The Material World and Natural Religion in Hume's Treatise

In the early eighteenth century context there was an intimate connection between problems concerning the existence of the material world and problems of natural religion. Two issues are of particular importance for understanding Hume’s irreligious intentions in the Treatise. First, if we are unable to establish that we know that the material world exists, then all arguments for the existence of God that presuppose knowledge of the material world (i.e. its beauty, order, design, etc.) are placed in doubt. Second, if we are naturally disposed to believe in the existence of body, but this belief is false, then it seems to follow that God must be a deceiver -- or does not exist. Hume’s arguments in 1.4.2, I maintain, are finely crafted to present both these (irreligious) challenges to the orthodox view.
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