How deities die…

I’m sure many who of you who are reading this will be familiar with the god-awful (pun intended) movie “God’s not Dead” and it’s sequel. I’m not going into detail of why I hate the movie and I’d even hate it as a deist (One word: #Strawman ) but the title of the movie raises an issue: What does it mean for God to die or for God to be dead?

The Man of course who first talked about God being dead was Friedrich Nietzsche. He however meant something completely different than the film producers of the movie when he talked about God’s death. While the producers wanted to address the issue of whether he exists, God being dead has a completely different meaning to Nietzsche.

What Nietzsche really meant when he said that “God is dead” is that people live in a post-religious society, they live in a society where a particular God and the doctrine for which he stands is no longer believed in. Neither is his moral standard binding for a society that has killed God. In short the death of deities is nonbelief in them.

We do in fact thousands of dead Gods that may or may not exist (like Zeus or Thor) but the fact that our behavior is no longer informed by belief in those deities, the fact that no one truly believes in them and considers it likely that they may exist has buried those deities into the ground.

But what is it exactly that killed all those deities? Well first and foremost it’s cultural change which can of course be reached many different ways. One way would be the start of a new popular religion that utterly replaces the old one. It may be the case that a war broke out and after a state was conquered, the religion of the victors was declared the state religion that everyone should believe in. Subsequently the old deity was no more.

However the best and most effective way to put the final nail in the coffin of any deity is one thing: Knowledge!

Just think about how many gods have been killed because their existence became redundant to us. We now know that it isn’t Ra who makes the sun rise, it is in fact the case that the Earth rotates around the sun and day and night are an inevitable result.

We now know that we weren’t created by a deity we evolved by a process which may or may not have been guided by a deity but which functions without one.

We live in a world today, where science is our best method of explaining things. Science is our tool to discover the Universe. Knowledge is no longer gained by divine revelation, at least some divine revelations are debunked by the knowledge gained through science. Morality nowadays isn’t extrapolated from the Bible, it’s imposed upon it. We live in a society, where we solve moral issues by talking about it and trying to reason to the moral positions rather than taking the Pastor’s word for it.

Whether we realize it or not, the framework is shifting. the developed world is becoming more and more secular be it in the UK, be it in the rest of Europe be it in the USA as well.

Is God dead? No he isn’t but if the trend of science being the new way towards truth continues and if the world becomes more secular, then the death of a few more deities is inevitable.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Ignorance isn’t evidence

One common tactic I have frequently observed among believers is that some of them seem to be in the mindset, that if I as an Atheist can’t account for something, then their explanation somehow gets to win by default. Just a few days I found myself in an argument with a believer who insisted, that the Big Bang being false means that an Intelligent agent (God) must’ve done it. He presented the following trichotomy: “we have three options available: Either the Universe created itself or it came out of nothing or an Intelligent agent created it.” now the first 2 options are impossible meaning that “Goddidit”.

Now aside from the fact that this was clearly a false trichotomy, as I don’t hold either of these 3 positions, that person was blatantly and shamelessly arguing from ignorance.

“If option one and two are negated then my option number three gets to win.”

Except of course, that I see no reason why his proposed option is to be considered an option at all. There’s no reason to assume that God did it is a viable alternative. Truth be told, the Universe causing itself is illogical, as is the alternative that it came from nothing (under certain definitions of nothing at least) but I don’t see how a timeless, spaceless immaterial mind is a better alternative than “nothing”. We have no experience with either one and as far we know, everything that exists is bound by time space and matter. Unless one can demonstrate that a being can exist without these requirements, any argument for such a being is moot. There are many alternatives for our Universe: One option that wasn’t brought up at all was an eternal Universe. Despite the Protests of countless Apologists an eternal Universe is still viable. As would be that the Universe came out of something but we don’t know what this something exactly is.

But of course we all know, that the three most hated words by Theists (and by people in general) are the words: “We don’t know”. We humans hate mystery and nothing makes this more apparent, then arguments for the existence of God or arguments for Christianity.

This can also be observed in arguments for the resurrection: They challenge us, that we need to account for Jesus being crucified, the empty tomb, post mortem appearances and the spreading of Christianity. A common tactic is the attempt to shoot down alternative explanations:

Christians have no problem rejecting the option that Jesus survived crucifixion, claiming that he was so injured, that he couldn’t possibly have survived it. They then happily go on, that it’s more probable that he was raised from the dead. They also reject every other explanation and for very good reason as they are all improbable if not impossible. However they fail to apply that criticism to Jesus being raised and then say that it is the most viable alternative in spite of the fact, that it’s as impossible as a man surviving crucifixion.

I’m sorry Christians but your explanation is not better then mine and it’s not better then saying that we have an unexplained phenomenon here. If we accept that the sources we have are reliable enough to establish the 4 facts above (they’re not) then we have at best, an unexplained phenomenon. An unexplained phenonemon is not evidence for God it’s an unexplained phenomenon.

God does not get to win by default. Your proposed alternative isn’t any more viable than mine, if it is viable at all.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

My road to Atheism

My story of how I became an Atheist is probably not amongst one of the most spectacular ones you’ll ever hear but I still want to tell my story. So here it goes:

My Dad was a Catholic on paper (though I now know that he’s a deist) and my mother was a Protestant on paper as well, though in retrospective I don’t know if she believed in Jesus as we never really talked about religion at all. The first time I heard of Jesus was if I remember correctly, in my first visit of church as a little boy on Christmas. Christmas, along with Easter was pretty much the only time we went to church and we did it for cultural reasons because everybody else went as well. All in all I was raised deistically with a sense of apathy towards the subject of God. We just lived and enjoyed life (as we do now as well) and that was it.

I was taught about the world religions in school, with an emphasis on Christianity of course but we also learned about Islam and the other world religions and what other people believe. I’m glad that we learned about the different belief systems in the world, because this gave me the first bit of perspective that I needed: There’s much disagreement among religions and who has the right God and who doesn’t.

By the age of about 12 I completely rejected the notion  that Jesus was raised from the dead because at that time I came to know that the gospels borrowed from each other heavily and that we only got copies of copies of accounts written decades after the fact (I still can’t believe that my Catholic teacher told us that, yet she still believed it happened).

So Jesus was done for me at that point, but I still held on to some version of a deity. At that stage of my life I didn’t think about the topic at all and I didn’t really care all that much about the issue to be honest. I just figured if everybody believes it, then they must have some kind of justification.

At age 18 we learned about supposed evidences for God in school. These “evidences” included  the 5 ways of Thomas Aquinas. Though we weren’t given any rebuttals to these arguments, I intuitively knew, that there was something wrong with them. Later the same year we also learned about theodicy which culminated in an answer that I found quite frankly outrageous: God works in mysterious ways and we can’t always understand his reasoning for doing what he does.

However I still didn’t reflect upon the issue too much. I was intellectually unsatisfied with the supposed evidence and the solution to theodicy that was offered but I didn’t let go of the “prime mover” yet.

Then I discovered some famous YouTubers like Jaclyn Glenn and The Amazing Atheist (at that point I didn’t know what an Atheist was; I did know that there are people who don’t believe in God but I didn’t know the term). Watching some of their content also including some of their videos on Christianity and Islam, which I largely agreed with, must’ve programmed the YouTube algorithm somehow because then I came across Hemant Mehta the Founder of and I watched some of his videos which I again largely agreed with.

At that point I decided to investigate whether my belief in a deity was warranted. I found myself empty handed. After watching some debates including William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, David Silverman and Christopher Hitchens (wish you were still among us) as well as rebuttals from other YouTubers it only confirmed to me, that I really had no reason to believe. At that point I became an Atheist but didn’t want to be outspoken about it (and frankly I’m not an “in your face” Atheist in the real world though my Dad and a friend of mine who asked me knows about my Atheism) but then I watched the Nye vs Ham debate. I wanted to teach the bewildered followers of Ken Ham on Twitter how evolution works, however as I soon discovered, they weren’t basing their beliefs on reason and evidence but on faith alone.  I then found myself having fun in these discussions about science and God as well as Philosophy and after I saw what religion can do to people (like Ken’s ilk, but others as well) I decided to follow other Atheist accounts which led me to where I’m at today.

My road to Atheism was probably easier than for most former believers in deities and is probably not that interesting but that was how it happened.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Wind, Love and God’s existence

On Twitter, there are pretty much two types of Theists: The Apologists who frequently debate on God’s existence and evolution and have ready made arguments which I think we’re all familiar with and then there are the ones who generally don’t challenge themselves too much and don’t tend to interact with Atheists normally. While I am always up to joining in on a good debate, I generally like the second group better, since genuine conversation is much better reached with them. With these people it’s not about throwing out WLC type apologetics, it’s about reaching mutual understanding for each other. It’s about explaining where you’re coming from and why you hold the positions you hold.

While they don’t really debate, they do bring up one argument that I have heard way too often. Normally I wouldn’t bother criticizing it, since it’s fallaciousness is so intuitively obvious but since it comes up quite often (to me anyways) it warrants a response.

The one argument that they usually make is this:

“You see, neither of us can see wind and neither of us can see love but we both believe in it. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It’s the same thing with God.”

Now it is true, that we all believe in wind and love despite not seeing it (or at least not directly seeing it).

The belief in these things however is completely justified despite the fact, that we can’t observe them. Why? Because we can observe the effects that wind has on the environment. We can see what wind does to trees. We can measure how heavy the wind is blowing and we can objectively confirm that wind exists.

It’s the same with love: We can’t directly observe it (at least not without scanning the brain) but we can see the effects of love. We can see when people show a great amount of affection towards one another, we can see the love a mother has for her child through her actions. And if we you’re not on board at this point than we still have a scientific explanation for love.

One might say that we also can observe the effects of God in our daily lives. You might think that God works in such fantastic ways in your life. He answers prayers, he build you up when you’re depressed he has healed your addiction or even your disease etc.

These incidences however are purely anecdotal in nature and not objectively measurable. You might have a very strong feeling that it was God, I might have the feeling that it was just luck or my own willpower.

Now it is true, that during a disease prayer may help your healing process. I don’t dispute that at all. This however is easily attributable to the placebo effect. If you’re fully convinced that it works, then it just might work.

I have yet to see any non-trivial measurement of God in the same way, that love and wind can be measured. All we have for God are anecdotes and subjective effects that may or may not be attributable to God or our biases or something else entirely.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation




Made in man’s image

Have you ever wondered, why God seems to always be on the side of the Theist making a moral judgement? Have you ever wondered, why (some) Theists are getting agressive when you proclaim nonbelief in their deity? Often they first accuse me of rejecting or hating God even though in principle it couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead of having a clear and friendly dialogue about evidence, I find myself very often at the receiving end of threats, insults and accusations.

The explanation of these phenomena is the one thing, that Theists don’t want to be true: Man made God in his image. To be clear I’m not making the argument, that a god or the Christian God doesn’t exist. I am making the argument, that even if the Christian God or Allah or whatever exist, the concepts of these Gods that Theists have in mind are man made.

See, when we read the Bible or the Qu’ran or the book of Mor(m)on nobody reads it with a completely clean slate. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we drag our biases and our character into evaluating this book (or any other book) and we interpret certain verses differently, we might emphasize certain characteristics described in the Bible while ignoring others and we begin to form a concept of God in our head, that is on side based on what the book says and on the other based on who we are ourselves.

There’s a reason why there are different denominations of Christianity. There’s a reason why there are Pastors standing on the Bible preaching a message, that some devout Christians cannot agree with. There’s a reason why Theists subscribe to Divine Command Theory and won’t let go off it no matter how many atrocities in the Bible you can point out.

God is a reflection of themselves. Once again, this is irrespective of whether he exists. He may or may not exist, but various Christians or Muslims see their God in various different lights, because the concept that they have, is shaped by them.Two believers can look at the same verse and argue all day, what it implies and in fact they do.If you point out a challenging verse to them, they have no choice but to try to explain it away. If they were to admit, that God is not good by any meaningful definition of the term, They would likewise in their head have to admit, that they worship a monster. Nobody sees himself as a monster, so they defend the most absurd verses.

Likewise if you don’t believe in their deity, people can become outraged. After all God is so real to them. God has shown himself to them and he works in their lives everyday. He makes them feel good. He knows them intimately well. Then again, there are other believers who are Calvinists, claiming to worship the same God, who is radically different from the concept of most Christians.

If one of the Abrahamic religions is true and if you find yourself in Heaven with him one day, you’ll realize that it’s just like the date with your dreamperson: You imposed characteristics on him/her and in reality he/she is quite different. A God might exist, but if he does, the sound of shattering glass will be in more than one head.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation