As I tweeted last night after reading chanson's Sunday In Outer Blogness round-up, I'm still not really sure if the post in question is joking. Irresistible (Dis)grace gives a further rundown and examination, and I agree with a lot of their points (most pertinently I'm inclined to agree that even if a thing is demonstrably false that doesn't mean it isn't worth believing in [see: Chaos magic, Alan Moore and his snake god, etc...with caveats.] In other words, I don't think the ahistoricity of the Book of Mormon is a good reason to not form a church around it).
However, what I'm really more interested in here is the mere possibility of so-called Mormon atheism. When I left the church there was no inkling in my mind that a person could remain in the church as a non-believer. I'm still not quite sure why anyone would want to, but that's neither here nor there. Everyone is familiar with Mormon culture, from casseroles to The RM, but what about cultural Mormonism? Will there ever be a point where nonbelievers engage with LDS culture as modern cultural Jewish people do with Judaism? I think most of my continuing surprise at this line of thinking is that my Mormonism did not separate culture and doctrine. As I grow older and read more accounts of currently and formerly practicing members, the lie that is correlation becomes more and more baldfaced. The church is not the same everywhere. It probably never will be, for the simple reason that people are people.
Without asking probing questions, I can’t assume any Mormon I talk to even believes in the existence of God or the resurrection of Jesus. Even the Mormons that aren’t closet-atheists are largely latent atheists (or agnostics) without knowing it. Since evangelism, I take it, is partly to engage the conscience and the depth of one’s heart, I want to reach them where they are really at, even if they don’t quite understand what is going on.
What a world to live in! Again, perhaps this was consequence of being a hopelessly naive 19-year-old, but it would not have occurred to me to wonder whether the people around me at church actually believed what they heard from the pulpit and read in the scriptures. "New Order Mormons" weren't a Thing. Personal interpretations of doctrine were only ok as long as they matched up with official ones. The divide between what the brain knew and what it knew it was supposed to believe was an unbridgeable one. And, I will remind you once more, this was less than a decade ago. From where I'm standing, still connected to the church through my parents and still observing through blogs and the news, the LDS at large are not yet far along enough to allow for Mormon atheism.