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Critique of the Design Argument by David Hume - Book Report/Review Example

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Critique of the Design Argument by David Hume

This argument, however, was dismantled when David Hume presented his criticism of the Argument of Design. Hume's propositions against the design contentions have sparked further heated debates on the subject of god's existence for many centuries (Gaskin 1993). Until now, Hume's arguments persist and many still attempt to dispute his assertions which can be considered acute and decisive as until recently, no one has put forward a more vigorous dispute to contest the claim.
In his treatise "Critique of the Design Argument", presented in his book Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, David Hume introduced a discourse between two characters, Cleanthes and Philo. Cleanthes brings Philo's attention to the world around them stating that the world is but one great machine, with its tiniest parts attuned to each other and with accuracy worthy of admiration and contemplation (Gaskin 1993). Cleanthes further adds that the creator, although of 'larger faculties', is analogous to the minds of men which the 'designer' created as they possess wisdom and intelligence (Swinburne 1991)
This argument, Cleanthes believes, 'proves the existence of a Deity'. Philo responds using the house and the universe as analogy and asserts that the universe does not manifest relationship to a house, as this analogy is imperfect, and there are many difficulties and mysteries which we fail to clarify in the works of nature. Furthermore, Philo contends that men's capability to understand 'infinite' relations is inadequate and it is "impossible for us to tell, from our limited views, whether this system contains any great faults" and deserves any justifiable adulation when "compared to other possible, and even real systems." Through Philo's character, Hume asserts that order and purpose are perceived and understood only when they are the consequences of design. However, we see order all the time manifested in seemingly unconscious occurrences like vegetation and generation. Thus, design constitutes only a tiny fragment of our perception with regard 'purpose' and order. Assuming that the design argument is feasible, Hume argues, it is still not enough to surmise or prove the existence of a deity judging from the conclusions gleaned from our knowledge of the universe's configuration which bears a distant resemblance to human design - cursory and sometimes unintelligent - a world which Hume states is "the only the first rude essay of some infant deity, who afterwards abandoned it, ashamed of his lame performance. . . " (Hume 1739).
Furthermore, Hume believes that god's intellectual or mental order and faculties need to be elucidated in order for the design assertions to reach a rational conclusion. Otherwise, we could not create a parallel explanation of order, or actually define it, leaving the notion unexplained and unclear. Hume also argued that if an orderly and balanced natural world necessitates a special maker or designer, then God's mind as it is well ordered, likewise requires a creator. Thus, this maker would similarly need another maker, and so on (Hume 1739).
In addition to the aforementioned ideas, Hume's arguments also brought about the notion of natural selection and teleology based on the argument:

1'Often, what appears to be purpose, where it looks like object X has feature F in order to secure some outcome O, is better explained by a filtering process: that is, object X wouldn't be around did it not possess feature F, and outcome O is only interesting to us as a human projection of goals ...Show more


Examine Hume's criticism of the Argument From Design. Are his objections decisive essay needs to show good knowledge and understanding of the issues. Substantial evidence of independent thought and judgment, with arguments which are clearly presented and well structured.
Author : maximillian78
Critique of the Design Argument by David Hume
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