DB! Your explanation of prayer was so good. I haven't watched the vids yet, (typing a quick [ok, so this didn't end up being quick] post in here does NOT mean that I have time to sit and watch a video! I am a busy housewife/mom with two kids two and under, in case you didn't know). I totally agree with you about prayer and it is sooooo often misunderstood. I can pray all I want to win the Publisher's Clearing House, but just because I ask for it doesn't mean it's going to happen. And just because it doesn't happen doesn't mean that my prayers "aren't answered" or that my faith is ruined. It clearly says in the bible that you shouldn't say repetitive prayers, it should be heartfelt, more like you're talking to God, not reciting bible verses. I don't understand why some religions completely go against things that are clearly stated in the bible, but whatever, that's a different story. I have had prayers "answered" and I've had some that haven't been answered yet or I got answers that I didn't want, but that's what was meant for me. If you guys don't mind, I can share a couple experiences I've had with prayer, unless that's completely off topic, but whatever, I'll do it anyway.
This one is about a time where I had a CLEAR voice in my head answering my prayer. You can decide if it was coincidence or subconscious or whatever, but you can't prove it just as much as I can't prove that it was God. Anyway, when I had my second son, he was a horrible eater and sleeper. I was trying to breastfeed and he would eat a little, but he actually stopped gaining weight at all for about three months. He rarely slept, and rarely longer than two hours at a time. Around the time he was 6 months old, I finally thought, well it's gotta be something besides just me trying to figure out how to breastfeed right. No weight gain is BAD. And the doctors couldn't figure it out either. Anyway, one night I was praying about it, basically just asking for help that I'd be able to figure out what was going on. And clear as a bell in my head I knew what was wrong. He had a casein allergy and breast milk has trace amounts of casein (a milk protein) in it. We switched him to a formula that doesn't have that proteins, and within two days he was a new baby. He slept overnight, he started gaining weight, he was even happier. I know you'll come up with all kinds of excuses for how I knew that, or that I would've figured it out eventually, but your coincidence is my answered prayer and there isn't really a good way to argue that.
Normally when I pray, I ask for opportunities to serve others. This might be something I'd think to seek out, or something random that would just happen. A few weeks ago, I was having a crazy dream about a friend who was going through a really rough time. He is actually barely a friend, I rarely talk to him but I know him and a tiny bit about what he was going through, but I hadn't talked to him for at least 6 months or so and I actually thought things were much better with him. Bottom line is I hadn't been thinking of him, talking to him or hearing anything about him to prompt some dream about him. In this dream, I told him something about like needing to forgive yourself and let others love you. When I woke up from it, my very first thought was "I need to tell him that NOW!" And then I thought, that's insane. I don't talk to him, I don't want to offend him, I don't know what's going on with him right now, I'd make him mad if I told him that, like I'd be meddling, etc. So I tried to go about my morning. But I got like physically shaky about it and that voice in my head wouldn't stop saying "YOU NEED TO TEXT HIM THAT NOW!!" So I sat down and wrote out a text about how I had this crazy dream about him, and I didn't want to offend him or have him think I was crazy. And if I was totally off base then to just ignore my text, but I really felt like I needed to tell him that even when you think you've been forgiven by those you've wronged and by God, that maybe the most important part is to forgive yourself and to let those around you love you. And I shakily pressed the send button and nearly had a heart attack that I had done something so ridiculous from a dream. Well, not even five minutes later he responded and said holy crap, I so needed to hear that right now. He was at one of the lowest points he'd been at and he was struggling with exactly the things that I had mentioned. He was shutting out his fiancee because he felt like he didn't deserve to be loved or forgiven and he couldn't forgive himself. It was an amazing testimony-affirming experience for me and for him. It was just so random, especially because we're barely friends and don't really talk, that it would come from me like that. If I hadn't paid attention to that voice (that I would call the Holy Ghost) he might never had had that break through that he needed to get through his problems.
You say there's all this science that disproves everything I believe, but honestly, if you take a really close look at it, it doesn't at all. Every single point you make has a counter point and it's just exhausting to argue about it all the time. My beliefs are based on facts that I've researched, scripture I've read, feelings I've had, experiences I've been blessed with. I'm not brainwashed, I don't believe every single thing I've been told, I'm not a follower and I don't think that I'm ignoring the truth or reality by believing what I do. I'm open to your beliefs and others beliefs, but even learning about all of that, I still come back to what I already know. Not because I'm lazy or because I'm ignoring the truth but because I take in the points, I research them, etc. and I still come back to knowing that what I believe is true. There may be PEOPLE who have changed or ruined or used Mormon or any other religious doctrines to their gain, twisted them, etc. but those are people, not the gospel. There's a huge difference. These people have no bearing on what I know to be true, even prophets are just people in the end and they can make mistakes just like "normal" people can.
I can't think of anything powerful to end this ridiculously long post. But I can just say that watching a documentary about one guy's journey to non-belief is not going to shake in the least what I know from my experiences and research, and if it can, what does that say about me? That I'm easily influenced? Quick to drop my beliefs? I don't think that's actually a good thing it all. It seems like it would actually show weakness, not intelligence or strength.
edit: i just noticed that I posted this as 3:58 pm! how cool is that??