Short Answers to Several Criticisms

– A –

One thing that makes me unable to understand how anyone could hold Cheung’s belief is that the nerves in the brain are sensory, and thus by making the decision to think specific things and change thought processes in their minds, are they not thus relying on their senses in order to even think, and thus relying on their senses to deduce with logic and attain knowledge?

This begs the question. It assumes the verdict of empirical science on the brain’s abilities, purposes, and functions. It assumes that some or even all thinking occurs in the brain. And it either identifies the brain with the mind, or it assumes a necessary relationship between the two.

I reject all of these assumptions and would demand rational justification for all of them before permitting any assertion or objection to be made on the basis of these assumptions. I deny the reliability of empiricism, and I deny the reliability of empirical science. Thus I also deny the verdict of science on the brain’s abilities, purposes, and functions. I deny that any thinking occurs in the brain; rather, I affirm that whatever coincidentally occurs in the brain while someone thinks, thinking itself occurs only in the incorporeal mind.

It follows that I also deny that there is any necessary relationship between the brain and the mind. There may be a relationship between the two as God causes correlating events in them, but the relationship is not consistent, permanent, or necessary.


– B –

Here is something that is problematic: one uses his senses to read the words in the Bible. If the senses allow us to recall what we already know about God, then what of other parts in the Bible? For example, David’s adultery. It is hard to imagine that we already knew about this adultery via some innate knowledge. So, we cannot know that David committed adultery even though it is recorded in the infallible word of God.

This entails a very bad misunderstanding, and it reflects the lack of basic reading comprehension that seems to be common to all my critics.

I never said that all knowledge is innate, only that all knowledge must come from God apart from sensation, but that some knowledge comes from God on the occasion of sensation. That is, the sensation might correlate with the time of God’s act on the mind, but knowledge does not come from the sensation itself, or from an inference from the sensation.

As for the claim that we must use the senses to read the Bible, I have answered this in several other places. Among other things, the person begs the question by assuming his position without warrant.

Although I have refuted the necessity of sensations in reading the Bible, even if we assume this necessity for the sake of argument, this alone would not prove the reliability of sensations. That is, the assumption that we need something does not also imply that we have it. Therefore, unless this critic can prove empiricism, we would just end up with skepticism, which means that no one can read the Bible.

By his own standard, this critic cannot read the Bible or know what is written in it before he proves empiricism. On the other hand, I can know what is in the Bible precisely because I reject empiricism.


– C –

I do not see how he can deny that we can know anything through sense perception. Surely, we can even know certain things about God through sense perception (Romans 1).

I have dealt with Romans 1 in several places in my books, showing that it does not entail empiricism.

We ought to be reminded of God on any occasion in which we come into contact with his creation, although sinners suppress this knowledge because of their wickedness. However, the critic’s statement requires more than what this passage allows. He implies that the knowledge of God can come “through sense perception” itself.

That is, a person has a sensation, and he can “know certain things about God” either directly through this sensation, or he can “know certain things about God” by making valid inferences from this sensation. This is, of course, the Roman Catholic approach to theology and philosophy, an approach that is contradicted by Scripture.

Nevertheless, if he insists that he can directly know God by sensation or reason his way to God from sensation, then he should write out the proof so that we can consider it.


– D –

I would be interested in seeing if a third man argument would work against this, since it is one of the most devastating argument against Plato’s theory of knowledge (recollection), which seems to be, with some modifications, similar to Cheung’s.

If we must compare, I am closer to Augustine, and the Logos doctrine of various Church Fathers, not Plato.

That said, my position is just the necessary implication of the biblical doctrines of divine sovereignty and providence.

Or is God sovereign over all things, except sensation and knowledge acquisition?


– E –

I do not have the view that facts bear their own meaning. I would tend more towards Quine’s “web” program. But nonetheless, you use your senses to obtain knowledge. Tell me, how would you know how many ants were in your backyard? Did you know this previously?

He never tells us how any knowledge can come from sensation, but keeps on saying that it must be so. None of the things that he says necessarily entails that any knowledge can come from sensation.

He accuses me of following Plato (which I deny) – but is he now following Quine (which he admits)?

And who says that anyone can know how many ants are in his backyard? Does he know? If he does not know how many ants are in his backyard, then how can he bring this up as if it is an argument against my position?

As for knowing “previously,” this is again the misunderstanding that I say that all knowledge is innate, which I have never taught.


– F –

But since, in some cases, our senses are required to obtain knowledge (e.g., how many ants are in my back yard), then I would say that in those cases senses are a necessary feature of gaining knowledge.

This begs the question. The argument amounts to this: “But since our senses are required in some cases, the senses are necessary in those cases.” Is this an argument, or a lesson in synonyms? I can just as easily say, “But since the senses are never required, they are never necessary.”

Indeed, if the senses are required, then the senses are necessary. But this does not prove that the senses are necessary. Are the senses necessary? And necessary for what? What do they do? How do they do it?


– G –

If God conveys all things, then he conveys one person’s belief that a heretic is correct, and also another person’s belief that he is not correct! God is not the author of confusion. I think this is devastating.

This is a significant and instructive objection, because it demonstrates the devastating consequence of disagreeing with my position, that is, the biblical teaching that God controls and facilitates all things, including false beliefs. My position is not that God affirms false beliefs as true in his revelation, but that he is sovereign over all things, and that this must include control over false beliefs. Thus he reveals only the truth in Scripture, but he controls whether someone believes in it. When a person rejects the truth, he does this under the control of God, who also controls what falsehoods he believes instead.

My position insists that God exercises exhaustive control over the heretic, and that God is the sole metaphysical power that conveys even false beliefs to the mind. The critic rejects this, and this is what plunges him into his own heresy. His denial that God sovereignly and righteously controls all things, and thus also conveys false beliefs to the heretic, necessarily implies that there is another metaphysical power that conveys false information to the mind.

That is, the critic implies that man has the metaphysical power apart from God to take up false beliefs, or that some foreign power, perhaps the devil, has the metaphysical power apart from God to introduce false beliefs to the heretic. This amounts to saying that God is not the sole metaphysical power in the universe, and that there is at least one other power that controls much of the world on a metaphysical level.

If this is not heresy, then nothing is heresy. It amounts to an attack on the Christian God, or God as he is revealed in Scripture, and it amounts to a rejection of the Christian faith. It is a form of metaphysical dualism that acknowledges two opposing powers of good and evil, instead of one God who reigns supreme. It is possible that this critic does not understand the implication of his objection, but if he insists on his position after this has been explained to him, he should probably be excommunicated from the church.

As for his appeal to the expression “the author of confusion,” it is a misuse, and shows that he fails to understand the verse in which it appears. I have addressed this in another publication. In any case, we must not ignore, and still less condone, this widespread rebellion against God’s sovereignty.


– H –

Furthermore, the observations are not dependent on the molecules! The molecules are the same, regardless. It is the way man’s brain interprets the collection of molecules that results in hallucination.

This does not directly attack my position, but it betrays the person’s fallacious thinking.

It begs the question. He assumes the teachings of science, and he assumes premises that could never be established if empiricism is false. He should first prove empiricism and science before using these premises, since empiricism and science are the things being questioned.

What are molecules? Do we know that there are such things? Really, we know that? We are sure? How?

As for the comment on “the way man’s brain interprets the collection of molecules,” how does he know that? Does the brain “think” at all? Does it interpret anything at all?


– I –

If God is in control of everything, and conveys everything to people, then, what about this: John “sees” a bee on a rose, but Tim does not see it. John believes that his observation was true. Tim believes the converse. So, God conveyed A and not-A?

Of course. So what?

There is only a problem if we say that God affirms both A and not-A.

Consider what this critic is thinking. His objection implies that God does not really control everything. In fact, his challenge is made against the position that God is “in control” of everything. In other words, he does not believe that God is “in control” of everything.

It is clear that the conflict is not first about empiricism and the reliability of sensations, although these are certainly involved. Rather, the problem is that this critic does not even affirm the Christian God, or God as he is revealed in Scripture. The Christian God is certainly “in control” of everything, but this critic denies it.

He speaks as if false beliefs occurs by man’s autonomy, or as if man possesses independence from God even on the metaphysical level. If he cannot believe that God controls false beliefs, then how can he believe that God is now directly sustaining Satan himself? Or as Luther affirms, that God even now controls (not only sustains) Satan?

His objection also provides an illustration against the reliability of sensations. John sees one thing, Tim does not see it, or he sees something different. How would this critic settle the disagreement? He does not tell us.


– J –

Now, of course God can tell you how many ants are in your backyard, but is this the normal operation of how things work? Indeed, I am very interested in exploring this concept and the view that there is no new revelation.

My position is not that there is “new revelation,” but that God’s control over all mental acts and events is the normal operation of things. It is a matter of ordinary providence.

This critic implies that if God exerts control over anything today, then that must be a miracle. And if he controls knowledge, then there must be new revelation (in the same sense as biblical revelation). Is this person a deist?

I believe that even the death of a sparrow is controlled by God, but I do not call that a miracle, since a miracle is special providence, but the death of a sparrow comes under ordinary providence.

Likewise, I affirm that knowledge comes under the control of God’s ordinary providence. I would insist that anyone who affirms the biblical doctrine of providence, or who affirms the Christian God, must agree with this position.

In contrast, this critic wishes to protect the independence of sensations, the autonomy of evil, and assign a spontaneous power to errors. His position is inconsistent with the Christian faith.


– K –

The whole faculty of man, which God created with eyes and ears in order to learn and know things about his environment, does use his senses to acquire knowledge. But this cannot be separated from his rationality – seeing a tree and coming to a conclusion also involves a chain of reasoning.

This begs the question. Just because God created these organs does not mean that they are for the purposes and functions that this critic claims for them. He says that God created eyes and ears “in order to learn,” but this is the point in dispute. Asserting it again does not make it true.

Then, he admits that seeing a tree and coming to a conclusion involves a chain of reasoning. Good! This gets closer to my point: Is the chain of reasoning logically valid? Write it out as a syllogism and let us examine it.


– L –

Here is my point about John and Tim. I said that God told one a truth and the other a lie. Does God lie?

This involves a foolish misunderstanding and a strange confusion. To tell something is not the same as to cause something, or to control or facilitate something. I am talking about metaphysical causation, but it seems he is talking about interpersonal relationship and communication. No, God does not tell lies. But Scripture teaches that God causes people to believe lies whenever he wishes.


– M –

I would still need a refutation for that verse where the Lord told us that “when you see the fig tree you know that summer is near.”

If this critic limits the application of this verse to the narrow context of the passage, then it would contribute nothing to his purpose. So it is implied that he wishes to make an inference that removes the verse from its context and that is broader than the content of the verse in order to derive from it some support for empiricism.

However, it would be fallacious to infer from this verse a simplistic “I see, therefore I know” epistemology. The verse cannot logically yield this broad principle. Also, such an inference would imply that it is impossible to make a mistake, so that when I see water, I know that there is water, and that there is no such thing as a mirage. It would imply that errors and hallucinations never happen.

As I have pointed out in Presuppositional Confrontations, when the Bible acknowledges that someone saw something, it is not the same as affirming sensation itself as a means to knowledge.

For example, if the apostle John writes, “Peter saw the resurrected Christ,” I can accept John’s statement about what Peter saw without accepting sensation itself as a way to knowledge. The object of my belief is John’s divinely inspired statement, not Peter’s fallible sensation. In fact, Peter’s sensations could be wrong in all instances but this one, and I know that he is right this time only because John infallibly (by divine inspiration) says so.

When I think that I am looking at a red car, it is possible that I am indeed looking at a red car, but it is also possible that I am dreaming, or looking at the blue sky. The problem is, how do I know in this instance whether I am indeed looking at a red car?

If God infallibly affirms that I am indeed looking at a red car, then I know that in this instance what I think I see indeed corresponds to physical reality. However, it would be fallacious to infer from this, “Therefore, knowledge is derived from sensations.” No, it is God’s infallible affirmation (that I am looking at a red car) that gives me the knowledge (that I am looking at a red car), and not my act of looking at the red car. That is, the sensation provides the occasion for God’s infallible affirmation – it does not provide knowledge itself.

This is the kind of invalid inference that this critic has made with the statement from Jesus. That is, from an infallible but narrow and particular statement about something related to seeing, he incorrectly infers that seeing itself is a reliable way to obtain knowledge.

His own philosophy denies that sensations are infallible. However, if Jesus is broadly endorsing or implying the reliability of sensations instead of making an infallible but narrow and particular judgment about something related to sensations, then how can his inference from this verse allow for errors in sensations or in inferences from sensations? The inferences is not only invalid, but the conclusion is inconsistent with what this critic believes about sensations.

I affirm the words of Jesus in the verse, and not the sensations of the men. On the other hand, on the basis of this verse, this critic directly affirms the sensations of the men, infers a general support for empiricism, and then applies it to all of humanity. This is indeed a spectacular display of fallacious reasoning.

How then can he maintain that sensations are fallible? On what basis and by what standard does he affirm or reject any instance of sensation, or any inference from sensation? I know that “when you see the fig tree, you know that summer is near” is true only because Jesus said so. Those men could have been wrong about all other instances of sensations.