Explain David Hume’s reasons for thinking that there could be other causes for design in nature besides God,and say what they are.
In his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume has one of the participants, Philo, critique the idea of the creator God who made the world. Philo argues that whatever it was that designed the world, it is very different from the God worshipped by Christians or adherents of other religions. We arrive at this conclusion by examining the world and speculating from what we observe the kind of creator that would have made it. At the most basic level, Philo argues that monotheism is ill-founded:
A great many men join together to build a house or ship, to found and develop a city, to create a commonwealth; why couldn’t several gods combine in designing and making a world? This would only serve to make divine activities more like human ones.
Philo goes on to argue that this cooperative polytheism would do away with the need to regard any one being as omnipotent or omniscient, claims for which there is no evidence and which seem to be contradicted by the nature of the world around us. Also, since even flawed human beings are capable of cooperation, why should we not attribute this capacity to the divine?
Philo says that if we are to judge the creator of the world by what he has produced, we must allow that this creator is neither omnipotent nor omniscient. Again, he draws an analogy from men building a house:
If I showed you a house or palace where there was not one convenient or agreeable apartment, where the windows, doors, fireplaces, passages, stairs, and the whole arrangement of the building were the source of noise, confusion, fatigue, darkness, and the extremes of heat and cold, you would certainly blame the planning of the building without any further examination.
Hume's argument, therefore, is not so much that there are other causes of design or even other designers instead of God, but that any designer we infer from the observable facts would be entirely unlike the God described by Christians. This designer would probably consist of many beings, none of them infinitely (or even especially) wise or good. Moreover, since everything we see around us is finite and the beings we observe are corporeal, there is no reason to think that the designer(s) of all this would be infinite and incorporeal.
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