Economics as Religion

From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond

Paper or softback
Robert H. Nelson
Published 06 May 2014
List Price £25.95

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“The best recent study of the subject.”

—Samuel Brittan, Financial Times

“Robert Nelson’s Economics as Religion offers a unique set of insights into the social role of the economics profession. . . . The book should be assigned reading for undergraduates in intermediate microeconomics and first-year graduate students in economics.”

—Jennifer Roback, Journal of Markets and Morality

“Robert Nelson has written what may be the most important recent book on the future of the economics profession.”

—Andrew Morriss, Books and Culture

“An economic theorist himself, Nelson elegantly exposes his firm understanding of the history of economic theory. . . . He is in fact perfectly at ease venturing into theological and religious history, persuasively establishing parallels between the economic and religious realms.”

—Aren E. Annus, Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions

Robert Nelson’s Reaching for Heaven on Earth, Economics as Religion, and The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion Versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America read almost like a trilogy, exploring and charting the boundaries of theology and economics from the Western foundations of ancient Greece through the traditions that Nelson identifies as “Protestant” and “Roman,” and on into modern economic forms such as Marxism and capitalism, as well as environmentalism. Nelson argues that economics can be a genuine form of religion and that it should inform our understanding of the religious developments of our times. This edition of Economics as Religion situates the influence of his work in the scholarly economic and theological conversations of today and reflects on the state of the economics profession and the potential implications for theology, economics, and other social sciences.


Foreword by Max Stackhouse


Introduction: The Market Paradox

Part 1 The Laws of Economics as the New Word of God

1 Tenets of Economic Faith

2 A Secular Great Awakening

Part 2 Theological Messages of Samuelson's Economics

3 The Market Mechanism as a Religious Statement

4 Apostle of Scientific Management

Part 3 The Gods of Chicago

5 Frank Knight and Original Sin

6 Knight Versus Friedman Versus Stigler

7 Chicago Versus the Ten Commandments

Part 4 Religion and the New Institutional Economics

8 A New Economic World

9 Efficient Religion

Part 5 Economics as Religion

10 God Bless the Market

11 A Crisis of Progress





Robert H. Nelson is Professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.