A Quick List of Nasty Practices

What I’m looking for when I gamble on a world-picture is something that makes sense of the four major features of existence that give rise to religious questions – the striking fact of cosmic order, our distinctive consciousness, our strong moral sense and thirst for justice and the persistent varieties of supernatural experience. The various forms of materialism strike me as very weak on all four counts, and the odds that what Thomas Nagel called “the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature” is true therefore seem quite low. All these numbers will be a little arbitrary, but for the sake of the game I’ll set the probability that a hard materialism accurately describes reality at 2 percent (and I think I’m being generous there).

The origins of religious belief rest with human ..

A Feminist Philosophy of Religion: The Rationality and Myths of Religious Belief
Photo provided by

In terms of religious belief, ..

One of the most sustained discussions of this general theme is inThe Natural History of Religion, where Hume compares theeffects of polytheism and theism on their believers (Sects. IX-XIV).In this context., Hume points out that while theism may avoid some ofthe absurdities and barbarisms of polytheism, it is by no means freeof these problems. On the contrary, it is Hume’s view thattheism is prone to intolerance and persecution of its opponents; thatit encourages its followers to abase themselves and pursue uselessforms of self-denial; that it corrupts and perverts philosophy; thatalthough it is plagued with doubts, it presents a dogmatic attitude tothe world; and, finally, that it breeds serious moral vices, includinghypocrisy, fraud and cruelty. The tendencies of theism that mostconcern Hume, however, are its intolerance and opposition to liberty,its distorted moral standard, and its willingness to sanction the“greatest crimes” in the name of piety and devotion (NHR,14.7). Hume leaves his readers with the clear view that religion, farfrom being a source of support for moral practice, is in fact a majorsource of moral sickness in the world.

Religious Belief and Religious Skepticism.

Hume’s account of the autonomy of morals and its foundations inhuman nature constitutes the constructive aspect of his views on thereligion/morality relationship. In developing this account, Hume drawsheavily from earlier work by other freethinking, irreligious, andradical philosophers, such as Hobbes, Spinoza, Bayle, and (especially)Shaftesbury. There is, however, a much more critical aspect toHume’s views on the religion/morality relationship. While it isevident that Hume believes that religion is not necessary formorality, he stops short of claiming that religion is alwaysdestructive of morality — even though this is a view that wouldbe no more extreme than the contrary view frequently advanced byreligious apologists (i.e., that atheists are incapable of moralconduct etc.). Nevertheless, in a variety of contexts, Hume doesmaintain that religion — especially monotheism — haspernicious and corrupting tendencies.

how exactly do you explain how incredibly common religious belief is and how it ..
Photo provided by

Hume’s skepticism provoked a number of important responses

Cowen: I do take the William James arguments about personal experience of God seriously, and I recommend his The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature to everybody — it’s one of the best books period. But these personal accounts contradict each other in many cases, we know at least some of them are wrong or delusional, and overall I think the capacity of human beings to believe things — some would call it self-deception but that term assumes a neutral, objective base more than is warranted here — is quite strong. Presumably a Christian believes that pagan accounts of the gods are incorrect, and vice versa; I say they are probably both right in their criticisms of the other.

Hume on Religion (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

According to Joseph Butler, an influential contemporary ofHume’s, the most important question that can possibly be askedis whether we are to live in a future state. It was Butler’sview that the doctrine of future rewards and punishments isfundamental to religion and essential for its practical influence overhuman life and conduct. This view of the importance of the doctrine offuture rewards and punishments was accepted by almost all the leadingtheologians at this time (and is, of course, still widely acceptedamong religious thinkers today). It is evident that the immortality ofthe soul is an essential part of this doctrine. For Hume’scontemporaries, proofs of the immortality of the soul generallydepended upon showing that the soul is immaterial.

The Religious response to the Danica Roem ..

What really matters for assessing Hume’s critique of miracles isto keep in mind that his primary aim is to discredit the actualhistorical miracle claims that are supposed to provide authority andcredibility for the major established religions — mostobviously, Christianity. From this perspective, the central issue isnot whether Hume is right in claiming that it is impossible for anymiracle claim to be established as morally certain (i.e.,“proved”), but if he is right in claiming that thehistorical miracle claims supporting the major religions such asChristianity pass this standard. It is Hume’s judgment that whenwe weigh the relevant evidence, and proportion our belief accordingly,we will find that these claims are rationally unbelievable.