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Who Am I Trying To Convince? Myself First.

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Posted by John Morgan Powell on April 12, 2001 18:35:04 UTC

Aurino,

I'm flattered you spent so much space trying to understand me. I'm also a bit embarrassed I failed to make myself more clear.

> . . . who are you really trying to convince?

Myself first.

When I was a youth trying to understand the Mormon theology I was taught that existed in a world of different religious ideas, I felt a need to think it through carefully. At an early age I discovered that when only side of the argument is presented then the other side can be unfairly represented (for example, the "straw-man" argument). I vowed to avoid that. I began discussing religious, philosophical, political ideas with my parents and siblings by playing the "devil's advocate", because I didn't have a bonafide defender of the other position available. For a time I evidently caused great concern to my siblings that I was a black sheep. My father realized and told the others that I didn't believe the other side, I was just trying to confirm that what we all believed was the most correct idea.

Ironically, my current beliefs do distinguish me like a black sheep from the rest of my family. I'm embarrassed by it. How my conception of them has changed with my development!

They are all Mormons and have strong testimonies (they "know" it's true) about Mormon doctrine.

My parents believe in UFO aliens and that there are huge underground tunnels full of alien and human soldiers just waiting to take us all over. They believe this partly because my grandmother thought she saw a flying saucer, and she was no liar.

My eldest sister's family don't have life insurance because they believed Mormon leaders who suggested that Christ would take over the world before they would need insurance. My brother-in-law has now been diagnosed with cancer.

My eldest brother believes what Joseph Smith suggested, that the sun shines by borrowed light rather than by thermonuclear fusion.

My second eldest brother believes he has had out-of-the body experiences and that one time helped a woman decide to not jump off a bridge. This brother also believed that through revelation from God he could pick which stocks to buy and which to sell and solve all his financial problems.

As a youth I concluded that religion was superior to atheism, since true atheists couldn't exist (they would commit suicide since they didn't have a purpose to living, so I thought). I concluded that Christianity was superior to all other major religious heritages (I didn't have much experience with Eastern religions, but they seemed very strange). I concluded that Mormonism was superior to all other Christian religions because it seemed to answer questions (like where we came from) that others could not. My extended family were all members and had had numerous "spiritual experiences" confirming their beliefs. If I had known more non-Mormons or atheists, I might not have become so cock-sure I was right.

Now that I've recently rejected those religious ideas, I'm a little unsure of how to defend my decision. Can atheism really satisfy me? Does science hold the best (if not only) answers to the questions I thought were answered by Mormon theology? That's what I'm finding out.

This forum is easier to deal with than face-to-face, more emotional interactions. I can get nervous in a personal debate. Writing is much easier for me.

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