I was reading David Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding the other day and came across a lovely item. Mind you, I tend not to wallow in philosophy texts, but I find the occasional jaunt into the realm a welcome relief from my usual reading in science and politics. Given the inevitable connection between religion and politics that will once again be thrust upon us by the talking heads for the midterm elections, whether you call them “values voters”, “moralistic moms”, or just plain “over-zealous, domineering, jingoistic, superstitious pinheads”, this quote hit home:
There is no method of reasoning more common, and yet none more blameable, than, in philosophical disputes, to endeavor the refutation of any hypothesis, by a pretence of its dangerous consequences to religion and morality. When any opinion leads to absurdities, it is certainly false; but it is not certain that an opinion is false, because it is of dangerous consequence.
What was true 250 years ago in the Age of Enlightenment remains true today, although I fear that a large portion of the population does not see this. In my dreams, I can imagine Hume travelling in a time machine to the present and having spirited debate with the likes of Dobson and Falwell. Oh, the sweet smell of carnage.