David Hume's Views On Natural Religion

2294 Words Mar 10th, 2016 10 Pages
In Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume challenges the existence of God by presenting three different arguments from the perspectives of three philosophers. First is that of the fideist, Demea, who presents the weakest argument. The reader is quickly aware that this perspective is the least believable according to Hume. Although Hume quickly dismisses the idea of faith as a basis for the existence of God, he uses faith as a wedge in the attempt to break apart the argument of for intelligent design presented by the second character Cleanthes. A majority of the Dialogues is dedicated to this cause, as the strongest argument is from the perspective of intelligent design. The third character, Philo, is the skeptic wielding …show more content…
Hume is already letting the reader know that he has dismissed faith, and any entertaining of the idea in the remaining dialogue, is simply for that purpose: entertainment. Hume has also made the argument he is least likely to consider, what launches this debate. This may be Hume’s way of saying that most conflict is based on the issue of faith or that fideist are opportunists, always attempting to sway others to their perspective.
Demea is a fideist. He believes that it is faith in God, not reason that is the foundation of religious knowledge. I can understand why the idea of “faith alone” does not appeal to Hume. The argument for the existence of God a priori leaves the matter open to too many applications. Just because one believe in God does not mean that a god exists. Without experience, faith cannot hold the existence of God together in a pure form. A person can believe in ghosts, and unicorns and that Elvis is alive and well living on an island in the South Pacific, but unless one has direct knowledge a posteriori of such things, they are just fantasy that is held onto because it makes a person feel good.

We are to believe that Demea is using the argument of the skeptic Philo to support faith against Cleanthes and his natural theology, but it is Philo that intends to entice Cleanthes into a deep exploration as to the nature of God, which he succeeds in doing in so in Part I: “You propose then, Philo, said
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