« Philosophize This!

Episode #052 ... David Hume pt. 2 - Design

2015-03-04 | 🔗

On this episode of the podcast, we continue our discussion of David Hume. This time, we focus on Hume's response to the Teleological Argument, which goes a little something like this: “Look at how perfectly everything works! All of this must have been designed by God.” We also learn about Hume’s view on miracles, and find out how unimpressed he is that Bruce Willis was the sole survivor of that train accident. All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For more information about this or any episode of the podcast check out the website at philosophize this dot, We have additional content further reading transfer so every show all pre, of course, but if you value the shows, an educational resourcing, you wanna help keep going, you can. Not more about how to do that. At patriarch, dot com, slash philosophize this or alternatively you're buying thing from Amazon this week anyway, consider clicking. Our banner it's at the bottom centre of the landing page philosophize, this dot org. Small percentage goes back to the show. It may just be a click for you, but every little bit adds up there. Key for wanting to know more today than you did yesterday, and I hope you have a show just think for a second about what happened in the last two so that the ship, we all know about David he'll right, scottish philosopher, the the foreman of what
Is a scottish enlightment living in the seventeen hundreds calling into question all kinds of stuff cosmological argument for God's existence, teleological argument for God's existence, Aristotle's four causes which, by the way when he did it, was completely scandalous. He even called into question causality itself me what was wrong with this guy. Let's make we do a psych profile on David him three hundred years later, as he was he abused as a child? Did he have some sort of bum leg made him angry at the world, like he's Doktor house in wise guy, ruining the party for everyone else? Will now debenham wasn't any of this stuff. But if there's one thing I can assure you he was. It was a sceptic, and I think I have said this on the show format, Geronimo get into many of these, but this is weird way that some people look at sceptics. Right like there could be some.
Sort of direct relationship between scepticism and misery. The more sceptical you are, the more miserably become as a result of it, but this is not the case. My friend sceptics can enjoy good novel sceptic still subscribed in that flicks sceptics are somehow less capable of being happy or something a long. Long time ago, I remember being nine years old and I was watching a movie with a group of people right Semicircle Account is projector tv screen, whatever it was, the movie with star wars, dont member, exactly which episode it was, but regardless I get the point space laser beam space, ships flying through the air and yes space explosions as well. Now, let me just say before: oh you, people start to judge me here. I
but a humble innocent, nine year old child when this happened, my intentions were bad. It from its evil planning is a nine year old kid capable of doing. There was a genuine curiosity that I had coursing through my veins, some looking at this giant space battle unfolding in front of me, and I noticed something Why do all these explosions look like they're out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie shouldn't gravity be affecting them in some way. Should the she didn't levels or something be affecting them like. Why did you look exactly like? They would look within earth's atmosphere? They look a little bit different, so I decide at this point a minute posed the question to the group. Predicate educated, big mistake. I kid you not this guy, this thirty five year old man, this old old man, Well, thirty. Five is not old now, but it was old to me at the time. This man looks at me dead in the eyes and he says: hey thanks. Thanks buddy, you just ruined the movie for me yeah, No thank you. Thank you for ruining the movie for everybody. Look around me and all these
are taking their social cues from this one guy now this glaring at me now like their angry. These kids were mad at me, like, like my scepticism, was hostility or something I was infringing upon their thoughts. This is mentality, that ignorance is bliss and then any skepticism about anything just makes you progress. passively, less and less happy the more sceptical your but then I think, there's a level above that we realise how completely out of control everything outside of your mind is, and you can become even more happy than the ignorant person, but few people embody the Spirit more than David him like if you're, to sit down and have a conversation. The guy you would see what all of his friends and colleagues were unanimously talking about during his lifetime. This guy was cheerful and witty. He was brilliant, jolly Happy David. He was like a big skeptical Santa Claus and even towards the end of his life, when he was terribly sickened, die
we just put yourself in issues which can be so easy to wallow in your own misery when you're sick? And I even then he remains with this really skeptical, wise cheerfulness and all of his right in all the stuff that he says the great scottish economists, Adam Smith- and we talked about few episodes ago. A good friend of David him during his lifetime said quote: poor David humans. Find fast, but with more real cheerfulness and good humour and with more real resignation to the necessary course of things. Any whining Christian ever died with pretended resignation to the will of God. End quote: you hear the testimony of the people that knew the guy during his time date. They talk about him having these sorts of deep intellectual conversations and he's diseases, brilliant and funny and cordial all throughout
and he loved having his conversations with people now, one of the main recurring conversations that he was gonna be having during his lifetime was on the subject of whether God exists, and if it does, what qualities can we ascribe to that guy? He would have gotten his questions, mostly from the religious folk of his time. That understandably, felt very criticized by thinking what we're gonna talk about. Next is one of the most common arguments that he would have The little one of these lively discussions. This would have been one of the most common arguments for gods. Existence during this time period recently is kind of lost some steam just because of the concept of natural selection, its lost a bit of its bargaining power. That is yet none. The less people still make this argument all the time in today's world. So how fortunate for us-
that we can think about David rebuttals to this argument and have it not only not us practically speaking in a conversation setting, but also it can help us with our own personal development. The argument is sometimes called the called the teleological argument, although their multiple teleological arguments I'd be a mistake to do that. Sometimes it's called the argument from design the arrogant analogy is mixed in here somewhere the watchmaker argument, just honestly call it whichever one you like best. So here's the scenario So if someone was sitting down with David Hume and making an argument for gods, existence. One of the many ways they may have started out, trying to prove gods existence is by painting you a picture in your minds. I hears probably it would sound. They imagine you're walking down the beach Zan beneath your toes the ocean, roaring on one side of your little birdies keeping in the distance right. You look down on the sand and you come across a watch. You pick up this watch and your intelligence realises something they recognize you
at the coc. So you look at the levers and numbers and hands of the watch, and you know that these parts weren't just arranged by happenstance or randomness. No, you recognize the design. When you see one, you may not know who created the watch or why they created the watch or anything like that. But one thing is for certain: this is not a by product of random is how could it be? This watch was designed. The argument then take. This point applies it to the universe. Look at how well soon but everything is for the purpose that it serves right. Look at her. Why breathe oxygen and oxygen happens, Be all around me. How convenient look at how eat plants and animals, and they happen to be all around me constantly reproducing so that I can persist? How convenient that I live? essentially in a him? That's been perfectly designed for my existence. How convenient the sixth
beyond human life. By the way my people would point to how the universe obviously has order. Look at the law of gravity look at the laws of motion the laws of their Medina, just any constant in the universe. It creates this order. Those things obviously aren't just random right, so they must be intelligently designed Now I put that lesson it's the way did purposely for you recognise the real statement that the arguments making here the only I'll turn To the world being a chaotic on ordered random mess, which would be the natural state of things if it truly were random, right, the only alternative is that things were designed by some higher intelligence. Take a look at the human eye, for instance right if the human eye was truly just a random configuration of particles. it would look like a chicken liver is bloody, mangled meslay. On the table completely useless when it comes to sing the world and how convenient that you
the human eye- and it's so elegantly put together right- that there's there's a written on the cornea complex systems regulating, I pressure, constantly and all the things are going to make a gesture. I worked so well for what it does and I think of it in the context of the human body magical. That is how can any right thinking person look at that and call it randomness come on. You criticise me for having police based on a leap of faith that you'd have to be evil Knievel to make that leap of faith. To look at the human. I believe that just randomly came together some like what are you doing in your brain to make that we have to choices, which one is more reasonable to you that something intelligently does all this stuff or that this is the byproduct of unbridled randomness with no direction at all? Well before we continue? Let's just take a second to revel in the understanding of how difficult this would have been to argue against. In the seventeen hundreds I mean, I've said it on the show before
if, if I lived pre natural selection, I never ever would have questioned whether this was designed by a supernatural created that had us in mind. It would have seemed so obvious to me so just consider for a second, the David, whom did question right. Deasey lose sight of it, real quick at us on a clear something because there might be a few people out there that are so to themselves like hey what you just blindly accept that natural selection is the way that it happened. Don't you think, that's a little dogmatic Stephen was just assuming that it's the truth. I agree that would be presumptuous. It that's what I was doing here, but that's the beauty of natural selection when it comes to this argument, It's not that natural selection has to be true beyond any shadow of a doubt here for it to be useful. It's that the linchpin
of the watchmaker argument. Is it you have two choices which is more likely a highly convenient collection of unbridled random particles or that something intelligent designed it this way, what natural selection offers, with its true or not in the long run, is an alternative explanation. That's the value of it. An explanation for how things may seemingly be intelligently designed for this environment, but in reality, some random mutations corresponded with the environment better than others. This gave those creatures a severe reproductive advantage over the rest of their species. It's not that were designed so that we perfectly courses and with the climate and living conditions on this planet, is that all the other billions upon billions of creatures over on that didn't fit nicely under these conditions died off long ago again. The profundity of natural selection, here, in the context of this hour, it's, not that it's true beyond a shadow of a doubt, but simply by virtue a bit existing as a theory. It destroys the false like
how do we, the people were operating from during the seventeen hundreds that it's either designed or completely random? We have two choices: right. Here's, a way that randomness can seem like it was designed if its directed by the climate of a planet over billions of years and another thing to consider your kind of on the opposite into this is: does this really disprove the existence of this designer? I don't think it does. What we'll talk about all that, but what signed by David Hume right now right when David, he heard this watchmaker argument. He would have had a lot to say Let's break down the core of the argument right now, one there are things from nature that appear to be designed things like eyeballs right too There are things that are man made that appear to be designed like watches, for example, these two things at some level share some quality people interchange. What this quality is that they share all the time it will still such complexity. Symmetry. Both things are in some way means too
and whatever you want to put there s the quality that they share the arguments the same. They share certain qualities, a certain intelligence between them, something that implies they were designed. While we know in the case of the watch that those qualities were put there by an intelligent designer, a human right, the guy that made the watch will, if we accept the premise that was very popular at the time that we talk about last episode, that similar effects typically have similar causes, knowing that it seems pretty likely there when we see those qualities in nature, they too were put. By an intelligent designer his name is: God can buys book at the Barnes Noble near you, David, Hugh Metaxas argument. It basically every single point in the argument: like basically every sentence he has something to say about some assumption- that your make it for some I was having a conversation with David Hume and I've been I painted that picture of walking along the beach in his mind
there wouldn't be many sentences. He went to stop me. You don't think you're making a few assumptions their Stephen waste and when I talk about them all eventually, but let me start with the most general one David Hume just thinks this is a terrible analogy on many levels. He says that one thing he's noticed, The ears of the course of this life is that, whenever you're making an analogy the further away, the two things are from each other, the less effective of an analogy. It's gonna be. But comparing tangerines to oranges is gonna, be a much better analogy than comparing you know a horse to a house cat just because they both have four legs can would say, but were pretending as though this majesty of nature is comparable to a watch land on a beach somewhere? But is it really that similar? Really, Just think of all the massive differences here right
It sure is primarily alive. A watch things designed by a human are never alive. Nature has equality of self sufficiency, it big regulates and maintains itself. Human artifacts need constant maintenance. Whom would say that if you just look at, universe for what it is. There's a lot of different things. It resembles much more than some intelligently designed watch, laying on a beach somewhere now you were having this argument with David here he could sit here all day and just argue against your analogy point out the weaknesses in it, but he probably wouldn't what he would probably say is. This is a terrible analogy. Balusters move forward is no. It wasn't right, let's, let's move forward, so that I can break down The next sentence in your thought, experiment, which was that there were some resemblance between eyeballs and watches some. Ones between things in nature and things intelligently, design
by human beings that is only explainable by their being an intelligent designer of the universe and after all, these people are claiming to prove the existence of God right. The onus is on them here. When you put it needs blunt terms, it didn't seem difficult to refute regiment. All David, whom needs to do is come up with some alternative explanation. Basically any alternative explanation that corresponds with this example and he's done his work right now for the record David, whom gives several here is as it maybe everything By chance you know, isn't that possible. Maybe there are an infinite number of universes out there, where every possible world is actualized, and maybe we just got really really lucky on ours. Now, keep in mind a lot of people, before using this argument in the time of him, and it would have been using it as a kind of liquor. Ye D mathematical proof of God's existence, this specific point by him
we're not supposed to be some revolutionary argument, and it's not. It's just was to cut the legs out from underneath the claims that there was literally no other, explanation for why things appear to be designed here and if you find where these people in your everyday life start recording on your phone, maybe Youtube video. You found a rare pokemon, but in reality this is not a revolutionary argument at all, but David him right. Most people making this argument in today's well they're gonna, be arguing that this doesn't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. The existence of God they're, just saying, which is more likely and intelligent designer created this or that everything arose by chance. Let's do a quick recap of David Hymns, rebuttal so far, right, first The analogy is just a terrible one. In the first place that there are so many fundamental differences between things- and each year and things that humans create that to pretend, as though, things necessarily follow from this comparison is just plain, irresponsible bullets
they. The analogy works: let's move forward. Hume says that an intelligent designer still isn't the only explanation for the resemblance. As you see right, maybe its chance, maybe there's an infinite number of universes. We got lucky and here he definitely would have included. Natural selection is one of those explanations, probably several others. Considering three hundred years of human thought has passed since then, but even if we ignore this and we tap out right, we stay you ve done it. Even if we accept that you have now proven that there is an intelligent design or behind the origins of the universe. Hume then argues what have you just proven? The eggs cancer, but be real people. Using this argument. Art philosophers arguing to other philosophers that there may have been a cause behind the origins of the universe. Right philosophers always realise this is a possibility, barring some exceptions, some very obvious exception, Vincent
Cases, philosophy for some of the least arrogant people you'll ever meet is because of the process that they engage in on a daily basis. But the reality today is the reality during the time of David, whom would have been as well. The people who are typically making this argument that we're talking about they want to prove the existence of what not just an intelligent designer, but the God of the Abraham religions. Right just like in the case of the cosmos, logical argument, David Humus can argue that the people who use this art to prove the existence of an intelligent designer. Are then, assuming hundreds of things about this intelligent designer? that there is no mention of the thought, experiment and there's no justifiable basis for believing them again, even if we accept the existence of an intelligent designer of the universe. What have we just proven the existence of think about it? All we know about this desire for certain. It said it was capable of designing the universe, nothing more! That's all
We know whom would ask. Does this designer that we're talkin about have to be an omniscient got? No, not necessarily really, ok. Does it have to be omnipotent? Does this thing have to be all powerful for it to have created? The universe will know that just needed to be powerful enough to create the universe right. That's all we know about it. You would say yeah this, at its powerful but all powerful yeah. This God is very knowledgeable, obviously, but all knowing, let's not even talk about all of the hundreds and hundreds of assumptions were making on top of this about whether this God made this vast fractal universe. Just for us or whether this God cares about whether you mention his name, to close to a forbidden word. Can we even ascribe omniscience in omnipotence to this God David? He would say. No, indeed, keep taking down this path. He'd say: ok, since I'm granting that this intelligent,
Zeiner exist, let's get to the bottom of exactly what we know about this design about this. What people often say, God is perfect what can we assume that this intelligent designers perfect after all, we are Cole example. Is that we're likening the design of the universe we see around us with the design of a watch land on the beach somewhere designed by an extremely imperfect human intelligence? Can we really assume that it took a perfect being to create this universe, he would take it even one step further. He would say about this: can we even assume that its one designer. Why should we, after all, did one here being design and create that watch now. Typically, when human beings create things, it's an entire team of designers one thing why shouldn't? We assume that there was a team of God and the creation and design of the universe on the same note, also whom would say that to claim that human intelligence needed a designer is to imply.
Something that is supposedly analogous to human intelligence also needed to desire. So who designed the intelligent design and were left what kind of an infinite regress there and interesting argument to talk about. Him also brings up the point that, if we're being completely honest, we're looking around us we're looking at the evidence at our disposal and we're not just ignoring stuff that doesn't correspond with what already believe: it's really easy to find elements of nature that make it seem like it wasn't intelligently designed he accuses people of what they're doing is they're looking at all of the good coherent stuff in nature and they're, saying oh, that means that it had to have been designed. But what about the incoherent stuff right. Modern biology has revealed a lot more. These right, like that. I think it's, the recurrent Lerman GEO Nerve in that year, ass neck. It goes all the way down super inefficient look if you are an intelligent designer of the universe. That nerve seems incredibly counter intuitive right, but it makes total sense if this is something that evolved by random chance. Also, the appendix
we don't need, he would probably say something like you know, the process of rain all around us definitely makes sense as part of this intelligent design. If it was intelligently designed for us, but why would they ever be devastating floods or winds or any sort of weather patterns like that? If this was truly and intelligently design system for us? The point that Humes making here that we look at these seemingly imperfect things about the design of the universe, using the exact same logic as the argument by design, we can say that the universe obviously is not designed. Maybe the best argument refer to buy Hume in his dialogues concerning natural religion is the idea that, if you're walking along the beach and you come across a watch- and this thing stands apart from everything else around it and that watches design implies that there was some grand designer of nature out there. The The ocean is a watch right, every grain of sand on that beach around you was watching the the that the snack Shack may add a palm trees Rio by that disgusting paper, tray of nachos. That's a watch
yet you know the watches intelligently design because it stands apart from what everything around you that is also intelligently designed. Let's get something straight, though none of these arguments by David Hume proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there isn't an intelligent design are out there. That cares about human behaviour, for example. What if you know what, if the universe was intelligently designed and God just took an extremely inefficient path to get where we are now now he affected the climate of the earth to shape us in the way that we did, but in fairness to whom I, I really don't think this is what he's trying to do in keeping with his cheerful scepticism that you, no doubt would have been met with welcomed with in one of these conversations, I think, is real and
tension by making these arguments is just to get us to see how many unfounded logical leaps we are capable of making as human beings. When we have a dog in the fight. We want one outcome to be true over another one. This is a great lesson to take from human to continue growing throughout your life. I don't you can probably imagine say the stuff David him did about. Religion the assumption that they were making really isn't the best way to stay under the radar. In fact, historically, it's been a fantastic way of finding out whether you're actually write about all this stuff that you're talkin about
if you know what I mean, but I want to make sure we understand who David Hume was right. David Hume was not a militant anti religious person during his lifetime David him was not. You know the equivalent of a Richard Dawkins. You know berating people like saying I got the flowing spaghetti monster now during his life, David Hum was more like one of those Apache helicopters right flying on the horizon. You can't even see them, but they can shoot you and when they do, you lose a leg and the reason I say this is because look. There was no way he was ever gonna publish this stuff during his lifetime. He knew how much of a hot potato it was famously. He went up to his good friend, Adam Smith, during his lifetime. He said when I die. Please, as my
I do me this one favor, please make sure that my work gets published. Adam Smith, Look takes one look at he's like forget: to have man. No, no thank you find somebody else to get it published is what he said right selfishly. Looking back, I kind of wish he did come out with all this stuff. To see the backlash and what had happened over. I guess. On the other hand, I benefited from it as well being at arm's length from that kind of hostility, gave David whom opportunities to write about stuff that it probably otherwise would have had a sort of freedom in its work it's very obvious that David him realised during his lifetime, that not everybody the believes in the God of the Abraham religions, founded their beliefs and philosophical proofs for gods. Existence right. The reality is, if you asked most people that have a belief in God why they believe in God the problem.
Stop look you in the eye and started evoking the Cosmo logical argument here now people base their belief in God on a lot of different things. In David, human, many of his shorter works addresses some of these things that people site as reasons why they believe and got real quick just for historians of philosophy. This is typically regarded as making a distinction between Humes critique of natural religion. Forces revelation. So this next thing we're gonna talk about is not an unpublished work by David him or a work published after his death. This was a highly controversial essay released in his famous inquiry of human understanding
and one of the topics that David Hem dedicates an entire essay to is the concept of miracles. So, in today's day and age you don't got to go very far to find people that are talking about miracles that are happening. You don't got to look very far past your facebook feed to find some news story where, like a baby, is saved from a fire and its spared or a single person survives a train wreck. What are the odds? People leave comments on this new story. What I'm saying is, if you think that your facebook feed is the only time and place in history that you're going to find people calling these events, miracles or the providential hand of God intervening reaching in sparing their life for a few more years Will Europe right at the seventeen hundreds were rife with the sort of thinking and watch and they have been honestly, I mean, if you believe in God, why shouldn't these things reinforce your belief and God I may think about the fiery train wreck that the one person's but why did they survive when so many others perish? They should die. How convenient
Mere coincidence, or the creator of the universe intervening, but one big thing that David, whom would want us to do when we look at these sorts of events, is to make a distinction between miracles. An extraordinary events, because, in his mind there is a huge difference in the implications here right was that person surviving the train wreck unscathed, a miracle or just a highly highly unlikely extraordinary of it here. Say it was an extraordinary event. Please to David him a mirror is something that only an all powerful God could be capable of by a miracle. Is but where suspension of the laws of nature a miracle when somebody is levitating off the floor, gravity is being defined. A miracle is when someone is raised from the debt write the train wreck that could have anything that could have been coincidence. Right, medium, lays out his rule of thumb. Whenever he's told about miracles, here quote: when anyone tells me that saw a dead man restored to life when
do as I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable that this person should either deceive or be deceived or that the fact which he relates should really have input. Nobody saying here is one which is more likely that the Laws of nature were suspended in your favour by a supernatural god, or that someone may have been deceived or that somebody's be asking you. This was a big point, the followers of the Abraham religions during the time, David, whom many of them are mutually exclusive and the claims that they make in this regard? They will, Even the legitimacy of their religion because of the miracles performed in the fulfilment of prophecy, yet there mom more than willing to turn a blind eye to the miracles at the other religions use as a basis for their beliefs. David he's just say,
Let's make a distinction between miracles, an extraordinary events and when it comes to miracles, not that it proves that they didn't happen, but which is more likely that the laws of the universe for suspended in your favour or that the miracles that you believe and are the same as the countless other miracles that your sceptical about when it comes to extraordinary events David, whom would have said well, what do you expect really with as many moving parts and as complex as the world is as many variables that are in place just because of the way that things are. We can expect a certain number of crazy coincidence right by the way. What's the alternative that in a completely random world, not governed by a creator that there wouldn't be any random coincidence, like. No one would ever survive a train wreck in this completely random world.
Soon as your on a train, and it goes off the rails, you're dead, no chance of surviving random. Mrs that predictable, now another topic that David him discusses. It's gonna said why quite nicely. Nor next episode is another thing. The people often used to justify their belief in some higher power that isn't, API Q, Ye D, philosophical proof of God's existence, its the concept of an incorporeal soul. Do humans have souls in. Maybe we do have no basis for believing in a lot of the things we do, but there seems to be something about humans. That's different right am I look at the cows and the squirrels and the moose I'm different than them there's something more to these bodies than just flesh bone in chemicals. What about the soul? What will pick up your next time when we? Finally, get to the bottom of the way that he believed humans interact with the world. Thank you for listening I'll talk to you next time.
Transcript generated on 2020-09-30.