Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 125 pages of information about Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.


But to show you still more inconveniences, continued Philo, in your Anthropomorphism, please to take a new survey of your principles.  Like effects prove like causes.  This is the experimental argument; and this, you say too, is the sole theological argument.  Now, it is certain, that the liker the effects are which are seen, and the liker the causes which are inferred, the stronger is the argument.  Every departure on either side diminishes the probability, and renders the experiment less conclusive.  You cannot doubt of the principle; neither ought you to reject its consequences.

All the new discoveries in astronomy, which prove the immense grandeur and magnificence of the works of Nature, are so many additional arguments for a Deity, according to the true system of Theism; but, according to your hypothesis of experimental Theism, they become so many objections, by removing the effect still further from all resemblance to the effects of human art and contrivance.  For, if Lucretius[Lib.  II. 1094], even following the old system of the world, could exclaim,

    Quis regere immensi summam, quis habere profundi
    Indu manu validas potis est moderanter habenas? 
    Quis pariter coelos omnes convertere? et omnes
    Ignibus aetheriis terras suffire feraces? 
    Omnibus inque locis esse omni tempore praesto?

If Tully [De. nat.  Deor.  Lib.  I] esteemed this reasoning so natural, as to put it into the mouth of his epicurean

“Quibus enim oculis animi intueri potuit vester Plato fabricam illam tanti operis, qua construi a Deo atque aedificari mundum facit? quae molitio? quae ferramenta? qui vectes? quae machinae? qui ministri tanti muneris fuerunt? quemadmodum autem obedire et parere voluntati architecti aer, ignis, aqua, terra potuerunt?”

If this argument, I say, had any force in former ages, how much greater must it have at present, when the bounds of Nature are so infinitely enlarged, and such a magnificent scene is opened to us?  It is still more unreasonable to form our idea of so unlimited a cause from our experience of the narrow productions of human design and invention.

The discoveries by microscopes, as they open a new universe in miniature, are still objections, according to you, arguments, according to me.  The further we push our researches of this kind, we are still led to infer the universal cause of all to be vastly different from mankind, or from any object of human experience and observation.

And what say you to the discoveries in anatomy, chemistry, botany?...  These surely are no objections, replied cleanthes; they only discover new instances of art and contrivance.  It is still the image of mind reflected on us from innumerable objects.  Add, a mind like the human, said Philo.  I know of no other, replied cleanthes.  And the liker the better, insisted Philo.  To be sure, said cleanthes.

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Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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