I was checking in on some discussion boards I used to post regularly on and came across the following statement by an atheist in response to a discussion over the Bible:
Atheist: All interpretation of the bible is subjective. You don't hold the final word on it. It's all in your own mind and isn't absolute. Nothing is.
If this gal had left off the last sentence, she probably wouldn't have gotten my attention. After all, she was just sharing her own opinion about another gal's interpretation of the Bible - nothing remarkable there. But that last sentence ... "nothing is [absolute]" made my ears perk up as it does anytime I hear it.
The following was my response to her:
BK: Nothing is absolute? Does that include your assertion above?
Of course, I was referring to her assertion that "all interpretation of the Bible is subjective". The point being that she was undercutting her very own ability to argue by making the claim that "nothing is absolute."
Her response to me:
Atheist: But, I never claimed that my assertion was absolute. So, if mine is not, then neither is hers. It's all her subjective opinion - nothing else.
Here she fails to see that the very making of an assertion implies that it is true, and not relatively true. For instance ... "all men are mortal" implies that every man, in every case, is mortal. "God exists" implies that God exists, not just "for me". That's the nature of making unqualified assertions such as "nothing is absolute"; they imply that what is being stated is absolutely true.
Here's my next response:
BK: So if your assertion is not absolute then it is relative, meaning its truth varies, meaning it is at least possible that some things are indeed absolute. Therefore, in this context it entails that it is possible that her opinion of scripture is not subjective after all - at least according to what you have asserted.
It was at this point that things got interesting. Here is her reply:
Atheist: No, my assertion that nothing is absolute could be absolute - because there is still that possibility - according to your way of thinking.
A true Christian would not believe that one person who posts here has the "absolute" interpretation of Scripture. If there was "one absolute interpretation" of the Christian bible, there wouldn't be so many Christian sects that branched out because they interpreted the words differently.
Nothing is absolute, as I said.
I found it remarkable that this person would make such a bold statement as she did about what a "true Christian" would believe about the Bible. After all, where does she get her perception of what a "true Christian" would believe, if not from the Bible itself? And didn't she just say earlier that all interpretation of the Bible was subjective?
Well ... read my response:
BK: No, because then there would be something which was absolute! Think about it ... if your assertion "nothing is absolute" were absolute, then your assertion would be incorrect. It would be absolutely wrong. My way of thinking is simply taking your comments to their logical conclusion.
More to the point - if nothing is absolute, then this includes any claims you make, including your claim that anyone's view of scripture is subjective. My comment earlier did not remove the possibility that her claims are, in fact, subjective - it simply brought to light that it is possible they may not be, which is in direct contradiction to your assertion that they are.
I thought perhaps at this point I had made it clear what the issue was. But instead I received the following response:
Atheist: Just as I said ... Nothing including all your inane verbiage there is absolute.
And so the game was over. No further desire to interact or address what I said - just a dismissal of my response and a labeling of it as "inane verbiage".
Here was my final reply, which I have yet to receive a response to:
BK: Is it that you don't understand what I am saying? Is that the problem?
"Nothing is absolute". The term "nothing" is universal, meaning your assertion implies that even your assertion is not absolute.
1. If it is true that your assertion is absolute, then your assertion that nothing is absolute is false.
2. If it is not true that your assertion is absolute, then your assertion is of no consequence.
Either way, your assertion undermines itself, either in refuting itself or in making it inconsequential.
Now please understand that this is not a shot against Atheists or Atheism at all - it is a demonstration of a lack of critical thinking. This could have just as easily been a Christian as an Atheist. Unfortunately too many times it is.