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.
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:
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?
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:
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!