Advice for a Young Freethinker
Yesterday, I received a letter from a non-theist interested in learning more about a particular religion- Mormonism. As someone who has studied religions and has tried to increase religious literacy among atheists (see: Why Atheists Need to Understand the Bible), I asked the sender if I could repost his letter on my website in hopes of generating some advice. I’ve contacted Nicholaus separately, but if you wish to give any information or references to him, you can post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at: David@DavidGMcAfee.com.
Dear Mr. McAfee,
I saw a video on YouTube with you talking about your book with a group of students. I don’t know when it took place but the video was posted sometime in 2010. I was intrigued by your thoughts, as well as the comments and questions from the crowd. I am a recent convert from Non-Denominational Christianity to Truth-Seeking and I have a request. Mine is more of a hobby than a career but you could say that I am passionate about it. I figured that if this got a little lengthy, then you may not mind because you seem to enjoy reading. If you are in a haste, however, then skipping to the last paragraph may be easier.
Onto some foreground. I moved to live with my father in my early teens so I was not in the midst of my mother and her family converting to Mormonism. I don’t know how much you know about Mormonism, but the are LDS or Latter Day Saints. In this particular sect, they have people called “Elders”. Despite the word indicating them being old, they are actually young people; some of them are in their early twenties. They travel and live in pairs. Yesterday, two “Elders” came over to my mother’s house, where I currently live. They gave my little sister a blessing of health and I had to watch. When they were done and put the oil away, I baited the room with a question, “Holy Spirit, anyone?” They all nodded and I said, “Good.” My mother asked, “Why, did you feel it?” I responded smiling, “No.” She smiled and said, “That’s because you’re closed off to it,” as she put her hand up.
One of the “Elders” looked to me and asked me of my beliefs and he asked if we could meet again. I told him that we could and he asked that if he would leave me a copy of The Book of Mormon, if I would read it. I said that I may or I may just peruse. I started reading a little bit of it and I feel very unprepared for what he is going to want to talk about. I know very little about the differences between this sect and the general Christian view. I also feel a little unstable when it comes to my beliefs since my conversion because I don’t really have a firm base or belief. I am more or less just tired of listening to people talk about a book that is completely out-dated. Do you have any advice on what I should say to him to convince him that he cannot convert me back to Christianity? I ask because he seems like the kind of evangelist that will not quit.
Also, some helpful points on where to find some solid ground would be nice, if you can.
David G. McAfee