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"Don't dwell"

I have been told many times now, since I have left the LDS church, to simply "move on" and "don't dwell".  I have also heard the quote "you can leave the church but you can't leave the church alone" more times than I would care to count.  So, this post is for anyone who is interested in knowing why I can't just walk away from the church as if nothing had ever happened.  (See also this post.)

The LDS church is different in many, many ways from other churches.  The one difference I believe is essential to this particular point, however, is that Mormons don't just claim that their religion is another belief--that they could conceivably be wrong and another religion right.  Instead, they claim that their beliefs are actual knowledge.  They are taught in their church meetings (fast Sunday) to say things to the effect of "I know that the church is true" and "I know that God lives".  I did this many times myself while I was in the church and accepted all of those beliefs.  However, the problem with that is that it leaves absolutely no room for any doubt at all.  If it were just beliefs, then I would have no position on the matter and would be perfectly comfortable walking away, since it would merely be me casting off a set of beliefs and adopting a new one.  But, with this "I know" point of view, now the matter of what is true and what is false is brought into the equation.  If one point of Mormon teaching is brought into question and enough evidence is presented that leads to reasonable doubt that some teaching or other is false, then it automatically flies in the face of Mormon doctrine.  If, rather, the church admitted that its beliefs were merely beliefs, then this problem wouldn't exist, since beliefs don't need to be supported by fact and therefore one is free to believe, for example, in a geocentric solar system rather than a heliocentric one.

I am a man driven by logic and by truth.  I am a mathematician.  Math is logic and truth.  My career is to reason and to find out the truth--granted, the objects I work with are all abstract and very infrequently do I perform calculations that are actually useful in a "real-life" scenario.  However, the studies that I do are no less involved with the pursuit of truth than any other science.  Therefore, when I was brought up as a Mormon, the fact that the church teaches absolute truth appealed to me very much.  As I wrote here, I believe in absolute truth--that every question (concerning fact) in the universe has an answer and that answer does not vary from person to person or case to case.  I believe that knowledge is power, so the acquiring of this absolute truth is something that will help each individual live a better life.

Also, as difficult as it is for me to admit that I am wrong, I see the value in correcting one's own mistakes.  When I am teaching a math class and I write something erroneous on the board or teach something that is false, I want to correct it and I do correct it as often as it is brought to my attention (whether by a student or by myself).  Why do I do this?  Because I could not bear the thought that something I taught to my students was false.  I want them to know correct, true principles in math so that they can use them in my course, in future math courses, and in life--if they enter a profession that requires math.  I would not want to be responsible for making them make mistakes because I taught them false things about mathematics.  So, as much as it is difficult for me to swallow my pride, I see the value in admitting it when I'm wrong and making the necessary correction.

I have spent a lot of time and energy not only defending the church's position but also trying to convince people that it is true.  I served a two-year full-time proselytizing mission and I have spent countless hours going out teaching with the missionaries here in Knoxville.  So, I have a vested interest in trying to correct those things that I said during all of that time that I now realize are false.  If I do not do this, I would forever have on my own conscience the guilt of having taught false teachings to people and convincing them that they are in fact true.

So, when someone tells me to "move on" or "leave the church alone", I find it impossible to comply.  I do not mean to attack the members of the church--they are good people.  I do not mean to threaten someone's right to believe as they see fit--freedom of religion is very important, especially in this country.  I mean only to share the truth with people and correct all of the false teachings that I have shared in the past.

If it truly is the case that the LDS church is correct and I am wrong, then the things I say should not bother anyone at all, since they can be dismissed as false.  Perhaps the fact that I persist in asserting my position may be annoying, but the things that I say--in and of themselves--should not bother anyone who purports to "know better".  If, however, the things that I say are true and the church is wrong, would you not want to know it?  Do you want to know the truth or do you simply want to belong to a religion that makes you happy?  I mean, just because I want to believe only things that are true doesn't mean the same applies to everyone.  Maybe all you want is a social club that you pay 10% of your income to, and that's fine.  I pass no judgment there.  But, I propose the idea that the reason so many Mormons find the things I say to be objectionable is because they are true.  As Nephi says, "the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center." (1 Ne 16:2)

Also, lest I be accused of being anti-Mormon (of which, I have been accused repeatedly), I would like to say that the information I get that I find difficulty with is not published by third-parties.  It is information that comes from official publications of the church--from the Journal of Discourses (which is an early version of the Conference reports we now have), the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants, the History of the Church, and other pamphlets and websites published by the church itself.  If the source I use for my findings is invalid, then either way the church is false--false for being an invalid source or false for the reasons that I point out.

Again, this is not about putting a church out of business, nor about destroying people's beliefs.  I have no quarrel with Mormons believing as they do.  I have no quarrel with the church itself.  I seek, in all things, only to ascertain that which is true.

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