Saturday, July 15, 2017

Book Review: The Natural History of Religion

The Natural History of Religion by David Hume. The book, author tells at the beginning, examines two main questions regarding religion. One, that concerning its foundation in reason, and two, that concerning its origin in human nature.
The book begins by examining the primary forms of religion. Here, the author finds that the more we go into antiquity, the more do we find mankind plunged into polytheism. Reflecting further, he concludes that in all nations which have embraced polytheism, the first ideas of religion arose, not from a contemplation of the works of nature, but from a concern with regard to the events of life, and from the incessant hopes and fears which actuate the human mind. Also polytheism is more generous in distributing imponderables, the deities themselves do not adorn all the positions of stature.
Towards the last sections of the book, the origin of theism from polytheism is examined. Here, the author mentions of the necessity of a more holistic appreciation. The constantly changing human mind has a natural tendency to rise from idolatry to theism, and to sink again from theism into idolatry.
I liked this book. I can observe that this book poses more questions than answers. If there were reasons that brought polytheism to the early man, how those were met when he resorted to theism? Isn't it likely that we will again resort to polytheism, given that the present religious climate is not at all conducive to a healthy world, an indication that theism is not doing its job? Isn't the rather violent social atmosphere of these days, a pointer to such a move?

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