Recently, the brisbane atheist meetup group was attacked by rather nasty troll who called himself Proofthatgodexists ('the troll') whose website is full of the usual theist word games.
The troll proceeded to make various statements such as
"God, as He has revealed to us, is universal, abstract, and invariant"The atheists online made several points to the troll that he is actually assuming, in that statement and in others, that he has absolute certainty about logic. When we put this issue to him, he repeatedly noted that his worldview was correct because it was. Now, for someone that claimed to have absolute knowledge about logic, this arguments seemed a little light on the ground.
Not satisfied with our critique of the worldview that he advanced (which he asked for mind you), he then set about attacking the world view of other members of the group. For instance,
Problem is, science is dependent on the unifromity of nature, another conceptWe tried to explain to the troll that science had worked in the past and accordingly we considered it was reliable, but that we could not be absolutely certain the method would always work. Thus, the method - like everything, was imperfect knowledge such that it was very probable that it could be true but we did not discount the possibility of it being wrong.
which does not comport with any atheistic worldview. The only reason science can
be done is because we proceed on the assumption that nature is uniform, or 'the
future is like the past.' Without that assumption, science would be impossible.
I account for the uniformity of nature in the promises of God. On what basis do
YOU believe that the sceintific method is valid?
Of course, it probably didnt help matters that we had made fun of the trolls website by quoting some of the statement there, like the following Q & A:
Why should I become a Christian?
You should become a Christian because Christianity is true.
Could God have used fallible people to write an infallible book?
Of course, He is God after all.
Why must the God proven on this site be the God of Christianity?
The God proven on this site must be the God of Christianity because He is the only God that HAS been proved here. No other version of God is logically defensible. The God of Christianity is the only God who makes sense out of human experience.
So you can probably empathise with what sort of nutjob we are talking about here, as well as why he seemed to become so upset that we did not accept what he said. I pointed out that the foundation of his belief in God was the Bible, so I asked him:-
Of course, seeing as you are merely a human brain it is necesary for us to recognise that it is your interpretation of those words [the Bible] that you have faith in - could you be wrong?
If yes, then you cannot be sure that you know God.
If no, then you are infallible and equal to God.
So, which one is it?
His response was not to answer, but rather to ask a nonsensical question (this would continue for a couple of days - at least):-
Again, this begs the question in that it assumes that God COULD not reveal someWe asked him repeatedly for some evidence that God HAD revealed something to him in such a way that we can know them for certain. Such evidence was not given. Furthermore, as we continued to show that all knowledge could be doubtful (even that statement) because it came from imperfect minds (ie humans and trolls) we found our friend getting further and further from his intial statement to:-
things to us in such a way that we can know them for certain.
expectation that the future will even probably be like the past. THAT my friend
is proceeding on the expectation that nature is uniform, and is inconsistent
with any atheistic view of the universe.
Actually, it was an expections that nature will probably act in a certain way. Not certainty that it would act in a certain way - our troll, however, was beginning to fully depart from his position. Interestingly, it happened on another thread of the same website where we were discussing morality. The troll, who continued to complain about consistency and was getting increasingly agitated (posting 6 times in one day) made the generous statement that:-
Well, I never claimed to have absolute knowledge, but if I did, you really can't be certain that I haven't provided any evidence now can you?Oh, we can be pretty sure Mr troll. We can be pretty sure.
So, where does this all get us?
The truth is a really difficult nut to crack. When you get a glimmer of something that seems true it usually only takes a second peak to realise there is something wrong with it. Why? Well, in order to know something absolutely you would have to have:-
1. Observed the same event; and,
2. That event must happen the same way
Otherwise we cannot discount the possibility of the event happening a different way in some other place in the universe. Humans cant really do that, we are limited mortal creatures that have not, and cannot, observe the entire universe. Thus, as Bertrand Russell pointed out, can a human brain hold absolute truth?
This position requires us to acknowledge that we could be wrong about anything (including this statement). Conversely, a person that believes they have absolute truth must think a human brain is infallible, their own. Through all the rants and raves though - I think I have found a response that may settle our troll, both in relation to his continuing agression towards the Brisbane Atheist Meetup group members as well as in relation to his claims of absolute proof. I offer Proverbs 29:22-23
An angry man stirs up strife and a furious man abounds in transgression. AI again quote the trolls statements:-
man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain
You accept the validity of your ability to reason on faith (blind faith at that), whereas I accept the validity of my reasoning as I know that it is a gift from God. Of the two of us, you are the one offering the faith-based argument.You could be wrong about that too ;)