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Journal of Creation 37(1):73–79, April 2023

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An evaluation of Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion


Atheists, such as John Mackie, claim that David Hume’s work Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion dealt a fatal blow to the intelligent design argument in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, well before Charles Darwin’s work On the Origin of Species. Intelligent design has formed an important part of the arguments for belief in divine creation throughout Judeo-Christian history. This paper will examine the structure and arguments of the Dialogues and show that the design argument need not be defeated by Hume’s writing. The analogy to human intelligence may be considered stronger than Hume admitted, even though the probabilistic nature of inductive inferences forces us to move to abduction; that is, choosing the best explanation. So, Christians may show that design is the better explanation, rather than alternative evolutionary ones. Hume’s Dialogues also highlights a division between those who hold to prior faith commitments and evidential arguments; instead, believers should seek coherence between the two sides. In addition, Hume’s work reveals an ambiguity in the concept of nature, between atheism and pantheism.

Image: Allan Ramsay, Wikimedia / PD.fig1-david-hume
Figure 1. David Hume, a Scottish philosopher who lived from 1711–1776 and questioned the design inference.

David Hume’s work Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion was published in 1779, three years after his death. It is not an easy read, because it is written in the form of a dialogue (denoted as Dialogues below).1 Atheistic commentators, such as John Mackie with his The Miracle of Theism, claim that it dealt a fatal blow to the design argument.2 Dialogues involves a discussion between three characters: Cleanthes, Demea, and Philo, and is introduced through the words of Pamphilus to a friend, Hermippus. Cleanthes is presented as the tutor of Pamphilus. Pamphilus suggests that Philo is the careless skeptic, Cleanthes the accurate philosopher, while Demea is rigidly orthodox. While superficially supporting Cleanthes’ view in the opening section, it doesn’t seem to reflect Hume’s actual position, with the design argument left as only a weak analogy to human intelligence by the end.3 The character Philo is given prolonged, almost unchallenged, discourse towards the end, which perhaps better represents Hume’s position.

Cleanthes seeks to defend the classical design argument, which he does through an analogy to human intelligence. His views are closest to those of the modern Intelligent Design movement, and, in terms of apologetics, he may be considered the evidential apologist. Demea may be thought of as the presuppositional apologist, who argues that evidential approaches are weak because of a lack of certainty. Demea uses ontological and cosmological arguments,4 but also believes that people may experience the truth of religion within their hearts, apart from evidence.5 Philo, on the other hand, offers several objections to the design argument, which he derives from the ancient Greek Epicurean perspective, but he also argues from the writing of Hesiod and Plato (Dialogues, p. 193, part VII; see figure 2).

Figure 2. Graphical outline of Hume’s Dialogues

Within the Dialogues, Demea’s position is clearly separated from that of Cleanthes, and Demea initially forms an alliance with Philo. Demea later feels betrayed when he observes that Philo is taking his argument towards atheism. Cleanthes is forced to defend his position from both Demea and Philo. Philo attacks from two perspectives; one along the lines of the atheism of Epicurus, the second from wider Greek Paganism, and even Hinduism—Philo is seen exposing and exploiting the differences between the two positions of Demea and Cleanthes.

The three characters make use of theological reasoning, and both Demea and Philo argue, for different reasons, that children should not be taught about natural theology until the end of their education. Demea’s position is based on concern about disputation in secular science and the obscurity of philosophy, and so he desires to first instil piety and reverence for the principles of religion in children’s minds. Philo takes this view because he considers such teaching to be of no value. Cleanthes disagrees and argues that such skeptics as Philo are unable to live up to their own statements, and that everyone makes use of reason in support of their position, even where direct evidence is lacking (pp. 130–140). Interestingly, when Demea presses Philo (part VII) that his own argument may also be a form of a design argument, Philo doesn’t strongly object, but merely asks whether the emergence of order must always be associated with an analogy to human intelligence; in other words, his is an impersonal mystical approach (p. 179).

Cleanthes vs Philo

Cleanthes argues his case through the use of analogical reasoning, where, for instance, the world is considered to resemble a great machine with living organisms playing a precisely ordered part as lesser machines in the whole. Such natural contrivances, Cleanthes argued, resemble human artefacts, but also exceed in complexity. Therefore, the ‘Author of Nature’ resembles in some way the mind of man, although, by inference, the designer is proportionally greater in intelligence and wisdom (pp. 141–151). Using as an example of contrivance the human eye, he comments:

“Consider, anatomize the eye; survey its structure and contrivance; and tell me, from your own feeling, if the idea of a contriver does not immediately flow in upon you with a force like that of sensation. The most obvious conclusion, surely, is in favour of design; and it requires time, reflection, and study, to summon up those frivolous, though abstruse objections, which can support Infidelity” (p. 154).

Philo accepts that all inferences are based on experience, but argues that our ideas about God are untrustworthy, and that analogical arguments must be based on exact similarities to be of value in terms of cause and effect. Humanity also lacks prior experience of the origin and formation of worlds, suggesting further that if ideas can organize themselves within God’s mind, then why not in material entities as well (pp. 149, 161, 165).

Philo elaborates on these ideas with an Epicurean perspective, suggesting that the order of the universe has come about via finite particles moving through an eternity of time. The universe is then the source of its own order, and all combinations are available to bring about such observed regularity. Cleanthes rejects such assertions and asks how the benevolent and orderly aspects of nature could have arisen by such blind and random processes (pp. 182, 185). Philo offers Cleanthes a compromise which leads to the design argument being acceptable as only a weak analogy to human intelligence. Philo comments:

“If the whole of Natural Theology, as some people seem to maintain, resolves itself into one simple, though somewhat ambiguous, at least undefined proposition, that the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence: if this proposition be not capable of extension, variation, or more particular explication: if it affords no inference that affects human life, or can be the source of any action or forbearance: and if the analogy, imperfect as it is, can be carried no further than to the human intelligence, and cannot be transferred, with any appearance of probability, to the qualities of the mind; if this really be the case, what can the most inquisitive, contemplative, and religious man do more than give a plain, philosophical assent to the proposition, as often as it occurs, and believe that the arguments on which it is established exceed the objections which lie against it?” (p. 227).

Philo VII

So, Philo’s initial argument in the Dialogues leaves the design argument as a weak analogy to human intelligence with very strict criteria. But Philo offers another possibility, also developing an argument based upon more esoteric Greek and Eastern religious beliefs in part VII. He asserts that the universe resembles more the product of an animal or vegetable than a human artefact because of the possession of self-generating or procreational powers. Therefore, the universe, by analogy, may be considered a living organism.

However, Cleanthes accuses Philo of making whimsical arguments that cannot convince. Philo responds with the belief that there is a source of generation within nature and that the world might possess a soul. Philo does, though, insist on asserting that “we have no data to establish any system of cosmogony” because human experience is imperfect and limited in extent and duration, and can therefore provide no “probable conjecture concerning the whole of things” (pp. 176–181).

Hume may simply be raising the notion of an animal-like world soul in order to use it as a tool against the design argument of Cleanthes on the basis that both are equally unlikely. But Philo goes further and asks what hypothetical rule we ought to use to determine a choice, if forced to choose. Philo suggests that such a rule can be found in vegetation or generation by “examining the ancient system of the soul of the world” (pp. 176–177). Philo argues that his system involving a generating force offers a closer analogy than Cleanthes’ design argument because, he suggests, it is our experience that there is a power of generation in nature, and that the world is closer to a vegetable or animal than a machine.

“And does not a plant or an animal, which springs from vegetation or generation, bear a stronger resemblance to the world, than does any artificial machine, which arises from reason and design?” (p. 177).

Philo claims that his system is sourced from ancient mythologies, such as those of Hesiod and Plato, and also from the Brahmins, who believed the world arose from an infinite spider (p. 180).

“Hesiod, and all the ancient mythologists, were so struck with this analogy, that they universally explained the origin of nature from an animal birth, and copulation. Plato too, so far as he is intelligible, seems to have adopted some such notion in his Timaeus” (p. 180).

Hesiod was a Greek poet who lived around 700 BC; one of the works attributed to him is the Theogony, which is concerned with the origins of the world and of the gods. In this work, the goddess Venus (Greek Aphrodite) is connected allegorically to the power of generation.6 Venus is also mentioned in Hume’s Natural History of Religion as a power of generation.7

The Demiurge appears in Plato’s Timaeus as a divine craftsman, if understood in human terms, and was said to have fashioned and shaped the material world out of a pre-existing chaos; thus, it was necessarily imperfect. This is of course different from the Judeo-Christian view that God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo), and declared it ‘very good’, later being corrupted by human rebellion. The Pagan texts were meant to be read more allegorically than the Jewish scriptures.8 The power of generation in Philo’s thinking, as derived from Greek mythology, is an impersonal or esoteric force of nature; one that has creative power through gradual evolution. It is one far removed from the classic intelligent design argument, but in harmony with an equivocation in the concept of nature (discussed further below).9

Cleanthes vs Demea

Hume also sets out in the Dialogues a sharp division between Demea’s and Cleanthes’ positions; as noted, Demea may be seen as the presuppositionalist, Cleanthes the evidentialist. This division allows Hume to expose the weakness of each side, seemingly playing one off against the other, and provides a lesson for Christians who argue strongly between evidential and presuppositional apologetics (in truth, there is no reason for these two positions to be divided strongly; evidence may be used to show there is coherence between reality and prior faith commitments).

The discussion divides between:

  1. Demea’s unknowable God and Cleanthes’ humanized deity.
  2. Demea’s apparent fideism and Cleanthes’ evidence-based faith.

There is also disagreement between Demea’s belief that we cannot really know God’s purposes in the goodness and evil in nature and Cleanthes’ belief that we can infer God’s goodness from creation. Cleanthes is accused of overemphasizing the mechanical nature of creation, which presents God in anthropomorphic terms as a skilled engineer, although one greater in knowledge and wisdom. Cleanthes asks his hearers to look around the world as a whole, noting that people will find it “nothing but one great machine, subdivided into an infinite number of lesser machines” (p. 143).

“This machine-like quality is then subdivided to a degree that is beyond human sense comprehension and explanation. … Since, therefore, the effects resemble each other, we are led to infer, by all the rules of analogy, that the causes also resemble; and that the Author of Nature is somewhat similar to the mind of man, though possessed of much larger faculties, proportioned to the grandeur of the work which he has executed” (p. 143).

Demea objects to talk of God as a designer, because it reduces God to a human scale (p. 156). Instead, he believes that God is ineffably sublime; that is, God is so elevated as to be unknowable. Demea claims support from the Platonists for the idea that knowledge of the nature of God is not possible (p. 138). He states that God is “altogether incomprehensible and unknown to us” (p. 141), and therefore Demea “could not approve of [Cleanthes’] conclusion concerning the similarity of the Deity to men.” Cleanthes’ argument, Demea thinks, gives an advantage to atheists and skeptics (p. 143). The two extremes in fact both potentially lead to atheism. The problem can be categorized as follows:

  1. For Demea’s position: God is elevated so highly that he becomes unknowable.
  2. For Cleanthes’ position: God is removed to the distant past or reduced to just a human agent.

In both positions God may disappear from view. Of course, Hume’s objection only works when we ignore the doctrine that mankind is created in the image of God, and that God has revealed himself to us through Jesus Christ. These doctrines arguably invite us to make an analogy to human intelligence and resist the error of the outlined extremes.

Despite Demea offering a priori ontological and cosmological proofs for God’s existence, he states that people are able to feel the truth of religion in their own breast (p. 193).2 Cleanthes’ position, on the other hand, is evidence-based and inferential. Demea claims that Cleanthes position is probabilistic and weak, and does not utilize rational proofs for the existence of God (p. 143). Cleanthes, on the other hand, asserts that Demea’s position is, in effect, mystical, and so his understanding of God concedes ground to skeptics and atheists. Demea’s response is to note that Cleanthes’ position is, in effect, anthropomorphic, and that God is immutable and beyond comprehension; man’s thoughts are often changing (pp. 158–159).

The third difference is that Demea believes the design argument is counter-productive; this because the world is evidently a place of brokenness, corruption, and trial, as well as showing goodness and beauty. Because God’s mind and purposes are unknown, justification of God in light of such suffering is unnecessary (p. 193). Cleanthes’ design argument, in effect, suggests that all of nature reflects the goodness of God, without taking into account the doctrine of the Fall of man (p. 143). In light of this observation of goodness and evil, the view of Demea is compelling, but such questions do not necessarily address the question of the existence of a designer and do not exclude reasons for suffering.

There are useful insights in the position of each side, but a coherent biblical and theistic understanding of design will necessitate holding in balance the two positions of Demea and Cleanthes, instead of holding them in opposition, as Hume does.

Closing passages

Demea leaves the scene at the end of Part XI, with Cleanthes and Philo continuing the dialogue together. It may be noted that there are perhaps aspects of deistic implications in Cleanthes’ position, while Demea’s God is so elevated as to be unknowable. Cleanthes’ cosmos works with clockwork precision, thus potentially removing God to a distant past or making God merely an uninterested observer. As noted, both Cleanthes and Demea assert that the other’s argument will lead to atheism, one because God is elevated so high as to be unknowable, the other because God is potentially reduced to the level of humanity. For much of the discussion Demea seems to support the notion of the incomprehensibility of God as argued by Philo, but, as the discussion continues, he finds Philo has really only been betraying his support.

“Hold! hold! cried Demea: whither does your imagination hurry you? I joined in alliance with you, in order to prove the incomprehensible nature of the Divine Being, and refute the principles of Cleanthes, who would measure every thing by human rule and standard. But I now find you running into all the topics of the greatest libertines and infidels, and betraying that holy cause which you seemingly espoused. Are you secretly, then, a more dangerous enemy than Cleanthes himself?” (pp. 212–213).

Cleanthes responds that all along Philo has been playing them off against each other and questions why Demea has been so slow in perceiving it. Cleanthes replies that from the beginning Philo, “has been amusing himself at both our expense …” (pp. 212–213).

Discussion of Dialogues

Having set out an overview of the structure and arguments of Hume’s Dialogues above, there are a number of questions that arise out of this. The first question is which character really represents Hume in the Dialogues? Commentators generally agree that it was Philo in the main. Hume allows Cleanthes to be the apparent winner of the debate, but Gaskin observes that anyone reading the Dialogues is struck by the fact that Philo is really the hero and that this was where Hume’s sympathy really lay.3

The motivation of Hume may have been to question the nature of God and not to openly question the existence of such a deity (p. 142).3 In the Dialogues, Philo is given the task of attacking the anthropomorphic design argument of Cleanthes, and thus questioning what further inferences can be made about the nature of such a designer. Hume was seemingly skeptical of many things, but he stated in private letters that he was not a complete atheist who believed nothing; instead believing some things about spiritual reality. 3,10 Hume was also skeptical of arguments for atheism, and it has been suggested that he was more of an irreligious person as opposed to a complete unbeliever.11,12 Kemp Smith further claimed that Hume’s skepticism arose from a dislike of the strict Calvinists.13 It has also been recorded that Hume attended the Jesuit Royal College of La Flèche for two years, and then proceeded to advance an argument with similarities to Buddhism.14 The Jesuits had tried to accommodate Catholic rites with those of other eastern religions, and such syncretism may shed light on Hume’s own thinking.15 In The Natural History of Religion, Hume seems to suggest that monotheism is more rational than polytheism, but he finds the tolerance of pagan religions more appealing. The ambiguity in Hume’s Dialogues, and other works, was perhaps useful as it meant it was difficult to categorize his real religious position. The publication of the work after Hume’s death offered some protection from criticism and religious authorities, but Hume may also have been careful not to offend convention, which partly explains the structure of the work and why it has been so difficult to interpret.3 While Hume was probably not an atheist, and he recognized that skepticism is necessarily limited, he was skeptical of the power of inductive inferences,16 a stance he used against the design argument.

The atheist John Mackie has argued that Philo really represented Hume’s view, and classified several objections to the design argument as follows:2

  1. The design argument is based on a weak analogy to human intelligence.
  2. Even if the natural order can be explained by analogy, there are other non-theistic explanations such as polytheism, pantheism, deism, or vegetation or generation. Philo also considers the possibility that the designer may be embodied.
  3. How can the divine mind, which is postulated by the design argument, be explained?
  4. The question of suffering and the goodness of God.
  5. Even if the design hypothesis were to pass the previous four tests, it would have no explanatory power in science, rendering it useless as a scientific explanation.

There is insufficient room here to respond to points 3, 4, and 5 in depth; suffice it to say that they do not directly undermine the design argument. In one sense, in line with Demea’s assertions, the divine mind needs no further explanation, if it is where all explanations necessarily stop; that is, if God exists outside of time and space, then explanations must cease. The question of suffering and the goodness of God would require a lengthy essay on its own and does not, in reality, question design. However, the evidentialist intelligent design proponent, as characterized by Cleanthes, is unable, or unwilling, to admit the Judeo-Christian doctrine of the Fall because that would entail a priori theological commitments.

In terms of explanatory power, it is invalid to say the design argument predicts nothing. In fact, a belief that the universe is intelligible allows science to begin, and one should expect to find complexity, which is analogous to design at multiple levels. Scientists discover things because they look for regularity; for example, the discovery of the DNA double-helix by secular scientists Crick, Watson, and Franklin. Such complexity and regularity can be understood and modelled with mathematical precision. In other words, the design paradigm allows us to do science and for science to progress.

So that leaves Mackie’s points 1 and 2. It is noteworthy that for Hume to make his overall point against the analogy to human design he had to divide Demea from Cleanthes; that is, to divide the evidential from the presuppositional position. Unlike intelligent design proponents such as Cleanthes, this need not be the case for those who argue from the perspective of biblical creation. Christians can recognize the priority of faith for the believer, which is based upon revealed Scripture, but also recognize that evidence from design coheres with that belief. The doctrines of mankind created in God’s image and that God has revealed himself more fully in the form of a man, through the person of Jesus Christ, invite us to make the analogy between human artefacts and those found in creation. Again, theological commitments are necessary to properly explain design. Of course, Hume is right that inductive inferences are unable to provide absolute proof, but that applies for much of science. Instead, Christian believers can recognize the importance of coherence with prior beliefs, with respect to the design argument, as opposed to offering formal proof.

Top image: Lars-Göran Lindgren Sweden, Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0.
Bottom image: Vauxford, Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 4.
Model T Ford and Ford Focus cars
Figure 3. Do inferences to design have to be perfect to be useful? Here are two cars produced by Ford, The Model T (top) from 1925, and the Ford Focus (bottom) from 2019. We can infer common design, even though the car on the bottom is more complex than the one on the top.

Hume is also wrong to leave the design argument as only a weak analogy to human intelligence, which requires absolute equivalence to be valid. It is perfectly possible to see analogies between artefacts, even as we recognize that one exceeds the other in complexity. Consider two cars, one from the 1920s the other from the 2020s (figure 3). We can recognize the common design from common features, even as we see that the later one greatly exceeds the earlier in terms of technological know-how. Inductive inferences are, by their nature, probabilistic, and do not need to be perfect to be useful in science. However, science has advanced from Hume’s day, with the discovery of machine-like biochemical motors in the cell showing much closer analogies to man-made artefacts.17

So, induction is not absolute in terms of explanatory power, but that is no reason to say it is of no value. This does, however, lead to the possibility of competing explanations. One is then forced to choose which is the best explanation—this is what we call abduction. A number of philosophers, such as Elliott Sober, have pointed out that the design argument can be framed as an inference to the best explanation (although, like Mackie, Sober believes that intelligent design fails in terms of testability).17,18

Mackie also suggests that the designer need not be the God of the Bible,2 and it is notable that Hume outlines other possible mystical designers in Part VII (as discussed above). Erasmus Darwin in fact asserts that it was Hume’s intention to inform us that there is an esoteric power of generation in nature, what Darwin called the maker of the machine.

“The late Mr. David Hume, in his posthumous works, [Dialogues] places the powers of generation much above those of our boasted reason; and adds, that reason can only make a machine, as a clock or a ship, but the power of generation makes the maker of the machine … increasing by the activity of its inherent principles, rather than by a sudden evolution of the whole by Almighty fiat.—What a magnificent idea of the infinite power of THE GREAT ARCHITECT!”19

Erasmus Darwin here compares special creation, which he refers to as “sudden evolution … by Almighty fiat”, against Hume’s power of generation—which is essentially a belief in gradual evolution by esoteric forces. Like Hume, Erasmus Darwin suggested that the formation of the mythological goddess Aphrodite (the Roman Venus) provided an allegory for gradual evolution—we might think of this as pantheistic evolution by an impersonal divine agent.20

In response to Mackie’s claims, it is hard to believe that such impersonal esoteric forces of chaos and generation, even acting over eons of time, could lead to the beauty and order we see in the world. Intelligent design provides the more coherent and far better explanation. Philo’s arguments, involving two positions, also reveal the equivocation in the concept of nature. Just as Hume strongly divided two Christian perspectives, he arguably tried to hold together pantheism and atheism through the character Philo. To put it another way, nature is said to be ‘all-there-is’, but at the same time it is ascribed divine properties in terms of a mystical self-creating and self-sustaining power, and also providing its own ground for truth. Sometimes it is personified as ‘mother nature’; at other times the personification disappears. Hume’s work points to the conclusion that within naturalism there is a latent pantheism, and religious neutrality, so loved by secular humanists, may be an impossible dream.21


Overall, Hume’s arguments do not undermine the design inference. The analogy to human intelligence remains a strong one, not a weak one, and is certainly stronger than Hume’s appeal to Greek mythology. However, because of the nature of inductive inferences, it is necessary to choose the best explanation among alternative ones. Intelligent design holds up very well against naturalistic, evolutionary ones. Hume, through his character Philo, reveals that belief in gradual evolution utilizes an equivocation: that is, between the belief that nature is ‘all there is’ and the belief that it also possesses a mystical power of generation.

The division between Demea and Cleanthes in Dialogues highlights an unhealthy division for Christians. Believers should not strongly divide the presuppositional from the evidentialist arguments as Hume has done. Even as we can recognize the priority of faith for the believer, we can also acknowledge that evidence coheres with prior faith commitments. Finding coherence between evidence and Christian beliefs and doctrines is the methodology followed by biblical creationists. There are salutary lessons for theologians and intelligent design proponents here. There is a danger in overstating each side of the argument. The pure presuppositionalist position looks like fideism and may elevate God so highly that he becomes unknowable. On the other hand, the pure evidentialist position may lead to deism, where God is removed to a distant past, or reduced to a human watchmaker, where ongoing divine providence becomes unnecessary. Each error may ultimately lead to atheism. But God has revealed Himself to us in the form of the incarnate Jesus Christ, the archetype for Adam’s race, which is created in His image. A further important doctrine is the Fall, which avoids a rather immature approach to design.

Posted on homepage: 5 April 2024

References and notes

  1. Hume, D., Dialogues concerning natural religion, in Kemp Smith, N. (Ed.), Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, 2nd edn, Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing, Indianapolis, 1947. See also: Sibley, A., Intelligent Design: Scientific and theological perspectives, M. Phil. Thesis, Exeter University, chap. 2, 2012. Return to text.
  2. Mackie, J.L., The Miracle of Theism; Arguments for and against the existence of God, Oxford University Press, New York, London, pp. 136–137, 1982. Return to text.
  3. Gaskin, J.C.A., Hume’s Philosophy of Religion, The Macmillan Press Ltd, London, pp. 159–163, 1978. Return to text.
  4. Ontological arguments assert a priori the existence of God from logical necessity; cosmological arguments are based upon causation—God as the unmoved prime mover. Return to text.
  5. This is reflected in the idea of a sensus divinitatis; the belief that individuals have an inbuilt sense of God within them, which stems from Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin; see Plantinga, A., Warranted Christian Belief, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 167–177, 2000. Return to text.
  6. Hesiod, The Homeric hymns and Homerica, Theogony, transl. by Evelyn-White, H.G., William Heinemann Ltd, London, lines 185–195, 1914. Return to text.
  7. Hume. D., The Natural History of Religion (first published 1757), with an Introduction by Robertson, J.M., London, A., and Bradlaugh Bonner, H., p. 25, 1889. “Lucretius was plainly seduced by the strong appearance of allegory, which is observable in the pagan fictions. He first addresses himself to Venus as to that generating power, which animates, renews, and beautifies the universe … .” Return to text.
  8. Sedley, D., Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity, University of California Press, Los Angeles, CA, pp. xvi, xvii, 98–107, 2007. Return to text.
  9. Steve Fuller suggested there is often a ‘double truth’ in many works of philosophy with an esoteric meaning for the initiated and a plain sense exoteric reading for uninitiated; see: Fuller, S., Science vs Religion: Intelligent design and the problem of evolution, Polity Press, Cambridge, pp. 52–53, 2007; Strauss, L., Persecution and the Art of Writing, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1952. Return to text.
  10. Hume, D., in: Klibansky, R. and Mossner, E.C. (Eds.), New Letters of David Hume, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 231, 1954. Return to text.
  11. Russell, P., The Riddle of Hume’s Treatise: Skepticism, naturalism and irreligion, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 2008. Return to text.
  12. O’Connor, D., Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Hume and Religion, Routledge, London, p. 19, 2001. Return to text.
  13. See Kemp Smith, ref 1., pp. 9–10, 58–59. Return to text.
  14. Gopnick, A., Could David Hume have known about Buddhism? Charles Francois Dolu, the Royal College of La Flèche, and the Global Jesuit Intellectual Network, Hume Studies 35(1–2):5–28, 2009. Return to text.
  15. Sibley, A., Jesuit accommodation in relation to biblical chronology and Chinese history, J. Creation 36(1):53–56, Apr 2022. Return to text.
  16. Hume, D., An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, sec. IV, Cadwell, London, part II, pp. 37–38, 1777 (Ed. Selby-Bigge 1893). “If there be any suspicion that the course of nature may change, and that the past may be no rule for the future, all experience becomes useless, and can give rise to no inference or conclusion.” Return to text.
  17. Behe, M., Darwin’s Black Box, Free Press, New York, pp. 217–221, 2006. Return to text.
  18. Sober, E., What is wrong with Intelligent Design? The Quarterly Review of Biology 82(1):3–8, Mar 2007. Return to text.
  19. Darwin, E., Zoonomia; Or the laws of organic life, vol. 1, 2nd American edn, from 3rd London edn, corrected by the author, Boston Thomas and Andrews, New York, pp. 400–401, 1803. Return to text.
  20. Darwin, E., The Temple of Nature, or the Origin of Society: A poem, with philosophical notes, J. Johnson, London, Canto I, V, lines 383–384, fn 34, 1803; “Venus seems to have represented the beauty of organic Nature rising from the sea”. Hume also referenced Hesiod; Hesiod, The Homeric hymns and Homerica, Theogony, transl. by Evelyn-White, H.G., Theogony, William Heinemann Ltd, London, lines 185–195, 1914. Discussed further here: Sibley, A., Deep time in 18th century France—part 2: influence upon geology and evolution in 18th and 19th century Britain, J. Creation 33(1):93–101, 2020. Return to text.
  21. Clouser, R.A., The Myth of Religious Neutrality, Revised edn, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, 2005. Return to text.

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