Skip to main content

Smith’s Alleged Religiosity


Beyond doubt, Smith’s biography by Ian S. Ross, is unlikely to be surpassed in the near future. This Account raises new issues in relation to Adam Smith’s ideas on religion and the circumstances in which he developed them, and should be read as a contribution to our understanding of his ideas and not as critique of religion. I focus on the underlying religious themes running throughout his books, which, if read carefully and in context, show retrospectively the decline in Smith’s public religiosity, initially from his years at Balliol College, Oxford, in the 1740s.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Alvey, J. 2004. The Hidden Theology of Adam Smith: A Belated Reply to Hill. European Journal of the History of Economic Thought 11 (4): 623–628.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Denis, A. 2005. The Invisible Hand of God in Adam Smith. Research in the History of Economic Thought: A Research Annual 23A (2005): 1–33.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flew, A. 1986. David Hume: Philosopher of Moral Science, p. 160. New York: Basil Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kennedy, G. 2011. The Hidden Adam Smith in his Alleged Theology. Journal of the History of Economic Thought, September, 333 (3): 385–402.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kennedy, G. 2014. Adam Smith on Religion. In The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith, ed. C.J. Berry, M.P. Paganelli, and C. Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rae, J. 1895a. Life of Adam Smith with An Introduction ‘Guide to John Rae’s Life of Adam Smith’, 1965 by John Viner, Augustus Kelly.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rae, J. 1895b. Life of Adam Smith (1965) With an Introduction: Joseph Viner 1965. Guide to John Rae’s Life of Adam Smith. Fairfield, NJ: Augustus M. Kelly.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ramsay, J. 1888. Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century, from the MSS. of John Ramsay, Esq of Ochtertyre, vol. 1, ed. Alexander Allardyce, 461–468. Edinburgh: W. Blckwood and Sons.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rasmussen, D.C. 2017. The Infidel and the Professor 2017. Princeton University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ross, I.S. 2010. The Life of Adam Smith (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gavin Kennedy .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Kennedy, G. (2017). Smith’s Alleged Religiosity. In: An Authentic Account of Adam Smith. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-63801-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-63802-7

  • eBook Packages: Economics and FinanceEconomics and Finance (R0)