Religious knowledge and the nature of God

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In David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion he argues about the existence of God and the rationality of religion. Hume is an empiricist and believes that in order for a belief to be rational it must be supported by experiences. Hume presents three characters, Demea, Philo and Cleanthes who all have their own explanation and rationality about religion and present different arguments concerning God’s existence.

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In Dialogue IX Hume presents Demea’s a priori argument for God’s existence and Cleanthes’ objection to the argument.
Early in the text the three characters started by arguing about religious knowledge and the nature of God. Cleanthes was very optimistic about understanding religion and God, while Philo was very skeptical and believed that God’s nature should not be sought after or understood by mortal men. Amidst all this Demea presents the idea that the nature of God is incomprehensible to usfinite weak and blind creatures and we should humble ourselves in his presence (Hume 9). Philo agrees with Demea that God’s existence cannot be known be us and goes on to say that whoever questions this derives to be punished (Hume 10). But Cleanthes objects he believes that even though we do not have any direct experiences about God, there is enough evidence in nature to allow us to make conclusions about what God is like.

As the argument progresses in Dialogue IX, Demea presents a priori argument, the cosmological argument, challenging Philo’s doubt. Demea broke his argument into four parts. The first claim he presented was, Whatever exists must have a cause or reason for its existence, as it is absolutely impossible for anything to produce itself, or be the cause of its own existence (Hume 38). He uses this first claim to present the idea that nothing just happens by itself and nothing can bring its own existence. In the second part of his argument he claims In working back therefore, from effects to causes, we must either (1) go on tracing causes to infinity, without any ultimate cause at all,

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