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Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and The Natural History of Religion

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  743 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
David Hume is one of the most provocative philosophers to have written in English. His Dialogues ask if a belief in God can be inferred from what is known of the universe, or whether such a belief is even consistent with such knowledge. The Natural History of Religion investigates the origins of belief, and follows its development from polytheism to dogmatic monotheism. To ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 256 pages
Published January 28th 1999 by Oxford University Press (first published 1757)
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Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’m pretty sure I brushed up against Hume in university, but I was too busy getting high and watching Cops to read him properly. Not that I regret watching Cops, which was an education in itself, but I probably should’ve paid more attention to things like—oh, I don’t know—the freaking Western canon. Just for starters.

Once you get past the genteel diction, Hume’s skepticism still seems pretty hardcore, and I can only wonder how it struck his original readers, some of whom must have had their mind
Aug 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: philosophers and religious fanatics alike
I did my thesis on Hume last year and whenever anyone asks me which Hume they should read, this is what I recommend. Both are reasonably easy to read and comprehend; both have held up over the centuries. His other major works are far more difficult, and, at times, more dated, although they were revolutionary in the eighteenth century and have been influential in philosophy since then.

The Dialogs, in particular, makes what is still the most compelling and rational argument against the existence o
Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: god botherers
Shelves: philosophy, religion
The fact that Hume only published this book after he died says much about how far we have come.
Ali Nazifpour
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
You have to read this book. Hume has always been my favorite philosopher of all time, I have a picture of him on my wall, and to me he was the wisest human who ever lived. Here he tackles the question of religion. He does so with such insight, mental veracity and flexibility, and genius. Once you get the handle on the syntax it won't read much differently from a modern text, although the absence of evolution is quite serious, one could feel how it could shape entire conversations. But still he h ...more
Nov 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I get the feeling that I missed a lot. Constant interruptions kept me feeling like the train of Hume's thought left without me. Maybe I'll read it again some day.
Dec 28, 2010 marked it as to-read
Off this review:

Whereas Hume is very sceptical about the degree to which anything can be rationally understood at all, isn’t he? Including why or if the sun will rise tomorrow—to say nothing of the nature of God.

Yes, the difficulty of demonstrating rationally anything much about God is the focus of my second book, which is Hume’s "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion". This was published almost a hundred years after Spinoza’s "Tractatus"—again, it was published posthumously, because even in th
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book consists of two parts: The Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (published posthumously in 1779) and his essay Natural History of Religion (published in 1757 as part of a collection of four essays).

In the Dialogues, David Hume tries to lay out the philosophical arguments for the existence of God. To do this, Hume uses the form of a dialogue in which three people debate these religious arguments. The three persons all represent distinct philosophical positions concerning religious que
Danijel Brestovac
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it

Str. 20-
"nič ni gotovega na svetu, niti slava niti blaginja. Bogovi

mečejo vse v zmedo; vsako stvar mešajo z njenim nasprotjem;

da vsi mi, zaradi naše nevednosti in negotovosti, plačamo za to

z več čaščenja in spoštovanja. " (EURIPID, Hecuba~956)

Str. 70- v tedanjem času je postalo jasno, da celotno kraljestvo religiozne vere lebdi nad razumom, je negotovo in podrejeno vsaki spremembi razpoloženja ter je nadalje odvisno od pričujočih slučajnih dogodkov.

Str. 75- prvotna religija je nastala predvsem z
Apr 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dialogues are well worth reading. I can't say the same for his essay on the Natural History of Religion.

When Hume represents his views as a dialogue you can perceive the schisms within himself; Cleanthes the orthodox, Demea the romantic and Philo the passionate enquirer. Hume himself a spectator to the discussion.
In the Dialogues I felt the force in which each actor used the arguments of the other as a leaver for his own view an admirable scene to have played out in the mind of one man! And
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Written in dialogue form Hume says some pretty radical things for the time, or any other time. If I understand what he is saying, there just isn't enough evidence to say that God is a fact. We have no experience of Him therefore we cannot know for certain that He exists. Seems pretty simple when I write it that way but he makes it much more complicated! ;-)

He thinks that God, rather than being a rational idea, is an emotional response to the terrors of being alive. We turn to God more often when
William Ramsay
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I have decided to read David Hume. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion is the first work in the anthology I bought even though it was one of the last things he wrote. Hume is one of the easier philosophers to read - his writing is clear and precise. That is not so say that he is light - he is one of the most influential philosophers of the modern era. This work is posed as a dialog between three friends who attempt to determine the place of religion in the education of the young man who is nar ...more
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, philosophy
I would give this more stars if I could. Hume is calm, equable, cheerful, humanitarian, surprisingly fair, and above all skeptical. He's also necessarily slippery; even though the Dialogues were published after his death, he is careful to not be Philo and to have Philo himself disclaim his more skeptical attacks shortly after making them. Such was eighteenth century censorship. Nevertheless, the Dialogues are outstanding, and, though the History is fairly weak as history it's pretty great as phi ...more
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Makes a great sedative. Listen, I understand the importance of Hume in his time, however reading about the cosmological argument or the argument from design in a pre-Darwinian, pre-modern astrophysics context just makes me cringe. If you are looking for better arguments against dogmatic Monotheism in favor of deism, which Hume is putting forth, just read The Age of Reason. Paine's arguments stand up better, even in the light of modern biblical criticism which actually serve to strengthens his po ...more
David Mcdowell
I find the dialogue style a little difficult to get into at first but once in the mindset I appreciated some of the killer reasoning that Hume puts in the mouth of Philo.

The natural history was also interesting, and in both I enjoyed seeing how Hume had to tie hiself in knots to appear to be an upstanding godfearing member of the community.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: science

In the Natural History of Religion Hume doesn't so much speak against religion as he speaks against the ignorant believers of all the major religions in history. At the very least his critique is equal opportunity, spending as much time speaking against the devotions of the Romans and Greeks as he does the Catholics and Egyptians.
Dec 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I gave this book five stars firstly because of its historical importance. There has never been more destructive criticism of natural theology. Next to Kant, it was the sole reason why natural theology was shaken to its core and wasn't rehabilitated till the last century's sixties.

Contemporary philosophers of religion made most of its arguments obsolete. Read it for the language.
Nathanael Coyne
Nov 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
This guy is confused. A novel approach to writing and narration which can be a little hard to follow but makes for an interesting read. Just don't get too caught up in Hume's meanderings or you might end up confused too!
Aug 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Interesting. I found the Dialogues deeply insightful and interesting. The Natural History was fascinating as proto-sociology, but seems overly interested in anecdote and rhetoric. I was disappointed.
Jun 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hume successfully counters most philosophical arguments for the existence of God in this slim book. The dialogue format can get a little trying after a while and the prose doesn't exactly grip you. The substance, however, is worthwhile.
Filbert Lam
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The eloquence of David Hume is astounding. Beautifully written, and clearly ahead of his time. I was primarily interested in Philo's formulation of the problem of evil and suffering, because that inspired Paul Draper's own argument based on a "Hypothesis of Indifference".
Jun 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Better than the xenophobic rantings of Christopher Hitchens.
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Forget 'The God Delusion': this is the real classic of atheist thinking.
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars While I don't necessarily agree with Hume, at least he is more coherent than Nietzsche.
Peter Broady
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
A classic...had a big impact on me in college.
May 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
I wasn't interested in it enough, and I've been far too busy to give myself enough time to read it closely enough to comprehend any of it.
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
It's Hume. Haven't read him in a while, though.
Anna C
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: scottish
Well, I read my second Hume. I'm not sure how much of it I actually understood... but I read it.
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David Hume (/ˈhjuːm/; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish historian, philosopher, economist, diplomat and essayist known today especially for his radical philosophical empiricism and scepticism.

In light of Hume's central role in the Scottish Enlightenment, and in the history of Western philosophy, Bryan Magee judged him as a philosopher "widely regarded as the greates
More about David Hume...
“To be a philosophical Sceptic is the first and most essential step towards being a sound, believing Christian.” 17 likes
“If we see a house, CLEANTHES, we conclude, with the greatest certainty, that it had an architect or builder; because this is precisely that species of effect which we have experienced to proceed from that species of cause. But surely you will not affirm, that the universe bears such a resemblance to a house, that we can with the same certainty infer a similar cause, or that the analogy is here entire and perfect.” 1 likes
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