Shannon Hume Essay

Submitted By shannongm1
Words: 1083
Pages: 5

Shannon Mulholland
Professor Wilson
Hume Paper
3/30/15

Hume brings to life an often-overlooked conceptualization referring to the limited knowledge that a human being can attain in regards to God. Based on the experiences and expectations that man has been subject to, he is biologically designed to examine an effect from the root cause, and attach a new postulation that coincides with such a cause. This is very different with respect to God since we can only examine the observable universe rather than an intangible being. Due to the fact that we can only experience concepts that God has manifested into the universe, and not God as a being, mankind has a limited perspective about what one can expect from the divine. To begin, Hume notes that in regards to observing human accomplishments and experiences, one can extrapolate new concepts that stem from a the originating cause. We as humans can examine an effect, trace this back to an original cause, and from there interpret alternative effects based on previous “experiences and observations”.1 This is due to the fact that man is a creature that has been studied and examined since the dawn of our species. We are well accustomed to his mannerisms, and therefore can accurately hold predetermined expectations for such a creature based on the natural laws that govern our environment.2 Man’s inclinations and tasks are tightly bound together because of these laws. Without even stressing one’s mental capabilities, “hundreds of inferences about the expectations of an individual can be established based on observations of their actions.”3An example of this can be found upon seeing a human footprint in the sand4. Obviously, based on previous experience, one can interpret that there must have been a person that came before them, leaving this imprint in the sand.5 Returning to the cause - the person previously frolicking in the sand - one can then expect that there is to be a second footprint in the sand.6 The same cannot be said in regards to a Deity since a divine being is only observable in his productions.7 God is a singular being; there is nothing in the human realm that can enable man to comprehend his characteristics.8 However, what we as a “species or genus” can do to gain wisdom in regards to God, as a being is to examine what qualities the universe places before us.9 If the clouds fade, allowing a beautiful blue sky to emerge, one can interpret that God is providing serenity. Our inferences only stretch as far as the effects we see in our own world. This is where our limitations leave us in the dark, as we can gain no further information about the qualities of God outside of what is observable by man. Hume is comparing the difference between how an individual can interpret the actions of another and the lack of knowledge in regards to a higher power. Man is a creature that has been the subject of many examinations, and as such, upholds certain expectations that correlate to his behavior. We can establish inferences about a person based on the actions that have been observed over time. The same capabilities are not accessible when one attempts to conceptualize and make suppositions about God. In an excerpt from Charles Echelbarger, he provides a similar argument that essentially coincides with my interpretation. In this he states, “...is meant only to show that this ultimate cause is immanent, rather than transcendent, and that we can have no positive knowledge of the nature of this being, though we can be reasonably sure of its existence.”10 Thus, providing ulterior support to my stance. Our view is limited to only the effects that are thrusted into our universe, good or bad. Since we are not authorized to make judgments on the nature of God, we can therefore only appreciate his contributions. Some symmetry can be found throughout the argument that Gaskin provides in this article. While belief in God is seemingly unavoidable, we can only begin to grasp the idea that God…