Hume's project in ‘The natural history of religion’
LORNE FALKENSTEIN a1 a1 Department of Philosophy, The University of Western Ontario, Talbot College, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7
There are good reasons to think that at least a part of Hume's project in the ‘The natural history of religion’ was to buttress a philosophical critique of the reasonableness of religious belief undertaken in other works, and to attack a fundamentalist account of the history of religion and the foundations of morality. But there are also problems with supposing that Hume intended to achieve either of these goals. I argue that two problems in particular – accounting for Hume's neglect of revelation, and accounting for his remarks on the ‘invincibility’ of the reasons for ‘genuine theism’ – can only be resolved by recognizing that Hume's purposes in ‘The natural history’ were not fundamentally critical. If I am right, Hume's purpose was mainly to explain why ‘false’ or ‘adulterate’ forms of religious belief are so widespread and so influential.