Saturday, January 27, 2007

"It can be lonely up here looking down at the rest of you poor pions from the top of the world!" :-(

His Exaltedness, the Right Rev. Vincent Cheung, Dominus Apostolicus, Pontifex Maximus, Archiepiscopal Exarch, Hierarch of all Hierarchs, and Prefect of the per obitum hath graciously condescended to proffer a reply to his most lowly and unworthy servants. In the red-lettered words of the Exalted One:

If you think that something like this can threaten my ministry's survival, I seriously question your intelligence and wonder how much confidence you can have in Christianity itself. I had no respect for you by the time I finished the first paragraph of your message. You are a weakling.

I take great offense that you call many of them "cripples" when it comes to argumentation, and reduce all of them to your level of incompetence. Speak for yourself. I certainly did not allow you to "enter into the world of argument" with this bad attitude. It got my attention this time, but not in a good way, and only so that I could make an example of you.

Do not think that this ministry is mainly about apologetics just because we are very good at it — there is no simpler way to put this.

In fact, I wonder if these objections are meant to destroy me by flattery rather than by argument, because if this is my Achilles heel, and if to misrepresent me as an atheist is one of the best objections, then I am pretty much invincible.

I have spoken harshly to the sender of the message, but I still want this person to do well. I wish him to realize that it is wrong to blame me when the problem lies within himself.

There is no need to despair, but humble yourself and do not blame other people for your shortcoming.

As for the critic who raised the objection, he might read this response and attempt another one. I will probably ignore him, or more likely, I will be unaware of his new attack. But this does not mean that I cannot answer him, or that you cannot answer him. The fact that he was unable to even describe my position, but left God completely out of the picture, betrayed his incompetence and irreverence. Whether he is a man of no account or one of reputation makes no difference to me, I implore him to repent of his atheism and embrace the simple reality and power of God. What he has against me is trivial and I harbor no bitterness toward him — he has a much greater problem than I can ever give him or wish upon anyone. And please, do not send me anymore objections from this person or anyone related to him. He is just not good enough. He possesses an altogether lower class of intellect. There is no competition, no comparison — I have no interest in him and no use for him.

Because the wisdom of God is so vastly superior to the wisdom of man, I will always win any debate with almost disheartening ease. It is this confidence that I wish to impart to every Christian. Indeed, humanly speaking, it can be lonely here looking down at the rest from the top of the world.

http://www.vincentcheung.com/2007/01/23/blinded-by-atheism/

Wow! I haven’t seen such abject modesty since Adenoid Hynkel played bounce the ball with his inflatable globe of the world.

The only difference is that Charlie Chaplin was trying to be funny, while Cheung is unintentionally comical.

Other scenes which come to mind include Herr Hynkel’s attempt to seat Napoloni on a low-lying chair so that Hynkel can tower over him—as well as the barber-seat competition, in which Hynkel tries to pump himself higher than Napolini, and vice versa.

But I digress.

Continuing with His Exaltedness:

“Call me a liar first before you call me a coward.”

This, friends, is what is known in logic as a false dichotomy.

At last we come to the Exalted One’s crushing confutation of my Lilliputian argument:

***QUOTE***

THE SECRET ATHEISM

As for the objection, I could protest the analogy, but for now let us work with it anyway. As usual, there is a whole list of things wrong with this one. Here I will take time to mention only the most crucial error. This alone is sufficient to refute the objection, and to do a whole lot more.

Read the entire objection again. I will repeat a portion of it here: "You see, for Cheung, Scripture is like a safe. Occasionalism is the combination. But there's one little snag: the combination is locked away in the safe. Cheung is telling us that he gets the combination (occasionalism) from the safe. But he can only open the safe if he already has the combination in hand. How does he know that occasionalism is the correct combination to open the safe if the combination is written on a piece of paper inside the safe?"

What is wrong with this picture? Do you see what is missing? THINK! Do not assume this person has it right. Whether or not you agree with my epistemology or occasionalism, recount in your mind the process or all the factors involved in my exposition. Then, read the analogy again and see what is missing. Please take at least several seconds to do this before reading on.

Here is the problem: Where in the world is GOD in this analogy? God — remember him? In my exposition of biblical occasionalism, I refer to God's constant and active power again, and again, and again, and again, and again. It is the defining factor in both my metaphysics and epistemology. So, although I put God before him over, and over, and over, and over again, this critic completely blocks God out in his thinking, and in his representation of my epistemology. If the critic is an unbeliever, then he has simply disregarded my belief in God — the very thing we disagree about in the first place — in order to refute my knowledge of God. If the critic is a professing believer, then it is even worse, for this betrays the irreverence — even secret atheism — in his thinking. How is it possible that I can put God before the face of a "Christian" again and again, and then he answers me as if God is absent from the conversation, as if I never mentioned him? This is his "secret fudge-factor" — atheism.

He writes, "He can only open the safe if he already has the combination in hand." This might be true in his atheistic analogy, but in my Christian worldview, where there is a God, the Almighty tears open the door — or any other barrier — and imparts to me his knowledge. Biblical occasionalism is God-centered and God-empowered. But just as an atheist often makes the mistake of removing God out of a believer's worldview when interacting with it, this man-centered critic assumes that his opponent is man-centered as well. Whereas the most crucial factor in my occasionalism is God, in his representation of my view, he puts everything into the analogy except God. He refers to occasionalism as if it is an independent and impersonal thing or a method that is operated by the human person, which is precisely the opposite of what I affirm, although this might be how a self-centered empiricist think [sic.] about his sensations.

"Cheung is cheating"? But who is really cheating? This person removes God from my epistemology when this is the crucial factor. And in fact, from the metaphysical viewpoint, God is the only necessary factor in my position. This relates to another problem with the analogy that I will not discuss in detail — it represents my entire position in physical terms, even though my occasionalism is such that it can work in a dream, in a purely spiritual world, or in heaven, and the Bible is the physical representation of that portion of God's mind that he has revealed to us. That is, if you destroy all physical copies of the Bible, you have not destroyed the "word of God" that is in my epistemology. I have said this a number of times in different ways.

If you take out God from my epistemology, then of course it is going to fail. There is no shame in admitting this. In fact, if you remove God, then Christianity itself fails. Yes, if Christianity becomes atheism, that is indeed a problem. But if you remove God by force and rule him out of the conversation, then there is really no point to this debate at all. For me, if God is gone, then all is lost. You might as well take it all, since it will no longer matter to me what epistemology is right or wrong, or which approach to philosophy and apologetics is best. Still less will I care about what this critic has to say.

I have laid out my case for biblical occasionalism in metaphysics and epistemology in several places and in different ways. I have responded to attacks a number of times. But how about my critics? Where is the case for empiricism? If there is no proof for it, then who is riding this out? And now that I have answered this objection, I ask again: If my critics cannot defend empiricism, then how are they able to read the Bible, and how are they able to read my works so as to criticize them?

***END-QUOTE***

At risk of being struck by lightening for my impiety, for presuming to question the Lord High Commissioner of the Universe, I will tender a few obsequious comments on His unanswerable answer:

1.The Exalted One fails to distinguish between my position and His own. I am not presenting my own position. I am merely critiquing His. What role God may play in my own epistemology is irrelevant to what role God may play in His.

For a man of His colossal intellect—and don’t take my word for it, just ask Him!—Cheung is oddly obtuse about this rather elementary distinction.

2.For the record, special revelation is far more central to my own epistemology than to Cheung’s.

As an indirect realist, I do not believe that, left to our own devices, we can know very much about what the sensible world is really like. For we are unable to escape our own subjectivity and interiority.

But with the benefit of special revelation, we can enjoy a God’s-eye view of the world. Special revelation supplies an intersubjectival check on our sensory impressions.

God’s knowledge isn’t filtered through the senses. And by knowing a little of what God knows, via God’s self-disclosure, we can compare our impressions of the world with the world depicted in Scripture.

And there is also, thanks to God, a systematic correlation between sense and object. For God as made the sensible world and the human percipient in a state of mutual adaptation.

3.By contrast, Cheung’s epistemology, as He Himself admits, renders Scripture superfluous—for occasionalism is a form of immediate and private revelation. If there were no Bible, the content of the Bible would, according to him, be piped directly into the consciousness of the Christian.

In fact, in Cheung’s epistemology, that scenario is more than hypothetical. For Him, the paper and ink of Scripture just is a stage prop since occasionalism is implanting Scriptural ideas in the mind of the subject by direct divine illumination.

So Cheung’s position is the polar opposite of sola Scriptura. His occasionalism represents the triumph of nulla Scriptura over sola Scriptura. Who needs a book when you have an instant, neural interface between God’s mind and man’s?

4.By definition, occasionalism is a form of divine agency. Cheung says I leave God out of my analogy. But God is already implicit in the very concept of occasionalism.

5.Notice that Cheung has not done a single thing to rebut my objection. He only says that God is the agent of occasionalism. But that was never in dispute.

What He’s failed to address, and what remains to resolve, is how He’d be in a position to know that. All He’s done is to paraphrase the original conundrum without moving one inch closer to its resolution. Interjecting “God” into every other sentence does nothing to extricate Himself from His self-inflicted quandary.

Once again, it’s passing strange that a thinker of His Olympian brilliance would be unable to see this.

6.Why does Cheung imagine that God needs to tear down natural barriers to knowledge? To whom does He attribute the creation of the world? Why does He regard God’s handiwork as a barrier to the revelation of God rather than a medium of divine revelation? Why would God erect a barrier to tear it down? Is Cheung an open theist?

Of does He believe that our world was made by a runaway Demiurge? And occasionalism must intervene to counteract the blinding effects of this rogue elephant? Is Cheung a Manichaean?

Why should nature be a door rather than a window? Wouldn’t it be simpler for God to install a window rather than bust down a door?

Any why does God need to bust the door open? Did he forget where he put the key?

7. He says He’s responded to His critics. Uh-huh:

http://www.reformed.plus.com/aquascum/

8.Finally, if Cheung is the invincible slayer of the infidels, why doesn’t he challenge a sophisticated atheist like Graham Oppy, Howard Sobel, or Nicholas Everitt to a formal, public debate? Watch Him route the enemy once and for all!

11 comments:

  1. Do the elders at your church read what you write on the internet? Do they notice the way you write? I don't get how someone like you gets to teach as a TA in a reformed seminary and get away with the stuff you post online. If Cheung is wrong, at least he doesn't write in a manner that makes him sound like an infant. No wonder the atheists make fun of you -- you sound just like them. Please think about this what I wrote and prevent yourself from responding with a childish remark about me.

    Stop acting like a child. If you're going to respond, then simply respond -- not whine about it. This is why I stop reading your stuff. Though I was first encouraged by your posts, I am now disappointed in them. I rather read (better and succinct)posts from Christians who have matured and don't carry a badge of elitism.

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  2. Eric,

    Nee ner nee ner nee ner, you don't have a weiner.

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  3. Steve said: By contrast, Cheung’s epistemology, as He Himself admits, renders Scripture superfluous—for occasionalism is a form of immediate and private revelation. If there were no Bible, the content of the Bible would, according to him, be piped directly into the consciousness of the Christian.

    In fact, in Cheung’s epistemology, that scenario is more than hypothetical. For Him, the paper and ink of Scripture just is a stage prop since occasionalism is implanting Scriptural ideas in the mind of the subject by direct divine illumination.

    So Cheung’s position is the polar opposite of sola Scriptura. His occasionalism represents the triumph of nulla Scriptura over sola Scriptura. Who needs a book when you have an instant, neural interface between God’s mind and man’s?

    --Yup. In the old days, we called that Neo-Orthodoxy

    Eric said:

    Do the elders at your church read what you write on the internet? Do they notice the way you write? I don't get how someone like you gets to teach as a TA in a reformed seminary and get away with the stuff you post online. If Cheung is wrong, at least he doesn't write in a manner that makes him sound like an infant. No wonder the atheists make fun of you -- you sound just like them. Please think about this what I wrote and prevent yourself from responding with a childish remark about me.

    Stop acting like a child. If you're going to respond, then simply respond -- not whine about it. This is why I stop reading your stuff. Though I was first encouraged by your posts, I am now disappointed in them. I rather read (better and succinct)posts from Christians who have matured and don't carry a badge of elitism.


    Pardon?

    1. The last paragraph...have your elders read it? It strikes me as emblematic of your own words.

    2. Did you bother to click the link to Cheung?

    3. I'll spell it out for you. If you do, you'll find that all of this is a quote of Cheung:

    If you think that something like this can threaten my ministry's survival, I seriously question your intelligence and wonder how much confidence you can have in Christianity itself. I had no respect for you by the time I finished the first paragraph of your message. You are a weakling.

    I take great offense that you call many of them "cripples" when it comes to argumentation, and reduce all of them to your level of incompetence. Speak for yourself. I certainly did not allow you to "enter into the world of argument" with this bad attitude. It got my attention this time, but not in a good way, and only so that I could make an example of you.

    Do not think that this ministry is mainly about apologetics just because we are very good at it — there is no simpler way to put this.

    In fact, I wonder if these objections are meant to destroy me by flattery rather than by argument, because if this is my Achilles heel, and if to misrepresent me as an atheist is one of the best objections, then I am pretty much invincible.

    I have spoken harshly to the sender of the message, but I still want this person to do well. I wish him to realize that it is wrong to blame me when the problem lies within himself.

    There is no need to despair, but humble yourself and do not blame other people for your shortcoming.

    As for the critic who raised the objection, he might read this response and attempt another one. I will probably ignore him, or more likely, I will be unaware of his new attack. But this does not mean that I cannot answer him, or that you cannot answer him. The fact that he was unable to even describe my position, but left God completely out of the picture, betrayed his incompetence and irreverence. Whether he is a man of no account or one of reputation makes no difference to me, I implore him to repent of his atheism and embrace the simple reality and power of God. What he has against me is trivial and I harbor no bitterness toward him — he has a much greater problem than I can ever give him or wish upon anyone. And please, do not send me anymore objections from this person or anyone related to him. He is just not good enough. He possesses an altogether lower class of intellect. There is no competition, no comparison — I have no interest in him and no use for him.

    Because the wisdom of God is so vastly superior to the wisdom of man, I will always win any debate with almost disheartening ease. It is this confidence that I wish to impart to every Christian. Indeed, humanly speaking, it can be lonely here looking down at the rest from the top of the world.

    4. Now, kindly tell us how that isn't an exercise in childishness, the very sort you wish to lay at Steve's door? Yes, this bit is certainly Christlike from His Majesty:

    He is just not good enough. He possesses an altogether lower class of intellect. There is no competition, no comparison — I have no interest in him and no use for him.

    Because the wisdom of God is so vastly superior to the wisdom of man, I will always win any debate with almost disheartening ease.

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  4. Eric said: "If Cheung is wrong, at least he doesn't write in a manner that makes him sound like an infant. ... Stop acting like a child. If you're going to respond, then simply respond -- not whine about it."

    1. It's true Cheung "doesn't write in a manner that makes him sound like an infant." No, Cheung writes in a manner that makes him sound like a megalomaniac.

    Thus saith the Cheung:

    "I had no respect for you by the time I finished the first paragraph of your message. You are a weakling."

    "There is no need to despair, but humble yourself and do not blame other people for your shortcoming."

    "I certainly did not allow you to 'enter into the world of argument' with this bad attitude. It got my attention this time, but not in a good way, and only so that I could make an example of you."

    2. I wonder why Cheung doesn't ever name Steve or some of his other "opponents" in his replies to them?

    Does Cheung deem these plebes unworthy of recognition on his highly exalted weblog? Or are they so low that he's forgotten their very names? Or worse, beneath rememberance in the first place?

    Hopefully I'm mistaken.

    But in any case, I get the impression that one would not do well to trouble the Wise and Lofty Cheung with such a trifle.

    3. Actually, Steve doesn't respond in a childish manner. He responds with irony. It says far more about Eric than it does about anyone else that Eric can't grasp the irony in Steve's response.

    And Eric? Forgive me, but as Cheung himself might say to you: No, my dear brother. I am not trying to sound clever or to mock you. But the truth is that I will just call you humorless. And I will probably never laugh at anything you say. You see, if you are so prepared to lack humor, then in your heart you have already lacked it, and that is who you are.

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  5. You still can't get the stick out of your ass? That's fine; you win -- it's probably the only thing you were looking for. As for Patrick's comment about me: No need to apologize. But as a fellow Asian I implore you to get out of your room and perhaps meet some girls. If you didn't get it, that was humor. (I'll be assuming you're going to sit at your computer, look at this comment, and respond with another witty remark. Go for it!)

    What? Is Gene the only one I can respect now? Thanks for your straight answers and critique. Mind writing a positive theory of epistemology from where you stand? It would help me.

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  6. Eric, methinks you blew all credibility with the stick in the ass comment.

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  7. Assuming this is the same anonymous from before, what credibility are you even talking about? Go find your weiner. Well, if you had one in the first place. Seriously, I love using this irony tactic.

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  8. No I am not the Anon who wrote before but thanks for proving my point anyway.

    Wasn't it you who sounded all incredulous when you stated "Do the elders at your church read what you write on the internet? Do they notice the way you write?" and "Stop acting like a child. If you're going to respond, then simply respond -- not whine about it."

    And when you were responded to, what, you couldn't respond with anything more mature than "You still can't get the stick out of your ass?" ... "Go find your weiner"? If you're going to accuse someone of being childish at least don't respond with elementary school derisions. That way you may sound a little more credible.

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  9. Eric, and sure you could always use the "Seriously, I love using this irony tactic." clarification. Respond in kind and all that. Still doesn't hold water thhough

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  10. Hi Wlotter. Glad you found your weiner and put on a name or something of the kind. The fact that you think the form of my response makes my comment on how childish the contributors posts less credible are makes you irrational. What do my actions have to do with theirs? Sure, it would be nice if I responded in kind, but whether it's be credible or not has no bearing on the fact that the posts have been swamped with more sacarsm and less maturity. Again, you are very irrational. Find your stick yet? or are you planning to leave it there a little longer?

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  11. AnnoyedPinoy1/31/2007 6:37 PM

    There are many Van Tillian websites/blogs on the web open for all to contribute, but where are the "Clarkian, Robbinsonian, and Cheungian" ones? Being an Van Tillian myself, I nevertheless appreciate some of the contributions that Scripturalists have made in apologetics. So where in the world can the various kinds of Reformed presuppositionalists discuss these matters openly and respectfully? Anyway, if you guys ever want to chat live via irc, try #apologetics on the UnderNet network. My nick is Be`Strong.

    As much as I've benefited from Cheung's materials, I do think that the various criticisms out there are devastating to Cheung's method of theology and apologetics. Why Cheung refuses to seriously address them is SO frustrating. Reading his elitist comments reminds me of that proverb "pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall". Anyway, I mention the fact that I'm a a fellow Asian (Filipino), lest people think only Occidentals see the flaws in his method.

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