December 1, 2015:
Last week two Mormons that looked 16 and 14 dropped of the book of Mormon with a brochure, and promised to come back next week to answer any questions. When they came back I told them I had looked over the brochure and a bit of the book of Mormon, wasn’t interested and didn’t want to waste their time. As I was about to step back inside my place, the older one asked, Might I ask why?” I told him, “I don’t like the idea I and my family will go to the outer darkness.”
They said “That’s deep doctrine. There’s an explanation but its very complicated.”
They then quickly gave me a confusing reply, part of which was that only those who fought God thousands of years ago will be sent there except they’re gone and no longer have physical bodies. And also those who came before God in his glory and still rejected him.
I decided I could check on that later and decided to humor them by asking them where people go when they die then. Hell? So they scrambled to their car to get a brochure and hand me an lds.org card, so they could explain to me about how you either go to celestrial kingdom – (and become God according to deep doctrine), or go to heaven. But unlike other Christians when you die, you go to a kind of spiritual world that’s like limbo where you have the opportunity to recognize God and still go to heaven.
I told them that was indeed an improvement and compared it favorably to mainstream Buddhism with its infinite chances at redemption. The older one said he knew nothing about Buddhism and asked me to explain it to him in case he talked to Buddhists. So ironically, I ended up lecturing the missionaries a little on the histories of other religions. It felt like I was preaching to the missionaries lol.
It’s never a good idea to send teenagers who know little except Mormonism to proselytize to an older Atheist. They were mismatched, and they probably left questioning their beliefs more than the reverse.
Interestingly, the Mormon church’s strategy can be deduced when their brochure and arguments are geared towards converting Christians. There was no planning for the possibility I had studied other religions, was of some other persuasion, or had studied Christianity deeply.
Anyway, they told me if I read the book of Mormon and prayed I would have a spiritual feeling and proof as God came into my life. I told them I had tried that with Christianity and it didn’t work, but unlike most people I asked for big things not small things, so I would have undeniable proof of a miracle.
I ended up countering their lines with a bunch of regular Atheistic arguments. I told them it didn’t make sense that God would stand back and let his word be corrupted, and allow a great apostasy for 1800 years and then renew everything with Joseph Smith. Not when he could have just spoke with a booming voice from the heavens to all of us, to avoid drama, people going to hell, and us not understanding his word for that whole time.
The younger one looked at me with fiercely serious eyes and recited a long speech I couldn’t follow. The older one was more relaxed though. He smiled and said “That kind of defeats the point of Christianity and having faith.” You just had to be convinced God had a plan. I could see in his face that he was struggling with the depth and scope of my arguments.
Anyway, when I ultimately told them I had left Christianity because I thought it was as fake as the other religions, they seemed to immediately lose interest in a conversation that had been going for 15 minutes. We shook hands and they left. I don’t think they will send any more missionaries or brochures.
But I do have a cool Book of Mormon to show for it, which I have put on a bookshelf next to my Coran. I’m on a quest to build a collection of religious texts now. Gotta catch them all.
I did tell them I’d probably flip through it again for the sake of diligence, but frankly the book of Mormon has been a disappointment. The bible is way more readable and approachable, with comparatively interesting stories, and flowing with imagery directly from Genesis in less convoluted language. They badly need to make a non King James version of the Book of Mormon.
You know though, I feel good about telling them a little of the truth rather than leaving them unprepared to face it. Christians do it all the time, and if every Atheist gave reasons for their beliefs, the world would become peaceful that much faster. I wish someone had sat me down when I was young, showed me my stupidity, and explained why religion was all nonsense..
The closest I got was when I sat next to guy on a plane from Hawaii, who tried to explain why evolution was true while my Mom smirked. When he cornered me, I told him, “Maybe God put the fossils in the ground to trick everyone.” He laughed and said that was a good one, and stopped as though he thought he had led me to truth. In fact, I thought my explanation worked as a kid and I stopped thinking about the implications further.
I’ve now debated with one Mormon on the internet, and at least one Catholic, both of whom are now questioning their faith. I feel I’ve already helped to break the chains that fetter people to superstition. You just have to try and be patient and polite, and don’t even bother arguing with the people who refuse to even listen.