I live in Salt Lake City and I had a conversation with missionaries yesterday from the LDS church. It's long and pretty boring so feel free to skip it.
What really bothered me was that I couldn't look them in the eye. I was very nervous and emotionally bothered by the whole thing. I honestly thought they were crazy and I didn't want to set them off. But now I feel like a coward for avoiding eye contact.
"They asked: Have you heard of the LDS church?
Yeah, I grew up mormon. My family are all mormon and I left the church.
They asked: So why did you leave the church?
Um, well I went to college and learned about science and evidence based reasoning. When I applied that scrutiny to my beliefs, I discovered the claims religion makes are not supported by sufficient evidence.
They asked: Do you believe in God?
Um, no. I can't prove he doesn't exist. I'm not a hardcore atheist. I just don't believe in that stuff.
They said: Oh so you're not an atheist you're agnostic.
Yeah. I'm an agnostic-atheist or thereabouts.
They asked: So why do you believe in evolution?
Um, I don't believe in evolution. But I think there's great evidence for it.
They asked: Have you read the book of mormon?
Uh, yeah. Cover to cover several times. But that's not evidence it's just a book. Just because something was written down a long time ago doesn't mean what it says is true.
They said: Have you prayed about it. Because I testify to you that when you pray you'll feel the spirit in your heart and know that its all true. That it's a testament of Jesus Christ and his love for you.
Well. I don't mean to be rude. But we know hallucinations exist. It's been proven that some people experience things that don't really exist. What you're talking about is just a feeling. That is not evidence guys.
They asked: Do you think Jesus Christ lived?
Ugh, um. I think a guy named Jesus probably lived. But that his Dad was special or that his mom was a virgin when she gave birth or coming back from the dead or turning water into wine? That's all pretty crazy man. I don't think you have enough evidence for any of that stuff. But suppose it was true. Suppose all that stuff happened. That wouldn't prove what he was saying was true. They're separate claims. It's like saying because a guy eats chocolate he can't tell a lie. That makes no sense.
They said: So what would it take to convince you? Would an Angel have to descend from heaven for you to believe?
Well that would be a great start. I don't know. Tell you what, if an Angel came flying down from Heaven proclaiming that your church is true I'd convert on the spot. That would be pretty convincing.
They said: I heard a debate years ago between a professor of something or other and an apostle of our church. And the Apostle said that the ultimate form of evidence is faith. Faith will move mountains and turn hearts of stone into vessels of the Lord. The professor couldn't deny that was a true.
Oh. I really don't want to offend you but um... I don't see any difference between faith and gullibility. The arguments religion make are the same types of arguments that con artists use and that's not a good thing. Look I respect what you guys do. Two years is a massive commitment but I don't agree with your point of view. Take it easy guys and have a great day."
I too was raised Mormon. I think I gave it up around the age of 10 or so, shortly before my parents divorced. Thinking about the circumstances, I think I was sitting in Sunday school and we were told to pray to Jesus and feel him or somesuch, and since I couldn't, I started questioning. It's been 20 years, so forgive me for the lack of detail.
Unfortunately, my younger sister took to it much more readily than I did. I was very disappointed that I wasn't allowed into the temple for her wedding due to my not being "in good standing"
Her and I have discussions about religion every once in a while, with her trying to provide "evidence" or "logic" for the religion, most of the time using ingrained buzz-words (Eternal Truths, etc). Fortunately, my major in college was mathematics, so I'm quite familiar with how to go about a logical argument. I have yet to be able to break her of the brainwashing.
I do enjoy getting together with her hubby's side of the family, though, as they are pretty great people, in spite of their religion (he's got something like 8 siblings, and all but the youngest two have at least one kid each, most of them have 4 or more). I tend to get dirty looks when I don't pray with them, or admit to drinking alcohol or other silly stuff like that, though.
That being said, as an answer to your question, I DON'T deal with them. I consider myself a nice person, and unfortunately people trying to convert me tend to really irritate me, which leads to me tearing them a new one in a most logical and derisive way. I can't always avoid it, though, as my mother likes to trick me into being at her house when she has missionaries over; I typically just walk out of the house and go do some gardening with my stepdad, since he doesn't put up with it either, though I would say he's more Agnostic than anything (he believes in a god, but is non-denominational). My mom has been on a huge religious kick the last 7-8 years or so, since my sister was married, and mom wasn't allowed in the temple either, since she hadn't gone to the LDS church on a regular basis, though she went every once in a while AFAIK (I lived with my dad throughout middle school and high school, and she ended up moving around a lot so I didn't get to see them much).
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From the officers:
The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, March 8th at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Ryan Bell will talk on "My Year Without God: Now a Permanent Condition."