Last Post *sniff sniff, *tear

This post is basically a short summary of my own journey through Mormonism.  There are many hyperlinks included in the text- mostly referencing my own writings at the time I went through the particular stage/struggle of my faith. 

I think I’ve caught the “rational bug”. I’ve tried and tried to make Mormonism and the LDS Church work for me but “faith” and “just put it on the shelf” is usually where my inquiries lead me. I am now very much interested in Science and reason, rational thought, and evidence-based belief. I am still attending church for familial reasons, however I think that the fundamental Mormon inside me died. And the liberal Mormon in me has become uninterested in Mormon Studies and Culture. It’s sad, even sad to me, but the “real” world out there is much more exciting and fulfilling, full of greater truths, even.

These last two years (I just this second realized that it’s been two years exactly) have been a fun roller-coaster- immensely interesting and entertaining at times. The boring parts I would have to admit have been Sundays in the chapel, hearing loose interpretations of old cherry-picked scripture writ.

Four years ago found me on my mission- I made the largest collection of G.A. articles of all the missionaries on my mission. Why? Because I loved “the truth” and wanted all I could get my hands on. It was “that fruit” that I couldn’t get enough of. Three years ago found me on the internet (only MormonShields, FairLDS.org, and other apologetic sites). Why, because I wanted to be the best defender of the church I could possibly be- for myself, and my non-member friends and family. I hadn’t stumbled upon the archiving-abilities of “blogging” yet (yes, I blog mostly to archive my studies, not just to put out poorly-written material), so I printed out hundreds and hundreds of pages of articles to add to my mission books and to study and devour.

Two years ago I found new material on church history (not “anti-Mormon” stuff, don’t worry). To me, the authors would strive for objectivity, it was mature and didn’t have to “edit” out parts of the LDS’ history for me- it treated me like a big boy. If Joseph Smith drank, and liked to drink, I could know. It didn’t have to be edited out for me. If a church leader was married to several women and having sex with all of them, it was now fair-game to study. I could know about it (remember, big boy). And if the church had a peculiar policy on race, I could find out more details on the subject. I found it fascinating to get a glimpse of the other side to some issues. My world “took on color” instead of its previous black-and-white, 2-D nintendo 8-bit version.

I then started to have doubts. I always saw my belief in something in terms of a percentile. That percentile came from the very high nineties as a true believer just back from a mission (you can’t have 100% because that would be “perfect knowledge”…or self-deception, you choose). The doubts I started to have took me somewhere around a 55% belief-range (these were my liberal or “intellectual” Mormon days). I expressed my doubts to my family openly and publicly on online forums.

I became very sympathetic to doubters, disbelievers and ex-Mormons. I did not think like most of them, but I understood where they were coming from. I developed a critical mind towards some things in the church. I was then split. I saw myself in two worlds at once. Part of me felt like the father in Keith Norman’s T-Word. It is a story about a father whose son returns from his mission, studies church history and loses his faith. A story where the father is sympathetic towards his son’s situation and continues to love and not judge him. I felt like the son in the story, jealous of how the father showed empathy towards his son. At the same time, part of me was critical of that same father.

In a letter to a friend dated eleven months ago, I summarized my strongest points for disbelief. They were:

  1. The translations. Book Of Abraham+ Kinderhook= Reconsidering the Book of Mormon translation/claim of divinity.
  2. The ever-constant change of core doctrines in the Church which upon one’s perception of this instability members may find less genuine the “fullness of the gospel”, or a “restored gospel”, or a “peculiar gospel” or uniqueness from other churches. After seeing one church in JS’s time, a completely different one in the 1950’s, and another completely different church as it stands today, leaders can be seen as completely human in their opinions, prophecies, and commandments and that can make it hard to take them seriously today. After seeing so many doctrines thrown out in the past, how many of today’s doctrines will remain? How can we put faith in today’s doctrines and suggestions after seeing a history of constant and convenient re-modeling of the Church?
  3. “Permissible Human Imperfections” (where people say “oh, but they were just human”) of past leaders are of the most heinous: Fraud/scams (Treasure seeking/magic, running away at midnight from a bankrupt bank). Murder (the doctrine and implementation of Blood Atonement, Mountain Meadows Massacre). And sex/adultery. These imperfections are far from being merely “warts”.

Those were my issues nearly a year ago. To seal the deal of my apostasy for me today- or the “final nail in the coffin” for me was probably and quite simply learning how to think critically for myself. Let me explain: anytime an issue was brought up with my father or anyone concerned with my doubts, their factory-produced replies came packed with logical fallacies. Every single argument for belief either ended in an unacceptable fallacy or that magic word to suspend rational thought and inquiry…faith.

Equally damning for me has been the gaping abyss found between religion and Science (see this article for some great examples).  I soon found that the only way to be intellectually honest with myself would be to accept Agnosticism. Less than a year ago I started to read Dawkins and Harris’ works. I listened to anything I could on the subject of science and reason. Favorite podcasts for me became the Skeptic’ Guide to the Universe and Point of Inquiry. I became to find these things truer than the ultimate religious “truth” I once proudly proclaimed. I had traded reason for faith. And I’ve been loving it ever since! I have found an exciting world in that which is rather than that which one hopes for. I know that doesn’t work for many, but it represents what I’m about in the most perfect sense. The popular Astronomer Carl Sagan put it this way:

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

An archive of my studies in science and reason can be found here. So my One Dude’s Mormon Studies has now come to a end, basically. On the percentile-level there is still a small hope that lingers in me for Mormonism, but it’s pretty small. Part of me thinks that is sad, too, but another part of me rejoices in the possibilities. Indifferent of my disbelief, my morals are here to stay and my love for friends and family around me only grows. I may not “know” anything in this world, but this, I am sure about.

To conclude this short story, here’s a question I proposed to my friend John Dehlin (who by the way appeared on Good-Morning America- (yeah, awesome, huh) and I put it below for anyone here that may have an intelligent answer for me as well:

Hey John (and any readers out there that got to the end my story),

My question to you is about [John’s post, where he says]:

I don’t care what you say. Krista Tippet of Speaking of Faith is in every way as compelling in her arguments for faith, and maybe even more so, than Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins are against faith

You say that Tippet’s arguments are “as compelling or more so” than Hitchens and Dawkins. I have two questions:

1) would you say that “compelling” in this context can mean “rational”? I guess I ask that because to me only rational thought is “compelling”.

2) If so, can you paraphrase any of her main points where her “compelling” arguments may be found as rational as the atheists’ take?

I ask this not as a cynic, but per serious inquiry. I’ve listened to many of SOF podcasts in the past (a history of doubt being my favorite), but lost interest when I recently found the rational thought of the two atheists mentioned in your post to be much more compelling for myself. In other words, I am interested to find compelling rationalism in the philosophy of “faith”…. and if anyone can have a shot at being able to enlighten me in this, I’m sure it’d be you, John.

Maybe there’s no hope for me, however.

thanks…

-One Dude

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~ by bonoboi on June 21, 2007.

47 Responses to “Last Post *sniff sniff, *tear”

  1. Mark,
    I know where you are, and have studied many of the things with which you are struggling. For the first two thirds of my mission, I was wrestling with the fact that I had no real testimony of Joseph Smith and the restoration, the reality of Jesus Christ, and any sense that God existed. It turned out, in my case, that an experience near the end of my mission re-enforced in me the God and Christ existed, but I have still always kept studying things out in my mind, and not being satisfied until aspects of my testimony were as “rational” to me as they were spriritual.

    I’ve spent the last two years getting close to thinkers and philosophers at Biola University, near my home. In that process, I met a visiting professor there whose story interested me greatly. Former Philosopher and Atheist Anthony Flew was receiving an award from Biola, and in conjunction with it, an interview between him and Gary Habernas was published in “Philosophia Christi”, whose editor is also a good friend. After spending a lifetime publishing dozens of books and hundreds of articles defending Atheism, he has become a “theist” (actually, a deist, similar to Thomas Jefferson). He says that the evidence provided by Intelligent Design and the argument from design were definitive. Here is a link to the interview as published in the journal: http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf ; I’m going to encourage you to read it and see if anything there sparks an interest.

    The other thing I’m going to beg you to read is a just-published book by an very gifted LDS scholar (not a philosopher or theologian). The book is “The Case for Divine Design” by now-retired LDS Professor of Biology at Utah State University, Frank B. Salisbbury. He is the author of numerous books and textbooks on biology, and has advanced degrees in botany, bio-chemistry, plant physiology, and geochemistry.

    His book as a great review of all the arguments from design and the various approaches by proponents of creationism and intelligent design, and seems to place himself closest to the proponents of Intelligent Design. When my friends at Biola’s graduate program in science and religion read it, he (and I) were immediately invited to become members of the newsgroup where the arguments for Intelligent Design are worked out.

    The book provides a great description of the intricacies of cellular and molecular biology, the “pesky DNA sequences”, and the descriptions of the origins of life without the help of some designer. while he never will say that the case for an intelligent designer is proven, and always finally bases his belief in God on personal experiences, he does a convincing job of demonstrating that the likelihood of this all just being by chance are very low. Here is an article by Daniel Peterson at Meridian Magazine that spends several paragraphs talking about Dr. Salisbury and the Book: http://www.meridianmagazine.com/books/070205science.html

    The same article discusses a paper by Utah State University Philosophy Prophessor, where he makes the case that Latter-day Saint thought and Intelligent design are “made for each other”. that article is at this link:
    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/pdf.php?filename=MTIwMzI5NTcxNS0xOC0wMi5wZGY=&type=cmV2aWV3

    I’d enjoy hearing what you think, and hope very much that this has not been your last blog entry. I’d like to keep communicating.

    Steve St.Clair
    LDS Interfaith Relations
    Orange County, California
    //ldsfocuschrist.blogspot.com

  2. Mark,

    Godspeed on your journey. It pains me to hear that you’ve learned (or been taught) that faith and reason can not stand together. I actually would agree, but there’s nothing “blind” about my definition of faith. If you’re interested in a non-LDS perspective on that I’d recommend “Reasonable Faith” by William Lane Craig.

    Thanks for the recap on your situation.

  3. Thank you very much for the recommendations, Steve and Dando. I’ll be looking into those articles/books. Thanks again.

  4. Good for you. The reason he used the word “compelling” was so he did not have to use the word “rational”. It is a dodge. You have been enlightened, to science and reason. Congratulations!

  5. Thanks, Rishy. I’d have to agree (that’s why I wrote this post).

  6. It’s a sad fact that many people realize they are agnostic atheists because of their deep desire for the truth, because of their integrity, because they study, because of their honesty, because of their consistency. I share a nearly similar deconversion story as you. I’m not so much here to praise you on becoming better acquainted with reality. I’m here now to help others realize what we know…

    I would have never thought in a million years back then, that my continuous search for truth, would have ironicly removed what I “knew” was “The Truth”. I wasn’t afraid of the truth when I was mormon. I should have been, I’d still be mormon, I’d still have my friends, my life wouldn’t have crumbled, i’d be happier. It’s sad for me to realize the fact that I would still be mormon if I was ignorant, if i never started thinking critically, if i never thought “what if jesus healed another blind person instead of turning water into wine?, would that make him better? but i thought he’s perfect? does jesus+1 make sense?”. if i never got into mormon theology and apologetics and defended the church (btw, never read any anti material)… if i only just had faith, but no, i wanted more, and look at where it got me, and man others :/

    I’d trade everything in the world for the knowledge of god, and I almost did, because i knew that suicide is the only universal and reliable way of knowing if there is an after-life. Tis another sad fact of when reason mixes with religion. JS was right, if you knew, you’d kill yourself. You’re still alive. you have no idea, so stop pretending.

    It’s funny how a few statistically insignificant yet powerfully emotional experiences can be so transformative. The atheist realizes the rarity of “god experience” and that it can, and is, interpreted by whatever religious framework is in the mind of the human who had the given experience, and consequently used as an evidence to justify their already presupposed god concept.

    Arguments from authority do not work as well with people who like evidence. Even in Flew’s case, he admits that his “reason” for the probability of a “deistic” god (note how the poster mentions “theist” as the main, then corrects himself with “deist”, this reveals their thought process a bit, backwards thinking) existing is based on an argument from ignorance and analogy. “it couldn’t have happened by chance”. and he also mentions that he was convinced by an outdated evidence. Hume put a stop to this argument before evolution was demonstrated, so you don’t even need evolution. the argument is sound. Flew should know this. It’s very flaky, for more, see http://www.secweb.org/index.aspx?action=viewAsset&id=369

    It is sad that people on this thread are even suggesting finding god in ignorance and the unknown. “we have no idea how X could have happened, so there must be a god”. Same ol, God of the gaps. They will write countless books about divine design. But it only takes a single severe morphological genetic deformity to disprove that theory. But as the person is quick to state, he doesn’t think the argument to design succeeds. He has his “personal” experience for that. Hume takes out miracles and testimonys out as well. Read up.

    Read all the Craig, Plantigna, Swinburne, etc you want, been there, done that, it all fails. if you presuppose god exists, than you can jsutify it. if you never presuppose/have faith/pretend, you’ll never find god. there is 0 evidence, and personal testimony contradicts, and has MUCH better explainations that ghosts, goblins or gods.

    The next time you pray, change Heavenly Father to , and see how that feels.

    I wish you all the best in your search for truth, i wish you all honesty and objectivity. gnight

  7. lovethineenemy thank you so much for taking the time to write that. I could basically include your words with the original post as it very well represents myself as well. I’m sorry to hear that your life crumbled upon learning the truth about religion. Hopefully you will see that in some way your life is better as it now is. Almost daily I wake up trying to imagine a way that I myself can “make it work” again or just simply “forget” some things to get that Mormon culture and life back but it’s like I’ve passed the event horizon and there’s no turning back. ultimately I don’t think I would want to turn back to my previous mentality, though. whenever i think about it enough i always come to the same conclusions and it’s like you said, it’s about honesty and integrity. There’s no going back. Thanks a lot for you comment.

  8. you’re very welcome. to clarify on the bad side-effects of unwillingly transitioning to atheism, most resulted in mormons treating me differently because i learned that atheism is true.
    i.e., because i was a hardcore mormon (it was my practically my whole life), i lost my whole life in a sense because many friends and family could not put up with me (most religious people cant). so, i dont even see them anymore. and i miss my 9 year old students, and my friends babies, all the children, i miss them, and i feel so bad, because they have no choice but to KNOW god exists, because that’s all they will know. ok so back to actual things I had to face during my transition to reality.

    the only things i really had to cope with, which i have are…

    fear of death.
    i know when i die, that’s the end of me. which, this is not too difficult bare, but when you’ve been under the impression that you exist eternally, it sucks to learn that you really don’t. this is why religion sucks, they tell people things that would be wonderful, but it’s just not true.

    fear of god.
    this one is so funny in restrospect ;), but it’s dead on accurate. for a while, when i was in transition, i still thought there was a chance that god could be out there. and i would be scared for my life sometimes, for example, during a big thunderstorm. i truely believed that god was going to strike me down for teaming up with satan. to put this fear in perspective, i never really sinned, i kept all the commandments, so, this was the first time i had any reason to think god would be displeased with me, and wow, what a reason, atheism, not just atheism, anti-supernaturalism (which means anti-god). god was my enemy (not like it would matter, he’d pwn me like job regardless right?) heh, anyway, fact is, i was afraid for my life. i would try to find ANY possible hint or evidence from god that he was upset with me. i got nothing. again, i really thought god was going to get me, because i was trying to stop the comming of the immorality and eternal life of man 😉

    i didn’t have to find another source of morality.

    as far as goign back, i could do it cake walk, being a mormon isn’t hard, getting into the celestial kingdom is not hard. following a list of rules is not hard. but as even the beleiver can understand, i will not do the right thing for the wrong reason. hopefully this illustrates just how stupid doing particular “works” or “rites” is to get into “a place”.

    oh i did want to mention, that all the apologetical stuff really didn’t hurt my testimony all too much. i mean. i don’t care if joseph smith killed and raped little children, it’s completely irrelevant as far as im conserned, as to whether god exists or not. what is relevant, is evidence OF god. and we don’t have a drop of it. soo, i guess, what happened to me, is that i never really disbelieved in the mormon god, i actually disproved all god(s), and then realized that my god was a god too, heh, so i really have nothing against mormonism, in fact, i still defend it to this day where it’s better. and it’s definitely got some god concept upgrades for sure.

    anotehr sad fact, if i deceive myself into believing mormonism, i could goto heaven. but for now, knowing things, and being honest, i’m destined for outter darkness >:) see ya there mark 😉

    oh, i just wanted to end with something that i came up with myself (that no doubt many mormon thinkers have realized), which further prevents me from being mormon on moral grounds, yes, you heard me, moral grounds 🙂 … ok… basically…

    if it is true that children under 8 are innocent, and if they undergo a bodily death on earth before reaching the (arbitrary) age of accountability, then they are granted a free ticket to the celestial kingdom.

    if this is true, then I would shoot my children in the head.

    *gasp* you say? heh, i haven’t even gotten to the good part 😉 here goes… i’ll draw an analogy of myself killing my children, with none other than jesus himself.

    i will take upon the sin of murder myself, and suffer my terms in hell for these sins, so that my children do not have to. it’s due to this unconditional love for my children (or brothers and sisters), that i am willing to undergo such suffering, so they may be found spotless at the last day.

    the analogy should be obvious, but if it’s not…
    jesus took upon sin itself and suffered so we didn’t have to because he loves us so. i’d do the exact same thing.

    so there you have it. when you mix religion with logic, you can actually rationalize moral attrocities like killing your own children. and not only is it proven rational, it’s christ-like.

    This tiny argument is so strong, that it pretty much forces the mormon to throw away any idea of ages of accountability and getting into heaven if you die before that age.

    but for me, it just comes down to this. if i actually became mormon, i WOULD kill my children. keep this in mind the next time you’re trying to get me back into the church 🙂 scary huh? again, mixing religious concepts and logic can be like playing with fire, becareful kids!

    btw Mark, im in contact with one of the best mormon scholars (best bud of nibley), and i talked to him (he’s a bloody genius) a while back personally in hopes that he could provide some sort of reconcilation for the issues we know about (not antimormon stuff, thats all crap as far as im conserned). he can’t, it’s the same thing, compartmentalization, inconsistency, emotion, personal experience selfishly interpreted, etc etc. anyways, contact me offline, we should talk more real time, i’d love to hear more details of your process of learning. one of the things im focusing on studying is deconversion, and as you’re relatively fresh, your input will be valuable.

    -the mormon atheist 😉

  9. Mark,

    As I hope you know, I’m a HUGE fan of reason and rationality.

    The point Krista Tippet articulates so well is that reason, while crucial, is not a sufficient guide alone for the entire human experience. There is still a place for faith, hope and spirituality in this world. That’s all. And I’m not arguing FOR Mormonism, as much as I am FOR faith, hope and spirituality — as a COMPANION to reason.

    One final thing–it is very common for those who leave one religion to embrace another type of religion and dogmatism all together. Disciples of pure rationality hold Dawkins as their prophet. That’s totally viable — as long as you are self-aware enough to know that you’ve only swapped dogmas.

    Finally, I hope you know 2 things….

    1) Our friendship (for me at least) has no bearing on your decisions (let’s do lunch soon!!!!)

    2) As long as you are “trading up” in terms of happiness, I’m all for it.

    Your eternal, irrational pal

    John Dehlin

  10. Mark,

    Good luck on your journey. I hope your time in Mormonism has been one of growth and discovery, and I hope that post-Mormonism will be equally (or more) rewarding. While Mormon studies may not be as interesting as it once was for you, I hope you’ll at least drop by some Mormon-related blogs from time to time and share your thoughts.

    If you continue to attend church, I hope you’ll speak up. I hope you’ll share your thoughts with others. I hope you’ll help make it a better place for borderlanders and doubters and liberal Mormons who, for whatever reason, are sitting there in Sunday School or Priesthood meeting beside you.

    As maligned as she sometimes is in Elders Quorum, Reason is one of man’s most precious gifts. If there is a God, I imagine that He would be one of Reason. And I can’t believe He would fault any of His creations for relying upon that gift. I also can’t believe that He would fault any of His creations for earnestly and honestly seeking after Truth (in the face of whatever consequences that search may incur).

    Once again, good luck. I’ve always enjoyed your thoughts and insights, and although I’ve never met you, I have a tremendous respect for your personal integrity.

    If I ever find myself in Utah again, we should do lunch.

  11. Mark, As an adult convert to the church some 23 years ago I feel pretty much like you. I did not join because I “knew it was true” but because it was somewhere I felt that maybe I could fit in. Turns out I was wrong and have most felt “inferior” to the other members and overwhelmed by what is expected of me (constant prayer, scripture reading, tithing etc). I have a wife and a daughter (17) who are quite faithful and a son (15) who feels pretty much like you and I. I have discovered your blog only relatively recently and have enjoyed it and agreed with most of what you have written. I feel that being a good person is not about “god” or “church” or whether or not you drink coffee or give up 10 percent of your income but it is all about your actions especially toward other people. Is there a god? Is there an afterlife? I really don’t know. Whether there is or not this world would be a much better place if we all treated each other with respect and dignity and according to the golden rule. Good luck in the future and I’ll miss your posts!

  12. lovethineenemy (the mormon atheist):

    I AM “fresh” and would love to talk about my deconversion whenever you like offline or whatever. you can e-mail me at 3monk.e (at) gmail (dot) com. Hope to hear from you again- it was fun chatting that one night.

    John Dehlin:

    thanks for always being there, buddy! whenever ur around again let’s get together! thanks for being supportive (i knew u would cuz ur jus’ cool like dat. hope to have another one of our great conversations soon!

    Steve M:

    I will definitely stay tuned-in to the mormon-related blog scene for a long time. i will always be checking in on your posts from my blog reader as well. good luck to you in your studies and search. it’s been fun to be one of the liberal mormon blogs with you and project mayhem. e-mail me whenever you’d like to do lunch- loyd told me good things about you so i’d like to meet u as well. maybe we could all get together sometime.

    The Shack:

    Thanks for following my blog, I continue to post at http://markii.wordpress.com though i don’t really post about mormonism there- mostly science, and other stuff i find interesting. it’s nice to hear about someone like yourself who is open-minded and shares the same doubts/open-mindedness with your son. i’d love to have a relationship like that with my own dad. i like the picture on your site, too!

    thanks for the support and thoughts guys!!

  13. […] I’ve recently lost my faith in my childhood religion- Mormonism. It still hurts in some ways but is alleviating and invigorating in many more. I’ve posted my story here. […]

  14. MORMONSTORIES:

    you said:
    “reason, while crucial, is not a sufficient guide alone for the entire human experience.”

    i agree completely, however, epistemically, faith is bankrupt. i’ll elaborate. we are irrational creatures. in fact, if you want to be happy, stop thinking so hard, stop being so rational, and just trust your gut or have faith, i promise you’ll be happier (this is demonstrated by various findings in modern pyschology) however, if you seek truth over happiness, then you will disregard the emotional side effects of acquiring knowledge. you will also need a means of verifying your beliefs as being probably true or false.

    The truth seeker is only conserned with the epistemic reliability of a particular method of acquiring knowledge. And it is this definition of faith (not the trust or hope definitions) that are relevant.

    My question to you is, how reliable is faith at obtaining knowledge?

    We should have faith (trust) in many things, but faith (epistemic) is not among them.

    The atheist will not accept gods on “faith”, but more specifically, he will not accept ANYTHING on “faith”, because “faith” is nothing. He simply needs evidence and reason.

    It just comes down it this. Epistemically, reason beats faith EVERY time.

    To religious people (specifically the crazy ones that fly airplanes into buildings): “blessed are ye who have seen, and now believe”.

    You also said:
    “Disciples of pure rationality hold Dawkins as their prophet.”

    I am a disciple of pure rationality, and i do not hold dawkins as my prophet. There are HUGE differences in your mostly nonfunctional analogy. I won’t be taking the time to point them out, but just compare the relevancy and dependency of atheism on dawkins vs mormonism on smith, and what people are fundamentally trusting (i.e., evidence vs authority)

    You’re doing a good job thinking, just don’t fear attacking your own beliefs as much, if they are true, they will survive.

    Good luck.

  15. Mark, you rock. Thanks.

    I have to say that I’m pretty disappointed that John D went to the science-as-dogma card. That one always blows.

  16. I just found and read “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” by Francis S. Collins, who is head of the human Genome Project. My first thought was that I found it convincing, and that I could fall back on it to support theism if I did not other reasons to be convinced of God’s existence. Given your background and current position, I wonder if if might remind you of yourself at some time in the last four years, or perhaps a position back to which you might consider moving.

    What I’m posting here are excerpts from a Book Review by Justin D. Barnard, Chrichton College, in Philosophia Christi 9:1 (200), which I thought introduced the book in a good light. Since Collins speaks of C.S. Lewis’s moral argument as a crucial part of his theism (as well as the argument from design), I’ve included links to a good outline of Lewis’s argument at this link: hittp://apologetics.johndepoe.com/morality.html
    as well as a recent update to it by Dr. William Lane Craig from Biola at this link: http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/meta-eth.html

    I want to post to in a few days some thoughts by Blake Ostler on how the LDS concept of God NOT as First Cause or Prime Mover but as the being in the universe most capable of forming relationship with others, who has one with the Son and the Holy Ghost, and who wants to have one with you. I think your sensing His desire for a relationship with you explains why the culture felt right to for parts of your life. He still does, and won’t give up.

    Love & Thanks, Steve StClair

    Review of Dr. Collins’s Book:

    The book divides roughly into two parts: the first, an autobiographical, yet critical consideration of the “evidence,” the second, a rather swift analysis of several competing models that attempt to account for the evidence in question. In the opening chapter, Collins offers a candid account of his spiritual autobiography in which C. S. Lewis’s argument for God’s existence on the basis of the moral law figures prominently. This is followed by a chapter in which Collins responds briefly to various skeptical rejoinders to belief in God: the Freudian—belief in God is mere wish fulfillmenthe Dennett/Dawkins refrain—religion is the source of global strife; the problem of human suffering; and the epistemic plausibility of miracles.

    With these introductory skirmishes out of the way, Collins embarks (chapters 3-5) on a winsome apology for neo-Darwinism that moves from the panoramic perspective of big bang cosmology to the microscopic details of current genetic discoveries. (Recall that Collins is head of the Human Genome Project.) Along the way, Collins offers a summary of the fine-tuning argument for God’s existence as well as an eminently readable synopsis of both macro-and micro-evidence supporting natural selection working on random genetic mutation. What becomes clear in this section is that, subtitle notwithstanding, Collins’s target audience is not so much militant atheists as certain Evangelical Christians whose penchant for special divine intervention in the process of creation is apparently at odds with what every “serious biologist” (99) now knows about the origin and development of life. Thus, by the middle of the book, the question is not so much whether there is evidence for belief in Christianity or theism. It is rather, given that God exists (see moral law and fine-tuning arguments) and that neo-Darwinian evolution is true, “can we find a happy and harmonious synthesis” (142) between these two?

    In responding to his own rhetorical question, Collins considers four different models (chapters 7-10), only one of which (his own) achieves the desired synthesis. The respective chapter subtitles quite neatly provide Collins’s rhetorical appraisal of all four models: atheism— “science trumps faith,” creationism—”faith trumps science,” Intelligent Design—”science needs divine help,” and BioLogos—”science and faith in harmony.” “BioLogos” is Collins’s term for theistic evolution, “the belief that God is the source of all life and that life expresses the will of God” (203) hence the name, “bio” = life, “Logos” = Word. As such, “it is not intended as a scientific theory,” writes Collins. “Its truth can be tested only by the spiritual logic of the heart, the mind, and the soul” (204). As Collins outlines it, BioLogos is roughly committed to the veracity of current big bang cosmology together with common ancestry, natural selection, and apparently random genetic mutation. What distinguishes Collins’s view from such potentially odd bedfellows as Richard Dawkins is a conviction that (a) God is responsible for having foreseen all the apparently random events in the evolutionary process and for having initiated the process in the first place in keeping with his eternal prescience, and (b) human beings are “unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanation” (200). The latter appears to be the result of the possession of a “spiritual nature (the soul)” (207), which Collins suggests, though never obviously states, is specially created by God.

    Collins is to be lauded for his courage in writing such a book. Prominent figures in the biological sciences remain publicly hostile to Christianity. (See, for example, Richard Dawkins’s new book, The God Delusion.) Thus, a scientist of Collins’s stature risks both professional ostracism and public ridicule in his efforts to argue that serious biological inquiry is compatible with devout Christian faith. Still, Collins’s courage in tackling such a project does not obviate the need to assess the work itself, especially in light of its philosophical nature.

    Collins’s proposed synthesis of neo-Darwinism and Christian theism (BioLogos) bears a remarkable resemblance to an earlier proposal by Stephen J. Gould in Rocks of Ages. In the latter, Gould proposes that science and religion can peacefully coexist provided that they operate only within their own respective, mutually exclusive spheres of inquiry or “non-overlapping magisteria.” Similarly Collins writes:

    BioLogos doesn’t try to wedge God into gaps in our understanding of the natural word; it proposes God as the answer to questions science was never intended to address, such as “How did the universe get here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “What happens to us after we die?” (204)

    The danger of such a sharp separation between science and faith is its tendency toward functional deism. And although Collins explicitly repudiated Gould’s view in a recent interview with Time magazine, the logical implications of BioLogos leave some measure of doubt as to whether the deistic implications can ultimately be avoided.

  17. Your hypothetical story to make a point, about killing your children before the age of accountability and spending eternity in outer darkness as an atonement for them, illustrates a couple of points.

    If they thought you were serious (which we don’t), your theistic or Christian or Mormon friends would ALL try and talk you out of it. Somewhere, one of your Atheist friends who has thought through all the implications of their disbelief would say that you probably should not, but it could not have any eternal significance, since there is no eternity. If this does not perfectly demonstrate the validity of C.S. Lewis’s Moral Argument, I do not know what would. As a Mormon at least in name, you know that is true.

    The second thing it illustrates is your misunderstanding of LDS doctrine of the afterlife. Of course there is an Outer Darkness, but it will be so small as to be almost unlocatable on a map. To be wicked enough to there would make you comparable to Ghengis Khan or Hitler. To go there for “rebelling against God” would mean you would have to be eating dinner with him every evening and then turn against him. There is a sign on the door saying “Atheists and Agnostics NOT PERMITTED”.

    Our recent General Authority visitor spent an entire evening telling us that people misjudge how difficult it is to get into the Celestial Kingdom, and reminded us that eight-year-old children trying to keep their baptismal covenant are guaranteed entry into the Celestial Kingdom — Eternity in the presence of God. This is clearly the condition of 95 percent of Latter-day Saints. As Christ said to SOMEBODY in the New Testament, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Even the Telestial Kingdom, full of those who were wicked in this life, will have the eternal presence of the Holy Ghost. It will surpass this life in glory and richness to such a degree that we would kill ourselves to get there if we knew.

    At this point, the thought of another great Christian thinker comes into play: “le Pari de Pascal” (oops, “Pascal’s Wager” in translation).

    We can think of Pascal’s Wager as having three premises: the first concerns the decision matrix of rewards, the second concerns the probability that you should give to God’s existence, and the third is a maxim about rational decision-making. Specifically:

    Either God exists or God does not exist, and you can either wager for God or wager against God. The utilities of the relevant possible outcomes are as follows, where f1, f2, and f3 are numbers whose values are not specified beyond the requirement that they be finite:

    Rationality requires the probability that you assign to God existing to be positive, and not infinitesimal.
    Rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility (when there is one).

    Conclusion 1. Rationality requires you to wager for God.

    Conclusion 2. You should wager for God.

    We have a decision under risk, with probabilities assigned to the relevant ways the world could be, and utilities assigned to the relevant outcomes. The first conclusion seems straightforwardly to follow from the usual calculations of expected utility (where p is your positive, non-infinitesimal probability for God’s existence):
    E(wager for God) = Infinity*p + f1*(1 − p) = Infinity
    That is, your expected utility of belief in God is infinite — as Pascal puts it, “our proposition is of infinite force”. On the other hand, your expected utility of wagering against God is
    E(wager against God) = f2*p + f3*(1 − p)
    This is finite.[5] By premise 3, rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility. Therefore, rationality requires you to wager for God.

    Love & Thanks,
    Steve St.Clair

  18. my story does illustrate a couple of points, the main one being the one you dodged. this is that, mormon theology makes it rational to kill children

  19. >

  20. blah, i cant post, is there a word limit or something?

  21. rofl i said “kill children (less-than symbol) 8”, and it stripped the rest of my comments. heh i dont even care. uhm, basically i just said…

    pascals wager: false dichotomy. works on any god (or no god). can’t gamble with temporary money, but can gamble with your soul. some concepts of gods, it doesnt even matter (gods choice, belief is irrelevant). the better theologians know not even to use it. it really is pathetically horrible. oh i also said some stuff about how it mocks freeagency as well.

    on that sweet pbs mormon documentary, some lds authority was warning how to not get TOO much into science. lol, he’s right 😉

    a sad fact that the best studiers of reality turn atheist.

    Oh, and while we are on the topic of the few “believing” scientists. (btw, a friend of mine talked to collins, his god is more deistic than anthropomorphic). anyways, frank tipler lost it 😦 or, got it, depending upon if u believe people resurrect and walk on water and crap. lol

    Lawrence Krauss says:
    Tipler, for example, claims that the standard model of particle
    physics is complete and exact. It isn’t. He claims that we
    have a clear and consistent theory of quantum gravity. We don’t.
    He claims that the universe must recollapse. It doesn’t have to, and
    all evidence thus far suggests that it won’t. He argues that we
    understand the nature of dark energy. We don’t. He argues
    that we know why there is more matter than antimatter in the
    universe. We don’t. I could go on, but you get the point.

    When stretching the limits of knowledge beyond the pale
    doesn’t suffice, Tipler resorts to some interesting a posteriori uses
    of probability. For example, he argues that the resurrection of
    Jesus occurred when the atoms in his body spontaneously decayed
    into neutrinos and antineutrinos, which later converted back into
    atoms to reconstitute him. Here Tipler invokes the fact that within
    the standard model of particle physics the decay of protons and
    neutrons is possible, although he recognises that such decay would
    likely take 50 to 100 orders of magnitude longer than the
    current age of the universe: thus, the probability of such an
    occurrence is essentially zero. However, using a strange
    “Christian” version of the anthropic principle, a subject he
    once co-authored a book about, he then claims that without
    Jesus’s resurrection, our universe could not exist – therefore, when
    one convolves this requirement with the almost, but not exactly
    zero, a priori probability, the net result is a near certainty.

    Neutrinos and antineutrinos!?! That kills me. Everyone knows that Jesus shifted through the extra dimensions onto another brane, where he chilled for three days before coming back.

    ok i’m out, stay smart, stay honest, l8

    my story does illustrate a couple of points, the main one being the one you dodged. this is that, mormon theology makes it rational to kill children 8. (mormons talking me out of it doesn’t matter, of course they would)

    despite whatever i said to lead you to believe that i misunderstand outerdarkness concept. i don’t. anyways, i can quote scripture which make me available for outterdarkness. you should read up. (check DC) not like it matters, “revelation” can just let you interpret or change whatever you dont like anyway.

    lol pascal’s wager. it’s so pathetic, it’s not even considered by most philosophers. the biggest weakness, the false dichotomy. and i’d think this would be obvious to you because your familiar with polytheism. the proper pascals wager applies to a near infinte set of possible gods. should i believe in jesus as god, or another being which has the “god” title, how do i distinguish between “my” god?, the wager can not., seriously man, stop letting your presuppositions get in the way of thinking clearly.

    here is the equivilent stupid atheists wager, a god which hates people who believe in propositions without good evidence or based on their feelings, exists. and you should just believe in him Mr Steve because he’ll send you to his hell if you dont, or, if you do, he’ll give you sweet presents for eternity! (quite convincing eh?) lol (btw, u can substitute the infinite/finite probabilities and it works just the same, im just having fun with it 😉

    even most decent theologians dont use it, because it’s attempting to get one to believe a proposition to be true by appealing to ones desires, and completely irrespective to any REAL reason to believe. it’s like, well, since god gives us no good reasons to believe, lets just gamble on it to save our skins! heh, and it’s especially ironic and funny given lds policy on not gambling. lol. it’s bad to gamble with temporal money, but it’s ok to gamble with your soul/salvation. rofl

    the mormon god would be upset with you for using pascals wager. it mocks free agency. getting one to believe propositions because it will be beneficial to the agent which believes them. a bit similar to satans plan, satan was going for the end result of increasing the probability of “salvation”, no matter the cost (even free agency). seriously, you use the wager, you lose your agency. (i.e., uninformed decision)

    oh, and i saw someone mention collins book, he’s a huge hypocrite. one second he says “science cant assess god”, the next second he’s trying to use science to prove god, lol. but i love him just for the fact that he might help religious people realize evolution is true. i bet your god is thinking… “CRAP, i knew i should have put more details about evolution in genesis instead of the stupid fruit story, dangit!” heh. reality tells us about reality.

    anyways, here’s some “other” reviews…
    http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Godless/LangGodRev.pdf
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20060815_sam_harris_language_ignorance/
    http://pandagon.net/2006/08/07/scientist-goes-home-and-relaxes-by-not-thinking/
    http://norbizness.com/archives/001796.html
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/08/the_ubiquitous_francis_collins.php

    i’m sorry you have to try so hard to convince me that your invisble god exists, when he coudl so easily just say “hi” to me.

    i used to KNOW god existed, then i thought for myself.
    realized i didn’t KNOW god existed. then thought about WHY i even believe in this particular concept of god over another. then i thought of what reasons are their to think he exists? then i said, wait a sec. screw all this crap, i’ll start over from scratch.

    as soon as i did that, god was gone.

    i dare you to start from scratch. pretend god doesn’t exist. think about how it would look like if a god didn’t exist, as opposed to if one did exist. the difference?

    i’m laughing at your “reasons?” morality and wager, right now because most religious people really do not want to know the truth. if you really do. it’s easy. oh, i forgot to speak to the morality thing. just like everything, morality blindly evolved as well. again, it’s so stupid, like you can take an agents capacity to “feel”, and prove some substance exists is ridiculous.

    i do care for you man. i used to just like you, thing is, nothing i say will matter. if you want to know, you have to make that decision. otherwise, you’ll just keep reinforcing your current worldview, and you can, you can make it work with reality. it’s up to you, it seems you’ve put a bit of effort into proving gods existence, i suggest trying to disprove it.

    above all, keep thinking. just dont be afraid to attack your core beliefs. if they are true, they’ll be standing when you’re done. don’t be afraid. good luck.

  22. despite god’s attempt to prevent my evil post from posting, i prevail, muahahahah!

  23. lol

  24. I’m glad that second part wasn’t deleted, you said some really good things in there.

    I was thinking this week about how Pascal’s Wager sounds a lot about another fallacy in human reasoning. It’s the idea of why people buy a lottery ticket: people would rathar LOSE one dollar than LOSE OUT ON THE CHANCE of winning a million. Same idea applies to alternative medicine. People would rathar fork out fifty bucks on some weird unfounded techniques/claims to help out their mood or health, than lose out on the POSSIBILITY that the alternative medicine may actually have some benifit for them and increase their health/life.

    One step further into using this insight into the human psyche: people like to entertain the idea of Pascal’s Wager.

    See the trend here?

  25. the term for this is “loss aversion” if ya wanna google it more. there are lots of other things “projection”, “confirmation bias”, “compartmentalization”, “cognitive dissonance”, etc, etc psychology is very fun, and very relevant, and informative. a few recent studies i’ve read had to do with how emotions compromise our ability to make rational choices. again, this too has implications for believers. it is noteworthy that many atheists i meet are quite good at seperating thier emotion from their decisions, a bit better than the typical religion person who is trusting their gut/spirit whatever. this tiny fact can help explain why some people can make it to atheism, whereas other religious people, even the more educated ones, can’t seem to make the move.

    earlier today i assisted in proving to a rather agnostic theist who had an experience where she had a dream where the paintings on the walls have been moved, only to wake up, and the paintings were actually moved. she assumed that before going to bed, that she would have noticed something as obvious as the tilted paintings on the wall. i disagreed, and introduced her to “change blindness”.

    it is very critical for the theist to realize the limitations and errors of our faculties. they need to realize that hallucinations are NORMAL when they occur in exception, they need to realize that out of the 300,000 dreams you have about reality, 3 of them are BOUND to be “RIGHT”, just given the mere probability. basically, teh theist who is “counting the hits, but ignoring the misses”, needs to stop, and be objective, and ask themselves the opposite question. not OMG this dream predicted the future, but, WHY THE CRAP did the 299,997 other dreams i have completely and utterly fail to map into reality? again, you need to know what you can trust, and why you can trust it. you’re not going to trust a person who is wrong 99% of the time, then gets something right for 1 time in his life, that’d be stupid. the man is lucky, he doesn’t KNOW what he talking about, even though he WAS right. we need to look at how often something is right under ALL tests and conditions.

    faith simply fails this test. to the mormons who shout proudly of moroni’s promise, consider this, the atheist’s promise, test your faith, and keep a notebook, because you WILL forget the failures (psychology tells us this), and you will REMEMBER the successes. but if you keep a notebook, you’ll realize that it fails WAY more than it succeeds. also, stop praying for things, or rather, when you pray, replace “heavenly father” with “YOUR NAME”, and end with, “in the name of GOODNESS, AMEN”. stop reading your scriptures, and instead read sweet poetry or read some taoist texts. do not goto church, instead go help other people for 3 hours. stop paying tithing, instead use that money to help needy people each sunday.

    if you need, require, and suggested that people do X, Y, and Z to discover the truth of mormonism. then i’m sure you wouldn’t mind doing (or rather not doing) X, Y, and Z to discover the truth of atheism. i promise, nothing will change. i’ve taken both promises, moroni’s and the atheist, and although moroni’s promise works sometimes, the atheists works all the time.

    again, i’ve taken moroni’s challenge, and it has failed, so i can speak to it. i highly doubt that any mormons would even dare entertain the idea of an atheist challenge. biased? yes, inconsistent, yes. if you’re not willing to take my challenge, dont expect others to take moroni’s.

    ok back to dreams… think about it, the dreams you’ve had throught your life, which do you remember? the theist and the atheist both can not remember all of the dreams, but the atheist realizes that most of them were WRONG, and thus dreams can not be trusted as mechanisms to predict the future, or convey accurate information about reality, EVEN THOUGH, they DO ACCURATELY PREDICT on exceptional occasion.

    this atheist has got to fly, the mormon god has blessed him with many great things, but i just dont know why he didn’t bless the starving mormon child in a third world country instead, which is certainly more deserving. poor god, doesn’t understand how to prioritize blessings. here is a hint, help those who are more needy FIRST!

    laters yalls, come on mormon thinkers! you can do it!! just don’t be afraid, try hard to seperate your emotions, and provide natural explainations for your spiritual experiences. consider the way some good movies makes you feel, and compare that too how the spirit in church makes you feel. similar? why? it could be teh HS both times, or it could not be the HS both times, but something else? what coudl it be? think think think, psychology helps ;), and you’ll find the same thing in all humans in all religions, it’s no confirmation that they have their own spiritual communcation with their god of allah or whomever, trust me ;P

    oh, here…
    a simple, but fun example, spot the change…:
    http://www.usd.edu/psyc301/Rensink.htm

    much

  26. Hi Mark,

    I enjoyed what you wrote and am thinking of forwarding it to my mother and two younger brothers, one just finished from his mission and another is heading over there to Utah for the 3 month? prep, he’s gonna serve in the Philippines soon. You said youre still going to church, good on ya, do you ask the questions we apostates like to ask over there?

    I am back in Samoa now and haven’t been to church, I have a guilty complex when everyone is all dressed up Sunday morning, my dad is a bishop and I always feel an obligation to attend and show support, but I refuse to live miserably in a facade. Now, I encourage anyone who wants to understand (as you may have noticed ;)) why I am an atheist to read Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World but the usual response I get is “I don’t want to waste my time” and this gem from my mother “I’d rather read the BOM again”.

    If this is the last post, then that is sad because I just got a reliable connection to the web and I planned to update my reading on the blogs I like.

    Good luck and see ya around 😀

  27. Hey gus, I hope you don’t mind but i added you on bebo- if you’re on myspace let me know. spiz you too man. Gus just to let u know, instead of poting on this site, i post to my other one now http:markii.wordpress.com. go an’ check it out kay?

  28. You’re getting closer. Please, keep looking for the Truth in all purity. “Seek and your will find.”

  29. Mark,
    I just stumbled across your blog tonight. It was interesting to read. I’m a grad student in sociology with a wife and two kids in PA. I stopped going to church at the end of 2006 after a 2 or 3 year long struggle. In many ways, I am a lot like you, I suppose. Though, my wife is still active in the church I don’t really harbor any negative sentiments toward the church. I’m not necessarily saying that you do, but I certainly sense a lot of frustration and a sense of certainty that religion is useless and misguided and the church is wrong.

    I’m truly content being agnostic. Not atheist, because that strikes me as just as dogmatic and unreasonable as being absolutely convinced that God exists and one’s belief is absolutely right. I truly don’t know if the church is true and God exists, and I’m perfectly fine not knowing. Yes, I deeply value reason. Yes, I deeply value evidence before I believe things. Yes, I’m quite the skeptic. But I have a certain appreciation and reverence toward religion, which I believe is man’s attempt to arrive at transcendent, permanent values and meaning. Religion is truly a mixed bag – you get the good with the bad. Same with Mormonism.

    Anyway, I am attending a Unitarian Universalist congregation now. I appreciate its humanist bent and its openness to learning and drawing upon a wide variety of sources. I also blog on religion and sociology. Anyway, the blog was interesting. Thanks.

  30. […] you want to read my “exit story” from faith you can find it here. I now blog here on science and atheism so stop by if you like. Anyways, just wanted to drop by and […]

  31. From one escapee to another, congratulations on your freedom. No doubt you will find it to be the best thing you ever did.

    (PS: Being dogmatic and unreasonable is what makes you dogmatic and unreasonable Stephen, not believing in a particular thing. I’m an atheist just as I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny. Show me evidence for god and I’ll believe. How can that possibly be dogmatic? The true meaning of agnostic is not one who isn’t sure either way, it’s of one who doesn’t believe that knowledge of god is possible or not. You can be an agnostic atheist or agnostic theist. You’re welcome to visit my blog any time and see what real-live atheists actually claim and believe. Best regards.)

  32. i agree with you, evanescent.

  33. Mark, you need to get right of the two spam comments above. I wish parasites (spammers) like this would just piss off and advertise things in an honest hard-working way instead of using other peoples’ well-written blogs to promote their junk.

  34. […] i haven’t been keeping up with the mormon blogs/sites for quite a while now as i just got frustrated with it all.  but this week i’ve been wanting to have my mormon life back.  i want […]

  35. Well, to each his own. In my view, it’s just an over-reliance on the left brain, to the virtual exclusion of the right brain. You can go through life, if you want, crippled in this fashion, but you’ll only learn half of the grand puzzle, and you won’t learn what you do glean very well. I recommend studying up on the left and right hemispheres of the brain (the left and right brain.) You’ll find out that they are totally opposite in their approach to things, but the right brain, where faith comes from, is necessary to comprehend the big picture. Good luck, at any rate.

  36. I just wanted to observe that evolutionary theories can have some practical use in some aspects of biology, but many aspects of those theories are riddled with logical fallacies, factual errors, bad science, bad theology, and just plain nonsense. And to say that Richard Dawkins speaks only reason is just a joke, unless you define reason as whatever any atheist says. I could supply plenty of details if you still care about such things. His famous god-genes are a great example – he says the Christian god is a dangerous delusion, and then supplies his own super-human, omniscient, all-controlling gods in bits of protein. Pretty silly, really. Genes do have an effect, of course, but he goes off into never-never land on that point.

    Dawkins contends that Hitler was a good Catholic, and that is why he wanted to kill all the Jews. That is madness. I believe in actuality, Hitler became a pagan, and in that sense an atheist, and fought against all Christian religions. Was Stalin not the most well-known atheist of the 20th century? What a nice guy he was, with his endless murders and imprisonments, blowing up churches, etc. And then we have Mao. Dawkins cannot easily disassociate himself from such stalwarts of atheism.

    But if you want an expert’s treatment of the topic, you might take a look at a book entitled Darwinian Fairy Tales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution by David Stove. It has the unusual distinction of being both rigorous and funny. It was written by an Australian atheist/agnostic philosopher who just could not abide the illogical nonsense spewed out by the politically motivated “atheist fundamentalist” lobby. He would prefer to have no creation story at all than to accept the orthodox evolutionist’s fevered explanations.

    Or have you tried Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial? As a law professor, with an interest in examining all aspects of an argument, including the hidden assumptions, he makes some useful points.

    I am a Mormon, but that has little to do with examining the numerous errors and many frauds of evolution. Except that because Mormonism claims many more spiritual truths than most other religions, it does have more to lose to the totally materialistic negation of all spiritual matters – no spirits, no preexistence, no Satan, no God, no Christ, no resurrection, no afterlife, no prophets in any age, etc. One cannot “reconcile” Mormonism with atheism/evolution – they are polar opposites. But good science has finally put evolution in its properly limited place in The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe. Evolutionists want to claim to be the source of and controllers of all truth, but they have tried to reach far beyond what actual science, logic, and philosophy can support. If you find weaknesses in men of religion, you might also look a little closer at some of those “heroic” evolutionists. They are certainly not noted for their humility.

    Kent Huff

  37. It’s funny how different perspectives can lead to different interpretations. I’m reading The God Delusion right now, and finding Dawkins’ arguments very convincing against most faiths, but not mormonism.

    One question, though: Did you not get any kind of confirmation from the Spirit before going on your mission? Or even while on your mission? Sacrificing two years of your life without getting any kind of empirical evidence that the church is true is, frankly, a bit crazy. Such empiricism is possible, and Joseph Smith taught that it was actually necessary. These percentages you’re throwing around (the church has an x-percent chance of being true) don’t make sense in that context.

  38. Don’t really want to argue with the original post or anything, but…

    Let me get something straight. You consider “treasure-hunting/magic” to be a “heinous” sin or flaw?

    Really?

  39. To whom ever your are:

    Mormonism is one of the saddest aspects of American/19th Century culture. Your religion is a cult, and has been lying to you since you were a young child.

    Recently, your church has become a lobbyist group and not a religion. If they were, then it would support their polygamist beliefs they have fought so hard to cover up.

    Your church is now a corporation, like Wal-Mart and Disney. True faith exists in your heart and you know this. The separation of church and state has made our county what it is–and affords us the right to say what we want. The Mormon church doesn’t allow this–you know it and I know it.

    It is hard to escape a cult–and you can do so–they can not harm you and even if your love ones feel differently, there are plenty more who have your back. I promise.

  40. wow. This blog is really good, I plan on going through it in much greater detail. I’m kind of in the same position. My wife is still a believer, but she has an easier time than I replacing the rational with emotion. I’ve always been a rational thinker, but never allowed myself past certain road-blocks until recently. I don’t think I’ll ever go back, even if I wanted to.

  41. thanks for stopping by, mj. i’ve sent you an e-mail. if anyone is interested, i have posted more on my spiritual journey here: http://markii.wordpress.com/category/journal/. i’d be interested to hear your comments on those posts.

    -markii

  42. […] by Dr. Betty Edwards that first got me comparing split-brain research with the gospel.  I had developed some ideas about it, but never wrote them down, though I did verbalize them to what4anarchy.  Recently, though, at the […]

  43. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  44. It is REALLY sad that you don’t believe in the church anymore and you are questioning your faith…Maybe you should read the Book of Mormon. A lot of bishops suggest doing so when you are having trials like this in your life. For the sake of you and your family, I hope you do read it and gain the testimony you’re searching for. I’ll pray for you.

    • Not sad at all, questioning is perfectly normal part of life and very healthy. More sad to never question it in my opinion.

  45. Mark,i share with you parts of your journey,i had read books of Harris and Dawkins to andf many more,but as long as i had notice you didn´t read aniting of Osho yet,and i woulld recomend amit goswami too. The great question is : What is counciousness, what is this in you that have the capacity to inquire about yourself? Cousciouness emerge form matter? or matter emerge from couciousness? Even the premise of God as a exalted man have this question. If he was a man one day,where did his councioussnes came from? If our being or couciousness emerge from the material brain,from trilions of sinapsis so this is everything? Can matter contamplate matter itself? If you have any insigth in this subjects or what to talk more be free to email me

  46. One dude! My friend I wish you well on your journeys of discovery. You either believe or you do not. Within one day of discovering the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I knew I had found the truth and I BELIEVE. The energy, the love and the knowing flood through me. I knew nothing of the LDS Church until I was watching the critical episode of South Park which pokes fun at Mormons. After the episode I did not understand how such nice people could be made fun of so I looked Mormonism up on Wikipedia. Then I went to the official LDS website and then I bought a copy of the Book of Mormon and now I BELIEVE. God bless.

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