dialogues concerning natural religion part 2 summary
November 13th, 2020

Together, Demea and Philo paint a bleak picture of our universe. Some order, such as that found in organic bodies, is caused by generation and vegetation. Additionally, inferences drawn from these analogies cannot always be applied under other circumstances. Philo argues that it is not appropriate to "affirm that the universe bears such a resemblance to a house that we can ... infer a similar cause." If we were to try to infer God's moral attributes from the evidence in nature (which, of course, Philo does not think that we should do), the only reasonable conclusion to draw would be that God is morally neutral. Cleanthes deploys this same sort of reasoning in Part 2. He quotes Nicolas Malebranche, who argued that there is nothing that should be said about God other than that God exists and is perfect. Second, the analogy between the universe and a machine does not necessarily work because it is not an analogy between two separately existing entities, but between the universe as a whole and certain parts of the universe (i.e. By looking at nature, in other words, we obtain overwhelming evidence that God's intelligence resembles human intelligence (though of course, in much more perfect form). We call this ultimate cause God and we "piously ascribe to him" every possible type of perfection. In part V, Philo argues that even if we can infer anything from the argument from design, it is not what we want to be able to infer. Course Hero, Inc. As a reminder, you may only use Course Hero content for your own personal use and may not copy, distribute, or otherwise exploit it for any other purpose. Nothing is gained, therefore, by positing God as an intelligent designer. He does not approve of the claim that God and man are at all similar. SparkNotes is brought to you by Barnes & Noble. So why suppose that the order of the universe is like the order of man-made machines, and not like the order of organic bodies? The crux of Part 2 centers on Philo refuting Cleanthes's examples, warning that analogies made between natural objects are not always as apt as they may appear to be. However here the relevant cause (God) and effect (the universe) are both wholly unique, so there is no way that we could have such repeated experience of their existences or anything that resembles them. Hence, there is no way to make a supportable claim about the nature of God. In the Dialogues Hume states this idea as, "[f]rom similar effects we infer similar causes." Well, he continues, as far as the latter is concerned, it is almost as impious to claim that we can actually understand God's nature as it is to claim that there is no God at all. On the other hand, intelligent design arguments claim that the successful characteristics of living creatures appear all at once, because of the handiwork of an intelligent creator. The teleological arguments of the 16th and 17th centuries stemmed from earlier work by St. Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century theologian, who argued that any object that progressed toward a clear and specific goal either itself possessed knowledge or was guided by an entity that possessed knowledge. A sailboat moves across the sea by taking advantage of the wind to move humans across the earth. One famous example of this argument, due to Michael Behe, focuses on the cilium of protozoa. The name is derived from the Greek word telos, which means "purpose" or "goal." In stark contrast to the perfectly harmonious machine that Cleanthes considers the universe to be, they tell us that our world is actually a miserable place, filled with evil. A dandelion seed moves across the land by taking advantage of the wind to spread dandelions across the land. Course Hero. For instance, the universe can be analogized to an animal body and God to its soul. Demea is the first to react to Cleanthes' argument from design. Accessed November 26, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Dialogues-Concerning-Natural-Religion/. In section IV, Philo takes up another line of attack. In Course Hero. The type of argument Cleanthes puts forward for the existence of God is referred to as a teleological argument. Teleological arguments increased in prevalence and popularity just before and during David Hume's lifetime. According to this argument, the complex order and beauty of our universe can only be explained by positing the existence of an intelligent designer, that is, God. It is only when we give an a priori demonstration that we can prove something with certainty. The argument from design is supposed to be the best case that can be made for the claim that religious belief can be rational. Machines do not just come together by chance; they are created by skilled human beings. Hume presents three characters, each of whom represent a different position on this issue, engaged in a dialogue together. He compares all of nature to an exquisitely designed machine with interlocking parts, of which the seamless functioning provides strong evidence an intelligent being intentionally created nature. repeated experience of the cause followed by the effect). At this point, it seems that Philo has shown that the argument from design is manifestly invalid. Through dialogue, three philosophers named Demea, Philo, and Cleanthes debate the nature of God's existence. So-called irreducible complexity arguments and intelligent design arguments have been set against evolution by natural selection arguments as explanations for the existence of complex biological features. A summary of Part X (Section4) in David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. (2019, December 6). Demea warns that this error may give the appearance of an advantage to the atheist side of the dispute.

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