Is finding the truth worth potentially breaking the hearts of those close to me?


Discussion by: western84
I am an LDS medical student in my late twenties and for the past few years I have been doubting the beliefs that I have held for most of my life. I want to know the truth about the existence of a deity, but even if I did know that my current beliefs were wrong, I wonder if I would have the courage to leave them behind. I have lived for nearly thirty years engulfed in this “Mormon” culture and it has been very good to me. It makes me and most of my other mormon family and friends happy. Even if it is false, is it really hurting me to live by it? I guess if I’m honest with myself, I am afraid to leave behind the culture that I am so used to and I’m not sure if I would be comfortable without it. More importantly, if it is not true, is it worth breaking my mother’s heart by leaving it behind? Two of my sisters are not practicing any religion and although we all remain very close, I know how badly my parents want all of us to know what they “know to be true” and live by it.
I’m not much of a writer, and I’ve thought about this so much that I couldn’t possibly put it all into words, especially on paper. But please, I would be interested to know your thoughts.


  1. Ultimately the choice is up to you as you are the one to live with the consequences.

    However, IMO lying to those close to you is always the wrong answer, those that love you should accept you ‘warts and all’.

    If you can’t be honest to your friends then who can you be honest to?

    I know nothing about the LDS and whether they shun ‘quitters’, but it may well be that others have ur doubts too and only stay for the community…

    Who knows you could be the snowflake that joins an avalanche?

    Hope whatever you decide works for you.

  2. Wouldn’t those who care about you want you to be true to yourself?   Would they want you to live a lie, just to please them?  And if they would, are their feelings really worthy of all that much consideration?

    I escaped a different faith, after a period of lying.  First to myself (when I continued to try to believe what I knew deep down to be a lie), then to my family (when I’d evade church when I could, and lie about it when pushed), then I stopped lying.  I felt a lot better after that, and it was accepted that I didn’ t do religion.  The subject never came up any more, and I had no need to fight back, so I didn’t try to disrupt anyone else’s faith.

    If your family and community is very controlling and stifling, then you may need to make a big noisy exit, slamming doors, burning boats, and generally pissing people off as you break for freedom, but if they aren’t, and can tolerate quiet non-practicing behavior (as you say is the case for your sisters), then you can probably get pretty much the best of both worlds, remain loved and accepted as yourself, without needing to lie, and without needing to offend. 

    Hope it works out for you.  Good luck.

  3. I had to make the same decision many years ago, being raised as a fundamentalist Christian.  That is a very tough situation you’re in.  Most people don’t know how difficult it is.  I lost the entire community I was raised in.  The first few years were the worst.  Luckily, my parents came around and didn’t ostracize me.

    Ultimately, I believe I made the right decision.  I find life to be easier when I am honest with myself and those around me.  Also, this allows me to make progress in my life, in ways that cannot be predicted.

    “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

    – Henry David Thoreau.  Walden.  1854.

    Haha…love does not have to be sacrificed though.  I still like Thoreau’s statement.

    Best of luck to you in this difficult time.

  4. Life is so fleeting, so short, that many of the decisions we make wind up having effects far in the future.  

    You have to live for yourself, ultimately.  That doesn’t mean that at times you don’t put others before you.  Especially family.

    But at the end of the day, you will have to live with the knowledge that you’re “living a lie”.  If the truth is as important to you as it seems to be, and you have any kind of ethical system, you have to know that lying to yourself will only bring harm.  Maybe not today, but at some point down the line.

  5. As a former LDS member I can empathise.  I’ve lived this, our whole family left within a few weeks of each other due to the evidence.  We are all much happier as a result.  About half the friends from the church dropped us.  This was irritating at the time but it did sort out who truly where living the morals they professed.  Friends of ours (I was 15 at the time) weren’t allowed to see us for fear of the devil infecting them also.  The ripple effect knocked out many of the extended family also this is because many in the church are not happy and when confronted with the evidence drop it like a stone.  My Grandmother (who had a history of mental illness) upon reading some of the so called anti-mormon literature (this is rubbish its all mormon literature) had a breakdown.  She was convinced it was her job to challenge us and bring us back, her faith was going to be strong enough to withstand the awful lies we were telling.  Unfortunately it triggered a depression that lasted on and off for the rest of her life. 

    So my advice is arm yourself with all the information you can get.  Go to the core, the book of mormon has been continuously tampered with find references in older and newer versions to changes made to the word of god.  Present them in the spirit of I have these doubts because, I fear I cannot honestly stay a member of an organisation if it was ever true is lying to me now.  Tell them you would love to be part of the church if it is true but you cannot based upon the principles and ethics taught in the church.  Confront them with the hypocrisy and if they can come up with a reasoned explanation for the changes to the word of god as translated by Joseph Smith (the foundation of the whole religion) then you would happily come back.  Put the burden of proof where it belongs on them.…. 

  6. I recommend you build your house on the rock (to use a Biblical phrase). Base your beliefs and feeling on what you are sure of, not fictions that serve an immediate purpose. If those fictions benefit you so that you can see the truth, they served their purpose. You are ready to eat solid food.

    My grandfather was dieing and expressed his doubts in Catholic afterlife. “No one really knows”, he said, quite upset. It infuriated me that I was more prepared for death than he was, at least in that sense. He was a brilliant and moral man, and this integrity showed itself to the end. I wish dealing with that fiction had not imposed itself then, but I am so proud that he did not abandon his virtues under such threat. Truth is important, powerful, and you need it. If you fill your head with nonsense, it can have a negative affect.

    As for your family, I don’t think anyone can advise on that. You are just like me or anyone else, so I can say seek truth and abide by it. How you interact with other people is unknowable to others. You come this site, so I am totally comfortable promoting atheism to you, but I’m not gonna promote it at a funeral full of believers. Can your parents handle atheism for themselves?

    I know some people go through a period of adjustment when accepting a rational worldview. Some people become nihilistic, others might become arrogant or have some other difficulty. Everyone is different, but I’d say watch for that, and make sure you are on good footing before affecting other people.

  7. when i was a practicing Catholic, i used to have so much guilt and fear that i began to punish myself psychologically. i was very suicidal and to top it all i couldn’t discuss my problems with my family [filipino family – very conservative]. the other problem i had was that i’m gay. so after all the years of guilt, fear, self-loathing, and all the negatives i experienced and instilled into myself, i came out to my family [i wrote them a 6-page long letter] and then i became an atheist. it took me years to figure things out for myself with the help of psychotherapy. i was in my early 30’s then. i didn’t get any hate letters from my family and so i assumed they were okay with my being gay. my communication with my parents continued without having to discuss my homosexuality; the usual stuff – work, life, etc. no mention of getting married anymore. [my family is really weird.] then slowly and calmly the guilt and fear started to peel off like an onion. i felt very peaceful. i didn’t blame myself anymore nor did i blame my parents and family. i’ve come to realize they were from a different era our personal experiences were fundamentally different especially that i’ve already lived in the USA for a very long time. that guilt and fear the Catholics and Christians have just went out the window. i felt nails were pulled out from my heart.

    my personal experiences may be different from yours but in the end it’s all up to you. follow that road where you find peace within yourself, a life not dominated by guilt and fear, things are balanced. problems may pop up once in a while but you are going to be strong in dealing with them. my parents are now dead and it was such a relief that i had a good relationship with them long before they passed away. i also have a good and healthy relationship with my siblings.

    good luck man.

  8. Regrettably, I have made choices in various areas of my life to “protect” others from ” truth” I say this regarding issues not necessarily involving atheism, but it works the same way.  I made decisions in not responding in order to keep the status quo. I have also made a difficult decision toward a family member to take action and not keep the status quo. Both had really ugly results.  I have learned the hard way “You are damned if you do. You are damned if you don’t” The fact is either choice will have its consequences, but it is best if
    you do what is the BEST for YOURSELF. You cannot control the irrational
    responses of others nor can you predict what they will do, think or react —either
    way.  Even family members who supposedly love you, will perpetuate their warped views of you to others – especially young children, in order to protect their own ego.

     30 is so young. I’m hitting 50 and I wish I made a few changes at 30. I can say this now looking back. My only advice to you is to be financially independent and have a supportive network of people who accept you. If you do not have this support system, start building it now. Start finding ways of appreciating life, seasons, holidays, people, etc without your religion. Seek out people who are secular who you could also have fun with. Until you are able to argue any challenges, tell people/family that this is your view and you would be appreciative if they could extend respect and you will do the same.

    Could you go on living within this culture knowing it’s not true? Sure you can. You can probably do it for the rest of your life. You could even find a way to excel in it. But in the back of your mind, every now it then, you will feel a little stab inside  knowing the  lack of authenticity in it all. You will always wonder if they would love and accept you unconditionally. You might then question is it too late or how can I change now that so much time has passed. Worse yet you will wonder “what if?” What if I made this change ten or twenty years ago? What if I would have stood my ground? What if I tried to make an effort better twenty years ago?  You might eventually just give up. It’s the things we don’t do, the chances we do not take that eat us up and kill our self-esteem. Go ahead, keep living in a situation that is not in alignment with your beliefs and watch twenty pounds suddenly sneak up on you. Go ahead, keep living in a situation like this and count your medications and aches and pains.

    Life is sticky, ugly, and shitty at times. People create Hell on earth. People also create Heaven on earth. Pushing issues aside is only temporary. Eventually the shit rises again.

  9. Well on top of the excellent comments already made I would say don’t rush into making any announcements until you are satisfied you are ready for the consequences and know what they are going to be. 

    If you live in a community where you risk being shunned and even alienated from family members that’s a hell of a price to pay (sadly) for living your life the way you want to live it and being true to yourself.
    In America particularly, it seems that there seems to be an intolerance to religious free thinking that people like me in Europe rarely experience.
    I came out as an atheist when I was fifteen and although my parents weren’t happy about it, they went along with it thinking they’d get me back later ( no chance!)

    The point I wanted to make is that in my opinion there are important  two reasons for these reactions and both stem from a misguided sense of love.
    One is that people literally believe in  damnation or at least failing to make paradise. If you really believed a loved one was going to be tortured for eternity ( or at very least fail to make the everlasting party) you would want to do anything to prevent that from happening.
    Another reason is that family members envisage an afterlife where they will all be together and the thought that a loved one won’t be there, is of course difficult.
    For the wider community of course you become somebody who is rocking the boat and is in a sense a traitor to the cause. It only takes a few believers to make everybody doubt and of course the clergy know this and in many cases I have heard of instigate the ostericism as  a way of containing the contagion of free thought ( Theresa McBains story is a pretty good example of that and there are many others )

    My daughter goes to a church school (its the only decent one she could get into) and is of course taught about Jesus but gets nothing but scientific explanations for the way the world is at home. When she is older, I hope that she makes her own choices about what she wants to believe based on critical thinking; if she chooses to be a Christian then that’s her choice. I won’t get too upset about it because obviously I don’t think she has a soul to jeopardise or a risk of going to hell. As long as she has a happy life that’s the most important thing.So good luck with your choices; I hope they work out for you.

  10. You might appreciate the message Sam Harris conveys in his recent, short, e-book (and now free online at his website) titled, “Lying.” 

    For my part, and I can only echo the late Christopher Hitchens (and others) who make this point too, I wouldn’t choose the afterlife even if it was true. The faiths I’m familiar with all have immoral stances on love, justice, and freedom. Fortunately, there isn’t any evidence that they exist.

    Good luck and welcome to this forum.


  11. I think its something you either believe in or you dont. I departed my religion because simply I believed it to be untrue. My personal opinion is that if you believe its a choice then you are unsure of yourself. I never found I had a choice, it was more like this is who I was. You could do many things , you could just become lapsed and forget about religion for as long as you can , you could pay it the bear amount of lip service to keep your family happy, you could go through the rituals and not let it effect your personal life. Wanting the truth sounds like a demand to which you can rightly make , but you are not owed an answer in this respect. I left religion because I believed it to be untrue , it wasnt a matter of ‘I’m gonna leave , I am not messn around here, somebody better tell me the truth’. What I’m trying to say is that I never asked for the truth , the un-truth was fine by me.

  12. And also If you want the truth, you’ll find countless people clamouring over themselves to tell you the truth

  13. I think the debate of choosing between happiness and truth crosses nicely with Robert Nozick’s thought experiment of the Experience Machine, which supposes the offer of living in a preferable (more pleasurable, more internally consistent) simulation over reality.


    Nozick points out some of the reasons which one might not choose to plug into the simulation, and these might resemble some of your reasons for understanding the true nature of reality.

    In my own case, as someone who suffers from mental disorders that include compelling delusion, critical thought is the tool by which I anchor what is certain from what isn’t, so I am much more dependent on parsing truth from interpretation than most.

    But you also have what might be a third option, which is to respect the LDS tradition of your family, even when you cannot accept their narrative as factual history. Just because a given mythology is uncertain or even false doesn’t mean it doesn’t still have applicability to our lives.


  14. As you may already know, Richard Dawkins does not think much of Joseph Smith.
    Here is an interesting cartoon video: What Mormons Believe

    You can still keep going through the motions of your religion as a social activity, but you know that as a professional, you make your medical decisions alone. You should do the same about the LDS. Everyone who exercises their critical judgement and then attempts to reconcile their conclusions with others runs the risk of failing to come to an agreement about what is “The Truth”. This is especially so about sex, politics and religion. Welcome to the club.

  15. I feel for you because I am in a  similar situation.  I live in an orthodox Jewish community, and I have a family who are all believing,  practicing Jews.  Although I have serious doubts about it all and have adopted a skeptical attitude (I am working through the “god delusion” now),  I feel it would be wrong to destroy the fabric of my family (wife, kids, etc) just to “come out” with my questions, doubts, skepticism, etc.   I think people have obligations to family that, sometimes, comes before obligations to the self.

  16. JayG
    I understand what you are saying.  It is difficult to be in that situation.  When, for example, my wife’s family (who are very religious) want to say grace before a meal I respectfully bow my head in silence.  i do this more out of respect for them than i do out of respect for saying a prayer that basically gives the finger to all the starving people on the planet.

    So, even if you have to maintain these small inconvenient pleasantries for the sake of “family unity” and your obligations to these different people, you have to be true to your own intellect and be honest when directly asked questions or in situations where the religious view is dead wrong.  Truth cannot contradict truth.

  17. Being brought up in the UK as a cultural Anglican (I guess much like Richard Dawkins), I never had to encounter this kind of problem. Although I was taken to church a few times by my parents (who were not regular churchgoers in any case) and we had regular compulsory chapel services at school, I can’t claim religious belief was ever forced on me at home or at school. I was never under any kind of threat of losing family or friends. You either believed or you didn’t and nobody really cared or even bothered to ask you.

    I’m intrigued: do people from fundamentalist communities like yours appreciate that there are other types of religious people, including Christians, who do not require all their friends and family to be of the same religion, and who will not in any way abandon them or think less highly of them should they declare they are a non-believer?

    Maybe you could raise this issue with your family, drawing their attention to the fact that families in other communities get on absolutely fine without particularly caring what religious beliefs they may hold individually. If your family can appreciate this, and realise that families do not have to break apart or have anything to fear if they don’t all hold the same beliefs, it may help them accept the situation.

    I.E. It is quite normal and commonplace for families to stay together when they may not share the same beliefs.

  18. I feel that the conviction of a belief should be based on observable fact and reason, not on hearsay and faith. Furthermore, holding a conviction that you don’t believe in is a concept that is contradictory to itself. Would you not be harming your own peace of mind and tormenting yourself by following practices which you feel are; euphemistically speaking – redundant? Furthermore, given your description of a happy family, will they not support you in your quest for truth instead of forcing beliefs down your throat?

  19. Why is it that it’s people like this, who question what most of his or her family believes worries so much about their family’s sensibilities? If they loved you, then they should also worry about yours. If they don’t, they don’t think enough of you to care. 

  20. Hello, western84!

    I was in almost exactly the same position as you (except that I was a law student instead of a medical student).  I understand exactly what you are saying about leaving behind the culture you are used to and feeling uncomfortable without it.

    For me, however, it was all about the hypocrisy.  Once I realized that I truly just didn’t believe in any of the core tenets of the church (including the existence of God, let alone the Book of Mormon), I began to feel more and more hypocritical about going to church each week and pretending to believe.  I realize that for some (many) so-called “religious” people such hypocrisy is a way of life, but I just couldn’t handle it.

    As the years passed after graduating school and returning to “normal” life, I became more and more depressed.  I knew that I was expected to find a nice Mormon girl and have a family, but the thought of marrying somebody under false pretenses and lying to them the rest of my life made me physically ill.  And I began to dread more and more the weekly visit to church and all the bits of “Mormon culture” that were supposed to make me feel comforted and supported.

    I finally reached the breaking point in my early 30s.    I explained to my bishop that I simply didn’t believe in God or any of the church’s core teachings (although I still thought the actual Mormon lifestyle was laudable) and that I wouldn’t be coming back.  I then spent the next few weeks trying to get up the courage to tell my family.  When I finally did, I was surprised at how readily they accepted it.  I think they probably thought it was just a phase that I would eventually get over, but for whatever reason they never pressured me in any way and we have remained very close.

    The relief I felt once I had finally come clean was nearly indescribable. Years of depression lifted overnight and I suddenly felt like I had a reason to go on living day to day. I have had my up and down days like every other human being on the planet, but I have never had a single day since then that I felt as depressed as I did back then.

    Although officially an ex-Mormon, I remained a product of my upbringing and had no desire to start drinking, smoking, having premarital sex, etc.  Which, of course, made dating a bit tricky since the only people I met who shared my desired lifestyle tended to be extremely religious.  Fortunately, however, I eventually did end up dating (and marrying) a wonderful non-religious woman who happens to share my lifestyle choices. We have a 7-year-old son who I am diligently teaching to be a skeptic and to not accept anything at face value without having a good reason for believing it.

    One thing to add — although I am most definitely an ex-Mormon, I never veered into being an anti-Mormon.  I have family members who are still very devoted members and it is obvious that their faith sustains them and gives them comfort and support.  I may privately think they they are deluded and that perhaps they would be better off without the church in the long run, but that is wholly their business and I do not feel the need to try and convince them of the error of their ways.  Sometimes it is hard, especially now that my oldest nephew has left on a mission and all family members have been encouraged to write to him.  I regret that I have nothing to say to him and risk losing contact with him as a result, but it’s something I can live with.

    I wish you the best of luck!

  21. As someone who was never really religious, I seem to have a different view on the matter. I suggest a more rational approach.

    If you recently adapted your non-religious view, it will invariably mess with you. As the conclusions and realisations cascade through your mind and you are busy restructuring everything, you will experience excitement and perhaps a little bit of fear. Perhaps it makes you angry that you wasted so much time on something you now consider false, perhaps it makes you sad that others are still trapped in illusions. 

    Some people also experience their beloved ones as oppressors. Afer all, if there is no big deal in believing whatever you want, why would you make a fuss about it? So while you do not want to upset your friends and family, there may be an emotion where you feel the urge to tell everyone precisely you know it will upset and hurt them. Defiance is not really the best way to deal with the situation. In an case there are emotions involved. But you need to think clearly what you want and you need to tell different needs and goals apart.

    #1Where is the Issue?
    Think about how important religious topics and lifestyle really are in your surrounding. If you just hang out with people who happen to be Mormon, do you really need to place attention on your views? Do you sit there and discuss Mormon Lore all day? Observe how and when you need to declare your allegiance. Does it happen at all? If you do not pray together or attent religious celebrations on a regular basis, why would you need to upset the people if you can simply declare it as private matter between you and your conciousness. And to satisfy your needs, talk about it online or with someone appropriate. Think carefully why exactly you want everyone to know that you changed your mind about something.

    #2 Dirty Sex Secret
    In any case, you want to talk about it. Do not confuse this basic need with sharing your views with your friends and family. These are different things!  You can enlighten yourself online, and talk to fellow atheists there or elsewhere and once your first urge is satisfied you probably don’t need to make a fuss about it anymore. Most people believe “something” and it is never really a big deal. It is a private matter. You can sing in the religious choir, you can attend a wedding, you can close your eyes and hold hands with people who pray. No big deal. It can be argued that in a relgious group people anyway do not really share any views (how, since Gods are ill defined, most other stuff is left to interpretation and there is literally nothing to point at and agree on, hence thousands of demoninations). You have to decide how often you are in conflict with a situation (see #1) and you also need to decide what happens if you are caught watching “darwin porn”. If you have to act very secretly and make up stories and lies all the time, I would strongly discourage this option.

    #3 Troublemaker Champion
    Think about how you want to be seen by others. Think about how you want to be remembered. Not Gods look at you and judge, but your descendants will (who, in 500 years “google” their family name and will likely see you as the first member of their family history who left a mark). This is an identity issue. If you see yourself strongly as an “Atheist” person, someone who champions scientific thinking, then go for it (like Rirchard Dawkins). But know that you will be seen as a troublemaker in your environment. Most people do not really care that much about religious labels, especially in secular countries like here in Germany. They like to see themselves as loving husbands, crazy artists or successful businesswoman. Again, do not confuse your current urge to discuss world views with identity. Especially, do not confuse being a Mormon person with being an Atheist person. This is very different, for atheism is not a religion. You may have to find something else as an identity you like, like being an awesome doctor. Embrace this, unless you really want to become an atheist missionary.

    #4 Oops, I forgot to make a Grand Reveal
    You could also pursue it nonchalantly. This means, you simply fail to inform your friends and family officially. You could adopt the stance that you don’t make a fuss about it at all, and just behave normally without making a “grand reveal”. Just go ahead and read the books you like to read, say the things you want to say when the topic comes up but otherwise really avoid it getting in the way. You can adjust the dose as you see fit. You don’t need to confess to your mom, for example, but you can discuss it with someone else. I would avoid a debate on principles with religious people because it will be like a Grand Reveal and you will be the outcast in such a situation. Rather answer calmly and faithfully on specifics if they come up (and on a per case basis) and adjust the dose as you see appropriate. Do not delude yourself with ideals like “being authentic”. Apparently, this is really important to some people, but it is really overrated. You don’t need to be in your face with anything to feel good and normal. Sometimes it is necessary to be diplomatic.

    #5 Choose your Battles Wisely
    “Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It’s not winning battles that makes you happy, but it’s how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go.” C. Joy Bell (found this quote when I typed the headline, and think it fits).

  22. My late wife was 45 before she ‘came out’.   She’d never discussed her atheism, apart from with me, because she feared the reactions of some she worked with.    When I started wearing badges and t-shirts that declared my freethinking, she was worried that tyres would be slashed or my face punched by bigoted religious types.

    I can’t tell you what to do.   I can say she found comfort in knowing she’d ‘come out’ and was going to have an atheist funeral.   Some religiots rolled their eyes when the celebrant announced Jan’s desire to live a god-free life, but her closest friends and family knew she’d been honoured as she wanted to be.

    One suggestion that may be useful for you, is that you and your sisters are unlikely to be the only ones waiting for some indication that, like Jan, they’re no alone in their view of religion.

    There’s no reason to rush, in exactly the same way as there’s no reason to consider your own feelings are secondary to those who’ve imposed this religious perspective on you.

    Perhaps one of your parents is also a closet atheist?  

  23. Childhood indoctrination and subsequent peer pressure are common reasons people obtain and maintain beliefs in particular religions.  As to your quandary, I suggest you not take ownership of other folk’s issues, including family members. Only you can decide whether you wish to maintain the status quo, with the accompanying lying, enabling and codependency, or whether you will manifest change, with the accompanying honesty, shunning (by others) and needed adjustments.

  24. This is a quote from mr_dna above:

    “The point I wanted to make is that in my opinion there are important  two reasons for these reactions and both stem from a misguided sense of love.One is that people literally believe in  damnation or at least failing to make paradise. If you really believed a loved one was going to be tortured for eternity ( or at very least fail to make the everlasting party) you would want to do anything to prevent that from happening.Another reason is that family members envisage an afterlife where they will all be together and the thought that a loved one won’t be there, is of course difficult.”
    He does a good job at explaining what the view of my family is. I want to emphasize that they will not shun me in any way if I choose to come out as a nonbeliever, they will simply be deeply saddened by it because they believe themselves to have a sure knowledge of the truth. Their concern is out of nothing but sincere love and pure intentions. My mother is the kindest person I know. She just wants me to “know” what she “knows” and live by “the truth” so that we can all be together after this life.That may not be the case in all fundamentalist communities, but that is the case in my family.

  25. godzillatemple,
    I really appreciate your comments. You seem to understand exactly what I’m going through. I do have some more concerns though. 
    Aside from my hold up of not wanting to hurt my mother and family, I am also scared that I would be making the wrong decision. I don’t know the truth. What if you are wrong? What if you have given up on the truth. Can we ever really know? I don’t know if I could ever get the idea of God watching my every move out of my head. I’m afraid if I left the church, I would just live in fear that it was true after all, and that I made the wrong decision. I’m not sure if that peace you speak of would never come. I guess I’m kind of a fence sitter, not feeling like I really belong in either camp.

  26. J  Smith has been debunked – and the origin of the book of Mormon is spurious to say the least! I am ex-RC and do  understand your dilemma, to some extent.

  27. In the end, it’s your decision. I hope your family is willing to accept you, no matter what you believe. Good luck. I know this kind of thing can be really hard.

  28. @ western84

    I want to emphasize that they will not shun me in any way if I choose to come out as a nonbeliever, they will simply be deeply saddened by it because they believe themselves to have a sure knowledge of the truth. Their concern is out of nothing but sincere love and pure intentions. My mother is the kindest person I know. She just wants me to “know” what she “knows” and live by “the truth” so that we can all be together after this life.

    Thanks for the clarification, and I’m glad to hear you have that kind of family.

    I suppose the only answer to your dilemma then is to try and convince your family that belief in the existence of a precise entity should not be necessary in order to be rewarded with an afterlife. In fact, it’s absurd.

    Why do so many religions enforce this idea of a very precise belief in one particular entity, as if that is the most important thing that that entity would be concerned about. If there is an intelligent creator of the universe who will decide what kind of afterlife, if any, each person will have, why on earth would the prime factor be whether or not they had managed to paint a very perfect picture in their head of what that entity might be?

    Of course, you and I know the reason behind enforcing this idea is purely for the purpose of gaining power and control over a population. But has your family thought this through at all? You don’t have to tell them it is all about power and control. Just encourage them to ask themselves the following kind of quesitons:

    – Is it possible for anyone to paint this perfect picture in their head of what the creator actually is?

    – Given that this creator must be more than intelligent enough to understand that we can’t physically see, hear, touch him, surely he would be intelligent enough to understand that not everyone, in fact almost certainly noone, will ever paint that perfect picture in their head. So why would he be concerned about that? Why is believing in something in any way a sign of “goodness” that deserves a reward?

    Nearly all religions preach this idea that you must believe their version. How could anybody on the planet possibly know which was the correct one. They only tend to be inclined to think that the correct one is the one that they have been raised to follow. But that is not a logical reason for believing that it must be right. Again, an intelligent creator would understand all this. It’s absurd to think an entity intelligent enough to create this universe, life and an afterlife, would not understand all this – i.e. would be even more stupid than us!

    This is what such a creator would say:

    “GRRRR! I’ve made this universe and I’ve made you and I’ve made you in such a way that you can’t see me, and the only way you can ever know about me is from what others (who also can’t see me) will tell you and the chances are they will give you completely the wrong description. So even though there is nothing you can do about that, and even though I can’t think of any reason why it is important that you must believe in me anyway, I am going to punish you for that!!!”

  29. Well, as I said earlier, I’m not at all “anti-Mormon” and I am not interested in convincing otherwise happy people to abandon their faith if it gives them solace and comfort (as long as it doesn’t lead them to abuse the rights of others, of course).

    For me personally, though, it comes down to the realization of just how ridiculous it is to believe that this entire vast universe was created just for our benefit.  It made much more sense thousands of years ago when people thought that stars were just lights in the sky and that the Earth really was all there was.  Now that we know just how many billions of galaxies there are, each with their own billions of stars, it’s pretty obvious that the notion of a personal God who created us and watches over us and pays attention to us and cares about us is just wishful thinking.

    On top of that, of course, is all the scientific evidence that has been gathered over the years that directly contradicts almost everything stated in the scriptures, whether it be the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Koran, etc.  At most, you can look to scriptures as allegorical stories that (hopefully) tell you how to live a good life, but if they’re not based on facts then there’s really no need to worship anything described therein.

    Think about Santa Claus.  When you’re a little kid with no knowledge of science, it makes perfect sense for there to be magical flying reindeer that can travel all over the entire world in a single evening carrying a magical sled filled with billions of toys.  After all, that’s what your parents told you and how else could those toys mysteriously appear under the tree?  As an adult, however, it’s hard to imagine that anybody (let alone you) could have ever been so naive and gullible.  Not only is everything about the Santa Claus story impossible, but there are much more plausible explanations available for the gifts.

    The final piece of the puzzle for me was the realization that people are very good at self-deception and that plenty of folks are probably 100% sincere when they claim to have had a conversion experience or “felt the spirit” or what have you.  That’s why so many people cling to so many different faiths.

  30. “Is finding the truth worth potentially breaking the hearts of those close to me?”


  31. I cant imagine the feelings you are going though, here in
    the uk most of my family were church of England members although not very
    devout like a lot of C of E members it was just for weddings and such but it came
    to the point I couldn’t in all honesty continue to call myself a Christian and
    the more I thought about it and read up on the subject I knew I was an atheist and
    quit a few members of my family felt same.

    Also I think it much easier to be a non believer here in the
    UK then it seems to be in the

    All the best with your decision   

  32. in my opinion, yes. truth is worth it. follow your heart because you know religion does not make any sort of sense. you should be proud to break free, and you don’t leave your old life, you just create a new life where you got a free mind. how your loved ones react, should not be enough to scare you into submission for the rest of your life. However, you don’t need to tell everybody in your family about it. You know there will be a negative reaction to it. Many people don’t tell the family about their life because of the social stigma.

    Can’t tell you what to do. Decide on what you think is morally right, and what you think is best for you.

  33. We live our lives as individuals no matter what relationships we are involved in. We travel our own lifeline that sometimes intersects with that of others…fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, partners, wives, husbands etc. And while they intersect, they do not overlap or take the same path. They may run alongside for a while, but essentially, we travel alone. As a backdrop to my view, it seems to me that family ties/relationships etc. are relatively recent social constructs. I started forming this view when I became a father and considered all the usual implications these constructs have for my kids. I wont bore you with it but I want to mention a relevant example; the need for parental approval. At some stage in our evolution, we probably needed to learn by copying using this method as it was essential to our survival. Blending in with the herd if you like. However, while its not essential anymore, the thought process is still there.  Now it has grown into an huge unfair burden placed on children which our society has allowed to continue in spite of it being of no more use than a way of keeping some sort of order. It has got out of control. And as civilisation has evolved around us, this simple primal urge to copy creates huge emotional turmoil within family units. So, a need to copy or blend in with people whom the universe recognises purely as our biological creators leads to this very dilemma you find yourself in.  There is an expression which I have found helps me in times of doubt…”To thine own self be true”…….at least this is what I tell myself when my Dad gives me one of his dissapproving looks. (He is not too fond of the theory). I am 37 and still trying to unravel this thought process. Your intent is pure. Your intent is not to destroy. Your intent is to find your own way that feels right for you on your journey through this life. Good luck and to thine own self, be true.

  34. This sounds so cliche that it’s easy to write off, but please don’t: religious upbringing has brainwashed you. Think about the things you have heard over and over, thousands of times. These are examples of repetitive phrasing, and you’ve probably come to accept them without analysis. 

    Consider  “God sent his only son to die on the cross for your sins” or perhaps “accept Jesus into your heart and he will wash you white as snow.” How much of the narrative of God — heaven, the rejection of non-believers, all of it — really makes any sense at all? 

     Just the concept of “worship” alone is strange, though the church speaks of it as though it were a natural part of life.  Why would an all-powerful being, one who is supposedly at least somewhat benevolent, need or want us to fall to our knees and praise it? Why should we ever worship anything? There was a time when I believed all of these things absolutely, and it took a lot of time before they stopped “feeling” true — before my first thought in an emergency was a prayer, before something beautiful in the world made me joyful rather than worshipful. Religion is, for the believer, a mental and emotional addiction. So if it seems, to you, that you will never be without God watching you in your head, I can tell you this — you absolutely can. And I hope you will come to find, too, that any comfort you have gained from that voice has come, simply, from inside yourself. The best remedy is distance. Think about the things you hear over and over again and what they really mean, relax and explore without judging yourself or feeling fearful. Try to expose yourself to as little religious content as possible. For me, at least, it was very difficult to really explore the idea that there was no God until the trappings of religion had been rejected. The family issues, the cultural issues — they complicate things. No one can make those sorts of decisions for you. Becoming atheist can be an incredibly lonely thing, at first, for someone who has lived with the voice of God in their heads for their entire lives. Try to find some kind of community (even if it’s only online) that will support you in your search. It’s okay if it takes a long time, and it’s okay to feel unsure.

  35. The truth will set you free.

    When you lie, you murder a part of the world.
    Stress is caused by maintaining two contradictory thoughts in your mind. (what you believe/what you pretend to believe)

  36. western84
     I do have some more concerns though. Aside from my hold up of not wanting to hurt my mother and family, I am also scared that I would be making the wrong decision. I don’t know the truth.
    What if you are wrong?
    What if you have given up on the truth.

    Can we ever really know? I don’t know if I could ever get the idea of God watching my every move out of my head. I’m afraid if I left the church, I would just live in fear that it was true after all, and that I made the wrong decision.

    The fantasy threat of damnation is one of the props of indoctrination which uses fear to enslave minds and collect money. You have one life. Don’t waste it on superstitious nonsense for false promises which will not be delivered!

    First I would suggest that you put your local god-culture into context. 
    If you had been brought up in a different culture you would have been led to believe in different god(s).  Have a look at this link!  –… 

    It is impossible to prove that some remote deity never existed, but when we look at the inconsistencies and ridiculous claims of the major religions, they are much easier to refute.  The obvious question is “Why believe in a particular god”? 
    The answer is invariably – “Because your local culture got you to uncritically accept their folk-tales when you were a trusting child – and similarly back through the generations.

    I’m not sure if that peace you speak of would never come. I guess I’m kind of a fence sitter, not feeling like I really belong in either camp.

    Once you understand the physical nature of the universe and life, all the magical ignorance-covering mumbo-jumbo becomes visibly ridiculous!

    Try reading the hard-back (illustrated) version Richard’s book: “The Magic of Reality”.  Borrow one from a library if you don’t want to buy it.

  37. You should read this

    There are a few outrages suggestions in it (like the one were author thinks that, if God would come back e, he would be arrested and sentenced to death or life in prison)
    But it actually might help you.

  38. I would say yes to your question. for years I didn’t dare to express my beliefs that I don’t believe in God. I was afraid my friends would leave me. I was afraid the government would kill me(there is death penalty for giving up muslim faith in my country).
    I then decided to express it. all my friends know that I am an unbeliever, so does my family. and now everyone who just meets me and communicates with me for a while can tell that I don’t believe in God. I still have my old friends and they accepted me. I just dont believe in their God and of course I have this very impact on them, make them think about their beliefs for they can’t debate me. 
    because “I believe in Truth”.

  39.     A conclusion I made after my own intellectual Exodus from the LDS church is that your “faith” is not rightly everyone’s business. Members, well-intentioned in most cases, feel entitled to your inner thoughts and feelings. Any hint of doubt in their fellow Mormons is to be smothered by their testimony and the spirit it brings with it. Rubbish of course, but that is the general terrain, so I would advise explaining yourself as little as possible.

        You may find it uncomfortable expressing contrary views of this sort to those whom you may have grown up with or otherwise have known for some time. If this is the case, then there is NO shame in simply saying you would rather not talk about it. More casual acquaintances who do not respect you enough to comply are probably not worth your time anyway. It is possible to fly under the radar and appear to be the believer they would have you be;  this seems too deceitful for my taste.

         For family, simple refusal to address your lack of belief will not entirely work. If you are asked a question, I would recommend answering the question, but only if posed in grammar that you do not find offensive. By “offensive” I mean loaded questions that, as you hear them, would be farcical to answer. “How you could possibly not believe the BOM to be God’s word?”–a question I’ve had to answer too many times. Something like this supposes that you believe God, exists, cares about us, and has spoken, but not in the BOM. In dealing with such interlocutors remove underlying assumptions, or you will have unproductive, irritating experiences.

        Ultimately, you need to do what you think is right, and such a decision cannot and should not be made in a landscape that is not colored in grey. You will have to decide whether your own sensibilities trump your family’s. Where it gets really messy, however, is that the two are not exactly mutually exclusive; you value the feelings of your family and they yours.

        For myself I decided that I am of no use to anyone if I am not me, so I try me best to carry myself in its entirety. I do not share the religious faith of my family, but I still love them. This has ruined some relationships altogether. Some still don’t take me at my word (my own father to this day does not believe that I don’t believe–going on six years since I left). Some relationships have, albeit in a diminished way, endured.

        It will always be difficult to stand against people of alternate persuasions; more difficult still to stand against those closest. I would suggest that it is worth it. But don’t spread yourself too thin: it is only someone’s business if YOU make it so. Only have these conversations with close friends, family, and perhaps the more open-minded and curious “future atheists(;” Kidding about that last one, but not really.

        “Auribus frequentius quam lingua utere”
        “Use your ears more often than your tongue.”


  40. Say you do come to your senses, you realise there’s no evidence for God (that there’s not even a cogent definition of one), and you decide to stop slapping your medical training in the face, will you really want to be a fake for the rest of your life, just to please other people? Will you really feel good about your relationship with them knowing that they only care to associate with you because you believe in God? You can over-look their shallow, petty reactions when you declare your non-belief, because of all the emotional baggage they carry, but essentially, you are telling them that you don’t believe in Santa anymore and the onus is on them to behave like adults, rather than children.

    It will come down to how much respect you have for yourself and for them. Do you have enough respect for yourself to stand up for yourself, to be yourself and to live YOUR life, rather than capitulate your integrity and your life to the childish whims of others? Do you have enough respect for them to trust that they will behave maturely, that they care about you for greater reasons than your belief in the Easter Bunny? Are you just a-priori deciding their personal limitations for them without, instead, treating them as people worthy of your time? How patronising of you; and how patronising of them to think it is up to them to tell you what to believe.

    I have had to draw the line on friends and family in my life for various reasons (not just belief in God), and you know what kind of people are left in my life? People who care about me, and who I care about. And the kind of people that are not in my life? The people that don’t care about me, and that I no longer give a shit about.

    When my 81-year-old widowed grandmother asks me if I believe in God, I say, “No, I don’t, granny” and she says, “Well, I believe there is someone out there” and without missing a beat we can chat away all day about all manner of things and hug and say, “I love you” at the end of it. And that time she started talking about Noah’s Ark as if it were historical fact? The same result.

    Be happy with yourself, and do not allow your happiness to exist purely because of someone else, otherwise you’ll be forever dancing to their beat and you will be miserable when they leave you. You will eventually get tired of faking it and the truth will come out; once everyone has reacted and the dust has settled, the only thing you will regret is the amount of time you spent not living your own life according to your own values.

  41. Hi Western84.  I recommend you purchase ‘The God Virus’ from the RDFRS Store, and read it several times. It is written by a post-religious psychologist who covers all the bases in your situation, including how to communicate with family, friends & colleagues who have a faith infection.  
    Good luck with your journey, which isn’t easy but is worth the effort – as your 2 sisters will tell you – once you understand how to live without the virus controlling your mind.

  42. Or you could bring them with you on the path to true enlightenment, it’s not hard to explain why religion can’t possibly be the correct answer.

    Whats easy on the other hand is explaining why people believe in god from a psychological perspective, follow that up with scientific evidence and there’s absolutely no reason to believe in any religion.

  43. There are many ways to tell the truth without hurting anyone’s feelings. Use logic and reasoning which I think most people will agree with. Instead of unwinding at one go take baby steps so that they can cope with the shock without any sudden outbursts.

  44. It is really difficult to give you an answer that is best for you AND your family. It is never easy to be a non-believer when you have very religious family members. I am atheist and my sister is Pentecostal. Matter of fact, my brother in law is a pentecostal preacher. She prays for my soul and we NEVER discuss religion. I was raised in a very different environment than you. My parents never forced any religion on us because they believed that spirituality/religion is a very personal journey and decision. My sister and I are on very extreme ends of the spectrum. You mentioned you were looking for “the truth of the existence of a deity”. I’m sorry, but you are not going to find that. If you are happy living the way you are, then change nothing. If you start to become unhappy, then you will have to make some choices and changes. It takes a great deal of courage to stand for what you believe in, and especially when you have to stand against family. Hopefully you will decide what you truly believe and if it is not what you have been told your whole life to believe, your family will recover from any disappointment and accept you, love you and support you in your new life.

  45. I am experiencing the same now with my heavily Christian girlfriend.  The one stance that she is firm on involves the origin of the Bible. She claims that because it was written over a course of 1500+ years, and by 40 writers, then it lends itself to being undeniably credible. Anyone want to comment on that claim and how it affects or lends itself to being a credible resource?

  46.  For starters, you could let her know that the majority of the authorship of the bible is anonymous. Moses almost certainly did NOT write the Torah, for example, as it describes his death in the third person. The gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were not written by the respective individuals to whom we attribute them. Many of the epistles of Paul are forgeries. This is by no means a comprehensive list I have given, but rather some of the popular books of the bible amongst believers.

    Furthermore, we do not have the autographs. We cannot say with certainty that we know what the original authors, whoever they were, said in the first place: that said, we cannot hope to deal firm judgement as to the truth of what the bible originally said, because we simply do not know. Any claim to the contrary flies in the face of all serious biblical scholarship. The bible does have some neat stuff in it, but the reliability needed to establish divine authorship/inspiration simply doesn’t make the cut by any honest standards.

  47. I was in this situation many years ago, when I was a teenager.  My situation was quite difficult, because I was born in an Islamic country.

    I’d suggest that you are the most important person to whom you should be honest.  This is about the way you see the reality of life in a realistic (evidence based) way.  When you are in touch with reality, I assure you that your life takes on a whole new turn in an exciting direction, i.e., the truth.  When you realize that you are the only one who can give meaning to your own life, you become the master of your future:  You will realize that your actions in conjunction with variables/factors of life that confront you will determine what happens to you/your life.  The harder you work/try to take your life in a direction of your choice, the more likely your success will be (but not necessarily certain).  In the mean time, you learn a lot about life and add to your life experiences regardless of whether you achieve your goals or not.  At times I win, and at times I lose. However, at all times I have learned and matured further.  Thus, just by putting an effort in my struggles in life, I am always a winner in one sense or another.

    As far as your loved ones are concerned, I would not be harsh in breaking to them what your new world view is.  I would gradually educate them to improve the way reality of life can be viewed (evidence based analysis of every single thought/assumption….).  I would do the same with friends and new friends etc.  Always be friendly (I sense that you are a friendly person), and try your best not to show extreme emotions.  I do show anger if someone tells me that honour killing is justified, or the death of that woman in Ireland was justified etc.  But, I am not harsh with people who do not accept my worldview.

    I’d suggest that you do not have to believe whatever your parents or loved ones want you to believe.   Nor are you obligated to live a religious life just because you are expected to do so.  At the same time, you can continue to care for them.

    I am probably commenting to much.  But, best of luck!

  48. from Sagan the Cat:
    – – – “Is finding the truth worth potentially breaking the hearts of those close to me?”

    Yes”- – –

    *ucking brilliant!
    It may sound cold on first read- but it’s bigger than that.
    It’s a little like tough love, the way I look at it.

    BUT- then again, when confronted with the dilemma of choosing between causing a lot of hurt and sorrow in my family or being true to myself, the latter had always come natural to me. Some may call this selfish- it may be!

    However I DO know this- of all the things I changed my mind on when thinking as a “seeker”, the best (and so far longest lasting) change I have made is when I firmly admitted that there is no good reason to believe in anything at all supernatural.

    Do you think there is a possibility that if you were to “come out” as a non believer in Mormonism, you might NOT ONLY help someone else come out (whom you’d never expect) but also that person might become a very special friend for life from the camaraderie?

    *** One final comment- another lesson that was self realized, was that I never trust, or even accept anything stance of great importance that shows itself as a bolt of lightening- aka the “aha!” moment.
    I’ve clearly decided that my stance on the big issues of life have to come from a long, well studied, well ruminated thought process, and not any kind of sudden feeling of revelation.

  49. Can you all honestly believe there’s not a higher power out there. Common sense says wee are a speck in the uuniverse. Why do wee all have the same skeleton structure, why do the tides go in and out, why do we have seasons, we by are there a billion universes we don’t even know about. I think it’s foolish to believe ththere is not a divine hand. You are the earth is flat people and the sun revolves around the earth. I’m not saying to strictly believe in the main religions, but to say there is no divine power is just ludicrous. Wake up and smell the coffee I feel sorry for those who feel we are in this world alone. You’re eyes, ears, minds, and hearts were closed. You are dead already. let others live

  50.  I appreciate that you want to at least express your ideas and feelings.

    Obviously, your questions are answered (seasons, earth etc) through high school level science courses.

    In addition, there is a free online course for evolution (…, which you can take to learn about changes of living beings over time.  You can also take some basic human anatomy courses unless you lack other per-requisit ones.  You should make sure that your current knowledge is enough for these courses.  Otherwise, please educate yourself.  I do not mean to humiliate you, but if you really need some basic education.

    This discussion is about how a person can communicate with his/her family his disagreement or change of mind on religion.  The atheists/agnostics/skeptics have always been verbally, emotionally and/or sometimes physically attacked by some believers.  Jobs, families and/or lives have been lost because some believers cannot tolerate those who think differently when it comes to faith based ideas (worldview).  You should at least try to understand that all human beings have the right to express themselves and chose their worldview.

     This discussion is about trying to approach believers/religious persons through reason.  If you have your opinion about this, this is the  right place.

    My best wishes.

  51. I appreciate you sparing my humiliation. This is something no course can explain unfortunately. We are at the whims of the cosmos.

  52. And you are right. It is the wrong forum. I can see how difficult it could be to against a families values and tradition. I have been there with my family, but what’s important is the truth. To this you were are absolutely correct


  53. Can you perhaps see metaphorical value in the stories of the LDS church (I’m not using “stories” here in a derogatory way) even if you cannot accept them as literally true? For example, whilst I do believe that God does indeed exist, I do not believe that Jesus was literally the son of God who was born on the 25th of December…..I can though recognise the beauty in the allegory of light being born into the world as hope amidst the darkness. Things need be no less true for being allegorically spoken of rather than literally so.

  54. This discussion is about how should your loved one(s) approach you if s/he disagrees with your religious beliefs.  How would you react to him/her if s/he tells you that s/he does not believe in God and your religion any longer. 

    -Are you going to become violent physically or verbally? 
    -Are you going to cut your relationship?
    -Do you think since s/he is not a believer thus s/he does not deserve your respect?
    -Are you going to keep preaching to him/her every single time you see him/her (harassment)? 
    -Would you have respect for him/her as a person?

    For instance, I dislike all religions deeply, but I do not disrespect the religious unless s/he has committed a crime (honour killing, violent actions etc).   Nor will I respect the religious if s/he harasses non believers in any way.  I have many loved ones who know me well, and my being an atheist has not affected my relationship with most of them.  If I knew you personally, I would not jump to the conclusion that you are a bad human being, but I would not respect your religious ideas.  This is why I am not a religious person.  You may not have respect for my evidence based ideas, but we always need to interact in a civilized way.  The same way, I do not like political views of some of my good friends, but we enjoy each others company.

    What would be your reaction?

  55. llchaves
    Can you all honestly believe there’s not a higher power out there. Common sense says wee are a speck in the uuniverse.

    No problem.  The laws of physics give a much better simpler and clearer explanation than anthropomorphic creators. Astronomy says we are a tiny speck in the Universe.

    Why do wee all have the same skeleton structure,

    All related groups of species arising from common ancestors have evolved similar structures on the evolutionary tree of life.

    why do the tides go in and out, why do we have


    These are well understood physical properties of the interactions of the Sun, Moon and Earth.

    These are simple questions to which science has had answers for decades – readily available in school textbooks for those who wish to be educated.

      I think it’s foolish to believe ththere is not a divine hand.

    God(s)-did-it-by-magic has always been the easy answer for those who do not wish to admit they don’t know an answer, but want to appear informed.

    You are the earth is flat people and the sun revolves around the earth.

    Really?  … and you are the one who does not know why we have tides and seasons!

    I’m not saying to strictly believe in the main religions, but to say there is no divine power is just ludicrous.

    Perhaps you have never thought about it of looked at the evidence. For gods – there is none!

    Wake up and smell the coffee I feel sorry for those who feel we are in this world alone.

    We are not alone.  We have friends, family and the rest of humanity. – No need for imaginary sky friends.

    You’re eyes, ears, minds, and hearts were closed. You are dead already. let others live

    You really should look at the real world and the big picture, rather than soaking up this sort of nonsense from preachers who just make it up! 
    Their world is one of blinkered mythology, fiction and delusion.  Most (Xtian) ones don’t even know the history of the bible, let alone the history of the Earth or the Universe.

    Many of them never learned how to scientifically investigate to find and confirm the truth.


    I appreciate you sparing my humiliation. This is something no course can explain unfortunately. We are at the whims of the cosmos.

    You could be surprised at what humans can learn when they apply themselves to critical investigations. In the internet age many opportunities are available to those who work at it!

  56. You’re talking about things on earth. U don’t claim to know anything. I just know I don’t anything in the grand scheme of things. I know 1000% any of you do either because of any of us do. Stop thin

  57. llchaves I’m not claiming to know anything In Matter of fact I know nothing. I know already I know more than you.

    People on this site have seen ignorance touted as knowledge before, with made-up assertions presented as knowledge.  If you personally have not studied a subject the honest answer is, “I don’t know”!

    You have no clue what is beyond this earth.

    Actually I am a member of a world leading space study organisation, which promotes education on astronomy. – planetary systems, stars galaxies, nebulae etc. and the technologies which investigate them. – Your ignorance is not mine.

    You are right about everything on earth…..maybe. You see, you only think About this life

    This life is the only one we have – make the best use of it!

    and think small. If you can’t admit that there’s a vast universe out there then don’t even respond to me.

    Of course there is!  Perhaps you should study it.

    You only think rationally which is easy

    Scientific evidence and reasoning is the best basis we have for understanding nature.  All other thinking methods consistently fail when tested.

    Oh by the way, I express my feelings As an agnostic not from preacher. Weird right?


    Agnosticism is usually taken as informed uncertainty, not assertive ignorance!  You sound much more like a preaching  theist with slight doubts. Delusions, are feelings used for making up “facts”.

    You think you know everything from science books. I find that laughable.

    Science books are just the basics of education.  You have a lot of work ahead of you. Peer-reviewed journals are the detailed sources of knowledge, but require a good educational grounding before they can be understood. 
    Nobody “knows everything”, but a knowledge of where personal and human boundaries of knowledge lie, is important in understanding where we can have confidence in research results, and where we do not yet know the answers.

    You definitely don’t know the word humility

    I have no problem with challenging ignorant mistaken assertions in areas where I have detailed knowledge. False humility has no merits and is usually presented as a virtue by the ignorant making false parity claims for ignorant opinions with informed or expert ones.

    The modern world runs on science, even if some of those who are provided with its services to support their lives, have no idea how natural laws work to keep them alive.

  58. “I’m not claiming to know anything In Matter of fact I know nothing”
    This is not a snide remark but taking the attitude that you know nothing is defeatist. If you know nothing on these subjects , then educate yourself. And don’t castigate people who already have. 

    ‘Knowing nothing’ smacks of religiosity. Ideas such as ‘we are feeble and weak’ sit well in that mindset.

    Edit: I wanted to clarify the remark on ‘knowing nothing’ and religion. Obviously , many of the most successful people in society , are religious , so they do have knowledge. Many are inherently capable, because they don’t over think group dynamics. They just are themselves and confident in their abilities. Some are machiavellian and their conscious knowledge of relating in groups , allows them to manipulate people to enhance their position. Some are psychologically unhinged but are cool,methodical and highly functional. The list goes on, it can be applied across society and not just to the religious.

    Then there are people who are less confident. These people if they accept that knowledge is somehow unattainable, for whatever reason , only allows that void to be filled by the views of the confident.These people are the servile , the follower, and disparagingly known as the sheep in society. Narcissists , egotists , cultists , as well as rationalists fill the ranks of the confident, as do pedophiles,misogynist and psychopaths.

  59. “Can you all honestly believe there’s not a higher power out there…
    but to say there is no divine power is just ludicrous.”

    Well there is no evidence for one, that’s not a matter of belief, that’s a fact.

    “Common sense says wee are a speck in the uuniverse.”

    No, reality says that.  Common Sense doesn’t say anything.

    “Why do wee all have the same skeleton structure, why do the tides go in and out, why do we have seasons,”

    Science has explained all of these things, I won’t bother repeating the explanations here.

    “You are the earth is flat people”

    Scientists are the ones who try to find out more things about the world (universe) we live in, not cling to old explanations which have already been disproven.

    “… and the sun revolves around the earth”

    That is an explanation which the Catholic Church once insisted on, and to accuse scientists of similar behaviour is preposterous beyond words.

    “… but to say there is no divine power is just ludicrous”

    There are no fairies at the bottom of the garden.
    There is no Loch Ness Monster
    There are no unicorns
    Children’s imaginary friends don’t really exist

    None of these statements are ludicrous, so why should a statement that an adult’s imaginary friend isn’t real somehow NOT be ludicrous

    “Wake up and smell the coffee”

    pointless padding

    “I feel sorry for those who feel we are in this world alone”

    I feel sorry for those who need an imaginary friend to give meaning to their own lives

    “You’re eyes, ears, minds, … were closed”

    Ad hominem attack.  Quite the opposite, we’ve seen all the same evidence you have and used it to produce the best possible explanation of how the universe came into existence and how it functions instead of insisting an old dis-proven explanation is true.

    “You’re … hearts were closed.”

    Why should we use what we want to be true as the starting point for an explanation of what actually is true.   The truth is the truth regardless of what we may want.   It is religion not science that ignores unfortunate evidence.

    “You are dead already”

    Well we obviously aren’t, or you wouldn’t have bothered trying to argue with us (unsuccessfully)

    “let others live”

    Religious missionaries to Africa, South America, and every other part of the world didn’t “let others live” in ignorance of what they had to say (without any proof they were saying anything genuinely helpful).

    So as you sit at your computer (provided by science) in your centrally heated (provided by science) house (provided by science), and take your refrigerated food (provided by science) and cook it in an oven (provided by science) then flush away the results down a toilet (provided by science), ask yourself why science which has given you so much which  genuinely IS helpful shouldn’t try to find more ways to improve peoples’ lives and replace ignorance with knowledge while it was doing it.   Then ask yourself why you are prepared to take everything science has given you but then say “Now stop, you’re being too successful”

    Without science you would be living in a cave, your dinner would be raw, you would be afraid of the monsters in the dark and in all probability be dead by the age of forty.

    And you wouldn’t be able to spell

  60. Western84:

    I think that you should take into account the level of education of the people to whom you want to express your worldview. 

    In general, the poorer the education the harder it is to reason. Religious persons, in my experience, make up stories and stick to it as an argument.  I am not coming to the conclusion that your loved ones are under-educated at all.  I do not know them.

    I suggest that you wait until you become financially independent.  Then, you can express dissent.  You should do this only if you are still living with your loved ones and need their financial help/support.  And, never react with resentment if you are faced with resentment.  They may show anger, because they are worried about you afterlife (their belief).

    Religious persons (referring to honest ones) do no realize that human kind’s lack of understanding or knowledge about anything is an evidence of ignorance not the existence of God.  Religions have been feeding on ignorance and fear. It used to be ignorance about thunder, now it is about other unknown phenomena scientists are working on.

    I wish you the best.

  61. Western84.  One more comment.

    Obviously, forums on this site are excellent sources of information on how religious/creationists typically react to non-believer.  Some of these try to disguise (for instance, as agnostic in this forum). 

    This is one of my favourite videos:

  62. Being to true to your own feelings is really healthy thinking and healthy living. I changed when i discovered objective thinking. The truth sometimes hurts people…but it is their feelings and beliefs, but they should give you the freedom to think on your own. Have an original thought or experience to break the cycle of this ‘habit’ you have been drawn skillfully into.

  63. Hi OHooligan.  That only took a few seconds of Manuel labour, and was well worth it for the reminder of a great show. 😎

  64. It is always best to be honest with your family, especially when it comes to this type of stuff. However, if you’re having doubts remember that it isn’t something that is all or nothing. Tell them that you are struggling with some doubts and that you haven’t worked everything out yet. The decision shouldn’t be made hastily. I went through something similar with my family and even though they don’t accept it they understand it now that I have explained it to them. Sometimes people struggle with doubts for a long time before they ever vocalize it to another person and when they do it seems like something that came on all of the sudden. That’s why most parents freak out when their child tells them they don’t believe anymore. It really seems to them like it’s coming out of nowhere when in reality it has been thought out quite extensively. 

  65. godzilla – ‘I am not interested in convincing otherwise happy people to abandon
    their faith if it gives them solace and comfort’ is an interesting view, which I disagree with.

    The idea promoted by all religions that there is a life after this one, and that it’s better than this one, is in my view one of the worst untruths promoted by the religious; it is dishonest and cruel and totally contemptible.

    It has no basis in fact and although on one level it may give comfort to certain groups, the elderly for example, it has in my experience been the cause of a great many people eschewing the great richness and beauty of this short life while they wait happily for the next.

    I don’t go about thrusting reason and sense as I see it at people uninvited, but if someone brings up the topic and suggests a complicity in religious belief, as a lot of people do, I would think myself dishonest if I didn’t respond, hopefully kindly and reasonably, with some sort of disagreement.

    In response to western 84’s dilemma, I agree with most people’s comments that the most important consideration is truth.



  66. Well, first, she’s inflating the time period. The oldest books of the Bible were written about the same time as the Iliad (perhaps 750 BCE). The last written around the turn of the second century CE.

    Can you explain why she thinks multiple authorship (not to mention multiple translations and transcriptions) would increase credibility. Seems to me the reverse is true. If the thing were divinely inspired, there would no need for more that one author.

  67. “Can you all honestly believe there’s not a higher power out there(?)”
    Sure. I can’t discern any evidence for such a higher power. Care to give me some?

  68. If I were your Mother, I would want you to be happy.  Your choices are yours alone – although this is a difficult time, it’s a problem most of us have come up against at some time or another under.  Perhaps different circumstances, for instance coming out to your parents if you are gay.  Almost everyone I know who has ever done this says that it is right to do what is right for you and makes you happy.  Your parents love you.  Be yourself as a testament to their love and your upbringing.  Also, If you weren’t so worried about this, there would be something wrong!  Make your decision and go with it – either way!

  69. I am agnostic in my world view. There is no evidence for God but there are probabilities that clash with our deterministic universe. The probability that energy is infinite and in existence infinitely.
    Now that is not enough to imply Gods existence but it implies something uncaused,without a beginning. However I still think religion is completely unfounded and a social construct and more so, worship is absolutely pointless and survive-ability in ones environment is all that matters. This life is founded on evolutionary principles that consistently follow natural laws.

  70. This is an interseting dilema you have, and one that is rather close to my own situation. I am an atheist-6.5 if anyone’s counting :), however my parents, who are in their 70s, are devout catholics. I have in the past, told them of my beliefs, however in recent years i have tended to express to them a more diplomatic view that god may exist, not because i believe it to be true, but because of an incident at a family funeral some years ago.
    My father has two brothers who i would describe as intellectuals (they are both university professors), they are both atheists and at this family funeral, they spelled out to my father, in almost infallible logic, why god didn’t exist.
    The reaction to this from my brothers and sisters, despite their collective apathy toward religious belief was unequivocal; they all thought it was cruel.
    This has influenced my attitude toward expressing my beliefs to my parents at least, it may be cowardice on my part, but as my parents are elderly i don’t want to rob them of the ideology that has been the bedrock of their life to this point, especially when they maybe contemplating their mortality.
    I don’t know if my ‘silence’ on this matter is of benefit to my parents or not, but my guess is that letting them know what i really believe would not help them in any way, and that their belief offers them some comfort so i am happy to let them believe what they do.
    Maybe this makes me a hypocrite, as, in general, i would be an advocate of getting rid of all religious belief as soon as possible, but the emotive nature of such dilemma are proof that this may be an ambitious goal.
    Perhaps, if like me you have discarded belief having come from a religious background, you may just remain quiet on the subject and let nature take its course, my mother’s sister had a humanisitic funeral despite being ridiculously religious in her early days, her moment of clarity vis a vis god came after the asian tsunami, sometimes it takes a moment of such human tragedy in the face of the indifference of nature to shake pepole of mythological beliefs.

  71. Many LDS members are facing this dilemma, the problem is that of the LDS culture which operates in a very close knit group. There are many benefits from living in the LDS culture, including economic and social well-being. “Belonging” is a very powerful reinforcement and therefore difficult to break away from. I have LDS relatives in the USA who outwardly live the LDS lifestyle, which is very supportive and hard to knock. There are many parallels between the LDS and Freemasonry, it provides access to education via Brigham Young University and jobs through a beneficial network of LDS employers. Having said that I know my cousin has grown to question the basis of the LDS which, like all cults. is clearly a fabrication of one individual and his supporters. I would estimate that at least 25% of LDS do not actually believe that Joseph Smith was what he claimed to be but would find it impossible to break away from a culture that is supportive and beneficial especially to LDS children. Facing the truth is always difficult when the immediate effect will lead to difficulties but you will find that atheists are just as supportive and friendly as the best of religious groups, its just that we aren’t as organised….

  72. I was Mormon once too (lol, I guess you can tell by my screen name), but I know exactly what you are going through. It’s rough, it took me a long long time to finally let go of what I thought I knew to be true. I write a blog now where I share my thoughts and ideas, my first one was on why I left the Mormon church with a letter to Richard Dawkins included…. Please read it and I hope it will help you. Also, if you are in SLC area, there is a Post Mormon group, you can find the group on

  73. What people believe to be true or not true is unfalsifyable and personal, so the best thing is to be able to be with the people you love without having to prove anything to them one way or the other.  If people do something you disapprove of, then either you explain why or accept it as you can’t change other people, only yourself.  E.g. If you are vegetarian, you can still be friends with carnivores but you can’t stop them eating meat, even if you think it’s wrong personally.  You can still agree with scientific methods but not with experimenting on animals, it’s just a case of realising that people have their own free will and should respect yours too:) Truth is not something you find, like a treasure buried under the earth, truth is dynamic, not a thing in any case…

  74. “What people believe to be true or not true is unfalsifyable and personal”
    “you can’t change other people, only yourself”

    Many atheists in this forum are ex-Christians or ex-Muslims etc.  They, like myself, had religious beliefs. However, we found out that our beliefs were false.

    “If you are vegetarian, you can still be friends with carnivores but you
    can’t stop them eating meat, even if you think it’s wrong personally”

    Not a good analogy.  Religion is about belief in afterlife, hell, paradise, God watching you at all times ……..

    “You can still agree with scientific methods but not with experimenting on animals”
    This is harmful to scientific research.  Biological conditions in some animals require us to perform experiments on them.  A lot of drugs and techniques we have not are based on experimenting on animal tissues (pre-clinical in vitro), animals (pre-clinial in vivo), and when found not to be toxic or dangerous to humans in humans (clinical trials).

    “it’s just a case of realising that people have their own free will and should respect yours too”

    As long as our actions are not harmful to others I agree.  Suicide bombers and fanatic religious leaders have freewill too.

    “Truth is not something you find, like a treasure buried under the earth, truth is dynamic, not a thing in any case…”

    Nothing is true without supporting evidence.  This includes existence of flying donkey.

    My best wishes.

  75.  Unrelated. This is about Mormonism, and revealing religious beliefs to loved ones.

    I have been in medical research for more than 2 decades, and contributed to publications. However, I am not discussing diet here or anywhere on this site.

    To avoid going off topic, I will not respond to this kid of comments.

    My understanding is that users can start their own topic if moderators approve it.

    Please do not get offended.

    I appreciate your efforts in writing your opinion.

    Best regards.

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