When I was in college I made a nuisance of myself once by finding the slope of a vertical line (which, we are told, is ‘undefined.’) Impossible, you say. As did the math instructor. But I ‘found’ it by rotating the grid beneath the line and recalculated, for now, of course, the line wasn’t perfectly vertical anymore.
You may say that this was a cheap trick and doesn’t really find the slope of a ‘vertical’ line. You might say that we are required, by assumption, to take the graph in a certain way. I might reply that that is only an assumption and there is nothing that says I can’t rotate the grid back and forth as it suits my fancy. If I want to find the slope of the vertical line I can change the grid for a moment and then change it back. To this you might say that this is all well and good but the net result of such an approach is that you couldn’t trust any slope measurement and moreover, the whole program seems designed specifically to attack one particular mathematical proposition (ie, a vertical line has an undefined slope).
Such an exercise illustrates what anyone worth their salt already understands: most of what we believe is true rests on assumptions which can’t themselves be demonstrated. The data of our experience is set upon a particular ‘grid’ or ‘graph’ which by convention we accept and adopt.
In order to make any progress at all, we have to posit a certain ‘alignment’ of our graph. Here now is the problem: What if in the course of talking someone they begin by having the same alignment as you but halfway through they ‘rotate’ their grid – specifically to undermine a particular assertion you’ve just made- and then hoping you don’t notice, rotate it back? And how if you call them on this, they denied that they performed such a rotation and/or that there was never an agreed upon frame of reference in the first place?
Or, how if you don’t begin with the same ‘alignment’ in hand at all? Now the two people are setting their data in different frames of references and their calculations may be using the same formulas but the conclusions will be different? How could it be that either individual could say that the other is ‘wrong’ in their ‘calculations’?
This is precisely what transpires every day in debates between theists and atheists. I can produce no better example than a recent thread on my discussion forum titled: “Is Christianity inherently immoral?” Inherently. From Merriam-Webster: Inherently: involved in the constitution or essential character of something : belonging by nature or habit. The argument put forward then asks whether or not there is something wrong about Christianity by the very nature of the thing- in other words, absolutely!
But the idea that there can be things ‘absolutely wrong’ is not a proposition that most atheists will agree on because it would then quite obviously beg the question as to the source and nature of the absolute frame of reference that would need to exist if there are things right, and things wrong. The atheist in the thread cited does not believe there exists an absolute right or wrong but he asks if there is something ‘inherently’ wrong with Christianity. This is an example of assuming a frame of reference in order to make the point and then when asked to justify taking on that frame of reference, the atheist denies that any frame of reference is ultimate. That should render his accusations empty and idiosyncratic, even in his own mind.
It does not, and the reason why is that whatever our words are, we all nonetheless believe there is an objective, absolute frame of reference, and as such there are conclusions inherent to that.
Another example is also frequently expounded on my discussion forum is the atheistic scheme of interpreting religions on evolutionary lines. Evolution is assumed to be true in their analysis, of course, and naturally atheism is assumed to be true in their analysis, and this of course requires that many religious claims can’t be true. They then plunk their data down on their frame of reference and begin making bold assertions about the evolutionary history of religions and put those conclusions up against others as facts. But they are only ‘facts’ when on their particular grid.
Here the question is not whether or not their facts are facts but whether or not we should accept their presuppositions. The problem is that atheists, almost every single one of them, want to have their cake and it too. They want to rotate their grid around however it pleases them. They want to make moral pronouncements (ie, like, ‘it is wrong to tell a woman what to do with her own body’ or ‘saying people are bad before they are even born is wrong’) but deny that there is no absolute moral framework. This allows them to look down their nose at your moral positions but evade the implication that there are transcending realities.
You might be saying, “Ok, but we still have to figure out how we decide to align our grids. If it is mere convention even if the resulting conclusions have significant, then those conclusions are only relatively significant.”
If, if, if, it is all mere convention, that is certainly true. And atheists almost uniformly believe that truth statements rest on ‘grids’ aligned on convention. This then is what sets the two systems apart: both agree that you must have your grid aligned, but only Christianity insists that there is an inherent alignment. It is the only way that moral questions have force. It is the only way that science- real science- works. On and on it goes. Both atheists and Christians act as though there is an inherent alignment, but only Christians admit that there actually is one.
Atheists want to have their cake and eat it, too. They want to find certain things morally repugnant but not be held accountable to the implications. They want to raise logic and reason as superior to ‘faith’ and religion but don’t want to admit the implications inherent in saying something is ‘superior’. They want to find Christians ‘arrogant’ as though ‘arrogance’ is inherently recognizable as bad (and it is) but not admit that there are absolute claims.
And the proof of all that I have said will be validated once atheists begin objecting to this post. They will want to declare themselves innocent of the charges! As if there was some sort of universal basis for those charges to have weight… In defending themselves, they prove the point.