However, it is questionable whether this last surprising assertion is an expression of Hume's own opinion, as he was a notorious skeptic and critic of organized Christianity. According to the argument, natural objects and human-made objects are both well-ordered and operate toward the fulfillment of a specific goal. Philo argues that it is not appropriate to "affirm that the universe bears such a resemblance to a house that we can ... infer a similar cause." Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and what it means. A sailboat moves across the sea by taking advantage of the wind to move humans across the earth. Together, Demea and Philo paint a bleak picture of our universe. The main idea behind teleological arguments is that various objects and systems in the universe have precise functions and purposes as if they were intentionally designed to complete specific tasks. Philo points out that this conclusion is based on the most common-sense reasoning: our ideas are produced by our experience, and we have no experience of divine attributes and operations. First, the analogy between machines and the universe is weak at best, and as such any reasoning based on this analogy must also be weak. As plants and animals lack knowledge, the only remaining explanation for their purpose-driven behavior is that some intelligent being guides their development. As Philo puts it, if the universe is a machine, its only goal is the bare survival of each species, not that any species be happy. Because it has no evolutionary function, it would not be selected for in a natural selection process. He provides arguments for both of these claims. In section IV, Philo takes up another line of attack. The type of argument Cleanthes puts forward for the existence of God is referred to as a teleological argument. So the question is really, is there enough evidence in the world to allow us to infer an infinitely good, wise, powerful, perfect God? On the other hand, intelligent design arguments claim that the successful characteristics of living creatures appear all at once, because of the handiwork of an intelligent creator. Just as human-made machines and buildings could not have come into existence without purpose and design, teleological arguments contend that plants and planets could not be the product of random chance either. His friends assure him that this is the case. "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Study Guide." SparkNotes is brought to you by Barnes & Noble. Chapter Summary for David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, part 2 summary. Demea argues for the position of religious Orthodoxy, and insists that we cannot possibly come to know the nature of God through reason. According to this argument, the complex order and beauty of our universe can only be explained by positing the existence of an intelligent designer, that is, God. . The teleological arguments of the 16th and 17th centuries stemmed from earlier work by St. Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century theologian, who argued that any object that progressed toward a clear and specific goal either itself possessed knowledge or was guided by an entity that possessed knowledge. In this way, natural objects, such as plants and planets, resemble human-made objects, such as, skyscrapers and submarines. We call this ultimate cause God and we "piously ascribe to him" every possible type of perfection. Philo does not mind that the argument is a posteriori; his only complaint is that it is a bad argument. Teleological arguments increased in prevalence and popularity just before and during David Hume's lifetime. Only what causes sailboats to move can be directly known by humans because people purposely designed sails to use the wind to move the boats across the seas. However, Philo argues, Cleanthes's examples do not have such similarities and have not been observed frequently enough, if at all. Third, it seems to be false to claim that all order in the world is the result of intelligence. He asserts that the first question is beyond doubt; the latter is initially undecided. Given that the universe is obviously just an elaborate machine, with each part from smallest to largest perfectly adapted to the harmony of the whole, we can reasonably infer that, just like any other machine, the universe was created by an intelligent designer. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. man and the objects he manipulates). Through dialogue, three philosophers named Demea, Philo, and Cleanthes debate the nature of God's existence. Copyright © 2016. Demea says that people ought to "humble [themselves] in his august presence ... conscious of [their] frailties [and] adore in silence his infinite perfections.". Course Hero, Inc. As a reminder, you may only use Course Hero content for your own personal use and may not copy, distribute, or otherwise exploit it for any other purpose. In Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Hume explores whether religious belief can be rational. Finally what makes a causal inference work is that we repeatedly experience examples of A-like events followed by B- like events. (2019, December 6). He also complains about Cleanthes's argumentative method: "No abstract arguments! He argues that the claim that God is an intelligent designer does not even succeed in explaining why the world is ordered. The crux of Part 2 centers on Philo refuting Cleanthes's examples, warning that analogies made between natural objects are not always as apt as they may appear to be. A summary of Part X (Section3) in David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. For instance, the universe can be analogized to an animal body and God to its soul. God, must be similar to a human designer, only much more perfect, in proportion with the greater perfection of his art. This picture of gradual change is what the theory of evolution by natural selection draws, where competition for resources and mates determines which creatures, and hence which characteristics, survive into future generations. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. He will spend the rest of the book showing just how bad the argument is. Hence, there is no way to make a supportable claim about the nature of God. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Study Guide. By looking at the natural world we see that it resembles nothing so much as a work of human artifice (which, for the sake of ease, we can just call a "machine"). The argument is supposed to work by way of analogy (an argument of this form is called an argument by analogy): (1) The world resembles a finely tuned machine. Well, he continues, as far as the latter is concerned, it is almost as impious to claim that we can actually understand God's nature as it is to claim that there is no God at all. Teleological arguments, or arguments based on observing order and design in nature, have remained popular and effective. Cleanthes deploys this same sort of reasoning in Part 2. Thus even if the argument from design were valid, the evidence we get from the nature of the universe provides us with no knowledge about God's nature. Until this point, the discussion has centered around God's natural attributes—his infiniteness, his eternality, and his perfection. In this chapter all of Philo's objections aim to show either that the argument from design does not really have the proper form necessary for an inductive inference or that it is an improper use of an argument by analogy. Demea argues that the only real question up for dispute is what God's nature is, while the fact that God exists is self-evident. Because the sailboat and the dandelion seed are similar in their effects, proponents of the simple analogy argument would reason that dandelions and sailboats must be similar in their causes. He does not approve of the claim that God and man are at all similar. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion: Part II In Part I of his Dialogues, Hume introduces his three speakers, who each take a distinct philosophical approach to religion. Additionally, inferences drawn from these analogies cannot always be applied under other circumstances. In part V, Philo argues that even if we can infer anything from the argument from design, it is not what we want to be able to infer. Philo, the philosophical skeptic, agrees with Demea that God is incomprehensible and provides the most convincing arguments for this position. The name is derived from the Greek word telos, which means "purpose" or "goal." Cleanthes disagrees and says that the nature of God—and God's similarity to human beings— can be established by observing the similarity between the orderliness of nature and the orderliness of human art and engineering. Philo the skeptic delivers Hume's objections to the argument from design. The historical figures who put forward arguments exactly like Cleanthes included English naturalist John Ray, English scholar and clergyman Richard Bentley, and English theologian William Derham.


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