Why I shouldn’t debate religion with my mother

Me: *explains different ludicrous things I saw at the Creation Museum*
Mom: …That doesn’t make any sense! What did all of the animals eat after the flood since everything else was killed? How did plants survive the flood? How did the Ark not sink? How did all of the animals on earth fit on a single boat?!?
Me: God did it. It was a miracle.
Mom: But…that doesn’t make any sense. What about the fact that man wrote the Bible?
Me: Oh, well it was inspired by God.
Mom: But how do they know that?
Me: Because the Bible says so. (At this point, I’m relishing in hearing my woo-filled mother bring up so many good arguments all of her own. And then it turns sour.)
Mom: I don’t see why they have to be so literal. I mean, I believe that there’s something bigger out there, and in spirits and ghosts and stuff, but what they believe is just silly.
Me: …Well, do you believe in unicorns? Why you don’t believe in them is the same reason why I don’t believe in ghosts or God.
Mom: Well I don’t know, maybe there were unicorns back with the ancient Greeks or something…
Me: …*facepalm* This thought experiment is lost on you.
Mom: Well, that’s the whole thing about religion, you need to have faith!
Me: Faith is believing in something which you have no reason to believe.
Mom: So?
Dad: I need evidence. Faith doesn’t make atomic clocks work.
Mom: Well, it makes me happy to believe in it, so there.
Dad: Just because it makes you happy doesn’t mean it’s true.


  1. says

    That's the thing about faith, there is literally no way to reason against it. It is a slippery eel that impossible to catch. It rewards people for believing in things despite evidence to the contrary.

  2. says

    Your family is far saner than mine. I tried talking to my sister about evolution and her response was "Jesus is real and has done things in my life." I never brought up Jesus or religion.

  3. says

    *Laughs hysterically*

    Sorry … but you have no idea how exactly like my mother that sounds. Well, almost – my mother doesn't believe in God, and she's vehemently anti-religious, even more than I am (and that's saying something), but she does call herself "spiritual" and does believe that there is indeed something out there, something we limited humans cannot see, touch, hear, sense, etc.

    She's also a strong believer (ie. she doesn't "believe", she "knows", if you get the idea) in that "Law of Attraction" guff (ever read The Secret?). She also thinks we, all lifeforms, and the whole Universe, are made of "energy", and so forth. She's perfectly fine with me being an atheist (she's not the judgmental type), though she does think I'm wrong. Our relationship is as happy as ever, though, so that's cool. I suppose I'm lucky to have accepting, open-minded parents.

    I even tried to debate with her and tell her how there very likely is no afterlife, no "purpose" to life, etc. She flat out told me that if she believed what I believed (or didn't believe) in, she'd kill herself. Says she couldn't stand to live in a world without purpose – despite my telling her you can be perfectly happy even if you're not on the Earth with a specific role to fill.

    Holy hell, sorry for the rambling … I really should try and control that.

  4. jose says

    "Mom: I don't see why they have to be so literal. I mean, I believe that there's something bigger out there, and in spirits and ghosts and stuff, but what they believe is just silly."

    Mom, Satan is getting those thoughts into your mind. You must believe each word in the Bible or you will be tortured forever in Hell. Some infernal crows will eat your eyeballs slowly and fill your eye sockets with crow poo. And then the crows will eat the poo, too. And you will see them eating poo because you will get your eyeballs grown back by that time. And guess what the crows will do with your new eyeballs when they see them under all that poo. Still wanna go to hell? No? Alright then.

  5. says

    hey that's just like the conversation i had with my mom a few hours ago. except completely about faith. and with lots of bible verses. and she probably believes everything that was at the creation museum. but the whole thing about faith is impossible to argue against. why do you need reasoning when you can just have more faith? every one else's faith is false, but mine, mine is real. and god loves me, he'd never steer me wrong. :-/

  6. says

    My mother forwards republican "joke" spam emails and includes me in them (mostly they come from my uncle I think).

    I told her to not include me, but I think she thought I was joking cause she still does. Then the last one was a picture of a sign that said something to the effect of "Now we know what change means… More Debt, More Taxes, More Government, More Welfare, More Regulation… Thanks Mr. President"

    I went off on it cause the stupid made my head hurt and I think my mom took it personally, but still those e-mails are lying propaganda, so she really is helping evil by forwarding them.

    Still, I feel kinda bad about it.

  7. says

    That is exactly what I meant about battling the two-headed hydra!

    "Mom: I don't see why they have to be so literal. I mean, I believe that there's something bigger out there, and in spirits and ghosts and stuff, but what they believe is just silly."

    Say hello to Truth.

    "Mom: Well, it makes me happy to believe in it, so there."

    Say hello to Comfort.

  8. says

    It could be worse… While talking to my Mom I mentioned that with as vile as it is I was glad the book of Joshua didn't match the archeological evidence and was made up… She told me it was dangerous to question god's word… That made me kinda sad…

  9. says

    This conversation with your mom reminds me of my mom. My mother (a believer, but not a creationist nut job) couldn't understand WHY I went to go to the Creation Museum. I went because it is a spectacle of all sorts of crazy!


  10. says

    I just avoid discussing religion with family. It came up with my sister, though, when she was reading Pharyngula over my shoulder about the Creation Museum trip, after I had read your awesome posts about it. (I agree, I think the blogathon broke your brain.)

    She was just like "Wow. Creationists are fucked up." And then was like, "You know, I don't think Dad knows he raised a pair of atheists."

    I was like, "You go, little sister."

  11. mcbender says

    I've had this sort of conversation with so many people now (especially my grandmother, who despite having been religious for all of her life was married to an open atheist and I think is secretly one herself)… at this point my reaction is more or less *facepalm* but I try not to show it…

    I honestly don't know how to respond to these people any more. It's the backtracking from logical conclusions that really baffles and aggravates me.

  12. says

    You know, the Argument from Solace ("Well, it makes me happy to believe in it, so there") may be more compelling if the same people didn't turn around and make the Argument from God Must Be Real: "But I want there to be a God. I don't want to live in a world where there is really no God because it would be meaningless and pointless and there would be no justice since people would not get what's coming to them when they die!"

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