Author Topic: My mother is a fair-weather atheist  (Read 366 times)

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Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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My mother is a fair-weather atheist
« on: August 28, 2012, 02:46:33 AM »
I was set to get a series of tests which would determine if my eyesight had taken an unexpected turn for the worse.  My 92 year old mother offered to drive me to the doctors and bring me home,  (if the diagnosis was bad, I would be undergoing treatments which would prevent me from driving home.)

On the way, my mother, who claims she does not believe in god, began talking about how the results of the tests would be in god’s hands.  I scoffed, reminding her that there is no god, and she backpedaled a bit.  I said ‘look, I don’t believe in god and I have no intention of praying for any ‘good’ results:  What is will be.  End of.’

The results were good. When I told her, she said ‘And you didn’t believe in god.  What do you have to say now?’  This surprised me, because she is usually very vocal about her disbelief.  I answered, ‘I didn’t pray.  Are you saying he changes the results of tests to accommodate atheists who don’t believe in him or pray for favors?’  She answered ‘Maybe this is his way of telling you he’s there’.  I countered ‘Where was he when I got the disease in my left eye in the first place?  How about when it hit my right eye as well?  So I’m slowly going blind, but I should be grateful to him because I’m not going blind as quickly as we thought I might be?’

An interesting back and forth.  My mother does not believe in god, but she’s no atheist.  She believes in all sorts of woo, and part of that allows for god popping in every once in a while to save the day.  An odd outlook, but one that stems from an abiding feeling of vulnerability.  She needs to believe something can save us.  She knows in her heart that it ultimately can’t

Online Graybeard

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Re: My mother is a fair-weather atheist
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2012, 03:22:31 AM »
...My mother does not believe in god, but she’s no atheist.  She believes in all sorts of woo, and part of that allows for god popping in every once in a while to save the day.  An odd outlook, but one that stems from an abiding feeling of vulnerability.  She needs to believe something can save us.  She knows in her heart that it ultimately can’t
I had to laugh at that - that's about where my mother was - it's all very human. At her age, 92 (tell her to keep up the good work!) your mother gets a pass.

I think it is just a way of speaking - part of her vocabulary from 92 years of life, automatic speech. We all have these idiosyncrasies and you will also have them when you're 92. : )
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. Ambrose Bierce

Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: My mother is a fair-weather atheist
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 03:36:13 AM »

I had to laugh at that - that's about where my mother was - it's all very human. At her age, 92 (tell her to keep up the good work!) your mother gets a pass.

I think it is just a way of speaking - part of her vocabulary from 92 years of life, automatic speech. We all have these idiosyncrasies and you will also have them when you're 92. : )

Sure.  I understand that, and to her credit, I think that she expresses disbelief at all is surprising. 

oh and... God forbid I make it to 92  ;)

Offline kindred

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Re: My mother is a fair-weather atheist
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 07:29:39 AM »
Put in her the same psychologically crushing treatment that the unabomber went through. Push her to the rails. Corner every logical fallacy in her belief system that allows her to wake up everyday and function. Psychologically torture her by making her regret every stupid thing she has believed and acted on.

 VERITAS! VERITAS! The truth is more important then her happiness. Die in despair.



Just kidding.

 ;D

Let her be. There is a little bit of idiot in everybody. At least now, you  know what part of her is idiotic so you can take advantage of it. Use it to make her better herself or what-have-you.
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Offline joebbowers

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Re: My mother is a fair-weather atheist
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2012, 06:59:44 AM »
Your mother clearly believes in God, but simultaneously knows that it is an illogical belief to hold.
"Do you see a problem with insisting that the normal ways in which you determine fact from fiction is something you have to turn off in order to maintain the belief in God?" - JeffPT

Offline Quesi

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Re: My mother is a fair-weather atheist
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2012, 10:46:25 AM »
You know, my 83 year old neighbor, who is a devout Catholic, knows and understands my values and the way I am raising my daughter.  I have told her it is fine to have my daughter over to open an advent box or move the three king statues around her house and get them closer to the manger every night mid December through Three Kings Day.  I have no trouble with holiday stuff.  But i do have a problem with talking about god and prayer and whatnot.

I really had a tantrum when our cat died, and she told my then 4-year old that he was in heaven.  She gave her a little pin with angel wings on it and told her to keep it to remind her of our cat.  My kid was very confused, and said the pin did not look ANYTHING like our cat.

Most of the time my neighbor respects my practices. 

But this past weekend my kid was sick.  She was sleeping and then vomiting and then sleeping and then weeping.  It was really really exhausting.  My neighbor came over and offered to run to the store for me, or help with anything I needed, and I genuinely appreciated it.  I was sleep deprived and cranky and there is only so much vomit you can clean up and stay in good spirits. 

As she was leaving, she got to the door and started lecturing me on god.  I was flabbergasted.  And she just wouldn't stop.  She started saying stuff like

"Well you are so interested in outer space?  Think about it!  There is an order to things!  The universe did not create itself.  Think about it.  Do you think the Empire State Building built itself?  There are universal laws, and you know it.  You really need to think about this.  Because you KNOW it is true." 


And she just went on and on and on as I was standing at the door (with my still sore broken foot) wanting to just sit down and do nothing until my kid vomited again, and she would not stop talking such silliness.

I got a little mad.  But you know what?  My little girl gives her tres besos every night before she goes to sleep, and we knock on her door every morning before school and she walks us to the elevator, and often has a shiny little penny or some such thing to give my daughter to start out her day. 

She may have another decade, even two more.  But there are so many times she has taken too long to answer the door, and I panicked.  I'm probably the one who will find her dead some day.  And I think she knows that too. 

I try not to begrudge her her silliness.  Even on the days when I really really really don't want to hear it. 

Online Boots

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Re: My mother is a fair-weather atheist
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2012, 01:42:23 PM »
There is a little bit of idiot in everybody.

While I agree with the sentiment, Kindred, I have to say--there's a WHOOOOOOLE LOTTA idiot in some folks!!
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Offline earthfreak

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Re: My mother is a fair-weather atheist
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2012, 09:27:29 AM »

While I agree with the sentiment, Kindred, I have to say--there's a WHOOOOOOLE LOTTA idiot in some folks!!

hee hee~!

too true..

Quesi- that was the sweetest post.  I wish I was better at that.  (loving people who drives me nuts)

Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: My mother is a fair-weather atheist
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2012, 04:39:33 AM »
Perhaps I gave the impression of being annoyed with my mother, or feeling she needed to be corrected.  That really wasn't the case.  My words to her were prompted more from trepidation (prior) and exhaustion (after) than any concerted effort to change her views.  I agree with everyone who says 'let her be'.  If I had shown any petulance, it was due to those factors.

The purpose of my post was merely to illustrate a first hand encounter with the kind of cognitive dissonance that many of us (even I to some extent) labor under sometimes.  I thought it was interesting.

The fact is, I think is fairly amazing for a 92 year old person to be able to express any doubts about god.  (It's even more amazing that she is driving ME to the ophthalmologist). :)