Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
In Hume’s essay, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, he posits the theory that if God is perfect, then it would only be natural to assume that his creation, here referring to the world, is also perfect. Except that Hume’s argues that this is simply not the case, for the world was not perfectly designed and thus either the world was not created by God or God is not a perfect creator. Hume’s explains his arguments through the rational dialogue of three different characters that each present a different perspective on the issue of God’s creative abilities.
The first character, Demea, introduces to the reader the understanding that God cannot be placed into a “box” so to speak, for God escapes the human rational. God is not someone or something that can be rationally or logically explained by human thought or language for the notion and understanding of what God is cannot be derived or deduced by the human conscious. God is simply beyond the capacity of the human understanding and no amount of logic or rational reasoning will ever change this fact.
As a result it would be futile to try and impose the limits of rational thinking upon that which is God. Of course in order to try and make the notion of the omnipotent tangible to the human rational, as humans we must impose a certain amount of qualitative boundaries as well as explanations as to God’s possible reasons for his actions and reactions to human conduct. In turn, these explanations and rational understanding of God remain highly interpretative and thus open to flaws and faulty deductions as to the true nature of God.
The second character, Philo, ironically a skeptic philosopher concurs with Demea and also believes that it is impossible to rationally come to know and understand God’s true nature through reason. Philo argues that we can only truly know something through experience and for Philo experience is based upon a cause and effect relationship. Based on his reasoning it would not be possible to come to any conclusions without having any past evidence, thus in order to understand God’s nature one would have to experience God several times in order to have the main components of a cause and effect relationship.
It is true that we can come to certain conclusions in respect to the world we live in because we are in constant contact with our environment which plays a great role in our daily experiences however this is not the case with the notion of God. The third character, Cleanthes, on the other hand argues that we can know certain things in respect to God’s nature for we can derive this understanding from the reasoning allotted to us by nature.
Cleanthes argument is one based upon analogy, for he argues that because the world is well organized and structurally sound and that everything that is well organized and structurally sound must have been created by an “intelligent designer” and thus deduces that the world must have been created by an intelligent designer, here of course referring to God as creator. Cleanthes argument rests on the fact that since we can observe and experience nature we can therefore conclude that God’s reasoning and intelligence works much like that of a human being.
Furthermore, if we can infer through reason when an individual is to be characterized as an “intelligent designer” than the same elements of reason can be imposed upon God to ascertain the value of his design of the world. However, it is important to note that Hume demonstrates that the argument presented by the character Cleanthes is faulty. Hume maintains that the argument by analogy is one that is weak, for to place human experience along with that of God is illogical as they are not on the same plane. The universe and all that is in it are not by any means the same phenomena as God.
The world and God exist as separate entities and cannot be connected analogously in the manner presumed by the character Cleanthes. For God is not part of the world on the contrary God exists independently from the world. Of course this is not the case for human beings as they live as a part of the world; humans cohabitate with the rest of the world and its phenomenon. Consequently, rendering Cleanthes reasoning on the matter to be faulty for God cannot be experienced in the same manner as one experience’s certain worldly phenomena.
God is not to be equated with the reasoning structure of humans, for human intelligence is limited while that of God is limitless. Humanity is a creation of God and God is the creator thus placing us on two different playing fields. From the various explanations presented to the reader through Hume’s various characters it is clear that Hume’s himself is an empiricist; that is that he believes that all knowledge must be acquired through experience.
Furthermore, Hume’s is of the conviction that a belief in something can only come about if one has enough evidence to support that belief through some form of experience. The question for Hume’s then becomes is there enough evidence in the world to support the claim that God is a perfect God and that his creation of the world is perfect? After having read his article, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, I strongly believe that this is not the case. I believe that Hume’s is suggesting that God is not perfect and this can be clearly demonstrated through the evidence found in the world.
The world was created by God to contain all that is good but also to contain that which is evil and this causes a problem for Hume’s, for it is this evil which creates an obstacle to our attempts as humans to try and understand God as good, wise and all powerful. It is evil which creates the veil of doubt and leaves the impression that God may not be as perfect as we would like to believe. Hume’s argues that if we were indeed to rely on simply the evidence procured by nature than humanity would be left with a God that is impartial to both good and evil.
As a result the empirical method of investigating the question of God’s nature becomes invalid. So how does one come to any conclusions in respect to the nature of God? Since according to Hume’s we cannot rely on reason and we cannot rely on experience, so then where do we look for answers? It is important to note that Hume’s does not put into question God’s existence, this is a fact that he does not dispute. What Hume’s focuses on is God’s nature and whether that can be ascertained in some way.
I believe that Hume’s is suggesting that faith is really the only way anyone can try to understand God’s nature. I believe this to be true, for it would be difficult to infer God’s nature through reason as we will never be able to understand God’s nature through our limitations. God is well beyond the scope of human reason and thus his actions or reactions to worldly situations will never really be understood. How the world works and why it works in the way it does is understood by the human mind only to a certain degree; as humanity is limited by the scope of its knowledge.
Whether the world is a perfect creation is a question that cannot be answered by the human mind; for reason will not permit for such a complex question to be answered as we do not have the capacity required to understand the intricacies of the world’s creation. Whether God is a perfect entity is also beyond our scope of understanding as God is unknown to humanity on a variety of different levels. What we do know of God is limited by our knowledge of his creations and thus enabling humanity from ever really understanding God’s true nature. Does this mean that we cannot believe God is perfect or believe that he created a perfect world?
Our faith and our experience of our faith play a great role in dictating how we answer this question. Ultimately it is our understanding of God through our faith that allows us as humans to acquire knowledge of God. This knowledge will also vary amongst differing communities as interpretations in respect to God and his nature are numerous, hence allowing for these interpretations to provide different perspectives concerning the perfection of his creation and of God himself. There will never be a universal understanding of God’s nature and why it is the Deity does what it does.Sample Essay of BuyEssay.org