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Lecture 5

PHIL111 13/14 WEEK 5.docx

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PHIL 111
Jon Miller

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Week 5 October 8, 2013 - Our work considers the rationality (reasons) of belief in god; The Natural History of Religion looks at the origins (causes) of religion in human nature and society The Protagonists of the Dialogues - We will be reading the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion - As the name suggests, the Dialogues involve a series of conversations about religion - The conversations are fictional; Hume makes up everything that is said - As dialogues, they resemble Plato’s famous dialogues - There are three main characters in Hume’s Dialogues o Demea  Sincere, devout, conventional theist  Not stupid but not subtle, either o Cleanthes  Philosophically sophisticated theist o Philo  A skeptic, often thought of as Hume’s mouthpiece What are they arguing about? - Two Possibilities o The existence of god o The nature of god - Demea says the real problem concerns (2): “The question is not concerning the being but the nature of god” - We can be sure that god exists; we just can’t know “the essence of that supreme mind, his attributes, the manner of his existence, the very nature of his duration” o Question: how meaningful is Demea’s position? - Philo offers an argument in support of its meaningfulness 1. Our ideas reach no farther than our experience 2. We have no experience of divine attributes and operations 3. Therefore, we have no idea of divine attributes and operations  Question: What are the philosophical assumptions made by this argument? • The mind’s ideas are dependent on its experiences (empiricism) • God cannot be experienced October 9, 2013 Cleanthes’ Reply to Demea - Cleanthes does not accept Demea’s position; he thinks it is corrosive to religious belief o See p.58lc-rc - Cleanthes thinks that mysticism (thesis that god exists but we cannot know any of his properties or actions) is tantamount to skepticism or even atheism - It is better to hold that while god may have power and attributes which we cannot comprehend, he also has some that we are able to grasp o Eg. God is good, in the way that humans can be good, even if his goodness vastly exceeds human goodness - Unlike Demea, Cleanthes thinks we can prove some facts about god’s nature. Now we shall consider the basis for this belief The Core Idea of Cleanthes - Cleanthes replies to Demea by offering an argument intended to prove the existence of a certain kind of god. He first moots this argument on p.50rc; it subsequently comes up in many different passages - Random, unplanned, unexplained accident could not produce the order, beauty, and seeming purpose that we experience in the world around us - Instead, the structure, function, and interconnectedness of natural phenomena require that a deliberate and directive mind be responsible for them The Argument from Design (I) - Cleanthes’ core idea is now known as the argument from design (A.F.D.). Here is a simple version 1. The world is “one great machine” 2. Human- created machines (eg. Houses) are the product of intelligence and design 3. Like effects imply like causes 4. So the world is the product of intelligence and
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