God Existence

6 PAGES
1346 WORDS


God Existence

In David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Cleanthes’ argument
from design is successful in supporting the idea that the universe has an
ordered arrangement and pattern. This argument is not sound in its ability to
prove the existence of the Christian God. However, Cleanthes does present a
sound case for order in the universe, which can be seen as an aspect of one’s
faith in a Supreme Creator. In the argument from design, Cleanthes is attempting
to discover and defend the basic foundations of religion by using the same
methods applied in scientific thought. Paramount in the process of scientific
thought is reliance on previous observation and experience of certain causes
resulting in specific effects. If a scientist experiences a million times that
when chemical A is directly exposed to fire, an enormous explosion takes place,
it is logical that the scientist is wholly expecting the same effect the next
time the experiment is run. It appears through this line of reasoning that the
argument from design relies heavily on the relative probability of an event
occurring over a specified period of time. This idea corresponds to human
interpretation of the Universe in that perception without the aid of experience
is not sufficient in the realization process of a particular phenomenon. If a
human were left only to their own perceptions of the universe without prior
experiences, they would be able to make several value judgements, but without
experience with these judgements it would be impossible to determine which were
genuine. (p.61, par.2) Even if one believes that truth is relative, they must
agree that there is an experience that has occurred in the past causing this
person to label a particular outcome as being true or false. If I have no prior
experience or knowledge of the qualities of a tree, I would be left to
hypothesize on these qualities only from what I could perceive by looking at the
tree. I may come up with several theories, one of which may happen to be the
correct one, but with no prior experience on which to base these guesses, I
would have no way of knowing which theory was correct. Philo objects to the use
of only human intelligence as the benchmark by which to measure the order of the
universe. Nature is also an example of a great wealth of order and arrangement
that coexists with the human mind in the universe. He believes that by comparing
the order that is present in the universe, being the whole, to the order that
appears in the parts, being the human mind and nature, one makes too
presumptuous an inference concerning the characteristics of both the whole and
its parts. (p. 65) However, it is logical to presume that the qualities of any
whole are reflected, at least in part, in the workings of the whole. The use of
the watch to analyze the design of the universe originates in the belief that
the universe would dictate the qualities of the watch, and would therefore
bestow upon the watch characteristics similar to its own. It is indeed arbitrary
to select human intelligence as the means by which to analyze whatever order may
exist in the universe, but it seems as logical an example as any. Surely,
nature, the cosmos, and other examples of order exist in the universe, but human
intelligence is by far the most know entity to humans of any of these examples.

It should appear logical to analyze such a monumental task such as the
arrangement of the universe using the most know example of design that human
beings can comprehend. The next important aspect in Clenthes’ argument is the
implementation of the theory of cause and effect as it applies in the case of
perceiving means to an end and presuming that effects follow from a previous,
related cause. As mentioned above in regards to the scientist, events that have
similar effects are assumed to have similar causes. Cleanthes argues that the
universe is "nothing but one great machine, subdivided into an infinite number
of lesser machines." (p.59, par.4) From human experience with machines, it is
believed to be true that they involve a complex system of design and order
through working parts. Through the rules of analogy, Cleanthes comes to the
following argument and subsequent conclusion: Since both machines and the human
mind share the tendency toward order and producing an end from previous, ordered
means, the two most likely arise from a similar cause. Cleanthes therefore
concludes that the creator of

Read the full essay 1346 words