Departmental Bulletin Paper Natural Theology and Natural Religion in the Scottish Enlightenment

Graham, Gordon

 In the period of the Scottish Enlightenment the term ‘natural religion’was used to refer to two important different phenomena – theologicalbeliefs based on evidence drawn from the natural world, and the religiousimpulses that can be found ‘implanted’ in human nature. This paper takestwo works by David Hume as exemplifying this difference. It criticallyinvestigates what Hume has to say about natural religion in the secondsense, and compares it with the approach of his friend and contemporaryAdam Smith. The paper argues that, though in general the twophilosophers have much in common, on the matter of the place of religionin human nature, and its social accommodation, they differ significantly,and a case is made for thinking that Smith’s account of religion is superiorto Hume’s.

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