Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER 1: In Which It Is Shown That There Is a God - Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind
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CHAPTER 1: In Which It Is Shown That There Is a God - Francis Hutcheson, Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind 
Logic, Metaphysics, and the Natural Sociability of Mankind, ed. James Moore and Michael Silverthorne, texts translated from the Latin by Michael Silverthorne, introduction by James Moore (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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In Which It Is Shown That There Is a God
Who is the subject of the question whether there is a God?
In this part of our course, the question whether there is a God takes first place. But if we are to understand the force of the word, we must first say that God is a certain nature much superior to human nature, governing this whole world by reason and design. This summary is enough for now, as we shall soon give a more thorough account of the divine nature, after we have expounded the arguments which prove that there is a God and what his nature is. Whoever believes that this world and its major parts are governed by the reason and design of an intelligent nature believes that there is a God or gods, even though he may have formed many views rashly and falsely about the nature or attributes of God. The only people who are atheists are those who deny that the world is governed by the design of a wise ruler or that in the beginning it was made by him.
The intelligent fabric of the world shows that there is a God
That there is a God who formed this world in the beginning and rules it at all times is shown by the supremely intelligent design of the world and of all its parts, which have been so well made that they could not be more serviceable in use or more beautiful in appearance.
Two kinds of action: by design and by brute force
We take it that there are two kinds of action: one, when we move bodies in an endeavor to put some specific shape or form into things by deliberate design; the other, when we stir bodies at random without any design, without concern to produce any special effect or form. From the latter kind of action we cannot expect anything that is beautiful or regular, or similar to previous things or usefully made, but from the former, all things beautiful, regular, similar, and useful readily arise.
The criterion of each and the reason for the difference
The reason for this difference is not hard to see: the ugly and useless figures and positions which the parts of any object may take are infinite in number, whereas there is only one form and perhaps only one position of things which tend to beauty or usefulness in any given kind. Without art, therefore, and design there can be no expectation that anything beautiful or similar or useful is likely to result from the use of brute force. Since, therefore, so many very beautiful forms appear in the world every day, things which have been fabricated on a similar pattern, whose innumerable parts have been most cunningly fashioned both for beauty and for use, anyone who believes that all these things could have been made without divine intelligence and reason must really be regarded as himself devoid of intelligence and reason.
The movements of the heavenly bodies most cleverly devised
Anyone who wishes to treat this argument fully must surely survey the whole of natural philosophy (physiologia);1 we shall only deal briefly with the more important points. Consider the immense size and power of the heavenly bodies, their certain motions and fixed orders, and especially the grandeur and beauty of the sun and its effects: how in rising it brings in the day, diffusing everywhere a cheerful, healthy light, in setting gives place to darkness which is most suitable for rest, and in regular succession effects the annual change of the seasons, for the health and preservation of all animals and plants: anyone who has come to know these things will surely not be able to doubt that they are all caused by a preeminent and divine reason.
The fabric of the earth and of terrestrial things
Let us come to the earth,2 surrounded by a living and breathable nature whose name is air, and clothed with flowers, herbs, trees, and fruits, the unbelievable multitude of which is marked by an insatiable variety. Add here the grandeur and usefulness of the clouds which are raised by the sun from the great ocean and the lakes and are held aloft by the weight of the air, the height of the mountains, the power of the winds, the perennial springs that flow from them, and the clear and health-giving water of the rivers that make this earth a fruitful, abundant, and pleasant home for all living things. No one looking at these things will fail to see the signs of a most benevolent God.
How wonderful is the structure of those things that grow from the earth, which are held by roots that draw nourishment from the earth: how great is their variety and beauty! How great is the force of all of them, so that from such little seeds they bring forth grasses, plants, trunks, branches, leaves and flowers, and then again seeds, distinguished by an infinite variety and providing so many uses to living creatures! And every one of them is so similar to all others of the same kind (whose number is infinite) that no hand or art could bring it about or mind imagine it.
Signs of art and divine design in living things
How great is the variety of living things! How great a drive to reproduce and to persist, each in its own kind! And largely and abundantly has nature provided food for living things, the proper food for each kind; and what differences in the shapes of animals so that they may get and consume their food, how cunning, how subtle! How admirable the structure of the limbs! And all of them so made and placed that none is superfluous, none not necessary for the preservation of life.
In their senses and appetites
Both sense and appetite have been given to living things, so that by the one they may endeavor to obtain healthy and useful things, and by the other distinguish the noxious from the healthful. Instinctive in the limbs are the powers that make possible a marvelous variety of spontaneous motions, so that they may get the things that will do them good and repel or avoid what will do them harm. These movements and senses are aroused according to specific conditions, by a wonderful artifice which men can scarcely learn even by long investigation. Specific sensations are caused by many movements in the body which are not known or observed by the animal itself; and in turn the desired movements immediately respond to a determination of the mind to move a certain part of the body. In both cases certain motions of the internal parts come into play which the mind does not perceive or command. And this mutual effect of the body on the mind and of the mind on the body extends as far as is useful and no further. For these continual motions of the inward parts on which the life of a living thing depends are maintained when we are asleep or doing something else, and even against our will. They excite no sense in the mind, which incidentally would be pointless and annoying. We cannot move at our will those parts of the body whose voluntary motion could not help us at all.
In the preservation of species
With how provident a design are the kinds of animals and of things which grow from the earth preserved! Such power is in their seed that from one or two seeds many creatures are generated. Some living things are male, others female; some parts of the body are adapted for begetting and conceiving, and there are wonderful passions for bringing bodies together. As soon as the fetus of living things which are nourished by milk leaves the womb, the mother’s nourishment begins to flow. And creatures which have only been born a moment before seek the breast under the guidance of nature, without any teacher, and are filled by its abundance. And that we may understand that none of these things is by chance, that all are the works of a provident and intelligent nature, there is innate in all animals whose offspring need their help an exceeding love and a special care to protect and raise what they have begotten right up to the time that the offspring can look after themselves, or in fact so long as the parents can provide help to them. But when the offspring no longer needs the help of the parents, and the parents’ help is no longer useful, this love either disappears or remains inactive.3
Especially in the structure of the human body
What great evidence of supremely clever design there would be if the whole fabric of the human frame were thoroughly scanned? If the appearance and dignity of the whole body were considered? The organs of sense most subtly crafted and most aptly placed? Why speak of the eyes or ears of living things? Why of the internal organs? What of the human face which reveals all the motions of the mind? What works has not nature constructed for the purpose of speech? How apt are the hands she has given, the ministers of how many arts?
And in the powers of the mind
Let us come to the powers of the mind whose aspect is still more glorious, and especially to the power of reason, which has given man empire over all the things of the earth, whether animate or inanimate. By men’s reason and foresight so many arts have been invented which provide such a store of useful and pleasant things. Men’s reason penetrates even to the sky and contemplates the beauty of the world, and surely comes to him not from chance nor by the design or skill of his parents but from the most wise God.
And in its nobler powers
Why should I mention the other powers of the mind? Why should I recall that it has been given virtually to man alone to discern the beauty of things, their order, the connection of their parts, and their use? Why should I say that men also sense in the intentions of their minds, and in their words and actions, what beauty and goodness are, what is fitting, what is proper; and that the feelings of our hearts and our plans for action meet with more approval from other men’s sense of things, and are more universally praised, the more happiness in life they are likely to give to more people, even when those who approve and praise them have absolutely no prospect of any advantage for themselves.
What of the fact that men’s desires are formed on a most benevolent design? For nature does not make a man love only himself, but also his wife, his child, his family, his neighbors, his fellow-citizens, all of whom we treat with spontaneous kindness, provided there is no reason for conflict; and good men love each other as if united by kinship and by nature. Human love goes even further, and sometimes embraces the whole human race. Why should I mention the natural approval of goodness even in those we have never seen, compassion for the wretched, and the pleasing memory of good deeds done? Nature has bound men to each other by these bonds which escape the sight of the eyes, and has inspired them to create companies, councils, and states, and equipped them for all the noble duties of life. If anyone thinks that all this has come about by chance, I do not know what works he would be able to leave to skill or design or foresight.4
[Assume that a corporeal structure can think (though we have shown this to be very much against probability),5 yet, as even atheists admit, such a structure will have to have been constructed with the most subtle and exquisite art, to be adequate to think. Even so, no one would say, without the greatest perversity and determination to talk nonsense, that therefore brute and inert matter should, so frequently and regularly in a certain, determinate order, be so artfully composed that it rises to the power of thought, and does so in every single individual man who is born (not to speak of other living things), without the reason and design of a wise and powerful nature.]6
Arguments on the other side are refuted
We must take careful note in this inquiry that a nature endowed with reason and acting deliberately can act equally in both directions when it so wishes, and may make things either beautiful and similar and useful, or ugly, discordant, and useless. In fact, on occasion, even the most intelligent nature may try deliberately to make things crude and repulsive, and in other things not even attempt to create any distinction or beauty. Yet never will anything beautiful or uniform or fit for use be made by brute force. Therefore those things in the world which seem neglected and squalid do not afford a good reason why we should doubt the providential government of things, for there are so many more things most skillfully framed which argue that the world is governed by divine providence.
What of the fact that almost all those things that were regarded as faults in the world by the Epicureans, so that they denied that the world had been divinely made,7 have been found by more careful observers of nature to be the best and most intelligent device after all, or to follow necessarily from the device which is altogether the best and most intelligent; and thus they are no small signs of divine wisdom.
Other reasons are adduced
From all this it is not rash to conclude that the world has been formed by the reason and divine power of a most wise and powerful nature. But we must not ignore the other arguments on this subject which have been acutely elaborated by philosophers, and which bring us to a fuller knowledge of God.
There is necessarily something which is first and independent
There are now very many things in existence; therefore there has also been something in all past time. There are now reason and prudence in the world; therefore they too have been there from eternity. For such genuine virtues could not have arisen by force of any things that were devoid of reason and design. And since an infinite series of causes operating deliberately cannot be conceived in the mind without some absolutely first and eternal nature which was not itself caused by any prior nature, we infer that God has been independent from the beginning and that he is endowed with the highest wisdom and power; only from him could these virtues derive; they could not have derived from the brute force of matter nor from ignorant parents.
Matter is not independent, nor is the material world
Metaphysical writers tell us that matter or body which receives no virtue or perfection is not a thing that was primary in itself or eternal but required a deliberately acting cause from which to receive figure and posture.8 But suppose eternal matter without cause; it would still be a completely different nature from which matter received motion, one which is indifferent to motion or rest. Now, since we cannot conceive a motion or imparted force which does not tend in some direction, and all matter can be carried by motion in any direction equally, in such an ambiguous situation we cannot conceive that there is in matter either a natural or a necessary ability to move, but all the ability that it has would have been imparted by force of an intelligent nature. Even suppose that matter moved in some way or had the power of moving, but had no design or foresight, there could never have come from that the magnificent order we see in the world.
New arguments from the discoveries of natural philosophers
What of the fact that those who have most carefully explored the causes of things in recent times, who see new traces everywhere of providential design, new reasons why we must have recourse to a divine power which moves all things? It is not unfamiliarity with nature and ignorance of causes which have compelled men to have recourse to God as the architect of the universe.
There are quite a few arguments for the newness of the world or for its recent origin, which show that this earth could not have existed from eternity and that a home fit for living things cannot last forever. For not to speak of the sun and the stars which must one day be exhausted by the perpetual outflow of light, and whose motions are gradually slowing in a space which is not completely empty, a great deal of matter is washed down daily in recent times from the higher parts of the earth into the seabed by the force of the rains and the winds. By this continual mutation, in a certain finite period of time, all the heights will be lowered and the hollows filled up, and the whole earth covered with the waters of the sea. Add to this the recent origin of the arts and sciences, the low antiquity of reliable history, the story of the recent origin of the world which almost all peoples preserve, and the universal consent about a deity that governs all things, which does not rest on a preconception of the senses.
A conflict of two beliefs
Relevant here is a comparison between the reasons that support this belief and those which can be adduced in favor of the other side. Contemplate also the problems involved for those who in declining the difficult notion of a first and most wise nature have recourse either to a world which is eternal in itself and most intelligently fashioned but without any reason or design to govern it, or to a fortuitous concourse of atoms. No intelligent man will fail to see which view an intelligent and serious person will approve.
[I do not use the Cartesian arguments, because they suffer from obvious fallacies. Descartes first says that “there is a cause of every idea, endowed with at least as much perfection as is exhibited in the idea itself. But we have the idea of an infinitely perfect being; there is therefore some superior nature, infinitely perfect.”9 Both of the premisses of this argument are, to say the least, ambiguous. For men make for themselves obscure and inadequate ideas of virtues which are far superior to their own; and no one has a fuller or clearer idea of a supreme being than he has formed by amplifying the ideas of his own virtues and purging them of faults, unless God has given anyone a clearer sense of himself above the common lot of man. In vain does Descartes insist “that the progenitor of men had the same idea of supreme perfection; and since it was sufficient to him for existing, it sufficed also for attributing supreme perfections to himself.” This affirms nothing, unless God is said to be the efficient cause of himself, which is absurd.
He continues, however, by saying “that necessary existence is contained in the idea of most perfect being; an infinitely perfect being therefore exists.” However, anyone who has understood the nature of abstract propositions will see that one should only infer from this that if there is any most perfect nature, it necessarily exists and does not depend upon the will of another.]10
[1 ]In the third edition (1744) there is the following note: “Philosophers, ancient and modern, have fully explained this topic: Plato, Xenophon, Cicero, Arrian, and the writer of the very elegant little book, ‘On the World’ among the works of Aristotle. It would take a long time to enumerate the names of the moderns: the Cudworths, Stillingfleets, Nieuwentijts, Rays, Pellings, Derhams, Fenelons, Cheynes, Clarkes, Nyes.” There is a notable duplication in this list with the names of natural philosophers cited by Carmichael in “A Synopsis of Natural Theology,” in Natural Rights, p. 241.
[2 ]Compare Shaftesbury, “The Moralists, a Philosophical Rhapsody,” pt. 3, sec. 1: “Let us begin, then, said he, with this one element of earth. …” Characteristics, p. 310 ff.
[3 ]See also A System of Moral Philosophy, I, 9, p. 171.
[4 ]See the elaboration of the argument of this paragraph in “On the Natural Sociability of Mankind.”
[5 ]Note (1749): “Part II, Chapter 3,” pp. 138-44.
[6 ]This paragraph was added in 1744.
[7 ]Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, II, 175; Bayle, “Epicurus,” remark S, in Dictionary, 1737, vol. 5, pp. 56-59.
[8 ]Baxter, Enquiry, p. 22 ff.
[9 ]Descartes, third meditation, in Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, pp. 77-78. See also Carmichael’s comment on the third meditation of Descartes in “A Synopsis of Natural Theology,” in Natural Rights, pp. 246-47.
[10 ]This section was added in 1744.