Argumentative Assay 2
Argumentative Assay 2
· For this paper, you will present your position on a question and defend your view with reasoning. Then, you will present an opposing view and reasons in favor
of it, then respond to that opposing view. These elements form a complete philosophy paper.
Please write at least 1500 words Argumentative document about the following topic:
· Do science and religion give us the same kind of knowledge, thus competing with one another, or do they give us different kinds of knowledge, and function in
different and complementary arenas?
· This debate draws on the attached essays about Galileo and Hume. Please read carefully the all the attached material. Including Rubric.
· Specifically, Galileo argues that science and religion provide different kinds of knowledge and do not compete, while Hume evaluates religion on empiricist
grounds (those used in science) and finds it lacking.
Take a position on this question and defend your view with logical reasoning. Demonstrate that you understand Galileo’s and Hume’s. Remember that you will need to
consider an intelligent opposing viewpoint, so make sure your viewpoint is debatable and something with which another philosopher could disagree.
Please DON’T DO CITATIONS, this is an argumentative essay where you take a position. ex. I agree with Galileo …… Then on the opposing view ex.
Then on the opposing view ex. The Position of Hume ….
1. Galileo Galilei: Letter to Grand Duchess Christina
2. Hume: Dialogs on Natural Religion
Letter to Grand Duchess Christina
by Galileo Galilei
•Galileo was a central figure in the scientific revolution of the 17thcentury.
He studied medicine and then became a mathematician.
Galileo had a famous altercation with the Catholic Church over his heliocentric theory of
Galileo was found guilty of heresy and was sentenced to house arrest.
Galileo Galilei lived from 1564-1642.
He was born in Pisa, in Italy. He was a central figure in the scientific revolution of the 17th. He enrolled in medical school, but never finished. He was a professor
of mathematics at the University of Padua and was then appointed to be chief mathematician and philosopher to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. One of the things that
Galileo famous is his altercation with the Catholic church. The book that got him in trouble with the church is called Dialogues on Two Chief World Systems. He was
ordered to Rome in 1633 for an examination by the Holy Office where he underwent four hearings about his writings. In June of 1633, the church declared that he was
“vehemently suspected of heresy.” He was forced to read a statement that pledged his faith to the church and was then sentenced to house arrest in his villa outside
Florence. Galileo had been warned about his research by a cardinal, years before and apparently, he did not heed the warning. It isn’t until Pope John Paul II that
Galileo got off the hook. In the year 2000, over three hundred years later, the pope issued a formal apology to Galileo and others the church had wronged.
The Heliocentric View
The heliocentric view states that the sun is the center of the universe, not the Earth.
Copernicus developed the view in the 15th-16thcentury. It overthrows Ptolemy’s 2nd
century geocentric view.
•Copernicus’ book was removed from printing and revised to the Church’s liking.
The main thing that the church had a problem with was the fact that
Galileo wanted to teach the heliocentric view of the universe.
The heliocentric view states that the sun is the center of the universe
rather than the Earth. Copernicus is the person who developed the view in the 15t-16th century. It overthrows Ptolemy’s geocentric view from the 2nd century.
Copernicus’ view appears in his book On the Revolutions and that work was ordered to be removed from printing until it was revised to the church’s liking.
In this letter (1616), Galileo defends his heliocentric view.
•He needs to answer the objection that the view is
heretical, so he reconstructs it.
•Premise #1: The heliocentric view contradicts something
written in the Bible.
•Premise #2: The Bible cannot err (cannot be mistaken).
•Premise #3 (and conclusion): The heliocentric view is both false and heretical (goes against the orthodoxy of
In the letter (written in 1616), Galileo wants to defend his desire to teach the heliocentric view. He knows in order to do that, he has to answer the objection that
the view is heretical, or that it contradicts the
truth of the Bible. So, the first thing he does is reconstruct the argument that people make against the view.
Premise #1: The heliocentric view contradicts something written in the Bible.
Premise #2: The Bible cannot err (cannot be mistaken).
Premise #3 (and conclusion): The heliocentric view is both false and heretical (goes against the orthodoxy of the church). Let’s examine each premise:
The Anti-Heliocentric Argument
Premise #1 is true. Ecclesiastes 1:5 states, “And the sun rises and sets and
returns to its place.”
•Galileo accepts premise #2: he believes it is true that the Bible cannot err.
•He objects to the idea that premise #3 follows from premise #2.
Premise #1 is in fact true. There are several Bible verses that make
reference to the heavenly bodies orbiting around the Earth. For
example, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place.” There are other examples as well.
Galileo also accepts Premise #2: he believes it is true that the Bible
cannot err. What Galileo ultimately objects to, however, is the idea that Premise #3 follows from Premise #2.
What Premise #2 Entails
•Galileo thinks that while the Bible cannot err, humans misinterpret it. It has a deeper meaning than just the literal words.
•If we read “the hand of God” literally, it would lead us to a false and heretical statement.
We must choose which Bible passages to take literally and which to interpret metaphorically.
•If the Bible uses poetic language about God’s attributes, it might use poetic language about the movement of the
•Therefore, Galileo concludes that we should not assume that we understand what is in the Bible and whether something is heretical
Although Galileo accepts the idea that the Bible cannot err, he believes we as human beings are liable to misinterpret what the Bible says (it was, as Galileo argues,
divinely inspired, and we are merely
humans). There is, for instance, a deeper meaning in the text than just the literal words. Galileo gives the example of the
Biblical phrase “the hand of God.” When we say that phrase, we don’t literally mean that God has hands. If we read the
phrase that way, it implies that God has a body. But, God does not have a body – if He did, then He wouldn’t
be able to be anywhere and everywhere all at once. Galileo points out that if we read the phrase “hand of God” literally, it leads us to say something heretical and
false. Notice that we now have a problem: people rejected the heliocentric view in the past because they were
reading certain Biblical passages literally. Galileo asks: how do we know those are passages that we should take literally, but that we shouldn’t take literally
passages about God’s hands? Galileo suggests that only those who work in Biblical exegesis (scholars who
work on interpreting the Bible) can say for sure which passages should be taken literally. Furthermore, Galileo claims that if the Bible can use poetic language with
regard to God’s attributes (like His “hands”), then it is reasonable to believe that it could also be poetic with regard to the movement of the sun as well.
Galileo concludes that we ought not to rush to judgment. Even though
the Bible cannot err, he thinks that people
can err. We fallible readers don’t always know exactly what the
truths are that are contained in the Bible, because we read from our
fallible condition. Until we figure that out, argues Galileo, we shouldn’t go around condemning people’s research and calling it heretical. He offers more thoughts on
The Roles of Science and of Religion
•Galileo argues that the Bible is written in poetic language in order to move people to believe in God.
•Science is confined to plain language and math. Scientists have to be objective in order to describe how the world works.
•Galileo argues that the Bible is the authority on all things that surpass human reason and that
science’s domain is the things within human reason.
•Galileo believes that God gave us the power of
reason in order to pursue knowledge
Galileo argues that the Bible is written in poetic language because it
is supposed to speak to people in a certain way. It uses beautiful language and parables because it is supposed to make an impression: people will be moved by the
to believe in God. It’s written this way because its whole goal is to
show people the word and ways of God.
On the other hand, science is confined to plain language and
mathematics. Scientists have to be objective in their scientific
descriptions. Science uses this kind of language because it has a
different purpose than the Bible. All science is trying to do is describe the world and how it works. You can use the example of an instruction
manual: if we need to put together a shelf, using metaphors and poetry won’t help us do that. Galileo argues specifically that the Bible is the authority on all things
that are beyond human reason (Heaven,
God’s plan, etc.). But the domain of science is a different kind of knowledge – the kind of knowledge
that is not beyond human reason. We can learn about the world using
reason, but we cannot learn about God using reason alone (because
He escapes the limited human mind). For Galileo, the purpose of science is to teach us about the former, and the Bible is there to
teach us about the latter. Galileo believes that exercising our
reason is a pious thing to do. After all, he believes that God is the
“author” of our reason, that our minds were created by God. Why would God not want us to use the powers that He gave us in the pursuit of knowledge?
The Roles of Science and of Religion
•Galileo argues that we should especially use our reason in cases where the Bible doesn’t give us answers.
•The Bible doesn’t tell us about astronomy, so Galileo thinks this means that astronomy is not related to religion.
•Galileo thinks that science and religion play two different roles in the lives of human beings.
•In that way, they are not in conflict because they have two different domains.
Galileo argues that we should especially use our reason in cases
where the Bible doesn’t give us any answers. For example, Galileo
points out that there is no mention of any of the planets in the, but
we know that they exist. Galileo believes that if God meant for us to
gain all of our knowledge of astronomy from the Bible, there would be more detailed discussions of the stars and planets in it. Since
that information isn’t in there, Galileo thinks it must be because
astronomy just isn’t important for showing people how to live a religious life. In other words, astronomy is simply unrelated to
religion. Galileo writes that “the intention of the Holy Ghost was to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how
heaven goes.” In other words, science and religion play two
different roles in the lives of human beings. In this way, Galileo denies
that science and the Bible are in conflict with one another because
they have two different domains. Religion, as he says, tells us about
the things beyond human reason and how to live good lives. Science it supposed to give a description of the earthly realm and how it is
supposed to work. So, the heliocentric theory is not heretical
because no theory of astronomy can undermine the Bible. In other words, the Bible is not a science book and the heliocentric theory won’t tell you how to live a good
David Hume – Dialogues on Natural Religion
Background on the Dialogues
The Dialogues on Natural Religionwas published in
1779 after Hume’s death, due to the unpopularity of his
The book is a lengthy conversation between three men.
The son of a friend has just started school and the three
men discuss what students ought to learn.
Philo–the atheist and skeptic
Cleanthes–the advocate of “natural religion”
Natural religion is the doctrine that we can believe in
God’s existence through experience rather than through
We’ve already discussed David Hume when we talked about human
knowledge generally. Remember that Hume is an empiricist, which
means he believes the majority of human knowledge comes from
experience. Hume wrote about other things besides knowledge;
most notably he wrote about religion. The excerpt you have is
from Hume’s book called Dialogues on Natural Religion. The Dialogues were published in 1779 after death. Hume was a well
-known skeptic and atheist during his life time, which made him extremely unpopular. Hume’s friends convinced him not to publish the
Dialogues until after his death so as not to damage his reputation any
further. The book is a retelling of a lengthy conversation between three men. They initially start talking because a son of one of their other friends has stopped by
(his name is Pamphillis). Pamphillis has just started serious work and the three men start talking about what sorts of things students ought to learn. The Dialogues
have three main
characters: Philo– the atheist and the skeptic
Demea– the mystic
Cleanthes– the advocate of “natural religion”
“Natural religion” is the doctrine that we can come to believe in God’s existence by experience or observation rather than by rational argumentation
To help keep the characters straight, we’ve put all of their positions in
different colors in the power point.
What Happened in Part One
Part one contains an introduction of the characters
and a discussion of skepticism.
In it, Cleanthes argues against the idea that skepticism is useful, while
Philo argues that it can be.
You see the argument Hume would have made to
Descartes: remember that Hume also thought
skepticism was pointless.
Philo believes that human reason is not powerful
enough to think about things like God and religion.
The Dialogues contain 12 parts and your book only gives you Part Two. Part One gives you the introduction to all of the characters and a
discussion of skepticism. In it, Cleanthes argues against the idea
that skepticism is useful, while Philo argues that it can be. In that
conversation, you see the argument would have made to Descartes: remember that Hume thought skepticism was pointless. Philo believes that human reason is not powerful
enough to think about things like
God and religion.
Demea says it isn’t the existence of God that people are
skeptical about, but whether we can really understand God’s nature.
argues that humans can never grasp what
God is really like; we can only have faith that He exists.
Philo argues that we cannot comprehend the nature of God.
We are confined to our own language in order to worship
God, but we have to realize the limitations of our language as
Cleanthes disagrees. He thinks we can know something
about the nature of God based simply on everyday
experience. Cleanthes gives an analogy: Look around at the
natural world. It’s almost as if the natural world is like a giant
Demea starts out Part Two by making a point of clarification. He
says it isn’t the existence of God that people are skeptical about, but
rather to what extent we can really understand God’s nature. Since Demea is a mystic, he believes that religious devotion requires
embracing divine mystery. It is respectful to admit that we cannot
really understand the nature of God.
Demea argues that, as mere humans, we will never be able to comprehend what God is really like.
The pious thing to do is to realize that the most we can say of God is
“He that is”: we can have faith He exists, but we must realize we can
never understand Him.
Philo agrees with Demea, but for different reasons. Remember that Philo is the skeptic, so he thinks we cannot comprehend God’s nature because human reason is too
feeble to do so.
Philo argues that we cannot comprehend the nature of
God. While we can praise God using words like “good” or “wise,”
we have to realize that we don’t mean them in the way they are
applied to people. Sure, God is wise, but much, much wiser than a
person. We are confined to our own language in order to
worship God, but we have to realize the limitations of our language as
Cleanthes disagrees. He thinks we can know something about the nature of God based simply on everyday experience.
This position is what makes him an advocate of natural religion. Cleanthes gives an analogy: Look around at the natural world. It’s amazing how all the parts work
together to make things
happen. Think, for example, of all the things that have to go right in
order for a plant to sprout and grow. It’s almost as if the natural world is like a giant machine.
Cleanthes’ Machine Argument
Cleanthes continues: If we can reasonably
conclude that the world is kind of like a machine,
then why can’t we conclude that God’s mind if
kind of like the mind of someone who designs
machines (although obviously much greater)?
has serious objections. He does not
believe that it is proper to argue about God in a
posteriori terms. If we’re going to argue about
thinks we’d better do it using a
priori reasoning. Only that kind of reasoning is
respectful to God.
If we can reasonably conclude that the world is kind of like a machine,
then why can’t we conclude that God’s mind if kind of like the mind of
someone who designs machines (although obviously much greater)?
Cleanthes thinks this is a natural conclusion we could draw just
based on our observations of the world. So, we can know a little
something about the nature of God.
Demea has serious objections to this argument. He does not believe that it is proper to argue about God in a posteriori terms. As you recall from earlier in the
semester, a posteriori means that it comes after experience. Demea has the same sorts of problems with knowledge that comes from experience that Descartes did:
experience isn’t as trustworthy as our reasoning.
If we’re going to argue about God, Demea thinks we’d better do it using a priori reasoning. Only that kind of reasoning is respectful to God.
Remember too that Descartes had a similar opinion that understanding and reason comes directly from
God; it’s the most “god-like” thing about us.
Philo says that an analogy is just a comparison
between two things. It shouldn’t lead you to draw
Cleanthes responds by saying that analogies
may not be precise, but they are still informative.
Philo grants Cleanthes the aposteriori method
of reasoning. Philo agrees that cause and effect
is something we know based on experience. If
that’s true, then we usually conclude that similar
effects have similar causes.
Philo has a different objection. He has a problem with the fact that
Cleanthes is arguing using an analogy. Philo says that an analogy
is just a comparison between two things. It shouldn’t lead you to draw any conclusions.
Cleanthes responds by saying that analogies may not be precise, but they are still informative.
Philo grants Cleanthes the a posteriori method of reasoning.
Philo agrees that cause and effect is something we know based on
experience. [Sound familiar? That’s exactly what Hume argue against
Descartes]. If that’s true, then we usually conclude that similar effects
have similar causes. [Remember Hume’s bread example: we assume
that loaves of bread that look alike will taste the same.] So, if the universe really is like a machine, then it’s reasonable to conclude that
the universe has a designer, just like a machine does.
Philo’s Objection (cont.)
There are a lot of differences between machines and the
universe. The more differences there are, the less the analogy
Plus, the world only looks like a machine as far as we can tell.
But we know very little about the world.
Also, we only see the world after it’s already finished. We
don’t see the actual creation process. Philo thinks we can’t
assume we know how the world was created even if it seems
to be like a machine.
Cleanthes says, of course we can’t know what the creation of
the world was like based on experience
That is exactly Philo’s point. Experience can’t tell us how the
earth was created. We would have had to be there to see it
Philo raises three main points in objection to Cleanthes’ analogy of
the universe to a machine. But, Philo points out, there are a lot of
dif ferences between machines and the universe. The more differences there are, the less the analogy works. If it turns out the universe very much like a machine, then
we have no reason to conclude that has a designer. Plus, the world
only looks like a machine as far as we can tell. But we know very little
about the world. Maybe only one part of it looks like a machine and rest doesn’t. Finally, we only see the world after it is already finished.
We don’t see the actual creation process. Think of a: if you’ve
never seen the way a cake were made, would you be able to guess all of the ingredients it took to make it? Philo thinks we can’t assume we
know how the world was created even if it seems to be like a
Cleanthes laughs at Philo. Of course we can’t know what the
creation of the world was like based on experience –we have no other
earths to compare it to!
That is exactly Philo’s point. Experience can’t tell us how the earth was created. We would have had to be there to see it happen.
In summary: Remember that Hume was an empiricist, which means that he thinks most of what we know comes from experience, observation, and investigation. Hume believes
that if we rely on empirical methods, we will never be able to conclude anything about the nature of God or whether God created the universe. Experience simply won’t
lead us to any definite conclusions. As a matter of fact, Hume concludes in the later parts of the dialogues that experience can’t even lead us to conclude that God
exists at all.
Thesis/Intro/Central Claim Points:
The author’s position on the issue is clearly stated and is specific enough for a paper of this length. The position is debatable (one with which an intelligent person
could disagree) and insightful/original. The introduction provides a unified sense of the actual focus of this paper. Any necessary terms or concepts are explained.
Defense of Author’s Position Points:
Reasoning and/or evidence is logical, appropriate, and insightful. The reader comes away with a sense of having learned something new or of being convinced by the
argument. The author has a deep and accurate understanding of the issue or course material.
Presentation of Opposing Position Points:
The opposing position is presented respectfully and thoroughly such that it appears compelling and intelligent. The author provides real and compelling reasons to
believe in the opponents’ position. The author has a deep and accurate understanding of the issue, course material or opposing position.
Response to Opposing Position Points:
The author successfully responds to most of the features of the most compelling version of the opposing position. The response is thoughtful and respectful even when
the author’s efforts are frustrated. The author either rebuts, compensates for, or integrates the most compelling aspects of the opposing position. The author has a
deep and accurate understanding of the issue, course material or opposing position.
Sentences display some grace or eloquence even if occasional typos or grammar or punctuation errors appear. The reader always has a clear sense of what the author is
The argument develops/unfolds throughout the paper in a logical and clear way that is convincing to the reader. The argument is well developed and the author’s reasons
and claims are clear and compelling.