Title page
Title page
David Hume
David Hume

Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion is a philosophical work by the Scottish philosopher David Hume, first published in 1779. Through dialogue, three philosophers named Demea, Philo, and Cleanthes debate the nature of God's existence. Whether or not these names reference specific philosophers, ancient or otherwise, remains a topic of scholarly dispute. While all three agree that a god exists, they differ sharply in opinion on God's nature or attributes and how, or if, humankind can come to knowledge of a deity.

In the Dialogues, Hume's characters debate a number of arguments for the existence of God, and arguments whose proponents believe through which we may come to know the nature of God. Such topics debated include the argument from design—for which Hume uses a house—and whether there is more suffering or good in the world (argument from evil).

Hume started writing the Dialogues in 1750 but did not complete them until 1776, shortly before his death. They are based partly on Cicero's De Natura Deorum. The Dialogues were published posthumously in 1779, originally with neither the author's nor the publisher's name.[1]

In The Blind Watchmaker (1986), evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins discussed his choice to title his book after theologian William Paley's famous statement of the teleological argument, the watchmaker analogy, and noted that Hume's critique of the argument from design as an explanation of design in nature was the initial criticism that would ultimately be answered by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species (1859).[2] In the second part of the Dialogues (1779), the character Philo observes that animal reproduction appears to be more responsible for the intricacies and order of organic bodies rather than intelligent design.[3]



  1. ^ Hume, David (1779). Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Second ed.). London: Penguin Books, Limited. p. 3. Retrieved 20 June 2016. via Google Books
  2. ^ Dawkins, Richard (1996) [1986]. The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 7–11. ISBN 978-0393351491.
  3. ^ Hume, David (1998) [1779]. Popkin, Richard H. (ed.). Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (2nd ed.). Hackett Publishing Company. p. 20. ISBN 978-1603847124.
  4. ^ See Bernd Gräfrath's "Vernunftige Gelassenheit" in G. Gabriel, C. Schildknecht, Literarische Formen der Philosophie. Metzler, 1990.
  5. ^ a b c Anthony C. Thiselton, "A Concise Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Religion"
  6. ^ William Crouch, ""Which character is Hume in the "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion"?"". Archived from the original on December 5, 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-26.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
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