This is a letter from September of 2014, when my doubts were just getting to be too complicated and my letter of sincere questions to the first presidency went unanswered. I still felt like searching out for myself was wrong, so I went to one of my elders for help.
He had nothing but an apologist response, including saying the scriptures didn't really mean what they said. Or his interpretation for what it might actually mean.
Let's just say, after this last letter, I was fed up with church apologies and unanswered prayers, so I went to discover the answers on my own.
Hi Brother (Name Omitted),
Thank you again for chatting with me. I know a lot of these topics are not easily discussed among members, and it means a lot to have someone who will listen to me. I've pasted my questions to the email below.
For years I have struggled with the reality of the gospel. However, I put most of those thoughts out of my head, thinking they were bad, sinful, and just saying I didn’t have enough faith, and trying to do better. And no one will answer them for me. All those times I knew I was supposed to feel something, and I didn’t, and I forced myself to think I felt something, I can see now. Like my first time through the temple, I really felt nothing, nothing spectacular, just love from my family. But that same “tingly” feeling I will get when I listen to a live concert, and its usually stronger during the concert than church. So that makes me wonder about the biological nature of spirituality.
And now, for my questions. At least some of them
My first problem: my health. I received so many specific blessings, down to “this is the visit where you will meet the doctor that will heal you and you will be able to eat normally again”. Of course, they never happened. I still can't swallow. I received promises in my patriarchal blessing, specifically that I would serve a mission, that I would be very successful in my endevours, that my husband would come from a good background and want to be a patriarch to his family. None of those things came to past. I never served a mission, and with an exmorman husband, I never will. I have never been very successful at anything I have attempted. No, I have pretty much failed at every real thing I have tried, including being a wife an mother. I mean, in an LDS sense, I have failed them. I have one thing in my blessing that were it ever to occur, I would know immediately that either the church is false, or blessings mean absolutely nothing. Nick once gave me a blessing to have more faith in blessings; it was a totally unprovoked statement, I was just having pain issues after Tristan was born and he offered me a blessing of comfort and healing. And that’s what came out. I thought it was some sort of an answer. But how can you have faith in blessings when they have proven themselves wrong time and time again?
My second series of questions stems from external influences, not necessarily my own experiences or thoughts.
Evolution: Who were all the hominids before Adam and Eve? Were Adam and Eve just figurative representations of the God’s children, to make it easier to write about and understand? Did the beings before them not have spirits? Why do we have such concrete evidence for evolution and yet it is refuted by nearly every religion known to man? Science has pushed men forward, created new and exciting technologies and theories and possibilities. Religion holds men back in a cycle of consistency and repetition. It does not push forward, it does not make strides. It relies on always being the same.
Creation: Just how did this all come into being? Was there a big bang? Was there an instigator of that event? Based on celestial evidence we have before us, scientists have concluded there is no biological endgame, and no creator necessary. There is an end to what we can see in the universe, and we don't know what goes beyond it. Gravity exists, but we don't know why. But just because we don't know why, doesn't mean we insert a mythical or supernatural power.
Genetics: Joseph Smith made exact predictions about the ansestory of the Native American's. How come there is absolutely no trace of genetic evidence to support the Book of Mormon predictions about the ancestry of the Native Americans and Latin Americans? It takes hundreds of thousands of years for mutations in mitochondrial DNA to become significant enough to detect, and there have only been about 1,400 since they supposedly were wiped out. It is also very unlikely that every woman with Middle Eastern lineage would be unable to pass on her genetics, even if some sort of catastrophic event took place. If there was ever a migration from the Middle East to the America’s in the last 2,000 years, it would be detectible. We can trace mitochondrial DNA to a single Homo Sapien female that lived hundreds of thousands of years ago. Every woman today carries this “Eve”'s genetics. There is also no physical evidence of the types of civilizations that the Book of Mormon describes. Anthropologists, even those in the church, admit there is no evidence. And the existing peoples today in that region have none of the workmanship, weaponry or craftsmanship described. Those things, being as technologically advantageous as they were (shipbuilding, sword making etc…) would have increased in complexity and been passed on. Societies that did not have the benefit of being “God’s chosen” did likewise.
Physics: There are many instances in scripture that describe events that, according to physics, cannot take place. How then does God defy physics while also proclaiming to adhere to natural law? Gravity for instance is one of the most basic of these laws, and even the sun the moon and stars cannot escape it. The universe works and is according to gravity. The Red Sea parting, the Nile turning to blood, the world being entirely flooded, angels hovering above the ground, the resurrection.
Unchanged yesterday, today, and tomorrow: Why do we have two forms of God/Christ? The Old Testament version, and the New Testament version. One commands genocide, the murder of women and children, commands wars and destruction, while the other preaches tolerance, love, peace, meekness….how is that an unchanged deity? Why is it okay for a benevolent God to do as Zeus did? Not only that, but God talks about eternal progression, so it makes no sense to be eternally stagnant. So he cannot be unchanging. Especially when doctrines morph and change and develop at a similar rate with society.
Morality and Biology: Often times, homosexual individuals are dehumanized. In past society’s attempt to practice ethics, homosexuals were considered animals, vagrants, unclean, and above all not capable of “real love”. In my experiences, I have found homosexuals to be people just like me, with hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, personalities, achievements, and disappointments. How is their biology of any less worth than mine? In the temple, couples are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. Do we shun a woman because her biology prevents her from having children? Am I unworthy because my biology makes it nearly impossible for me to eat the way the word of wisdom instructs? No! Because it’s a physical problem, and we would never belittle a childless woman or someone with an eating disorder. And yet we call people with biological tendencies to homosexuality unclean and a perversion of nature, and that their sexual happiness is less significant than heterosexuals. Why?
Hypocrisy: The church is fraught with hypocritical individuals. Of course, this is no reflection of gospel doctrine, except in its influence on the individual. Everything is left up to an individual’s interpretation of reality, and so much of what is taught and practiced in the church stems from individual ideals and ideas. For instance, one bishop might drill a young teen boy in graphic detail about his experiences in masturbation, while another might not visit the topic at all. And there are members who drink McDonald’s Frappuccino’s before a session at the temple. There are others who preach love and tolerance and then condemn the sinner. Why does God say, thou shalt not kill, and then commanded Nephi to kill Laban? Seriously, he could have taken the plates without taking his life. They were leaving the area permanently, and Laban was drunk (delivered into Nephi's hands by God, so God had Laban get drunk?) so he wouldn't have known what had happened the next day anyways. God commands murder.
Word of Wisdom: Why have only three things been chosen out of the word of wisdom to keep us out of the temple? Coffee/ tea, alcohol and tobacco? (It really only says hot drinks, so no hot chocolate, or cider either? No warm milk? And cold coffee and ice tea are okay?) It also states to not eat things out of their season, to rise early, to exercise, to eat meat sparingly. We don’t keep people out of the temple for being gluttonous lards that pig out on steak and sausage, play video games and sleep in. But we do if they have a cup of tea. Coffee is recommended for persons with a family history of colon cancer to help maintain better colon health. Red wine is beneficial to heart health. Tea helps boost metabolism and has other great medicinal properties. We are counseled not to participate in drug use, yet after having worked as a CMA, I met countless LDS people addicted to lortab, methadone, morphine, torodol, demerol, percocet, etc. Is this bad? No, it comes as a prescription. So could I get a coffee prescription for my colon health and not be kept out of the temple? I would give the percocet addicts their monthly prescription after they freaked out at me on the phone about needing it immediately, and see them in the temple that same weekend. Why does a doctor's not all of a sudden negate what God has decreed? It shouldn't, but it does! So the word of wisdom is subjective, and problematic.
Marriage and Sealings: I know there has been a lot of talk about polygamy. Honestly, to me it seemed like a political perk for members higher up in church leadership. Why has it been said that members were not required to enter into polygamist unions, and that women had a choice to marry and divorce, yet some women felt they were forced into it? And why when women were “allowed” to decide if they wanted to participate in polygamy, was Emma Smith chastised and reprimanded for not wanting her husband to participate in polygamy? Why did God say He would give Joseph wives and children galore and Emma would miss out on everything just because she wasn’t comfortable with it? Why did other women have a “choice” and she did not? And why were young, very young, women sealed to much older men who were already sealed to other women, including Joseph Smith? And why was he sealed to women who were married to other men? It was a bigamy fest! And that was already illegal in the United States, and yet Joseph Smith wrote Articles of Faith proclaiming that we adhered to the laws of the land. He was eventually murdered after a lawsuit for shutting down a printing press that printed an unfavorable article about him and polygamy. Why is that not taught in Sunday School?
Arrogance: The LDS church proclaims to be God’s true church. Probably as much as the Christians in the dark ages who went to wipe out the scourge of the unbelievers and Jews in the holy lands. The church says that cultural practices that are not in accordance with God’s laws must be amended. The church goes throughout the world eradicating cultures that have been present for hundreds of thousands of years. There is a sacred fire that burns in India. It has been keep burning for a thousand years. It was supposedly given to man by the Gods. Is it not idolatry? And where is it a church’s place to say that fire should be put out? Christian supremacists against the ethnics and uncivilized of the world. Why does every man have his agency, to do what he will, living in the life which is a time to prepare to meet God, yet God can wipe out whomever whenever He wants?
Family and Kingdoms: It is taught that family is the most important unit of the church, and can continue in the next life. However, this is only possible if we make it to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. All other kingdom’s inhabitant’s are sentenced to an eternity without family relationships. How does this make sense, especially when we are afforded these relationships in this fallen, imperfect, less than telestial glory world? Why would God allow us to exist here in the companionship of families and then remove us from them after death if we are not in the top 10% of perfectly obedient individuals to His laws? It doesn’t make sense that an eternal Father would deprive His greatest creation, His children, of the love and security of one of existence’s basic necessities. Why tease us with this life and then go, oops, you weren’t perfectly obedient, you made a booboo here and there, guess you can’t be with your mommy and daddy for the rest of your eternal existence. That sounds like hell. And I can understand why so many people simply embrace no life after death, because the thought of not being with the ones you love is unbearable. And it doesn’t make sense that God would send his children to a place where he knew ultimately, the majority of them would fail. That’s kind of like turtles and their eggs; what, God had so many kids hoping that their high numbers would yield enough of a result to perpetuate deity’s species? I thought he was more invested in us than that.
Women: Why the inequality of the sexes? It is disguised as “different roles for equal genders”, but in all actuality, at the end of the day, it is a man’s world. Men ultimately lead the church, lead the family, while women “support” their husbands and leaders. It even states that in the temple. Why don’t men give themselves to women, yet women have to give themselves to men. Why are women expected to nurture children, when sometimes, men can be just as great at it? Why are men able to act in the power of God, and women cannot? Why do we worship God the Father as a male? Why was Christ male? Why is gender so eternally important, yet men and women are not that different biologically. I recently learned that if you give a woman testosterone, she develops male genitalia. All vertebrates are inherently female until the receive the right developmental hormone to make them male. It seems that women are merely a supporting role throughout existence. As a woman, that is degrading and offensive. I have a mind, I have neurons and brain tissue the same as any man, I am capable of deep thought, I am capable of strong actions. Yet the gospel tells me I am a “help-meet” not a free agent unto myself. I cannot be celestialized without a man. And I guess in all fairness, he can’t without me. But men are the one’s destined to be creators and worshiped deity, while women occupy the silent supporting role. Everything about our current worship in this life indicates that, why should I assume any differently of my eternal future? Why is women’s eternal gender destiny to be a male’s subject, eternally producing babies that will ultimately fail the test of their eternal existence? What about the mere difference in our genitalia makes women the supporting role? Why is eternity an extension of male supremacy? What if I don’t want to be birthing babies for eternity? What if I’d rather be painting, or writing poetry, or baking cupcakes? Is there no art in the eternities? Are we merely product of evolution, trying to pass on our genetics, even there?
Eternity, Agency and Omnipotence: Everything that is, is, and will be, no matter what. The universe is infinite, so we are infinite, and we exist infinitely. And we always have and always will. To suggest that God knows everything, what everyone has done and will do refutes the concept of agency and also means he is infinitely knowledgeable. It's impossible. Because he would just be infinitely learning infinity. Nevertheless, supposing he is all knowing, how can we be free agents if our actions are predetermined? We say we do not believe in fate, yet fate it is when we are unable to escape what God already knows we are going to do. And if there is no agency, how can there be objective morality? If we are predestined to do whatever it is we are going to do, how can it be objectively immoral if we were always going to do it anyways? How can morality be decreed by a God that always knew we would be immoral? Sounds a bit unfair. But then you say that is where Christ comes in with His atonement. Even then, agency has no place, because God always knows if we will repent or not. How are we “give the opportunity to choose” what we would have always chosen? And how does eternity work? If eternity means infinity, means forever, than in forever there exists an infinite amount of infinity. Meaning, I exist infinitely, you exist infinitely, as there are infinite numbers between 0-1. And since matter is neither created nor destroyed, how can “not a single hair of the head” be lost when the molecules and atoms used to make my biology probably were the same ones used to create someone else’s’ body who lived before me, or perhaps who lives now? How then is the resurrection possible? Setting the obvious physics aside, we all share atoms. We are share bits and pieces. So you get your original body composition in the resurrection, but I have to borrow parts from another galaxy? Then it isn’t a true resurrection, because I am not truly restored. The concept of biological eternity also is inconsistent with what we understand about evolution. Things die. It is how evolution continues. So is our concept of eternity skewed by God because we are too finite to grasp it? Is there really an end to us after all, it just is eons away?
And then, I found the CES letter.....