David Hume

David Hume
Birth 1711
Death 1776

Outstanding Scottish agnostic philosopher who rejected the validity of religious morality; our moral judgements are based on purely human emotions. He was a historian (see the multivolume The History of England) and economist (see the idea of private property and the belief that perfect equality would lead to impoverishment for all). He refuted the concept of innatism; people hardly know themselves and are directed by empirical experience and passions, not by reason. What’s more, our passions frequently overpower our sense of reason and we only resort to rational thinking in order to justify and satisfy them: ‘reason is a slave to the passions’. That as it may be, it’s surely better to do everything we can to satisfy our passions than do what religion does and deny their existence.

Hume had an interesting perspective on religious miracles. In his opinion, claims that miracles had allegedly taken place don’t give any grounds for believing in the existence of God; there have never been any miracles, as they defy the laws of nature, common sense and human experience. If anything, miracles are the senses deceiving us. All testimonies about miracles have come from ‘ignorant and barbarous nations’, whose people were prone to lie about miracles out of a desire to bolster their religion and get famous.

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