Perhaps the most famous economics book is Adam Smith’s, “The Wealth of Nations…”. Smith was a contemporary and friend of the towering philosopher, David Hume. An new book investigates the link between the two famous men.
To put things in context, “The Wealth of Nations..” was published in Scotland in 1776, the same year as the Declaration of Independence. The Constitutional Convention was held in 1789.
David Hume’s lasting legacy was what he wrote about religion. He wrote that religion was driven by people’s fear of the unknown. We know death is one of these. He wrote that the monotheistic religions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism had their origins in paganism. Even though he was a famous writer in his time, Hume was prevented from holding a university position because of his scandalous views on religion
Adam Smith was more of an establishment guy. He did not reveal any religious faith in his writing or record but said nothing good about it either. His friendship with Hume makes one suspect he was a secular person.
Only 13 years after the “Wealth of Nations…” was published in Scotland, leaders in the U.S. convened in Philadelphia to write our Constitution. With God firmly included in some state constitutions one would expect the founding fathers to make Christianity our national religion. But they did not.
It has been said the late 1700’s and early 1800’s was a period when secularism flourished in Europe and the U.S. It is our good fortune to have the writing of Smith and Hume available today.