[note: Ultimately, I’ve decided no good can come of this exchange, so I will not send him this note. R. Gary is not going to change his mind about the Church and hearing that his efforts contributed to people leaving the Church (no matter how happy they claim to be) will not bring him any additional peace and joy. My goal is to help others, and I do not think that can be accomplished by sending this to him. My thoughts below are all sincere—I genuinely appreciate that he was meticulous and dogged enough to document all that he has. He was a big part of my faith transition, and I am glad for it (at this point).]
I just wanted to write back and thank you for your exchanges with me over the years. Ultimately, your integrity, persistence, and meticulousness in showing how the Church teaches anti-evolutionary thought enabled me to question my belief in the Church and arrive at the conclusion that it is not what it claims to be. I recognize in advance that you disagree with this conclusion and discouraging belief is not your goal. Regardless, I feel great peace now and much that didn’t make sense before finally makes sense to me now. My entire family was able to make the transition with me, and we are all happy and peaceful in our new understanding. I could offer you more detail and proof of my sincerity, but I do not wish to distract from your time serving as a missionary.
I just wanted to write back and thank you for your exchanges with me over the years.
I had always been confident that the Church teaches truth and the words of scripture and the Brethren would always point to truth (this should be obvious from posts). After years of studying the evidence for evolution I came to know with distinctness that humans had evolved from a common primate ancestor (the evidence is overwhelming, as I’ve pointed out before). I greatly admire your detail oriented research and approach and confidence in the words of the Prophets. The fact that you—someone so devoted to finding truth—can persistently dismiss the fact of evolution of humans finally helped me to realize that the Church really is/was anti-evolution. Yes, they retreat behind ambiguity when it is convenient, but you have shown over and over again how anti-evolutionary thought has been baked into LDS material at every level over the past 100 years.
Once I finally accepted that the Church really did consistently teach anti-evolutionary thought (in a variety of ways—as you’ve doggedly shown), it opened my mind to the possibility that the Church was not in fact true (a thought that I had not entertained since I had had several profound spiritual experiences on my mission two decades earlier, and I experience spiritual experiences on a regular basis). Once I began to entertain this possibility, several issues that had troubled me before finally made perfect sense, and I could discern a repeating pattern.1
I was then able to re-examine the connection between spiritual experiences, testimony and the truth2, and a bunch of other data points 3 finally made perfect sense to me once I realized that the Church was not actually true. I’ve also linked to a sketch of my journey if that interests you.4
I understand that your intent is merely to espouse truth and follow the words of those who you believe have the Truth, and your intent is not to drive people from what you believe is True. Nonetheless, I wanted to express my gratitude to you for helping me to make the mental jump to question my beliefs. I have experienced great peace and joy in coming to my current understanding5, and your tireless research and integrity were a significant part of that process for me. In all sincerity, thank you.