Today I am not addressing any particular Bible verse or any particular argument for the existence of God but I do wanna challenge the testimonies of people I think we are all familiar with. There is a not too small group of people out there who aren’t merely Christians or Muslims or whatever because they happen to believe in the claims their particular holy book makes bt who are claiming to have personally experienced God or even heard God’s voice. In principle you would think that these testimonies should be compelling seeing that a multitude of people claim to have knowledge and in fact communicated with a person it would be reasonable to assume that said person really exists, right?

Well today I want to elaborate on the reasons why that doesn’t convince me.

First of all I think we all have been in a position before where we were sure to perceive something with our eyes or ears only to find out later that what we perceived most likely had no basis in reality whatsoever. Let me give you an example from my personal life:

When I was about 12 years old me and a few friends of mine went into a small forrest within my village. When we went in their we saw something which we perceived to be a demon. We quickly walked away and when we talked we all pretty much saw the same thing: A sort of black entity with sharp teeth and red glowing eyes.

Now in retrospective I don’t believe that this really happened but at that time we all were convinced. Add to that the element of conformity namely that I wasn’t the only who saw it and I came to believe that really easily.

Upon reflection though I came to reject what I think I saw for 2 reasons: Except for the red eyes this thing looked really similar to the symbiote within Spider-man 3 a movie which came out just 2 years earlier before my experience. I think it is therefore much more reasonable to assume that my brain concucted a frightening beast based on these familiar patterns rather than that what I saw indeed existed. The second reason is that this thing made no efforts at all to have anything but visual impact: It didn’t make sounds, it didn’t attack us when it saw us, it didn’t follow us it had no manifestation except a visual one. The other people seeing what I saw (or at least claiming that they did) also played a role in influencing me and may very well have shaped my memories of what I saw.

Another experience of mine happened when I was 8 and I was on holiday with my parents. In the middle of the night I saw a stranger inside our room who after 4-5 seconds left it. Now I know that I didn’t dream that because I immediately woke up my parents. It turned out though that nothing was stolen and no one within the hotel be it employees or guests fit the description of the person I saw.

What I am saying is that on occasion at least we think that we perceive things that actually aren’t there. I am sure many of you have had one or two similar experiences.

Likewise the same can be said for hearing voices: I have lost count on the times where I heard a voice calling my name and it turned out that it didn’t happen. Now you might be tempted to say that this was God calling me but suffice it to say that this voice isn’t always the same and isn’t always male.

Now I get it why believers might be inclined to believe it when “God” tells them that he loves them but for me as an outsider it is much more likely that the person in question is hallucinating. Especially since this voice never seems to convey any useful information:

He doesn’t reveal to us how quantum mechanics works he doesn’t tell us what happened before the Big Bang he reveals none of that to us. It’s always information that believers could’ve easily found for themselves.

In the end there are and have been various believers throughout history who claim to have communicated with a god and this god is not always the same. These anecdotes aren’t convincing when we consider the fact that our brain quite frequently tricks us.

Last but not least (and this is kinda embarrassing) I have taken the steps that believers asked me to take in order to arrive at the result they arrived at namely God speaking to them. I ended up empty handed every single time. When I still held to a belief in a god and when I prayed, though I didn’t pray often I never felt the presence of anything but the air surrounding me.

If hearing God’s voice is strong empirical proof for you that he exists, then getting no results from praying and even praying in a way that believers tell me I should is strong empirical evidence that there is nothing there to which can be prayed. Maybe just maybe the reason why I felt nothing when I prayed (even at the time when I needed it to work the most) and why different believers experience different deities has nothing to do with an actual deity and everything to do with your brain playing tricks on you, which of course are reinforced by taking certain actions.

 

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

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