I've posted this story around the internet, thought that this forum might appreciate it as well.
I never imagined I would leave the Mormon church. I dedicated all of my adult life to the church. Though I was bored to tears from the meetings, I stuck with them, because I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew that God would reward me for making my best effort… even if it wasn’t as good as some people seemed to be able to do.
A few things combined to cause me to lose all belief in God.
First, I was aware of some major problems in church history. I had gone to apologetics websites that gave me ways to logically cope with the problems, but they were there. Joseph Smith had instituted polygamy, seemingly without his wife’s knowledge. He perhaps tried to bring her on board once, but it is clear that she opposed his extramarital affairs.
Brigham Young discriminated against blacks. Perhaps a man of his time, but God’s prophet should have known better.
The Book of Mormon contains contradictions. Baptism being a common practice among the nephites, but then when Jesus comes, he institutes the practice as if it wasn’t (3rd Nephi 11:21.) Other contradictions occur, but that was the one I found myself, when I was on my mormon mission.
Secondly, I knew about problems in the Bible. The creation story is right out. It doesn’t at all agree with what we know about the world’s actual history. The biblical flood is clear fiction. Egyptian history completely ignores the exodus.
Even knowing all these problems, apologetic members and websites were able to keep me from rejecting Mormonism and Christianity all together.
Then came the next issue. I am a huge fan of science fiction, and that lead me to start reading books about science fact.
I read “evolution: The Triumph of an Idea” by Carl Zimmer. It educated me about evolution so well… I knew that there was no need for a “God” to explain the world.
Now the stage was set. I was still a believing mormon, but with that book, that learning, I was prepared for the epiphany that was about to hit me, out of nowhere.
I was busy reading some skeptic blogs that I had got myself into, and I got roped into reading an argument about God. I normally avoided the religion parts of skeptic sites in general, because I knew I wasn’t atheist. Why I read this particular argument is beyond me.
But this guy argued that there was no reason to believe in a God. I read and re-read his argument. I found I couldn’t logically refute it.
This is when my epiphany struck. I thought about all the issues I knew about. The issues above, and many others. I thought about what I knew of evolution. A thought hit me that I had never considered. Everything I knew made more sense if there was no God.
Joseph and Brigham weren’t imperfect prophets… they were just opportunists. The Bible and Book of Mormon had issues because… they were bad fiction. Evolution doesn’t require a God because… God doesn’t exist!!!!
At first I felt free. Liberated. There was no God to answer to for not going to LDS church. Only other people.
This was followed by fear of anyone finding out that I had gone atheist.
I tried for several months to ignore what I learned. To try to be a Mormon who secretly doesn’t believe. I even tried to convince myself I was wrong. I think, I still wanted to believe. But eventually I gave it up.
The problem was, I still believed a number of things that were impossible without a God of miracles. So I thought that if I investigated them, something would come out… something would prove to me that there is a God.
But every time I investigated one of my beliefs with true skepticism, it evaporated.
Joseph Smith wrote the book of Mormon solo, with no education? Well, his father was a teacher, making Joe more educated than most around him… major portions of the book of Mormon seem to have been lifted from the Bible (not talking just Isaiah) and other sources available to Joseph at the time… Others may have collaborated as well.
Numerous witnesses to the Gold Plates? Turns out most witnesses are from the same family, Joseph seems to have promised them they could make money from witnessing to the plates, even trying to sell the copyright to the BoM with the witnesses statement as proof. Furthermore, Martin Harris later admitted that nobody actually saw the physical plates, only saw them in their “Spiritual Eye”.
Miracle of the Seagull? Seagull fossils have been found in the Salt Lake Valley dating well before the pioneer’s arrival.
One by one, all the impossible beliefs I had were shattered by simple google searches. Wikipedia entires. For some of the toughest ones, Simply asking questions at the recovery from mormonism board at exmormon.org brought me plausible, logical responses within hours. I couldn’t find a single spiritual belief to cling to.
I had to leave the church.
It was certainly hard to come out to my family. Most of my family, including my wife, still do not accept my choice to leave the church.
But I am finding my way to live without God in my life. It’s not that different, except I got a 10% pay raise and an extra day off each week.
I appreciate the good people that are in the church. I have many friends who are still Mormon, who have reacted in differing ways to my leaving. I am even appreciative of the financial assistance the church has lent me at times, but that is tempered by the knowledge of all the tithing I’ve paid over the years.
My life is not much happier, nor much sadder, now that I’ve left. From a Mormon background, the prospect of no life after death is scary. It has made me appreciate the opportunity that life provides much more.