The philosophy of religion of David Hume (1711-1776) is a major, though often undisclosed part of the intellectual heritage of contemporary “New Atheist” thinkers like Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens. His psychological theory of religious belief and his sceptical critique of the traditional arguments for the existence of God present some of the most profound and classic challenges to Christian belief. In particular his psychological account of the origin and nature of religious belief as propensity of projection of entities (e.g. God/s) has been influential in the fields of philosophy of religion. This unit explores his major work on the origin of religious belief, The Natural History of Religion, and his major criticism of the arguments for the existence of God is found in The Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. The unit will examine these, plus other lesser texts (e.g. On Miracles, On Superstition and Enthusiasm, and A Treatise of Human Nature ) in order to analyse the different strands of Hume’s philosophy of religion, evaluating its coherence, presuppositions, strengths and weaknesses.

Unit Code: AP3141C

Points: 18.0

Unit Level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit Discipline: Philosophy

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning Outcomes


Read the selected primary texts carefully in relation to their purpose and historical context, and articulate a comprehension of them


Critically expound Hume’s theories, terminology and arguments studied in the unit


Situate and critically interpret the material studied in relation to the wider framework of the Christian philosophical tradition


Evaluate Hume’s theories, terminology and arguments studied in the unit

Unit sequence

Two units of philosophy at second level




Type Description Wordcount Weight (%)

Option 1 1 x 5000 word essay

Option 2 1 x 3000 word essay (60%) 1 x 2000 word essay (40%) End of week 12

0 100.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2015

Unit Record last updated: 2019-02-01 14:57:05 +1100