Always, the missionaries want to share a message. Usually they pray over dinner, and they pray when they leave, and in between, they read to us from the book of Mormon and as us what we think. I am a jewish atheist, but I try to be nice.
I tell them what's in my heart (sort of). I tell them that I don't believe in God. They ask me if I'll pray to ask Heavenly Father if the book of Mormon is true. I tell them sure, and surprisingly I do. The next time they come back, they ask if I have. I say yes, and I didn't get an answer. One of them asks if my prayer was sincere, which gives you an idea of how poorly I've been concealing my atheist snark. I tell them that yes, it was. I don't tell them how surprised I was at its sincerity. They try to explain to me how to hear the voice of God. Last time, they were adamant that I would receive a resounding response. They told me of their experiences asking things of God, and receiving answers. This time, they scale that back. They tell me that you must prepare your mind and body for revelation. You must abstain from sin, and hone your focus with the practice of prayer and meditation. And you must consider just about anything a sign. I tell them that I would expect God to be able to get through the backchatter of my brain if he wanted to talk to me. They tell me I have to want it.
We get into a discussion of what my backchatter is. I tell them that I think too much, and I'm too self aware to commit myself to prayer. I don't tell them that my father's voice is laughing at me in my head when I consider praying. I don't tell them that I feel silly talking to someone who I don't think can hear me, who I don't think exists. Instead, I focus on education. I tell them that much of my backchatter has to do with pain. Much of it exists because my body is constantly screaming at me. They tell me that the mind must be whole before it can heal the body, and the soul must be healed first of all. They tell me of the wonder of the world that awaits the convert. How happy I would be if I became a part of the church. I tell them that I have little interest in engaging in Pascal's wager.
Pascal may have thought that belief was the safest, but I doubt belief for him was as complex as it is to me. My corollary to Pascal's wager is called the Mayan Chicken God Conundrum. For me, belief is hampered by three things: a doubt in the existence of god, concern over the correct and incorrect belief systems, and a love that is prohibited by the western scriptures. The Mayan Chicken God addresses all of these. Say that there is a god. Say that he is all powerful, and that he cares what you do with your life. Say that he sees all. Say that he judges the wicked and the righteous, but say that he is a chicken god. Say that he was worshipped by a small sect of Mayans at the fall of the Mayan empire. Say he required that you abstain from eating chicken, and you sacrifice a child every Tuesday. Say that he was worshiped by forty people for about a year, during which the Mayan Chicken God was happy. Say that after that year, belief died out, and worship stopped. All of us who have failed to worship Him correctly have consigned ourselves to hell, and only those forty constitute the elect. This, to me, is the same randomness and capriciousness that I see as the basis of most religions. It is impossible to know what God wants, impossible to do it, and impossible to better your eternal self.
This is my problem with the missionaries. They're sweet, but they make me sad. Them and their vengeful, gay-hating god.