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Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

David Hume

Book Overview: 

In Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, philosopher David Hume examines whether belief in God can be rational. The work takes the form of a debate between three characters: Cleanthes, who argues that the existence and nature of God can be empirically verified; Demea, who argues that God is completely beyond human knowledge; and Philo, a philosophical skeptic widely thought to represent Hume’s own beliefs.

Much of the debate centers around Cleanthes’ presentation of the analogical argument from design. According to this argument, the complexity and beauty of the universe can only be explained by inferring an intelligent designer, in the same way that one would infer a designer if one came across an intricately complicated machine. Philo presents several objections to this argument, with rejoinders by Cleanthes and occasional interjections by Demea.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .But, by experience, we find, (according to CLEANTHES), that there is a difference between them. Throw several pieces of steel together, without shape or form; they will never arrange themselves so as to compose a watch. Stone, and mortar, and wood, without an architect, never erect a house. But the ideas in a human mind, we see, by an unknown, inexplicable economy, arrange themselves so as to form the plan of a watch or house. Experience, therefore, proves, that there is an original principle of order in mind, not in matter. From similar effects we infer similar causes. The adjustment of means to ends is alike in the universe, as in a machine of human contrivance. The causes, therefore, must be resembling.

I was from the beginning scandalised, I must own, with this resemblance, which is asserted, between the Deity and human creatures; and must conceive it to imply such a degradation of the Supreme Being as no sound Theist could endure. With your assistance, t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

In almost every aspect of his thinking, David Hume was a man ahead of his time. His views on the nature of causality and induction—the foundation of the scientific method—are still relevant, unsolved problems in philosophy. His views on morals, however simple-minded they may seem, do presage the soc

I read this book for Cornel West's course on Hume & Kant during my last semester at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. This and his Treatise of Human Nature are my favorite books by Hume, one of my favorite philosophers.

It struck me today whilst thinking back upon Hume that his critique of

Presented as a dialogue between three characters, Demea, Philo, and Cleantes, the philosophe tries, a priori, to understand what is the nature of God -if we can know it at all. The fact that the three orators disagree with each others so badly serves, in fact, as a pretext to shatter the whole idea

Hume schenkt ons een levendige geloofsdiscussie
In deze goed leesbare dialoog verkent David Hume (1711-1776) via drie personages fascinerende topics zoals de vraag of het universum geschapen is, of er God of een god is, of we hier überhaupt iets over kunnen weten, hoe het bestaan van lijden verenigba

I don't like most of the New Atheists (Dennett is the exception). They take their arguments beyond the point they should. They seem to open up a needlessly indefensible special hatred towards Muslims hence allowing for a non-tolerant person to occupy the White House and appointing a white supremacis

‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، من فلسفۀ انگلیس را نمیپسندم، چون به جایِ اندیشیدن برایِ اندیشیدن و پاسخ به پرسشِ ایجاد شده، بیشتر در موردِ خودِ پرسش تفکر میکنند ... بارها سؤال و پرسش را بالا و پایین میکنند و برایِ آن فلسفه میبافند تا از پاسخ دادن به پرسش شانه خالی کنند... امّا زنده یاد «دیوید هیوم» در میانِ فلاسف

All the New Atheists I've come across cite the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, most recently A.C. Grayling in his horrible The God Argument. But I wonder how carefully they read it; more and more often I feel they are metamorphosing into their creationist enemies, diligently mining out-of-con

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