A few years ago I met two young men close to my age who were soliciting their religion. Mormon missionaries, having dedicating two years of their life to spreading the word of their gospel, convinced me to meet with them at their church and discuss my possible interest in converting to their religion. I was intrigued–not because I wanted to become Mormon, but because I wanted to understand a group of people I knew very little about. I agreed, and several days later found myself sitting before them, relaxing on a couch in the lobby of their church while they pulled their chairs close and prepared the session.
Over the next several weeks, I met with them on a weekly basis for 1-2 hours, and we discussed life and how the LDS church would enrich it. In the beginning, I was the subject of the conversation–the boy with too many questions being guided to the ultimate goal of baptism (that’s how they saw it, anyway). As the weeks passed though, I found opportunities to ask them about their beliefs and what had compelled them to sacrifice so much to a church that could have it all wrong. How could one dedicate their whole life to something that was possibly false?
They could because they didn’t see it as false. Their whole lives, since they could understand what truth and untruth was, their parents had taught them that the Bible was the absolute truth. To them, following the church was as easy as following the laws in the United States. They were as sure of the consequences of turning away from Christianity as I was of what would happen if I killed somebody (no, I do not want to kill anyone!).
What they didn’t realize was that if they wanted to convert me, they needed to meet me on my home field. I am not Christian, so therefore I find no validity in the governing power of a Christian god. If these missionaries, for the sake of argument, could assume that the Bible was false and convince me through non-theist logic and reason to join their church, then I could become more interested in joining. However, they wanted to convert me to the church to save my soul. How could they convince me my soul would be saved through the church by assuming the Bible was false? It is fallacious and impossible.
They had two options: convince me the Bible is true, or show me how membership to the church can appeal to an atheist. Unfortunately, they could do neither. I am set in my ways, and they could provide no new evidence to sway me into believing in the Bible.
DISCLAIMER: I am not atheist. I believe in God, just not the Christian form of God. I believe existence is more than just a hundred years of life, though I’ll admit I do not have full conviction in that either. The downside of being so open to beliefs is that one can never truly believe in anything.
What these missionaries did not accomplish: Baptizing me into their religion and convincing me they were right and every other religion out there was wrong.
What these missionaries DID accomplish: I now believe that if one wants to be a good person, all they need to do is be raised in the LDS church. The people I encountered over those several weeks during Sunday services, extracurricular activities, etc. are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Though I’m not religious, I find morality very important, and these people exemplified the idea of good morals. If I wanted the best hope of having children with strong morals, raising them in the LDS church seemed the best route.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to convince me to give my ‘soul’ to them. I certainly don’t regret my times with them though.