My Story

 

“You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

                   David Byrne-The Talking Heads

 

My name is Steve Warnock.  I live in Draper, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City.  I was born in 1964.  I was raised LDS (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) in California until age 10 then moved to Utah.  I went to, and graduated from, LDS (release-time) Seminary and then to the University of Utah.  I served and LDS mission in Belgium and France.  Upon my return, I re-enrolled in school with an eye toward medical school.  My undergraduate degree was in Biology, with a Biochemistry emphasis.  I loved my major.


In the process of earning that degree, it became clear to me that there were some problems with what I was taught as a young man.  I learned about evolution and realized that this concept was well accepted (and well documented) by mainstream science and had no place for God unless it was as a primary mover (although there was no real evidence for that either).


Despite that, I was still very much LDS and not willing to question too much.  I believed in God and was warned not stray too far from the teachings of The Church.  I was convinced (because I had been told) that “all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole.”  So I tried to reconcile.  I finally concluded that the order of the universe was established by God, but that He really didn’t meddle in natural order anymore.  The machine had been set in motion, and now there was not a lot for Him to do.  That idea sustained me for a long time.


In the meantime, I met a beautiful and bright girl.  My life seemed to be coming together.  I prayed for guidance and felt that marriage was the right next step.  We married in the Salt Lake Temple just as I finished my undergraduate work and started medical school.  We were active in the Church and struggled through our first year.  By eighteen months our marriage was over.


I was stunned.  It became very clear to me that I had made a real mistake.  I knew that I had had a confirmation of the spirit regarding that marriage, but I was not willing to blame God for that painful experience.  I felt like I had deceived myself and was probably unworthy (although I was living well within temple worthiness guidelines).  Furthermore, I had always been taught that two righteous people could make a marriage work, even if there were bumps along the way.  That turned out not to be true. 


This experience did shake my faith in prayer.  I had always felt that prayer was a struggle for me.  I just never really felt what I thought I should.  My conclusion, however, was that I was not very good at prayer, and I needed to try harder. 


I carried on with my life.  I was in medical school and enjoying the intellectual challenge.  I grew stronger in many ways.  I met a new woman who was smart, fun, and very pretty.  We dated for about a year.  Once again, I felt like I needed guidance in this big decision...so I prayed.  I felt like it was very right.  I had a very powerful spiritual experience to confirm that.  This time I had no doubt and we were married in the Salt Lake Temple (take two).  Our marriage was happy for the first few years.  We were active in the church.  We moved all over the country after medical school as I completed my specialty training.  We both served in various positions in the Church.  I worked as Gospel Doctrine teacher, Sunday School President, Elder’s Quorum President, and assorted teachers and counsellors.  I enjoyed the service, I worked hard during the week, and my marriage had ups and downs.


My wife was a good mother and wife, but as we finished our travels, we had some struggles.  In my own mind, I started to have some real doubts about the church, but I never really let on to her because she had made it clear that church was very important to her.  So I kept quiet.


At this point, we had returned to Salt Lake City and I had started my own surgical practice.  I was serving in my ward as Elder’s Quorum President but I felt like I was on shaky spiritual ground.


I read the DaVinci Code on a business trip.  I knew the book was fiction, but it raised some questions in my mind.  In particular, it raised the possibility that all that I had been told for so many years may be way off.  I had no proof of either point of view, so either was equally plausible in my mind.  I had no reason to believe that the stories I had been told in church were any more true than any other stories.  I felt like I had a testimony, but I also knew that I had been misled by the spirit in the past.  Furthermore, my medical training had taught me to be a little more skeptical about ideas that I “believed in”.  The scientific method should be able to help me sort out the truth despite my preconceptions and prejudices.


I read a few books but started to be a little more cautious about what I was willing to believe.  I found very little of substance in any book at Deseret Book.  I felt like they were all “pep talk” books intended to make me feel good but not to fill any academic gaps.  I read them anyway trying to bolster my faith.  I continued to serve in my calling as Elders Quorum President but really started to distance myself from the spiritual side of the calling.  I didn’t feel like I was in a position to “minister” to my brethren in spiritual matters.  I had a good counsellor who took that role for me.


By now, my marriage was in serious trouble.  As a last ditch effort to improve our relationship we moved to a new neighborhood hoping that a change of venue would do us some good.  Our issues were not church related but I never felt like our marriage was spiritually centered.  We went to counseling, I went on Prozac, we tried to keep it together.  I was in a new ward now, still very active as a primary teacher (my wife was in the primary presidency), but realized that most of what I was teaching had no basis in what I considered reality.  I had a hard time teaching kids about the plan of salvation.  We colored a lot.


In 2007, I filed for divorce after 17 years.  I was devastated.  My entire image of what my life should be came down like a house of cards.  My (second) eternal marriage had ended, my spiritual life was dark, and the rest of my life was unrecognizable.  Through all this, I was still temple worthy, as was my wife.  I had tried to do the right thing.  My loneliness was crushing, but I had good family support and great friends at work.  I also loved my kids and wanted to spend as much time as I could with them.  My (ex) wife and I were civil with each other.  I think we both felt like we owed that to the kids.  I had entered a new chapter. 


I still took the kids to church but asked to be released from my calling.  I found it very hard to be in church.  It was very difficult to see other happy families and not feel left out.  I also had found it increasingly hard to sit through lessons, talks, and testimonies.  In my mind, nothing they said had been “proven”, yet they “knew” it was true.  I kept going, but all I knew was that I didn’t really know anything.


After about 7 or 8 months, I met someone new.  She had been raised LDS but had been inactive for about 4 years and was happy that way.  I decided that I had based my previous choices of partner using church status as my first criterion, and I wasn’t going to do that again.  At this point I wanted someone that I was compatible with and who, above all, loved me without condition.  It was nice that she had been raised in the Church because she knew my culture and mindset.  But she didn’t seem to care if I went to church or not.  I was free to explore.


I began to think and study about God as never before.  But this time, I wanted to look at it from an intellectual point of view.  I had prayed before, and received guidance from the spirit with devastating results.  I did not blame God.  I just didn’t trust my own ability to interpret or follow the spirit.  I decided to leave the spirit out of it. 


At this point, it occurred to me that if eternal truth exists, it should stand up to the same rigorous study that scientific truth endures.  I began to think about God again, but this time I tried to look at Him with new eyes.  I started to read.  I read everything I could find on the nature of God.  I went to bookstores and libraries and tried to get to the basics.  My question was simple.  Does God exists?  And if so, what proof do we have of that?


This site is the result of that work over the last few years.  The first elements of the site were completed and published online in August 2009.  Updates and additions are made regularly.


My goal is to seek truth.  I am not anti-mormon, or an anti-mormon sympathizer.  I do not wish to destroy the faith of those around me.  I don’t want to hurt those that I love.  I am not on a mission to “spread the word”.  The only reason I publish this is to allow others an opportunity to rebut and to offer some insight to those who struggle with the same questions.  It has also served me well, from time to time, when people ask me why I have left the church.  My goal, however, is not to broadcast my point of view.  It is only to be understood.  If others feel I’ve missed the mark (and I know they do) I welcome their comments.

 

I am not here to hurt people.  I have come to conclude that faith can be a wonderful thing and even if it is not based in truth, the individual is not hurt by believing.  It is only when we seek to convert, harm, reject, judge, or exclude others that it becomes dangerous.  I will not do that.


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