An Ontological Argument For The Existence Of God

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Within Part 9 of Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779), Hume has the character of Demea present an Ontological Argument for the existence of God. Demea attempts to argue that God’s existence can be proven wholly a priori and logically, rather than through the a posteriori design argument. A priori arguments say that if the reasoning is valid then the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises, which Demea argues is the case when it comes to the existence of god. The following essay will discuss Demea 's standing, Cleanthes’ responses and what this all means for both the theory and Hume 's own opinion.

The basic argument that Demea puts forward is as follows; “whatever exists must have a cause or a reason for its existence; it is absolutely impossible for anything to produce itself, or be the cause of its own existence” (Hume (ed. Gaskin), 1988, P. 90) which means that nothing is uncaused, and so this either means that there is an infinite regression of causation or that there must be an uncaused cause which started the series of causation without being caused itself. Demea assumes that an infinite universe is absurd as this leaves the universe as a whole without a cause, and so it must be the case that there is a Prime Mover, which is God. Prime mover being language borrowed from Aristotle, as a necessary uncaused cause of the universe.

The first criticism posed to Demea comes from Cleanthes who expresses “there is an evident absurdity in pretending
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