Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Can Cheung change a flat tire?

Can Vincent Cheung change a flat tire? One would hope that a Scripturalist epistemology is up to a simple job like that.

Mind you: for us benighted empiricist types, the chief challenge to changing a flat tire lies in…well...in changing a flat tire--that's all.

But for Cheung, that begs the question entirely. For before we can change a flat tire, we must know what a flat tire is, and before we can know what a flat tire is, we must be able to define what a flat tire is.

Anything short of that is, at best, unjustified belief. And if my belief in flat tiredness or tired flatness is unjustified, then I clearly lack the moral warrant to change it.

So, before Mr. Cheung can change his flat tire, he must first discharge his epistemic duties by properly defining his terms.

A benighted empiricist would look them up in Webster’s. But, of course, Webster’s is uninspired and therefore fallible. And, according to Cheung, nothing short of infallibilism will do as a necessary condition of true knowledge.

So where should he go? To Scripture, of course! He is, after all, a Scripturalist. And a Scripturalist is someone for whom all knowledge is confined to what is expressly set down in Scripture or else deducible therefrom by necessary consequence. So the Bible must be his dictionary.

For purposes of this question, let us posit that Mr. Cheung keeps a Bible and a concordance in his car.

At a minimum, this leaves him with a noun and an adjective to define. Yes, I know--there is also the matter of a tire-iron, but one thing at a time.

Running his finger down the concordance…wait a minute! Come to think of it, a concordance is also uninspired and fallible and…

However, we don’t want to let poor Mr. Cheung freeze to death in the wind and rain, so let’s pass on that for the time being.

Okay, then, running his finger down the concordance, there doesn’t seem to be any entry for flat tires. Perhaps that’s not entirely surprising given that Scripture was written centuries before the invention of inflatable rubber tires.

So it would seem that Mr. Cheung must shift to an argument from analogy. Let’s see then. Among those excluded from the priesthood is a man “that hath a flat nose” (Lev 21:18).

So, a flat tire and a flat nose must have something in common to receive a common adjective. By simple process of analysis, we only need to isolate their shared area of identity.

Only there’s one little snag. Leviticus fails to define what a “nose” is.

Again, an empiricist would simply look in the mirror or else perform a series of nasal inductions. But, of course, Cheung would regard that as hopelessly fallacious—if not downright deviltry in its impious and wanton appeal to our autonomous sensory organs.

No problem, though. For all we need to do is look up “nose” in the concordance.

Here’s one description: “Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon” (Cant 7:4).

So a nose is like a tower. Well, that’s progress…or is it? What’s a tower like?

According to the next chapter, “My breasts are like a tower” (Cant 8:10).

But what’s a breast like? Since Cheung is reputed to be a man, he can’t very speak from personal experience—and experience would not qualify as real knowledge anyway.

Hold on! Cheung is also reputed to be a married man. In that case, he just might be expected to have some first-hand knowledge of one or both items. Oh, I forgot. That sort direct appeal would be way too empirical.

Well, instead of the adjective, suppose we go back and start with the noun: “In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments…and their round tires like the moon” (Isa 3:18).

Round tires! Now we're finally getting somewhere…except for one more thing. It describes a tire, but it doesn’t define a tire. Still, it compares a tire to the moon.

Uh-oh. What’s the moon like?

Sigh! Yet another delay. But it’s only temporary, right? How about the following: “If I beheld….the moon walking in brightness” (Job 31:26).

Does that help? Not really. In what sense can the moon be said to be walking? What does that mean, exactly?

“Walking.” Hmm. At this rate, Cheung will be walking home, won’t he? Hope he brought an umbrella along.

“Umbrella”? Is that in the concordance…


  1. We know that Cheung *can* change a flat tire because he lives in God's world rather than the one he's constructed. But, given your point about the epistemic moral problem he would have, shouldn't the title of your post be called: "*Should* Cheung Change a Flat Tire?"

  2. Thanks, Paul. And thanks for the excellent material, both on your own blog and over at the Puritanboard.

  3. But the Scripture says that all the disciples were in one Accord (Ac 5:12). Since by definition a Honda Accord has four tires, and God immediately produces in us an understanding of all the terms of any proposition of Scripture, then any believer knows innately the concept of a tire.

    See how easy that was? ;-)

  4. lol

    Also, we can logically deduce from passages that we need to do a *Civic* duty.

  5. Don't forget all the passages about Tyre and Sidon! The Brits know what I'm talking about here :-)

  6. I'm a first time viewer and just scanned some of the posts regarding CVT, John Robbins (who passed away today after a long fight with cancer), V. Cheung, etc.
    I think there is a fundamental mis-understanding regarding empirical opinion and Biblical fact. Some who are commenting seem to think that presuppositionalists, Biblicists, can't change a flat tire or don't know who they are sleeping with, even though that someone is called "wife." No anti-empiricist that I have ever read thinks empirical evidence is not useful; in fact it is even essential. But there is a huge difference between that which is true (apodictically?) and that which is opinion, but very useful: why, that looks a lot like an 18 wheeler bearing down on me, I'd better get out of the way! This opinion is highly useful. JFK was assasinated is an opinion that I think is very likely; in fact it's the answer I would put on a history examination that asked the question. But "... that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." - is in a different category; not opinion, just fact.

    Torrance, California