Now it cant be denied that order in nature is found by experience to come from

Now it cant be denied that order in nature is found

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Now it can’t be denied that order in nature is found by experience to come from vegetation and generation, as well as from reason. It is for me to choose whether to base my system of cosmogony on the former rather than on the latter. The choice seems entirely arbitrary. And when Cleanthes asks me what the cause is of my vegetative or generative faculty, I am equally entitled to ask him what causes his reasoning principle. We have agreed to pass up these questions on both sides, and in our present context it is in his interests to stick to this agreement. Judging by our limited and imperfect experience, generation has some privileges over reason: for we see every day reason arise from generation - ·for example, my reason, which has in its causal ancestry my parent’s begetting of me· - but never see generation arise from reason. Please compare the consequences on both sides. The world, I say, resembles an animal, so it is an animal, so it arose from generation. The steps in that argument are jumps, I admit, but each of them involves some small appearance of analogy ·between world and animal·. The world, says Cleanthes, resembles a machine, so it is a machine, so it arose from design. These steps are jumps too, and here the analogy - ·between world and machine· - is less striking. And if he claims to push one step further than my hypothesis, by inferring that design or reason caused the great principle of generation which I have emphasized, I have a better right to push one step further than his hypothesis, by inferring that a divine generation or god-birth caused his principle of reason. I have empirical evidence on my side, because reason is observed in countless cases to arise from the principle of generation, and never to arise from any other principle. This is ·admittedly only· a faint shadow evidence for my hypothesis, but on this topic faint shadows of evidence are the best we can do. Hesiod and all the ancient mythologists were so struck with this analogy that they all explained the origin of nature in terms of an animal birth and copulation. Plato too, so far as he is intelligible, seems to have adopted some such notion in his Timaeus . The Brahmins assert that the world arose from an infinitely large spider who spun this whole complicated mass from his bowels, and then annihilates all or some of it by absorbing it again and taking it into his own essence. Here is a kind of cosmogony, which seems ridiculous to us because a spider is a little contemptible animal whose doings we are never likely to take for a model of the whole universe. Still, even for us on our planet, this is a new kind of analogy ·for us to think about·. If there were (as there well might be) a 33
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planet wholly inhabited by spiders, this inference would seem there as natural and secure against criticism as the one that here ascribes the origin of all things to design and intelligence, as explained by Cleanthes. He will find it hard to give a satisfactory reason
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