason as much as I do, this is a road you want to take, and in case you aren’t sure that you value reason as an explanation more than magic, the Fridge has inspired the following parable. Read it. If you really do love truth more than ego, the answer is obvious. If it only angers you, then you are not yet ready to be as cool as the Fridge would have you be my friend. But don’t worry, you can always come back later. The Fridge will still keep the beverage cold for the day you decide to partake.

The parable of the flat tire

A traveller going down the road of faith gets a flat tire on her car. Stopped on the side of the road without means to lift the vehicle, she is stranded.

A believer happens by and sees her dilemma, stopping he offers to help. He explains that she just needs more faith, if she will simply drive on her problem will be solved. “All things come to those that have faith” he declares! “You just have to believe first, and if you don’t believe and die here on the side of the road, well remember I told you so” as he speeds off in his minivan.

An apologist stops by a little while later to help the frustrated traveler. “The believer sent me” he says, “said you were in a bad way.” After reviewing the situation, he begins to explain what flat tires are. “It is when a round wheel loses air, and thus can’t roll like it used to. Often times rolling is something we just expect here in life.” Pondering the tire and its lack of the round shape he pontificates, “there are reasons for flat tires in life, it is the only way we get to stop sometimes because we are moving so fast. Maybe you don’t realize it now, but one day this tire will be a good thing. You will look back on it with longing and joy. So don’t mourn the flat now. Rejoice in it for one day you will realize there are no such things as ‘flat’ tires. Only tires with air and tires without air. Flat is only an illusion that we are meant to overcome! Besides, look here at AAA, this is proof of the value of AAA, if you were to join you wouldn’t be in this predicament now. It really is your own fault you see. It is completely logical after all that if you had AAA right now that this whole issue wouldn’t have even existed. I also noticed that you have the tool to remove the tires right there in your hand. That might seem like the best course of action now, but is it really showing faith in AAA? Maybe if you waited a bit, set that wrench on a shelf and tried not to think about it help would come along.  If you have a hard time though and you just can’t see the big picture, know that many of us have studied flat tires for decades and we totally understand them. So just trust me!” He says over his shoulder as he drives off.

An atheist stops, looks at the situation and hands the lost soul a jack.

 

  1. I use this example because yesterday in a discussion an apologist redefined the meaning of myth to include having a factual basis which in turn led to the inspiration for this article. I have noticed that the Fridge works in mysterious ways providing inspiration from the most mundane experiences!
  2. Personally, I think most apologists are packing some huge egos, but then again that could just be my own confirmation bias. 🙂

Mild Cult Deprogramming

kool-aid

There are many that say the LDS church is a cult, personally I don’t think so, well not exactly anyways. It’s not nearly to the level of Jonestown or Heavens Gate. There are no group suicides and they at least pay lip service to independent thought. ‘You can have your own ideas, just don’t rally support to change ours’. Is what you hear when you want to know if it is ok to question the leaders or not. When I compare it to the BITE model of cultish-ness there are quite a few maybes on the list from my perspective, so personally I can’t quite call it a full on cult. Even with the cheesy jello and the funeral potatoes showing up everywhere instead of kook-aid. 🙂 So for this essay lets call it a mild cult.

It is filled with mildness too if you think about it. The general conference sessions are mildly hypnotic, not out rightly so for sure but take a look at the patterns and cadence of the talks. They could have come right out of a neural linguistic programming handbook. I honestly don’t think most of them realize the way they are talking is a form of hypnotic suggestion, they just copy what the other leaders have done since the beginning of the religion. Is it any surprise that it is so easy into a mild nap during these sessions?

Testimonies are mildly and meekly shared, enhancing the mild little voice inside telling you it is all true. It is rare that a leader gets strongly outspoken, that is why cases like Holland getting animated during a sermon get so widely talked about.

Members are warned to steer clear of confrontation, they are reminded of the need to be meek and mild-like. Both male and female leaders seem to develop a singsong voice and an almost sticky sweet way of mildly communicating and suppressing their passion. Kind of reminds me of this:

Now one of the first principles in the gospel of the Fridge is a good pun is a good thing. So far mild cult in the title is punny for two reasons, it is a mild cult that teaches members to be mild! But I’d like to reveal a third meaning in this essay. 1 While there are those in the mild trance that are willing seek out the light and truth on their own there are many more that do not. You personally may wish to expose your friend or loved one to a little more open thinking. Well I suggest it takes a mild approach. Outright denunciation of their faith will likely never work. It will instead trigger a backfire effect and reinforce the belief you are trying to get them to see a little more critically.

Instead of strong declarations against the religion, ask mildly though provoking questions. Engage in open dialog, discover the emotional connections that have created that persons bond to the church. Make sure your friends and family understand some of the emotional reasons you couldn’t pretend to believe anymore. Your approach to questioning the mild programming (that now probably frustrates you immensely when you see it regurgitated) needs to be mild if you want to effect positive change in your relationships going forward.

A direct approach due to the realities of cognitive dissonance is simply not that effective. A mild approach to sharing your reasons for leaving the church that can generate actual questions by the believers themselves when they regurgitate the pat answer is a better way. Putting a person in a situation where they have to question their own rationalization is a far more productive to help others to think critically and question the things they have been taught to think. If it is a mildly difficult question, it is easier for the person to face and less likely to simply be shelved and ignored.

On the plus side this mild approach will lessen the angst between you and friends or family that still believe something you see as false. To take it means accepting the fact they may never ever see it your way. Such is life. Accept that and then you will have the opportunity to encourage independent thought and develop an atmosphere of open dialog and questions that can lead to understanding. It is key that you respect others feelings for their belief no matter how much you might think they have been fooled. Everyone has a right to how they feel.

Then one day, one of those that you have talked to might give you a call, or send you a message and say “You know I have been thinking about that point you made the other day…I think I see where you are coming from now.” And in that day your joy will be great as you have exposed another soul to the freedom of thought that comes from belief in the Fridge. It will be worth the wait, I promise.

 

 

  1. If you like the the fact that the profet can get three puns out of one title, then you will notice the chill of the Fridge is prodding you to share the coolness of this post with others 🙂

Beyond Belief

I think I need to figure out how to move on. I got to admit it is hard to do.

Maybe it’s because I hang out in forums with people that have felt the same spiritual deception from a church we once trusted. Maybe it’s because there is always this unspoken elephant in the room whenever I am with family that still believe. It seems really hard to avoid the things happening in the church I once loved. They are all around me, even when I don’t want them to be. Case in point; this new release from the church about the Book of Abraham. It gets posted on Deseret news, it gets blogged about, it gets talked about by members and ex-members alike. For me personally this is a significant topic, it was a major factor in my loss of belief and trust in the religion of my birth. Amongst some of the social media I frequent this topic will get dissected and analyzed bit by bit. This particular essay of all the difficult topics that have been released by the church has got to be the longest one yet. It hits all of the apologetic approaches that are discussed about the translation of the documents that were in the possession of one Joseph smith Jr. It runs around in so many circles of justification that it sets of the BS-ometer of any reasonable human being that has every tried to buy a used car from a guy with a name like Fast Eddie.

It pretty much says they got nothing on the reason why documents such as the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar aren’t even close to a legit translation and seems to hang most of the doubt your doubts on some missing long scrolls that for some reason are now conveniently gone for any kind of comparison. Brushing away things like the fact that the pictures in the book are right smack dab in the middle of stuff that they admit have nothing to do with a correct translation, all the while taking care to not mention the fact that the pictures themselves are not translated in anyway at all that is accurate.

In fact if you would rather watch a video of the approach the church has taken in explaining the book, Brother Jake released one a while back that pretty much nails it.

If you bother to check out the references for the long scroll theory you will soon find that it is Hugh Nibley (born in 1910) said he heard the story from his father, Alexander Nibley (born 1878), who heard it from 68 year old Joseph F Smith in 1906. Nibley telling a story he heard from his dad who heard it from JFS who was remembering an experience when he was 5 years old some 60 years after the fact.1  It is literally hearsay of hearsay of hearsay of 60 year old childhood memories. Something the FAIR apologetic group is sure to tell you can’t be trusted as shown here. Oh wait, looks like FAIR only counts that type of hearsay unreliable if it counters their point. If it is supportive such as is the case with the long scroll theory, well then it’s all good.

But dissecting this latest church release isn’t what my post is all about. This one is about me personally, I need to figure out a way to move beyond this belief system that keeps dragging me back in and riling me up with these intentionally deceptive explanations that take 5 pages to basically say we don’t know why it doesn’t make any sense but hey the writing is pretty, so trust us. Or seer means translate without really translating anything. Or stuff is missing that would explain it all. Or, or, or, or till you find some reason to still believe. Please don’t take your tithing money away, we will miss you!

All this marketing puffery to keep you from drawing the conclusion that it makes obviously simple sense if you consider just for a moment that it was made up philosophies of men mingled with scripture. All this repeated effort at a sham job, it bugs me and keeps me from moving on. And the fact is I want to move on.

I want to work on a mythology that doesn’t entrench itself in unchangeable doctrine and a need to lie and obfuscate to remain relevant. I want to move beyond the belief that was so entrenched in my psyche that things like this cause my ire to rise. I know some people seem to need the belief system, I realize that no matter what I say there will be millions that will go on happily willing to be bamboozled in exchange for a promise that can’t be tested till you die. When you have given decades to something you loved and were ultimately fooled by, it is hard to leave alone. When you started a blog about your stream of consciousness and how religion affected your life, it is hard to leave alone. When you watch time after time a trusted organization carefully deceives its very own members, well that is beyond belief.

Maybe it is a sign of the Fridge, a signal from the light within, when the religion you trusted does things that are beyond belief it is time for you to move beyond that belief.

I think I am going to go YAGE a couple of exmo groups and join some humanist ones, get a little more focused on making the world a better place and less so on trying to save the ones that just aren’t that interested. Time to focus more on the turtle lovers club than the negatives of turtle hating. What do you say?

Are you with me?

letting go

  1. Thank you to curious_mormon on reddit for the correction!

Multi Level Mormon (MLM)


I have begun to think of Mr. Trimble as a bit of a nemesis today. Let me tell you why. It is because of my niece, I have written about her here before. She is on a mission right now for the Mormon church, she is a loving, kind, albeit somewhat gullible person. I hate it when people take advantage of her trusting loving way. So why does this guy bug me? Because he is the epitome of of this type of advantage-taking person. He reminds me of the guy selling Amway, Nuskin, Essential oils, Nutraceuticals, Monavie, Meleluka, Pampered chef, Avon, Cutco, Scentzy, Herbal life, Nature’s sunshine and about a dozen other MLMs that I have been approached about over the years. They are your best friend and have sooooo much in common with you and your beliefs so you are sure to trust them. They only want to help you build your downline. They want you to know they care about you. In short, they want you to buy in to their pyramid scheme.

Pyramid schemes are a family affair, not unlike the church. 1 You see you are taught that once you have the truth that you should be desirous to share it. That teaching runs so deep that when you discover the fraud the church has gotten away with that all us apostates want to share it. Big mistake, you quickly find out though, as the quickest way to alienate friends and family is to point out the faults of the thing they deeply believe in. (See number 1 from last weeks post.) People in the church have been taught to look at all counter evidence with a persecution complex, if you critique them then it is proof they are on the right track. This is possibly the biggest reason that those outside the church see it as cultish. It is a positive form of the double bind in psychology terms. What that means is you are trapped by the logic. If you are a believer consider this example, it might help you see my point. A Muslim declares to you that Allah is the one true god and that Mormonism is based on a false prophet. You point out that Allah commanded Muhammad to marry young girls and create a society that thinks it is ok to fly planes into buildings killing people to prove a point. The Muslim says your negativity and lack of praying hard enough only proves to him that Allah is the one.

house
Can you see there is no way to counter his reasoning? It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Either way by his logic he wins. The problem isn’t one of proof one way or the other, it is a problem of faulty logic. Since there is no way to negate the outcome, you can use that type of logic to prove anything. This happens all the time when a person is indoctrinated into a cult. Ironically many of the same methods are used to sell you really expensive fire alarms or time shares2 as well as getting you to buy into an MLM. A missionary learns these skills first hand. It could honestly be one reason there are so many successful entrepreneurs to come out of the mormon culture. You have to be able to sell your product after all. When it comes to selling a religion, the only product is a dream, a great afterlife. Not at all unlike the promise of wealth once you build your downline is it?

So why do these MLM types bug me? Because I see a person selling someone something they don’t really need. All in an effort to build their own business, caring about the actual person is not the primary reason for their efforts. So when my niece sends me a link from one of these super popular mormon blogger’s articles that are literally filled with falsehoods regurgitated as truth, it bugs me. When this much BS is sold as valid information, either A) this guy hasn’t a clue about what he is pontificating on or B) he is outright lying. And who is he taking advantage of with either his incompetence or fraud? Someone I care about and don’t like to see mislead. How far did he go? Well lets take a look. He gives us 11 reasons to believe him. Before he does so he sets an emotional stake in the ground with this statement.

One cannot deny the existence of that book. It is there for all to read and it survives any and every attack.”

First the book exists is a proof? If that is the case then the Fridge really is God, because… well look in your kitchen, it clearly exists. Same for the fact you can read it, but here comes the clincher, ‘it survives every attack.’ How so? By what measure does it survive anything? Does a false book immediately evaporate? Does fiction just disappear into nothingness? What is the Quran doing still hanging around with a couple billion followers if that idiotic statement is true? This is one of the biggest falsehoods I realized only after I looked past my own personal bias on the topic (yes, I was an idiot too:)). The real truth is, it doesn’t meet any critical examination but his last one. We will get to that in a minute, first lets look at the 10 things it ‘survives.’

1. An uneducated boy wrote it.
This is simply untrue. He wasn’t a boy when he published the Book of Mormon, he was 24. It was written over a two year time span before that. Check the dates, he was 14 in 1820 when he claimed the first vision happened, the book published in 1830. Maybe you thought he stayed 14 for a decade… Also the uneducated bit is misleading as well. Formal schooling not so much, but his father was a school teacher. They made sure that Joseph could read as is evident by his own testimony. His own mother bragged about how good he was at telling stories. Is it really that unlikely a book like that could have been made up? after all Christopher Paolini wrote the book Eragon when he was 15 .

2. But, but Chiasmus and stuff!!
Turns out there is a book called the late war with all that stuff that was used to teach school kids back then. In case you aren’t following links Joe did go to high school at age 20 with the Stowell kids, very reasonable chance this book was studied. Read The Late War side by side with your BoM, it is eye opening.

3. Middle east geography
This is saying that NHM=Nahom, I guess that might be the case if back then acronyms were all the rage like they are today! None the less even a slightly remotely critical assessment makes this an obvious grasping at straws.

4. Making up names
Well first see number 1 up above, look at all the names the author of Eragon made up. Second, just because you can’t make up names doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Also look at the maps here, there is some very obvious inspiration for names on old maps of the place he grew up. Also for the record, this map-name deal was the thing that finally collapsed my shelf after years of setting it all aside and endeavoring to have faith.

 5. If Joe didn’t do it it must be satan? 
Dude that was on saturday night live! Try to be a little more original! Besides Joe being totally capable of such a work there were others that could have contributed as well. Oliver Cowdrey among them. This type of argument is a fallacy known as a false dichotomy.

6. Other sheep
This is a good way to trigger a true believers reflex action, because this idea is drilled into you as proof of the BoM from day one. But think about it, if you believe the bible, why do the American indians have to be the other sheep? They could have been people in Africa or even Egypt, and remember the world was a much smaller place back then. This is yet another feel good argument that creates the idea of support, but is actually meaningless. Oh and if the book was made up in 1828, Isn’t is obvious it could be made up to fit the idea of other sheep.

7. Legends of the white God. 
Why pick and choose your evidence? The author referenced by the link says that this guy came over via boat…. not the supernatural description in the BoM. So you trust the author for only part of what she says, but she got the rest wrong? This effect is known as confirmation bias, and has been discussed here before. Just as there are reams of authors talking about this legend, there are reams of authors explaining it without the BoM. Including the example used.

8. Joe Smith got the stick of Judah right.
Ok I almost laughed out loud at this ‘proof’. Come on…. think! If he was making up a story in 1828 he could have easily worked in a prophecy after the fact. The only way this can seem miraculous at all is to first assume the text is not a 19th century work of fiction. Otherwise it is patently obvious how easy it would be to read the bible and then write a book that fulfills biblical prophecy. Besides, the whole lost tribe thing wasn’t a new idea in the early 1800s as you can see by these quotes.

9. All those witnesses. How could it be a hoax?!
I used to put a lot of faith in this as well, after all they are right there in the cover letter on the first page. But then I found out the 8 witnesses didn’t even sign their own name. Oliver Cowdrey did it for them, here take a look at it yourself on the JSP website. The three witnesses when you search the accounts yourself only saw the plates in vision, with their spiritual eyes. Kind of like a daydream if you will. As for the hoax not being exposed part, all you have to do is actually read the (aghast) anti mormon material from that time frame, where there are dozens of people exposing it. It only doesn’t seem that way because you are taught from day one that anything critical is a lie. Plus Joe called anyone that took him to task a liar and cheat, often lying himself as he did so. Just look at page 408 to 412 here in the History of the church volume 6. The self proclaimed prophet denies the polygamy that William Law is declaring he is doing and calls William all the scandalous names in the book for exposing him. Later Holy Joe orders William’s printing press destroyed for printing the facts about JS polyandrous liaisons. The truth of the matter, when all this went down JS was married to 20+ women.  You have to ask who was exposing who and who was doing the lying?

10. No contradictions
Again a flat out lie. There are a slew of contradictions in the BoM, some between the original 1830 printing and a later version, I am not just talking about grammar changes here, this is about things like the nature of the Godhead. The book is also full of anachronistic contradictions, things that hadn’t been invented yet or have been proven to not exist in the time and place setting of the book. There are impossible growth rates of populations and 2 million missing swords. The list of problems with the book goes on and on. All you have to do is actually read the book looking for these issues and they stand out like a sore thumb.

Finally, The spirit tells me it is true. Trust your feelings.
This is the only thing you can use to prove the book true, and it goes contrary to all the evidence to the otherwise. It is what is called a testimony. It is based entirely on feelings. I want to make a point here. Even after all 10 of the above issues totally collapsed for me and I was honest with myself that all those reasons were outright wrong in most cases and tenuous in the best possible light. I still clung to my testimony. I was sure I had felt something, sure I had had a witness. Just like he explained it happens. All the rest of the reasons collapse under honest examination and only this remains. My nemesis tells you to trust your feelings. I trusted mine. I also trusted them when my best missionary friend set up a time to hang out and it turned out he was selling Amway. Paul H Dunn sold me a different kind of lie. Turn’s out your heart can sell you things that your brain knows are a con job (HeartSell™). It’s how conmen make a living because they know this one thing…

BS till you sell
There will always be people selling you something by making you feel good. The question is, are you buying it?

  1. If you have been paying close attention you will notice that the MLM Natures sunshine indicted in the link above is on the list of MLMs that saturate UT
  2. My brother recently got a free stay in vegas to hear a time share spiel, the guy doing the selling talked about being Mormon outright, but seemed dejected when he found out my bro wasn’t your average mormon being married 6 years without kids, guess he wasn’t as easy of a mark as he was used to. They didn’t buy the share. Yay for a little skepticism! 🙂

5 Reasons You Will Wish You Never Left The Church

Leaving a religion you deeply believed in isn’t easy. In fact it can be very difficult. This is not something you should do without thoughtful consideration of the ramifications. On my mission I often watched people convert from one religion to another. They suffered. They were cast out of their homes as young teenagers because their parents were catholic and they expected their kids to stay catholic. Sometimes getting baptized Mormon meant leaving their family and loved ones forever, not because they wanted to leave their family, but because their family had a religion and bringing in a new one was just too much for them to handle. Having traversed the path of leaving my religion of birth I have gotten a little insight into what can occur should you make the choice to speak up and openly say you no longer believe. Here are 5 reasons you might wish you had never left the church. (Inspired by this article.)

1. Offending People
Friends and family that are still part of the religion will be offended by any opinion you voice that runs counter to their religion. If you point out a bit of bothersome history or post some evidence of your reasons for leaving on social media, they will confront you, they will call you, they will ask you to please stop attacking their faith. It doesn’t matter if the point you are making is true or not. Anything that disparages the faith you once held is offensive to those that remain. With the single act of leaving you will likely offend more people in your life than another way.

2. Understanding Doctrine
You will be accused of not understanding the doctrine. The problem is if you ask a member to define what doctrine is, you will soon discover that is pretty much impossible. The reason is the religion often claims that their doctrines never change. That is probably because the core of most religions think God never changes and thus his doctrines don’t change either. This leads to some really upsetting discussions in regards to doctrine. Especially if it has changed, which it does all the time. Those that remain in the religion can’t see it or acknowledge it. Thus pinning down doctrine is a really slippery thing. If you get into a doctrinal discussion after you leave the church with a person still remaining it will be an extremely frustrating experience for both of you.

3. It’s too hard
Staying in the faith is easy compared to leaving it. You might have to sacrifice some time and money to your religion to stay in sure, but all religions require some level of commitment, that is why they succeed. In an odd twist of psychology our beliefs are formed after our efforts not the other way a round. Ben Franklin was the first to point this out. Admitting you might have been mistaken about the thing you were so sure was true, that is possibly one of the most difficult things you will ever face. To make it worse once you leave, the ones you left behind will accuse you of being lazy or sinful. You might want to ask them when was the last time they considered honestly that they might be wrong setting aside the fear or eternal damnation for just a moment to considered things rationally. If you do that though, things will likely escalate right up to where the believer is offended again. So you will be faced with some hard choices. Keep your mouth shut when you want to speak your mind and voice your opinion or speak up and inevitably face all sorts of accusation from those that remain about your choices. Leaving means your children’s friends will change, your community won’t be the same, likely people will gossip about you and even avoid you in public. People that were never of the faith will be treated better than you because in the eyes of the ones you have left you are now a traitor and not to be trusted. Compare rejection and loss of trust by everyone you love to donating a little money and time to the religion, you tell me which is harder.

4. Anti-everything
My religion was Mormon, I still identify with my pioneer ancestors. If you don’t think the Mormons got it right you are automatically anti-mormon. In fact any document or bit of evidence that might convince you Mormons were wrong about the claim theirs is the one true church of God is considered ‘anti-mormon’ material. It doesn’t matter if it is true or not because that is not the definition of anti. The only definition as best I can tell is ‘anti’ stuff is everything that would make you doubt or question your belief. This is common to most religions. It is the nature of ideology. If you are right then others must be wrong. By leaving, you automatically become anti-everything in the view of those that still believe. Their religion means everything to them. For the believer it is a source of happiness and joy. If you leave and point out any of the errors in their faith, it makes you anti-happiness as far as they are concerned.


5. Sin
Sin is all your fault now that you have no religion to take all the guilt away. Back in the faith forgiveness was easy compared your life post religion. No longer will supplication and sorrow be enough make up for your mistakes. It’s all on you. If you mess up, you got to fix it. God isn’t gonna just make it all better with a wave of magical atonement. Worse yet those same friends and loved ones that still believe will accuse you of just wanting to sin and party it all up. Somehow they will not be able to see your perspective at all. You will realize that there is no magical poof to make your mistakes all better. You have to deal with it. All that repentance stuff, where you try to make amends, etc you still have to do it to resolve your integrity and forgive yourself and move on. Sure there might be some peccadillos that you can do guilt free. But is it really worth giving up the idea that God has a plan and it will all workout? If something bad happens to you our your family and it is your fault, it’s your fault. You no longer get to rationalize it away as God’s will. It was your screw up and you have to live with it. When you realize there is no magic way to kiss the boo boo and make it all better it, means you are ultimately responsible and that isn’t easy.

athiest

So why leave?
Given all these reasons to stay in church, you might be asking why leave? Religion often teaches some great morals, it often creates a sense of community and bonds people together in striving for common good. Why with all these negatives to leaving would a person leave? I can only think of one. Integrity! If your faith requires you to declare it true when you can prove it is not. It means it is asking you to lie to other people. It might be for all sorts of good reasons. It might be to protect budding testimonies it might be because it is a great way to raise kids. It might be the only way to see your children married, it might be the only way to keep peace between a spouse that believes and one that doesn’t. But as miss chill says it so eloquently. The church is an ultimatum. You have to believe in it or at least pretend you do. It’s not that they kick you out for not believing. They will happily let you stay and even take your tithing dollars without an ounce of belief. You can even stay and not pay tithing and they will only bug you once a year about it. You can not believe and teach sunday school or serve as a bishop or leader. All you have to do is not tell anyone about your doubts… you have to lie to yourself and others. Since my disaffection I have found so many people that still serve and do their best to follow this NOM route. I hold none of you any ill will. In a lot of ways it is much easier to stay in the church to keep your family together or to not risk your job or backlash of your community. There are good moral teachings and the average ward is a group of people generally trying to help each other. Eventually though you might come to the point where you have to decide if pretending is worth it. You will have to decide if your integrity means more than the warm hug of conformity.

Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing.
– Gordon B. Hinckley

It can be very difficult to face the matter. So hard that we will do our very best to prop up our faith against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We will fight ourselves to avoid facing the matter. We will justify awful things that bother us at our very core1 to avoid facing the matter. But the matter will always be there and the more we learn, the more it will force us to look at it and acknowledge it. Eventually we will have to face it.

It can be devastating leaving your religion once you realize it isn’t what you thought it was, only you can decide if your integrity is worth it. All because you know something you didn’t a few months ago. All because you gained insight and learned something. No wonder they tell you to stop thinking about it. Ignorance truly is bliss.

So will you run the risk of regret and speak up about your loss of faith? Will you go on pretending? There are most definitely consequences either way. I’ve always been taught to do what is right and let the consequence follow. But it’s not my call as to which path is right for you. It’s yours.

honest man

  1. such as polygamy, polyandry, underage brides, fraudulent banks, attacks on freedom