chapter  4
Adam Smith as natural theologian 1
ByPaul Oslington
Pages 30

Smith is almost alone among dead economists in continuing to attract the interest of contemporary mainstream economists. Finding some idea in Smith still carries weight in the economics profession. For these reasons, Smith is an important figure in any account of connections between theology and economics. This chapter establishes the plausibility of a theological reading of Smith using biographical and contextual evidence, and examination of his works. It considers several test cases of the fruitfulness of a theological reading of Smith: Smith's invisible hand, the role of theodicy and the future hope in Smith's system. Smith wrote many rude things about the scholastic Aristotelians of his day, flowing partly from his unrewarding studies at Oxford. Natural theology and his moderate Scottish Enlightenment Calvinism were the two most important traditions for Smith. Newton followed the British scientific natural theological tradition in distinguishing between general providence- God's care expressed in the regularity of the universe, and special providence, God's irregular acts.