I need to come back to the two kinds of evidence for God I spoke about earlier (in part I)
Speaking to the second kind of evidence, particularly the part about “like effects proceeding from like causes” (argued by Newton – I understand William Paley used this in his arguments for a Designer around 1802 as well), the famous 18th century skeptic David Hume would have likely responded in the following way:
“Whether we infer any particular cause from an effect, we must proportion the one to the other, and can never be allowed to ascribe to the cause any qualities, but what are exactly sufficient to cause the effect. And if we ascribe to it farther qualities, or affirm it capable of producing any other effect, we only indulge the license of conjecture without reason or authority”.
Elsewhere, Hume writes: “There can be no demonstrative arguments to prove that those instances of which we have no experience, resemble those, of which we have had experience.”
In other words, as one commentator says, “one cannot be confident in explaining what we do not know from what we do know, because we don’t know what it is we don’t know.”
It is true that we do not know – that is, we have not directly experienced – the Divine Nature directly bringing the world into existence. Big surprise. At the same time, we have directly experienced the Divine Nature creating new life day by day, and also that this Intelligence – this Mind – holds all things together. This is how we live, move, and have our being. The fact that we also may experience ourselves to live, move, and have our being among the advanced conceptual and technological structures that we as humans have made – i.e. that “technology is the ontology of our age”, as Heidegger put it – does not excuse us here, but in fact makes us more culpable!
In short, this is hardly a case of our not knowing what it is we don’t know. The agnostic and atheist do not have the principle of parsimony on their side. It is simply, flat out, a case of our knowing what we know, and suppressing that knowledge, whether we admit it or not (i.e., this connects with the first kind of evidence I spoke about – from direct our direct, innate, immediate awareness of the Divine). This is why, as persons like Richard Dawkins put it, we must constantly remind ourselves that what we see was not designed, i.e. there is no intelligence or purpose behind what we see. Again, in effect, they are saying that we have only received atmospheric noise, or static, although interestingly, this noise is constantly useful to us.
Yes, nevermind that scientists who decry belief in God consider the world “as if” it were a deliberate work of genius – having depth, harmony, precision, elegance, and beauty – i.e., an underlying order and arrangement. Nevermind that they seek for all this much like the careful reader of Shakespeare who searches diligently for layers of meaning. It is all atmospheric noise.
Given the premise that “science” “properly defined” can only allow for causes that are unguided and undirected, this whole situation is more than just a bit incoherent.
Again, the emperor has no clothes – and the child knows it, even if the rational adult does not.
Hume has other arguments as well. He posits that the cosmos could be the work of a God who has subsequently died. But if a person believes that the Divine Nature responsible for all things is not beyond “the system”, but is intertwined with it, this would imply the continual existence of the Divine Nature. And if a person believes, in more deistic fashion, that the Divine Nature is beyond the system, it seems impossible that a Beginner(s) that could create all that we see and experience (matter, motion, space and time) would be unable to overcome something as small as death. After all, many persons today believe man himself – despite the fact that he has not created life – can overcome this obstacle. In short, the first kind of evidence for the Divine Nature (from immediate experience) continues to inform the second kind of evidence (from reason and logic) – it can’t not.
Therefore, just as we must tell Mr. Hume that he is simply being foolish when he, for example, argues that miracles are impossible – or that we can’t be sure whether we have a true or enduring self – or that we can’t be sure whether the billiard balls will behave the same way tomorrow (in spite of our hitherto consistent experience) – we here to must tell this most skeptical of men that he is playing the fool.
Atheism, and even agnosticism, is not a rational position for any person to take. So the question: which God? See here.