Hume

.. n this riposte to Cleanthes: Your theory itself cannot surely pretend to any such advantage; even though you have run into anthropomorphism, the better to preserve a conformity to common experience. Let us once more put it to trial. In all instances which we have ever seen, ideas are copied from real objects, and are ectypal, not archetypal, to express myself in learned terms: You reverse this order, and give thought the precedence. In all instances which we have ever seen, though has no influence upon matter, except that matter is so conjoined with it, as to have an equal reciprocal influence upon it.

Cleanthes makes no substantial reply, and Demea the pietist comes to the stage with another set of conditions with which the Argument from Design must be reconciled. These conditions include the unhappiness of humanity and human corruption. With his famous ejaculation, “The whole earth, believe me Philo, is cursed and polluted,” he sounds the note Philo has been waiting to hear to drown out Cleanthes’ flat pitch. He queries Cleanthes how, in the face of the orchestrated facts, can he assert the “moral attributes of the Deity, his justice, benevolence, mercy, and rectitude, to be of the same nature with these virtues in the human creature? His power we allow infinite: Whatever he wills is executed: But neither man nor animal are happy . . .

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. In what respect, then, do his benevolence and mercy resemble the benevolence and mercy of men?” With these words, Philo proceeds al fine, allegro non stoppo, championing his cause. His reasoning dampens any spark of hope for whatever good there may be in Nature. Here he understands Nature as something in which nothing can be regarded as essential, and nothing if anything can be taken as temptation for one to covet a higher state of living and experience. Note the contrasts of his analogy with Cleanthes’ earlier machine: Look round this universe.

What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organized, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living existences, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own happiness! How contemptible and odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children! The true conclusion for Philo is that the original source of every thing is wholly apathetic to all the principles at work in the universe, and regards health no better than harm, good not better than evil, lightness no better than heaviness.

Nature is a mixed, balkanized state. And so the coup de grace: If one is baffled about the true state of the world, how can one argue from design? Rather than following Demea out the door, however, Cleanthes converts. The Dialogues, however, does not commit the error of tendering Philo’s view as the correct one. Cleanthes’ conversion demonstrates it is enough for the view to be credible.In one sense, irrespective of the demolition of the Argument from Design, or the “religious hypothesis”, the Dialogues is a dramatization of the success and achievement of skepticism. It is a concession of the inadequacy of every weltbild to present itself as the norm. Philo (read Hume) uses his skepticism to balance theory against theory and so suspend judgment.

The one who is able to balance theory off theory, holding none of one’s own, is the victor. So skepticism is the rationalists’ arrow to skewer natural theology.It therefore appears every endeavor to argue from design, like the Promised Land, has its Dead Sea. Arguments may float, but desiccated by the salt and sun of skepticism, will hold no convincing power.

They are in principle impossible. A priori questions must be asked: what is the bias of the world view? Views of nature are fashioned from concealed (even from the fashioner) bias by the one(s) who fashion them. What Cleanthes says about Nature and God says more about Cleanthes than Nature and God.By postulating predictive impotence, Hume has set up an impasse. The death knell of Hume’s refutation of natural theology has left undaunted some critics of his writings.

It has proven to be a tarbaby to all who are bound by the same questions as Hume about natural theology. To be a successful, enduring critic of Hume one has to change the nature of the Question, or, introduce new categories of thinking, questions and categories to which Hume might not have enjoyed access. 1.R.G. Swinburne maintained that no criticism of Hume against natural theology has any validity against a more “carefully articulated version of the argument.

” Employing arguments of analogy based not on spatial but on temporal regularities, Swinburne has satisfied himself that he has shown the Design Argument to be a legitimate inference to the best explanation for God. Its value depends only upon the vigor and durability of the analogy and upon the degree to which the resulting theory makes explanations more simple and coherent. Moreover, in the Design Argument he thinks strengthens the Christian monotheism habit. Swinburne launches his new and improved version of the Design Argument by nuancing the types of order into spatial and temporal categories.

An example of the former is a section of books on a library shelf arranged by author’s last name in alphabetical order. The way bodies behave in accordance to the law of gravitation illustrates the latter. Keeping a mental finger on this, he then hypothesizes that in order to explain the operation of many natural laws, we should lay them at the feet of divine activity; they are not scientifically or empirically obvious. With this established, he then proves how an analogical argument can be designed to show how evidence confirms the hypothesis.

As are caused by Bs.A*s are similar to As. Therefore–given that there is no more satisfactory explanation of the existence of A*s–they are produced by B*s similar to Bs.

B*s are postulated to be similar in all respects to Bs except in so far as shown otherwise, viz., except in so far as the dissimilarities between As and A*s force us to postulate a difference. In the Design Argument, As are regularities of succession, Bs are the human agents who cause As. A*s are the regularities of succession exemplified by natural laws and B*s are the rational agents or causes of A*s of divine status. Like humans (As), A*s can be somewhat favorably compared to humans in terms of free choice and intelligence.The difference is in degree, not kind. The result is a Design Argument, and if true, is conditional upon the strength of the analogy and upon how coherent empirical matters are processed to a divine cause.

2. A second objection centers in the critique of constant conjunction. Is one instance in itself of constant conjunction sufficient to know a cause from inspection to its effect? In the Treatise Hume has urged us to conceive of events occurring without any causes at all; anything may be the cause of anything. How do these implicate his Argument from Design? Are our observations one-on-one with our experiences? Is the constant conjunction of events, which Hume says must be experienced as cause and effect, the only legitimate permission we possess for inferring either from the presence of the other? Why can we not infer from the simple and unparalleled fact of the universe an equally simple and unparalleled Deity as Cause? 3.A final objection comes from science. Every scientific stride has come from its putting forth hypotheses which extend beyond the phenomena observed. A scientific theory that proceeded only upon existing data would be worthless. It could not as an explanation guide experiments and research.

Scientists must venture out beyond the already known and infer the unknown.And so do we. We look at our children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and parents and infer heredity, or more specifically, genes. DNA is an unostentatious reality, unexperienced, but we see its effect. Can we not legitimately infer God as a way to account and even foretell phenomena of the universe? Hume replies: Ok, OK, so I was not as careful as I might have been in formulating my principle that on the other side of experience there is no door leading to conjecture or hypothesis. I have expressed myself badly in places, but I think I can salvage my cause with a more circumspect exposition.Mr. Swinburne, my respects.

You have scored a good point. But your chessboard of an analogy fails because you are too ready to ascribe natural laws to a Deity, when they are pawns unequal to the task of checkmating the prize piece. Natural Laws are not empirically obvious: there is your mistake.When inferring any particular cause, given certain effects, one cannot ascribe any qualities but what are sufficient to explain adequately the cause. “Adequately” is the watchword. The explanation should be kept as simple as possible.

It is unscientific to ascribe certain characteristics to a postulated designer of the universe if those characteristics go beyond what is required adequately to explain the facts. And this god of yours, Mr. Swinburne, whence came He? Is not your God subject to creation–a cause–Himself? I lay your argument to rest at the feet of infinite regression.As to this second objection. You have divorced your arguments from the authoritative range of experience. My argument is not contained within that old wine skin of analogy. When we face a new species of phenomena, our observation and experience prove unequal to the task; and analogy will fail as a way of explanation as well.

As an argument from analogy the Argument from Design is on serviceable.No matter what I’ve said elsewhere, experience leads me only to one honest conclusion: While others take their broad-jump leaps of faith and land in the quicksand of subjective conjecture, I stand on the rock of experience. Have you experienced the universe as a simple and unparalleled fact? Have you faced a new species of sui generis phenomena? If you have, then you must truly be God! Of course things will happen without a ready Cause, but that affords you no permission to assign divine causes left and right, willy-nilly, and certainly no license to worship this divinity. Now to the third argument. As some are fond of saying, “Your god is too small.” You take one realm of localized phenomena, and without benefit of experience, you analogize a God.

In science, how many false hypotheses do you come up with before you arrive at a true one? Are you willing to constitute a religion and call people to faith based on what might be a false hypothesis? What happens when you find two true but conflicting hypotheses, as we have with the nature of light? Is it a particle or a wave? As for the DNA model of analogy, it won’t reward you with a larger version or vision of the god of DNA. Analogies are inductive. Inductions, we have proven over and over, are not sufficient grounds for the certainty you would require.Induction can only give you a probability, and I’d like to see you preach a probability! Ha Ha. All these slippery objections, specific textual questions and ever-more refined points of logic are nothing but a series of assurances that you can never put one over on me.

All reasoning, all inquiries into the nature of the Deity, rests on custom and habit. There is no rational foundation for your claims of “fact.” Your measures and claims of fact are not knowledge, objective and verifiable, but beliefs. You cannot make causal claims of fact when causation itself is suspect because of necessary connection.Your Design Arguments are arrested at the very outset at the roadblock of a category mistake. One cannot synthesize from the parts a whole that has nothing to do with the parts themselves.

This is the mental gymnastics of a finite mind, and the finite cannot re-present the unknowable infinite. The finite has no metaphysical license to trespass its boundaries. If you do, the best you can do is bag unicorns and dragons; the worst you could do is to divinize your pa! ssions, lusts, cruelties, vengeance and the most heinous of vices. All your religious systems are subject to great and insuperable difficulties.Each will have its day, expose itself, and die from exposure.

But all of them prepare a complete triumph for the skeptic, who reminds over and over that no system can be embraced without some troublesome remainder. A total suspension of judgment is my only refuge, my mighty fortress. It is the only sanctuary I don’t have to defend. The purpose of my open mind regarding uncertainty is to close it on this one thing certain: That the Cause (or Causes) of order in the universe bear no remote resemblance or analogy to humans, animals, plants or nature.What That is we can’t know, for It is parasitic on data we shall never be able to interrogate.