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A Humean Thought Experiment

The name "Hume" is usually associated (at least among intellectuals) with David Hume and his empiricist philosophy.  Just now Brit Hume is the more widely known Hume, and his suggestion on Fox New Sunday that Tiger Woods get religion (not just any religion--the Christian religion) has set off a firestorm of blogosphere controversy.

Consider this thought experiment in the spirit of the older Hume, though it violates Humean epistemology: Suppose Tiger Woods was an evangelical Christian, and that Brit Hume had suggested that Tiger acquire some personal peace and serenity through an embrace of Buddhism.  Think there'd be the same controversy?  I'll bet even David Hume could intuit his way to a solid conclusion.
Categories > Religion

Discussions - 2 Comments

I am, sadly, not well versed in David Hume philosophy.

I'm guessing the answer to your question is, "Of course not ... suggesting Buddhism as a pathway to personal peace seems reasonable. Maybe some yoga too ... oh, and don't forget the green tea. Lots of anti-oxidants in that green tea, don't you know."

And that's my main point -- Buddhism is seen as simply a tool to achieve a result, much like yoga.

Christianity is a different thing. On the one hand there is the very regrettable way in which it has been used as a bludgeon ... I have been guilty of this myself.

But more fundamentally, Christianity (as well as Judaism and Islam, but in slightly different ways) represents a surrender of personal liberty. And the pursuit of total personal liberty is the watchword of our times.

In a way, I disagree with what Brit Hume said ... it's not "Christianity" that will deliver Tiger. It is Christ himself. They are not the same thing. The former is really more a set of human buildings, institutions and practices. Not necessarily bad in themselves, but not sufficient in themselves either. Christ is ... well, y'all know.

I'm pretty sure that's what Brit Hume meant. He likely felt that phrasing it like that would have been too foreign to the ear.

My sense is the controversy is not about "Christianity" per se (though there is an element of that because it represents a portion of the conservative movement), but because deep in people's hearts they know that what's being implied is a need to give up the freedom to do as we choose and surrender it to God who knows better.

That notion scares the daylights out of people. As it did me. As it still does in many corners of my heart.

I don't know, Steve - I think that if Woods were Catholic, and Hume had said that he should become born again to solve his problems (or the other way around) it would be just as strange. I wouldn't expect Hume to try to forecast the weather, or tell me how to do my taxes, and I don't expect him to tell people what religion they should follow. It's a role confusion problem.

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