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HoneyBib

How can I deconvert my mother?

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Hello, despite me being an atheist my mother and siblings are still christians to the extent that they take every word in the bible literally, a common example being the creation story, noahs ark, etc. I so far have had a life of what had originally been a happy, empathetic, layed back and a somewhat eccentric personality to a numb, regretful, disinterested, withdrawn but still a empathic teenager, this was the result of a chronic mental illness back in 2014 that I unintentionally led myself into as a result of religion damaging my mental health over the years, my strong recollective memory means that just as I can remember nearly all my good memories I can remember the bad ones as well, as a result the memories of how I felt during my chronic mental illness haunts me nearly everyday, resulting in me constantly thinking "back in time" and wishing I had stopped and thought logically very early on in my stage of chronic mental illness. 

 

However I have this constant goal in my head to deconvert my mother and ultimately the rest of my family (and maybe my grandmother) in order to make myself feel somewhat at peace with my past and also so I can pursue my life goals without having to reflect on the past in sadness and emotional numbness and so that I can finally have my family understand that it was religion that had ultimately led me onto the path of my anxiety, if I can deconvert them I can finally have them console me and tell me it was not my fault where my mother can hug me and telling me how she wished she had never been a christian, unintentionally teach me about the rapture, hell, God's will and everything else that christianity shoves down people's throats such as denial of science and how the human brain is more complicated than people think.

 

I recently attempted to deconvert my mother by showing her a video of black holes and time dilation to try and get her to start thinking more broadly, and showing her news of proofs and evidence of the existence of black holes and time dilation, she seemingly believe it but with reluctancy, then I decided to see if I could quickly get her to reconvert by showing her a video of "what is the Universe?" in order to make her think twice on the creation story and God's existence, however as soon as the video started and she heard the word "Big Bang" she immediately told me to turn off the video, I protested, telling her "You cannot hide from vast and countless evidence and information in favour of an ancient book written by men who had no knowledge in science back as they were in ancient times" and she replied by telling me "What have you got to lose by believing? Scientists are there to try and sow seeds of doubt", based her reply I then decided  to cease my protests realising that I could not argue with her and her deluded belief in Christianity is as set in stone as concrete.

 

So I ask in advice how can I successfully deconvert my mother so that it is made much easier for me to deconvert the rest of my family? I have had no success in teaching her about science, philosophy, problems with theology, paradoxes as well as debate in a way that will start to make her lose her faith, she solidly believes that she "knows" God exists because she has had miracles that can "only come from God" such as this kind person who gave my mother a thousand dollars to help me stay in school where I keep telling her to look at the "testimonies" from people of other religions and atheists who commit random acts of kindness, she blatantly ignores what I say and keeps insisting "That God did it".

 

 

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22 answers to this question

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"Deconverting" others is not your job. Even if it were the proper thing to do, it is impossible. Everyone must find their own way and many are too fearful and brainwashed to even want to. Ignorance often really is bliss and the comfortable lie is preferred over the truth. 

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I think the best thing you can do is to live a life that makes the Christians around you wonder.  If you can show them that you can be good and happy and contented without any god belief, without ever praying, maybe - just maybe - it will get them thinking.  And maybe one day the thought will creep into their minds: could a living loving god really send this person to suffer for eternity in Hell?  You can’t deconvert anybody, but you can give them food for thought without saying a word. 

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It also does not help how she attends church every Sunday and often has other christians sharing their faith with her and that she is close friends with a fundamentalist christian couple whom she speaks to often.

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Short answer: you can't. There is no known method or set of steps or we'd be applying it around the world. They didn't convert out of logic, and logic likely won't undo it for them. They themselves have to become dissatisfied with fake answers, and so far as we have experienced, that is something that comes from within, not from others (typically). On rare occasions, there are things that will catch someone's attention and "plant seeds" that nag at them later. But what that is differs between people, and what they consider important.

 

Show them love, and separate from them if you need to for your own well-being.

 

 

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22 hours ago, Fuego said:

Short answer: you can't. There is no known method or set of steps or we'd be applying it around the world. They didn't convert out of logic, and logic likely won't undo it for them. They themselves have to become dissatisfied with fake answers, and so far as we have experienced, that is something that comes from within, not from others (typically). On rare occasions, there are things that will catch someone's attention and "plant seeds" that nag at them later. But what that is differs between people, and what they consider important.

 

Show them love, and separate from them if you need to for your own well-being.

 

 

I hate to see my family believing in the irrational nonsense that is Christianity, to me just sitting their and hoping for the best is not good enough, I want to be able to at least help my mother lose her faith in religion, I remember when she was stressing over something she was wondering if God was punishing her for a sin - it is sick how depraving christianity is and I want to so something that WILL contribute to freeing her from the religion.

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Yes the short answer is, you can't. The Christian mind is in most cases programmed to be suspicious of science, and where fundamentalism is concerned, to even regard science as the realm where the devil reins, seeking to destroy you. But you can get past all of this without your family understanding completely what you've gone through. Find a good secular therapist to work with. And don't rely on unconditional acceptance from your family but seek it elsewhere in friendships etc. 

The bottom line is that nobody deconverts until they are driven to question themselves. And you can't get them there. You might just end up getting them to dig in even deeper. 

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@HoneyBib Sadly I'm inclined to agree with Fuego and TruthSeeker. I'm in much the same position as you. My family are all fundamental literalists and any attempts to talk reality is generally met with scientists are wrong or its a plot to destroy god. (A rather oxymoron statement if there ever was one)

 

The best you can do is sow very subtle seeds where the opportunity arises and hope that one day they, like us, might question their faith and embark on a road of reason and discovery. Until then any attempt to de-convert them will probably make them double down and dig into their faith deeper. 

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I'd hate for this to become an echo chamber (😉), but what has been said above is correct,  in my opinion. Actively trying to deconvert others is ill-advised. Just be yourself, and subtly show them that it's better on the outside by being awesome. You know.  Let your light shine before men, and all that.

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A lot of times trying to fight against and debate atheists is what tips the scales. But this only works on those inclined to logic and reason anyways. If it's the thought conscious type then they'll wrestle around in their own minds about the issues raised - Genesis not literal or symbolic of anything relevant to the real world, the nonsensical nature of the very concept of god itself, afterlife as the result of the fear of death, etc. Maybe try and fight it hard and then realize, yeah, that actually makes sense. That's how I've preferred to deal with Mormon's and Jehovah's Witness who have come to my houses. I try and leave them with some strong seeds and then be done with it. 

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5 hours ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

I think the best thing you can do is to live a life that makes the Christians around you wonder.  If you can show them that you can be good and happy and contented without any god belief, without ever praying, maybe - just maybe - it will get then thinking.  And maybe one day the thought will creep into their minds: could a living loving god really send this person to suffer for eternity in Hell?  You can’t deconvert anybody, but you can give them food for thought without saying a word. 

This is bang on. This is what happened to me, before deconversion.

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10 hours ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

I think the best thing you can do is to live a life that makes the Christians around you wonder.  If you can show them that you can be good and happy and contented without any god belief, without ever praying, maybe - just maybe - it will get them thinking. 

 

BTW, this should also make Jordon Peterson wonder.....

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Lad/lass you can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink. You cant make someone see the reality and the truth. I hate to put it so bluntly but stop. All it will serve is to frustrate you. When you present truth and they reject it, not much to do beyond that. 

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I have had some luck using the socratic method of gently questioning my husband until he sees the contradictions of his own flawed argument. He no longer believes in a literal Adam and Eve, or Noah’s Ark. He now believes in evolution.

Baby steps...

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Trying to rip someone away from their religious belief is disrespectful and not kind.

What we choose to believe or not believe in is deeply personal and important to each individual person. 

The exception might be when someone’s life/wellbeing is harmed or put in danger because of a religious belief. 

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It's frustrating dealing with this. I have a similar situation with my mother. However, I wouldn't want someone to try to school me on my "wrong views". So honestly you're going to have to learn to live with it. You really can't deconvert someone else. Well, I mean you probably could if there were swords and stuff... like conversion in reverse, but probably wouldn't do much for your relationship so, yeah, there is no way.

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You can mind your own damn business and let mommy dearest mind hers.

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I echo what several others have said and then some. Who are you to run around and shatter a belief system that brings them peace? That’s like going up to a 7 year old in the month of December and informing them that Santa isn’t real. You just fucked up Christmas asshole lol. A lot of people will never be ready to know the truth about Christianity. Dare I say most won’t. Think of the Matrix. Some aren’t ready. They never will be. Consider yourself fortunate but not ‘holier than though’ just because you have this knowledge. You’re only going to push them farther into it by trying to deconvert them. This shit is engrained in their heads. They don’t want to go to hell and they sure as hell won’t risk that over a YouTube video on the Big Bang. 

 

A powerful thing happened to me after being deconverted. I realized the importance of staying out of other peoples heads. I can barely navigate my own mind. What makes me think I can navigate someone else’s? I have found a lot of joy in just accepting others based on their character and not their belief system. I also realized that some people probably operate better being religious because their mind is simply too fragile to accept reality. 

 

Dude just love your family and accept them. You’re no better, nor am I. 

 

 

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I didn't read all the above responses, so pardon any possible repeat.   If you want to drive yourself back into mental illness, stay on the road to deconverting others.  Offering information is one thing, but trying to control others is the biggest problem in the world for human relationships.

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I understand the desire to want to tell them everything. To get them to understand your perspective and release them from the mental prison of Christianity. I kinda want to do the same with my family. But, you pointed out something in your post: Christianity shoves things down people's throats. If we do the same, we are really no different. The thing that changed my mind was thinking about how it would be received if I dumped all this information in their laps all at once. Probably not too kindly. Some people just are not ready to start questioning, and may never be. Some people aren't equipped to deal with this kind of stuff. And if they're sending off clear signals that they're not willing to confront the truth, then you need to think twice about dumping everything in their laps. It's unwanted on their end, and may do more damage than good. 

 

However, that doesn't mean that you have to sit quietly. You can plant subtle seeds. When they make a claim that you want to challenge, you could try some gentle prodding in the form of questions. It might make them think about things a little more carefully. But pick your battles wisely. If you think it's just gonna start an argument, it may be best to keep your mouth shut. You'll have to make that judgment call yourself. I recommend looking up videos on Greg Koukl and the Columbo tactic. He also has a book called tactics. Now, fair warning - he's a Christian, but he gives some good pointers on using questions to steer a conversation and get people to think. That's the key. If you get your family to think for themselves, then they may start questioning things without your help. When/if that happens, you'll be ready to help them as much as you can. But only, of course, If they want that. 

 

Also, do you know 1 Peter 3:15, the verse that instructs people to be prepared to give an answer? Well, that's what you can do while you're waiting. Know what you believe and why, so that if anyone asks, you can tell them. Good luck. 

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I have already rather recently given up on deconverting my mother, after I was thinking about the concept of death for a while I am starting to think that perhaps it is better for her to believe in an afterlife even if her religion is a mental prison for her that she is unaware of.

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11 hours ago, HoneyBib said:

I have already rather recently given up on deconverting my mother, after I was thinking about the concept of death for a while I am starting to think that perhaps it is better for her to believe in an afterlife even if her religion is a mental prison for her that she is unaware of.

It isn't for us to decide what's better or not for someone to believe. What they believe is their choosing. Theres a difference between talking to someone about beliefs if they are open to doing so, and trying to force your own on others. 

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12 hours ago, HoneyBib said:

I have already rather recently given up on deconverting my mother, after I was thinking about the concept of death for a while I am starting to think that perhaps it is better for her to believe in an afterlife even if her religion is a mental prison for her that she is unaware of.

 

Good choice.

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