While your work did not necessarily "convert" me to atheism, it has
definitely been an inspiration to me as a militant atheist. I live in
a city in southern Utah, and it is definitely an overwhelmingly Mormon
community. Seminary classes taught by Mormon bishops is all but a
required class. If a student is enrolled by their parents in a
seminary class, they must take it, regardless of personal beliefs. The
only way to get out is with parental approval. And the students tend
to be boxed in by belief, with very little knowledge of what is
actually happening in the world around the. Luckily, I was raised by a
strictly Mormon father, and a not-so-religious mother, so, while I did
go to church every Sunday as a child, and read the Holy Bible, and the
Book of Mormon every Monday with my family, I also was not forced into
to Mormonism from all sides, like most of my fellow teens.
Also, my father was a police officer during the majority of my upbringing, so I was lucky enough to be exposed to the realities of sex, drugs, and
violence, whereas others in the area are blissfully ignorant to these
things. With this excess of knowledge as a child, and the divorce of
my parents (undoubtedly caused by psychological issues resulting from
my father's Mormon childhood) the ascent into atheism was not far of a
leap for me, and I have taken it upon myself in my teenage years to
enlighten as many as I can to the truths of things like Darwinian
evolution, the big bang, and atheism in general.
The problems with this are 1) I am excessively opinionated, and tend to be quite in-your-face, and sometimes come off as rude, and 2) when a child is
told every day for 16 years by their parents "This is the truth, and
you must not question it." and "God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost love
you, and it is a sin to not love them back without question.", they
turn out 99 times out of 100 to be completely ignorant and unheeding.
The point I've spent so much time building up to, is that I don't know
a great way to get them to listen, and I would be honored if you could
help me out with some arguments to present and questions to ask that
don't come off as too intolerant.
Thank you for your time,