Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Hume's toe and the Enlightenment
You put your right foot in.....
Edinburgh boasts a statue of David Hume on the Royal Mile. I'm not often there and when I have been, I haven't paid much attention to it, but in a recent visit, I noticed a crowd of tourists touching his right foot in an act of homage.
Hume of course is the doyen of philosophy of religion courses, whether rubbishing proofs of God's existence in natural theology or undermining the status of miracles as evidence for revealed theology. I was therefore absolutely delighted that the arch sceptic now appears to be the object of worship so profound that the artificial patina on the right big toe has been worn away to reveal pristine bronze. (The effect is quite clear in the above photo.)
It only goes to demonstrate the truth of G. K. Chesterton's dictum: 'When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything.' As secularism spreads in the UK, we can confidently look forward to the increase of belief that Christopher Hitchens lies asleep in the basement of Broadcasting House, ready to rise again should any missionary try to help the dying. Or that a tincture made from the dried membrum virile of Richard Dawkins is a surefire cure for infertility.
Ain't Enlightenment wonderful?