Psalm 46:10 - "Be still, and know that I am God."
Matthew 7:7 - "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you"
Matthew 7:10 - "...how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
James 1:5 - "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Upon these bible verses hang the LDS dogma of self-revelation and indeed the entire church authority. It is the idea that via prayer and meditation God will present to any man knowledge, wisdom. I will shortly tell my struggle with these concepts.
My memory goes back to when I was 2. As a kid I wandered the forests of central Washington recalling my daily reading lesson as I drank in the natural beauty of the incredible world. The family traditions were education, family singing, family and personal prayer, family scripture study.
It is tradition that kids in LDS households are baptized upon reaching age 8. I remember how important I felt to have my Dad take me aside and direct me to make a choice as to whether to be baptized. I didn't decide right away - I asked a lot of questions a child would ask. I was told that by being baptized I would gain the privilege of having the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. Being promised these things I agreed to the baptism. The day came and after church I was ceremoniously dunked while a few dozen people watched. As I came up out of the water I was expecting the rush of the spirit that my friends and the adults had described to me. I just felt wet. I slowly opened my eyes to all the people staring at me. I just stood there in the water next to Dad. My favorite Sunday School teacher asked if I could feel the spirit now. I felt intimidated into assent. My teacher told me that from now on this is how it would be as long as I stayed righteous.
I received from the some of the church women a gift containing objects symbolizing this 'momentous' event in my life. For weeks afterwards I would go to my room daily, examine them.... feeling nothing and seeing those objects as mocking my condition. They went into the deepest part of the bottom drawer. I started to wonder what was wrong with me. Everyone else had experienced something that I had not experienced. But these thoughts only happened at night as I lay in my bed waiting for sleep. All the rest of the time I wasn't bothered by it.
A few months afterwards I started my sciences lessons. My Dad taught me how to identify cells via microscope, how to write scientific notes so as to have reproducability, how to classify objects, that keeping a personal journal was very important. So I began applying the scientific method to everything - reason: evidence. Reason: evidence. I started playing with computer software, learning BASIC. I write down everything, and record my first thoughts about hypocrisy though I didn't know the word then.
Time passes. I am 12 - becoming ordained into the Aaronic Priesthood. The Bishop received revelation that I was righteous and had got favor in God's eye. In a private and sacred ceremony I had lands laid upon my head by members of a superior order of priests who in the name of Jesus Christ and upon His authority inducted me into the power, privilege and responsibilities of the lowest office of priesthood. My Mom cried and hugged me. In a very manly way I shook the hands of those respected men. I felt nothing spiritual. I felt honored, determined, incipient, eager for more.
At that time my theological knowledge was growing ever faster. I began the LDS seminary program - daily extra & focused scripture study in a classroom environment. The questions asked would require a one sentence answer - I would write essays. My teacher got mad at me. She said I didn't need to put so much thought into it. She didn't understand that if I didn't write all those essays apologizing for LDS dogma my internal house of cards would crumble.
More time passes - I'm 15 and working full time having got my diploma months earlier. I'm a leader - senior patrol leader and Eagle Scout. I realize for the first time that the good principles taught by scouting and the church are good irregardless of whether they are taught by God, or the Devil. I worked through Euthyphro's dilemma although I had never heard of it. (Years later when I first read it I got an enormous sense of validation and a feeling that I wasn't alone after all).
I have years and years of fervent prayer and good works but of silence from God. I return to the guilty question: why doesn't God want me? It is a question oft repeated by me, but never asked to others for fear of their response. I move out and get my own place in my teens, I start my investigation into every other religion. Harking back to me earliest education, I do it copiously and scientifically. I meditate and learn that a posture and attitude of prayerfulness is unrelated to both God and Mormonism.
I conclude that if there is a God then He is I. There are flaws in this argument but it is the best I think of at the time. I experiment with every major drug. I get addicted and kick the habit via meditation.
My "faith" is wavering. I double up - increasing my efforts in the church. A few years pass. I'm eventually ordained as the highest order of priest despite declining to become a missionary. I just can't go and preach to other people something I cannot claim to know myself.
Because of Mormon values, only Mormon women are attractive to me. But Mormon women no longer want me because I didn't go be a missionary. Instead of being chased by the women, I find myself shunned.
These are my feelings during my early 20's: I cavitate. I roil with turmoil. My mind is a wavering reed without basis. I cannot accept the unfounded doctrine of Mormonism. But I cannot deny the fellowship and good values that the religion teaches.
I return again and begin a 3rd line by line study of every LDS scripture. This time I decide beforehand to make extra effort to divorce myself from my preconceptions and to take the words literally and at face value, using logic to determine their worth.
I make the most fervent effort - I diligently study the bible 3 times daily (morning, lunch, right before bed) I pray constantly, a sustained effort of seeking God for nearly every waking hour. I pray God to come into my life, take it over, and change me. My discipline leads to a lot of good things - I am more active, I feel healthier, I am more open socially, really attractive women are pursuing me. And I understand that these things are consequences of my own action - God has done nothing.
Finally all the pieces fall together.
I came to accept that the verses quoted in the beginning are lies - there is no evidence whatsoever that they are true.
If God doesn't grant knowledge, Mormonism cannot be true.
If Mormonism isn't true, then the good works of Mormonism can stand of their own accord.
If works are their own then God falls right out of the equation.
I felt a HUGE rush of relief as I shed the effort of separating my logical mind from my religious mind. It was the promise I was given when I was 8... that truth would flood into me and I would experience good feelings by acting according to good principles.
I suddenly realized that all my effort was to maintain this ever growing stick and plate balancing act. I plead, I screamed, I knocked, I even pounded - and finally it broke.
The tumbling house of cards, the waterfall of unrestrained reason, the sudden desire for other people to experience this joy.
As Stephen Covey coined: it was a paradigm shift.
There isn't any rational proof of God. What unmitigated and endless joy! What beauty of life in its brevity! To walk unknowing in the forest of life without false claim! What amazing amelioration of guilt! How Thou Art, Nature!
But then, a certain resentment towards those people who weren't honest enough to have reached the conclusion I struggled towards for years. Why had my parents (being intelligent) saddled me with this abusive belief system and thus caused me so much pain and heartache over so many years? All my mentors: doctors of medicine, Ph.d's, lawyers, and all apparently devout Mormons. These people gave me the very tools I used to break free of religion - why had they declined to utilize them themselves?
I do wish I'd been exposed to an atheist book as a kid - years of heartache prevented.