Absence of Evidence…

is evidence of absence. At least in some cases. Since this is a blog about Atheism, it will of course pretain to the issue of theism and the existence of God. To illustrate what I mean let me give you a few examples to defend my initial thesis.

The first example is the following claim: “Last Sunday I ate Döner Kebab for Dinner.”

The nature of this claim is of course trivial. Since today is Wednesday it would be expected, that I already cleaned up my dishes, so there is not much evidence to be expected. Since this claim however is trivial in nature, one can be reasonably justified in believing the assertion despite the lack of evidence. To the contrary most people would raise an eyebrow, when somebody demanded to see the verifiable evidence of it.

I think this would be a good example of a case where absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In this case my mere testimony, my mere assertion about this trivial claim warrants acceptance (except if I was known as a notorious liar, who regularly lies about what he ate for dinner but let’s leave that aside).

Quite another claim would be this: ” Last Sunday, I ran into Emma Watson by sheer accident and I invited her to my home, where we enjoyed eating a delicious lobster.”

Now the nature of this claim is quite different, isn’t it? You would have every right to call me crazy without any evidence at all, and even if I were to produce photos with me and Emma Watson eating lobster, you would still be rationally justified in rejecting my claim. What are the odds, that it did indeed happen and that I have no verification for it? They are very, very small indeed. Sure no one can disprove it, but at what point is it fair for someone to call Bullshit and say that it did not happen?

Now to the third claim: ” An omniscient, omnipotent personal being created the Universe and everything in it including us and about 2000 years ago he impregnated a Virgin who gave birth to the son of God/God incarnate who worked miracles his entire life, was later crucified and rose from the dead, three days after crucifixion.”

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say, that the nature of this claim beats the other by a landslide. If this is the case, then we should expect to find a ton of evidence, especially since this being wants to have a personal relationship with us and desires for us to believe this claim. A great amount of evidence is to be expected a priori.

We have spent at least close to 1000 years to establish the existence of deities. The first man to make a serious attempt to prove God’s existence, was made by Anselm of Canterbury with the ontological argument in 1078. We went on to the 5 ways of Thomas Aquinas, we all know of the moral argument and most recently of course we have the Kalam Cosmological argument and Intelligent Design arguments.

I think none of them are valid and I think ultimately all of them fall short to prove anything. You may disagree with me on that point but that’s irrelevant for this article.

If I’m right, then we have zero evidence for an extraordinary claim for which we can reasonably expect a whole lot of evidence. If we don’t find evidence then what’s more likely: The extraordinary claim being true despite a lack of evidence, where evidence is expected or the claim being false? Ultimately it’s for you to decide but to me, it’s a no brainer.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation



Atheism shall set you free

People who hold a belief in God often ask me why I would subscribe to such a depressing Worldview as Atheism or specifically Naturalism. I suspect that this entry  will be similar to previous entries, where I explained why I not only do not believe in gods but why it’s also a good thing, that  there is no evidence for them (as far as I’m aware).

Still, I want to summarize why I as an Atheist don’t want deities to exist. My first reason is of course, that if God exists (or all meaningful definitions of him), then we would be forced to follow his rules or fear certain consequences. Those consequences are of course punishments in this life like tragedies etc. being born in another life in a low social status ,like the Hindus believe or punishment in form of an afterlife.

Why would I want to be in ownership of anybody? Theism entails, that God owns us and while we wouldn’t have to adhere to him (and I hope I wouldn’t) God does come with consequences, which I don’t desire and which I think no one should desire.

Now there are of course certain consequences, which theists would assert are desirable. If we adhere to this being and follow his rules, then we will spend an eternity of bliss alongside him in heaven.

I have 3 reasons against Heaven being good and one caveat but ultimately I find my 3 reasons convincing to me at least.

First the Caveat: My relatives. Some of my relatives are already dead, mainly one of my grandmothers as well as and most importantly my mother. It’s a complicated story, which I don’t want to talk about on this post but under my belief system I’ll never see her again. I would give a whole lot, just to talk to her one more time. It makes me sad, that I won’t have that opportunity anymore.

Now for my reasons:

My first reason is, that it would make me sick to my stomach, to spend eternity alongside a deity, who sends others for eternity to hell. He could of course (as some Christians suggested to me he would) manipulate my mind in such a way, that I wouldn’t know, that people were in hell. In that case, the person that is in Heaven could no longer be my true self.

But hey there’s a really simple way out of this one: Maybe hell doesn’t exist in the first place. There are theists who reject hell. Wouldn’t that mean that God is a good God as he rewards everybody? The theist would think so, but Heaven to me sounds utterly terrible. I don’t know where I found this quote or who it could be attributed to but I find it fitting:


Does this sound like a Paradise to you? Eternity is not only a long time to be wrong it’s a long time period.  Way too long for me.

The third and most important point: What purpose does this life serve? Why would I try to accomplish anything? Why would I go to University? If merely believing in a deity and worshipping it gets me everything I want or need, why waste my time trying to accomplish anything? I’m just as fine of, sitting at home all day, getting food paid from my state and watching TV. The accomplishments however little they are to an Almighty, are meaningful to me because they are mine. They make me proud and give me purpose. But in the end if theism is true, it was all for nothing as sitting in my home and praying would at the very least have the same, if not a better result, then trying to be successful.

Atheism gets rid of all that baggage and while death is frightening, to me at least it’s better than the alternative that is eternal life. Atheism has set me free.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Elaborating on Atheism (1)

Yesterday I read a blog post about by “The Closet Atheist @thclosetatheist concerning the different kinds of Atheism and what kind of Atheist he is. You can read the post here:

What Type of Atheist Am I?

Since this is an interesting topic, that many are confused about (especially theists) I thought I might as well write about this topic myself. I’m going down the list found here and we’ll see where I end up:

So the difference that we can draw is gnostic Atheism vs agnostic Atheism i.e. whether someone claims that he knows that God doesn’t exist vs someone who doesn’t know but doesn’t believe in a God.

I would have to say, that I fall into a middle ground between those two but I would have to go with agnostic. I do claim to know, that certain deities do not exist. For example the kind of God that Ken Ham believes in, the God that created the universe and life 6000 years ago does NOT exist. Period. On the other hand, the Christian God Yahweh who used evolution (although there needs to be reconciliation with scripture) and raised Jesus from the dead may or may not exist. I don’t think it’s likely that he does but I can’t know, that he doesn’t.

The next one would be strong Atheism vs weak Atheism i.e. merely lacking belief vs strong Atheism where one claims that no gods exist.

Essentially it’s the same as above. I’m a strong Atheist or a weak Atheist based on the proposed deity. It depends on the case.

Then we have broad Atheism vs Narrow Atheism.

I would probably fall under both categories again. While I can’t fully deny the existence of all gods, as I am not aware of all the gods all people in the world have believed in, do believe in and will believe in I can confidently assert, that Zeus or Thor or Ra certainly do not exist. I am narrow in the sense, that I affirm, that omnipotent omniscience and omnibenevolence are incoherent and self refuting concepts, that are as it seems to me, incompatible with the world as well as with Christian/Muslim/Mor(m)on theology. The traditional omni-God doesn’t exist. Now that doesn’t mean that Yahweh or Allah don’t exist, it means that the definition would have to be adjusted. God as defined with the omni-attributes doesn’t exist. A weaker God potentially could.

The next category would be “Difference in the Assessed Rationality of Theism” .

This may surprise some people but I do believe one can be justified in believing a deity.

When one has for example a “personal revelation” from God (as he claims, I don’t think he truly does), then he has confirmation and evidence for himself. Based on that, as long as it doesn’t contradict overwhelming evidence, that the deity from which he got the revelation doesn’t exist (for example if the deity denies observed reality) he has the justification to believe. If however, overwhelming evidence comes forward that the theist is wrong, then he is not justified.

this article will be continued in a future post.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

My take on theistic evolution

The following blog entry will probably be a little bit more controversial, than others from the past.It is my personal opinion, that evolution and theism (especially the 3 Abrahamic religions) are very hard to reconcile. I think it is possible to reconcile them and I applaude everybody, who accepts the fact of evolution but I do think acceptance of evolution raises serious theological issues, that need to be addressed.

I do by no means attempt to talk anybody out of his faith here, or even worse talk anybody out of his acceptance of evolution, I am merely listing the problems, that I see with theistic evolution. It should also be noted, that I am not too familiar with organisations like BioLogos who seek to reconcile the two. I haven’t delved too deep into their work. Without further ado, here are the problems, that I see with a God guided process of evolution:

The first major obstacle, that I see are the extinction events, that happened during the Earth’s History. There have been a total of 5 major extinctions. In order to believe in theistic evolution, one would need to believe, that it was God himself who caused the Permian Triassic extinction during which 57% of all families went extinct. It must’ve been God who threw the Asteroid into Earth’s direction causing the Dinosaurs to go extinct.


This is an outright cruel way, to accomplish the rise of his crowning species known as homo sapiens. This  takes the problem of evil to even more extreme heights. hundreds of millions of animals dying, because of this and a great amount of suffering in the aftermath, for those species who were lucky enough to survive as they struggled in the radically changed environment where food was scarce.

The second problem I see (mainly with Christianity but also the other Abrahamic religions) is that evidence indicates, that the human bottleneck was never even close to just two people (or six in the case of Noah later) and therefore we have a problem with Adam and Eve. As far as I’m concerned, besides Jesus, Adam and Eve are the most crucial figures to Christianity. No Adam means no sin, no sin means Jesus died for something else, not the reason that the Bible indicates, if his death had a purpose at all. Now I have heard of the proposition, that God might have selected out of the group of the first humans and from those 2 people (Adam and Eve) we descended. I fail to be convinced by this hypothesis.

The last problem, that I see is that it is clearly an ad hoc justification. The Bible is straight forward in Genesis, that God created life ex nihilo. Now one might wave that away by saying, that this is an allegory and that God just described it this way for the people of the time. Any attempt to add evolution into the Bible or the Torah or whatever, will be just that: Adding evolution into the Bible, because the Bible needs to be rescued. It is clear, that the people in biblical times did not believe in evolution.

Before I close let me reiterate once again: If you want to reconcile evolution with your theology, please do so. These are my reasons, why I am not convinced. I don’t want to talk you out your faith with this, I definitely don’t want to talk you out of evolution with this. I am merely stating why I am not unconvinced, that theistic evolution is true.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Nonbelief isn’t rejection

How many times have we all heard the following accusations: “Atheists are just rebelling against God.” or “You just want to sin, so you deny God” or “You hate God, that’s why you reject him.” I have heard them quite a lot, especially recently and I think it’s time to address this fundamentally flawed argument.

No I am not rejecting God. I have a genuine nonbelief, that Christianity/Islam (and other World religions) represents an accurate account of the reality we live in. If we all, as nonbelievers and as believers were to take an honest look at the claims, that the supposed “word of God” makes then I don’t think it’s a big stretch of the imagination, that some people can’t seem to buy into the scriptures.

Whether it’s a burning bush, or a talking snake or a global Flood, or Angels or a winged horse or a man walking on water and rising from the dead these claims are extraordinary. I realize, that many Christians and Muslims see at least some of the supernatural claims the scriptures make as allegory and that’s all fine and good but some things, that are essential to the respective religion, such as Jesus rising from the dead or Jesus ascending into Heaven are to me personally too much to be believed. I’m sorry but to all those who claim we “reject God”: You have to be more forgiving towards those, who don’t believe as you do.

Why do people accuse me and other Atheists of “rejecting God or rejecting Jesus”? Well I think it’s the case, because firstly, they assume, that we also believe in God and secondly that we want our “sinful” lifestyle so we simply don’t serve him.

Now it is true, that I want to live my life the way I see fit. It is also true, that my lifestyleand my beliefs are probably vastly different from the person who grew up learning, that the Bible is the word of God and that it’s absolutely true and that we need to adhere to it. Yes I take Gods name in vain, I never go to church (never did even when I still believed in a god), I never pray, I watch movies that some Christians would never watch, I listen to inappropriate music and so on and so forth.

Again I don’t do these things, because I don’t accept God’s authority, I don’t do it in rebellion because God can’t tell me what to do, I do it, because I enjoy my lifestyle, I enjoy my finite life that I believe will end at death and I do it precisely because I don’t believe in a deity that would punish me for eternity if I don’t adhere to it (I don’t believe in deities in general).

If I did hold the belief, that Christianity is true and I need to avoid Hell, then I probably would adhere to God simply because I don’t want to be burned. I wouldn’t be good buddies with God and I wouldn’t want to follow his commands but I would see myself forced to do so anyways. It’s just common sense, that rejecting a deity won’t save me from the consequences, that Christians think will await me. It’s also common sense that the consequences aren’t desirable. So why would I willingly reject God? If you don’t think I’m plain dumb then I wouldn’t. So why do I live my life the way I do: Not because I reject God’s authority but because I don’t believe, that there’s an authority to reject.

My actions are not the result of rebellion against God or rejection of God or Allah or Jesus, they’re the result of genuine nonbelief.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation