Philosophers Kant, Hume, and Nolan Ryan

Philosopher Immanuel Kant tells us that we can never really know the real, only the phenomena. Skeptic David Hume says that while cause and effect are sure, we can never know the cause of anything All we can know is  post hoc, i.e., that something occurs after another thing. Hume said that even though for all human time, every morning a rooster crows, then the sun comes up, it does not follow that the rooster causes the sun to come up. Thus Hume paid a high price for his skepticism: not knowing any causes.

We can speculate that their views were created in an attempt to disprove that the universe needs a cause, and therefore God exists. For if we can get rid of the pursuit of causality, then we don’t have to worry about any bothersome God telling us how to live.

But I submit that Kant and Hume could hold their positions because they never had to play with that other great philosopher, Nolan Ryan. Ryan, of course, pitched major league baseball for 27 years and could throw 98 mph fastballs.  Further, he was very aggressive, and if you tried to crowd the plate, would throw at you to back you off.  So I would like to see Hume batting against Nolan Ryan. Hume decides that there is no knowable connection between his distance from the plate and the likelihood of getting hit by a baseball. So Ryan throws a 98 mph fastball at Hume’s head.

While the ball approaches, Hume has a decision. His first option is to reason with himself and those around him that we cannot indeed know causality, and that there is no provable connection between seeing a baseball coming at you, getting hit in the head, and pain. He can doubt whether the visual phenomenon of a baseball approaching his pumpkin really gives him true knowledge of whether a baseball is actually there. And he can publish a treatise on historic doubts relative to baseball pitching.  All this is well and good, for he has the right to do so. But he has a second option, and that is to move aside in less than 0.2 seconds, which will allow him to not die and therefore return to bat again later in the game. I think I can guess which Hume would choose.

This absurd example is nothing new, of course. For Hume could not live his philosophy. It was all well and good to hold his positions, but as many have pointed out before, he cannot even walk across the floor and open a can of food without disregarding his system. To survive so he can write his next book, Hume must put aside his toys and live a life of predicting causality just like the next fellow.  Which is why there are no strict Humean philosophers in the major leagues. They all get beaned in the minors by the likes of Nolan Ryan.

Thus, in the end, all those who attempt to deny that the universe was caused end up striking out.

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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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