Skip to comments.I Love Talking To Ex-Mormon Atheists
Posted on 03/12/2013 9:27:52 AM PDT by Colofornian
I did not expect to meet so many atheists when I moved to Utah seven years ago. But I should have known better: America as a whole is secularizing, and Mormonism itself has a scorched earth policy. My Mormon girlfriend in high school once essentially said, If the LDS Church isnt true, I dont know that I could ever believe in God. Mormonism already is a form of atheism: it denies the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, first, most high God, and instead teaches a kind of naturalism or materialism: everything is matter, even spirits, and everything is subject to eternal laws of ultimate nature, even the gods. It feeds its people conspiracy theories about the corruption of the Bible, and it scares the heck out of Mormons over non-Mormon churches: if you dont stay with the One True Church, youll have to settle for an abominable evangelical church with a corrupt pastor who is a minister of Satan.
That is a colorful way of putting it, but you get the point.
It is depressing that so many people leave Mormonism only to become agnostics or atheists. Fortunately, atheists have a hard time staying atheists. Their children are probably much more open to the Biblical gospel than Mormons are. I suspect God is up to something he has multi-generational plans weve never dreamed of. If giving people the truth about Mormonisms history and the truth about the Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ statistically increases the odds of a person becoming a self-confessed agnostic or atheist, then so be it. God is sovereign and I am not here to be a social engineer or to play God. My job as an ambassador of Jesus is to preach the word of truth in love, and let the chips fall where they may. Fortunately, there is the fruit of ex-Mormon Christians to celebrate.
I used to be intimidated to talk to atheists. They are, in my experience, generally confident about their atheism and have tough questions. But over time I discovered that the average atheist hasnt read a substantive book defending atheism or theism, and gets his intellectual prowess from image memes and YouTube. Today, I like to start off conversations with atheists by asking, Have you ever read a good book defending atheism or theism? Usually they havent. Have you ever heard any good arguments for the existence of God or the resurrection of Jesus? Usually they havent. What are the strongest arguments for theism or Christianity, and what about them do you find lacking? Blank stare. What do you think are some of the most difficult questions for atheism to answer? Ughhh
These are great introductory teaching moments. Would you mind if I shared a few good arguments for the existence of God and for the resurrection of Jesus? What an awesome opportunity, especially when it culminates in a presentation of the most beautiful (and true) story in the world: God, yes, God, became a man, suffered with us and for us, and paid our penalty on the humiliating and shameful cross, and showed us the best display of sacrificial love there has ever been, simultaneously vindicating the righteousness of God, raising three days letter, showing us that the Lord Jesus Christ has all authority under heaven and earth and infinite power to keep his promises.
My favorite argument for the existence of God is the moral argument for God. I push it really hard:
1. If there is no God, there are no objective moral values or duties.
2. There are objective moral values and duties.
3. Therefore, God exists.
The really interesting thing about this argument is that atheists disagree with each other and dont know it. Some affirm both premises and simply havent followed them through to the conclusion. Some affirm premise #1 and disaffirm premise #2, others disaffirm premise #1 and affirm premise #2. Call me a rascal, but when Im being dog-piled by atheists, I love to get them arguing with each other. The argument is a great way to simultaneously engage someones intellect, spiritual intuitions, and suppressed presuppositions, all at the same time.
You can hear more about the moral argument for God here. But dont let YouTube suffice: read a good book. Some of you are, like me, at times utterly sick of reading about, thinking about, and discussing Mormonism. Take the opportunity to read some good literature that both engages atheism and supports the basics of Biblical Christianity. The ironic thing is that you can take what you learn and share it with not only your atheist neighbors, but also your Mormon neighbors. I dare say that all of the evidences, arguments, and Biblical declarations that atheists need to hear are things that Mormons equally need to hear. Mormons are atheists in embryo. As Mormons are, ex-Mormon atheists once were; as ex-Mormon atheists are, Mormons may be. To quote The Dark Knight Rises out of context: There is a storm coming. Mormon parents need to stop asking themselves, Will my children remain in the LDS Church?, and start asking, When my children leave the LDS Church, will they believe in Jesus? Not if, but when. Its happening in Utah, and its happening fast. Mormons have a hard time imagining what being a Christian theist would be like outside of Mormonism. I want to help start this process of imagination.
Addendum: Ten Discussion Questions for Atheists and Agnostics
Is there anything you reasonably believe to be true, yet cant empirically demonstrate?
Are there any objective moral values or duties?
Is torturing babies for fun morally objectively wrong?
Does atheism have a problem of evil?
Does every effect have a sufficient cause?
Do you trust your cognitive faculties?
To what extent and why?
Is an infinite regress possible?
Is it possible that God exists?
Is truth important for its own sake?
Is the question of Gods existence important?
Do you feel angst or sorrow over the absurdity of life?
What do you think of the person of Jesus?
Have you ever heard of the trilemma?
Philosophical discussion important, but secondary and supplemental to direct preaching. People are not only emotional and spiritual beings, but also intellectual beings, so I consider it a respectful and loving thing to engage a person intellectually.
We are all fools for something. I choose to be a fool for Jesus. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. (1 Corinthians 3:18) Be a fool with me and preach the ridiculous gospel of Jesus Christ. Self-confessed atheists are no different than the rest of us inadvertent practical atheists who sin as though God does not exist. We need to repent of trusting ourselves and cry out to Jesus in brokenhearted, child-like faith.
God is good, and Jesus has risen,
Welll, here's the Bible's description of the "riot" in Athens.
Acts 17: 32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, We want to hear you again on this subject. 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
According to the Bible, Paul caused a number of riots, notably in Ephesus and Jerusalem. But not in Athens.
There's no such thing as evil.
One man's trash is another man's treasure.
We get this; but WHY?
To get back home someday and deliver that package!
are we rushing to the number ???
That is a powerfully clarifying insight.
Never understood that one, as I have absolutely no desire to be God, or even a god. Don't understand those who do have this desire.
For those who think I'm a Mormon apologist, that's far from the case. I've had a number of rather HWrws discussions with Mormons who are heavily into the "Mormon persecution" meme, which is a distortion of history IMO.
The real truth is that 19th century Mormons had a disastrous habit of starting and losing wars, then claiming religious persecution. 19th century western America had quite a large number of weird religious groups running around. For some obscure reason the Mormons were the only ones consistently involved in religious persecution.
One Mormon I had an extended discussion with claimed hundreds or thousands of Mormon deaths in the Missouri mob attacks. Tried for weeks to get him to document these claims. Actual numbers are probably well under 100, probably about half that.
Which means Mormons killed more in the single Mountain Meadows atrocity, the greatest atrocity committed in peacetime by American whites on American whites in our entire history, than Mormons were killed by the mobs.
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
To make your collection of 19th century religious rhetoric somewhat more comprehensive, you might want to look up how some 19th century American Protestants and Catholics talked about each other, not to mention what they had to say about Mormons.
If you go back a little farther 16th and 17th century “Christians” of various flavors reached a peak of denunciatory fervor that may never be reached again. Luther was a champ in this area.
Okay. Was using “you” in the somewhat less than fully grammatical sense of “one,” which always seems a little awkward to me.
But if I’ve given offense, it was unintentional.
HWrws = heated.
No idea where that came from.
Paul preached and people rioted.........bottom line.
Your “lets all get along to get along” falls flat...bottom line.
Apparently.....that is true.
Fortunately, Jesus The Christ took the big one for us, so no need to worry.
And yet, you defend mormonism.....weird at its face.
My favorite proof of this is the undoubted fact that saying a woman is "not unattractive" is not equivalent to saying she is attractive.
In many contexts in the natural use of English, just as in intuitionistic logic, NOT(NOT P) is weaker than P.
“That is the problem. I am coming from a completely different metaphysics and epistemology than a Christian would have to hold to hold the beliefs he or she holds.”
It doesn’t take metaphysical, epistemological, blahblahizicalmological anything to understand your own nature. Even Nietzsche understood the blackness of despair, and his own inability to live up to his own philosophy. His philosophy was aimed not at those who were there now existing, but of a Overcomer who would come later, in another time. Ironically, the only people who will be able to live up to those standards is the Christian in his Resurrection body.
If you say that you yourself are not corrupt, then give me your code of moral conduct. Give me its dictates, what defines good behavior. How do you handle lust? How do you handle lies? How do you handle any of the problems you yourself face or think you face. And then tell me, after all of that, if you even keep your own standards. Or if, like a blind man, you are always grasping for them and failing to truly live up to them at all times.
No; the attrition rate of MORMON apologists available to post these days insures that the thread will fizzle long before then...
Speaking of distortion...