Psalm 46:10 - "Be still, and know that I am God."

Matthew 7:7 - "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" 

Matthew 7:10 - "...how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

James 1:5 - "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Upon these bible verses hang the LDS dogma of self-revelation and indeed the entire church authority. It is the idea that via prayer and meditation God will present to any man knowledge, wisdom. I will shortly tell my struggle with these concepts.

My memory goes back to when I was 2. As a kid I wandered the forests of central Washington recalling my daily reading lesson as I drank in the natural beauty of the incredible world. The family traditions were education, family singing, family and personal prayer, family scripture study.

It is tradition that kids in LDS households are baptized upon reaching age 8. I remember how important I felt to have my Dad take me aside and direct me to make a choice as to whether to be baptized. I didn't decide right away - I asked a lot of questions a child would ask. I was told that by being baptized I would gain the privilege of having the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. Being promised these things I agreed to the baptism. The day came and after church I was ceremoniously dunked while a few dozen people watched. As I came up out of the water I was expecting the rush of the spirit that my friends and the adults had described to me. I just felt wet. I slowly opened my eyes to all the people staring at me. I just stood there in the water next to Dad. My favorite Sunday School teacher asked if I could feel the spirit now. I felt intimidated into assent. My teacher told me that from now on this is how it would be as long as I stayed righteous. 

I received from the some of the church women a gift containing objects symbolizing this 'momentous' event in my life. For weeks afterwards I would go to my room daily, examine them.... feeling nothing and seeing those objects as mocking my condition. They went into the deepest part of the bottom drawer. I started to wonder what was wrong with me. Everyone else had experienced something that I had not experienced. But these thoughts only happened at night as I lay in my bed waiting for sleep. All the rest of the time I wasn't bothered by it. 

A few months afterwards I started my sciences lessons. My Dad taught me how to identify cells via microscope, how to write scientific notes so as to have reproducability, how to classify objects, that keeping a personal journal was very important. So I began applying the scientific method to everything - reason: evidence. Reason: evidence. I started playing with computer software, learning BASIC. I write down everything, and record my first thoughts about hypocrisy though I didn't know the word then.

Time passes. I am 12 - becoming ordained into the Aaronic Priesthood. The Bishop received revelation that I was righteous and had got favor in God's eye. In a private and sacred ceremony I had lands laid upon my head by members of a superior order of priests who in the name of Jesus Christ and upon His authority inducted me into the power, privilege and responsibilities of the lowest office of priesthood. My Mom cried and hugged me. In a very manly way I shook the hands of those respected men. I felt nothing spiritual. I felt honored, determined, incipient, eager for more. 

At that time my theological knowledge was growing ever faster. I began the LDS seminary program - daily extra & focused scripture study in a classroom environment. The questions asked would require a one sentence answer - I would write essays. My teacher got mad at me. She said I didn't need to put so much thought into it. She didn't understand that if I didn't write all those essays apologizing for LDS dogma my internal house of cards would crumble.

More time passes - I'm 15 and working full time having got my diploma months earlier. I'm a leader - senior patrol leader and Eagle Scout. I realize for the first time that the good principles taught by scouting and the church are good irregardless of whether they are taught by God, or the Devil. I worked through Euthyphro's dilemma although I had never heard of it. (Years later when I first read it I got an enormous sense of validation and a feeling that I wasn't alone after all).

 I have years and years of fervent prayer and good works but of silence from God. I return to the guilty question: why doesn't God want me? It is a question oft repeated by me, but never asked to others for fear of their response. I move out and get my own place in my teens, I start my investigation into every other religion. Harking back to me earliest education, I do it copiously and scientifically. I meditate and learn that a posture and attitude of prayerfulness is unrelated to both God and Mormonism.

I conclude that if there is a God then He is I. There are flaws in this argument but it is the best I think of at the time. I experiment with every major drug. I get addicted and kick the habit via meditation.

My "faith" is wavering. I double up - increasing my efforts in the church. A few years pass.  I'm eventually ordained as the highest order of priest despite declining to become a missionary. I just can't go and preach to other people something I cannot claim to know myself.

Because of Mormon values, only Mormon women are attractive to me. But Mormon women no longer want me because I didn't go be a missionary. Instead of being chased by the women, I find myself shunned. 

These are my feelings during my early 20's: I cavitate. I roil with turmoil. My mind is a wavering reed without basis. I cannot accept the unfounded doctrine of Mormonism. But I cannot deny the fellowship and good values that the religion teaches.

I return again and begin a 3rd line by line study of every LDS scripture. This time I decide beforehand to make extra effort to divorce myself from my preconceptions and to take the words literally and at face value, using logic to determine their worth.

I make the most fervent effort - I diligently study the bible 3 times daily (morning, lunch, right before bed) I pray constantly, a sustained effort of seeking God for nearly every waking hour. I pray God to come into my life, take it over, and change me. My discipline leads to a lot of good things - I am more active, I feel healthier, I am more open socially, really attractive women are pursuing me. And I understand that these things are consequences of my own action - God has done nothing. 

Finally all the pieces fall together.

I came to accept that the verses quoted in the beginning are lies - there is no evidence whatsoever that they are true. 

If God doesn't grant knowledge, Mormonism cannot be true. 

If Mormonism isn't true, then the good works of Mormonism can stand of their own accord.

If works are their own then God falls right out of the equation.

I felt a HUGE rush of relief as I shed the effort of separating my logical mind from my religious mind. It was the promise I was given when I was 8... that truth would flood into me and I would experience good feelings by acting according to good principles. 

I suddenly realized that all my effort was to maintain this ever growing stick and plate balancing act. I plead, I screamed, I knocked, I even pounded - and finally it broke.

The tumbling house of cards, the waterfall of unrestrained reason, the sudden desire for other people to experience this joy. 

As Stephen Covey coined: it was a paradigm shift.

There isn't any rational proof of God. What unmitigated and endless joy! What beauty of life in its brevity! To walk unknowing in the forest of life without false claim! What amazing amelioration of guilt! How Thou Art, Nature!

But then, a certain resentment towards those people who weren't honest enough to have reached the conclusion I struggled towards for years. Why had my parents (being intelligent) saddled me with this abusive belief system and thus caused me so much pain and heartache over so many years? All my mentors: doctors of medicine, Ph.d's, lawyers, and all apparently devout Mormons. These people gave me the very tools I used to break free of religion - why had they declined to utilize them themselves?

I do wish I'd been exposed to an atheist book as a kid - years of heartache prevented. 

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Comment by Michael Penn on November 11, 2013 at 6:48am

Thanks for your story. It shows me again that if you study religion long enough you will get to the truth. That is, you will get to the truth IF you are honest with yourself. Many people never are. It's like the story of the emperor who had no clothes.

Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on November 10, 2013 at 7:30pm

When I was 12, my parents purchased a massive encyclopedia set "Chambers Encyclopedia", which I took to like a duck to water.  I looked into the history of all religions and noted that Joseph Smith was suspected of being a pedophile and he was shot trying to escape a jailhouse window by angry men in a lynch mob, possibly for preying on one of their young daughters, which would probably have made me mad enough to shoot him myself.  This is the more factual account of Joseph Smith, which sealed my dislike of Mormonism from that age.The tenets written by Joseph Smith concerning marriage to young girls is proof of his depravity and shows that the account above may be valid.

Same goes for the origins of the Jehovah Witnesses by Charles Russell, who was a friend of Joseph Smiths.

If a religion was started by somebody I consider as dishonest and a criminal, I would leave alone and when meeting somebody from those faiths, would shove their religions history in their face as if to say, they must be dumb for following such treacherous ARE-SOLES.

Same goes for Moses and Muhammad, both committed criminal acts.

As a youngster, l lent more to those I considered as genuine, or honest spiritualists like Buddha and Lao-Tzu, who were pacifists and not known for their criminal acts.

Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on November 10, 2013 at 7:09pm

Never had much to do with Mormonism, they never ever visit my house, probably because they got sick of my shit stirring them about the origins of their religion from a decrepit, dishonest, confidence trickster, possibly sex maniac who was shot by a lynch mob for his sinister treachery.

 Hardly the type of person any good, honest self conscious person would ever want to follow.

Yes, they hate me here and give my house a wide birth and avoid eye-contact when passing in the street.

LOL!   :-D~

Comment by Dyslexic's DOG on November 10, 2013 at 6:58pm

Thanks Čenek, it gives me an entirely different perspective of Mormonism, apart from the jokes about Joseph Smith and his mythical golden plates and the American native tribe that never existed, as depicted on "Southpark".

Such a personal perspective now gives me the notion that it is very typical of some of my own experiences with Christianity, though I was distanced from it by living on a farm where everyday life and watching life and death of animals where we had to do cruel procedures, like de-horning cattle and castrating calves, dogs and pigs, taught me that people of God should not be doing such things which there was no condemnation of in the Bible.

So from a very early age, I considered Christianity unjust and cruel to other animals, of which I already knew we were just another.

Thanks M8!  :-D~

Comment by k.h. ky on November 10, 2013 at 12:42pm

Excellent!  I believe your journey reflects that of many of us.  Religion is a tool used to control and benefit the powerful.  No matter the denomination.  Those who question often come out atheist.  And,,usually,happier for it.  At least that's true for me.

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 10, 2013 at 12:16pm
Čenek, thank you for sharing your story! Your journey resonates deeply in me. The experience of putting thought to the claims made by people we love and respect requires courage. There is no shame in thinking ... in fact, it brings so many benefits, one does not want to submit to stories that don't ring true. My experience with family and friends who believe in miracles and superstition convinces me that my mind works and is worthy of trust.

Now, the fun part comes, experiencing the "natural beauty of the incredible world" affirms your encounter with reality of nature. Your yearning to know the answers to questions religions cannot answer reflects your gift of being curious. The training of discipline, of hard work, of honesty, and respect that you learned from your religious community all provide you with tools for effective and efficient living. Your basic nature of seeking more than mystical answers, especially the Mormon stories, reveals your inborn drive to be fully who you are, without indoctrination with promises of heaven or threats of whatever kind you faced.

The pure joy of loving and caring comes from within. So do doubting and questioning. Your journey tells of growing from a child with fairy tales into a man capable of facing life's challenges with intelligence and wisdom. The community that springs from these attributes can be healthy,

What is the purpose of your life? That is for you to define for yourself.
Does your life have meaning? That depends on you; whatever is in you comes from you and not from what others expect of you.
Are you required to follow the "Passive Gospel" to be accepted by others? That, too, is up to you. You have a moral and ethical core inside of you. You belong to a social group of living things and have the equipment needed to belong.
Are you good enough? Again, that depends entirely on you. You decide what is good for you, and how to work at meaningful things, and how to belong in community, and decide what is right for you.

Do remember to laugh! Your body, mind and emotions grow healthier with fun.
Comment by Sentient Biped on November 10, 2013 at 11:31am

Čenek,

Thanks for telling your story.  You are not alone.  Even though my own story was fundamentalist Baptist, I saw many parallels.

The good part, is you put the fake system behind you.  You are free to make your own assessments, your own choices, and live life in freedom.  You have done so rationally, having overcome indoctrination via logic, research, and experience.  Not just habit and opinion.

It's said many times, the most effective way to give up religion is to read the Bible.  That was a big part of my journey, too.  I also have an "evangelical moment" where I thought there would be revelation, but was met with silence.  That there would be a sense of peace, but only conflict came.  That questions would be answered, but the only response was to not ask those questions.  And as with you, the answers came from my own search, in freedom.

Hang in there and continue your search.  Today is just a snapshot, in a moving picture.  More questions will occur, and your experiences and intellect will guide you.

Comment by Loren Miller on November 10, 2013 at 11:01am

Here's the thing:

I suspect that you didn't want to know god so much as you wanted to know What Was.  You wanted to know what was true and what wasn't, what worked and what didn't.

Funny thing ... it would seem that you managed to do just that.  Congrats!

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