Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
But to show you still more inconveniences, continued PHILO, in your
Anthropomorphism, please to take a new survey of your principles. Like effects
prove like causes. This is the experimental argument; and this, you say too, is
the sole theological argument. Now, it is certain, that the liker the effects are
which are seen, and the liker the causes which are inferred, the stronger is the
argument. Every departure on either side diminishes the probability, and renders
the experiment less conclusive. You cannot doubt of the principle; neither ought
you to reject its consequences.
All the new discoveries in astronomy, which prove the immense grandeur and
magnificence of the works of Nature, are so many additional arguments for a
Deity, according to the true system of Theism; but, according to your hypothesis
of experimental Theism, they become so many objections, by removing the effect
still further from all resemblance to the effects of human art and contrivance. For,
if LUCRETIUS[Lib. II. 1094], even following the old system of the world, could
Quis regere immensi summam, quis habere profundi
Indu manu validas potis est moderanter habenas?
Quis pariter coelos omnes convertere? et omnes
Ignibus aetheriis terras suffire feraces?
Omnibus inque locis esse omni tempore praesto?
If TULLY [De. nat. Deor. Lib. I] esteemed this reasoning so natural, as to put it
into the mouth of his EPICUREAN:
"Quibus enim oculis animi intueri potuit vester Plato fabricam illam tanti operis,
qua construi a Deo atque aedificari mundum facit? quae molitio? quae
ferramenta? qui vectes? quae machinae? qui ministri tanti muneris fuerunt?
quemadmodum autem obedire et parere voluntati architecti aer, ignis, aqua, terra
If this argument, I say, had any force in former ages, how much greater must it
have at present, when the bounds of Nature are so infinitely enlarged, and such
a magnificent scene is opened to us? It is still more unreasonable to form our
idea of so unlimited a cause from our experience of the narrow productions of
human design and invention.
The discoveries by microscopes, as they open a new universe in miniature, are
still objections, according to you, arguments, according to me. The further we
push our researches of this kind, we are still led to infer the universal cause of all