Plants vs. Zombies: Hume Was An Atheist

David Hume

My wife used to love playing a action-strategy game called Plants vs. Zombies. The aim of this game was to arrange and rearrange different types of plants and fungi, as a landowner, around the house to stop a mob of zombies from invading it and eat your brain.

Popular myths are like zombies.  They too, if not stopped, invade your head and eat your brain. This series of articles concisely introduced some of popular theists and atheists myths. My aim is to give plants and fungi to both sincere atheists and theists brains’ soil to battle these waves of  zombies. So, lets get ready to soil our plants and fungi before these zombies eat our brains.

Myth I: David Hume Was An Atheist

In The Presumption of Atheism, Antony Flew’s wrote that David Hume was “the archetypal ancient spokesman for an atheist scientific naturalism”(1976, 52). Reading what some philosophers said about Hume’s Dialogue Concerning Natural Religion, a master piece leveled to refute the classical arguments for existence of God, this zombie ate my brain.

I started planting plants and fungi against this zombie when I began reading  Hume’s original works. I discovered that Hume’s aim was to show that the existence of God, the omnicompetent and wholly good creator is indemonstrable (D 189  cf. 141-2). The whole Dialogues(D) is not whether God exists or not, but if His nature can be known. Both Demea (D 142) and Philo (D 198), Hume’s characters, affirmed God’s existence but diverged on His nature. The problem of evil, for example, was Philo’s case against a benevolent nature of God, not His existence..

Hume’s Natural History of Religion (4:30 & 4:329) reveals that Hume, like Epicurus, was a limited theist. A narrow form of theism, but theism nonetheless.

Next: Myth II: Conflict Between Darwinism and Paleontology

When prejudiced creationists fail to see a zombie-difference between Darwinian gradualism and Darwinian punctuated equilibria.

Bibliography:

Flew, Antony (1976) The Presumption of Atheism . London: Pemberton.

Further Reading: Major Writings of David Hume in contemporary English.

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9 thoughts on “Plants vs. Zombies: Hume Was An Atheist

  1. The way in which these philosophers use theism seems to be the same as the Greeks. The Greeks would use god in such a way as to describe to us an unknown phenomena, like the emotional attachment between friends – this would be considered a god to them.

    “to put it very briefly, that the Greek word ‘theos’ does not mean God; that, in early times, the connection between theology and morality was not what we think it ought to be – in fact it was virtually none whatever; and that we inevitable take the myths in the wrong spirit, and approach them from the wrong and, since we first meet them in their later and more trivial guide. We begin, whether we know it or not, with Ovid and his late-Greek authorities.” H.D.F KITTO(1951), The Greeks. p. 195

    “In other words, there is a power which is more powerful than the gods; the gods are not omnipotent. This shadowy power was called Ananke, ‘what has to be’, or Moira, ‘the sharer-out’. This conception of a universal and impersonal power contains the germ both of religion and of science. Ibid., p.196

    Perhaps contemporary theism would be the wrong word to describe these philosophers?

    “It was the Greek philosophy, notable Plato’s conception of the absolute, eternal deity, which prepared the world for the reception of a universal religion.”

    Ibid., 203

    I posted this quote because I thought it also placed some value on the way we use the word theism.

  2. Every form of theism claims an ultimate cause. Theism doesn’t suppose, philosophise or question, they claim an ultimate cause to something or some being E.G. god or an afterlife.

    “In vain, therefore, should we pretend to determine any single event, or infer any cause or effect, without the assistance of observation and experience.

    Hence we may discover the reason why no philosopher, who is rational and modest, has ever pretended to assign the ultimate cause of any natural operation, or to show distinctly the action of that power, which produces any single effect in the universe.”

    Hume was not a theist.

    • Immanuel Kant concours with Hume on that point. Does that make Kant not a theist? If no, then how does it make Hume?

      In his essay “Of Suicide” Hume stated:

      “The providence of the deity appears not immediately in any operation, but governs everything by those general and immutable laws, which have been established from the beginning of time. All events, in one sense, may be pronounced that action of the almighty: They all proceed from those powers, with which he has endowed his creatures. A house, which falls by its own weight, is not brought to ruin by his providence more than one destroyed by the hands of men; nor are the human faculties less his workmanship than the laws of motion and gravitation. When the passions play, when the judgment dictates, when the limbs obey; this is all the operation of God; and upon these animate principles, as well as upon the inanimate, has he established the government of the universe”

      He went on,

      “Nature still continues her progress and operation; and if general laws be ever broke by particular volitions of the deity, ’is after a manner which entirely escapes human observation”(Hume 1985:581)

      In another essay “The Platonist”, Hume wrote:

      “Can we then be so blind as not to discover intelligence and a design in the exquisite and most stupendous contrivance of the universe? Can we be so stupid as not to feel the warmest raptures of worship and adoration, upon the contemplation of that intelligent being, so infinitely good and wise? The most perfect happiness, surely, must arise from the contemplation of the most perfect object. But what is more perfect than beauty and virtue? And where is beauty to be found equal to that of the universe? Or virtue, which can be compared to the benevolence and justice of the Deity”(ibid, 158)

      It is clear that Hume was against standard theism but claiming that he was not a theist is false. I am still writing and re-researching all his works as I set to write “Hume Misunderstood”

      Hume, David (1985). Essay, Moral, Political, and Literary. E. F. Miller (Ed.),Indianapolis: Liberty Classics Pub. pp. 581

    • The problem is that even the article presented pointed out about thin theism of Hume to which I pointed out. For a similar conclusion see:

      Tai Ha Lee “Was Hume an Atheist? A Reconsideration” Filozofia 66, 2011, No 3, p. 240-257

      Shane Andre “Was Hume An Atheist?” Hume Studies Volume XIX, Number 1 (April, 1993) 141-166.

      Both Lee and Hume Scholar Andre reached a similar conclusion as mine. Learn something 😉

    • Instead of answering who is an insincere atheist(or theist), I would first not tell but show you who is a sincere atheist. You, John, are an example of sincere atheist. When I presented you with correct data you admitted and apologies a sloppy data of Jesus been crucified in Rome. An insincere atheist(or theist) even when presented with correct data, will not admit nor apologize.

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