Hi, my name is Shawn.
I’m a 29 year old return missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
All of my life I have been as faithful to the church and its doctrines, principles and ordinances as I can. I have always had a believing, willing and sincere heart. That’s why as a youth I had the faith to serve a mission — without question and joyfully. I loved my mission, and even in times of later doubt I still have no regrets about going on and serving a mission with my whole heart. Indeed, I am grateful that any doubts that have come have come after mission as they would have been difficult to deal with at that point in time.
All my life I have had a fear of learning things that may contradict my belief system. Perhaps this was not the intent of those who taught me as a youth, but what I learned in my youth was this fear of research, theories or knowledge that may contradict what I believe in.
About two years ago I gradually came to a point in my life where I decided that fear no longer has a place in my heart and can no longer govern what information I choose to research or believe in. I decided that this fear in my heart was the mark of ignorance — willingly avoiding knowledge because it could lead to mental discomfort.
I started to read and learn, reading of things I’d never read before. It started with the theory of evolution, which was, at the time, an issue that most pressed on my mind — an area of great discrepancy between my beliefs and scientific theories.
What I learned was incredible, and lead to an immense paradigm shift. The world is full of beauty and knowledge beyond what I had ever thought before.
Naturally, learning about the theory of evolution (and many many other things) lead to a considerable amount of cognitive dissonance — a mental burden that my personal journey requires of me. It opened up a lot more questions which related to the classic model of creationism. I remember this quote that helps me in moments of contradiction:
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
— we don’t know all the answers yet, but we’ll never get anywhere if we live a life of ignorance and fear of new knowledge. Without the beauty and difficulty of paradigm shifts, how can we hope to bring ourselves to a greater level of knowledge and understanding?
Anyway, in about March 2015 I was in the shower one day, pondering on “all these things” that tend to preoccupy my mind considerably, when I realised that it was time to take a step and do something which, though many people around me have done before, I had never taken the opportunity to do:
To re-evaluate my entire belief system
And so the renovation of my belief system began. More recently I decided to notify my closest family and friends of my journey so as not to maintain a pretence of “everything being OK” and out of my personal desire to maintain interpersonal integrity.
I’m two months in now and still far from complete. I may never actually be complete in this life. I don’t believe any decision of belief is permanent, (but they are often indefinite).
There’s way too much to this process to explain in a single post, so I started this blog and will now defer to the other articles in it. I’ve intentionally kept this separate from my personal / professional blog for the simple reason of life’s personas (sometimes it’s important to keep some personas separate from others).
Please join me, if you will, on a journey of deep self-discovery and introspection regarding personal belief. I am happy for any and all support, discussion, and even disagreement, provided we all maintain an air of respect, love, and open-mindedness.