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Hume Vs. Swinburne

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Hume vs. Swinburne

        Hume and Swinburne are two influential philosophers of religion, they have famous pieces on the Design Argument. The Design Argument is “the focus changes from the fact that the world exists to the fact that it exhibits certain features… The basic answer given by all forms of design argument is: features that suggest mind or intelligence” (p.g. 245). Hume came before the time of Charles Darwin, so his views were very controversial for his time. He would have been seen as a heretic for being an atheist and not following how the Bible says about God having reasons for everything. His theory would back what Darwin had found out about genetics, there are no human emotions when the deciding a person’s genetic make-up. Swinburne defends the design argument on the notion of “regularities of succession.” His theory combines the evolutionary theory by Darwin with the Design Argument.

        I was brought up Christian, and still am a Christian. I was brought up being told everything has a reason, God has a plan for us. Growing up my favorite story was how God created the earth in seven days. I am still a firm believer in the design argument, but I do understand the role of genetics and evolution. One of my favorite college courses thus far was Human Genetics, where we learned about genetics and how the play a role in eye color, hair color, skin color, cancer, other illnesses, etc… I think my stance is more along the lines of what Swinburne argues with combining the two. I understand where Hume is coming from as well though.

        Hume and Swinburne have one major essential difference between their arguments. While Swinburne attempts to combine the evolutionary theory with the design argument, Hume shoots down the entire design argument theory by stating that we are trying to put human emotions, actions, etc… on non-human objects or events.  This is their essential difference is how one defends the argument while the other attempts to destroy it. Hume was before Darwin, but Darwin’s argument fits well into Hume’s argument that we put human emotions/actions on to non-human things. Before Darwin, people believed that God did everything for a reason. They also believed that there were little men inside of a woman and that’s how they got pregnant and that the woman determines the sex of the child. Darwin was able to begin the research that lead to determining that these notions were indeed false. Swinburne attempts to argue that Hume’s argument is wrong and misguided.

        Swinburne’s argument is the closest to what I believe out of the two arguments. I agree with the pairing of the two, but I still believe that there is a God. Swinburne in his argument does well at trying to discredit or disprove Hume’s argument. He is very clear and precise about how he believes that specific points of Hume’s argument are faulty in his belief. He has good evidence to support his claims, much like Hume has solid evidence and reasoning for his argument. Hume’s stance that we put human emotions/actions on objects and things of nature as way of explanation is a spot, we do tend to pair these things together as a way of explaining the unexplainable. As humans, we do not like not having an explanation for events that are happening around us. If something bad happens we feel the need to have to blame someone or something for why that event happened, same goes for when something truly amazing happens. This makes picking a side very hard because I also can see and agree with where Hume is coming from in his argue. With this being said, the best route for me to pick to side with Swinburne because I tend to side with him more than Hume.

        Swinburne sets his piece, “God, regularity, and David Hume” up perfectly for me to see both Hume’s arguments and his own arguments, so I will be referring to this piece when typing. When I use another, I will cite that and let the reader know that it was a different piece and where to find it.

        In his piece Swinburne states that Hume’s piece, “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion,” has a weak analogy that leaves the conclusion still improbable. He states “it argues from analogy between the order of the world and the products of human art to a god responsible for the former, in some ways similar to man who is responsible for the latter… one unwilling to admit the conclusion might still claim that the analogy was too weak and remote for him to have to admit it, that the argument gave only negligible support to the conclusion which remained improbable” (pg. 274-275). Swinburne than proceeds to argue that there are two types of “regularities,” regularities of succession and regularities of co-presence. A regularity of co-presence “are patterns of spatial order at some one instant of time” (pg. 275). He uses the example all the books in a library being arrange in alphabetical order according to authors to explain this type of regularity. Regularities of succession “are simple patterns of behavior of objects, such as their behavior in accordance with the laws of nature” (pg. 275). An example he uses is that of Newton’s law of gravitation, that all bodies attract each other with forces proportional to the product of their masses. His argument will hinge on these two types of regularities. He state’s that Hume’s argument contains many instances of spatial disorder (pg. 276). He also states that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution proved that there are regularities of co-presence between the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom and that they arose from natural processes in an apparently disordered state.  Swinburne also argues that regularities of succession cannot be explained away in a normal scientific explanation, that natural laws rule almost all successions of events. He argues that the regularity of succession is how one should argue the design argument, because of that reason. I would be inclined to agree with what he states because it makes the most sense to me on why events happen and how to explain the regularity of them. It, also, makes it easier to understand where Swinburne is coming from and how he is getting his conclusions to his argument.

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