David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Essay example

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In Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion we are introduced to three characters that serve the purpose to debate God and his nature, more specifically, what can mankind infer about God and his nature. The three characters; Demea, Philo, and Cleanthes all engage in a debate concerning this question and they all serve the purpose of supporting their views on the subject. It is the “argument from design” put forth by Cleanthes that is the focal point of the discussion, and it is Demea and Philo who attempt to discredit it.

It is Cleanthes who gets the ball rolling in Part II of Hume by laying out his “argument from design.” Cleanthes believes that there is ample evidence in the nature that surrounds us to draw conclusions
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Demea’s first argument against Cleanthes comes directly after the explanation of the “argument from design” in Part II. Demea disapproves of Cleanthes reasoning because Cleanthes’ arguments are a posteriori. He objects to this because he believes that human experience is necessary in explaining the nature of god. “Can we reach no further in this subject than experience and probability?”(837) This is evidence of Demea’s insistence that understanding God is outside the grasps of standard human experiences and his nature cannot be explained by looking at ours. This line of reasoning continues in Part III when Demea responds to Cleanthes analogy of a book to illustrate the similarities of the mind of man and that of God. Demea states that when reading a book we can comprehend the ideas put forth by an author, but we can never comprehend the riddles of the universe put forth by a Deity because, in the words of Demea, “his ways are not our ways.” Demea than uses this inference by Cleanthes to state another of his greatest objections with the “argument from design.” Demea says, “ By representing the Deity as so intelligible and comprehensible, and so similar to human mind, we are
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