Skip to main content

Full text of "A psychological study of religion, its origin, function, and future"

See other formats


. . * . ,■■■■'.. 














MACMILLAN & CO., Limited 










. , V 


^11 rights reserved 


Copyright, 1912, 

By the macmillan company. 

Set up and electrotyped. Published September, igii. 

NortoDoli ?3reafl 

J. 8. Cashing Co. — Berwick & Smith Co. 

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 







In April, 1896, there appeared in the American Journal Ij 
of Psychology my doctor's thesis, Studies in the Psychology 
of Religious Phenomena, a study of Christian conversion. 
Since then I have continued to devote what time I could 
to psychological investigations of religious life, and from 
time to time I have published in various periodicals pro- 
visional fragments belonging to different parts of the 
somewhat systematic scheme I have in mind. A list of 
these papers will be found on page 361. 

In this volume I have endeavored to deal with the topics 
announced in the subtitle, as scientifically as their nature 
permits. Light comes to the problems of origins from 
three sources : the present customs and beliefs of the most 
primitive peoples known to us ; the behavior and ideas of 
children ; and the teachings of general psychology. I 
trust that my information in these several provinces has 
been on the whole sufficient to keep me on the right road. 
For data I have had to depend upon the work of students 
oi aiiihropology, sociology, and psychology, and upon 
documents I have gathered myself, at first hand, either by 
questionnaires or by private correspondence. 

The explanations of rehgion which the psychologist and 
the sociologist can give leave unanswered, of course, the 
question of ultimate origin. But science does not come up 
against impassable limits any sooner when it occupies itself 
with reHgious experience than when it takes as its object 
any other phase of psychic life. It is a gross error to hold 



that, whereas in the study of non-religious phenomena sci- 
ence offers, or may hope to offer, complete explanations, 
in religious experience it finds its limits much earlier, and 
is, therefore, in that field, of comparatively little conse- 
quence. The ultimate mysteries before which science 
pauses are behind not only religious consciousness but 
conscious life as a whole, and the scope of psychology is 
no more restricted in religion than in other fields. 

In the chapter on " The Relation of Psychology to The- 
ology," I have taken a stand against the opinion that psy- 
chology, since the transcendental is beyond its ken, can 
have nothing to say upon the existence of the God of 
Christianity. I show in that chapter that the gods of re- 
ligion a7'e ijidnctions from experience^ and are therefore 
proper objects of science. 

Although in the preparation of this book I have been 
moved by scientific interests, it would be idle for me to 
pretend that my concern has been purely scientific. Re- 
ligion is too vital a matter to leave even the theoretically 
minded person altogether indifferent to its destiny. It 
needs as much as any other practical activity the kind of 
purification and guidance that science provides. It needs 
in particular the insight into the dynamics of conscious life 
which can be contributed, not by studies in comparative 
religion nor by criticism of sacred texts, but only by 

Every once in a while theologians, finding their skein 
hopelessly tangled, raise a cry for a return to origins, by 
which they mean a return to the Church Fathers and to 
the sacred writings. The cry of the psychologist is not 
for a return to the teachings of any man or group of men, 
but to human nature. He does not inquire, for instance, 
what any particular person or group of persons taught 


concerning saving practices and beliefs; but he tries to 
discover the j)sychological processes involved in the expe- 
rience called salvation, and he knows that success will 
mean the great initial step toward a scientific control of 
the factors entering into that experience. The great task 
of the psychologist in the field of religious life is to return, 
through the distortions and worthless accretions resulting 
from centuries of groping, to what is fundamental and 
essential in hiunan nature. 

In the present stage of our knowledge certain conclu- 
sions regarding religion appear to me unavoidable. And 
I think my opinion confirmed by the behefs actually enter- 
tained, though not always expressed, by the intellectual and 
ethical leaders of our generation. I shall neither avoid 
the utterance of these conclusions, nor hide them in vague 
formulations. If, because of outspokenness on these 
points, I am reproached for dogmatism and radicalism, 
I shall find comfort in the thought that nowadays liberalism 
in religion means too often either careless indifference to 
truth, or a timorous refusal to draw conclusions logically 
unavoidable, or concealment of one's opinions for motives 
not always creditable. As for the accusation of radicalism, 
it will be made, if at all, only by those who do not know 
how far the contemporary world of thought is controlled 
by men with whose opinions in matters religious I am in 
substantial agreement. 

That which religion has most to fear is not outspoken- 
ness but intellectual timidity and intellectual dishonesty 
among the supporters of the established cults. I cannot 
persuade myself that frank dealing with religion can be 
detrimental to society, even though the advent of psycho- 
logical analysis and explanation should bring about a crisis 
more painful, because more profound, than the one due to 


the less recent appearance of the comparative history of 
religions and the literary criticism of sacred writings. In 
such matters the pain is directly proportional to the value 
of the new readjustments of which it is symptomatic. 

I had perhaps better add that I am not a materialist 
either in theory or, I trust, in practice. Perhaps the term 
"empirical idealist" best fits my philosophical position. 

I take pleasure in acknowledging here my indebtedness 

to Miss Elisabeth Hutchin and Miss Edith Orlady, and in 

particular to Miss Ruth Collins for valuable assistance in 

the preparation of this book. 








Religion as a Type of Rational Behavior .... 3 
A preliminary sketch of the nature and function of religion 
and of its relation to the rest of life — Three modes of be- 
havior differentiated ; religious life one of them — The 
advantages sought or expected by the worshipper — The 
unsought results — Public religious practices are always 
mixed with non-religious activities. 


Constructive Criticism of Current Conceptions of Re- 
ligion 23 

Three classes of definition criticised — The place of thought 
and of feeling in conscious life — The "feeling of value" or 
the " making sacred " as the specific characteristic of religion. 




The Mental Requirements of the Appearance of Magic 

AND OF Religion 57 


The Origin of the Idea of Impersonal Powers ... 70 





The Several Origins of the Ideas of Unseen Personal 

Beings 85 


The Making of Gods and the Essential Characteristics 

OF A Divinity 1 11 


The Emotions in Religious Life 126 

The earlier religious emotions — The emotions in the 
course of the development of religion. 


The Origin of Magical AND OF Religious Practices . . 151 

The varieties and classification of magic — The origin of 
magical practices — The origin of religious practices. 


Corollaries regarding the Respective Nature of Magic 

AND Religion AND their Relations TO Each Other . 176 

Religion and magic have had independent origins — What 
did magic contribute to the making of religion? — The simpler 
forms of magic probably existed prior to religion — Magic 
and religion arc often closely associated — Religion is social 
and beneficent ; magic is dominantly individual and often 
evil — Magic is of shorter duration than religion — Magic and 
the origin of science — Summary of the forms assumed by 
magic and religion. 






Morality and Religion — Mythology and Religion — 

Metaphysics and Religion 195 


Theology and Psychology 207 

(i) The situation ; the propositions of empirical theology ; 
the documental evidence — (2) Religious knowledge as im- 
mediately given in specific experiences — The manner in 
which God acts in the soul — (3) Theology as a body of 
induced propositions — The exclusion of the transcendent 
from the sphere of science — The inductive method and 
empirical theology — The act of faith and its motives — 
(4) The task of psychology in the study of religious life. 



The Latest Forms of Religion 281 

Original Buddhism — Pantheism and immanence in theol- 
ogy — Psychotherapic cults: Christian Science, Mind-Cure, 
New Thought — The Religion of Humanity. 


The Future of Religion 314 

The present situation — Pantheism: pros and cons — The 
fundamental insufficiency of Positivism as a basis for reli- \J 
gion — The independence of moral appreciation from tran- 





scendental belief — The latent idealism of naturalistic 
religious movements — The Ethical Culture Societies — The 
philosophical basis necessary to religion. 


Definitions of Religion and Critical Comments . . 339 

Intellectualistic point of view — Affectivistic point of view 
— Voluntaristic or practical point of view. 







It is altogether natural that man in his strivings for 
physical and " spiritual " ^ life should endeavor to make use 
of every kind of power in the existence of which he believes. 
If forces of several different natures appear to him to be 
active in the world, it is to be expected that they will all 
be eagerly and uncritically pressed into service, each one 
according to its nature. Thus, for instance, the land Dyaks 
of Borneo, in addition to making use of the ordinary 
means of cultivating their land, invoke at certain great 
agricultural festivals Tuppa, the highest of their gods, a 
great Malay potentate, and a powerful and benevolent 
Englishman, Sir James Brooke.^ Similarly, the Christian 
mother who prays to God or to the Virgin mother that her 
son may be kept pure, does not fail to endeavor also by 
natural means to ward off bad company and to make of 
his body the docile instrument of his will. 

One may expect to find in use as many varieties of 

1 1 mean by " spiritual life " merely conscious existence — impulses, desires, 
volitions, feelings, ideas. 

2 Morris, M., Harvest Gods of the Land Dyaks of Borneo, Jr. of American 
Oriental Soc, Vol. XXVI, p. i66. 



methods aiming at the gratification of human desires as 
there are conceivable varieties of agents or forces capable 
of response to such methods. As a matter of fact, man 
has developed three distinct types of behavior, each one 
adapted to a specific kind of power. A concrete illustra- 
tion will bring them before us more forcibly than an abstract 
characterization. A stoker in the hold of a ship, throw- 
ing coal into the furnace, represents one of them. His 
purpose is to produce propelling energy. The amount of 
coal he shovels in, together with the air draught, the con- 
dition of the boiler, and other factors of the same sort, de- 
termines, as he understands the matter, the velocity of the 
ship. The same man, playing cards of an evening, and 
having lost uninterruptedly for a long time, might get up 
and walk round the table backwards in order to change 
his luck. He would thus illustrate a second mode of be- 
havior. If a storm threatened to sink the ship, the stoker 
might be seen falling on his knees, lifting his hands to 
heaven, and addressing in passionate words an invisible 
being. These are three differentiated kinds of responses 
that he has learned to make, the three ways by which he 
endeavors to make use of the forces about him in his 
struggle for the preservation and the enrichment of life. 
These three modes of behavior, conditioned by three con- 
cepts of power, are found among all peoples. For in- 
stance, the behavior of the Melanesians towards sick- 
ness is determined by their understanding of the nature 
of its cause. Codrington tells us that before acting these 
people make up their minds whether the disease is natural 
or not. If it is not natural, they try to discover further 
whether it is due to the impersonal force they call Mana, 
or to personal ghosts, spirits, or gods.-^ 

1 Codrington, R. H., The Melanesians, their Anthropology and Folk-lore^ 
Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1891, p. 194. 


These three types of behavior may be designated : — 

1. The mechanical behavior. 

2. The coercitive behavior, or magic. 

3. The anthropopathic behavior, which includes religion. 

The mechanical behavior differs from the anthropo- 
pathic by the absence of any reference to powers endowed 
with intelligence and feelings ; therefore, in the sphere 
within which it obtains, threats and presents are equally in- 
effective. It implies instead the practical recognition of a 
fairly definite and constant quantitative relation between 
cause and effect. The amount of coal used corresponds 
roughly to the velocity of the ship ; the distance the arrow 
flies, to the tension of the string ; the size of the stone, to 
its breaking power, etc. It is in this form of behavior that 
science finds its beginning. 

Magic separates itself, on the one hand, from mechanical 
behavior by the absence of implied quantitative relations, 
and, on the other hand, from anthropopathic behavior by 
the failure to use means of personal influence ; punishment 
and reward are just as foreign to magic as to mechanical 
behavior. Even when magic is supposed to take effect 
upon persons and gods, it is not by an appeal to their in- 
telligence or to their heart. They are coerced by a mys- 
terious power into doing what the magician wants them to 

As to the anthropopathic type of activity, it includes the 
ordinary relations of men with men and with animals, as 
well as those with superhuman spirits and with gods. 
One's frame of mind and behavior when dealing with hu- 
man beings resembles religion so closely that it is proper 
to place them in the same class. The closeness of the re- 
semblance becomes evident when we compare our attitude 
towards a person exalted far above us with that assumed 
by the savage or even by the civiHzed man towards his god. 


It is clear that according as man is dealing with one or 
another of these powers, his feeling-attitude will vary pro- 
foundly, even though the form of his action should remain 
the same. 

In primitive culture the coercitive behavior (magic), 
either separately or in close alliance with religion, is every- 
where .in evidence.^ But, as one ascends from the lowest 
stages of culture, magic falls gradually into disrepute and 
finally loses official recognition. Among us, it is reduced 
to a surreptitious existence ; yet it still possesses consider- 
able influence. A list of magical superstitions that have 
retained a hold among Christian nations would be found 
tediously long. A numerous class of them includes the 
gambler's methods of securing luck. So-called " religious " 
practices may really be merely magical. The cross, the 
rosary, relics, and other accessories of worship acquire in 
the mind of many Christians a power of the coercitive type. 

1 " From the moment of his initiation, his life [that of the Melanesian youth] 
is sharply marked into two parts. He has first of all what we may speak of 
as the ordinary life, common to all the men and women, associated with the 
procuring of food and the performance of corroblwrees, the peaceful monotony 
of this part of his life being broken now and again by the excitement of a fight. 
On the other hand, he has what gradually becomes of greater and greater 
importance to him, and that is the portion of his life devoted to matters of a 
sacred or secret nature. As he grows older he takes an increasing share in 
these, until finally this side of his life occupies Ijy far the greater part of his 
thoughts. The sacred ceremonies which appear very trivial matters to the 
civilized man arc most serious matters to him." (Codrington, R. II., op. cit., 

PP- 33-34-) 

" A Catholic missionary observes that in New Guinea the jtepu or sorcerers 
are everywhere. . . . Nothing happens without the sorcerer's intervention : 
wars, marriages, diseases, deaths, expeditions, fishing, hunting, always and 
everywhere the sorcerers." (J. G. Frazer, 7'he Golden Bough, 3d ed., Vol. I, 

P- 337) 

According to Flinders Petrie, magic was a main part of the beliefs of the 

Egyptians of the early kingdom as long as the old religion lasted. (^Aspects of 
Egyptian Religion, Transactions of Third International Congress of the His- 
tory of Religions, Vol. I, p. 192.) 


Such is, for instance, the case when the sign of the cross, 
of itself, without the mediation of God or Saint, is felt to 
be effective, or when " saying one's beads " is held to pos- 
sess a curative virtue of the kind ascribed to sacred relics 
^ by the superstitious. Even when the symbolism of the 
sign of the cross, and the meaning of the Ave Maria are 
realized, it happens not infrequently that signing oneself 
and saying one's beads are regarded as acting upon the 
Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, or God in the manner of an 
incantation, i.e. coercitively, magically. 

It is commonly said that religion is characterized by 
specific impulses or by specific purposes, or yet by specific 
emotions, and that thus it differentiates itself from the rest 
. of life. An analysis of religious life discloses the falsity 
of this opinion. Any impulse, any desire, may lead to re- 
ligious activity, and in it no type of emotion is to be found 
which is not represented also outside. The fear of death, 
the pain of hunger, the lust of the flesh, as well as the need 
of affection, of fellowship, of moral wholeness, and the 
self-sacrificing cravings, may, one and all, manifest them- 
selves either in reli£:ious or in secular behavior. That 
which makes life religious, in the historical sense of the 
term, is standing in relation with, or attempting to make 
use of, a particular kind of power. The will-to-live comes 
to expression as religion when an appeal is made to a 
class of powers which may be roughly characterized as 
psychic, superhuman, and usually, but not necessarily, 

As religion develops, however, certain human needs 
tend to be excluded from it and to appear exclusively in 
the secular life, while other needs become at particular 
stages of civihzation the ordinary and perhaps the only 
stimuli to rehgious life. In Christian countries, for in- 


stance, religious means would not he used to secure the 
gratification of desires recognized as bad. But the selection 
depends not upon a specifically "religious" quality be- 
longing to certain desires or needs, but upon quite other 
causes, such as the character attributed to the object of 
worship. It would, for instance, be absurd to expect from 
a god that of which he does not approve. And if he were 
supposed to govern the physical world by fixed laws, the 
logical tendency would be not to importune him concerning 
physical matters, but to seek in him only spiritual comforts. 
As a matter of fact, religion serves more and more exclu- 
sively in the attainment or preservation of that which is 
not otherwise easily securable and of that which it is found 
most successful in securing. 

If any one should be tempted to point to communion or 
union with God as a religious nQ.Q.d per se, I would observe 
that communion with God is a way of dismissing the worry- 
ing complication of this world, of escaping a dreaded sense 
of isolation, of entering into a circle of solacing and elevat- 
ing thoughts and feelings, of forgetting and of surmount- 
ing evil. These needs are felt more or less intensely by 
all men, and their gratification is secured by non-religious 
as well as by religious means. So that it is not the needs 
which are distinctive of religion, but the method whereby 
they are gratified. ' It might also be objected that the 
Happy Hunting Grounds of the American Indian, the 
Paradise of the Christian, the Nirvana of the Buddhist, are 
specific religious ends. But here again what belong ex- 
clusively to rehgion are not the impulses, the desires, and 
yearnings to which these conceptions of a blessed future 
owe their existence, but merely the conceptions them- 
selves. A similar remark would be equally effective 
against " perfection," should it be considered a specific 
religious goal. 



With regard to the emotions, it will be sufficient to re- 
mark here that neither fear, which was the dominant 
emotion in perhaps all " primitive " rehgions, nor the 
tender emotions, which have gradually displaced fear, nor 
yet awe, reverence, nor any other namable emotion belongs 
exclusively to the rehgious life. 

Religion has sometimes been labelled an instinct. But 
no one who, following contemporary psychology, under- 
stands by instinct an action performed without foresight of 
the end, can for a moment regard religion as an instinct. 
It is of course true that religion is rooted in instinctive im- 
pulses and in instincts, — in fear, acquisitiveness, pugnacity, 
curiosity, love, etc. The religious forms of behavior have 
been acquired in struggles, both blind and intelligent, for 
the gratification of instinctive needs and the fulfilment of 
social requirements. But the relation that instinct bears to 
religion is no other than that obtaining between instinct 
and commerce or any complex social activity. Instincts 
and instinctive tendencies are everywhere to be found as 
the springs of human action. 

In a subsequent chapter I shall try to show that the be- 
liefs in the existence of agents — ghosts, personified natural 
phenomena, creators — with whom man feels himself in 
practical relation are unavoidable beliefs, that they arise 
naturally from a normal use of ordinary mental powers,^ 
and that, in their crudest forms, they are but Httle beyond 
the capacity of the higher animal. The origin of religion is 
thus entirely within the powers of men, even of the crudest. 
If the terms "superhuman" and "supernatural" have any 
relevancy in religion, it is merely with reference to the gods 

1 There are, no doubt, diseases of religion; but it would be as absurd to 
brand religion itself because of its anomalies as it would be to condemn the 
sexual life because of sexual perverts. 


and their action on man, should they have an existence 
outside the mind of the believer. As to the word " sacred," 
it would continue to have validity even should the gods be 
no more than mental creations; but then only in the sense 
in which sacredness belongs to primordial instincts and to 
the loftier purposes which, little by little, appear as human 
nature unfolds its fairest aspects. The sacredness of reli- ^ 
gion would in this alternative be derived solely from the 
sacredness of life : of generation, of birth and death, of 
hunger and thirst, of love and hate, of joy and sorrow, of 
good and evil. Where else could " sacredness " find more 
significant and potent roots ? 

If I offer the alternative between the objective and the 
merely subjective existence of the gods, it is simply in order 
not to prejudge the question. I cannot persuade myself)-^ 
that divine personal beings, be they primitive gods or the 
Christian Father, have more than a subjective existence. 
There are, however, those who hold that no other proof of 
the truth of the " central " belief of religion is needed than 
its endurance in diverse forms throughout the history of 
mankind, and the abundance and beauty of ilis fruits. 
They say that the "naturalistic " theory of the origin of 
gods must be rejected because, among other defects, " it 
makes of religious beliefs a system of hallucinatory images," 
a " nightmare of untrained minds " ; " an error, and espe- 
cially an organized system of errors, could not endure." The 
fact is that even though the gods should have a merely sub- 
jective existence, and that there should be, therefore, in 
religion, low and high, no interference of divine beings, 
nevertheless its origin, its continuance, and the high value 
attached to it would be easily explicable. Let us pass 
in review the benefits which would accrue to mankind 
from a belief in non-existent gods. They may be divided 


into the effects expected by the worshipper and those not 

I. The advantages sought or expected by the worshipper. 

(^a) The control of physical nature — making rain, ward- 
ing off thunder, guiding the arrow, etc. If the sum total 
of the value of religion to primitive man consisted in these 
external physical effects, the non-objective existence of his 
gods would involve the utter inefficiency of his religion. 
The proof of this inefficiency is, however, not easily ob- 
tained. Need the reader be reminded in this connection 
that prayers for rain are still offered in Christian churches ? 
As a matter of fact, the rain ceremonies are not infre- 
quently followed more or less closely by rain, and offer- 
ings for success in the hunt are often apparently rewarded 
according to expectation. 

{b^ The action of gods and spirits npon hitman bodies and 
upon the mind. — It is here that abounds what must to the 
savage appear unquestionable proof of the effectiveness 
of religion. One need not at this point affirm that all 
these effects are subjectively caused. It is sufficient for 
the present purpose to note the confident declaration of 
science regarding, at least, most of them, that they are the 
outcome of the influence of the mind upon the body. 
" Suggestion " is a most effective agent upon the credulous 
and excitable savage. Many cures are, no doubt, per- 
formed in that manner by the medicine-men. Davenport, 
speaking of tribes of Puget Sound, says : " Their cure for 
disease consists in the members of the cult shaking in a 
circle about a sick person, dressed in ceremonial costume. 
The religious practitioner waves a cloth in front of the 
patient, with a gentle fanning motion, and, blowing at 
the same time, proceeds to drive the disease out of the 
body, beginning at the feet and working upward. The 
assistant stands ready to seize the disease with his cloth. 


when it is driven out of the head ! And they are ready 
to boast of many real cures." ^ A psychologist is not in- 
clined to doubt the report of Curr, that among the aborig- 
ines of Victoria persons who knew themselves to have 
been destined to destruction with magical ceremonies have 
pined away and died ; ^ nor that of Howitt, who, referring 
to the habit of the medicine-men of certain tribes to knock 
a man insensible in order to remove the kidney fat for 
magical purposes, writes, " In the Kurnai tribe, men have 
died, beheving themselves to have been deprived of their 
fat."^ Codrington relates the following: "A striking 
story was told me by Edwin Sakalraw of Arra of what he 
saw himself. A man in that islet was known to have pre- 
pared a tamatetiqa, and had declared his intention of 
shooting his enemy with it at an approaching feast ; but 
he would not tell who it was that he meant to kill, lest 
some friend of his should buy back the power of the charm 
from the wizard who had prepared it. To add force to 
the ghostly discharge, he fasted so many days before the 
feast began that when the day arrived he was too weak to 
walk. When the people had assembled, he had himself 
carried out and set down at the edge of the open space 
where the dancing would go on. All the men there knew 
that there was one of them he meant to shoot ; no one 
knew whether it was himself. There he sat as the dancers 
rapidly passed him circling round, a fearful object, black 
with dirt, and wasted to a skeleton with fasting, his tama- 
tetiqa within his closed fingers, stopped with his thumb, 

1 Davenport, F. M., Primitive Traits in Religious Revivals, Macmillan, 
(1905), p. 36; quoted from the Fourteenth Annual Report of the Amer. 
Bureau of Ethnology, p. 761. 

2 Curr, E. M., The Australian Race., Vol. Ill, p. 547, as quoted by Frazer, 
The Golden Bough, 3d ed.. Vol. T, p. 13. 

2 Hewitt, A. W., The Native Races of South-East Australia, London, Mac- 
millan, 1904, p. 373. 


his trembling arms stretched out, and his bleared eyes 
watching for his enemy. Every man trembled inwardly 
as he danced by him, and the attention of the whole 
crowd was fixed on him. After a while, bewildered and 
dazed by his own weakness, the rapid movement of the 
dancers, and the noise, he mistook his man ; he raised his 
arm and lifted his thumb. The man he aimed at fell at 
once upon the ground, and the dancers stopped. Then 
he saw that he had failed and that the wrong man was hit, 
and his distress was great ; but the man who had fallen 
and was ready to expire, when he was made to understand 
that no harm was meant to him, took courage again to 
live, and presently revived. No doubt he would have 
died if the mistake had not been known." ^ 

When religious behavior seems at times to be effective 
upon inanimate nature, thanks to coincidences, and at other 
times is actually effective upon human bodies — sugges- 
tively, and not, as the savage thinks, through the action of 
spirits — can the non-civilized man be expected to disabuse 
his mind of the belief in the objective existence of the gods 
he worships .-' The twentieth-century school-trained indi- 
vidual is not expected to do so much. 

2. The unsought results of religion. — The usefulness of 
reUgion illustrated in the preceding instances would per- 
haps of itself explain its continuance. But it is far from 
the whole of its value. The most noteworthy of the by- 
products to be taken into account are : — 

{a) TJie gratification of the lust for power and of the de- 
sire for social recognition. — The priest is the mediator be- 
tween mysterious, superior powers and his fellow-men. 
His sense of intimacy with these powers, and the fear, 
awe, and respect with which he is regarded by the people 
are not imaginary values, even though his gods should be 

1 Codrington, R. H., op. cit., pp. 205-206. 


unreal. His appreciation of these advantages would tend 
to make him disregard the disappointments of unrealized 
expectations and to render him blind to a natural explana- 
tion of his successes. 

{b) Less obvious, perhaps, but not less influential is the 
general mental stimulus provided by the ideas of ghosts, 
hero-ancestors, spirits, and gods, living unseen in one's vicin- 
ity ; intelligence as vi^ell as the feelings is quickened. The 
mere belief in the existence in a supraterrestrial world 
of a company of powerful, mysterious beings, good and 
bad, stirs the imagination, sets into activity the rational 
powers, and provides objects of attention able to sum- 
mon forth in the struggle for life the hidden potencies 
of the mind. And in so far as the gods are held to be 
benevolent, belief in them generates a feeling of confidence 
and optimism which is of high dynamic value. This dyna- 
mic value of religious belief must be reckoned among the 
mighty influences contributing to the development of the 
human race. It tends to keep religion alive, indirectly 
through the operation of natural selection, and directly 
through the attractiveness and stimulating effect of the 
invisible world. 

{c) From the very first, gods have exercised a regulative, 
moralizing influence, for they have been made the embodi- 
ment of the ideals of the community. Thus they have 
been, and still are, powerful factors in the work of social 
consolidation, whether objectively real or not. The unify- 
ing, socializing power of religion has, perhaps, nowhere 
been so strikingly illustrated as among the ancient 
Hebrews, and more recently during the Christian reorgan- 
ization of the ancient world. 

One may therefore affirm with confidence that the mere 
belief in gods may of itself produce results sufficient to make 
of religion a factor of the highest biological importance, if I 


may be allowed to use this term in its broadest sense. Its 
unsought results make its continuance intelligible, even in 
the face of repeated failures to provide the things solicited 
by propitiation and prayer, and despite the intellectual 
doubts arising from other sources in the later phases of its 

The foregoing conception of religion may appear to some 
open to the accusation of gross utilitarianism. They will 
object that far from being a mere scheme of self-protection 
and self-aggrandizement, religion is the source of the 
noblest feelings, of the purest and loftiest aspirations of the 
human heart ; and they will mention reverence, resignation, 
and self-sacrifice as the very essence of piety. But why 
should any one understand the phrase I have used, " grati- 
fication of needs, of desires," to refer only to the lowest 
needs and desires ? Self-sacrifice as an ideal is not incom- 
patible with self-aggrandizement in the comprehensive 
sense in which I take the word. The terms indicate rather 
two aspects, one positive and the other negative, of one and 
the same life-process ; for, if certain impulses and desires 
are to be fostered, others must be suppressed. If the 
Buddhist wages war upon desire that he may be delivered 
from the miseries of sorrow, disease, old age, death, rebirth, 
it is in order to obtain the endless peace of Nirvana. If 
the Christian renounces the flesh, it is in order that the 
spirit may live. In his barbarous self-renunciations, the 
ascetic manifests a greed unsurpassed in intensity by that 
of the most unrelenting money-lender. But the objects of 
their greed are of different orders : the one lusts after 
things of this world ; the other hungers after the " things of 
the spirit." Those who, like Tiele, look upon adoration as 
the essence of all religion, have to recognize that it includes 
"a desire to possess the adored object, to call it entirely 


one's own." The goal of the Christian is to be defined in 
terms both of self-sacrifice and of self-increase ; these terms 
represent respectively the social and the individualistic side 
of religion.! 
^ Religion, then, like the rest of life, is concerned with the 

gratification of human needs, physical and spiritual ; indi- 
vidual and social ; selfish and altruistic. The three follow- 
ing prayers, different as they are from one another, belong 
with equal right to the religious life. 

"I wish to kill a Pawnee! I desire to bring horses when 
I return. I long to pull down an enemy ! I promise you 
a calico shirt and robe. I will give you a blanket also, O 
Wakanda, if you allow me to return in safety after killing 
a Pawnee."^ 

" If God will be with me and will keep me in this way 
that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put 
on so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then 
shall the Lord be my God. And this stone which I have 
set up for a pillar, shall be God's house ; and of all that 
God shall give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee." ' 

" Not my will but Thine be done."* 

The purpose of every true founder of religion is well 
expressed in the words attributed to Christ, " I came that 
they may have life and may have it abundantly." 

Since the end of religion is to maintain and perfect life, 
the biological point of view affords the larger and more 
fruitful outlook. From this point of vantage religion ap- 

^" Every self-sacrifice is at the same time self-preservation, namely preserva- 
tion of the ideal self ; indeed, it is the proudest kind of self-assertion for me 
to sacrifice myself, for me to stake my life, in battling for a good which I 
esteem higher than my life." (Paulsen, A System 0/ Ethics, p. 389.) 

2 Dorsay, G. Owen, A Study of Siouan Cults, Eleventh Amer. Report 
Bureau of Ethnology, 18S9-1890, p. 376. 

8 Jacob bargaining for Yahve's assistance, Genesis xxviii, 20-22, 

*John X. 10. 


pears as a part of the struggle for life ; the part involving 
relations with superhuman, psychic powers, real or imag- 

In its earlier stages, when the individual is still lost in 
the tribe, the gods are preeminently national gods, and the 
religious end is a national one. During that period the re- 
hgious effort aims at the preservation and increase of the 
community. At a later time, when the individual has 
gained a clearer sense of his personality, religion may pass 
through an individualistic phase. It is then concerned 
essentially with subjective, internal experiences. It strives 
towards the establishment of inward peace by the triumph 
of the superior impulses and tendencies. In persons keenly 
sensitive to ethical values this internal warfare claims a 
large share of attention. It may, even in particular cir- 
cumstances, determine momentous crises. This work of 
inner psychic adaptation, as I have called it elsewhere, is 
without any doubt of the utmost significance to the devel- 
opment of modern society. 

But whether in a communistic or in an individuahstic 
phase, reHgion, when its end is defined as preservation and 
aggrandizement, includes the two directions which the life 
instincts necessarily assume in individuals living in society : 
regard for self and regard for others ; egoism and altruism. 

Religion should, therefore, be looked upon as a func- 
tional part of hfe, as that mode of behavior in the struggle 
for life in which use is made of powers characterized here 
as psychic, superhuman, and usually personal. In its ob- 
jective manifestations, religion appears as attitudes, rites, 
creeds, and institutions ; in its subjective expression, it 
consists of impulses, desires, purposes, feelings, emotions, 
and ideas connected with the religious actions and institu- 
tions. According to this biological view the necessary and 
natural spring of religious and non-religious life alike is the 


" procreant urge " in all or some of its multiform appear- 
ances. The current terms " religious feelings," "religious 
desires," " religious purpose," are deceptive, if they are in- 
tended to designate specific affective experiences or dis- 
tinctive desires and purposes. It is the belief in several 
kinds of powers which has made possible the differentia- 
tion of types of behavior and in particular the division 
into secular and religious life. The objective existence of 
personal divinities or equivalent psychic powers is an as- 
sumption necessary to religion ; but the mere belief in their 
existence is quite sufficient to account for the important 
place it has occupied and still occupies among the factors 
of human development. 

The persistent effort to maintain life and realize its ideals 
through the assistance of religious sources of power has re- 
sulted in the introduction into religion of peculiar attitudes 
and modes of consciousness favorable to the achieve- 
ment of its end. Meditation, contemplation, the faith- 
state, trance, ecstasy, are as many different states of con- 
sciousness empirically tried, selected, and incorporated into 
the body of religious practices because of their efficacy, 
an efficacy due to the high degree of suggestibility they 

Public religious practices are always mixed with non- 
religious activities. — Very few human activities proceed 
from a single motive, or involve but one means of secur- 
ing the end at which they aim. The original purpose of 
a horse show is to exhibit fine specimens of that noble 
animal and to increase its aesthetic and practical value. 
But a horse show serves several other purposes, chief 
among which is the gratification of social instincts. The 
death of a man calls for a memorial service, but it may be- 


come the occasion, as in the historical case of M. Valerius 
Levinus, for long and wild festivities. 

Probably no activities are so overlaid with extraneous 
accretions as are the rehgious. This fact is of consider- 
able consequence ; because it tends not only to conceal the 
real nature of religion, but also to make it seem the cause 
of certain results due partly or wholly to its associates. 
Thus there arises an exaggerated idea of the value of re- 
ligion. This gathering of disparate activities around re- 
ligion I purpose to illustrate briefly. 

The attempt to gain one and the same end by two dif- 
ferent modes of behavior results among primitive peoples 
in the well-known association of magic with' religion. They 
are so closely interwoven that many students of prim- 
itive religion have not been able to separate them, and so 
have formed wrong notions of both. 

Among the North American Indians, religious practices 
have become connected with elaborate, non-religious func- 
tions aiming at social and aesthetic pleasures. A good ex- 
ample is provided in the Navajo Great Mountain Chant.^ 
Its purpose of curing disease is obscured to a large extent 
by the addition of amusements. During a considerable 
part of the nine days, the curing of disease is forgotten, and 
the people enjoy themselves in different ways. Among 
the songs not connected with the religious and magical 
ceremonies proper may be cited the purely poetical effusion 
called The Twelfth Song of the Thunder : — 

" The voice that beautifies the land ! 
The voice above, 
The voice of the thunder 
Within the dark cloud 
Again and again it sounds, 
The voice that beautifies the land ! 

- See especially the last night's entertainment described at length by Dr. 
Washington Matthews, Fifth Annual Report Bureau of Ethnology, 1S83- 
l8«4, pp. 431 ff. 


" The voice that beautifies the land ! 
The voice below, 
The voice of the grasshopper 
Among the plants 
Again and again it sounds, 
The voice that beautifies the land." ^ 

"The ordinary type of Hebrew worship was essentially 
social, for in antiquity all religion was the affair of the 
community rather than of the individual. A sacrifice 
was a pubHc ceremony of a township, or of a clan, and 
private householders were accustomed to reserve their 
offerings for the annual feasts, satisfying their religious 
feelings in the interval by vows to be discharged when the 
festal season came along. Then the crowds streamed into 
the sanctuary from all sides, dressed in their gayest attires, 
marching joyfully to the sound of music, and bearing with 
them, not only the victims appointed for the sacrifice, but 
stores of bread and wine to set forth the feast. The law 
of the feast was open-handed hospitality; no sacrifice 
was complete without guests, and portions were freely 
distributed to rich and poor within the circle of a man's 
acquaintance. Universal hilarity prevailed, men ate, drank, 
and were merry together, rejoicing before their God. . . . 
Everywhere we find that a sacrifice ordinarily involves 
a feast. . . . The identity of religious occasions and 
festal seasons may indeed be taken as the determining 
characteristic of the type of ancient religion gener- 
ally. . . ."2 

Everywhere religious ceremonies have served as the nu- 
cleus around which gathered attractions of the most va- 
ried kinds, — above all, those dependent upon a concourse 

^ A Mountain Chatil, Dr. W. Matthews, Fifth Annual Report Bureau of 
Ethnology, 1883-1884, pp. 379-467- 

'^ Smith, W. Robertson, The Religion of the Semites, pp. 236-237. 


of people.^ From the hymns sung at the feasts of Dionysus 
arose comedy ; and tragedy, according to Aristotle,^ had 
a similar birth. What was true in ancient times remains 
true to-day. Comparing Protestantism with Catholicism, 
William James writes : " The latter offers a so much richer 
pasturage and shade to the fancy, has so many cells with 
so many different kinds of honey, is so indulgent in its 
multiform appeals to human nature that Protestantism 
will always show to Catholic eyes the almshouse physi- 
ognomy." 3 And yet even in Protestant worship aesthetic 
delight is with many a leading motive. One of my corre- 
spondents writes, for instance : " While I am not at all 
musical, sacred music affects me powerfully. It is physi- 
cal pain and sweetest rapture, causing extreme exhilaration 
or depression." The religious interest of Protestants can- 
not be correctly measured by church attendance. More 
than one thoughtful person has described the American 
churches as social clubs. Meanwhile the church-going 
public, and even outsiders, credit religion with all the good 
accomplished by the congregations ; and in consequence 
belief in church tenets is greatly strengthened. 

As long as religion exists, it will provide the best illus- 
tration of the synergism by which many interests manifest 
themselves together ; and therefore the majority of people 
will continue to be deceived regarding the value both of 
religion itself and of its tenets. 

The natural, naive tendency to combine diverse interests 
and pleasures has often been reenforced by a deliberate 

1 See the festival of the month Quecholli among the ancient Mexicans, 
H. H. Bancroft, Native Races, Vol. II, pp. 334 fF. Regarding ancient 
Greece, see A. Mommsen, Feste der Stadt Aiken, 1S98, pp. 349 ff. ; P. Fou- 
cart, Le Culie de Dyonysos en Attiqtie, Memoire de I'lnstitut National, 
Vol. XXXVII, Part 2, pp. 107, 113-121. 

2 Aristotle, Poetics, Vol. IV. 

2 James, William, The Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 461. 



purpose to use in the interest of religion any extraneous 
means available. One may grant this without going to 
the length of claiming with von Hartmann that " the ad- 
mission of art into religious services has never been any- 
thing else but a secular bait to entice the great mass of 
persons in whom the religious sentiment has not been 
strong enough by itself to support and prolong much de- 
votion and contemplation, without the aid of such external 
means of excitement." ^ 

^ Hartmann, Eduard von. The Religion of the Future, p. 36. 



A FAVORITE custom among the more philosophically in- 
clined students of religion has been to condense the results 
of their labor into little formulae called definitions of re- 
ligion. An examination of several typical definitions will 
serve as a summary of past and present opinions, and thus 
provide an historical background for our study. The dis- 
covery of the causes of the obvious contradictions and in- 
adequacies of the definitions that have been given will 
pave the way for the acceptance of the more inclusive 
concept presented in the preceding chapter. 

It must be admitted that the lack of agreement among 
students of religion regarding fundamental points affords 
a rare opportunity to the scoffer bent on disparaging the 
value of their work, and perhaps, by implication, the 
value of religion itself. Martineau, for instance, affirms 
that religion is " a belief in an Ever-living God, that is, a 
Divine mind and will ruling the universe and holding moral 
relation with mankind " ; and Romanes adds, " To speak 
of the rehgion of the unknowable, the religion of Cosmism, 
the religion of Humanity, and so forth, when the personal- 
ity of the First Cause is not recognized, is as unmeaning as 
it would be to speak of the love of a triangle or the ration- 

^ This chapter is a revision and a development of a paper published in 1901 
in the Monist, under the title Introduction to a Psychological Study of Religion. 



ality of the equator." ^ Brinton, however, flatly contradicts 
them both : " No mistake could be greater than to sup- 
pose that every creed must teach a belief in a God or Gods, 
in an immortal soul, and in the Divine government of the 
world. . . . The religion of to-day which counts the largest 
number of adherents, Buddhism, rejects every one of these 
items." 2 Science, anathematized by some theologians, is 
by others declared to be a twin sister to religion. " True 
science and true religion are twin sisters. . . , Science 
prospers exactly in proportion as it is religious." '^ " The 
discipline of science is superior to that of our ordinary 
education because of the religious culture it gives." * 
Some thinkers regard religion, even in its crudest begin- 
ning, as the admirable manifestation of God in man ; others 
do not hesitate to term it mere superstition, the product 
of an intellectual error, unavoidable in the infancy of 
mankind, but to be outgrown as soon as possible ; and a 
few go even so far as to declare religion a " pathological 
manifestation." ^ 

Despite this confusion, a classification into three groups 
makes room for most of the more seriously established 
formulae.^ In the first group, a specific intellectual function 
or purpose is chosen as the essence or the distinguishing 
mark of religion ; in the second, specific feelings, senti- 
ments, or emotions are singled out as the religious differ- 

1 Romanes, G. J., Thoughts on Religion. See also Appendix, p. 343. 

2 Brinton, D. G., Religions of Primitive Peoples. See Appendix, p. 358. 
^ Huxley, Thomas. * Spencer, Herbert, Education. 

^ Sergi, G., Les Etnotions, p. 404. 

^ Several other classifications are, of course, possible. See, for instance, 
that of Wundt in Appendix, {Logic, I, chap. 2), into three groups: i. the 
autonomous theories (Schleiermacher) ; 2. the metaphysical theories (Spencer 
and Hegel); 3. the ethical theories (Kant). I give preference to the classi- 
fication in the text because it l^rings into relief the faulty psychology, which is 
responsible for so large a share in the lamentable confusion of ideas about 



«/ entiae; in the third, the will — this term being used in its 
wider meaning, to include desire, cravings, and impulses — 
is given the place occupied by the intellect or the feelings 
in the other groups. According to this last view, religion 
becomes an "instinct," or a particular mode of behavior, or 
an endeavor to reaHze a certain type of being. One or two 
definitions from each group may be considered here by 
way of illustration. There are, of course, definitions which 
do not fall completely within any one of these three divisions, 
— for instance, those centering around the notion of ,value. 
These I shall consider separately. 

First class. — This class represents what may be called 
the intellectual attitude. Martineau's definition quoted 
above illustrates this point of view. Romanes holds simi- 
larly that " religion is a department of thought having for 
its object a self-conscious and intelligent Being." ^ Ac- 
coixiing to Max Muller (see Appendix), religion "is a 
faculty or disposition, which independent of, nay in spite 
of, sense and reason, enables man to apprehend the Infi- 
nite under different names and under varying disguises." 
In his Theosophy^ we read that religion is a bridge between 
the visible and material world and the invisible and spirit- 
ual world. This bridge is described as establishing a rela- 
tion between the Infinite that man discovers in nature and 
the Infinite that he discovers in himself. These Infinites are 
such particular stuffs that a special faculty is needed for 
their apprehension : " There will be and can be no religion 
until we admit that there is in man a third faculty, which I 
call simply the faculty of apprehending the Infinite, not 
only in religion but in all things — a power independent of 
sense and reason, but yet a very real power." There is 

1 Romanes, G. J., Thoughts on Religion, 1895, P- 4''' 

2 Muller, Max, Theosophy, p. 360. See a fuller discussion in the Appendix, 

P- 339- 


something in this passage which makes one think of the 

Max Miiller's conception would make a chasm between 
religious and secular life ; but a definition of religion in 
terms so widely different as "a mental faculty," " a bridge 
between the visible and material world and the invisible 
and spiritual world," "an apprehension of the Infinite," 
"a perception of the Infinite," "a concomitant sentiment, 
or presentiment of the Infinite," can hardly be taken seri- 
ously. The use here made of the term "infinite " reminds 
one of Felix Holt's remarks concerning " those who have 
no particular talent for the finite, but a general sense that 
the infinite is the right thing for them. . . . They might 
just as well boast of nausea as a proof of a strong inside." 

Herbert Spencer may stand for us as the representative 
par excellence of intellectualism in religion. His prob- 
lem in First Principles is to find some fundamental idea 
which may serve as a basis for a reconciliation of religion 
and science. After passing in review the more important 
religious conceptions, he concludes that in every form of 
religion is found " an hypothesis which is supposed to 
render the Universe comprehensible. Nay, even that which 
is commonly regarded as the negation of all Religion — 
even positive Atheism — comes within the definition ; for 
it, too, in asserting the self -existence of space, matter, and 
motion, which it regards as adequate causes of every ap- 
pearance, propounds an a priori theory from which it holds 
the facts to be deducible. Now every theory tacitly asserts 
two things : first, that there is something to be explained ; 
secondly, that such and such is the explanation. Hence, 
however widely different speculators may disagree in the 
solutions they give of the same problem, yet by implica- 
tion they agree that there is a problem to be solved. Here, 
then, is an element which all creeds have in common. Re- 



ligions, diametrically opposed in their overt dogmas, are 
yet perfectly at one in the tacit conviction that the existence 
of the world with all it contains and all which surrounds it 
is a mystery ever pressing for interpretation. On this 
point, if on no other, there is entire unanimity." 

" That this is the vital element in all religions is further 
proved by the fact that it is the element which not only 
survives every change, but grows more distinct the more 
highly the religion is developed." 

" Nor does the evidence end here. Not only is the 
omnipresence of something which passes comprehension, 
that most abstract belief which is common to all religions, 
which becomes the more distinct in proportion as they de- 
velop, and which remains after their discordant elements 
have been mutually cancelled ; but it is that belief which 
the most unsparing criticism of each leaves unquestionable 
— or rather makes ever clearer. It has nothing to fear 
from the most inexorable logic ; but, on the contrary, is a 
belief which the most inexorable logic shows to be more 
profoundly true than any religion supposes. For every 
religion, setting out though it does with the tacit assertion 
of a mystery, forthwith proceeds to give some solution of 
this mystery, and so asserts that it is not a mystery passing 
human comprehension. But an examination of the solu- 
tions they severally propound shows them to be uniformly 
invalid. The analysis of every possible hypothesis proves, 
not simply that no hypothesis is sufficient, but that no hy- 
pothesis is even thinkable. And thus the mystery, which 
all religions recognize, turns out to be a far more tran- 
scendent mystery than any of them suspect — not a rela- 
tive, but an absolute mystery. 

" Here, then, is an ultimate religious truth of the highest 
possible certainty." ^ 

1 Spencer, Herbert, First Principles, pp. 43-46, abbreviated. See also 



The primary dependence of religion upon the recogni- 
tion of the great mystery is once more emphasized in the 
chapter on " The Reconciliation," in which he declares 
that what makes a religion become more religious is that it 
"rejects those definite and simple interpretations of nature 
previously given." "That which in religion is irreligious 
is, that, contradicting its deepest truth, it has all along 
professed to have some knowledge of that which transcends 
knowledge ; and has so contradicted its own teachings," 
its supreme verity. 

The criticism to be passed upon Spencer is that he does 
not treat of religion at all. The recognition of a mystery 
pressing for interpretation may be at the beginning of 
philosophical thinking, but the "insoluble mystery" is res- 
olutely set aside by the religious consciousness. Religion 
begins when the mystery has been given some solution, naive 
or critical, making possible practical relations with the 
" ultimate." The fact that positive Atheism falls within 
Spencer's definition of religion shows sufificiently that he is 
concerned with philosophical conceptions or assumptions 
implied in religion, and not with religion itself. 

The value of religion to humanity has been, and is, in- 
comparably greater than the value assigned to it in these 
quotations. If men have "lived by religion,'" it is not be- 
cause they have recognized the mystery, but rather because 
they have, in their uncritical purposive way, transcended the 
mystery, and have posited a solution of which they were 
able to make practical use. 

Religion differentiated from philosophy. — The confusion 
of pedagogical theories with education, or of aesthetic 
theories with art, seems impossible, yet just such an error, 
^ in the sphere of religion, is made by those who uphold 
conceptions of the intellectual class ; the philosophy of 
religion is confused by them with rehgion itself. This 


error is the outcome of an illusion to which the philosopher 
is most susceptible : to the thinker, nothing is so real as the 
thought processes. It is unnecessary to review at this 
point the mischief wrought by intellectualism in religion ; 
but it may be noted in passing that to its influence is due 
the regrettable fact that the formulation of rational 
grounds for the belief in God and the determination of his 
attributes, a purely ontological question, has become for 
many the only religious problem. 

Where is to be drawn the line of demarcation between 
religion and philosophy .-' Professor Fraser in his Gifford 
Lectures ^ takes up a purely philosophical question — the 
philosophy of Theism — which he formulates thus: "Is 
the immeasurable reality in which I find myself living, and 
moving, and having my being, rooted in Active, Moral 
Reason, and therefore absolutely worthy of faith ; or is it 
hollow and hopeless because at last without meaning ? " 
He states in this passage not only his problem, but also his 
motives for deahng with it. The latter are even more 
clearly formulated in the following : " Reflecting men have 
been moved to the final inquiry because they wanted to find 
reasonable security that the commonly supposed Cosmos 
is not finally chaos, so that the world may be trusted 
in. . . ." And again elsewhere, " According to the an- 
swer practically given to this question, our surroundings 
and our future are viewed with an ineradicable expectation 
and hope, or with literally unutterable doubt a;id despair. 
It is this question which Natural Theology in the widest 
sense of the term has to determine." The motive for the 
metaphysical activity of this writer is thus clearly stated. 
He turns to the ultimate problem because he cannot live 
contented without the assurance that Moral Reason rules. 
Suppose, now, that at some point in his meditations he 

1 Fraser, Alexander Campbell, The Philosophy of Theism, pp. 22, 23. 


became impressed with the strength of his arguments, 
and suddenly felt, as men at times do feel, something 
which he thought to be the presence about him of the 
Great Spirit, and that for a moment he entered into dy- 
namic relation with it, was attuned to the universal har- 
monies, and that out of this experience proceeded a sense 
of peace, of confidence, of strength. An experience such 
as this is common with those who are reHgiously inclined; 
it is, in fact, the very essence of mystical communion. 
This attitude would, of course, be clearly and radically dif- 
ferent from that in which the book was thought out and 
written. The latter is characterized by the presence of a 
desire to solve a problem and the consequent starting of 
the mental machinery by which knowledge is gathered and 
dealt with according to logical canons. In the former, a 
solution is accepted, albeit temporarily, and is used to 
gratify the needs the author has declared to be the motive 
for his work. 

The religious experience consists, not in seeking to under- 
stand God, but in feeding upon Him, in finding strength 
and joy in Him. Now, it is a fact that not only the intel- 
lectually gifted, but also the commonplace person passes 
more or less frequently from the religious to the philosoph- 
ical attitude, Tom, Dick, and Harry may rise from their 
knees to become metaphysicians, and declare that they 
see plainly "the logical necessity of the' more produc- 
ing the less; the capacity of the more to produce the less; 
and therefore the eternal preexistence of the Perfect, of 
the Omnipotent, of the Absolute, of God." ^ My conten- 
tion is for the recognition of the radical difference of these 
two attitudes and for the admission that we have in this 
difference the true ground of separation between philosophy 
and religion. Philosophy searches for explanations, for 
J Arreat, L., Le Sentiment Religieux en France^ Appendix, Observation G. 


intellectual unification ; religion assumes knowledge and 
maintains dynamic relations with psychic powers greater 
than man. The distinction may be expressed thus : the 
religious consciousness seeks being ; the philosophical 
consciousness seeks knowledge. Considered from the 
intellectual side, religion postulates, philosophy inquires. 
Both are normal forms of consciousness. In the twinkling 
of an eye consciousness passes from one attitude to the 
other, now religious and now philosophical, in rapid alter- 
nation. In religion, God is felt and used. So long as He 
proves Himself sufficiently useful. His right to remain 
in the service of man is unquestioned. The religious 
consciousness asks for no more. Does God really exist .-• 
how does He exist.-" what is He ? are questions held to 
be satisfactorily answered by the gratification of man's 
needs.^ The religious consciousness refuses to deal with 
intellectual problems. It will not make life wait upon 
logical solutions ; instead, it adopts working hypotheses. 1/ 

The fact that in both attitudes God may, in a sense, be the 
goal of one's desire and effort, and that one passes with 
ease and frequency from one attitude to the other, accounts 
for much of the difficulty experienced in separating the 
philosophy of religion from rehgion itself. In some per- 
sons, the two are so inextricably bound up with each other 
that it seems as if every moment of their existence were 
both religious and speculative. 

The desire for knowledge, however, is not excluded 
from the rehgious life ; all desires, all needs, may be 
springs of religious life, but under this condition, — that 
the gratification of these desires be sought through a 

1 Ample substantiation of this statement will be given in the forthcoming 
studies. The interested reader can find some documents bearing on this 
point in the Monist, Vol. XI (1901), pp. 536-573, and in Studies in the Psy- 
chology of Religious Phenofnena, Amer. Jr. of Psychology, Vol. VII, pp. 309-385. 


psychic, superhuman power. Then, and only then, will 
the desire for knowledge make a part of a religious 
moment. This condition is, of course, not realized by philos- 
ophers of the type of Professor Fraser, Maine de Biran, or 
William James. However ardently they may seek for a 
source of religious power, they do not expect to be put in 
possession of it by way of answer to prayer, or as the 
result of any form of mystical communion. The value of 
their work to religion is evidently not a legitimate ground 
for identifying their philosophical search after God with 

Luther and Saint Augustine were too profoundly reli- 
gious to fall into the errors of intellectualism. " How then 
do I seek Thee, O Lord } " exclaims the Bishop of Hippo, 
and he answers, " When I seek Thee, my God, I seek a 
happy life. I will seek Thee that my soul may live. For 
my body liveth by my soul ; and my soul by Thee." ^ In 
the following comment on the first commandment in the 
Longer Catechism, Luther carries one's thought forward to 
Feuerbach's radical belief that the gods are the children of 
man's thirst for happiness. " What is it to have a God, or 
what is God .-' A God denotes that something by means 
of which man shall be aware of all good things and wherein 
he shall have a refuge in every necessity." 

Second class. — In the second class of definition, a par- 
ticular emotion or sentiment, usually termed " feeling," is 
seized upon as the religious differentia. The affective 
experiences most frequently singled out for this purpose 
are fear, awe, reverence, adoration, piety, dependence, love, 
and "cosmic feeling." For Herbart, "sympathy with the 
universal dependence of man is the essential natural prin- 

^ Augustine, Saint, Confessions, Bk. X, 29, p. 198 ( Pusey's translation in the 
Library of the Fathers). 


ciple of all religion." ^ Hoffding, although hardly to be 
classed here, gives predominance to feeling. The essence 
of religious experience is, according to him, the religious 
feeling, i.e. " a feeling determined by the fate of values in 
the struggle for existence." Dependence is conspicuous 
in many definitions ; in that of Tiele, for instance, who 
describes the essence of religion as " that pure and reveren- 
tial disposition or frame of mind which we call piety." 
" The essence of piety, and therefore the essence of religion 
itself, is adoration . . . adoration necessarily involves the 
elements of holy awe, humble reverence, grateful acknowl- 
edgment of every token of love, hopeful confidence, lowly 
self-abasement, a deep sense of one's own unworthiness and 
shortcomings, total self-abnegation, and unconditional con- 
secration of one's whole life, of one's whole faculties. . . . 
But at the same time — therein consists its other phase — 
adoration includes a desire to possess the adored object, 
to call it entirely one's own." ^ 

Schleiermacher is the best-known representative of this 
class. In his celebrated Discourse ou tJie Nature of Religion, ^ 
he attacks vigorously the intellectual conception : " Religion 
cannot and will not originate in the pure impulse to 
know, . . . What you may know or believe about the 
nature of things is far beneath the sphere of religion. . . . 
Any effort to penetrate into the nature or the substance of 
things is no longer religion, but seeks to be a science of 
some sort." The peculiar sphere of religion "is neither 
thinking nor acting, but intuition and feeHng," — the feel- 
ing that arises in the contemplation of any particular 

^ Herbart, J. F., Science of Education^ Heath, p. 171. 

2 Tiele, C. P., Elements of the Science of Religion, Vol. II, pp. 19S-199. 
See also AppendLx, p. 34S. 

3 Schleiermacher, F., The Nature of Religion, pp. 49, 57, etc. See also 
Appendix, p. 346. 




object, i.e. of any part of the Universe when it is received, 
felt, as a part of the whole. And again, speaking of the 
conception of God and of immortahty, he writes : " Only 
what in either is feeling or immediate consciousness can 
belong to rehgion." Pure religion is pure feeling; that is, 
feeling disconnected from thought and from action : 
" What we feel and are conscious of in religious emotions 
is the operation of things upon us, not our reaction to the 
received impressions." " If you could imagine it implanted 
in man quite alone, it would produce neither these nor any 
other deed. The man . . . would not act, he would only 
feel." In a subsequent work. The Doctrine of Faith, he 
reaches the well-known formula, " The essence of religion 
consists in a feehng of absolute dependence upon God." 

This class of definition reminds one of Faust's exclama- 
tion : — 

" Nenn's Cluck ! Herz ! Liebe ! Gott ! 

Ich habe keinen Namen 

Dafiir, Gefiihl ist alles." 

How is one to account for conceptions apparently so 
utterly at variance as are those falling under the intel- 
lectual and the affective classes ? It is, of course, true that 
in order to enter into relation with the divine power, one 
must have " thought " it ; and there can be no doubt that 
religion rests upon various conceptions regarding the world 
and man. But to identify that philosophical basis, or the 
search for it, with religion itself shows a misunderstanding 
of the facts. It is also true that there are present in reli- 
gious life feelings, emotions, and sentiments, commonly 
tenacious and intense ; but to use them as a means of dif- 
ferentiating religion from the rest of life is to give proof of 
ignorance as to the place of feeling in our life. A belief 
or a feeling can at best constitute a prominent or a domi- 
nant component of the total religious experience ; but prom- 


inence or dominance is not synonymous with " essence " 
or with " vital element." The error of the definitions we 
have considered consists in identifying with religion itself 
mere aspects of religious Hfe. 

One of the fundamental and best established generaliza- 
tions of psychology is that the unit of conscious life is 
neither thought nor feeling, but both of them in a synthe- 
sis, cooperating toward the attainment of an end. This 
fact contains in itself a sufficient condemnation of any 
definition which singles out one or the other of these com- 
ponents as constituting religion or the essence of religion. 
I shall reserve until later the development of this funda- 
mental argument, and shall limit myself for the present to 
showing that not one of the " feelings " used in the defi- 
nitions of the second class is really distinctive of religion. 
These feeUngs are all met with in the secular Ufe as well. 
They cannot, therefore, be a means of unequivocal discrim- 
ination between the religious and non-religious experience. 
That this is true of fear, of awe, of reverence, cannot be 
denied. The feeling of dependence cannot serve any more 
effectively than fear as a distinctive characteristic of reli- 
gion. A feeling of dependence is the ever present back- 
ground of human and, I suppose, of higher animal life. 
No beings express a more pathetic sense of dependence 
than certain of our domestic animals. In all human rela- 
tions, business, social, or religious, the consciousness of de- 
pendence lurks in the background, when it does not obtrude 
itself upon us. How then could religion be made to cover 
every experience dominated by a feeling of dependence } 
But the meaning of Schleiermacher, it may be urged, is that 
only one variety of the feeling of dependence constitutes 
religion, — the variety arising, as he puts it, when any part 
of the universe is experienced or felt as a part of the whole, 


" not as limited and in opposition to other things, but as 
an exhibition of the infinite in our lives." ^ To hold that 
the larger power upon which one feels dependent is, in the 
case of religion, necessarily infinite is to misinterpret ordi- 
nary experience. In his religious moments, man is not, as 
we shall see in another section, usually conscious of dealing 
with the unHmited. His transactions take place between 
himself and a greater power, the degree of greatness of 
which he does not usually consider. He may be ready to 
admit, if not the inferiority of his deity, at least the exist- 
ence by his side of other deities, each omnipresent in his 
own sphere. But even if the object of the feeling of de- 
pendence were in religion always the Whole, the Infinite, it 
would still be futile to try to use the feeling of depend- 
ence arising out of that situation as a means of differentiat- 
ing religious from non-religious life. Between the feeling of 
dependence upon the Whole and the feeling of dependence 
upon the Larger, the Greater, there exists no introspective 
difference sufficient to make discrimination possible. If, 
as a matter of fact, we discriminate without hesitation, be- 
tween the feeling of dependence upon Wall Street, upon a 
father, upon Yahve, upon a mistress, or upon the Absolute, 
it is not because the feeling is in each case qualitatively dif- 
ferent, but because the objects are clearly distinguishable. 
Similarly, it is the difference in the object or in the deter- 
mining cause of fear and love that makes possible discrimi- 
nation between religious and secular fear and love. And 
when external perceptions are slighted, confusion is apt to 
take place. For instance, Madame Guyon in her relations 
with her confessor. Father LaCombe, came to the point 
where Father LaCombe and God fused together, as it were. 
She admits with some naifvet6 that " Ce n'etait plus qu'une 
enti^re unit6, cela de maniere que je ne pouvais plus le dis- 

1 Schleiermacher, op. cit., p. 49. 



tinguer de Dieu."^ The Christian mystics frequently use 
God and Christ interchangeably. Even the Virgin Mary 
may lose her identity and be assimilated to Christ and God. 
This vagary does not matter to these mystics, since what 
they want is the affective experience, I do not mean to 
affirm that the emotion or sentiment remains necessarily 
strictly the same when the object changes, but only that the 
affective experiences characteristic of our relations with 
religious objects are not, on affective grounds, usually intro- 
spectively separable from other affective experiences of 
the same sort, and cannot, therefore, provide the needed 
ground of differentiation. 

Concerning "adoration " as a means of differentiation, it 
must be said that the expression " feeling of adoration," as 
commonly used, designates not one specific emotion, but a 
sequence of complex emotions and sentiments. Awe, 
reverence, respect, admiration, dependence, love, etc., may 
all enter, combined and in sequence, into the affective ex- 
perience accompanying the act or attitude called adoration. 

It is somewhat surprising that the definitions I have 
cited, and others like them, have apparently been so fruit- 
ful a source of satisfaction and comfort. Who would not 
regard as ridiculous such definitions as these : trade is a 
belief in the productivity of exchange ; commerce is greed 
touched with a feeling of dependence on society ; morahty 
is a belief in virtue ; virtue is a feeling of absolute depen- 
dence upon truth .-' Absurd as these are, they are neither 
worse nor better than many a far-famed definition of 

The truth of the matter is, then, that each and every 
human emotion and sentiment may appear in religion, and 
that no affective experience as such is distinctive of religious 
life. The temperament of the worshipper, his habits, the 

1 Madame Guyon, Autobiography. 


nature he attributes to his God, and the circumstances in 
which he finds himself, — all these determine the affective 
character of his reUgious experiences. It may be domi- 
nantly fear, or awe, or reverence, or love. In any case, a 
sense of dependence, more or less complete, is necessarily 
present, as in every kind of relation whatsoever. The 
differentiation is made possible, not by the affective ex- 
perience itself, but by the idea, or group of ideas, constitut- 
ing its object. The expression " religious feeling," when 
it is understood to designate affective experiences specific 
to religious life, is, therefore, misleading.^ 

Third class. — It must be admitted that many of the 
more recent definitions of religion are based upon a better 
psychology than are those I have criticised. Such are the 
definitions of Feuerbach, Schopenhauer, Comte, Sabatier, 
Reville, and those of most anthropologists. Religion is 
now rarely defined by means of one, and only one, aspect of 
mental life ; more inclusive terms are used. It is not in- 
frequently described as "the consciousness of our practical 
relation to an invisible spiritual order." Now practical re- 
lations necessarily include states of feeling as well as pur- 
poses ; they involve the whole man. The following illus- 
trations will show what room remains for divergences 
within the general conception. 

No one before Feuerbach had seen so clearly as he the 
creative role of desire in the making of gods and religions; 
or, at any rate, no one had attempted to explain so fully 
the Christian religion as entirely the product of man's "in- 
stinct for happiness." The following quotation illustrates 

^ Comp. pp. I2I-I22, 125 ff., 341-342 of Professor StraUon's book, The 
Psychology of the Religious Life, Lonflon, George Allen & Co., 191 1. This 
valuable book, written on the whole with a concern for problems other than 
those dealt with in the present volume, reached me when mine was already 
in the hands of the publisher. 


his position : " In short, rehgion has essentially a practical 
aim and foundation. The instinct from which rehgion 
arises is the instinct for happiness." ^ Again he says : 
" Man believes in God not only because he has imagination 
and feeling, but also because he has the instinct for happi- 
ness. He believes in a blessed being not only because he 
has a conception of blessedness, but because he himself 
would be blessed ; he believes in a perfect being because he 
himself wishes to be perfect; he believes in an immortal 
being because he himself desires immortality. ... If man 
had no desires, then he would have, in spite of imagination 
and feeUng, no religion, no God." ^ " God is the manifested 
inward nature, the expressed self of a man."^ 

F. H. Bradley expresses himself thus : ** We have found 
that the essence of religion is not knowledge, and this cer- 
tainly does not mean that the essence consists barely in 
feeling. Religion is rather the attempt to express the 
complete reality of goodness through every aspect of our 
being." * 

"In the widest possible sense," writes William James in 
The Varieties of Religions Experience, " man's religion might 
be identified with his attitude, whatever it might be, 
towards what he felt to be the primal truth. ... In the 
broadest and most general terms possible, one might say 
that religious life consists of the belief that there is an un- 
seen order and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously 
adjusting ourselves thereto. This belief and this adjust- 
ment are the religious attitude of the soul." In the ordi- 
nary sense of the word, however, no attitude is accounted 
religious unless it is grave and serious ; the trifling, sneer- 

1 Feuerbach, Ludwig, IFerke, Bd. VIII, p. 258. ^ /^,v/., p. 257. 

8 Feuerbach, Ludwig, T/ie Essence of Christianity^ tr. by Marian Evans, 3d 
ed. (Vol. VII of Feuerbach's works), pp. 12-13. 

* Bradley, F. H., Appearance and Reality, 1st ed., p. 453. 


ing attitude of a Voltaire must be thrown out if we would 
not strain too much the ordinary use of language. More- 
over, there must be something solemn, serious, and tender 
about any attitude which we call religion. If glad, it must 
not grin or snicker; if sad, it must not scream or curse. 
The sallies of a Schopenhauer and of a Nietsche "lack 
the purgatorial note which religious sadness gives forth." 
And finally, we must exclude also the chilhng reflections 
of Marcus Aurelius on the eternal reason, as well as the 
passionate outcry of Job. ^ 

For A. Sabatier, rehgion " is a commerce, a conscious 
and willed relation into which the soul in distress enters 
with the mysterious power on which it feels that it and its 
destiny depend." ^ 

Siebeck defines religion as "the understanding and the 
practical realization of the existence of God and of the trans- 
cendental world, and, in connection with this, of the pos- 
sibility of salvation. On the theoretical side, it is char- 
acterized by a world-view which denies the adequacy of the 
world of the senses and affirms the existence of a transcen- 
dental world, conceived both as highest existence and 
highest value. On the practical side, it consists in the 
passage from the things of this world to a conception and 
experience of the reality of the transcendental world, and 
thus to salvation from the world." ^ 

The views just exemplified should not, however, lead us 
to believe that feeling is no longer regarded as the essence, 
or the vital element, or the differentia of the religious life. 
The battle against the intellectual and affective conceptions 
of religion is not yet won. The recent definitions of Tiele 

1 James, William, Varieties of Religious Experience, ■p-p. 53, 38. See Ap- 
pendix, p. 352. 

2 Sabatier, A., Outlines of a Philosophy of Religio7i, p. 27. 

* Siebeck, W^i^caa.'ovi, Lehrbuch der Religionsphilosophie, 1893, p. 442. 


and of Kaftan show clearly how strong a tendency yet 
remains to identify religion with some emotion or senti- 
ment. It is, moreover, quite possible for one to declare 
that " in religion all sides of the personality participate. 
Will, feeling, and intelligence are necessary and inseparable 
constituents of religion; " and yet one may misunderstand 
the functional relation of these three aspects of psychic life ; 
just as one may be acquainted with the three branches of 
government — legislative, executive, and judicial — and 
nevertheless grossly misunderstand their respective func- 
tions. Pfleiderer, for instance, hastens to add to the 
sentences last quoted, " Of course we must recognize that 
knowing and willing are here (in religion) not ends in them- 
selves, as in science and in morality, but rather subordinate to 
feeling as the real centre of religious consciousness." Thus 
feeling reappears as the centre of religious life. 

A similar criticism is applicable to Max Miiller and 
to Guyau. The latter begins promisingly with a criti- 
cism of the one-sided formulae of Schleiermacher and of 
Feuerbach, and declares that these definitions should be 
combined. "The religious sentiment," says he, "is 
primarily no doubt a feeling of dependence. But this 
feeling of dependence, really to give birth to religion, must 
provoke in one a reaction — a desire for deliverance." So 
far, so good ; but on proceeding the reader discovers that 
the opinion which the book defends is that " Religion is 
the outcome of an effort to explain all things — physical, 
metaphysical, and moral — by analogies drawn from human 
society, imaginatively and symbolically considered. In 
short, it is a universal sociological hypothesis, mythical in 
form." 1 What is this but once more the intellectual posi- 
tion ? Religion arises from an effort to explain — religion 
is an hypothesis ! It is Herbert Spencer over again, with 

1 Guyau, M. J., The Non-religion of the Future, p. 2. 


an additional statement concerning the way in which man 
attempts to explain "the mystery " pressing for interpreta- 

The place of thought and of feeling in conscious life. — 
There remains an interesting group of very recent defi- 
nitions, closely allied to those of the second class, yet suffi- 
ciently different from them to warrant separate considera- 
tion. I refer to those definitions which make use of the 
^ conception of value. Before discussing them, however, it 
will be advisable to direct attention to a most consequential 
change of point of view in contemporary psychology, — 
namely, the adoption of the evolutionary, dynamic concep- 
tion of mental life as opposed to the pre-Darwinian, static 
conception. This new point of view has given rise to a 
group of related principles of systemization variously 
called voluntarism, functionalism, instrumentaHsm, prag- 
matism. If religion is to be at all adequately under- 
stood, it must be in the new light that has come from this 

Almost all of the definitions that have been reviewed 
attempt to say what religion is. According to them, it may 
be almost anything one pleases: a belief, a feeUng, an idea, 
an attitude, a relation, even a faculty. Definitions of this 
kind are completely out of harmony with the new point of 
view. The most significant and useful question concerning 
religion, or any other human activity, to one who realizes 
the pregnant meaning of development, is not what are the 
essential or dominant components of reUgion, but what 
is its function in human life, and how is this function per- 
formed. The question of composition is subsidiary to 
these, and the significance of the study of origin is found 
in the light it throws upon function. 

Voluntarism conceives of life as an expression of will, —  


this word being used to cover impulses and tendencies, as 
well as volitions. Sensations and feelings exist only as a 
part of a conative act. They are never experienced in isola- 
tion ; they have no separate existence ; they are not functional 
units. It is, then, absurd to make them stand for the 
essence of religion, or to specify one of them as expressing 
its nature. " Every act of will presupposes a feeling with 
a definite and peculiar tone ; it is so closely bound up with 
this feehng that, apart from it, the act of will has no reality 
at all. . . . On the other hand, all feeling presupposes an 
act of will." 1 

In swinging back from intellectualism to voluntarism, 
modern psychology has, after all, not made a new 
departure, but rather has returned to the fundamental cue 
provided by Aristotle in his characterization of man as 
thinking-desire.2 " Will is not merely a function which 
sometimes accrues to consciousness and is sometimes lack- 
ing ; it is an integral property of consciousness." ^ Will 
without intelligence may be possible ; but intelligence 
without will is not, not even in the case of so-called disin- 
terested, theoretical thinking. That is, there can be, no 
thinking without desire, intention, or purpose. " The one 
thing that stands out," says, for instance, Professor Dewey, 
" is that thinking is inquiry, and that knowledge as science 
is the outcome of systematically directed inquiry." Thought 
absolutely undirected would not even be a dream — it would 
be a meaningless, chaotic mass of intellectual atoms. It is 
the intention, the piirpose, which makes thought significant. 
To discover ways and means of gratifying proximate or 
distant desires, needs, cravings, is the function of intelli- 

1 Wundt, W., Ethics, tr. by M. F. Washburn, Vol. Ill, p. 6. 

2 Since desire far an object includes liking, Aristotle's expression is com- 
plete; it does not leave out the affective element. 

* Wundt, op. cit., p. 6. 


gence. The psychologist speaks, therefore, of the histru- 
viental character of thought, and considers cognition to be 
a function of conduct.^ 

Every pulse of consciousness is an expression of will in 
which feeUng and thought appear as constituent parts. 
Successive moments can differ from each other neither in 
the absence of one of these constituents, nor in the essential 
relation which they bear to the total process, but only in 
their intensity and vividness. This, then, is the double 
teaching of psychology, in this matter: (i) feeling and 
thought enter in some degree into every moment of con- 
sciousness that can be looked upon as an actuality and not 
merely as an abstraction, and they are necessary constitu- 
ents of fully developed consciousness ; (2) the unit of con- 
scious life is neither thought nor feeling, but both in a 
movement toward an object, toward something to be se- 
cured or avoided, immediately or ultimately. 

If with this conception in mind we turn to religion, we 
shall understand it to have as its source, purposes and 
ideals ; that is, something to be attained or maintained. In 
other words, we shall see in religion an expression of the 
will to live and grow, in which thought and feeling are 
present and perform the function that characterizes them 
whenever and wherever they appear. Feeling and intellect 
have in religion no other place than the one belonging to 
them in the general economy of animal and of human 

The apphcation of current psychological teaching to re- 

1 This conception receives material support from the organization of the 
nervous system, which makes clear the relation existing between sensation and 
its elaboration (thought), on the one hand, and conation and desire on the 
other. On this point I cannot here do more than refer to recent psychological 
work. For a semipopular exposition, see the address, The Reflex Arc and 
llieism, in William James's The Will to Believe and Other Essays, or Miinster- 
berg's Psychology and Life, pp. 91-99. 


ligious life leads us, then, to regard religion as a particular 
kind of activity, as a mode or type of behavior ; and makes 
it as impossible for us to identify it with any particular 
emotion or with any particular belief, as it would be to 
identify, let us say, family Hfe with affection. We shall, 
however, have to remember that religion is multiform, 
and that at certain moments certain ideas, emotions, and 
purposes appear in it prominently, and at other times, 
other ideas, emotions, and purposes. 

In speaking of religion as an activity or as a type of be- 
havior, I do not mean to exclude from it whatever does 
not express itself in overt acts, in rites of propitiation, sub- 
mission, or adoration; because, just as man's relations with 
his fellow-men are not all directly expressed or expressible 
in actions, so his relations with gods, or their impersonal 
substitutes, may not have any visible form. They may 
remain purely subjective and none the less exercise a defi- 
nite guiding and inspiring influence over his life. In a 
subsequent chapter these religious relations will be sepa- 
rated, under the name passive religiosity, from the active 

The "feeling of value" or "the making sacred" as the 
specific characteristic of religion. — Very recently several 
attempts have been made to characterize religion by means 
of "feelings of value," and in particular by the value-feel- 
ing called sacredness. These definitions might have been 
placed in our second class ; but for various reasons it 
seems advisable to deal with them separately. These con- 
ceptions start from the self-evident and fundamental fact 
that the experiences making up our lives have a signifi- 
cance, an import, a value, for the person to whom they be- 
long. Every object of desire has for the one desiring it a 
value dependent upon the kind and the intensity of the de- 


sire, and upon the kind and degree of gratification afforded 
by the object when secured. 

The distinguished Danish philosopher, Harold Hoffding, 
set forth in his Philosophy of Religion a doctrine which at- 
tracted immediate and widespread attention. In substance 
it is this. Existence is a battlefield in which contend values 
of all sorts. " The feeling which is determined by the fate 
of values in the struggle for existence is the religious feel- 
ing," 1 and "the fundamental axiom of religion, that which 
expresses the innermost tendency of all religions, is the 
axiom of the conservation of value." ^ ReHgion is thus at 
bottom not concerned with the understanding of existence, 
but with the valuation of it. The kernel of religion is " a 
belief in the persistency of value in the world {ein Glmibe 
an der ErJialtimg des Wcrthes)." Religion thus defined in- 
volves an experience of limitation, of dependence upon a 
greater than man. For the concern of man in the fate of 
that to which he attributes worth, and in the triumph of the 
highest values, means that he is not complete master of the 
world of value; it implies the recognition of his depen- 
dence upon an order of things wider than the sphere of his 
own powers. 

The chief inadequacy of this definition appears to con- 
sist in the assignment to man of a purely passive function. 
He is represented as contemplating the fate of that to 
which he attributes value ; and the feelings arising in him 
under these conditions are considered to be the essential 
religious feelings.^ But man is not only a spectator in the 
struggle ; he is also an actor. An adequate definition of 
religion includes the pursuit of values and not only the 

1 Hoffding, Harold, Philosophy of Religion, p. 107. ^ jbid., p. 215. 

2 For a characterization of religious feeling, see Hoffding's Psychology, VI, 
C, 8 b, and his investigation of religious phenomena from the ethical stand- 
point in his Ethics, Chaps. XXXI-XXXHI. 



wish for their conservation and increase. Moreover, 
this pursuit must involve the assistance of powers of a 
specific kind — powers not yet adequately defined in these 

In so far as this definition attempts to characterize re- 
ligion by means of a specific religious feeling,^ I would 
urge against it the arguments offered against the defini- 
tions of the second class. I must add, however, that I am 
under the impression that Professor Hoffding has in mind 
one aspect of religion, whereas I speak of religion in its 
entirety. In that case, my criticism would be irrelevant, 
and we should be in essential agreement. 

In TJie Tree of Life, Ernest Crawley is concerned chiefly 
with the origin of reUgion. He reaches the conclusion 
that " religion may arise and subsist without any belief 
either in God or the soul." " The source of religious feel- 
ings and their constant support is not the beUef in spirits." 
" The primary function of religion is to affirm and to con- 
secrate life." " The religious emotion is no separate feel- 
ing, but that tone or quality of any feeling which results 
in making something sacred. . . . Consecration — the 
making sacred — of elemental facts is the normal result 
of the religious impulse and of this alone." 

But, what are the things possessing sacredness, and 
why have they that character .-' The larger part of Craw- 
ley's book is an answer to these questions. That which 
primitive tribes regard as sacred are the elemental interests 
of Ufe, — birth, puberty, marriage, death, burial, food, war. 
"Throughout primitive habit, it is the fundamental pro- 

1 " Wesentlich ist religiose Erfahrung religioses Gefiihl. Ihr unmittelbares 
Objekt ist der innere Zustand des Gemuts wahrend des Laufes der inneren 
und ausseren Ereignisse." " Dieses durch das Schicksal der IVerte im Kampfe 
u?ns Dasein bestimmte Gefiihl ist das religiose Gefiihl. Dasselbe ist also bes- 
timmt durch das Verhalten des Wertes zur Wirklichkeit." (Hoffding, Harold, 
Religionsphilosophie, pp. 95, 96.) 



cesses of organic life that are invariably the subject first 
of secrecy and then of consecration." " Life, then, we 
may take it, is the key to our problem. The vital instinct, 
the feeling of life, the will to live, the instinct to preserve 
life, is the source of, or rather is identical with, the reli- 
gious impulse and is the origin of religion."^ 

With Crawley's vigorous and reiterated affirmation that 
the vital instinct is the source of religion, I am in hearty 
agreement. I have repeatedly made the same statement, 
but have added with equal emphasis that the love and lust 
of life is the source of all human conduct and not of reli- 
gion alone. Crawley's essential propositions — that mak- 
ing sacred is the specific function of religion, and that the 
belief in gods is not necessary to its existence — reappear 
in a somewhat different form in a book by Irving King, a 
much more systematically and carefully thought out work, 
which I shall now consider. 

In King's conception of religion, ideas play a minimal 
role. He defines religion without reference to superhuman 
powers. Neither belief in them nor the use of them is 
held to be necessary to the existence of religion. The dis- 
tinguishing mark of religious life is, to use his favorite 
phrase, "a valuational attitude " of a particular kind. The 
word "attitude" is used, I take it, to make it clear that the 
religious differentia is not merely a matter of affective ex- 
perience, but that it includes a readiness to act in response 
to the situation calling forth the feeling. But what kind 
of valuational attitude does he mean ? Crawley says that 
the values with which religion is concerned are those pos- 
sessing " sacredness." King uses preferably the adjectives 
highest, perrnanc7it, abiding, universal, ultimate, to charac- 
terize the religious value. It is evident, however, that the 

'Crawley, A. E., T/ie Tree of Life (Hutchinson & Co., 1905), pp. 178, 185, 
270, 209, 213, 214. 


experiences to which these words are applicable are gen- 
erally, if not always, those to which the term " sacred " 
also belongs. 

The primary concern of TJie Development of Religioti is 
to determine the circumstances under which the religious 
attitude has been differentiated from those other conscious 
states which may also be described as valuational. The 
thesis which he defends with anthropological learning and 
psychological insight is this : ^ " The social group may be 
said to furnish the matrix from which are differentiated all 
permanent notions of value, and these are primarily con- 
scious attitudes aroused in connection with activities which 
mediate problems more or less important for the perpetua- 
tion of the social body," — as, for instance, the tribal rites 
and customs connected with birth, puberty, marriage, 
burial, the securing of food, war. The stronger the social 
bond, and the more highly organized the community, the 
higher, the more permanent and " universal " are the valua- 
tional attitudes developed; that is, the more religious, or 
the more nearly religious, they will be. King does not 
deny that values can be developed independently of the 
social group considered as a whole, but he urges that the 
atmosphere of the group is more favorable for the develop- 
ment of values than is that of the individual. It is in 
man's relations to the whole group that the highest values 
best develop, for the group stands, in a way, in the mind 
of the savage, for the absolute, for finality. 

But the problem of the origin and development of values 
is irrelevant to the immediate issue. The point under dis- 
cussion is the possibility of differentiating religion from the 
rest of life by means of particular values. King recognizes 
that valuational attitudes are of the essence of life itself ; 

1 King, Irving, The Development of Religion, Macmillan & Co., 1910. See, 
in particular, pages 32, 84, 202-203, 227, 81. 



they are coextensive with it and do not belong to religion 
alone : " There are, of course, many values that are not re- 
ligious, and there are consequently many value-attitudes 
that have no reUgious significance." The particular values 
that differentiate religion are, according to him, those pos- 
sessing the greatest significance, the greatest permanence, 
the highest power. Now, all the recognized values can be 
arranged in a graded series, each term of which will better 
deserve the epith&ts />ermanenf, of /it'o-fi power, than the pre- 
ceding term. Where, then, is the line to be drawn between 
those that are to be called religious and those that are not } 
Wherever it may be drawn, it will mark only a difference 
of degree between religion and the rest of life. The ex- 
periences on one side of the line will be only of greater 
value, more permanent, more inclusive, than those on the 
other side. 

It turns out, then, that King has singled out a means of 
connecting together the whole of life, and not one that can 
be used to differentiate any particular portion of it. One 
is not surprised, therefore, to find him unsuccessful in his 
effort to separate religion from magic, and from aesthetic 
and other practical activities. In reference to religion and 
magic, he writes : " The point we have wished to make in 
this discussion is not that religion is essentially social and 
magic essentially individual " [although he believes this to 
be true], " but that the former develops more readily in the 
atmosphere of the group, and the latter is relatively an in- 
dividualistic affair. ... In a community of . . . loose or- 
ganization, magic might be so thoroughly taken up by the 
group as to be indistinguishable from religion." As a 
matter of fact, there is between magic and what is com- 
monly called religion not only a difference of degree as 
King's premises force him to conclude, but, as we have al- 
ready begun to see, a specific qualitative distinction. This 


means of differentiation he deliberately rejects :i "While 
deities are usually associated with religion, they are only otie 
of the means through which the religious consciousness may 
find expression, and it is to that attitude itself one must turn 
if one is to gain a really adequate notion of the difference 
between the two. This religious attitude is, as we have 
pointed out, one in which appreciative and valuational ele- 
ments predominate, particularly such as are determined by 
social intercourse and by the social atmosphere generally. 
If religion is the distinctive product of such conditions, it is 
not strange that the conception of worth, the valuational 
attitudes thus socially determined, should be associated in 
some way with persons. . . . The primitive man, to be 
sure, thought of all these activities as conditioned in many 
ways by spiritual essences or powers, but that of itself 
made his acts no more religious than are ours when we 
treat live wires with caution." 

The word " religion " has, after all, a fairly well estab- 
lished meaning. It is not concerned only with objects of 
the highest, of ultimate, value to the individual or to soci- 
ety, but with the preservation and advancement of life in 
matters small and great.^ And this is also more or less 

1 Crawley is in the same predicament ; he has discarded the only means of 
distinguishing magic from religion : " A large proportion of that early cere- 
monialism which is dismissed as magic ... is really the process of making a 
thing sacred. Magic is the means, but religion is the end.' (Crawley, ibid., 
p. 246.) 

"Among sociologists who regard sacredness as the distinguishing mark of 
religion should be mentioned Emile Durkheim. In the Revue Philosophique, 
Vol. LXVII, 1909, p. 17, he declares that the character of sacredness intro- 
duces a specific difference between objects. Only those possessing it can be 
religious objects. " Entre les uns et les autres, il n'y a pas de commune 

Professor Ames writes similarly : " The religious consciousness is just the 
consciousness of the greatest interests and purposes of life, in their most 
idealized and intensified forms." " The ideal values of each age and of each 


the aim of every other part of life. It seems to me that King 
has given to the word "reUgion" a meaning at variance 
with common usage, and in so doing has deprived himself 
of the only natural and adequate means of differentiating 
religion from the rest of life. 

So much concerning our survey of the most important 
types of religious conceptions. Before passing on, in the 
next chapter, to the consideration of the origin of religion, 
and to the formulation of a more exact definition of the 
religious power than has so far been offered, I shall state 
again the theses for which I am contending. 

That which differentiates religion from other forms 
of conduct is the kind of power upon which dependence 
is felt and the kind of behavior elicited by the power. 
A natural line of cleavage between rehgious and non- 
religious behavior is made possible by the presence in 
man of ideas of forces of different character. Some of 
these forces are of the sort to which the name " physical " 
is applied ; others respond to intelligence and feeling, 
as if they themselves had mind and heart. Religion is 
that part of human experience in which man feels him- 
self in relation with powers of psychic nature, usually 
personal powers, and makes use of them. In its active 
forms, it is a mode of behavior, aiming, in common with 
all human activities, at the gratification of needs, desires, 
and yearnings. It is, therefore, a part of the struggle for 

Nothing is less an abstraction than the rehgious life; 
it includes the whole man. A belief in psychic powers, 
personal or impersonal, is but one of the conditions of its 

type of social development tend to reach an intensity and volume and a 
symbolic expression which is religious." (E. S. Ames, Religion and tht 
Psychic Life., Inter. Jr. of Ethics, October, 1909, Vol. XX, pp. 49, 52.) 



existence. It cannot be adequately defined either in terms 
of feeling or of purpose. The current expressions, "re- 
ligious desire," " rehgious purpose," "religious emotion," 
are misleading, if they are intended to designate affective 
experiences, desires, and purposes, met with in religious 
life alone. 

In its objective aspect, active rehgion consists, then, of 
attitudes, practices, rites, ceremonies, institutions ; in its 
subjective aspect, it consists of desires, emotions, and ideas, 
instigating and accompanying these objective manifesta- 

The reason for the existence of religion is not the ob- 
jective truth of its conceptions, but its biological value. 
This value is to be estimated by its success in procuring 
not only the results expected by the worshipper, but also 
others, some of which are of great significance. 

The conception of religion here presented does not admit 
of that frequent excessively broad use of the term which 
includes anything that is of considerable value to man, — 
music, science, civilization, democracy, duty. I cannot, for 
instance, agree with those who say that " habitual and 
regulated admiration " is worthy to be called a religion, 
and that " art and science are not secular ... it is a 
fundamental error to call them so ; they have the nature of 
rehgion."! Neither do I find satisfaction in Professor 
Ames's affirmation that " to the psychologist it remains 
clear that the man is genuinely religious in so far as his 
symbols, ceremonials, institutions, and heroes enable him 
to share in a social life. It is also psychologically evident 
that the man who tries to maintain religious sentiment 
apart from social experience is to that extent irreligious, 
whatever he may claim for himself ; while the man who 

1 Seeley, J. R., Natural Religion, Boston, 18S2, pp. 122, 120. 


enters thoroughly into the social movements of his time is 
to that extent genuinely religious, though he may charac- 
terize himself quite otherwise." ^ This is not putting new 
wine into old bottles ; it is refusing to admit the existence 
of the bottle ! To bestow upon one the appellation relig- 
ious because he enters thoroughly into the social movements 
of his time is to cause confusion by juggling with the word. 
But if the conception I defend excludes, on the one hand, 
those excessively broad interpretations destructive of all pre- 
cise meaning, it includes, on the other hand, the primitive 
religions in which low desires find gratification through 
grossly anthropomorphic beings, as well as the highest of 
the historical religions. It finds room even for the experi- 
ences of those who feel themselves in relation with an 
Impersonal Absolute, a mere " Principle of unity in a 
world of which we are not only spectators but parts." '^ 
These experiences I would, however, distinguish from 
those which have given rise to the historical religions by 
classifying them undtx passive religiosity. 

1 Ames, E. S., Non-religious Persons, Amer. Jr. of Theol., Vol. XIII, 
p. 543; published later as a part of The Psychology of Religious Experience. 

^ In a vigorously written little book, Marcel Hebert distinguishes between 
"the realistic" and "the idealistic form " of the religious feeling, and he 
provides instances of the latter. The experiences in which one's goal is 
characterized by the terms "perfect" and "ideal" is included in what I call 
religion, whenever these experiences involve relations with a spiritual power. 
(Marcel Hebert, La Forme Idealisie du Sentiment Religieux, Paris, Emile 
Nourry, 1909.) 






Since religion involves the whole man, its origin is 
manifold. We shall have to take up in successive chapters 
the primary forms and the origin of the ideas conditioning 
(religion the ideas of hyperhuman, unseen beings); the 
original religious emotions ; and, finally, the primary forms 
and the origins of religious behavior. 

In this chapter I do not hesitate to take the reader for 
a while into the field of animal psychology ; for it seems 
to me that a comparison of animal and human behavior is 
the best means of gaining a knowledge of the mental pro- 
cesses which make possible magic and religion. I link 
together these two kinds of activity because they are so 
closely connected in primitive culture that a study of them 
side by side is of decided advantage to the understanding 
of each. The existence of both magic and rehgion depends 
upon traits which animals lack ; these traits I shall try to 
single out in this first chapter. 

Which of the three modes of behavior practised by man 

1 In this and the following chapters of Part II, I have made use of con- 
siderable portions of my little book, The Psychological Origin and the Nature 
of Religion, published by Archibald Constable and Co., 1908, 95 pp., and sold 
in the United States by the Open Court Publishing Co. 

The reader will observe that among recent books three have been espe- 
cially useful to me in this Part : The Golden Bough, by J. G. Frazer; The De- 
velopment of Religion, hy Irving King; and The Threshold of Religion, by 
R. R. Marett. 



are also practised by animals ? All the higher animals 
show by their behavior a "working understanding" of the 
more common physical forces. They adapt their actions 
more or less exactly to weight, resistance, and distance, 
when climbing, swinging at the end of boughs, breaking, 
carrying, etc. I remember observing a chimpanzee trying 
to recover a stick which had fallen through the bars of his 
cage and had rolled beyond the reach of his arm. He 
looked around, walked deliberately to the corner of the 
cage, picked up a piece of burlap, and threw the end of it 
over the stick. Then, pulling gently, he made the stick 
roll until it was near enough for him to seize it with his 
hand. This ape dealt successfully with certain physical 
forces ; he practised what I have called mechanical be- 

The behavior of animals towards one another and 
towards men is different from their behavior towards in- 
animate things. A dog may express love and hate in his 
relation with living beings, but these elemental, emotional 
reactions do not appear when he deals with ordinary 
physical objects. He will beg from a man ; he will not 
beg from a ham suspended beyond his reach ; nor will he 
waste any affection upon inanimate things, however well 
he may like them, and however strongly he may wish to 
possess them. It can hardly be denied that certain animals 
attach themselves to their masters with a devoted affection, 
and that they feel blame and approbation without regard 
to physical punishment and reward. Darwin relates of 
his own dog, which had never been beaten, that when 
caught stealing a chop from the table, he dropped the 
chop and crept under the sofa in a shamefaced manner.^ 

The higher animals, then, do undoubtedly practise both 
the mechanical and the anthropopathic types of behavior. 
1 Darwin, Charles, The Descent of Man, new ed., 1 886, Vol. I, Chap. III. 


How do animals learn to react differently to impersonal 
and to personal forces ? The reactions characterizing the 
behavior of the highest animals, complex as they are, are 
established in the absence of abstract ideas about forces. 
Before they gain any general notion, animals learn to deal 
very well with physical and personal forces present to their 
senses.^ The study, under experimental conditions, of the 
establishment of new reactions in animals reveals clearly 
the nature of the learning process. Imagine a cat shut 
up in a box the door of which can be opened by pressing 
down a latch. When weary of confinement, the cat begins 
to claw, pull, and bite here, there, and everywhere. After 
half an hour or an hour of this purposive but unreasoned 
activity, it chances to put its paw upon the latch and es- 
capes. If put into the cage again, it does not know 
exactly how to proceed. Yet something has been gained 
by the first experience ; for now the clawing, pulling, and 
biting are directed more frequently towards the part of the 
cage occupied by the latch. Because of this improvement, 
it finds itself released sooner than the first time. The 
repetition of the experiment shows the cat learning to 
bring its movements to bear more and more exclusively 
upon the door or its immediate surroundings. The psycho- 
physiological endowment required for learning of this kind 
involves no abstract ideas, but only (i) the desire to es- 
cape ; (2) the impulse and ability to perform the various 
movements we have named ; (3) a tendency to repeat suc- 

1 H. B. Davis has this to say on the power of generalization of the raccoon, 
a very intelligent animal: " When an animal (raccoon) is forced to approach 
an old fastening from a new direction, it is often as much bothered by it as by 
a new fastening. Nevertheless, in course of time the animals seem to reach a 
sort of generalized manner of procedure which enables them to deal more 
promptly with any new fastening (not too different from others of their ex- 
perience)." {The Raccoon : A Study in Animal Intelligence, Amer Jr. of 
Psychology, October, 1907, p. 486.) 


cessful movements when the animal finds itself again in 
the situation in which success was achieved. 

Imitation does not play so extensive a role in animal life 
as is generally believed. But, however that may be, the 
method of learning that I have just described — the trial- 
and-error method — is of itself sufficient to provide animals 
with the mechanical mode of behavior. Their reactions to 
f eeUng beings — • anthropopathic behavior — are also the 
result of the same learning process, either alone or in 
combination with imitation. In other words, anthropopa- 
thic reactions, like mechanical reactions, are independent 
of abstract ideas regarding the nature of their object or of 
the appropriateness of the means employed. We are, of 
course, not concerned here with the origin of whatever may 
be instinctive in the activities involved. 

The trial-and-error method, by which animals learn to deal 
with the forces in the midst of which they live, has a much 
wider range of application in human life than is generally 
supposed. The child's mode of learning is dominantly the 
unreflective, concrete method in which frequent chance 
successes slowly lead to the elimination of ineffective move- 
ments. In the adult this method is far from being entirely 
given up for more rational ones. It is in this way, on the 
whole, that one learns to ride a bicycle, to play tennis, or 
to perform any other act requiring motor skill. If at any 
time the learner realizes the rationale of his procedure, it is 
usually after it has been established by the method of trial- 
and-error. The role ascribed to abstract ideas and to clear 
reasoning in ordinary human behavior is vastly exagger- 
ated. What abstract notions are present, for instance, in 
the mind of the stoker when he thinks of the power of 
coal } What in the mind of the gambler when he tries to 
coerce fate .-* What in the mind of the necromancer when 
he summons the shades of spirits .? Nothing need be pres- 


ent to consciousness, and probably in most cases nothing 
actually is present, beyond a knowledge of the concrete 
thing to be done in order to secure the desired results, and 
the anticipation of these particular results. The stoker 
thinks of what he sees and feels : the coal, in burning, 
gives heat ; the heat makes the water boil ; the steam 
pushes the piston-rod, and so forth. He thinks vaguely of 
each one of the successive links in the chain as striving to 
bring about the following one. This is how he under- 
stands the coal-power. And what does the average person 
know, for instance, about electricity .-• He merely knows 
what is to be done in order to start the dynamo, to light the 
lamp, to switch the current, and what the effect will be in 
each case. The gambler and the superstitious person, 
whether they belong to an African tribe or to modern 
Anglo-Saxon civilization, understand in no other than this 
practical way their good and their ill luck,^ 

Animals learn, then, by the trial-and-error method, the 
mechanical and anthropopathic behaviors — the latter as 
far as it is called forth by an actually present person or 

If trial-and-error were sufficient to account in addition 

1 I remember the delight shown by an elderly lady when a brood of swal- 
lows fell down our sitting-room chimney. " It will bring luck to the house- 
hold," she said. I tried in several ways to find out the sort of notion this lady 
had regarding the nature of the power that was to bring about the fortunate 
events predicted, and also to discover her idea of the connection existing be- 
tween the fall of the swallows and the exertion of this "power" in our behalf. 
I had to conclude that there was no idea whatsoever in her mind beyond those 
expressed by " swallovvs-down-the-chimney " and "happy-events-coming." 
These two ideas were directly associated in her mind. When I declared my 
inability to see the causal connection between the two, she complained of my 
abnormal critical sense ! In the mind of the civilized superstitious person, as 
well as in the mind of the savage, nothing more need be looked for than the 
immediate association of an antecedent with its consequent. This is sufficient 
for most practical purposes. 


for the coercitive behavior and the religious variety of the 
anthropopathic reaction, the origin of the three modes of 
human behavior would be brought back to one kind of learn- 
ing: the unreflective, concrete, trial-and-error method. But 
even a superficial consideration discloses serious difficulties 
in the way of this attractively simple theory, and compels 
the admission that magical art and religion involve mental 
powers not required for the establishment of the mechanical 
and the non-religious anthropopathic behavior observable 
in animals. 

In order to discover what these necessary powers are, 
let us analyze certain actions which are beyond animal 
capacity. Dancing, when it is mere play, is not, of course, 
altogether pecuHar to man ; but special dances thought to 
influence the fate of war or of the hunt, found among many 
primitive peoples, do not exist among animals. These 
dances possess a magical or religious significance. Certain 
"religious " dances of the North American Indians are in 
part rehearsals of an approaching fight and of the brave 
deeds expected of the warriors ; or they are representations 
of the bringing into camp of the animals they hope to 
capture. Such dances combine amusement with the serious 
purpose of lending aid to the warriors and hunters. An- 
other common magical custom is to eat some part of a 
strong and courageous animal, such as the heart or liver, 
in order to acquire courage. Again, characteristic parts 
of a dangerous animal, — a tiger's tooth or claw — will be 
worn by way of protection. Still other practices involve 
the addressing of requests, supplications, and offerings to 
invisible beings. These magical and religious performances 
are important constituents of the life of uncivilized man ; 
they are conspicuously absent from the animal world. Why 
this absence? It points to a double mental difference be- 
tween men and animals. 


(i) If a particular action is to be learned by an animal, 
the gratification of the actuating desire must follow immedi- 
ately upon the chance performance of the successful act, 
and must be repeated at short intervals. If the door had 
opened not every time the cat pressed the latch, but only 
every tenth time, or if it had opened an hour or even a few- 
minutes after the movement, he would never have learned 
to make his escape. Nor would he have learned the trick 
if he had not been placed in the cage repeatedly and at 
short intervals. It is otherwise with the results of magic 
and religion ; they follow the act very irregularly, often 
after a long interval, and sometimes there is no result at 
all. This close dependence of animals upon actual ex- 
perience does not proceed from their inability to retain 
impressions. Their mental retentiveness is ineffective be- 
cause they cannot relate experiences which do not occur 
in quick succession. The connection of experiences sep- 
arated by a time interval, or of those involving recogni- 
tion of relations other than contiguity — such as likeness 
and difference — does not seem to lie within their powers. 
Codrington tells of the Melanesians that the friends of a 
wounded man get possession of the arrow that wounded 
him and put it in a cool place so that inflammation may be 
slight. The passing, in this instance, from the heat of an 
angry wound to the cooling of the cause of the wound, and, 
further, the connecting of the two in a relation of cause 
and effect is possible only to man. On being hit with an 
arrow, an animal will learn to dread and avoid it. This 
involves simply the connection of two simultaneous or con- 
tiguous events, — the pain and the sight of the arrow, — 
while the magical practice of the Melanesians involves the 
thought of the cool arrow when it is not experienced as 
cool, and the idea of a causal relation between the cool 
arrow and the subsidence of the inflammation, which is also 


not actually experienced. These mental processes are of 
a higher type than those which suffice to account for the 
behavior of animals ; they involve the presence of free 
ideas, i.e., ideas appearing in the mind in the absence of 
the objects to which they owe their origin or to which they 
refer. To go back into the past, to single out some particu- 
lar occurrence, and to think of it, iti its absence, as the 
cause either of an actual or of an anticipated experience is 
the prerogative of man only. 

An interesting example of the gradual undoing of a 
habit in consequence of the absence of the sensory results 
that had led to the establishment of the action is reported 
by Lloyd Morgan.^ He had brought up in his study a 
brood of ducks. They had had a bath every morning in a 
tin tray. After a while, the tray was placed empty in its 
accustomed place. The ducks got into it and went through 
all their ordinary ablutions. The next day they again en- 
joyed the missing water, but not so long as on the first day. 
On the third day they gave up the useless practice of bath- 
ing in an empty tray. In three days ducklings give up a 
habit which has become useless, while generation after 
generation of men goes through innumerable time-wasting 
ceremonies, often costly and painful, for the sake of results 
secured rarely and, as we think, never directly by the 
magical or the religious ceremonies themselves. There is 
here a curious psychological fact : animals establish habits 
under the guidance of immediate results, while man de- 
velops the magical art and religion in spite of the usual 
absence of the results desired. This very possibility of 
man's deceiving himself reveals a superiority of man over 
animals ; for self-deception requires a degree of independ- 
ence from sense-observation, a capacity for constructive 

^ Morgan, C. Lloyd, Introduction to Comparative Psychology (The Con- 
temporary Science Series, 1894), p. 89. 


imagination, a susceptibility to auto-suggestion, not to be 
found in animals. That the first glimmer of these capaci- 
ties should have plunged man into the darkness of primitive 
magic and religion, and should have made him the ridicu- 
lous lunatic that he frequently appears to be by the side of 
the matter-of-fact, intelligent animal, is, however, a very 
singular fact. 

In the preceding paragraph I have written, "in spite of 
the usual absence of the results desired." I must remind 
the reader, in this connection, that the expected results of 
religion and magic are but a part, and usually the lesser 
part, of their usefulness. This fact modifies considerably 
the significance of the foregoing statement. 

(2) Animals never act toward unperceived objects as if 
they were present ; a dog never welcomes by gambols an 
absent friend. Whereas primitive man appears in religion 
and at times in magic in more or less systematic relations 
with invisible powers. When the Shaman draws lines 
upon the sand, describes various curves with his arms, and 
utters sundry incantations, he does not address a power he 
actually perceives, or even one he has really seen, although 
he may believe that he or some one else has seen it. This 
difference between man and animal is again due to the 
absence in the latter of free ideas, or to the inability of the 
free ideas to lead to action. 

The overcoming of these two deficiencies marked an era 
in the history of conscious beings. Before this advance, 
the universe was made up for them simply of what they 
actually sensed. Afterward the world assumed new pro- 
portions ; it included the world of imagined things, the 
limitless, mysterious realm of the invisible. 

That this fundamental difference between men and animals was en- 
tirely missed by Auguste Comte and partly by Herbert Spencer is 
shown in the latter's discussion of the opinion of Comte that " fetichistic " 


conceptions are formed by the higher animals. Spencer cannot fully 
agree with this view, yet he relates the following observation concerning 
a retriever who had learned for herself to perform ''an act of propitia- 
tion." The dog had associated the fetching of game with the pleasure 
of the person to whom she brought it. and so ''after wagging her tail and 
grinning, she would perform this act of propitiation as nearly as practi- 
cable in the absence of the dead bird. Seeking about, she would pick 
up a dead leaf, a bit of paper, a twig or other small object, and would 
bring it with renewed manifestations of friendliness." Spencer adds, 
" Some kindred state of mind is, I believe, what prompts the savage to 
fetichistic observances." i The truth of the matter is that the dog had 
merely learned to substitute for the game various other objects ; she had 
not learned to bring these to an unperceived master in the hope of ex- 
periencing the effect of his pleasure. I know of nothing in animal be- 
havior that could properly be termed magic, although certain tricks 
learned under the tuition of man resemble it somewhat. I have in 
mind, for instance, a dog's raising his forepaws, even though no one is 
present, when he wishes to be liberated from a cage. There is here no 
quantitative or qualitative relation between the lifting of the forepaws 
and the opening of the door, and yet it is not magic. The dog's action 
is not determined in the same way as that of a magician ; for the latter 
would perform the same magical rite in a great variety of external cir- 
cumstances, while the dog will seek liberation by lifting his paws only 
when in the particular cage in which he has learned the trick, or in one 
similar to it. This apparently slight dissimilarity points to the import- 
ant differences between the mental processes of men and of animals, to 
which I have drawn attention. 

That the behavior of animals is influenced by their past perceptions 
and actions is, of course, undoubted ; but whether these actions imply 
the possession of free ideas is still an open question. If a dog shows 
depression in the absence of his master, it may be simply because he 
suffers from the lack of an accustomed set of stimuli, — the master's 
presence, his voice, his smile, or his caresses, — and yet does not 
think of the absent master as the cause of his discomfort. We usually 
credit animals with higher mental processes than are necessary to pro- 
duce their actions. Lloyd Morgan, in his Animal Life mid Intelligence 
reports the instructive instance of a cow deprived of her offspring. She 

1 Spencer, Herbert, Principles of Sociology^ 3d ed., 1885, Vol., i, Appendix 
A, p. 788. 


was apparently pining away for the absent calf. When the stuffed skin 
of the calf was presented to her, she licked it, apparently with maternal 
devotion, until the hay stuffing came out ; then she placidly ate the hay. 
The movements of animals in dreams may be purely automatic.^ 

Bentley writes : '' The primary use of the image . . . was to carry 
the organism beyond the limits of the immediate environment and to 
assist in foreseeing and providing for the 'future' . . It was a means 
to what we may term remote adaptation." ^ 

In order to explain this inability to deal with invisible objects, it is 
not necessary to deny that animals have images ; although some recent 
psychologists do deny this for all animals below the apes. It is sufficient 
to admit that revived experiences cannot have in animals the influence 
that actual perception would exert. It is not enough for a dog to have an 
image of his master in order to beg for food. The image must lead to 
the action. It must be connected with an impulse to beg, an impulse 
strong enough to bring about the action. Either the absence of images 
or their lack of motor power accounts for this particular deficiency in 

I have spoken as if the gods of primitive races were merely reproduc- 
tions of beings at times present to the senses. As a matter of fact, the 
spirits and gods with whom men think themselves in relation are prob- 
ably never mere representations of formerly known beings. The powers 
addressed are to a certain degree mental creations, instead of reproduc- 
tions of sense data. This transforming activity of the human mind 
removes man still further from the animal. 

There are on record observations from which one might infer that 
there is occasionally in the mind of certain higher animals something 
akin to the savage's personification of natural events. This would 
involve, of course, the possession of images. Sometimes dogs are 
thrown into paroxysms of fear by peals of thunder, and run into hiding. 
Darwin relates how his dog, " full grown and very sensible," growled 
fiercely and barked whenever an open parasol standing at some distance 
was moved by a slight breeze. He believes that the dog " must have 
reasoned to himself, in a rapid and unconscious manner, that movement 

1 For a brief discussion of these questions, see Margaret Washburn, The 
Animal Mind, pp. 270-272. 

2 The Memory Image and its Qualitative Fidelity, Amer. Jr. of Psychology, 
Vol. XI, 1899, p. 18. 


without any apparent cause indicated the presence of some strange 
living agent, and that no stranger had a right to be on his tenitory." ^ 
Romanes, in a short and interesting paper entitled " Fetichism in 
Animals,"^ after giving the preceding illustration, relates this observa- 
tion about a remarkably " intelligent," " pugnacious," and " courageous " 
dog. "The terrier (Skye) in question, like many other dogs, used to 
play with dry bones by tossing them in the air, throwing them to a 
distance, and generally giving them the appearance of animation, in 
order to give himself the ideal pleasure of worrying them. On one 
occasion, therefore, I tied a long and fine thread to a dry bone, and 
gave him the latter to play with. After he had tossed it about for a 
short time, I took an opportunity, when it had fallen at a distance from 
him, and while he was following it up, of gently drawing it away from him 
by means of the long, invisible thread. Instantly his whole demeanor 
changed. The bone, which he had previously pretended to be alive, 
now began to look as if it really were alive, and his astonishment knew 
no bounds. He first approached it with nervous caution, as Mr. Spencer 
describes, but as the slow receding motion continued, and he became 
quite certain that the movement could not be accounted for by any 
residuum of the force which he had himself communicated, his astonish- 
ment developed into dread, and he ran to conceal himself under some 
articles of furniture, there to behold at a distance the uncanny spectacle 
of a dry bone coming to life." ^ Certain instances of instinctive 
fear of harmless things may help to interpret the preceding observa- 
tions. G. Stanley Hall mentions a little girl who would scream when 
she saw feathers floating through the air. To place a feather in the 
keyhole was sufficient to keep another child in a room.* 

Shall we hold that these animals interpreted the unusual experiences  
reported above as the work of hidden beings of the kind known to them, 
or shall we agree with Lloyd Morgan, Romanes, Spencer, and others 
in thinking that their behavior indicated simply surprise, astonishment, 
and fear, at the unexpected movements of familiar objects ? The latter 
explanation is probably sufficient. The failure of an object to fit in 

1 Darwin, Oiarles, The Descent of Man, New York, 1871, Vol. I, p. 64. 

2 Romanes, G. J., Nature., Vol. XVII (1877-1878), pp. 168-169. Conap. 
Lloyd Morgan, hitrodttction to Comparative Psychology, p. 92 ff. 

3 Comp. Lloyd Morgan's experiment with dogs and soap bubbles, Intro- 
duction to Comparative Psychology, p. 93. 

* Hall, G. Stanley, A Study in Fears, Amer. Jr. of Psychology (1897), Vol. 
VIII, p. 166. 


with the psycho-physiological attitude of expectation which past expe- 
rience has taught us to assume brings about the sudden disturbance 
called surprise, astonishment, or fear. It is what would happen to any 
person if, on opening his bed in the dark, his hands came in contact 
with some object concealed there. Personification of the unexpected 
object is not necessary to cause fright. And yet who will say that in 
none of these instances there is anything corresponding to the anthro- 
pomorphic interpretation of natural events so common among men of 
little culture. It would seem to me an unjustifiably dogmatic assertion 
to say that no animal can think of thunder as caused by a being like 
those with which his senses have made him familiar. Creative imagi- 
nation is no more needed for such an interpretation than for the belief 
in survival after death, when this is suggested by apparitions in dreams 
or trances. 

Unless, however, there exists, in addition, a way of fixing, by means 
of communicable signs, the animistic interpretations that may chance 
to flit across the animal's consciousness, they cannot become a perma- 
nent part of his mental life. Without speech, which holds, clarifies, 
and keeps alive impressions of this evanescent nature, no stable belief 
deserving the name animism could have been established. The impor- 
tant role played by language, in this connection, appears clearly when 
one considers the part it takes in introducing dream experiences into 
waking life. The evanescence of dreams which are caught sight of on 
awaking is familiar to all. Unless one succeeds in putting them into 
words, they are soon completely lost ; it is through verbal expression 
that they become part and parcel of our mental possessions. 


We have seen that neither magic nor religion can be 
produced by the method of trial and error, but that the 
establishment of each implies ideas of unseen powers. 
What are the experiences out of which these ideas arise ? 

Until recently, the accepted view was that set forth in 
1877 by Edward B. Tylor in Primitive Culture?' A brief 
statement of his theory will serve as a convenient starting 
point for our discussion. Tylor seeks to demonstrate that 
out of naive thinking about the visions of dreams and 
trances, and from comparisons of life with death, and of 
health with sickness, arose a belief in the existence of, 
spirits as the powers animating nature. "What men's 
eyes behold is but the instrument to be used, or the material 
to be shaped, while behind it there stands some prodigious 
but half human creature, who grasps it with his hands or 
blows it with his breath." This behef, which according to 
him represents the first philosophy of nature, he calls 

1 Although I take up the origin of the concepts fundamental to magic 
and religion before magical and religious behaviors, I do not hold that 
concepts appear full-fledged before action. I believe that active experi- 
ence is a necessary factor in the formation of ideas. But the particular ex- 
periences out of which arose the ideas of unseen powers antedated the 
appearance of magic and religion. This fact is the reason for the order of 
topics here adopted. It is, of course, quite true that although the origin of 
these concepts preceded the modes of behavior in question, their elaboration 
continued /^iri/a5^« with the development of magic and of religion. 

2 Tylor, Edward B., Primitive Culture, Vol. I, Chap. XI. 



animism. The phenomena mentioned generated initially 
the ideal of the double, also called ghost or soul. Each 
man was believed to have a ghost, which could tempora- 
rily leave the body and appear at a distance from it. 
By a process of extension souls were ascribed to animals 
and even to plants. The separation which takes place at 
death between the double and the body is responsible, ac- 
cording to this view, for the production of spirits ; so that, 
at their simplest, spirits are the souls of men, animals, or 
plants, liberated from a body. Spirits may enter and 
inhabit any organism, but they do not belong to it as a soul 
belongs to its body. A soul, it is true, can also leave its 
body, but only for a short time, under conditions such as 
sleep ; otherwise death follows. Thus, in the mind of the 
savage, the world is animated by untold numbers of souls 
and spirits or free souls. ^ 

^ " Animism is, in fact, the groundwork of the philosophy of religion, from 
that of savages up to that of civilized men. ... It is habitually found that 
the theory of animism divides into two great dogmas forming parts of one 
consistent doctrine: first, concerning souls of individual creatures, capable of 
continued existence after the death or destruction of the body; second, con- 
cerning other spirits, upward to the rank of powerful deities. . . . Animism, 
in its full development, includes the belief in controlling deities and subordi- 
nate spirits, in souls, and in a future state, these doctrines practically resulting 
in some kind of active worship." (E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, Vol. I, 
Chap. XI, pp. 385, 386.) This is his definition of a " minimum of religion." 

In Vol. II, Chap. XIV, p. 99, he passes from the fundamental doctrine of 
souls to the derived doctrine of spirits. " The doctrine of souls, founded on 
the natural perceptions of primitive man, gave rise to the doctrine of spirits." 
" The conception of a human soul served as a type or a model on which he 
framed not only his idea of other souls of lower grade, but also his idea of 
spiritual beings in general, from the tiniest elf that sports in the long grass up 
to the heavenly Creator" (p. 100). 

Credit must be given Hobbes for having clearly anticipated the Tylorian 
animism. In the Leviathan we read : " And for the matter, or substance of 
the Invisible Agents, so fancyed, they could not by naturall cogitation, fall 
upon any other conceit, but that it was the same with that of the Soule of 
man; and that the Soule of man was of the same substance with that which 


This doctrine of souls and spirits, in so far as it purposes 
to express the first philosophy of nature, is rapidly giving 
way under the combined weight of anthropological and of 
psychological data. An increasingly large number of com- 
petent writers would now place earlier than the Tylorian 
animism, or at least side by side with it, another fundamen- 
tal and universal belief, arising from commoner and sim- 
pler experiences than visions ; namely, a belief in the exist- 
ence of an omnipresent, non-personal power or powers. 

The names best deserving mention in this connection 
are probably those of Daniel Brinton, in the United States, 
and of R. R. Marett, in England. In his Lectures, pub- 
lished in 1897, Brinton^ advanced the theory that " the 
hidden and mysterious power of the universe " is at first 
expressed in terms denoting " infinite will." He quotes 
from Miss Fletcher that the Wakan of the Dakota 
Indians, " is the deification of that peculiar quality or power 
of which man is conscious within himself as directing his 
own acts, or willing a course to bring about certain results," 
and he continues, " The universal postulate, the psychic 
origin of all religious thought, is the recognition, or, if you 
please, the assumption, that conscious volition is the ulti- 
mate source of all Force. It is the belief that behind the 
sensuous, phenomenal world, distinct from it, giving it 
form, existence, and activity, lies the ultimate, invisible, 
immeasurable power of Mind, of conscious Will, of Intelli- 

appeareth in a Dream, to one that sleepeth; or in a Looking-glasse, to one 
that is awake; which, men not knowing that such apparitions are nothing 
else but creatures of the Fancy, think to be reall and externall Substances; 
and therefore call them Ghosts, as the Latines called them Itnagines and 
Umbrae; and thought them Spirits, that is, thin aereall bodies; and those 
Invisible Agents, which they feared, to bee like them; save that they appear, 
and vanish when they please." (^Leviathan, ed. A. R. Waller, 1904, Chap. 
XII, p. 71.) 

1 Brinton, Daniel G., Religiom of Primitive Peoples, 1897, pp. 60, 47, 164. 


gence, analogous in some way to our own ; and — mark the 
essential corollary — that man is in communication with 
it." And again : " The idea of a World-Soul, manifesting 
itself individually in every form of matter from the star to 
the clod, is as truly the belief of the Sioux or the Fijian 
cannibal as it was of Spinoza or Giordano Bruno." He 
holds further that this Will Power, this World-Soul, is first 
posited in moments of ecstasy or trance, in periods of rap- 
ture, intoxication, or frenzy. "This influence is at first 
vague, impersonal, undefined, but is gradually differentiated 
and personified." 

The striking features of this theory are: (i) that the 
idea of personal beings was not man's first explanation of 
movement and action in the world ; (2) that man began 
with a quasi-impersonal notion, which Brinton defines in 
terms of "will," — "All Gods and holy objects were merely 
vehicles through which Life and Power poured into the 
world from the inexhaustible and impersonal source of 
both"; (3) that this notion was first revealed in ecstasies 
and trances. A psychologist might call it an automatism. 

It is unfortunate that into this most interesting concep- 
tion of man's earliest philosophy and its derivation from 
the sense of our own will Brinton has introduced notions 
unnecessarily complex and of much later origin. At cer- 
tain points he seems ready to attribute to primitive man 
some of Emerson's ideas about the Over-Soul. 

R. R. Marett, in an important essay entitled Pre-Aniniistic 
Religion} urges "that primitive or rudimentary religion, 
as we actually find it amongst savage peoples, is at once a 
wider and, in certain respects, a vaguer thing than ' the 
belief in spiritual beings ' of Tylor's famous ' minimum defi- 
nition.' " " The animistic idea represents but one among 

* First published \n Folk-lore in 1900, and reprinted in 1909 in The Thresh- 
old of Religion, Methuen and Co., London. 


a number of ideas, for the most part far more vague than 
it is, and hence more liable to escape notice ; all of which 
ideas, however, are active in savage religion as we have it, 
struggHng one with the other for supremacy in accordance 
with the normal tendency of religious thought towards uni- 
formity of doctrinal expression." Marett, like Brinton, is 
disposed to see in man's sense of will power the archetype 
of the original conception of the Mysterious Power; but 
he avoids the latter's error of including too much in the 
primitive conception. His conclusion may be stated in his 
own words thus : "The attitude of Supernaturalism towards 
what we should call inanimate nature may be independent 
of animistic interpretations." ^ 

In the Mollis t for 1906, Arthur O. Lovejoy offers a criti- 
cism of Marett which deserves attention.^ The latter, as 
we have seen, finds the essence of the preanimistic belief 

1 Marett, R. R., The Threshold of Religion, pp. 30, 17. In another chap- 
ter of the same book (p. 137), where he endeavors to push the origin of reh- 
gion a step farther back than animism, he concludes that " Mana, or rather the 
tabu-mana formula, has solid advantages over Animism, when the avowed ob- 
ject is to found what Dr. Tylor calls a minimum definition of religion. Mana 
is coextensive with the supernatural ; Animism is far too wide. Mana is al- 
ways Mana, supernatural power, differing in intensity, — in voltage, so to speak, 
— but never in essence ; Animism splits up into more or less irreducible kinds, 
notably ' souls,' ' spirits,' and ' ghosts.' Finally, Mana, whilst fully adapted to 
express the immaterial, — the unseen force behind the scene, — yet conformably 
with the incoherent state of rudimentary reflection, leaves in solution the dis- 
tinction between personal and impersonal, and, in particular, does not allow 
any notion of a high individuality to be precipitated." I maintain that in 
seeking to replace belief in personal agents (animism) by Mana, " which leaves 
in solution the distinction between personal and impersonal," Marett disre- 
garcls the only definite line of cleavage which can be used to differentiate 
religious from non-religious life; that is, the line separating the attitudes and 
actions that involve the idea of personal power from those that do not. In 
my view of the matter, when the distinction between personal and impersonal 
is in solution, religion itself is likewise in solution. 

2 Lovejoy, Arthur O., JVie Fundamental Concept of the Primitive Philoso- 
phy, Monist, 1906, Vol. XVI, pp. 357-382. 


to be the apprehension " of the supernatural or supernor- 
mal as distinguished from the natural and the normal," 
and so he proposes the term "supernaturalism," or pref- 
erably "teratism" as a name for this primitive attitude. 
" But," says Lovejoy, ** Mr. Marett appears to me to place 
the emphasis on the wrong side. . . . The preanimistic 
belief — the belief which is, at all events, independent of 
animism — is not best described as " supernaturalism," or 
" teratism," for the fundamental notion in it is not that of 
the unpredictable, abnormal, and portentous, but that of 
a force which is conceived as working according to quite 
regular and inteUigible laws — a force which can be studied 
and controlled. A better name, then, for this group of 
beliefs would be Primitive Energetics " (p. 381). 

I question the appropriateness of the expression " quite 
regular and intelligible laws." There is without doubt, I 
should say, much that is unpredictable in the behavior of 
Wakonda, or Manitoii, or Mana. And, in any case, the 
means used to bring into play the mysterious Power does 
not indicate the apprehension of a definite and stable 
quantitative relation between this means and the effects 
produced. The Power invoked, therefore, is not a me- 
chanical Power, but a magical force. 

Irving King,i in a chapter entitled "The Mysterious 
Power," brings together the philological and other data 
bearing upon this subject. The terms Manitoii (Algonquin), 
Wakonda (Sioux), Orenda (Iroquois), Mana (Melanesian), 
designate a non-personal Power or Potency considered to be 
at the basis of all natural phenomena. The same notion 
is found among the Australians. It appears in particular 
in their use of the Chiringa, or bull-roarer. 

^ King, Irving, The Development of Religion, Macmillan and Co., 1910. Any 
one interested in this point will find a good summary of the evidence in Chap- 
ter VI of Irving King's bool<, or in Lovejoy's shorter article quoted above. 


I shall not attempt to put before the reader the linguis- 
tic and historical evidence that can be adduced to show 
that the belief in non-personal forces is prior to animism. 
It is now generally admitted that among nearly all primi- 
tive peoples of whom we have accurate knowledge the 
generic and widely used words previously thought to mean 
a personal divinity and often a " High God," really desig- 
nate afar less definite conception, — that of power or force. 
Originally these words no more designated personal gods 
than does Mana, which Codrington defines thus : " That 
invisible power which is believed by the natives to cause 
all such effects as ttanscend their conception of the regu- 
lar course of nature, and to reside in spiritual beings, 
whether in the spiritual part of living men or in the ghosts 
of the dead, being imparted to them, to their names and to 
various things that belong to them, such as stones, snakes, 
and indeed objects of all sorts, is that generally known as 
Mana. . . . No man, however, has this power of his own ; 
all that he does is done by the aid of personal beings, ghosts 
or spirits ; he cannot be said, as a spirit can, to be Mana 
himself ... he can be said to have Mana." ^ 

With regard to the historical evidence, it is now gener- 
ally conceded that as one approaches the original conditions 
of the race, religious practices dwindle away, while magical 
behavior is everywhere in evidence. Howitt declares that 
" if religion is defined as being the formulated worship of a 
divinity," the Australian savage has no religion.^ Frazer 
reflects the views of Spencer and Gillen, of Howitt, and 
probably of every recent first-hand student of Australia, 
when he writes : " Among the aborigines of Australia, the 
rudest savages as to whom we possess accurate information, 

^ Codrington, R. H., The Melanesians (Clarendon Press, 1891), p. 191. 
2 Howitt, A. W., Australian Ceremonies of htiliation, Jr. of the Anthrop 
Institute (British), 1884, Vol. XIII, p. 432. 


Magic is universally practised, whereas Religion, in the 
sense of a propitiation or conciliation of the higher powers, 
seems to be nearly unknown. Roughly speaking, all men 
in Australia are magicians, but not one is a priest ; every- 
body fancies he can influence his fellows or the course of 
nature by sympathetic magic, but nobody dreams of 
propitiating gods by prayer and sacrifice." ^ 

Because of the presence of magic and the absence of re- 
ligious rites among the most primitive tribes known to us, 
some argue that belief in the non-personal powers imphed 
in magical behavior antedated the belief in the unseen per- 
sonal being involved in our conception of religion. This 
deduction is unwarranted ; for the Australians, although 
they are without religious customs and ceremonies, believe 
in the existence of some sort of Great Being. It is not my 
chief intention, however, to prove the priority of the belief 
in non-personal powers to the belief in unseen personal 
agents ; but to maintain the independent origin of these 
beUefs. The question of precedence loses much of its 
importance when these two concepts are not supposed to 
stand to each other in a genetic relation. It seems to me 
probable, however, that the non-personal view preceded 

The theses which I maintain in this chapter are : first, 
that the belief in non-personal powers is neither a deriva- 
tive of animism nor a first step leading itp to it, but that the 
two beliefs have had independent origins ; and, secondly, 
that ajiimism, appeared second in order of time. 

I have begun by giving the opinions of certain writers 
and referring to some historical facts upon which these 
opinions are based. The psychologist in search of 
knowledge concerning origins turns naturally to the child 

1 Frazer, J. G., The Beginnings of Religion, Fortn. Rev., Vol. LXXVIII 
(1905), p. 162. Comp. The Golden Bough, 2d ed., Vol. I pp. 71-73. 


to supplement anthropological data. What are the first 
explanatory concepts of the child ? In response to what 
experiences, and in what order, were they evolved ? Un- 
fortunately the available data here are also meagre and 
often indefinite.^ 

Long before a child speaks, he uses things. His inter- 
est early extends to causes, and when language appears, 
with the questions, "What for.? "and "Why.?" he is 
already in possession of the abstract ideas of cause and 
effect.^ At the end of the third year begins that period of 
incessant questioning so wearisome to parents. Children 
wish not only to complete their information about the ap- 
pearance and the other sensible qualities of objects, but, first 
of all, to know for what purpose things exist, and how they 
came to be. Before the end of his third year, Preyer's 
boy asked, referring to the creaking of a carriage wheel, 
" Was niacJitjmr so ? " and not very much later children will 
ask, " What makes the wind .? " " What makes the train 
move ? " " How do we move our eyes } " (girl four years 
and seven months). " When there is no egg, where does 
the hen come from .? When there was no egg, I mean, 
where did the hen come from .'' " (five years old). " If I had 
gone upstairs, could God have made it that I had not ? " 
(boy four years old). From this age on, for many years 
the interrogation point is always wriggling in the mind of 
the child. 

^ Sully, ]., Studies in Childhood, Chaps. Ill, IV, pp. 91-108; Tracy,' 
Chap. II, pp. 4, 5, III, p. 3 ; Alexandre Chamberlain, I'he Child (The 
Contemporary Science Series), 1900, pp. 147-148; Perez, The First Three 
Years of Childhood. 

2 The following instance shows how early concepts appear in the child. 
A boy eight months old had enjoyed stuffing things into a tin box. After- 
wards he looked for holes in all his toys. (Perez, ibid., p. 199.) 

It is to be hoped that soon some one will, by systematic observations of 
the child, complete the present meagre and scattered data, and so aid in the 
elucidation of the present problems. 


Now, inquiries concerning the causes of things imply an 
idea of power, for power means at its simplest merely that 
which produces something. I believe that this primary 
idea of power which a child possesses before the end of his 
third year is not the idea of a personal power, and is not 
derived from the idea of persons. It would seem to me 
preposterous to suppose that the first " What does that ? " 
of the infant implies the idea of a personal cause. Is it 
not much simpler, as well as quite sufficient, to conceive 
that for him the cause of an event is that which appears to 
his senses as preceding it ? (I waive for a moment the 
question as to whether or not the crudest idea of causation 
includes more than the idea of necessary sequence.) 

That very young children do conceive of non-personal 
causes seems indicated in the following instance : a child 
one year and eleven months old wanted her mother to Hft 
her up that she might see the wind. Is there any sufficient 
reason for thinking that this child expected to see a 
human being or an animal ? To my mind, she simply 
expected to see something passing by. " Something " is 
a much simpler notion than that of an animal or human 
being. This expected thing was, for her, what plucked 
her dress, moved the tree, etc. Why should she have gone 
to the length of imagining an object, known only in this 
way, to have the definite characteristics of men or animals } 
Her actual experience with the wind was with something 
which had not these characteristics ; it was known to her 
only as that which pushed or pressed against her. Why 
not conclude, then, that she simply expected to see some 
familiar natural object, such as smoke, vapor, cloud? 

It may be argued that because the child speaks of these 
things as alive, he identifies them with men and animals. 
That he is usually ready to attribute life to these inanimate 
causes, is not to be doubted. Some little children when 


asked what things in the room were alive replied " smoke," 
" fire." C said his cushion was alive, because it slipped 
from under him. The same child, on being told that a 
certain stick was too short for him, answered, " Me use it 
for walking stick when stick be bigger." ^ The wind, the 
smoke, the clouds, anything having the appearance of 
self-movement, falls in the category of "living" things. 
But, although for the child a man and the wind may both 
be alive, it does not follow that he conceives of the wind 
under the likeness of man. The concept " life " is for 
him wider than that designated by the same word in the 
mind of the civilized adult. " Life," it seems, means to 
the child merely the capacity of self-movement ; while the 
concepts "man" and "animal" involve in addition cer- 
tain ideas of structure — head, mouth, limbs — and modes 
of behavior. 

Because this idea of forces capable of self-movement or 
of producing movement and change, is simpler than the 
concept " person," it may be expected to appear earlier. 
The relevant facts of child psychology all confirm this 
view. It is evident, however, that the much more com- 
plex notion of personality does not lag far behind. It 
includes, for the child, men and animals, and is readily ex;- 
tended so as to include certain physical objects, — the mov- 
ing, puffing, and smoking locomotive, for instance. Having 
reached this stage, does he gradually come to conceive of 
all causes as personal ? If so, he would pass through a 
second stage in his philosophical development, a stage 
which it would be proper to call animism. I prefer to think 
that non-personal causes continue to do duty side by side 
with personal agents throughout childhood. There are, in- 
deed, many facts, some of which are cited in this and in an- 
other chapter, which justify the opinion that the original idea 

^ Sully, J., Diary, in Appendix to Studies in Childhood. 


of non-personal causes remains in the mind, and that at no 
time, either in the history of the child or of the race, does 
the term " animism " represent adequately the philosophy 
of primitive man. 

I have represented the original notion of causal power 
as independent of the sense of personal effort. But there 
can be no doubt that the moment soon comes when one's 
intimate experience of striving is projected into the world 
of external causes. 

A passage from G. F. Stout will set clearly before us the point in 
question. " Causation for the ' plain man ' involves more than mere 
priority and subsequence ; it carries with it a vague, and, for science, a 
futile representation of what Professor Pearson calls ' enforcement.' 
The traces of this bias are often found even in scientific exposition. 
Thus it is plainly in evidence whenever ' force ' is referred to as a cause 
of motion or as a reason why a body moves. ... In common language 
such words as pressure, strain, stress, energy, resistance, impact, imply 
something more than can be included in a mere description of the 
space relations of the parts of matter. This something more is cer- 
tainly rather indistinctly conceived. There is, however, no room for 
doubting that it consists in an assumed inner state of material bodies, 
— a state imperceptible to the external observer and uninterpretable in 
terms of the data yielded by external observation. Hence it follows of 
necessity that the only source from which the material for these ideas of 
force, enforcement, etc., springs is our own mental life."^ 

The projection of the feeling of effort into natural forces I 
would place midway between the earliest idea of non-per- 
sonal causal power and the fully developed idea of personal 
power. The little girl who says to her brother, " If you eat 
so much goose, you will be quite silly " ; the man who holds 
that his luck changed because he married a shrew, or be- 
cause so-and-so died ; or the man who thinks his fortune 
returned because he wore a " lucky " suit,^ — can hardly be 

1 Stout, G. F., Analytic Psychology, Vol. I, pp. 178-179. 
- Jastrow, Joseph, Fad and Fable in Psychology, p. 252. On the use of 
analogy, see pp. 236-274. 



supposed to invest the causes of these effects with the will- 
effort feeling. He has simply remained at the lower con- 
ceptual level, or has reverted to it. I affirm, then, that 
there exists a class of causes into which no will-effort feel- 
ing is projected, and that this class not only arises first, but 
persists after more complex notions of power have been 

It is to be noted further that a cause conceived under 
the analogy of a will-effort is not necessarily a personal 
cause. Even civilized man, as Stout reminds us, commonly 
endows physical causes with something of the sense of ef- 
fort which he himself experiences, but, nevertheless, he 
does not conceive of these causes as truly personal. Facts 
show that in most communities, at certain periods, the idea 
of will power has been seized upon and used as an explana- 
tory category. There is, for instance, a variety of magic 
called will-magic, because the magical deed is supposed to 
be due, in part, at least, to the will-effort of the magician. 
Such a notion is common among the North American 
Indians. According to Miss Fletcher, " The Sioux Ind- 
ian has deified the power of which he is conscious 
within himself, the power by which he directs his own 
acts or wills a course by which to bring about certain re- 
sults." They have a word Wa-chiji-dhe-dhe, for which 
there is no word in English unless it be "telepathy." 
*^ Dhe-dhe is 'to send,' and Wa-zhin-dJie-dlie signifies to 
send forth one's thoughts and will power towards another 
in order to supplement his strength. . . . For instance, 
when a race is taking place, a man may bend his thought 
and his will upon one of the contestants ... in the be- 
lief that this act of his, this sending of his mind, will help 
his friend to win." Similarly, when a man is on the war- 
path, a group of people, usually women, will gather about 
his tent and sing certain songs called We-tott-zva-an. 


" These songs are the medium by which strength is con- 
veyed to the man facing danger ; the act is Wa-zJdn-dhe- 
dhey 1 But we must remember that we are not dealing 
here with a really primitive people. One need not revert 
to the American Indian to find illustrations of this beHef. 
The idea of action exerted at a distance by a person's will 
is very common, even among us. 

Miss Fletcher, like Brinton and others, fails to mark 
the important distinction between a power conceived under 
the analogy of our will-effort, and a complete personifica- 
tion. The will power sent off by a person may be spoken of 
as having " life," in the sense in which the child first uses 
this word. But that it is not identical with a person is 
shown by the fact that the power is detachable in various 
amounts from a person, and is owned and controlled by a 

The original idea of non-personal power possesses but 
one necessary characteristic : it is dynamic, it does things. 
Man's attitude towards it shows plainly that neither intel- 
ligence nor feeling is a necessary element in its composi- 
tion. As the workings of this power are to a great extent 
unforeseen and uncontrollable, it evokes frequently dread 
and awe ; but in so far as man thinks himself able to con- 
trol and use it, it loses its mysteriousness and awfulness 
and becomes a familiar power. As it is not definitely con- 
ceived as intelligent will, the attitudes and the behavior it 
can elicit on the part of man are fundamentally different 
from those produced by the belief in personal, unseen 
powers. The former gives rise to magic ; the latter, to 

For that conception of nature which most probably pre- 

1 Fletcher, Alice C, Notes on Certain Beliefs concerning Will Power 
among the Sioux Tribes, Science (New York), N. S., Vol. V, 1897, pp. 331, 


ceded the Tylorian animism, or at least existed side by 
side with it, I would suggest the name dynamism. This 
term seems to me preferable to supernaturalism, because it 
does not thrust forward a distinction between nature and 
something above it ; and preferable also to teratism, proposed 
by Marett, because dynamism does not direct the attention 
exclusively to the mysterious and wonderful as if these 
characteristics were fundamental to the conception. It is 
the idea oi active power which is dominant in the conception 
of Impersonal Force, and this idea is well expressed by 
dynamism. I prefer this term also to manitouism, proposed 
by Lovejoy, because dynamism suggests to most people 
the idea of power, while manitouism either is without 
significance or conveys a m.eaning not intended. 




An inquiry into the origin of the belief in unseen, per- 
sonal powers is primarily concerned with the individual 
geniuses of the social groups considered. From time to 
time new ideas come to birth in the minds of specially gifted 
individuals, and through them become the possession of the 
community. This fact should be kept in mind throughout 
the chapter. But the statement that the conceptions out 
of which the gods arise are of individual origin is not incon- 
sistent with the fact that religion is, in a very real sense, 
the product of the social group. 

It is, I suppose, the passion for simplicity and unity 
that has led anthropologists and historians stubbornly 
to seek the origin of superhuman, personal powers in some 
one class of phenomena. According to Tylor, the idea of 
gods had its starting-point in dreams, visions, swoons, 
trances. Spencer is even more emphatic in deriving gods 
and worship from one original source, — the worship of 
the dead. Max Miiller also ascribes to the gods one origin ; 
he holds that the god-ideas proceed from the personifica- 
tion of natural objects. This unfortunate assumption of 
the unitary source of the ideas of gods is, I believe, one of 
the chief causes of the unsatisfactory condition of our 
knowledge of the origin and the development of religion. 
In this chapter I shall advance brief arguments, both 



psychological and historical, in support of the four follow- 
ing propositions : — 

1. Gods grew out of several different ideas of super- 
human beings. 

2. These beings had independent origins. 

3. The attributes of the gods differ according to their 

4. The historical gods are usually mongrel gods, the 
outcome of the combination of characteristics belonging to 
superhuman beings of different origins. 

The need of accounting for observed phenomena gives 
rise to one class of sources of the belief in unseen, super- 
human beings ; the affective and moral needs give rise to 
another class. 

Class I. — This class contains several independent groups 
of external and internal phenomena. They are by far the 
most prolific sources of ideas of superhuman beings. 

(a) Apparitions of animals and persons yet living, seen 
in sleep and in the hallucinations of fever or insanity, lead 
to the belief in " doubles " and " ghosts." When these 
apparitions come after the death of the person they repre- 
sent, they produce the belief in "souls " or " spirits." 

(d) States of seeming death followed by apparent 
return to life — sleep, trances, and other states of temporary 
loss of consciousness — suggest a belief similar to the 

(c) The spontaneous personification of striking natural 
phenomena such as thunder, lightning, fire, flood, and 
tempest ; or the sudden appearance of animal or vegetable 
life, may well lead to belief in personal agents behind 
visible nature. 

(d) The problem of creation no doubt forces upon the 
primitive mind very early the necessity of a Maker. It 


may be that a crude conception of a Creator is attained 
even earlier than that of a soul or double. 

(c) The facts of conscience : the feeling of duty, the 
categorical imperative ; transformations of personality, 
Christian conversion, etc. 

(/) Various experiences included under the terms clair- 
voyance, divination, monition, etc. 

(^) Striking motor and sensory abnormalities, such as 
are met with in hysteria. 

The desire to explain the phenomena of the last three 
groups implies a considerable degree of mental develop- 
ment ; therefore before these causes could become opera- 
tive, man must have been already in possession of a variety 
of ideas of superhuman beings and of gods. But if these 
phenomena could hardly have become sources of original 
god-ideas, they have undoubtedly led to important modi- 
fications of them by the ascription to the gods of the 
moral qualities and of the powers implied in these expe- 
riences. With the appearance of the moral conscience, for 
instance, gods became promoters of morality.^ 

It is to be noted that the metaphysical arguments for 
the existence of God, — for instance, the cosmological and 
the ontological proofs and the argument from design, — 
stand in a different relation from the facts here classified 
to the belief in superhuman beings. The metaphysical 
proofs are primarily arguments by which man sought to 
establish the objective validity of god-ideas already in 
existcftce. These proofs have also served to give greater 

^ The storm-gods of the Vedic worship " are in many respects presented 
in perfect harmony with the physical action of storms. They are glorious 
youths, rushing through the heavens on golden chariots, shaking the sky and 
mountains, while the forests bend in fear before them." But when wisdom 
and righteousness are ascribed to them, it is clear that another motive than 
the original one of explaining storms has come into play. Comp. Stratton, 
Psychology of the Religious Life, pp. 230-231. 


precision to the god-ideas, and to modify their content. 
How radically the metaphysical and the nafve empirical 
methods differ, becomes evident in a comparison of the cos- 
mological argument with the manner in which non-civilized 
man comes to believe in a Maker. 

Class II. — The affective and the moral needs. These 
needs become potent relatively late in human history ; so that 
when they appear as factors in the making of gods, beliefs 
in superhuman beings have already come into existence 
through the agency of phenomena of the first class. The 
experiences of this second class result, therefore, in a 
transformation of existing superhuman beings by the 
ascription to them of affective and moral qualities. In an 
essay on a group of Christian mystics,^ I have indicated 
four kinds of affective needs, only two of which need be 
mentioned here : — 

(«) The needs of the heart. — Affection and love seek 
perfect objects that they may be perfectly gratified. Under 
stress of this need a Nature-god or the Impassible Absolute 
may be transformed into the Great Friendly Presence, the 
benevolent Father, even the Passionate Lover. 

{b) The needs of conscience (not, as in Class I, the inter- 
pretation of the facts of conscience). — We crave strength in 
order to fulfil its imperative commands. These cravings 
are father to the belief in a being who is able and willing 
to assist in the conflicts of the " spiritual " against the 
" natural " man. Here might be placed also the conviction 
that justice must be fulfilled, either in this life or in 
another. This conviction is usually connected with the 
belief in a Dispenser of punishment and reward, a FulfiUer 
of the law of justice. 

The modern belief in the existence of God rests nearly 

^ Leuba, James H., Les Tendances Religieuses chez un Grotipe de Mystiques 
Chretiens, Rev. Phil.., Tome LIV (1902), pp. 1-36, 441-487. 


entirely upon the subjective experiences of Class II. 
Dreams, hallucinations, trances, personification of striking 
phenomena, the idea of a Maker, — these empirical data, 
together with the metaphysical arguments, have lost, as far 
as the educated are concerned, all, or almost all, the value 
they had once as prompters of the belief in God. 

Apparitions in dreams and trances, and in states of 
seeming death. — I proceed to a few remarks concerning 
the first four groups of the first class, and I begin with 
groups a and b. 

Most anthropologists seem to be of the opinion that the 
idea of the " double " or " ghost " is the exclusive source of 
the original belief in souls, in invisible spirits, and conse- 
quently in gods. Very recently, however, a distinguished 
sociologist, E. Durkheim, has vigorously attacked this view.^ 
He maintains that the conception of soul did not have its 
origin in dreams, visions, and trances, although the concep- 
tion may be of service in an attempt to account for some of 
these phenomena. As the point raised by Durkheim is of 
considerable importance, I give his chief objections under 
four heads, and offer answers which seem to me sufficient 
to refute his arguments. 

1. The belief in soul is not the simplest way to account 
for dreams, visions, etc. Why should not man, instead, 
have imagined that he could see at a distance through all 
kinds of obstacles .'' This is a simpler idea than that of a 
double made of a semi-invisible, ethereal substance. 

2. Many dreams are refractory to the ghost-interpreta- 
tion ; for instance, dreams of things that we have done in 

1 Durkheim, E., Examen Critique des Sysiemes Classiques sur la Pensee 
Religietise, Rev. Phil. Vol. LXVII, 1909, pp. 10-15. What he regards as the 
origin of the soul I do not know, for at the present writing the book of which 
the above is to be a chapter has not appeared. 


the past. The double might transport himself into the 
future, but how could he live over again the past existence 
of the body to which he belongs ? How could a man when 
awake really believe that he has taken part in events which 
he knows to have taken place long ago ? It is much more 
natural that he should think of memories, since these at 
least are familiar to him. 

3. How could he be so stupid and non-inquisitive as not 
to be impressed by the fact that the person whose alleged 
double has conversed with his own double while he slept 
had also had dreams that same night and was with another 
person than his own double ? There is, thinks Durkheim, 
some naivete in the blind credulity ascribed to primitive 
man by this theory. 

4. Even though the ghost-explanation should be sufficient 
to account for all dreams, it would remain unlikely that 
man ever sought for an explanation of his dreams ; they 
are too common occurrences. " What is dream in our life ? 
How small a place it holds . . . and how surprising it is 
that the unfortunate Australian spends so much energy in 
evolving a theory of it." 

Let it be observed first that whatever objection there 
may be to the ghost-hypothesis as a means of interpreting 
the phenomena in question, the savage actually does 
account for them by that notion. This fact, which even 
Durkheim admits, causes many of his arguments to lose 
their relevancy. Sir Everard im Thurn relates the follow- 
ing incident in his book, TJie Indians of Guiana : " One 
morning, when it was important to me to get away from 
camp on the Essequibo River at which I had been detained 
for some days by the illness of some of my Indian compan- 
ions, I found that one of the invalids, a young Macusi, 
though better in health, was so enraged against me that he 
refused to stir, for he declared that, with great want of con- 


sideration for his weak health, I had taken him out during 
the night and had made him haul the canoe up a series of 
difficult cataracts. Nothing could persuade him that this 
was but a dream, and it was some time before he was so far 
pacified as to throw himself sulkily in the bottom of the 
canoe. At that time we were all suffering from a great scarc- 
ity of food, and, hunger having its usual effect in produc- 
ing vivid dreams, similar effects frequently occurred. More 
than once the men declared in the morning that some absent 
man, whom they named, had come during the night, and 
had beaten or otherwise maltreated them ; and they insisted 
on much rubbing of the bruised parts of their bodies." ^ 

That man should have originally regarded as memories 
vivid dreams in which he feels and hears himself walking 
and talking with another person, whose face he sees and 
whose voice he hears as clearly as in waking life, seems to 
me an impossible supposition ; and to try to explain the 
dreadful experience of feeling the hand of one's enemy 
around one's neck and choking in his grasp, on the ground 
of remembrances seems mere mockery. I do not know 
any explanation simpler than the assumption that the 
person one has felt and seen was actually present. If by 
chance one knows that person to have been at the same 
moment in one or several other places, then the immedi- 
ate inference is that he is double, triple, or quadruple. 
Certain savages believe, as a matter of fact, that men have 
four souls. One may, of course, offer objections to this 
interpretation ; but the savage does not realize the diffi- 
culties that thrust themselves upon the reflecting mind. 
Observations of the beliefs of intellectually inferior persons 
of civilized races show that for most of them there is no 

^ Quoted by Edward Qodd in Animism, Archibald Constable and Co., 1905, 
PP- 31-32- 


contradiction sufficient to make them give up an explana- 
tion to which they have become attached. Durkheim 
alludes to other simpler and more adequate explanations 
of dreams, but these he does not himself advance. 

In the life of young children are found indications of 
the possibility of the dream origin of the idea of doubles. 
Preyer relates of his child, then in his fourth or fifth year, 
that " he sometimes cried out in the night and imagined that 
a pig was going to bite him. He seemed to see the animal 
as if it were actually there ; he could not conceive that it 
was not there even after his bed was brightly lighted up." ^ 
In the Diary of a Father, published as an appendix to 
Sully's Studies of Childhood, we read of C, four years old : 
" He evidently takes his dream-pictures for sensible reali- 
ties, and when relating a dream insists that he has actually 
seen the circus horses and fairies which appear to him 
while asleep." ^ Yet he knows that he has spent the night 
in a room into which horses could not enter ; but it does 
not seem to be one of the wishes of children to get rid of 
contradictions otherwise than by dismissing the thought of 
them. The non-civilized adult behaves similarly, and in 
this he differs simply in degree from ourselves. It is un- 
necessary to multiply similar instances, yet the following 
may not be out of place as an illustration of the manner 
in which a child deals with a situation resembling in one 
respect that by which primitive man is confronted in the 
explanation of his dreams and visions. A boy of my ac- 
quaintance, nearly four years old, had been deeply im- 
pressed by the dragon in a performance of the Play of 
Saint George. He was told that it was a skin inside 
which a person roared and gave lifelike movements to the 

1 Preyer, W., The Mind of the Child, Part I, D. Appleton and Co., New 
York, 1896, pp. 168-169. 

^ Sully, J., Studies of Childhood, p. 455. 


skin. He seemed readily to understand and to accept the 
explanation, yet he still firmly believed the dragon to be 
alive. In order to complete the explanation, the dragon's 
skin was brought to the child, and in his presence a man 
got into it, roared, and moved about. The child, of course, 
understood, yet the next day he was ready to go hunting 
for the dragon, and this was not simply in play, if a care- 
ful observer can judge at all what is and what is not play 
in a child's behavior. What happened in this case is a 
common experience ; emotion made it impossible for him 
to bring his knowledge and his critical sense to bear upon 
the problem. An occasional terrifying vision would be 
sufficient, it seems, to establish and keep up the belief in 
doubles. Regarding the frequency of hallucinations among 
savages, Mary Kingsley writes of the West Africans : " I 
also know that the African, in spite of his hard-headed 
common sense, is endowed with a supersensitive organiza- 
tion; he is always a step nearer delirium, in a medical 
sense, than an Englishman ; a disease that will, by a rise of 
bodily temperature, merely give an Englishman a headache, 
will give an African delirium and its visions." ^ 

The four objections just reviewed are offered by Durk- 
heim as an argument against animism. That theory taken 
as an original philosophy of life, I do not defend ; nor in- 
deed do we need to concern ourselves with it at all. The 
question in point is simply whether dreams, visions, and 
the like have been an original source of belief in ghosts or 
doubles. I see nothing in Durkheim's criticisms to invali- 
date Marett's assertion that it is " one among the few rela- 
tive certainties which anthropology can claim to have 
established in the way of theory." ^ 

1 Kingsley, Mary H., The Forms of Apparitions in West Africa, Proc. of 
the Soc. for Psy. Res., Vol. XIV, 1898-1899, p. 331. 

2 Marett, R. R., The Threshold of Religion-, Methuen and Co., London, p. 9. 


The personification of striking natural phenomena. — I 
am ready to grant that the spontaneous personification of 
striking nature phenomena, such as thunder, fire, floods, 
cataracts, and heavenly bodies, etc., by bestowing upon 
them either human or animal attributes, was a factor of 
less importance than dreams and trances. This mode of 
origin seems, however, to have played an uncommonly 
important role among the old Aryans, who worshipped 
"the heavenly ones," "the shining ones," that is, the 
powers of the luminous heaven. More frequently, per- 
haps, the tendency to personify served to co7ifirm beliefs 
in powerful invisible beings and to give to them new 

Conclusions as to the probability of this origin may be 
drawn from the behavior of the child. Many a child 
barely able to speak forms the habit of ascribing human 
or animal nature to what is for the adult simply non-per- 
sonal. He personifies not only because it is for him a 
natural form of explanation, but also because he finds an 
inexhaustible source of delight in the fictitious world he 
creates. Who can make the division between belief and 
pretence in this mythopoeic world .'' It was during his 
fourth year that C began " to create fictitious persons and 
animals, and to surround himself by a world unseen by 
others but terribly real to him." ^ In this connection 
one should keep in mind the great individual differences. 
Some children live almost entirely in the real world, and 
many probably never confuse make-believe with reality. 
But there are also those who hold firmly to the reality 
of a world of their own creation. It is these believing 
children who make the traditions and the dogmas of child- 
hood. Is it improbable that savages should, both in ear- 
nest and in play, have placed personal and animal beings 

1 Sully, J., op, cit., p, 453. 


behind certain striking phenomena? How otherwise could 
they better gratify at once a demand for explanation and 
a love of dramatic play ? ^ 

The personifications of the primitive man, as well as 
those of the child, often are classed as animal forms. 
Nothing could be more natural. Is not the animal world 
more varied and mysterious to the savage than the hu- 
man ? The size, appearance, and behavior of animals are 
so exceedingly diverse that one may expect almost any- 
thing that shows self-movement to be an animal. Why, 
for instance, should not the savage believe that the sun is 
an animal ? Is its shape too simple, or its motion too 
regular ? I do not see how uncivilized man could set 
limits to the shapes of animals. And as to the sun's 
movements, they are not, after all, so regular as the 
scientist would make them. The sun rises at different 
points winter and summer, and traverses the heavens by 
different paths. It hides away for long periods, and then 
shows itself constantly for many days. Even its heat is 

But even though the personification of natural phenom- 
ena is to be expected of savages, it is perplexing to find 
people as far advanced as the old Egyptians, for instance, 
continuing to worship nature-gods. One must in this case 
reckon with the momentum of psychic habits just as one 
does with physical inertia. Habits once formed and ex- 

^ I have given some details concerning an unusual instance of fondness for 
personifying in The Personifying Passion in Youth, with Remarks upon the 
Sex and Gender Problem, Monist, Vol. X, 1900, pp. 536-548. 

The effect produced by great scenery frequently points to the tendency to 
personify nature. One of my correspondents writes that " Places in which the 
sense of the sublime is appealed to always call forth religious emotions. . . . 
The last time I noticed this feeling was at the sight of Niagara Falls about 
two years ago. I had to restrain myself from kneeling down when I first came 
near the Falls," 


pressed in venerated institutions cannot easily be cast aside. 
But something else contributes also to the production of 
this paradox : the literal assumes a poetic or a moral sense, 
and the change remains long unrecognized or unacknowl- 
edged. The ease with which most men pass, without know- 
ing it, from a genuine belief in God to one which is merely 
conventional or is maintained for aesthetic or moral reasons, 
is a fact as amazing as it is pregnant with sociological con- 
sequences. One may observe among us at present the 
passage from a vital belief in the traditional personal God 
to a survival-belief of the kind just mentioned. ^ 

The problem of creation. — This very early and potent 
source of the idea of great unseen beings has been very 
insufficiently taken into account. The idea of a mighty 
Maker of things may safely be attributed to men as low 
in intelligence as are the lowest tribes now extant, for it 
appears very early in the child. The first definite inquiries 
about causes are usually made towards the end of the 
second year. After that time the question " What makes 
that ? " is for many months frequently on the child's lips. 
At first his inquiries bear upon particular things and not 
upon the origin of things in general. Moreover, he does 
not necessarily think of personal causes. A little later on, 

^ The theory of Max Miiller and of Adelbert Kuhn, according to which the 
starting-point of religion was the personification of the more striking natural 
objects, bears only a superficial resemblance to the theory that the origin of 
superhuman beings was by the direct, spontaneous personification with which 
we are concerned. The process of personification which these authors de- 
scribe is an accident due to the distorting action upon thought of an in- 
sufficiently definite language. Natural objects, they explain, were originally 
described by their effects, in terms similar to those used to name the actions 
of human beings. The sun, for instance, was " the one which darts shafts 
of light." The one, because of linguistic indefiniteness and the natural tend- 
ency to conceive movement as arising from a personal cause, came to be 
Understood in a personal sense. Thus, according to this theory, arose the 
nature-gods and the myths clustering around them. 


however, he passes from particular problems to the general 
one, and thinks of a personal Creator.^ Many persons 
have had the good fortune of being present at the child's 
sudden awakening to this problem and his immediate solu- 
tion of it by the assumption of a great Maker conceived 
vaguely as a human being. A child notices a curiously 
made stone and asks who made it. He is told that it was 
formed in the stream by the water. Then suddenly he 
throws out in quick succession questions that are as much 
exclamations of astonishment as queries : "Who made the 
streams ? Who made the mountains ? Who made the 
earth ? " If children five years old begin of themselves 
to inquire into the origin of the world, one must admit the 
presence of such queries in the mind of the most intelli- 
gent individuals of the lowest tribes. 

The Great Maker or Makers usually take on a human 
shape, probably because men and not animals are to prim- 
itive man the constructors of things. The nests of birds 
and lairs of animals are no better than the huts of the 
savage himself, and animals make no implements of any 
sort. The making of weapons and other necessary objects 
is one of primitive man's vital occupations. One may well 
suppose, therefore, that when he thought of the making 
of things about him, he placed the Great Maker in the 
human rather than in the animal group. Nevertheless, it 

^ Before her eighth year, Helen Keller, who is blind, deaf, and mute, had 
begun to ask questions regarding the origin of things and of herself. Her 
teacher, Miss Sullivan, thought it preferable to delay an explanation, and told 
her tliat she was too young to understand. Her inquiries became more and 
more urgent. In May, 1890 (she was born in June, 1880) she wrote on her 
tablet, " Who made the earth and the sea and everything ? What makes the 
sun hot ? Where was I before I came to my mother ? " See Miss Sullivan's 
report of 1891, republished in the supplement to The Story of My Life, h^ 
Helen Keller, Doubleday, Page and Co., New York, 1909. It is not uncom- 
mon for a normal child to puzzle about these questions from his fifth year or 
even earlier. 



is not impossible that in some cases the Great Maker 
should have assumed an animal form. 

In the discussion of non-personal causes, it was said that 
in many primitive societies certain names supposed to desig- 
nate high personal gods have been found by later scholars 
to have only a non-personal significance. If we accept both 
this conclusion and the one now reached concerning belief 
in a Great Maker, we shall expect to find among primitive 
peoples one name for a general non-personal force and an- 
other for a great Creator, But after a time the non-personal 
power may naturally enough in many tribes have come to 
assume personal characteristics, either by direct personifi- 
cation, or by fusion with the creator-idea. 

The consequences of the presence of ideas of superhuman 
beings of several independent origins. — I know of no suffi- 
cient reasons, either psychological or historical, for denying 
any of the following propositions. Each appears to me 
possible and, under appropriate circumstances, probable. 

1. Several of the sources may have operated simulta- 
neously in the formation of diverse ideas of superhuman 
beings and subsequently of gods, so that several gods of 
different origins may have, from the first, divided the at- 
tention of the community. 

2. These sources may have been effective not simulta- 
neously, but successively. A ghost-ancestor may have first 
attained dominance and, later on, a Great Maker. 

3. Any order of succession is possible. It is nearly 
simultaneously that the belief in unseen personified causes 
of external events arises in the child's mind, that dreams be- 
gin to play a part in his waking life, and that the problem 
of creation presents itself to him. The question as to which 
is the first cannot be given a universally valid answer. If we 
imagine a group of children living in close companionship, 


uninfluenced by adults, we may conceive that belief in 
beings arising from any of these sources would, according 
to the pecuharities of the children and the circumstances 
of their lives, first gain ascendency. 

4. When several gods existed side by side, fusion and 
confusion of their characteristics could hardly be avoided : 
to a deified ancestor may have been ascribed the attributes 
of a creator, and to a creator the role of an ancestor ; a 
non-moral nature-divinity may have been raised above the 
natural phenomenon to which it owed its origin and be- 
come, as among the old Aryans, creator and governor of 
the world. An interaction of god-ideas of different ori- 
gin — and therefore of different nature — is one of the 
fundamental facts to be taken into account by the student 
of the origin of religion. 

It is for the anthropologist and the historian to discover 
what in any particular case has actually happened in these 
four respects, and to determine the origin or origins of any 
particular god. They will have to say, for instance, why 
Shintoism is a cult addressed exclusively to ancestral 
spirits, to family and national ancestors, while the other 
god-ideas have remained unknown to the Japanese, or 
have been suppressed under the influence of circumstances 
favorable to the worship of ancestors. It was otherwise 
with the Aryans. Their imagination was captured by 
ideas of nature-gods, sun, fire, storms, etc. The richness 
and versatility of the Greek mind provided that wonderful 
race with a pantheon composed of ancestor-gods, creator- 
gods, and nature-gods. Why these differences .-' As to 
the psychologist, he may regard his task as completed 
when he has pointed out the several possible origins of the 
god-ideas, the characteristics of each, and the nature of the 
general causes which determine the dominance of partic- 
ular gods. 


I close this chapter with an illustration of the usefulness 
of the principles I have just set forth in solving a difificult 
problem in the history of early rehgion.^ 

It is an old opinion that even the lowest savage enter- 
tains a belief in a Supreme Being, however dimly con- 
ceived and little reverenced. This view was originally 
based quite as much on the propensity of Christians to dis- 
cover at the beginning of society beliefs in agreement with 
their traditions, as on actual facts concerning these peoples. 
Although this opinion suffered temporary discredit from 
the discovery that in several instances the alleged mono- 
theistic beliefs really proceeded from the teaching of mis- 
sionaries, recent anthropological researches furnish suffi- 
cient evidence to warrant a return to this view. It seems 
now established that in every part of Australia, except 
perhaps among the Arunta, a tribe of the central regions, 
there is a belief in an All-Father, who is perhaps always 
regarded as creator. He is variously named in the differ- 
ent tribes : Baiame, Duramulum, Mungamongana, Nureli, 
etc. ; that is, our father, father of the whole people, father 
of all the tribes who observe the law, great master, and 
the like. 

In Africa there also exists, it seems, a general behef in 
a great God conceived as creator. Miss Mary Kingsley 
says that : " The god in the sense we use the word, is in es- 
sence the same in all of the Bantu tribes I have met with 
on the coast ; a non-interfering and therefore a negligible 
quantity. He varies his name ; Anzambi, . . . Nyambi, 
Ukuku, Suku, and Nzam, but a better investigation shows 
that Nzam of the Fans is practically identical with Suku 
of the Congo. . . . They regard their god as the creator of 
man, plants, animals, and the earth, and they hold that, 

1 Another illustration will be found in the chapter on the relation of the- 
ology to psychology. 


having made them, he takes no further interest in the af- 
fair. But not so the crowd of spirits with which the uni- 
verse is peopled ; they take only too much interest, and the 
Bantu wishes they would not, and is perpetually saying so 
in his prayers, a large percentage whereof amounts to : ' Go 
away, we don't want you. Come not into this house, this 
village, or its plantations ! ' " i Mgr. Le Roy reports the 
presence among the Pigmies of Equatorial Africa of a belief 
in a High God distinct from the spirits whom they wor- 
ship. He is a creator and preserver, but receives no wor- 
ship. On the rare occasions when they address him, it is 
to ask him to leave them alone.^ 

Concerning the natives of central Australia, — the most 
primitive of that continent — Spencer and Gillen write : 
" In all of the tribes there is a belief in the existence of 
aichermgia (or its equivalent), ancestors, who made the 
country and left behind numberless spirit individuals." 

From Melanesia the evidence is equally interesting. 
Codrington mentions two superhuman beings who " at any 
rate were never human . . . yet were in some ways origi- 
nators of the human race, both were female, both were 
subjects of stories, not objects of worship." A little farther 
on he expresses some surprise at the existence in the New 
Hebrides and Banks Islands of spirit-beings of two orders. 
He writes of Qat, "The place of Qat in the popular beliefs 
of the Banks Islands was so high and so conspicuous that 
when the people first became known to Europeans it was 
supposed that he was their god, the supreme creator of men 
and pigs and food. It is certain that he was beheved to 
have made things in another sense from that in which men 
could be said to make them . . . the regular course of the 

^Kingsley, Mary H., Travels in West Africa, London, Macmillan (1897), 
p. 442. See also Mrs. E. L. Parker, 77/1? Ejiahlayi Tribe, pp. 4-10. 
"^ Mgr. Le Roy, La Religion des Primiiifs, Paris, Beauchesne, 1909. 


seasons is ascribed to him, the calm months from September 
to December when the iin Palola sea-worm comes, the 
yearly blow, at the high tide in the month of wotgorc. . . . 
With all this it is impossible to take Qa^ seriously or to 
allow him divine rank. He is certainly not the lord of 
spirits."^ Let us note that these creators are not worshipped, 
although they occupy a higher station than any of the 
worshipped gods. 

Although the general existence of the belief in High 
Gods is now accepted by most anthropologists, there is no 
unanimity of opinion in regard to the origin of the belief. 
Supporters of the traditional Christian religion have tried 
to make capital out of this so-called original monotheism. 
They have referred it to a revelation.^ 

Andrew Lang, approaching the same facts in a different 
spirit, has drawn from them conclusions which contain 
certainly a valuable element of truth. He revives the dis- 
credited view of the existence, at the origin of human 
society, of a relatively noble religious belief, and of its sub- 
sequent degeneration into rites of propitiation and concili- 
ation addressed to beings greatly inferior in power and in 
worth to the original High God, and he claims that his 
theory, "rightly or wrongly, accounts for the phenomena, the 
combination of the highest divine and the lowest animal qual- 
ities in the same being. But I have yet to learn how, if the 
lowest myths are the earliest, the highest attributes came 
in time to be conferred on the hero of the lowest myth." ^ 

1 Codrington, R. IT., T/ie Melanesians^ pp. 150, 155. 

2 See Father Wilhelm Schmidt in IJorigine de Pidce de Dieu, Anthropos, 
III (1908), IV (1909). These papers are researches at second hand from a 
well-informed person who is evidently before all else a priest of the Roman 
Catholic Church and an apologist of the traditional Christian system. 

^ Lang, Andrew, The Making of Religion, 2d ed.. Preface, p. xvi. As to 
the origin of the belief in a kind of Germinal Supreme Being, he makes in the 
preface to the second edition the following suggestion : " As soon as man had 


In my opinion, the priority of the High Gods is not the 
important point in the interpretation of the facts I have 
just cited. And, further, it would not necessarily follow 
from priority that the lower beings are degraded High 
Gods. The truth of the matter as I see it is that the High 
Gods proceeded from an independent and specific source ; 
they are, or were originally, the Makers. The essential 
y elements of my theory are that man comes to the idea 
of superhuman beings along several routes, that the char- 
acteristics of these beings depend upon their origin, and 
that one — or one class — of these beings, the one arising 
from curiosity about the making of things, is necessarily a 
relatively lofty conception, awe-inspiring, and suggestive of 
power and benevolence. Gods arising from the belief in 
ghosts, or from the personification of portentous natural phe- 
nomena might have appeared first, without at all hinder- 
ing the coming into existence of a Creator-god. And, 
whenever that conception appeared, the god would have 
possessed the comparatively high and noble endowment 
naturally belonging in the mind of even the lowest savage 
to the Creator of man and things. The question of the or- 
der in which these notions found their way into the human 
mind is thus of subordinate importance. 

This theory is quite consistent with our present anthro- 
pological knowledge ; namely, that there exists among the 
most primitive people now living the notion of a Great God 
high above all others, to whom is usually assigned the func- 
tion of creator, that these same people also believe in a 

the idea of making things, he might conjecture as to a Maker of things. . . . 
He would regard that unknown Maker as a magnified non-natural man." 

What is still happening to William James on account of his Varieties of Re- 
ligions Experience happened to Andrew Lang. The authority of his name 
was claimed in support of the Christian revelation. In the preface to the second 
edition of The Making of Religion, he declares that he never intended to 
countenance the belief in an original revelation. 


crowd of spirits and ghosts, and that within the limits of 
definite historical periods " sacrifice and prayer become 
more and more numerous and more artificial in proportion 
as the idea of a Supreme Being grows dim." ^ 

The following considerations will, I hope, convince the 
reader that these facts do not necessarily support the 
corollary drawn by Lang, as well as by the defenders of an 
original revelation, that our most primitive tribes mark a 
deterioration from the earliest condition of humanity, but 
rather that the facts are consistent with a natural develop- 
ment and indicate the presence of no factor not operative 
in modern progressive societies,/^^. 

The idea of a Maker I suppose to have originally pre- 
sented itself to the race very much as it does to a five- or 
six-year-old child who is suddenly struck with the idea that 
some one must have made the world. It did not, therefore, 
involve such notions as eternity, omniscience, omnipresence, 
omnipotence. The concept of a Great Maker is, of course, 
awe-inspiring, because of the power it implies and of the 
mystery surrounding the operations of such a being. Some 
degree of interest and benevolence towards that which he 
has made is also, it seems, unavoidably associated with 
even the simplest idea of a Maker. Such a being must 
thus have been relatively exalted. 

What modifications would this idea undergo when it 
passed beyond the gifted individuals who had conceived it 
and became the property of every tribesman, however 
brutish and ignoble ? Undoubtedly there would occur the 
kind of modifications that history records in the case of 
more recent gods : they are transformed into beings more 
nearly like the worshippers themselves. But this process 
does not necessarily imply the deterioration of the people. 

^ Father Schmidt, Anthropos, III, p. 604. This statement is probably much 
too sweeping. 


The gods have been debased, but the people themselves 
have been raised to a higher level by the lofty notions they 
have corrupted. This degrading process is the natural 
unavoidable method by which the masses gradually rise 
towards the level of those who have set for them unattain- 
able ideals. Thus it is that the return to origins is fre- 
quently a progress. In the case before us, special factors 
probably made the degrading process speedier and more 
irresistible. The exalted Maker found himself, in the mind 
of the people, in company with other superhuman beings 
of much humbler extraction. Even though one should dis- 
regard the possibility of the personification of natural 
events, one must in any case reckon with the belief in 
beings suggested by visions, temporary loss of conscious- 
ness, and other similar occurrences. Since these beings are 
human doubles, they may possess all the meanness and 
cruelty of the lowest of men. Their power, though not 
definitely known, is sufficient to excite fear, but not in most 
cases great enough to inspire awe. When associated with 
the ever-present, troublesome doubles, and the many petty 
spirits conceived in the same way as ghosts, the Maker 
could hardly preserve his identity and his high attributes. 
A confusion must have taken place, and as the common is 
more easily understood and retained than the unusual, the 
lofty attributes of the High God conceived by the primitive 
philosophers became obscured, and to him were attributed 
meaner traits originally belonging to lower gods. One 
may thus admit that even in the absence of any real de- 
generation of a community the oldest conception of the 
Maker was the noblest, provided a limited and specific 
historical period is considered. When this period of ab- 
sorption and incubation is past, philosophers and seers 
again appear, who enlarge the reigning conceptions, charge 
them with higher worth, and return them to the people, 


who degrade them anew in the travail of their own 

The fact that to many has seemed unaccountable, namely, 
that the Maker and All-Father is not among early people 
an object of worship, while lower beings are prayed to 
and propitiated, seemed to me just what would be 
expected of human nature. It is true that a Maker seems 
the being best qualified to become a God, since he possesses 
the necessary power and greatness and must be, on the 
whole, benevolently inclined towards those whom he has 
created, and since man can hardly fail to feel his depend- 
ence upon a being from whom he proceeds. Under these 
circumstances, the speedy appearance of religious practices 
addressed to the High God would seem unavoidable. Why 
then is he not sooner worshipped ? Because his very great- 
ness and remoteness stand as an obstacle in the way of 
practical relations, while ordinary spirits and great ancestors, 
more familiar and closer to man than a Maker, call forth 
more readily those methods of propitiation and of worship 
constituting the lowest religious expression. 

The kind of attitude to be expected of an uncivilized man towards 
tlie Over-God is well illustrated, in at least one of its aspects, in the 
following report concerning the noble tribes of the Bight of Panavia. 
" At each new moon, the chief of a village goes out and stands in the 
open and talks to Anyambie. He does not praise Anyambie ; he does 
not request him to interfere in human affairs ; he, the chief, feels compe- 
tent to deal with them, but he does want Anyambie to attend to those 
spirits which he, the god, can control better than a man, and he always 
opens the address to the great god with a catalogue of his, the chiefs, 
virtues, saying: 'I am the father of my people; I am a just man; I 
deal well with all men, etc' ... At first hearing these catalogues of 
the chier's virtues used to strike me as comic, and I once said : ' Why 
don't you get some one else to say that for you ; praising yourself in 
that barefaced way must be very trying to you.' <0h no,' said the 
chief, ' and besides no man knows how good he is except himself,' 
which is a common West Coast proverb. But by and by — when I had 


been tlie silent spectator of several of these talks with the great God, — 
the thing struck me as really very grand. There was the great man 
standing up alone, conscious of the weight of responsibility on him of 
the lives and happiness of his people, talking calmly, proudly, respect- 
fully, to the great God who, he knew, rules the spirit world. It was 
like a great diplomat talking to another great diplomat. . . . There 
was no whining or begging in it . . . the grandeur of the thing charmed 
me." 1 This is of course neither worship nor propitiation ; Anyambie 
is apparently too high a personage to concern himself with the details 
of human life, or to care for such offerings as would please a tribal 
chief. And yet he is not great or good enough to elicit awe, admira- 
tion, and reverence. Miss Kingsley's oft-repeated question, " Is he 
good?" was always answered negatively, except by natives who had 
been under the influence of missionaries. "' No,' they say firmly, ' he 
is not what you call good ; he lets things go too much, he cares about 
himself only.' And I have heard him called 'lazy too much, bad per- 
son for business,' and a dozen things of that sort." 

Now, if Anyambie's character were loftier, the chief might not so 
readily enter into relation with him. And, further, supposing this god 
to have been originally the Creator, is it altogether improbable that as 
men began to realize the imperfections of his works, he should have 
lost prestige and rank? Anyambie's deterioration, if it occurred in this 
manner, would in no wise imply the deterioration of his people. 

In the Christian religion, the difficulty of entering into 
formal relation with the Maker is overcome, or rather 
avoided, by the introduction of intermediaries. The sup- 
plications and offerings of Roman Catholics are ad- 
dressed much more to the Virgin Mary and to the Saints 
than to God the Creator, ^ and Christ usually takes the 
place of God the Father. It is quite probable that religious 
rites first appeared in connection with the belief in spirits 
very near to man ; the closer to him, the more readily 
would he enter into practical relations with them, as he 

^ Kingsley, Mary H., The Forms of Apparitions in West Africa., Proc. of 
Soc. for Psychical Research, Vol. XIV, 1898, pp. 334-335. 

^ Hoffding quotes a Copenhagen preacher as saying in a funeral discourse, 
"God cannot help us in our great sorrow because He is so infinitely far away; 
we must therefore look to Jesus." ( The Philosophy of Religion, p. 90.) 


would with a great and powerful man. The practices of 
placing food in the graves, of making a fire near them, 
of placing hunting or fighting implements in them, not in 
the expectation of profit, but simply out of humane feeling, 
are probably prototypes of the earlier religious offerings 
and sacrifices. To this topic I shall devote a special 
chapter. Meanwhile I offer these instructive instances of 
the worship of living men. 

In the Marquesas or Washington Islands, " the god was 
a very old man who lived in a large house within an 
enclosure. In the house was a kind of altar, and on the beams 
of the house and on the trees round it were hung human 
skeletons, head down. No one entered the enclosure except 
the persons dedicated to the service of the god. . . . This 
human god received more sacrifices than all the other gods; 
often he would sit on a sort of scaffold in front of his house 
and call for two or three human victims at a time. . . . He 
was invoked all over the island, and offerings were sent 
to him from every side." 

" The kings of Egypt were deified in their lifetime, sacri- 
fices were offered to them, and their worship was celebrated 
in special temples and by special priests. Indeed, the wor- 
ship of the kings sometimes cast that of the gods into the 
shade. . . . He claimed authority not only over Egypt, 
but over * all lands and nations.' " ^ 

The Maker, though not worshipped and propitiated so 
early as the lower gods, nevertheless exercises from the first 
an influence at times profound and often the most ennobling 
known to the primitive mind. In this connection one 
should remember Hewitt's statement concerning the All- 
Father of the South-Eastern Australians. He is, we are 
told, " imagined as the ideal of those qualities which are, 
according to their standard, virtues worthy of being imitated, 
iprazer, J. G., The Golden Bough, 3d ed., pp. 387, 418. 


" Such would be a man who is skilful in the use of weapons 
of offence and defence, all powerful in magic, but generous 
and liberal to his people, who does no injury or violence to 
any one, yet treats with severity any breaches of custom 
or morality." ^ The reader will remember that religion as 
defined in a preceding chapter includes, under the name 
Passive Religiosity, affective relations of this sort. 

Howitt, Hartland, and others have been unwilling to take the High 
Gods as Creators in the true sense of the word. They have held them 
to be primarily ancestors and, in particular, great chiefs deified. They 
have had no difficulty in showing that the All-Father of the Australians 
is often spoken of as chief of the other world. G. M'Call Theal says 
that the more reliable traditions mention Umkulunkulu, the Great Great 
One of the South African natives, as the most powerful of their ancient 
chiefs, and therefore he is unwilling to describe him as a Creator. Be 
this as it may with regard to Umkulunkulu, it remains established that 
the High God is usually spoken of as a Creator. To say, as Hartland 
does, that the concept of creation as we understand it is a notion foreign 
to the savage is beside the point, and, moreover, it is true only if "we" 
means the highly cultured few. The savage thinks of a Maker as 
children and even many civilized adults do. What is more likely than 
that this Maker of man and things should come to be spoken of as 
Great Chief, Ruler of the Sky Country, or First Ancestor? 

y^ The appHcation of the term " monotheism " to the be- 

lief in the High God of the uncivilized is to be deprecated ; 
for monotheism, in the current acceptance of the term, 
means more than a belief in a Maker ; it means also that 
there exists no other god but him. This is obviously not 
implied in the conception of the High God. The Maker 
is the highest god, but there exists side by side with him 
other powerful gods. One should not expect the relation 
of the Maker to the other gods to be clearly and consistently 
defined. After all, the monotheism of our uneducated 

^ Howitt, A. W., The Native Tribes of Souih-East Australia^ London, 
Macmillan (1904), pp. 506-507. 


Christian population is of a similar sort. Pure monotheism 
belongs to the few ; the masses are rather henotheists.^ 

Summary. — The observation of a variety of phenom- 
ena suggests to the primitive mind the existence of unseen 
agents of different sorts: (i) dreams, trances, and allied 
phenomena generate the beUef in ghosts and spirits of 
human form and attributes; (2) the personification of 
natural objects leads to the belief in nature-beings con- 
ceived frequently as animals; (3) the problem of creation 
gives rise to the belief in a Maker or Makers in the form 
of man. 

These beliefs are neither manifestations of a diseased 
mind nor the outcome of a revelation ; they arise from 
perfectly normal mental processes. There are few men 
living to-day, barring the mentally defective, who, if de- 
prived of the inheritance of civilization, would not people 
an unseen world with these unreal creatures. 

But ghosts, spirits, and makers are not in themselves 
gods. Only a few of them possess from the first or acquire 
later on the attributes necessary to the estabhshment of 
the system of relations called religion, and are thus trans 
formed into gods. This transformation will be the subject 
of the next chapter. 

1 For discussions regarding High Gods, see the following : Andrew Lang, 
The Making of Religion, 1898, new ed., 1 900; E. Sydney Hartland, The 
High Gods of Australia, Folk-lore, 1898, Vol. IX, pp. 290-319 (a critical re- 
view of "The Making of Religion"); Lang, Anslralian Gods, Folk-lore, 
1899, Vol. X, pp. 1-46 (a reply to Ilartlanil) ; Hartland, Australian Gods : 
a Rejoinder, it>id.,-p^. ^6-^'] ; Hartland, The Native Tribes of South- East Aus- 
tralia, by A. fV. Hewitt, Folk-lore, Vol. XVI, 1905, pp. 101-109 ; Lang, All- 
Fathers in Australia, ibid., pp. 222-224 > A- ^- Howitt, The Native Tribes 
of South- East Australia, Folk-lore, Vol. XVII, 1906, pp. 174-189; Father 
Schmidt, Anthropos, III, pp. 819-833 ; A. Van Gennep, Mythes et Legendes 
d'Australie, Paris, 1905. 



The mere knowledge that the world is peopled with 
invisible beings does not of itself lead to the establishment 
of a religion. It is only when the unseen beings become 
important factors in the struggle for life that they acquire 
the significance of real gods. As a matter of fact, how- 
ever, a " mere knowledge " of unseen agents completely 
unrelated to the daily life is a fiction. Creators, nature- 
beings, spirits, and ghosts are all connected in some degree 
with the practical life of the tribe. This is inevitable, be- 
cause these beings owe their very existence in the mind of 
man to fundamental human needs. If, for instance, strik- 
ing cases of fertility gave rise to the idea of nature-beings, 
their leading attribute would be the power to render fertile. 
If a belief in spirits arose from the observation of dreams 
and trances, these spirits would possess the kinds of power 
that belong to man. 

But some of these beings lose their significance after a 
time, while others enter more and more into the life of the 
community ; they become objects of special attention and 
thus centres of observances and practices, i.e. they become 
gods. The reason for this growth on the part of certain 
of the unseen beings is obvious. How could man, consti- 
tuted as he is, believe in the existence of powerful beings 
and not try to conciliate them when he thought them 
dangerous, or to seek favors from them when he thought 
them benevolent.!* The general fact of man's entering into 



relations with certain hyperhuman agents needs no other 
explanation than is afforded by the lust for life. But the 
many problems regarding the particular attributes as- 
cribed to certain gods require detailed historical and anthro- 
pological knowledge. As I am only a psychologist, I 
shall have to content myself with the following remarks 
about circumstances and conditions under which certain 
attributes are conferred upon unseen beings. 

It would evidently be advantageous to man if he could 
think of the unseen beings as possessing every power of 
which he stands in need. Now it happens that one of the 
most useful propensities of man is to ascribe to unseen 
beings, without strict regard to their original nature, the 
ability to supply all the wants of the tribe and the indi- 
vidual. Therefore, the powers with which the gods are 
invested are as many and as varied as human needs. It is 
truly a remarkable habit, — that of imagining in other 
beings coveted powers and virtues, and of turning these 
powers, by supplications and offerings, to one's own bene- 
fit, or of enriching oneself with these virtues by means of 
sympathetic communion. This method characterizes not 
only the relations of men with gods, but also those of men 
with men. We see in others the perfections which we 
lack : the numberless little human gods and goddesses who 
keep the flame of love and hope burning in the hearts of 
their votaries perform services similar to those of the 
heavenly gods. 

One would not expect a tribe to develop a cult touching 
that which is unimportant to its members, or that which is 
easily available in a more direct way. The things essential 
to life and at the same time hardest to secure are those 
with which the gods will be mainly connected in the mind 
of man. If a community depends for its subsistence upon 
the sea, its gods will be endowed with the powers necessary 


to make fishing safe and productive ; if it subsists upon 
grains and fruits, its religious and its magical dealings will 
be chiefly with gods of vegetation. In dry regions, where 
happiness and often life depend upon the fall of rain, the 
whole ritual centres about the production of rain, and the 
rain-maker takes precedence even of the chief. Therefore 
the early gods will not only be parts of the social order, 
but they will be related to economic factors of the first 

When the conception of a universe governed by physical 
laws has become established, the gods lose their impor- 
tance as controllers of natural events, but they gain new 
functions which qualify them to continue in the service of 
man. They become comforters in time of sorrow, lovers 
of justice and mercy, gods of righteousness ; i.e. they are con- 
cerned chiefly with ethical and emotional struggles. The 
God of the advanced Christian nations, for instance, no 
longer a god of fertility, although still to a certain degree 
a god of battle, is essentially a god of the conscience and 
the heart. 

The qualifications which a being must possess in order 
to be available as a god are the following : — 

1. He must be a psychic, a spiritual agent. — By these 
terms I mean simply the quality which the savage attrib- 
utes to agents that are influenced by volition, thought, 
and feeling, as distinguished from those that are not. 
This rough differentiation expresses sufficiently well the 
essential difference, as understood both by primitive and by 
civiHzed man, between what is called the material and the 
spiritual world. 

2. As X.0 personality, I shall say here merely that from 
the beginning up to the present time the gods of all the 
historical religions have been personal beings, imagined 


under the form of men, or of animals, or, in the higher 
religions, independent of form. When inanimate objects 
such as the sun have been spoken of as gods, it is because 
they were regarded as symbols, or as inhabited by a god, 
or possibly because they were classed vaguely with animals. 

It may have to be granted that there are now religions 
in process of formation free from the belief in a personal 
god. The trend of religious life in civilized countries is 
not only away from anthropomorphism, but even away 
from a definitely personal god. This matter I shall take 
up in a chapter on the future of religion. 

I do not think it necessary at this point to define the term 
"personal " any further than by saying that it involves what 
is implicitly contained in the idea of man as it exists in the 
mind of the savage, — the idea of an acting, feeling, and 
thinking agent. 

3. The personal Power must be hyperJiuniati, i.e. he 
must transcend in some direction ordinary human ca- 
pabilities ; otherwise he could not gain the ascendency 
which invariably belongs to the god-ideas. He need not 
be superhuman, in the sense of belonging to another than 
the human or animal order. It is well known that most of 
the earliest gods were held to belong to the race of men. 
But human relationship is a limitation that the gods of 
the higher religions have transcended. Neither need the 
personal Power be omnipotent, omnipresent, nor omniscient. 
It is only among highly developed races that these qualities 
become attributes of the one and only God. A god is 
sufficiently endowed when he possesses the powers neces- 
sary to fulfil the expectations of his worshippers. Even 
the high God, to whom is addressed the prayer, "Thy 
kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, 
give us this day our daily bread," need not be conceived 
as omnipotent and infinite. 


4. The JiyperJmman power imist be a part of the essence 
of the god, not merely an external possession separable 
from him in definite quantities, either by the exertion of his 
own will, or by magical ceremonies performed by other 
beings in order to coerce him into manifesting this power. 

One finds that the wild man very early speaks of and 
deals with certain beings as if their wonderful power were 
separable from themselves, while with regard to others he 
behaves and speaks as if the power were of their very sub- 
stance. Ghosts are often worshipped because of the wonder- 
ful non-personal Force at their disposal. Among the Melane- 
sians, for instance, " The ghost who is to be worshipped is 
the spirit of a man who in his lifetime had mana in him ; 
the souls of common men are the common herd of ghosts, 
nobodies, alike before and after death." " On the death 
of a distinguished man, his ghost retains the power that 
belonged to him in life, in greater activity and with greater 
force ; his ghost therefore is powerful and worshipful, and 
so long as he is remembered the aid of his powers is 
sought, and worship is offered to him ; he is the tindalo of 
Florida, the Ho' a of Saa." ^ Now between beings that are 
worshipped or coerced because of an impersonal, detach- 
able power in their possession, and beings whose very nature 
transcends that of man, and enables them to perform 
wonderful deeds, there is a dissimilarity too important to 
be disregarded. The objects or persons in which is incor- 
porated a nonpersonal Potency become, it is true, mysterious 
and sacred, and therefore special objects of attention ; but, 
nevertheless, the attitude and the feeling of the worshipper 
cannot be identical in the two cases. 

It appears to me advisable to reserve the use of the term 
"god" for unseen beings who are superhumanly powerful 

^ Codrington, R. H., The Melanesians, their Anthropology and Folk-Lore, 
Clarendon Press, 1891, pp. 125, 253-254. 


in their very nature. The significance of this distinction 
will appear more clearly as we examine, a few pages below, 
the facts upon which rests the opinion of some anthropolo- 
gists that certain gods arose from the deification of magicians. 

5. Another requisite of a god is invisibility. — The reason 
for this requirement has been stated. A god, however, 
may appear occasionally without jeopardizing his divine 
character. But gods manifest themselves in their own shape 
only in the lower religions. In the higher religions, when 
they wish to come to earth, they assume temporarily a 
human or an animal shape. The higher the god, the less 
frequent are his appearances. 

The worship of animals would furnish a contradiction of 
the preceding statement if these animals could ever be re- 
garded as gods in the full sense of the term. I find no 
data to prove that they are so regarded. Animals, hke 
men, may be receptacles of non-personal power which they 
may be induced to use in behalf of worshippers. Again, 
like men, they may be the forms in which spirits or gods 
incarnate themselves. In these two ways — as receptacles 
of magical power and as incarnations of powerful spirits — 
animals play a very considerable role in the life of peoples 
of primitive culture. Any animal, it seems, may, because 
of its association with something striking or important, 
assume one or the other of these roles. They are more 
commonly ascribed, however, to animals that attract atten- 
tion by peculiarities of shape, color, or behavior. " Living 
sacred objects in the Solomon Islands are chiefly sharks, 
alligators, snakes, bonitos, and frigate-birds. Snakes which 
haunt a sacred place are themselves sacred, as belonging to 
or serving as an embodiment of the ghost ; there was one in 
Savo, to look upon which caused death. In San Cristo- 
val there is a special reverence for snakes as representatives 
of the spirit-snake KaJiausibware. Sharks are in all these 


islands very often thought to be the abode of ghosts, as 
men will before their death announce that they will appear 
as sharks, and afterward any shark remarkable for size or 
color which is observed to haunt a certain shore or rock is 
taken to be some one's ghost, and the name of the deceased 
is given to it." "The sacred character of the frigate-bird 
is certain ; the figure of it, however conventional, is the 
most common ornament employed in the Solomon Islands, 
and it is even cut upon the hands of the Bugoto people." ^ 
Although animals can. be looked upon as magic-gods and 
gods-incarnate, they can hardly figure as magicians ; for 
the sounds and movements they make can rarely be re- 
garded in the same light as the magical practices of the 
medicine-man or the rain-maker. It is still more difificult 
to conceive of them as gods, in the full meaning I have 
given to that term. 

6. TJie personal Poiver tmist be accessible (not through 
coercitive measures, but through anthropopathic action) ; 
otherwise he could never be the object of a cult. He would 
at most be " a regulative idea " in the manner of the " ab- 
solute " in idealistic philosophy, or of the god of Deism. 

7. Benevolence tozvard men must enter into his com- 
position. — As this point will be taken up again when we 
deal with the original religious emotions, I need say no 
more about it here. 

Mystcriousness, azvfulness, and frequently sacredness 
have been thought to be the differentiating characteristics 
of the gods. A being who is usually invisible, who wields 
great power for good or evil, and whose behavior is not 
predictable is evidently a mysterious and awful being ; 
mystcriousness and awfulness, therefore, always belong to 

^ Codrington, R. H., op. cit., pp. 178-179, 180. Comp. Irving King, The 
Development of Religion, pp. 230-234. 


gods, and man's relations with gods will be more or less 
deeply colored by awe. But in awe there is nothing dis- 
tinctive of religious life, for this emotional experience occurs 
outside of religion as well. Any spectacle suggestive of 
great power and at the same time of danger may inspire awe. 
Moreover, mysteriousness and awfulness are not coordinate 
with the preceding list of characteristics ; for awfulness and 
mysteriousness are derived from power, invisibility, etc. 

It has also been urged that whatever is sacred is reli- 
gious and whatever is religious is sacred ; moreover, that 
the presence of this quality constitutes a chasm between 
the religious and the non-religious. I have already had 
occasion to argue that this view is tenable only when the 
sense of the term " religion " is so extended as to lose its 
historical meaning and to become coextensive with what- 
ever is of great importance to man. The word " sacredness " 
points not to a simple emotion, but to a highly complex 
affective experience, of which awe and reverence are dom- 
inant components. This emotional state is undoubtedly 
experienced outside of religious life. It belongs, for in- 
stance, to the mysterious Mana of the Melanesians, as well 
as to gods. Now Mana itself is sacred because of the 
good and evil things it can do ; so that sacredness has its 
origin in the values which life places upon food, fertility, 
sickness, birth, death, etc. Certain objects and places are 
sacred because Mana is to be found in them, or because 
powerful ghosts inhabit them. And ghosts are sacred for 
the very reason that a non-personal Power is sacred, — 
they have dominion over sunshine and rain, plenty and 
famine, birth and death.^ 

^ Sacred objects or places are those possessing Afana or serving as dwelling- 
places of ghosts of power. "These places are sometimes in the village, in 
which case they are fenced round lest they should he rashly tread upon, 
sometimes in the garden ground, sometimes in the bush. A vunuha is sacred 


Men, magicians, and gods. — In The Golden Bough} 
J. G. Frazer, after giving many illustrations of magicians 
that developed into chiefs and kings, shows that certain 
kings and magicians have been deified. From this ad- 
mirable store of information, I draw the following pas- 
sages : — 

" Now in central Australia, where the desert nature of the country 
and the almost complete isolation from foreign influences have retarded 
progress and preserved the natives on the whole in their most primitive 
state, the headmen of the various totem clans are charged with the im- 
portant task of performing magical ceremonies for the multiplication of 
the totems, and as the great majority of the totems are edible animals 
or plants, it follows that these men are commonly expected to provide 
the people with food by means of magic. Others have to make the 
rain to fall or to render other services to the community. In short, 
among the tribes of Central Australia the headmen are public magicians. 
Further, their most important function is to take charge of the sacred 
storehouse, usually a cleft in the rocks or a hole in the ground, where 
are kept the holy stones and sticks {churingd) with which the souls of 
all the people, both living and dead, are apparently supposed to be in 
a manner bound up. Thus while the headmen have certainly to per^ 
form what we should call civil duties, such as to inflict punishment for 
breaches of tribal custom, their principal functions are sacred or mag- 
ical." Similarly, in southeastern Australia, "In the Yerkla-mining 
tribe," for instance, " the medicine-men are the headmen ; they are 
called Afobicng-bai, from mobutig, ' magic' They decide disputes, ar- 
range marriages, conduct the ceremonies of initiation, and in certain 

to a tindalo, ghost of power, and sacrifices are offered to the tindalo in it. In 
some cases the vumiha is the burial-place of the man who has become a 
tindalo, in others his relics have been transplanted there ; in some places 
there is a shrine, and in some an image. There are generally, if not always, 
stones in such a sacred place ; some stone lying naturally there has struck 
the fancy of the man who began the cultus of the tindalo ; he thinks that it 
is a likely place for a ghost to haunt, and other smaller stones and shells 
called peopeo are added. When a vunuha has been established, everything 
within it is sacred, tambu, and belongs to the tindalo^ (Codrington, op. cit., 
pp. 175-176-) 

1 Frazer, J. G., The Golden Bough, 3d ed., Vol. I, pp. 335, 336, 338, 341, 

342. 345. 350, 353. 375. 387. 392. 


circumstances settle the formalities to be observed in ordeals of battle. 
* In fact, they wield authority in the tribe, and give orders where others 
only make requests.' " In New Guinea and in Melanesia the magician 
occupies a similar position. " According to a native Melanesian ac- 
count, the origin of the power of chiefs lies entirely in the belief that 
they have communication with mighty ghosts (Jindalo), and wield that 
supernatural power {/nana) whereby they can bring the influence of the 
ghosts to bear." "The real gods at Tana may be said to be the disease- 
makers. It is surprising how these men are dreaded, and how firm the 
belief is that they have in their hands the power of life and death." 
These sorcerers are thought by Dr. Turner, from whom Frazer draws 
the last quotation, to be on the highroad to divinity. 

In Africa " the evidence for the evolution of the chief out of the ma- 
gician, and especially out of the rain-maker, is comjjaratively plentiful." 
'• Tradition always places the power of making rain as the fundamental 
glory of ancient chiefs and heroes, and it seems probable that it may 
have been the origin of chieftainship." P. KoUman states that the 
people of the neighborhood of Victoria Nyanza " hold that rulers must 
have power over Nature and her phenomena." The Malays firmly be- 
lieve to this day that their king possesses such a power. In Upper 
Egypt also "most of the chiefs . . . are rain-makers, and enjoy a popu- 
larity in proportion to tlieir powers to give rain to their people at the 
proper season." The belief in the magical power of kings has lasted 
until modern times. Queen Elizabeth often exercised the miraculous 
gift of healing scrofula by touch. 

Now it is a common saying that the savage does not draw a sharp 
distinction between a "■ god " and a powerful sorcerer. " His gods, as 
we have seen, are often merely invisible magicians who behind the veil 
of nature work the same sort of charms and incantations which the 
human magician works in a visible and bodily form among his fellows. 
And as the gods are commonly believed to exhibit themselves to their 
worshippers in the likeness of men, it is easy for the magician, with his 
supposed miraculous powers, to acquire the reputation of being an incar- 
nate deity. Thus, beginning as little more than a simple conjurer, the 
medicine-man or magician tends to blossom out into a full-blown god 
and king in one." And history provides us with quite a number of 
instances of human beings which have been treated as gods. In the 
Marquesas or Washington Islands there was a class of men deified in 
their life-time. " A missionary has described one of these human gods 
from personal observation. The god was a very old man who lived in 
a large house within an enclosure. In the house was a kind of altar, 


and on the beams of the house and on the trees round it were hunsT 
human skeletons, head down. No one entered the enclosure except 
the persons dedicated to the service of the god ; only on days when 
human victims were sacrificed might ordinary people penetrate into the 
precinct. This human god received more sacrifices than all the other 
gods ; often he would sit ou a sort of scaffold in front of his house and call 
for two or three human victims at a time. They were always brought, 
for the terror he inspired was extreme. He was invoked all over the 
island, and offerings were sent to him from every side. Again, of the 
South Sea Islands in general, we are told that each island had a man 
who represented or personified the divinity. Such men were called 
gods, and their substance was confounded with that of the deity. The 
man-god was sometimes the king himself; oftener he was a priest or 
subordinate chief." Similar men-gods are found in semicivilized com- 
munities ; they were common in ancient Egypt, for instance, and are 
found even to-day in India, especially among the Buddhist Tartars. 

These facts point to the following distinctions and com- 
ments. Certain of the so-called human gods are regarded 
as incarnations of powerful spirits. If the spirits are true 
divinities, their incarnations may properly be spoken of as 
gods-incarnate.^ But the majority of men-gods are merely 
men who own a large portion of the non-personal power. 
They are like the famous English ruler of the Dyaks of 
Sarawak — Rajah Brooke — endowed with magical virtue. 
" Hence, when he visited the tribe, they used to bring him 
the seed that they intended to sow next year, and he fer- 
tilized it by shaking over it the women's necklaces which 
had been previously dipped in a special mixture. And 

1 Frazer makes this distinction, and no other : " As a result of the foregoing 
discussion, the two types of human gods may conveniently be distinguished 
as the religious and the magical man-gods respectively. In the former, a 
being of an order different from and superior to man is supposed to become 
incarnate, for a longer or shorter time, in a human body, manifesting his 
superior power and knowledge by miracles wrought and prophecies uttered 
through the medium of a fleshly tabernacle in which he has deigned to take 
up his abode. This may also appropriately be called the inspired or incarnate 
type of man-god." ( The Golden Bough, 3d ed.. Vol. I, p. 244.) 


when he entered a village, the women would wash and 
bathe his feet first with water, and then with the milk of a 
young cocoanut, and lastly with water again, and all this 
water which had touched his person they preserved for 
the purpose of distributing it on their farms, believing that 
it insured an abundant harvest. Tribes which were too 
far off for him to visit used to send him a small piece of 
white cloth and a Httle gold and silver, and when these 
things had been impregnated by his generative virtue, they 
buried them in their fields, and confidently expected a 
heavy crop." ^ Such men, even though they receive adora- 
tion and sacrifice, are magicians rather than true gods. 
For it is to the man and not to the mysterious Power that 
the prayers and offerings are made. The non-personal 
Power itself cannot be reached by anthropopathic methods, 
although the man who controls this Power is accessible by 
this means ; therefore the man is given homage and gifts 
in the expectation that he will use it in behalf of the 

Between the ordinary magician and the man-god there 
is an important point of difference. The former does not 
possess the Power in his own right, but must abstract it 
from the air or from particular objects; whereas the man- 
god is himself a reservoir of Mana, and can supply it 
whenever he chooses. 

There are thus four classes of wonderful beings known 
to the savage : — 

{a) The man who knows ways by which a mysterious 
Potency outside himself can be directed to certain definite 
purposes. He is a simple magician. 

{b) The man who himself possesses the magical power, 
and therefore needs no magical art to obtain it. But the 
power is in him ; it is not a part of his very nature. He 

1 The Golden Bough, 3d ed., Vol. I, p. 361. 


may be called a magic-god, and may be regarded as a con- 
necting link between magicians and true gods. 

{c) The man in whom a god has taken up his abode. 
Let him be named god-incamate. 

(d) The being in whom the dualism of person and power 
is transcended. His wonderful deeds do not proceed from 
his use of a magical force, distinct from his essence ; they 
are the expression of his very nature. He is a true god. 

It goes without saying that the savage does not possess 
clear ideas of these four classes of beings, and that he may 
deal with the same man at one time as if he were a simple 
magician, and at another time as if he possessed Mana 
in his own right. The magic-god may descend to the 
level of a mere magician and perform magical ceremonies 
or be the object of magical coercion on the part of 
others. Much confusion of this kind naturally exists. But 
I believe that soon the savage comes to " feel " more or less 
vaguely these differences, and that his behavior is in some 
degree affected by them. 

Is it possible for a magic-god to become a true god while 
yet alive } I know of no facts that would compel an 
affirmative answer. In a living being, personal defects 
and limitations are, I suppose, too obvious to allow real 
deification. A man, even if physically and morally im- 
perfect, might be master of wonderful forces, but could 
hardly be regarded as a god. His physical form, his petty 
physical needs, his behavior, work against his deification : 
he is too evidently a man. And so he is accepted simply 
as what I have called a magician or a magic-god. After 
his death, however, when he is disencumbered of the in- 
firmities of the flesh, he may perhaps assume in the minds 
of those who knew him the magnitude of a god.^ 

^ Is one justified in saying that Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, from a simple 
magician, healing body and soul by a power "not herself," which she knew 


The predominance of the social form of consciousness 
at the beginning of civilization must give a peculiar cast to 
the relation of the individual with gods. To primitive man, 
life is not so commonly and clearly as it is to the man of 
modern civilized society a struggle to realize himself ; it ap- 
pears to him more frequently as the struggle of the social 
group to which he belongs. 

And, in so far as the gods hold a blood relationship to 
the social group, the primitive religious relations may take 
on an intimate cha^-acter, something similar, — though on a 
lower plane, — to the consciousness of the Christian mystic 
who feels himself to be a part of the divine substance. 
But the expression of communion or union with gods is a 
small part of the religious behavior of the savage. Ordi- 
narily the god stands over against the tribe, and so relations 
with him maybe called "external," in opposition to the 
inner relations of the mystical type. The overemphasis of 
the mystical mood, to which many are prone when describ- 
ing religious consciousness, is the outcome of a natural ten- 
dency to exalt that which appears rare and exquisite in 
human nature. It is as if one mistook the Jwrs-d' oeiivre of 
the meal for the substance. I hold that in the absence of 
the mystical form of consciousness religion might still ex- 
ist and find embodiment in most of the religious institu- 
tions with which we are familiar. 

The conception of the source of psychic energy, without 
belief in which no religion can exist, has undergone very 
interesting transformations in the course of historical devel- 
opment. The human or animal form ascribed to the gods 
in the earher religions became less and less definite, and at 

how to coerce, developed into a magic goddess? That such may be the 
destiny of the founder of Christian Science seems almost possible in the light 
of the history of religious sects. 


the same time the number of gods decreased. The culmi- 
nation of this double process was Monotheism, in which the 
One, Eternal Creator, and Sustainer of life had no longer 
necessarily the shape of man or beast : though still anthro- 
popathic, he might be formless. Love and righteousness 
were his chief attributes. In a second phase, this formless 
but personal God was gradually shorn of all the quahties 
which make for individuality. He became the passionless 
Absolute in which all things move and have their being. 
Thus the personifying work of centuries is undone, and 
humanity, after having, as it were, lived throughout its in- 
fancy and youth under the controlling eye and the active 
guidance of personal divinities, finds itself, on reaching 
maturity, bereft of these sources of life. The present re- 
ligious crisis marks the difficulty in the way of an adap- 
tation to the new situation. As belief in a personal God 
seems no longer possible, man seeks an impersonal, effi- 
cient substitute, belief in which will not mean disloyalty to 
science. For man will have life, and have it abundantly, 
and he has learned from experience that its sources are not 
only in meat and drink, but also in " spiritual faith." It is 
this problem which the Comtists, the Immanentists, the 
^ Ethical Culturists, the Mental Scientists, are trying to solve. 
Any solution that provides for the preservation and per- 
fection of Hfe by means of faith in a hyperhuman, psychic 
power will have the right to the name religion. 



I, The Emotions in Primitive Religion 

It is held by many that religion had its origin in the 
emotional life, in "loving reverence," or in fear, or in awe; 
and many, as we have seen, make some particular emotion 
the distinguishing mark of rehgion. Since religion is a 
part of the struggle for the preservation and perfection of 
life, it involves from the very beginning emotional states. 
But to speak of religion as originating in emotions is to 
proceed upon a conception of religion which, at this stage 
of our study, I hope will seem utterly inacceptable. If 
any sentiment or emotion, such as reverence or fear or 
awe, is found at the dawn of religion, it exists as part of a 
response, in a particular situation, to a sense of the pres- 
ence of an invisible Being, upon whom one depends and 
with whom one desires to hold satisfactory relations. The 
emotion belongs to an experience involving the whole 
man ; that is, man as a feeling, thinking, willing being. 

The question that I desire to raise in the first part of 
this chapter, then, is not " In what emotion does religion 
originate .'' " but " What is the dominant emotion at the 
beginning of religious life ? " Let us first consider the 

1 In this chapter I have used freely, and often verbally, a paper on Fear, 
Awe, and Ihe Sublime in Religion, published in the Amer. Jr. of Religious 
Psychology and Education, Vol. II, pp. 1-23, and also a brief chapter of niy 
booklet on the Psychological Origin and the Nature of Religion. 



question a priori, on the basis of what we have learned 
regarding the nature of religion. What are the emotions 
which even the most primitive savage is likely to experi- 
ence as he feels the invisible presence of his great tribal 
ancestors, of mighty nature-beings, of creators? Fear 
them he most certainly does. If he believes himself able 
by magic to coerce any of them, his attitude towards that 
one is self-assertion, self-reliance, and pride, perhaps even 
arrogance, mitigated no doubt by a lurking fear that his 
magic may fail. But such a relation to a spirit or god does 
not constitute religion ; it is, as we know, magic. If, on 
the other hand, he finds himself in a personal, anthropo- 
pathic relation with one of these unseen beings, and, realiz- 
ing his need, seeks to win the god's favor with presents, 
or by bowing before him in an attitude of fear, respect, and 
hope, we have an altogether different emotional attitude. 
The man is no longer self-assertive and proud. A sense of 
subjection is present, together with fear, either as pure fear 
or as that higher emotion derived from fear and curiosity, 
— awe. There may be, in addition, something belonging 
to the opposite end of the emotional gamut, — something 
approaching the tender emotion. 

If this should appear to some to endow primitive man 
with feelings beyond him, I would answer that we owe to 
our animal ancestry not only the instincts and emotions of 
fear, of self-assertiveness and its opposite, but also those 
simpler forms of the tender emotion which appear in the 
parental relations of the higher animals and in the attach- 
ment of certain of our domestic animals to their masters. 
Why then should one be unwilling to attribute to the most 
primitive savage a degree of tender regard for his Great 
Ancestor or for his Creator.? I do not imagine the first 
group of human beings to have been necessarily either 
bloodthirsty brutes, incapable of anything but violence and 


cruelty, or abject, timorous creatures, familiar only with 
fear. The lowest men we know do not at all answer to 
either description. There is among them — and I shall 
have occasion to say more on this point — kindness, mutual 
consideration, and even real affection. This is what one 
would expect of primitive man, if he should have inherited 
the best in his animal ancestry. 

Shall we add gratitude to the list of original religious 
emotions ? Young children have the reputation of being 
thankless, and savages show the same trait. Gratitude 
is not a simple primary emotion as are fear, self-assertion, 
self-subjection, and the tender emotion. Nevertheless, 
I do not see why some degree of gratitude should not, 
even at the beginning, mix with the other emotions. If 
some of the gods are regarded as benevolent, then one has 
a right to expect expressions of gratitude towards them 
when they have fulfilled the desires of their dependents. 

The oldest and probably most widely accepted opinion 
is that fear led to religion. Hume's conclusion that "the 
first ideas of rehgion arose . . . from a concern with re- 
gard to the events of Ufe and fears which actuate the 
human mind " is maintained by most of our contempora- 
ries. Among psychologists, Ribot, for instance, affirms 
that " the religious sentiment is composed . . . first of all 
of the emotion of fear in its different degrees, from pro- 
found terror to vague uneasiness, due to faith in an un- 
known, mysterious, impalpable Power." -^ 

The sway of fear at the dawn of human existence is a 
well-established fact. It is probable that evil spirits were 
the first to receive particular attention. " Among the 
Bongos of central Africa good spirits are quite unrecog- 
nized, and, according to the general negro idea, no bene- 

^ Ribot, Th., The Psychology of the Emotions^ p. 309. 


fit can ever come from a spirit." ^ In other tribes good 
spirits are known, but the savage always "pays more at- 
tention to deprecating the wrath of the evil than securing 
the favor of the good beings." The tendency is to let 
alone the good spirits, because they will do us good of 

But though fear is the most conspicuous emotion of 
primitive religious life, it is not the only one present, and 
there is no quality in fear that fits it to be the so-called 
original reHgious emotion.^ The making of religion re- 
quires nothing found in fear that is not present also in the 
other emotions. If tender emotions are not prominent at 
the dawn of religion, it is only because fear is the first of 
the well-organized emotional reactions, and biologically at 
first the most valuable. It antedates the human species and 
to-day appears first in the infant as well as in the young ani- 
mal. In early human existence it was kept in the fore- 
ground by the circumstances of existence. It is true, how- 
ever, that before the protective fear reaction could be 
established, the lust of life had begun to express itself in 
aggressive habits ; for instance, the habit of securing food. 
But these desires did not, as early as in the case of fear, 

^ Avebury, Lord (Sir John Lubbock), The Origin of Civilization., 5th ed., 
1892, p. 225. 

^ R. R. Marett, in an essay entitled Pre-Aniviistic Religion, gives expres- 
sion to an interesting view of the original religious emotion. " Before, or at 
any rate apart from, Animism, was any man subject to any experience, whether 
in the form of feeling, or of thought, or of both combined, that might be 
termed specifically ' religious ' ? " His answer is affirmative ; the emotion 
arising in the presence of the mysterious — awe — is the original religious 
emotion. "Of all English words Awe is, I think, the one that expresses the 
fundamental religious feeling most nearly. Awe is not the same thing as 
'pure funk.' 'Primus in orbe deos fecit timor' is only true if we admit 
Wonder, Admiration, Interest, Respect, even Love, perhaps, to be no less than 
Fear, essential constituents of this elemental mood." {The Threshold of Ee- 
ligion, Methuen and Co., 1909, pp. 8, 13.) 


give rise to any emotional reaction as constant, definite, 
and poignant as fear. The place of fear in primitive 
religion is, then, due not to its intrinsic qualities, but simply 
to the circumstances which made it appear first as a well- 
organized emotion, vitally connected with the maintenance 
of life. It is for exactly the same reason that the domi- 
nant emotion in the relations of uncivilized men and of 
animals with strangers is usually fear. 

I wish to add, however, that there does not seem to me 
anything preposterous in the supposition that groups of 
primitive men found themselves in circumstances so favor- 
able to peace and safety that fear did not occupy the fore- 
most place. Neither wild men nor wild animals need have 
found themselves so situated as to be in a constant state of 
fright. If the African antelope runs for its life twice a 
day, on an average, as Sir Galton supposes, the wild horse 
on the South American plains, before the hunter appeared 
in his pastures, ran chiefly for pleasure. Travellers bear 
testimony to the absence of fear in birds and animals 
inhabiting certain regions. But, it may be asked, would 
religion have come into existence under these peaceful 
conditions .-' A life of ease, comfort, and security is not 
conducive to the establishment of practical relations with 
gods. Why should happy, self-sufficient men look to un- 
seen, mysterious beings for assistance .'' History teaches us 
that in times of prosperity men forget their gods. Under 
such circumstances the unmixed type of fear-religion would 
never have come into existence. Religion would have ap- 
peared late and, from the first, in a nobler form. It would 
have been characterized by a feeling of dependence upon 
Creators and All-Fathers regarded as benevolent gods, and 
would have elicited primarily awe and reverence. 

W. Robertson Smith denies that the attempt to appease 
evil beings is the foundation of religion. " From the earli- 


est times religion, as distinct from magic or sorcery, ad- 
dresses itself to kindred and friendly beings, who may 
indeed be angry with their people for a time, but are 
always placable except to the enemies of their worshippers 
or to renegade members of the community. It is not with 
a vague fear of unknown powers, but with a loving rever- 
ence for known gods who are knit to their worshippers by 
strong bonds of kinship, that religion, in the only sense of 
the word, begins." ^ In this passage Robertson Smith 
does not deny that certain practices intended to avert the 
action of evil spirits preceded the establishment of affec- 
tionate relations with benevolent powers ; he declares only 
that the attempt to propitiate dreaded evil spirits is not 

Can this limitation of the meaning of religion be ac- 
cepted ? When a person seeks to conciliate an evil being, 
his feelings and his behavior are undoubtedly very different 
from his experience when he communes with a benevolent 
being. Yet in both cases an anthropopathic relation with 
a personal being is estabhshed. In this respect, both 
stand opposed to magical behavior. This common an- 
thropopathic element is so fundamental that it seems 
advisable to give both types of relation the name rehgion. 
But since they differ in important respects, the terms 
Negative Religion may be used for man's anthropopathic 
dealings with essentially bad spirits, and Positive Religion 
for his relations with benevolent gods. 

But not even Positive Religion is at first free from fear. 
The benevolent gods are quick to anger, and cruelly avenge 
their broken laws. This is one more reason for not com- 
pletely dissociating the propitiation of evil spirits from the 
worship of kindly gods. 

1 Smith, W. Robertson, The Religion of the Semites, p. 55. 


2. The Emotions in the Course of the Development of 


Origins are interesting chiefly because of the light they 
shed upon the present and the future. In order to give 
that Hght its fullest illuminating power, the beginnings 
should be connected with the present by a knowledge of 
the intervening developments. I have not undertaken in 
this book to treat systematically the development of the 
several aspects of religion, yet I think this section will not 
be out of place. It is a topic of social psychology inter- 
esting from more than one point of view. 

One of the most significant facts revealed by a compari- 
son between the earlier and later forms of religion is an 
emotional progression. It begins with the yielding of fear 
to its relative, awe, which in its turn is displaced by other 
emotions in which fear is not merely held in control, as in 
awe, but is completely overcome. They are reverence, ad- 
miration, gratitude, a sense of the sublime, and the tender 
emotion. In the highest civilization of to-day, fear, awe, 
and, to a considerable degree, even reverence, have been 
displaced by the tender emotion, which rules supreme. 
Fear expresses itself in rejecting or breaking away from 
its object ; the tender emotion in embracing or accepting 
its object. The progression of the dominant emotional 
tone from fear to the tender emotion, passing through awe, 
reverence, and sublimity, means, then, gradually substitut- 
ing acceptance, agreement, and union for rejection, disa- 
greement, and separation. The importance of this fact 
will appear in what follows. 

This advance from a negative to a positive reaction is, 
of course, not the result of religion. To take it so would 
be to put the cart before the horse. Religion is the in- 
strument, not the creator, of human impulses and desires. 


Whatever the development through which it passes, that 
which takes place in it is no more than the manifestation in 
one realm of life — the religious — of what takes place in 
life generally. 

The obviousness of the transformation I have indicated 
makes a long demonstration unnecessary. A few illustra- 
tive facts may, however, be in place. Neither Christ, 
nor Gautama, nor even Mohammed were actuated 
by fear. They were, it seems, of all men, fearless. But 
they were in advance of their times. After their death, 
their religions, founded upon a plane far above the lives 
of their contemporaries, were degraded to the level of the 
period, — a level so low that even in the Christian era fear 
is found intrenched as the predominant rehgious force. 
For those acquainted with history, the mention of the 
Dark Ages, when cruelty and dread sounded the leading 
notes in the tumultuous dramas in which the Church of 
Rome played frequently a chief part, will be a sufficient 
reminder of the potency of fear in those times. After the 
great Protestant schism, fear remained for another long 
period the preponderant emotion in the life of most Chris- 
tian bodies. Predestination, together with the belief in 
hell, was made an instrument of terror. Nowhere was 
the dread avvfulness of God more seriously realized than 
among the Jansenists of Port Royal. Le Maitre, de Saci, 
Pascal, three of their great leaders, were brought to God 
chiefly through fear.^ What Fontaine says of de Saci, in 
the Memoires, quoted by Sainte-Beuve, could have been as- 
serted with equal truth, perhaps, of all the noble men who 
directed the movement. " Those who have said after his 
death that the fear of the Lord had filled him, have made 
a true portrait of him." "The chaste fear of God and re- 

1 Sainte-Beuve, Port Royal, Vol. I, pp. 378-3S0, 33 ; Vol. II, pp. 328, 
502 ff. Comp. Histoire de M. M. Alacoqiu, loth ed., pp. 124-125. 


spect for his infinite grandeur so possessed him that he 
was in His presence as in a continual tremor of fear." 
The great movement started by John Wesley was also fed 
by fear, as is sufficiently attested by the terrifying elo- 
quence of its most distinguished disciples. Even the soci- 
ety that took the peaceful name of " Friends " was not at 
the beginning free from fear. 

The change that has come over the Christian world with 
regard to fear is reflected in the altered emotional tone of 
religious revivals. In all revivals earlier than the present 
generation, one of the chief instruments was fear : fear of 
God's wrath, fear of wretchedness in this life, fear of tor- 
ments hereafter. It was common for people " under con- 
viction of sin " to be so frightened that they would " throw 
themselves on the ground and roar with anguish." The 
terrifying method was carried so far that a few ministers 
made an effort to soften the preaching. Jonathan Edwards, 
however, thought that " speaking terror to them that are 
already under great terrors, instead of comforting them," 
is to be commended if done with the intention of bringing 
more light. He complains of the weakness of those who 
shrink from throwing children into ecstasies of fear with 
talk of hell-fire and eternal damnation. " But if those who 
complain so loudly of this," he remarks, " really believe 
what is the general profession of the country, viz., that all 
are by nature the children of wrath and heirs of hell ; and 
that every one that has not been born again, whether he 
be young or old, is exposed, every moment, to eternal de- 
struction, under the wrath of Almighty God ; I say, if they 
really believe this, then such a complaint and cry as this 
betrays a great deal of weakness and inconsideration. As 
innocent as children seem to be to us, yet, if they are out 
of Christ, they are not so in God's sight, but are young 
vipers and are infinitely more hateful than vipers and are 


in a most miserable condition, as well as grown persons." ^ 
This appeal to fear of a hundred years ago is rare to-day. 
The great evangelist Moody ^ had little to say about hell 
and the wrath of God, and a great deal about heaven and 
the love of Christ. In the latest of great revivals, the 
Welsh revival, the meetings were pitched in the key of the 

1 Edwards, Jonathan, Thoughts on the Revival of Religion (1832), p. 203. 
The terrifying nature of Edwards's sermons is indicated by such titles as The 
Eternity of Hell Torments, The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners, 
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In the last is found the following 
famous passage : "The God that holds you over the pit of Hell, much as we 
hold a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dread- 
fully provoked. His wrath toward you burns like fire. He looks upon you 
as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes 
than to bear to have you in his sight. You are ten thousand times so abomi- 
nable in his eyes as the most hateful and venomous serpent is in ours. . . . 
There is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into Hell 
since you arose this morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There 
is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to Hell since you sat 
here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful, wicked 
manner of attending to his solemn worship." 

Finney was of Edwards's mind. " Without pity or abatement he appealed 
to the selfish emotion of fear. He held that whoever comforts the sinner does 
him an injury ' as cruel as the grave, as cruel as hell,' for it is calculated to 
send him headlong to the abyss of everlasting fire." (Davenport F. M., op. 
cit.., p. 193.) 

" Impassioned appeals to terror were uncommon with Wesley," yet he 
believed in everlasting torment for the wicked, and at times made fearful 
pictures of what awaited unrepentant sinners, (/did., p. 166.) " If Wesley 
did not go so far as Edwards in ' preaching terror,' some of his followers did. 
No community ever saw more terrible scenes of mental and nervous disorder 
than are described in the Journal as having occurred under the preaching of 
one Berridge and one Hicks in the vicinity of Everton, almost under the 
shadow of the University of Cambridge." {Ibid., p. 171.) 

2 " With Moody, religious evangelism was emancipated from the horrid 
spectres of irrational fear. I do not mean that he was blind to the natural 
law of retribution. . . . There was no thoughtless optimism about his preach- 
ing of divine justice. But the old emphasis was completely changed. Moody's 
favorite theme was the love of the Heavenly F"ather. He believed that the 
lash of terror is for slaves and not for the freeborn of Almighty God." (Dav- 
enport, F. M. oJ>. cit.i p. "J^) 



tender emotions. " The burden of Evan Roberts's teach- 
ing is love and gratitude, obedience and personal service 
and joy." ^ The practices of the Salvation Army show- 
that even in the lower strata of society fear has fallen into 
disuse as a religious tool. If this is true of the unedu- 
cated part of our population, it is even more marked among 
the cultured classes. God is best known to our prosperous 
church-goers as a compassionate Son of Man, healing the 
sick and comforting the wayward. The hissing of threats 
and maledictions has given place to the singing of the 
Son's redeeming love, and of the dehghts of Beulah Land. 
One must, however, make two reservations to this state- 
ment. On the one hand, the spirit of Christ has, at all 
times, been represented here and there in all its gentleness. 
There have always been rare men like Francis of Assisi 
and Fenelon to bear witness to the struggle between the 
spirit of fear and the spirit of love. On the other hand, 
the cruder attitude is still met with occasionally, chiefly 
among the less intelligent. This is, for instance, how a 
French priest, Curate of Notre-Dame-du-Mont, lately man- 
aged part of the religious instruction by which children 
are prepared for confirmation and for their first commun- 
ion. On the last day of a " retreat " he locked the doors 
of the church in which the children were assembled and 
forbade even the sexton to walk about. The church was 
then darkened. A pall, stretched out before the sanctu- 
ary, bore a crucifix and two holy candles. In this artfully 
prepared place he preached an hour's discourse on Christ's 
Passion, describing minutely every detail of the crucifixion, 
— the thorns penetrating into the flesh, the blood trickling 
down the face, the moral anguish of the loving Saviour. 

1 Fryer, A. T., Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, igo.f-j, Proceed- 
ings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. XIX, 1905, p. 92. Evan 
Roberts was the chief leader of the revival. 


Before he was halfway through, sobs broke out among 
the terrified children. In this state they were sent to 

A few years ago I circulated a questionnaire on several 
phases of religion, especially upon its impulses and motives. 
The three hundred answers received were in many cases 
supplemented by personal correspondence. Inadequate as 
these answers are for statistical purposes, they are valuable 
as " qualitative " information concerning the religious atti- 
tude of our contemporaries. They reflect strikingly the 
new temper. Fear is of so little significance in their 
religious life that its removal would make practically no 
difference, except in the case of two of them, an elderly 
French clergyman and a young law student. The first 
writes as follows : " I feel very much that my letter will 
disappoint you. The feeUng of Divine justice and of its 
exigencies has much weakened in pious persons. In me 
it has continually grown stronger. The principles are 
neglected, and sentimentality is put in their place. More- 
over, I have suffered dreadfully, physically and morally ; 
the history of Job is constantly present to my mind. I 
have seen the evil spirits at work trying to injure me. I 
have seen Satan displaying his utmost ingenuity to make 
me suffer the inexpressible. You will therefore readily 
understand that my usual mood is not one of superficial 
lightheartedness, that I cannot be an optimist in the com- 
mon acceptation of the word. I believe that the just man 
will be saved, — without that certitude there can be but 
despair and death, — but he is to be saved painfully, as by 
fire. ... I am moved to religious practices by a feehng of 
duty and to appease the wrath of God which rises against 
sinful humanity. . . . For many people the most charac- 
teristic religious experience is the feehng of God's love, of 
his goodness, compassion, and readiness to succor those 


who call upon Him. I would not say that this is false, 
but its one-sidedness brings it near to being false. . . . My 
experience is that man being sinful must suffer, suffer 
much, drink also of the bitter cup of Jesus Christ. In my 
religious exercises, I always experience fear towards the 
Holy God, who must inexorably avenge His broken law 
and His majesty outraged by sin. " ^ 

The law student (age 23) admits that the circumstances 
which of tenest affect him religiously are those which frighten 
him or make him nervous. Fear is with him an emotion 
easily aroused. Several of his religious practices are kept 
up chiefly because of a vague fear that harm will befall him 
if he discontinues. This is true, for instance, of his attend- 
ance on Y. M. C. A. meetings, although he " shrinks " from 
them. There is " little pleasure and some annoyance in 
them." He used to read the Bible morning and evening. 
Lately he has left off the evening chapter because "it 
wearies him so." "But," he says, "it was a great effort, 
and I felt the fear for a day or two." 

In these two cases of fear-ridden religion — the sole in- 
stances that have come to my notice through the questio7t- 
7iaire — fear is constitutional. Both men are mild phobiacs, 
and their natural disposition makes use of obsolete Chris- 
tian doctrines. The young man knows that he is very ner- 
vous, and he suspects that his fears are abnormal. " It 
[the fear] makes me very unhappy even when I am anx- 
ious, or at least wiUing, to do the very thing it prompts me 
to do. It may be a disease ; for I remember that as a mere 
child it led me into the most absurd habits or tricks. I 
would feel it my duty to pick up all the loose pieces of 
glass and china in our home-yard lest some poor barefoot 
be injured." He knows now, even at the moment the fear 

1 Reprinted from The Contents of Religious Consciousness, Monist, Vol. XI, 
1 901, pp. 563-564. 


is felt, that it is "admittedly groundless, unreasonable, and 

In most cases, my correspondents have their attention 
so habitually turned in other directions that when they 
write upon the impulses and motives of religious life they 
either forget fear or have actually nothing to say about it. 
When they do mention fear, it is as a rule in general terms ; 
for instance, " fear of danger." A few are more definite. 
One writes that she would not begin the day without prayer 
for fear that things in general would go wrong. Another 
would not dare undertake a railway journey without first 
securing God's protection. A few mention the fear of death 
itself, without reference to the beyond, while still others 
seem not to dread the great crisis so much as the other 
world.^ The " fear of God " appears more frequently than 
any other fear. Some describe it as a " reverential fear " 
or as a " feeling of dependence." In others it bears a more 
mercenary stamp. I find only five who seem to have been 
disturbed at any time by the thought of the hereafter, and 
of these five, four declare that they have outgrown that 
youthful stage.2 In childhood and adolescence it is not un- 
usual for fear to be the principal incentive to religious life. 
Before reaching the point where we fear sin and remorse 
extremely, but punishment not at all, — a height which 
Harriet Martineau attained at the early age of twenty,^ — 
there is usually a period during which our religion is prompted 

^ In his study of conversion, Starbuck found that in 14 per cent of his 
cases fear of death and hell played a considerable part. His were chiefly ad- 
olescent conversions. [^The Psychology of Religion^ Oaz-xX^s Scribner's Sons, 
New York, 1S99, p. 52.) 

2 Stanley Hall, in A Study of Fears, reports that only 11 out of 299 persons 
who answered his questionnaire mention specific fear of hell. (Amer. Jr. of 
Psychology, Vol. VHI, I906-I907,p. 223. ) Scott finds in an inquiry on Old Age 
and Death that 90 per cent of his correspondents do not mention hell at all. 
(Amer. Jr. of Psychology, Vol. VHI, 1906-1907, p. 104.) 

* Martineau, Harriet, Autobiography, Vol. I, p. 31. 


by fear of physical suffering and punishment. St. The- 
resa confesses that it was base fear more than love that 
prompted her to enter the religious life. Mrs. X., of whom 
I have written elsewhere,^ had" no use" for God in her child- 
hood, except when she was frightened. " I do not think 
that I bothered with God when I was a child, except when 
frightened. Usually I did not care a button for him, I 
would say my prayers as directed, but automatically. Only 
if I got into a plight I would cling with the completest faith 
to what I had been taught about God's power and his 
readiness to answer our prayers," ^ 

In the religious experience of my correspondents, fear 
plays, on the whole, a role exceedingly insignificant. Our 
contemporaries have the positive attitude. Their virtues 
and their defects are those of an aggressive, optimistic, and 
democratic age. 

I do not claim, however, that the results of my investi- 
gation show the exact degree to which fear is still present 
in the Christian religious consciousness. Among Roman 
Catholics, fear is probably much more influential than 
among the people represented by the answers to my 

Let us turn now from the facts to their interpretation. 
Three causes for the decline of fear are discernible. 

(i) At present in civiHzed society the occasions for fear 
have become few. The pressing dangers to which men 
were formerly exposed have almost ceased to exist. Wild 
beasts, human enemies, and the horrors of war are for most 
of us only imaginary experiences. It was not so in New 

1 Leuba, J. H., The Personifying Passion in Youth, with Remarks upon 
the Sex and Cender Problem, Monist, Vol. X, 1900, p. 547, 

See also Th. Flournoy's Observations de Psychologic Peligieuse, Archives de 
Psychologic, Vol, II, 1903, Observation II, p, 331, 



England at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Then 
the conditions of life were favorable for the spread of the 
harsh Calvinistic beliefs. Conflicts with unsubdued nature 
and with savage Indians kept the fear reaction uppermost. 
The tender emotions could hardly thrive where one went to 
church with a gun on the shoulder and divided one's atten- 
tion between worship and the expectation of warwhoops. 
Speaking of the Edwardian revivals, Davenport says: "I 
think it may be said that no such effects as are there visible 
could have been produced even with the aid of the shock- 
ing appeals to terror employed by the preachers of that 
period if there had not been in the population a tremen- 
dous amount of latent fear." 

The causes of fear which have not been removed by 
civilization — the celestial bodies, the thunder, the light- 
ning — have lost much of their terrifying power; for they 
are now understood and partly mastered. At any rate, 
eclipses, comets, tornadoes, and electric storms are all 
physical phenomena to us. In a study of fear among 
children, I find the following : " The director of the school 
and his assistants, after having considered the question, 
agreed in saying that they had never discovered in the 
children the least sign of fear. Another teacher made the 
same declaration, in words that deserve to be repeated : ' I 
have never noticed fear in my pupils. What should they 
fear } Their master } We are not in that age. Their 
school .'' That is made as pleasant as possible. Their 
work } They are amused while being taught. Their pun- 
ishments } They are so light and so infrequent ! No, 
rightly or wrongly, the children of to-day fear nothing ; at 
least the feeling of fear has no occasion to manifest itself 
during school-time.' " ^ 

1 Binet, A., La Peur chez lez Enfants, Annee Psychologique, Vol. II, 1895, 
pp. 224-225. 


(2) The fear reaction is falling into disuse, not only be- 
cause of a lack of proper stimuli, but also because modern 
intellectual and moral education produces an increased 
capacity for converting emotional stimuli into controlled 
reactions. Reflection and attention are natural enemies of 
emotional reactions. They engender a habit of self-pos- 
session : the more reflective and attentive, the less emo- 

(3) The fundamental cause of the decline of fear is, 
however, neither knowledge of the physical world, nor 
mental training, but the recognition of the inadequacy of 
fear as a method of meeting danger. Without entering 
into a detailed examination of the defects of the hereditary 
fear-reaction, we may note that it meets each and every 
danger in the same manner. It is an instinctive ten- 
dency to run away from the source of danger, a tendency 
which, it must be observed, is accompanied by a scattering 
of the wits. When violent it brings about a momentary 
paralysis ; it interferes with respiration ; it produces spas- 
modic constriction of the blood vessels, shiverings, violent 
spasms of the heart, resulting in pallor and peripheral 
anaemia. These physiological constituents of the reaction 
are not altogether without direct or indirect value ; the 
immobility which they enforce would, for instance, often 
be the wisest behavior for the threatened man or animal. 
Yet this animal fear-reaction is not the only way, nor 
usually the best way, in which an intelligent being, living 
in highly complex relations, may meet every dangerous 

The origin of the fear-reaction accounts for its inade- 
quacy. It arose at a low level of animal life through the 
natural selection of those chance variations (assisted proba- 
bly by adaptive habits) which gave an animal an advan- 
tage over its fellows. Now, the struggle for life does not 


create improvements ; it simply preserves the fittest among 
the variations bUndly produced by nature. The " fittest " 
is anything, however wretched, which is superior, for the 
purpose of animal life, to that which existed previously. 
Natural selection can do no more than preserve the less 
deficient. The selected improvements have been trans- 
mitted to man through generation after generation of ani- 
mals, in the face of rapidly changing circumstances. As 
a result, man, with powers of observation and foresight 
immeasurably superior to those of the animals in which 
this way of meeting danger was established, still retains 
the instinct to act in this primitive, inadequate fashion. 
The typical fear-reaction is a survival of a by-gone age. 
" The dominant impression left by such a study " [a study of 
fears in children and adolescents], writes Stanley Hall, " is 
that of the degrading and belitthng effects of excessive 
fears." ^ 

This insufficiency of the fear-reaction leads civilized 
man to struggle against its manifestation. Our instinctive 
legacy for meeting danger is so evidently deficient that a 
man in peril struggles as frequently against fear as against 
its object. In other words, that which was meant to be a 
means of safety — the fear-reaction — is itself looked upon 
as a source of danger. A most interesting phase of the 
powerful mind-cure movement is the war it wages against 
fear. "Fear," says Horace Fletcher, "is to be placed in 
the category of harmful, unnecessary, and therefore not 
respectable things." ^ For these people fear is the Great 
Sin; it is Satan's new name. Physicians are ready to 
agree with the more moderate of the Christian Scientists 

1 Hall, G. Stanley, A Study of Fears, Amer. Jr. of Psychology, Vol. VIII, 
p. 238. 

2 Fletcher, Horace, Happiness as found in Fore-thought minus Fear-thought, 
Menticulture, Series II. 


in their impeachment of fear. One physician writes : 
" When all is said that can be said about the uses of fear, 
we come to the conclusion that on the whole the sense of 
danger is a nuisance. Fear is out of date, an anachronism, 
a vestige, a superannuated and silly servant that has seen 
better days. . . . We cannot begin to know the mean- 
ing of freedom in spiritual life until we have done with it. 
Until men and women learn that there is nothing about 
which it is worth while to be anxious, until they put fear 
aside and look forth upon the world with equanimity and 
confidence, they cannot exercise a free judgment nor exert 
a free will." "Generally speaking, the capacity for fear 
in the human mind is absurdly in excess of its utility." ^ 

Civilized man, however, does not strive to be rid of the 
awareness of danger. What he wants is to be independent 
of the single, blind, inherited way of meeting every emer- 
gency, and to remain in possession of his intellectual and 
muscular powers, so as to use them judiciously. The goal 
towards which we are moving is a fearless alertness to 
physical and moral dangers. 

It may seem to some that we have uselessly complicated 
a simple problem. They might say that if the influence of 
fear in religion is waning, it is because we have ceased to 
believe in terrifying doctrines. When the belief in the 
judgment, hell, the devil, and an angry God gives way, 
fear is dethroned. This account would be satisfactory if 
the discredit into which these doctrines have fallen were 
not as much the outcome of the progressive changes I 
have mentioned as of the activity of reason exercised 
directly upon religious ideas. If we no longer believe in 
hell, it is as much because, being tuned to another key, we 

^ Wilson, George R., The Sense of Danger and the Fear of Death, Monist, 
Vol. XIII, 1903, pp. 367, 366. 


are not easily frightened, as because we have come to ad- 
mit the insufficiency of the proofs for the existence of hell. 
In the two cases cited above, in which fear held its old 
sway, the beliefs were supported by a temperament in 
accord with them. Without this temperamental disposi- 
tion, they would probably not have believed in the torments 
of hell. In the early days of New England, the conditions 
of life kept fear in the foreground, hence its dominance in 
religion. Love agrees better with the contemporary popu- 
lar temper, and so our judgment is biased in favor of the 
doctrines which exhibit the love of God. In regard to 
these doctrines we are as easily satisfied intellectually as 
others used to be regarding the fearful doctrines. 

The decline of fear in religion is to be ascribed primarily 
neither to religious influences nor to critical doctrinal 
studies. Its more profound causes are, as I have said, 
increased knowledge of the physical universe ; intellectual 
and moral training ; and, above all, the realization of the 
defects of the fear inheritance. The nature of these 
causes indicates that the passing of fear observed in the 
Christian religion must take place in the religions of all 
progressive peoples, despite their theologies and creeds. 
As human nature changes, so do gods and religions change. 
The effort to readjust our primitive instincts and impulses 
to the present altered circumstances is what is meant by 
the expression " the struggle of the spiritual against the 
natural man." 

Fear gradually yields the place of dominance to awe.^ 
In the ancient Greek mysteries ; in the old Druidic rites 
celebrated amid the sombre majesty of forests ; in the mod- 
ern elaborate ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church, 

^ See on awe, W. McDougall's Social Psychology, pp. 129-132; on the sub- 
lime, Th. Ribot's Psychology of the Emotions, pp. 270, 348-350. 


as well as in the plainer forms of worship where simplicity 
and silence take the place of ornamentation and music, — 
awe constitutes an essential part of the whole emotional 
impression. Judged by the efforts made to affect the 
worshippers with awe, this emotional reaction must pos- 
sess a high religious value. Of what use, then, is awe in 
religion ? One of the services that awe and a sense of 
the sublime render religion is to bestow upon it a dignity 
impossible to fear. Fear is not an experience of which 
we may be proud ; it is a narrowly utilitarian and unintel- 
ligent reaction. In so far as it expresses essential egotism, 
it can only discredit religion in the eyes of those who have 
awakened to the nobility of disinterestedness. 

Awe and the sublime differ from fear in that they do 
not openly refer to personal needs, neither do they bla- 
tantly announce weakness and incapacity. They have no 
apparently selfish purpose ; they have, indeed, no obvious 
purpose at all. The shudder that creeps over one at the 
sight of the leaping waters of a cataract is neither egoistic 
nor altruistic ; it is disinterested. It is true, however, that 
the awe-producing aspects of nature have all lurking about 
them the threat of potential danger. 

The value of awe to religion is not only its disinterested- 
ness — a purely negative virtue; it has a direct ennobling 
effect. To be impressed by the great, the powerful, the 
mysterious, and still to be unafraid, is to evince one's 
partial kinship with these forces. Fear reveals antago- 
nism, enmity, isolation; awe, involving as it does the 
recognition of greatness without actual fear, gives the 
first sense of a not unfriendly relation with the cosmos. 
To feel the power of a thing and at the same time to 
admire it, as we do in awe, is not only to begin to under- 
stand, but also to be attracted. The sympathetic vibra- 
tions of awe are the first organic sign of a friendship with 


the cosmic forces, the first step towards that ultimate union 
with the Great Whole, achieved in certain forms of prac- 
tical mysticism. The thrills of awe are thus enlarging, 
vitalizing, ennobling. 

It should be observed further that there is but a single 
easy step from awe and sublimity to admiration and rever- 
ence. Now in passing from fear through awe to admira- 
tion and reverence, man progresses from the position of 
a beggar for protection to that of a bestower of praises. 
Since man is bent upon self-respect and self-exaltation, it is 
not surprising that, among the egoistic utilitarianism of the 
fear-religion, he should have seized upon awe and the 
sublime as redeemers of his religious nature. 

However important to religion disinterestedness and the 
sense of kinship with greatness may be, awe and the sub- 
lime render religion a still greater service by bringing to 
the mind ideas of superhuman agents, of gods, or of God. 
Majestic greatness favors a religious rather than a scien- 
tific solution to the question of origins ; for it suggests an 
explanation by reference to unseen, personal agents. In 
reflective, non-emotional moments, one might refer natural 
phenomena to physical forces, while when under the in- 
fluence of instinctive, emotional reactions, one might in- 
terpret the same events in the traditional anthropopathic 
manner necessary to the historical forms of religion. 
Emotions absorb attention, arrest the stream of thought, 
and thus for the moment limit the intellectual range. 
Even those who have formed in youth the habit of look- 
ing upon nature as a mechanism may, when awed or 
frightened, relapse into an animistic conception. There 
are persons who in a forest or in a tempest " feel the 
divine " within them ; " something in the stars of the 
night reaches out " to them. In this way the ever present 
animistic tendency crops out and bids us dispense with 


rational proofs of the existence of God.^ Any experience 
awakening a strong emotion is likely to shake off the un- 
stable accretions of rational intelligence, to throw us back 
upon primitive tendencies, and thus to resuscitate ghosts, 
spirits, and gods. This discrepancy between the godward 
tendency of our thoughts in certain emotional seizures and 
their direction when under the guidance of experience in- 
dicates on the one hand the progress made by the individ- 
ual since he discarded animism, and on the other hand the 
tenacity of the mental habits rooted in a distant past. 

When questioned concerning the emotions most condu- 
cive to rehgion, our Protestant contemporaries rarely forget 
to mention awe and the sublime. For one who names fear, 
there are hundreds who single out awe, the sublime, and 
the beautiful as potent sources of religious moods and 
activities. 2 The following selections will illustrate this 

" Mid-ocean, lightning, and thunder inspire me with awe 
and the sense of dependence, and turn my feelings toward 
God." (No. 8.) 

" I can never look up at the stars at night but adoring 
love and worship fills my soul. The same at early dawn 

1 Comp. William James on the sense of presence, in Varieties of Religious 
Experience, pp. 58 ff. 

2 Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in Earth ? 
Who made you glorious as the Gates of Heaven 
Beneath the keen full moon ? 

God ! Let the torrents, like a shout of nations, 

Answer ! and let the ice-plains echo, God ! 

God, sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice ! 

And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow. 
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God ! 
— (Coleridge, Hymn before Sunrise, in the Vale of Chamouni.) 



when the beautiful new day comes straight from the hand 
of God." (No. 39.) 

" Places in which the sense of the sublime is appealed 
to always call forth religious emotions. I have felt this 
in grand old cathedrals. The last time I noticed the feel- 
ing was at the sight of Niagara Falls about two years 
ago." (No. 121.) 

No. 51, who is frequently moved to awe by nature and 
also by the works of man, writes : " The same [religious] 
feeling I experience when meditating upon the massiveness 
of the Brooklyn bridge, and again when I behold such 
steamships as the St. Paul, Tonrraine, etc." 

" I prefer a religious service of much formalism. I 
have no religious feelings in public except as I am sur- 
rounded by the noble in architecture, in colored glass, in 
the pageantry of the Church. I have knelt at some 
shrine in walking through the country abroad, with 
rehgious feelings, and I have done likewise in some altar 
in a cathedral. I prefer the Romish worship to any other 
on this account, but I refrain from having anything to do 
with it because I think it dangerous to liberty." (No. 37.) 

Even those who declare themselves without religion often 
call awe a religious emotion. (For instance, Nos. 51 and 
37 quoted above.) Why should any one call awe a religious 
emotion unless it be that it brings to the mind discarded 
ideas of a Power, which, if believed in, would be a God. 

If the data I have collected show clearly that in Protes- 
tant religion men have, as a whole, set their faces away 
from the dreadful and towards the desirable, they indi- 
cate further that the stage of culture at which awe 
can be the dominant religious emotion is also past. 
I imagine that the worshippers of Odin and of Thor 
were swayed more by awe than by any other emotion. 


The Christianity of past centuries knew no better ally, 
after fear, than awe. But now the awful, as well as the 
fearful, is losing its power. To be sure, these emotions 
still retain much of their original power in large portions 
of the Christian world. The Roman Church, for instance, 
is not ready to dismiss so efficient an agent. Vast cathe- 
drals, majestic music, mysterious rites, gorgeous pageantry, 
still entrance the faithful, impress the thoughtless, and 
draw to its spectacles even those indifferent to religion. 
The terrible they have for the most part outgrown ; the 
awful they have not passed ; and the sublime they are 
using as effectively as possible. In Protestant worship, 
and especially in the United States, it is somewhat different. 
Yahve, who was wont to thunder on the summit of Mount 
Sinai, in the presence of whom Moses himself could hardly 
live, is being displaced by the God of love, before whom 
not even prodigal sons need tremble. The " new " revela- 
tion is a gospel of love : " Children, flowers, fruit trees, — 
everything is full of God's love." (No. 39.) In church 
architecture, the comfortable is put before the majestic ; 
in doctrine, the serviceable is preferred to the mysterious ; 
and in the conception of God, the loving is not to be over- 
shadowed by the awful. 

The tendency to banish awe as well as fear is evident 
not only in religion, but in secular life also. The rod is 
proscribed in the home and in the school ; the child is no 
longer to sit at the feet of the master, but pupil and teacher 
are to work arm in arm as becomes good friends; sin is either 
weakness or disease, and should be met with sympathetic 
tenderness. Nothing is worth while except sympathy, 
charity, love, and their companions, trust, hope, courage, 
fortitude. The positive reactions are being selected because 
of their superior efficiency for the conditions of civilized 




When the ideas of powers suitable for magic and religion 
have been accounted for, and the impulse to enter into 
practical relations with these powers has been admitted, 
the origin of magic and of religion is not yet completely 
understood. There remains yet to discover the origin of 
the relations themselves ; that is, the origin of the magical 
and the religious rites and ceremonies. That done, we 
shall have completed the part of the book dealing with 

I. Magic : its Varieties and Classification 

The term " magic " I would restrict to those practices in- 
tended to secure some definite gain by coercitive action, in 
essential disregard, (i) of the quantitative relations implied 
in the ordinary and in the scientific dealings with the 
physical world ; (2) of the anthropopathic relations obtain- 
ing among persons. 

Although magic never makes an anthropopathic appeal, 
it frequently brings to bear its peculiar coercitive virtue 
upon feeling-beings. It aims, then, at compelling souls, 
spirits, or gods to do the operator's will, or at preventing 
them from doing their own. In necromancy, spirits are 
summoned by means of spells and incantations. In ancient 
Egypt the art of dealing coercitively with spirits and gods 
reached a high development. Maspero, speaking of a 


curious belief regarding names, says, " When the god in a 
moment of forgctfuhiess or of kindness had taught them 
what they wanted [the sacred names], there was nothing 
left for him but to obey them." ^ At Eleusis, it was not 
the name but the intonation of the voice of the magician 
which produced the mysterious results. ^ 

But how should be classed the behavior of a suppliant 
who attempts by requests, offerings, adoration, or other 
anthropopathic means to induce a ghost, spirit, or god to 
give him magical power ? The Dieri of Central Australia 
in dry spells " call upon the spirits of their remote an- 
cestors, whom they call Mura, Mura, to grant them 
power to make a heavy rainfall." ^ This behavior belongs 
clearly to the religious type ; but that which follows — the 
suppliant's use of the magical power secured from the 
spirit — is magic. A spirit may be asked to use his 
magical power himself. In that case the suppliant uses the 
anthropopathic method of bringing about a magical action.'* 

To one who approaches the subject for the first time, 
the possibility of bringing order into the chaos of magical 

1 Maspero, G. C, Etudes de mythologie el d^archeologie tgyptiennes, Paris, 
1903, Bibliotheque Egyptologique, Vol. II, p. 298. 

2 Foucart, Paul, Recherches sur la Nature des Mysteres d'' Eleusis, Memoires 
de I'Institut, Vol. XXXV, 2d Part, pp. 31-32. Comp. Maspero, op. cit., p. 303. 

A surprising revival of the belief in the magical power of names came to 
my notice a few years ago. At a camp-meeting of Seventh Day Adventists in 
Massachusetts, I heard an ex-cowboy evangelist deliver an impassioned 
address on the power of the " Word." He showed by many citations from 
the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures that the Book did not teach the direct 
action of God and Christ, but that whatever they did was accomplished 
through the power of the Word. It was by the Word, not by God, that the 
world was created, and it was by believing in the Word that men were saved. 

^ Frazer, J. G., op. cit.., 2d ed., Vol. I, p. 86. 

* Jevons's view differs from this in that for him the magical power always 
belongs to a conscious agent. " Magic is the mysterious power of a person 
or conscious agent to cause injury — or, secondarily, it may be, benefit — to 
another person who may be at a distance ; a power which when exerted is 


customs seems remote. Before taking up the origins of 
magic, we would better gain some knowledge of its many 
forms. This may be done conveniently by making a 
critical examination of a widely used classification of these 
forms, in the course of which study it will appear that 
several important varieties of magic fall outside of this 

The classification referred to is that of Frazer : " If we 
analyze the principles of thought on which magic is based, 
they will probably be found to resolve themselves into two : 
first, that Hke produces like, or that an effect resembles its 
cause ; and, second, that things that have once been in con- 
tact with each other continue to act on each other at a dis- 
tance after the physical contact has been severed. The 
former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the 
latter the Law of Contact or Contagion. From the first of 
these principles, namely, the Law of Similarity, the ma- 
gician infers that he can produce any effect he desires 
merely by imitating it ; from the second he infers that 
whatever he does to a material object will affect equally 
the person with whom the object was once in contact, 
whether it forms part of its body or not. Charms based 
on the Law of Similarity may be called Homoeopathic or 
Imitative Magic. Charms based on the Law of Contact 
or Contagion may be called Contagious Magic." ^ 

accompanied by, or ascribed to, an exclamation, a gesture, or an action indi- 
cating and effecting what is willed. To us the exclamation or gesture indicates 
only what is willed. In the opinion of the savage, who fails to discriminate 
between the categories of likeness and identity, the action he performs not 
merely resembles, but is the action which he wills." (F. B. Jevons, Magic, 
Proceedings Third International Congress of the History of Religions, pp. 

1 Frazer, J. G., op. cit., 3d ed.. Vol. I, p. 52. See also Frazer, Lectures on 
the Early History of the Kingship, Macmillan, 1905, p. 54 ; and A. van Gen- 
nep's review of that book in the Revue de PHistoire des Religions, Vol. LIII, 
1906, pp. 396-401. 


This classification clearly embraces the larger number of 
magical practices, especially the injuring of images in 
order to injure enemies, the simulation of birth to produce 
child-bearing, the numerous cases of homoeopathic magic 
both in medicine and outside of it ; the contagious magic 
of navel string and placenta, of wounds and blood, of gar- 
ments, of footprints, and the like.^ Yet several types of 
magic remain outside this classification, or are brought 
within it only by extremely far-fetched explanations. 
"The Bushmen despise an arrow that has once failed of 
its mark; and, on the contrary, consider one that has hit 
as of double value. They will, therefore, rather make 
new arrows, how much time and trouble soever it may cost 
them, than collect those that have missed and use them 
again." ^ Similarly, other tribes attach a special value to a 
hook that has caught a big fish. One might bring the 
mental process involved here back to Frazer's second 
principle. Contagious Magic : " Things that have once 
been in contact with each other continue to act on 
each other at a distance after physical contact has been 
severed." But it is possible to make a simpler explana- 
tion than the ascription to the hook of a specific power 
acting telepathically upon fish. Nothing need be involved 
here, it seems to me, but the conviction that something that 
has happened once is likely to happen again. No prin- 
ciple is simpler and more firmly established than this; it is 
an imperfect form of this corollary of the Principle of 
Identity : something that has happened once will happen 
again under identical circumstances. The savage goes 
wrong because, instead of taking into account all the cir- 
cumstances, he thinks merely of the hook. But if he prizes 

^ See for illustrations, The Golden Bough, 3d ed., Vol. I, pp. 55-214. 
2 Lichtenstein, M. H. K., Travels in South Africa, Vol. II, p. 271, quoted 
by Lord Avebury, Origin of Civilization, 6th ed., p. 34. 


the hook, not simply because it has already caught fish, 
but because he thinks of the hook as possessing an attrac- 
tive power over fish, the mental process at the root of his 
action is another and a more complex one : he now believes 
in action at a distance. Considered psychologically, the 
behavior of the savage when he prefers the successful 
hook may thus be of two quite distinct kinds. The magic 
based upon the simple conviction that what has happened 
once is hkely to happen again, finds no place in Frazer's 
system ; for the two branches of magic that he recognizes 
" may conveniently be comprehended under the general 
name of Sympathetic Magic, since both assume that things 
act on each other at a distance through a secret sympathy, 
the impulse being transmitted from one to the other by 
means of what we may conceive a kind of invisible ether." ^ 
There remains the question of fact, Does the savage act 
on these two principles, or only on the one mentioned by 
Frazer ? Facts and arguments will be offered below in 
support of the former alternative. 

Frazer's classification may again prove inadequate in re- 
gard to certain dances performed by the women when the 
men are engaged in war. " In the Kafir district of the 
Hindoo Koosh, while the men are out raiding, the women 
leave their work in the fields and assemble in the villages 
to dance day and night. The dances are kept up most of 
each day and the whole of each night. . . . The dances 
of these Kafirs are said to be performed in honor of certain 
of the national gods, but when we consider the custom in 
connection with the others which have just been passed in 
review, we may reasonably surmise that it is or was origi- 
nally in its essence a sympathetic charm intended to keep 
the absent warriors wakeful, lest they should be surprised 
in their sleep by the enemy." ^ According to the author of 

1 Frazer, J. G., op. cit., 3d ed., Vol. I, p. 54. 
"^ Ibid., pp. 133-134. 


The Golden Bojigh, this practice would thus fall under the 
Law of Similarity, to which he gives, as we have seen, a 
double form. It is the first alternative which applies in 
this case, " Uke produces like " : the keeping awake of the 
women causes the men to keep awake. This is a possible 
explanation. But it is noteworthy in the other instances 
given by Frazer ^ that the stay-at-homes are not simply 
trying to keep awake, but that they are doing many other 
things, not all of which can be interpreted as mimetic magic 
(like produces like). 

It seems very likely that the primary cause of the danc- 
ing is not the belief that keeping awake will make the 
warriors wakeful, but the excitement and anxiety under 
which the women would naturally labor while their husbands 
are fighting. Now, a state of high tension may be expected to 
work itself off, not only according to a law of " like produces 
hke," that is, of contagion, but in all sorts of spontaneous 
activities. The facts appear to agree with this theory. 
The dance is not kept up night and day in every tribe, and 
in most of them, as far as my information goes, there does 
not appear to be any deliberate purpose of resisting sleep. 
Nor do these women use dancing alone ; in some tribes 
they refrain from sexual intercourse, believing that if they do 
not, their husbands will either be killed or wounded. In cer- 
tain islands the women and children are forbidden to re- 
main inside the houses, or to twine thread or weave. If 
one turns to the savages' own explanation of their actions, 
one finds great variation. I do not discover in Frazer that 
any tribe gives the interpretation that he suggests ; but he 
reports that the Yuki Indians say that if they dance all the 
time, " their husbands will not grow tired." In Madagascar 
the women say that by dancing they impart strength, cour- 
age, and good fortune to their husbands. Why bring these 
1 Frazer, J. G., op. cii., 3d ed., Vol. I, pp. 1 31-134. 


various ceremonies back to an intention of keeping the 
warriors awake ? Some of the actions may be inspired by 
that purpose, but why all of them ? Let us say rather that 
the anxiety of the women tends to work itself off in spon- 
taneous movements, some of them having, in the beginning 
at least, no mimetic or telepathic connection with the fight- 
ing of the husbands. They simply dance or jump up and 
down for relief, and the relief felt leads to the repetition of 
the movement. Thus the dancing habit is formed. 

Now if the women dance while they are filled with a 
desire for the success of the men in war, does not our 
knowledge of psychology lead us to expect the formation 
of a causal connection between dancing and the success 
of the warriors .' At first this connection will probably 
be regarded as general, and not as a specific relation be- 
tween depriving oneself of sleep and keeping awake the 
warriors. The dancing, at this stage, will be a magical 
ceremony of the simplest sort. But certain mental tenden- 
cies readily lead to modifications of the primitive dancing. 
The minds of the dancers will at times be filled with im- 
ages of the fighting, and these images will tend to shape 
the movements. In this way mimicry of fighting may 
take the place of the original dancing. Among the 
Tshi-speaking peoples of the Gold Coast, for instance, "the 
wives of the men who are away with the army paint them- 
selves white, and adorn their persons with beads and 
charms On the day when a battle is expected to take 
place, they run about armed with guns, or sticks carved to 
look like guns, and taking green paw-paws (fruits shaped 
somewhat like a melon), they hack them with knives, as if 
they were chopping off the heads of the foe."^ In the 
Queen Charlotte Islands, " when the men had gone to war, 

"^ Ibid., p. 132. On dancing and its relation to primitive religion, see 
I. King, op. ciL, pp. 108-112. 


the women at home would get up very early in the morn- 
ing and pretend to make war by falling upon their children 
and feigning to take them for slaves." Certain tribes went 
as far as to scourge severely two lads, by way of helping 
the warriors. 

If any of these dancers accounted for the practice by 
saying that keeping awake helped warriors to remain 
watchful, I should look upon this statement as an after- 
thought. The idea of the danger of surprise to the sleep- 
ing men would readily enough connect itself with the 
dancers' loss of sleep, a loss arising from the dancing, 
which is itself an expression of anxiety. 

Perhaps the largest and most important class of magic 
not provided for in the classification we are considering is 
Will-Magic. Here is one instance taken from ancient In- 
dia. In order to protect his belongings from destruction, 
the Buddhist monk is directed to make a " firm resolve," 
saying, " For the space of seven days let not this and that 
article be burnt by fire, borne away by a flood, blown to 
pieces by the wind, carried off by robbers, or eaten by rats 
and the like. . . . Then for the space of seven days no 
harm will touch them." ^ This is not a request addressed to a 
spirit, but a " firm resolve " that the wish expressed shall 
be realized. In the Kei Islands, when a battle is in prog- 
ress, the women wave fans in the direction of the enemy and 
sing : " O golden fans ! Let our bullets hit, and those of the 
enemy miss." ^ The essence of Will-Magic is the belief 
that an exertion of the will takes effect at a distance. 
This kind of magic may or may not be complicated by the 
addition of magical elements of another type. 

Can Will-Magic be classed under Frazer's Law of Simi- 

'^ Pali Texts, Visuddhi-Magga, Chap. XXIII, taken from Buddhism in 
Translation, Henry C. Warren, Harvard University Press, 1896, p. 385. 
2 Frazer, J. G., op, cit., 2d ed., Vol. I, p. ^^. 


larity ? This law is expressed in a double form : " Like 
produces like " and " An effect resembles its cause." From 
this law, we are told, " the magician infers that he can 
produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it." 
But imitation is not in the least a requirement of Will- 
Magic, although it may be superadded. The formula 
" Hke produces hke " means, if it means anything, that be- 
cause two things have elements in common, — shape, color, 
etc., what happens to one will happen to the other also. 
Nothing of this is necessarily involved in Will-Magic. The 
other form of the law, " an effect resembles its cause," 
applies no better. It means that if you want, for instance, 
a tumor to dry up, you can succeed by causing something 
else to dry up ; or if you want jaundice to disappear, you 
can succeed by making the yellow color of some object, a 
flower, for instance, vanish. In this case the effect you 
have produced becomes the cause of a similar effect. 

I must observe here that these two formulas represent 
each a different mental process, and that if the savage is 
aware of this difference, the two mental processes should 
not be included under one principle. To do so seems to 
me to obliterate distinctions, rather than to bring order by 
means of a helpful generalization. If primitive man does 
not discriminate, then the distinction has no application to 
the mental processes involved in savage magic. 

Although I feel confident in affirming that Frazer's 
classification needs completion, I do not claim that the 
following one is adequate. 

1. Principle of Repetition. — Something that has hap- 
pened once is likely to happen again. A successful arrow 
will meet with further success, and one that has failed with 
further failure. No telepathic power is involved here. 

2. Principle of the Transmission of an Effect from one 
Object to Another. — Sympathetic Magic. An action tak- 


ing place upon an object will take place upon another 
object when the two objects are connected with each other 
in the mind of the magician. The connections may be of 
several kinds. I mention three of these, (a) The objects 
bear a likeness to each other (association by similarity) : in- 
juring the likeness of a thing injures the thing itself, (d) 
The objects have been or are in contact (association by 
contiguity): whatever is done to a tooth once belonging to 
a person will happen to the person himself. A variation 
of this form of magic is seen in the custom of rubbing 
oneself with a part of a powerful and courageous animal 
in order to acquire these traits, {c) The objects have been 
in the relation of cause and effect : cooling the arrow 
which has inflicted a wound will prevent the inflammation 
of the wound. 

In this class of magic an attraction or a telepathic influ- 
ence is exerted between objects. 

3. Principle of Efficiency of Will-Effort. — Other sys- 
tems of classification are of course possible. A classifica- 
tion according to the nature of the Power involved in 
the magical operation, and the relation of this Power to 
the magician appears to me to have considerable merit, so 
I add it here. 

Class I, — Practices in which there is no idea of a Power 
belonging to the operator or his instrument, and passing 
thence to the object of the magical art. To this class 
belong many instances of so-called Sympathetic Magic ; ^ 
many of the taboo customs ; most modern superstitions, — 
those, for instance, regarding Friday, the number thirteen, 

^ Hang a root of vervain around the neck in order to cause a tumor to 
disappear : as the plant dries up, so will the tumor. If the fish do not appear 
in due season, make one of wood and put it into the water. Keep the arrow 
that has wounded a friend in a cool place, so that the wound may not become 


horse-shoes, planting when the tide is coming in. In these 
instances the effect is thought to follow upon the cause 
without the mediation of a force passing, let us say, from 
the magician to the wooden fish placed in the stream and 
thence to the living fish. An illustration of this class of 
magic has already been given in the old lady's belief that 
good luck would come to a household as the result of spar- 
rows having fallen down the chimney. The gambler who 
believes in his " luck " does not usually conceive of it as a 
Power in any true sense of the word. Several facts drawn 
from child life, which point to this same conclusion, will be 
noted presently. 

Divination by casting lots or otherwise, when a spirit or 
god is not supposed to guide the cast, may be included 
here as a subdivision. The aim of divination is to secure 
an item of knowledge for the magician, while the other 
practices of this class are calculated to produce effects of 
some other kind. But in neither case does there exist the 
idea of a Power mediating between the thing sought and 
its antecedent. 

Class II. — Non-personal Powers are believed to belong 
to the magician himself, or to particular objects, such as 
the magician's instruments, and to pass from these into 
other objects, or to act upon them so as to produce certain 
effects. If the magician himself possesses this force, he 
does not think of it as identical with his "will," or even as 
intimately connected with it. 

Howitt relates that some native Australians begged him 
not to carry in a bag containing quartz crystals a tooth ex- 
tracted at an initiation ceremony. They thought that the 
evil power of the crystals would enter the tooth and so 
injure the body to which it had belonged.^ Many charms 

1 Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Vol. XIII, 1S84, p. 456, quoted 
by Frazer. 



have a potency of this nature, while others have an animis- 
tic significance, that is, they involve the action of spirits, 
and so do not belong here. Eating the fat of a brave and 
strong man or animal, or rubbing oneself with it in order 
to gain courage and power is an act belonging to this 
second class, as are also most cases of Contagious Magic. 

There seems to be among all peoples a stage of develop- 
ment at which a Power like that described above is con- 
ceived clearly enough to be given a name ; Wakanda 
in North America, Mana in Melanesia. This variously 
named non-personal Potency is the efficient cause of by 
far the greater part of the magical practices. 

Class III. — Will-Magic. This includes the cases in 
which the magician feels that his will-effort is an efficient 
factor. Under this head usually fall spells, incantations, 
and solemn curses. A man who says to the magic spear, 
" Go straight and kill him," feels no doubt that by these 
words, in which quivers his whole soul, he directs the spear 
on its errand of death. 

When discussing the origin of non-personal Powers, we 
saw how early man's attention is directed to his will-efforts, 
and how very soon he attempts to turn his " will " to 
account in the magical way. Among the North American 
Indians, sending forth one's thought and will is a common 
practice. Miss Fletcher tells us that, "When a race is 
taking place, a man may bend his thoughts and his will 
upon one of the contestants ... in the belief that this 
act, this * sending of his mind,' will help his friend to win." ^ 
In this and other similar cases, the will-power itself seems 
to perform the magical deed ; while more commonly, per- 
haps, the spell or incantation " carries " one's will to another 

^Fletcher, Alice C. , Azotes on Certain Beliefs concerning Will Po~ver 
among the Sioux Tribes, Science (New York), N. S., Vol. V, 1897, PP- Zl^^^ 


person, who is then compelled to act according to the desire 
of the magician. 

The importance of this class of magic is so great that 
Marett has raised the question as to whether an accom- 
panying spell is not an indispensable part of " perfect " 
magic. ^ F. B. Jevons also connects magical power in 
general with the sense of one's own energy.^ In my 
opinion, this exercise of the will is the characteristic of 
only one class of magic. In magic as well as in rehgion, 
we must, it seems to me, admit several independent 
origins. What follows will, I hope, be conclusive on this 

In this attempt at classification, I would not give the 
impression that the conceptions of the savage are clear 
and definite. On the contrary, I hold them to be hazy 
and fluid. What appears to him impersonal at one mo- 
ment may suddenly assume the characteristics of a spirit. 
Mana, for instance, although usually an impersonal force 
stored in plants, stones, animals, or men, takes on at times 
truly personal traits. One should not be surprised to meet 
with cases that belong to several classes. The following 
is a good instance of the mingling of will-magic with 
other types: "The ancient Hindoos performed an elabo- 
rate ceremony, based on homoeopathic magic, for the cure 
of jaundice. Its main drift was to banish the yellow color 
to yellow creatures and yellow things, such as the sun, to 
which it properly belongs, and to procure for the patient a 
healthy red color from a living, vigorous source, namely, a 
red bull. With this intention, a priest recited the following 
spell: 'Up to the sun shall go thy heart-ache and thy jaun- 

1 Marett, R. R., The Threshold of Religioyt, pp. 52 et seq. 

2 See footnote on page 152, In the chapter on the origin of the idea of 
non-personal Power, I have already argued against the view that Will-Magic 
is the primary form of magic. 


dice : in the colour of the red bull do we envelop thee ! 
Wc envelop thee in red tints, unto long life. May this 
person go unscathed and be free of yellow colour ! . . . 
Into the parrots, into the thrush, do we put thy jaundice, 
and furthermore, into the yellow wagtail do we put thy 
jaundice.' While he uttered these words, the priest, in or- 
der to infuse the rosy hue of health into the sallow patient, 
gave him water to sip which was mixed with the hair of a 
red bull; he poured water over the animal's back and 
made the sick man drink it ; he seated him on the skin of 
a red bull and tied a piece of the skin to him. Then in or- 
der to improve his colour by thoroughly eradicating the 
yellow taint, he proceeded thus. He first daubed him 
from head to foot with a yellow porridge made of turmeric 
or crucums (a yellow plant), set him on a bed, tied three 
yellow birds, to wit a parrot, a thrush, and a yellow wag- 
tail, by means of a yellow string to the foot of the bed ; 
then pouring water over the patient, he washed off the 
yellow porridge, and with it no doubt the jaundice, from 
him to the birds. After that, by way of giving a final 
bloom to his complexion, he took some hairs of a red bull, 
wrapt them in gold leaf, and glued them to the patient's 

2. The Origins of Magical Behavior 

The idea of non-personal Powers is no more synonymous 
with magic than the idea of great, unseen, personal beings 
is synonymous with religion. If there is to be a magical 
art, ways and means of using the Power must be produced. 
How did the apparently endless variety of magical practices 
come to be .-' Most of them will be accounted for by the 
following principles of explanation. These are of unequal 
importance, but each accounts, it seems to me, for a certain 
class of magic. 

1 Frazer, J. G., op. cit., 3d ed., Vol. I, p. 79. 


{a) Children often amuse themselves by making prohi- 
bitions and backing them up with threats of punishment. 
" If you do this,'' they say, " that will happen to you." 
The " this " and the "that " have usually no logical connec- 
tion, nor does the child have any thought of a particular 
power or agent meting out the punishment. 

It is important to remember in this connection that what 
is done in the make-believe spirit by one person is often 
taken seriously by another, independently of any empirical 
verification. A little girl, seven years old, was told that 
killing a snail would cause rain. She immediately ac- 
cepted the statement, and rational arguments did not take 
the idea out of her head. How many of the senseless 
superstitions of the savage arose in this way we shall 
never know. It seems probable, however, that many of 
the commands, precautions, and prescriptions in the life of 
the savage have had this origin ; for there is frequently no 
logical connection between the deed forbidden or pre- 
scribed and the thing to be secured. I have in mind cer- 
tain taboo customs, parts of initiation ceremonies of the 
Australians,^ regulations governing hunting and the like. 
A good instance of the last is found among the Central 
Esquimaux : certain kinds of game must not be eaten 
on the same day ; none of the deer's bones must be 
broken during skinning ; and bits of the animal must be 
buried in the ground or placed under stones. In many 
cases a fuller knowledge would undoubtedly disclose rea- 
sons of utility, real or imaginary, for these magical prac- 
tices ; but that this would be true in every instance seems 
an unjustifiable assumption. The fact that the savage is 
usually ready with reasons for his behavior is no proof that 
these reasons lie at the basis of the practices. The expla- 
nations may be after-thoughts. 

1 Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes of Central Australia, London, Mac- 
millan, 1S99, Chaps. VII-IX. 


{b) It seems good psychology to hold that certain magical 
practices originated in threats of untoward happenings 
made for the purpose of preserving things vital to the hfe 
and prosperity of the tribe, — for instance, the authority of 
the chief, and the sanctity of the marriage relation. The 
magical beliefs which enforce continence on the part of 
the wives of men engaged in war appear to have had this 
origin. The punishment may be anything which is re- 
garded as efficacious. In Madagascar conjugal fidelity is 
enforced by the threat that the betrayed husband will be 
killed or wounded in the war ; among the indigenous tribes 
of Sarawack, the belief is that the camphor obtained by 
the men in the jungle will evaporate if the women are 
unfaithful ; while in East Africa, the husband will, in the 
same eventuality, be killed or hurt by the elephant he is 
hunting.^ The high sanction which the requirements of 
social life give to beliefs of this kind is readily understood. 

The mental attitude out of which these beliefs arose need 
not be regarded as a deliberate intention to deceive the 
women. One should bear in mind the half make-believe, 
half serious attitude of children in their intercourse with 
one another. Yet I do not think it impossible that beliefs 
of this sort have originated in purposive deception. 
Spencer and Gillen^ relate of the most primitive people 
known to us, the Arunta of Central Australia, that the 
adult males rule the women and children by means of a 
bogle called Twatiyirika. 

{c) The motive which leads civilized people to make vows 
may account for certain magical practices. One of the 
original impulses of human nature seems to be to try to 
avoid a catastrophe or to secure advantages by promising 

1 Frazer, J. G., op. cii., 2d ed., Vol. I, pp. 29-31. 

2 Spencer and Gillen, op. cit., p. 246, note I. See also The Northern Tribes 
of Central Australia, ■^'^. 491-492. 


to do something which would gratify the person who has 
control over the event This motive in its cruder form is 
a desire to do something meritorious in order to deserve 
immunity from danger. Customs of continence may have 
had the origin mentioned above, or they may have arisen 
from the women's efforts to do something praiseworthy, so 
that the life of their husbands might be preserved and their 
success insured. 

(d) Other types of magical behavior have their origin in 
the spontaneous response of the organism to specific 
situations. In states of excitement the liberated energy 
must find an outlet in movements. To restrain every 
external sign of intense emotion is unendurable. By the 
bedside of a sick person one loves, one must do something 
for him. The " expression " of the excitement is not 
altogether at random. It takes place according to certain 
principles.^ For instance, it is a common fact that even 
men of culture when under stress of emotion act in the 
absence of the object of their passion as if it were present. 
A man grinds his teeth, shakes his fist, growls at the absent 
enemy ; a mother talks fondly to her departed babe and 
presses it to her breast. The less a person is under the 

1 Comp. Irving King: "In innumerable cases they (magical and re- 
ligious acts) can be shown to be primarily the natural reaction of the psycho- 
physical organism, almost its mechanical reflex, in situations of strain and 
relaxation, or to such conditions as require practical adjustments of some sort." 
Of. cit., pp. 179-188. 

In attempting to explain the bodily movements which accompany emotions, 
Darwin set down three principles, two of which should be taken into account 
in the consideration of the origin of magical behavior: the principle of actions 
due to the constitution of the nervous system, and the principle of serviceable 
or associated habit. (Charles Darwin, Expression of the Emotions in Man 
and Animals, pp. 28 flf. ) These principles become, in Wundt's treatment of 
the matter, the principle of the direct modification of innervation, the 
principle of the association of related feelings, and the principle of the 
relation of the movements to sense-representations. (W^. W^undt, Physiolo- 
gische Psychologies 5th_ed., Vol. Ill, pp. 286-296.) 


control of reason, the more likely is he to yield to such 

If a happy coincidence were to lead to a connection be- 
tween such behavior and success in war, these spontaneous 
actions would become magical, that is, actions performed in 
the belief that they are of assistance to the warriors. But 
coinciding fortunate events are not necessary to the estab- 
lishment of the connection in question. It is psycholog- 
ically probable that the desire in the mind of the person 
during the spontaneous activities will lead to a connection 
between these and the realization of the desire. It is worth 
while to dwell a moment longer upon this possibility. 

A few pages above I had occasion to discuss certain 
dancing ceremonies. I attempted there to account for the 
magical dances of the women while the men are at war as 
due in their original form to a spontaneous expression of 
restlessness and excitement. Duration and repetition of 
the excitement would favor its expression in coordinated, 
intelligible movements, — mimicry of fighting, for instance. 
If now there appears a sense of necessary connection be- 
tween mimic fighting and success in war, what was a mere 
spontaneous expression of excitement becomes a magical 
practice. This step is not impossible, for if, while the danc- 
ing goes on, the wish for the success of the warriors is up- 
permost in the minds of the women, the dancing will prob- 
ably come to be regarded as a condition of success. This 
last step would be no more than an expression of the well- 
known law of association : two things that have been to- 
gether in the mind tend to recall each other. Thus forms 
of behavior arising as a release from emotional tensions 
gradually assume definiteness and become means of exer- 
cising magical influence, quite independently of any experi- 
mental proof.-^ 

1 If any one finds it difficult to admit that the savage can so easily be de- 
ceived, I would call his attention to the well-known instances of children's 



Several of the numerous varieties of so-called Sympa- 
thetic Magic, particularly the widespread practice of doing 
to an effigy that which one would like to do to the original, 
can be accounted for by the addition to the former prin- 
ciples of the following law of mental action. Objects re- 
sembling each other become associated in the mind, so that 
the mind tends to pass from one to the other. Like objects 
may become to some extent equivalents in mental opera- 
tions. The fact that the satisfaction to the person laboring 
under the excitement of anger or any other emotion in- 
creases with the similarity of the object upon which he 
wreaks his vengeance to the person really intended, was 
probably discovered by chance and led to the making of 
images and effigies for magical purposes. 

{e) In the preceding modes of origin, movements and 
behaviors first appear independently of any magical inten- 
tion, and afterwards acquire a magical significance. But 
the magical principles soon became disengaged from mag- 
ical practice. At this point a new chapter opened in the 
history of the magical art. Magic no longer arose only 
by chance, but new forms were created deliberately. 
From this moment there must have been a tendency to 
treat according to more or less definite magical principles 
every difficult situation. 

Here belong most of the numerous practices that may 
be classed under the heading " like produces like." That 
" like produces like " is a law of nature expressed every- 
where about us. Cold, for instance, produces cold, and 

beliefs and self-deceptions regarding dolls, for example. Most of them be- 
have, at a certain age, as if their dolls were alive, and at some moments they 
seem really to believe this. What they think at other moments is another 
matter. We need not suppose that the savage cannot take, at times, a crit- 
ical attitude and perhaps undeceive himself. It is sufficient that at other 
moments, when under the pressure of need or in the excitement of important 
ceremonies, he should be able to assume the attitude of the believer. 


fire engenders fire. The frequent spreading of dreadful 
infectious diseases among vegetables, animals, and men 
seems quite sufficient to suggest this belief. The attention 
of the savage would naturally be drawn very early to that 
relation, because of the many striking and dangerous forms 
it takes. Now as he is quite unable to distinguish among 
the different agencies involved in the various experiences 
of this sort, he cannot draw the line between the " likes " 
that really produce "like" and those that do not; hence 
his very strange expectations. And as it is often impos- 
sible to obtain or manipulate the objects possessing the 
quality desired, the whole comes to be replaced by a part, 
or even by a symbol, which is treated as if it contained the 
power of the whole. For example, eating or wearing a 
part of a courageous or powerful animal makes one bold 
or strong, or protects from danger; rubbing the chin of a 
young man with a rat's totem makes the hair grow, etc. 

Another origin of the same class is suggested by an in- 
teresting observation made by Sully. ^ A little girl thought 
that making her hair tidy would stop the blowing of the 
wind. The wind disheveled her ; conversely putting her 
hair in order would make the wind cease. Similarly some 
children imagine that since the wind produces whistling 
sounds, whistling will produce wind. The second of two 
successive events is thought able to reproduce the first. 

In attempting to demonstrate the priority of magic to religion, Frazer 
writes : " Magic is nothing but a mistaken application of the very sim- 
plest and most elementary process of the mind, namely, the association 
of ideas by virtue of resemblance or contiguity, while religion assumes 
the operation of conscious or personal agents, superior to man. behind 
the visible screen of nature. Obviously the concept of personal agent 
is more complex than a simple recognition of the similarity or contigu- 
ity of ideas. . . . The very beasts associate the ideas of things that 
are like each other or that have been found together in their experience. 

1 Sully, J., Studies of Childhood, 1896, p. 80. 


. . . But who attributes to the animals a belief that the phenomena 
are worked by a multitude of invisible animals or by one enormous and 
prodigiously strong animal behind the scenes ? " ^ It is undoubtedly true 
that the mind of man tends to pass from one object to others similar or 
present at the same time ; but this psychological fact does not in itself 
account for magic. The mind of animals is regulated in like manner. 
In the spring the sight of a feather makes the bird " think " of nest-build- 
ing, and the smell and sight of the master's coat probably brings the master 
to the dog's mind. Yet animals do not practice the magical art. This 
fact shows the insufficiency of "a simple (mistaken) recognition of the 
similarity and contiguity of ideas " as an explanation of the origin of 
magic. If an animal had had his attention drawn to the color of carrots 
and of jaundice, he might connect them by their color likeness ; and 
also "coat" and "master" might follow each other in a dog's mind. 
But in order to treat the coat as he would the master, or to eat carrots 
for the cure of jaundice, the dog must have, in addition to the associa- 
tion, the belief that whatever is done to the coat will be suffered by the 
master, and that the eating of carrots will cure the disease. The ex- 
istence of these ideas, together with their motor and aflfective values, 
makes magic possible. Frazer seems to have overlooked this funda- 
mental difference between mere association of ideas and the essential 
mental processes involved in magic. This difference may be further il- 
lustrated by the instance of a dog biting in rage the stick with which he 
is being beaten. He is indeed doing to the stick what he would like to 
do to the man ; but in attacking the stick he does not think that he is 
injuring the man. His action is blindly impulsive, while the form of 
magic in question involves the purpose of inflicting injury on something 
else than the stick, and the belief that the injury is actually done.- 

If magical actions cannot be deduced simply from the principles of 
association, they can at least be classified according to the kind of as- 
sociation they illustrate. For although the various ideas brought to- 
gether in magic, in a relation of cause and effect, are frequently said to 
have come together by " chance," some of the conditions under which 

1 Frazer, J. G., op. cit., 2d ed.. Vol. I, p. 70. Oldenburg {Die Religion des 
Veda, Berlin, 1894) was first, I believe, in holding to a pre-religious magica- 
stage of culture. But it is Frazer who first made a clear separation, not only 
between magic and religion, but also between magic and the belief in spirit- 

2 Comp. R. R. Marett, From Spell to Prayer, Folk-lore, Vol. XV, 1904, 
pp. 136-141, reprinted in The Threshold of Religion, pp. 44-48. 


they have in fact become connected are expressible in the universal laws 
of association ; namely, association by similarity or contrast, by conti- 
guity or spatial opposition, and by emotional congruity or disparity. 
Whenever magical acts have been classified, it has been mainly with 
reference to the kinds of association involved in the mental processes. 
But every kind of activity involving mental operations falls in some of 
its relations under the laws of association, hence these classifications 
are relatively unfruitful. I have attempted, therefore, to group magical 
practices according to a factor of greater significance, namely, the na- 
ture of the power involved. 

3. The Origins of Religious Practices 

The main sources of religious ceremonies and rites are 
so obvious that little time need be spent in stating and 
illustrating them. 

First of all, certain magical practices may perhaps be 
turned to religious account. " It will not surprise us," says 
Jevons, "if we find that the ceremonies which were used 
for the purpose of rain-making before rain was recognized 
as the gift of the gods, continue for a time to be practised 
as the proper rites with which to approach the god of 
the community, or the rain god in particular." ^ This 
would, of course, be religion, in our sense of the term, 
only if the ceremony were thought of as acting anthropo- 
pathically upon the god. If, instead, its action were co- 
ercitive, it would still be a magical rite brought to bear 
this time upon a personal Power. This source of religious 
practices can be of only slight consequence, since it is 
rarely possible for coercitive methods to be adaptable to 
religious action. 

Most of the forms of religious behavior arise, no doubt, 
from transferring practices useful in human intercourse 
to man's relations with gods. Because of the origin and 
nature of the gods, human relations are the prototypes 

1 Jevons, F. B., Introduction to the Study of Co7tiparative Religion, pp. 


of intercourse with gods. A god who is a Great Ancestor 
and chief of a tribe will naturally be approached in a way 
similar to that customary with living chiefs. If the " god " 
is still living, that is, if he is a medicine-man or a chief 
deified, he will evidently be dealt with according to the 
customs of men. We have already seen how widespread 
is the worship of men supposed to possess marvellous 

Certain religious practices may be an extension of 
friendly offices or other natural actions towards the dead 
in the grave, and towards ghosts which cannot yet be 
ranked with gods. When a Jupagalk in great pain calls 
on some dead friend to come and help him, — that is, to 
visit him in a dream and teach him some song whereby he 
may avert the evil magic that is hurting him,i — his call- 
ing for the friendly service of his relative is certainly of 
the same nature as a religious prayer. 

The custom of placing in graves objects of which the 
deceased may have need is widespread. Howitt reports 
this custom among the natives of southeast Australia. 
A trait of human nature well worth noticing is that the 
Australians, who provide water and food for the dead, also 
break the legs of the corpse "to prevent the ghost from 
wandering at night," ^ presumably not as a further good 
office, but out of fear that he may cause them injury. 

In regard to religious practices, the following quotations referring 
to the Melanesians are instructive. In Melanesia "a man is buried 
with money, porpoise teeth, and ornaments belonging to him, his 
bracelets put on upside down ; and these things are often afterwards 
secretly dug up again. . . . When they hang up the dead man's arms 
on his house, they make great lamentations; all remains afterwards 
untouched, the house goes to ruin, mantled as time goes on with the 
vines of the growing yams, a picturesque and indeed a touching sight ; 

1 Howitt, A. W., The Native Tribes of South-Easi Australia, p. 435. 

2 Howitt, A. W., op. cit., p. 474. 


for these things are not set up that they may in a ghostly manner 
accompany their former owner, they are set up there as a memorial 
of him as a great and valued man, like the hatchment of old times. 
With the same feeling they cut down a dead man's fruit trees as a 
mark of respect and affection, not with any notion of these things 
serving him in the world of ghosts ; he ate of them, they say, when 
he was alive, he will never eat again, and no one else shall have 
them. . . . The series of funeral-feasts or death-meals, the 'eating 
of death,' as they call it, follows upon the funeral, or even begins be- 
fore it, and is the most important part of the commemoration of the 
dead ; it may be said, indeed, to be one of the principal institutions 
of the islands. The number of the feasts and the length of time during 
which they are repeated vary very much in the various islands, and 
depend also upon the consideration in which the deceased is held. 
The meals are distinctly commemorative, but are not altogether devoid 
of the purpose of benefiting the dead ; it is thought that the ghost 
is gratified by the remembrance shown of him, and honored by the 
handsome performance of the duty ; the living also solace themselves 
in their grief, and satisfy something of their sense of loss by affection- 
ate commemoration." ^ 

Social customs such as prostrating oneself before power- 
ful men and chiefs, and making offerings that may incline 
them to be favorable, are no doubt the prototypes of adora- 
tion and offering. Rivers, in his interesting account of the 
Todas, mentions that one division of a clan makes to an- 
other division an offering of a buffalo as an atonement for 
certain offences. He expresses the opinion that we have 
here " something which is midway between a social regula- 
tion of the nature of punishment and a definitely rehgious 
rite of propitiation of higher powers." ^ This is probably 
true of the feasts of the Thompson Indians, as well as 
of those of many other primitive populations. "All of 
them," says Teit, "apparently held uppermost the idea of 
good fellowship. Many were simply social gatherings, 
called, for instance, by one family when it chanced to have 

^Codrington, R. H., op. cit., pp. 254, 255, 271. 

2 Rivers, W. H. R., The Todas., London, Macmillan, 1906, p. 311. 


a large supply of food, that it might show its liberality 
and good-will. Feasts were also given when one family 
visited another. There were also social gatherings called 
potlacJies, at which there was a general distribution of pres- 
ents by a wealthy individual or family. All these customs 
were so definitely fixed that their observance was certainly 
a phase of tribal good form, if not of tribal morality and re- 
ligion. At any rate, they are interesting as showing a 
rudimentary stage in the development of real religious 
feasts." ^ If feasts such as these are held within a non- 
religious social life, it is easy to understand how readily 
they may become part of the rehgious life when the god- 
ideas appear. But in most cases, social feasts develop in 
a milieu where Great Ancestors have had from the begin- 
ning a prominent share in the festivals. 

The intimate and detailed relations existing between the 
religious forms of a people and the social Hfe have long 
been recognized.^ Gods and religious rites reflect the oc- 
cupations, customs, and chief interests of a people. Were 
this not so, the conception of religion and of its origin pre- 
sented in this book would be radically wrong. 

^ King, Irving, op. cit., p. 107. 

2 Among recent books, see Karl Budde, The Religion of Israel up to the 
Exile; George Barton, Semitic Origins. 



Before bringing to a close the comparative study of 
these two forms of behavior, I propose to discuss briefly 
the following corollaries, which may be drawn from the 
propositions set down in the preceding pages. 

1. Magic and religion have had independent origins. 
Neither of them need be regarded as a development from 
the other. 

2. Magic contributed very little directly to the making 
of religion. 

3. The simpler forms of magic probably antedated 

4. Because they are different ways of achieving the 
same ends, magical and religious practices are closely as- 

5. Religion is social and beneficial ; magic is dominantly 
individual and often evil. 

6. Magic is of shorter duration than religion. 

7. Science is closely related neither to magic nor to 
religion, but to the mechanical type of behavior. 

I. Religion and magic have had independent origins. — 
This is the most important of these corollaries. The facts 
and arguments brought forward in the preceding discus- 
sion of the origins of the non-personal Power, of the god- 



ideas, and of magical and religious practices afford, to my 
mind, conclusive evidence of the truth of this proposition. 
Religion cannot be said to be an outgrowth of magic ; and 
religion in no way leads to magic. 

2. What did magic contribute to the making of religion ? — 
We cannot accept the answer given by Frazer. Since he 
recognizes not only a fundamental distinction, but even 
an opposition of principle, between magic and religion, he 
cannot allow the former a positive influence in the establish- 
ment of religion. Yet, he traces a genetic relation between 
them ; it is the recognition of the failure of magic that is 
the cause of the worship of gods. " I would suggest," 
writes Frazer, "that a tardy recognition of the inherent 
falsehood and barrenness of magic set the more thoughtful 
part of mankind to cast about for a truer theory of nature 
and a more fruitful method of turning her resources to 
account." When a man saw that his magical actions were 
not the real cause of the activity of nature, he concluded 
that, " if the great world went on its way without the 
help of him or his fellows, it must surely be because there 
were other beings, like himself, but far stronger, who, un- 
seen themselves, directed its course and brought about all 
the various series of events which he had hitherto believed 
to be dependent on his own magic. ... To these mighty 
beings, whose handiwork he traced in all the gorgeous and 
varied pageantry of nature, man now addressed himself, 
humbly confessing his dependence on their invisible power, 
and beseeching them of their mercy to furnish him with 
all good things. ... In this, or some such way as this, 
the deeper minds may be conceived to have made the 
transition from magic to religion." ^ Concerning this view, 
I would say, first, that Frazer does not even attempt to 

1 Frazer, J. G., o/i. cii., 2d ed., Vol. I, pp. 75-78. 



disprove the effectiveness of the sources of the belief in 
ghosts, nature-beings, and creators mentioned in preceding 
sections. These sources are sleep, trances, and apparitions ; 
the impulse to personify great and startling natural phenom- 
ena; the idea of creation. His hypothesis of the origin of 
religion is, therefore, superfluous, unless he can show that the 
transition from magic to religion took place in the manner 
he suggests before the experiences and reflections we have 
named had given rise to the god-idea and to intercourse 
with gods. If, disregarding this objection, we consider the 
assumption on which Frazer's hypothesis rests, namely, 
that sagacious men of wild races persuaded themselves 
and their fellows of the inefficiency of magic, we find it 
clearly contradicted by the history of the relation of magic 
to religion, and also by the psychology of credulity. On 
the latter ground, he may justly be accused of attributing 
insufficient influence both to the will to believe and to the 
support the will to believe receives from the many appar- 
ent or real successes of magic. These successes, with the 
help of the several ways of accounting for failures without 
giving up the belief, ^ were, in my opinion, sufficient to 
support a belief in the efficiency of magic until long after 
the birth of religion. Must we not draw this conclusion 
from the recent spread of the spiritualistic movement, not 
only among the untutored, but even among people of 
culture? The recent gains of spiritism have been made 
in spite of numberless failures, the repeated discovery of 
deception, and the satisfactory scientific explanation of a 
large proportion of the alleged spiritistic facts. To sup- 
pose that before ghosts, nature-beings, and creators had 

^ A widespread opinion ascribes the failures of the magician to a rival or to 
the counter-influence of some evil spirit. "If a man died in spite of the 
medicine-man, they [the Chepara of South-East Africa] said it was WuUe, an 
evil being, that killed him." (Hovvitt, op. cit., p. 385.) 


been thought of as exercising a practical influence upon 
men's conduct, there existed persons so keenly observant, 
so capable of scientific generalization, and so free from the 
obscuring influences of passion as to be able to reject the 
many instances of apparent success of magic, is to posit 
a miracle where a satisfactory natural explanation already 

Although the hypothesis that gods and religion are the 
consequence of the recognition of the failure of magic 
must be rejected, it does not follow that two modes of activ- 
ity with a common purpose, as are magic and early reli- 
gion, do not react upon each other in many ways. If magic 
was first in .the field, we may believe that the satisfac- 
tion its results gave to man were apparent and real, and 
that in providing him with a means of expressing and 
gratifying his desires, it tended to retard the estabhshment 
of any other method of securing the same ends. The 
habit of doing a thing in a particular manner always stands 
more or less in the way of the discovery of other ways of 
doing the same thing. So that, in these respects, magic 
was a hindrance to the making of religion. There is, 
however, a grain of truth in Frazer's hypothesis. Had 
magic completely satisfied man's multifarious desires, he 

* In the third chapter of Magic and Religion, Andrew Lang vigorously 
attacks Frazer's hypothesis. A part of his argument, based on generally 
accepted historical data, is summarized in this passage : " If we find that the 
most backward race known to us believes in a power, yet propitiates him 
neither by prayer nor sacrifice, and if we find, as we do, that in many more 
advanced races in Africa and America, it is precisely the highest power which 
is left unpropitiated, then we really cannot argue that gods were first invented 
as powers who could give good things, on receipt of other good things, sacrifice 
and prayer." He remarks, in addition, that although one would not expect 
people who had recognized the uselessness of magic and had turned to gods, 
to continue the development of the magical art; yet, in order to find the 
highest magic, one has to go to no less a civilization than that of Japan, where 
gods are numerous. 


would, in all probability, have paid but scant attention to 
the gods ; for it is mainly in times of trial that man turns 
to them. It was thus greatly advantageous to the develop- 
ment of religion that the inadequacy of magic should have 
been felt. Besides, magic exercised a considerable in- 
fluence on the general mental growth of savage popula- 
tions ; in this sense also it may be said to have indirectly 
helped religion. 

3. The simpler forms of magic probably existed prior to 
religion. — A proof of the separate origins of magic and of 
religion leaves the question of priority unsolved. When 
one questions students of primitive history, they say unan- 
imously that, in the lower societies of which we have accu- 
rate knowledge, magic is always in evidence, whereas 
religion may be represented by mere rudiments. Thus 
they convey the impression that magic antedated religion. 
But the historical argument is open to serious objections. 
The so-called " primitive " populations are not at all primi- 
tive, and so any one, without contesting the correctness of 
the facts reported by anthropologists, may refuse to admit 
that these facts represent the condition of really primitive 
societies, and may maintain, on the contrary, that originally 
there was no magic, but only a simple and crude rehgion, 
and that what we observe to-day is a state of degeneration. 
No headway can be made towards an historical solution of 
the problem until our knowledge has been increased to an 
extent perhaps impossible. 

There remains, fortunately, another line of argumenta- 
tion : the comparative consideration of the mental processes 
required for the establishment of magic and religion. If 
certain classes of magical practices can be shown to result 
from observations more obvious and from mental processes 
more elementary than those involved in the making of re- 


ligion, it will be legitimate to conclude that those classes of 
magic probably came into existence earlier than religion. 
That this conclusion is warranted by the facts, has, I be- 
lieve, been made clear in the preceding pages, where one 
class of magic was shown to be independent both of the 
notion of animism and of dynamism, and where the idea of 
a non-personal Power, upon which most kinds of magic 
depend, was found to be in all probability a conception 
earlier in time than animism. 

The priority of magic does not, of course, mean that there 
has been no overlapping of the periods during which the 
two modes of behavior came into existence : but only that 
magic probably began before religion. 

The problem of priority would be of great importance 
were magic and religion genetically related. But, as this 
is not the case, the question possesses little real significance. 

4. Magic and religion are often closely associated. — 
Certain authors have affirmed that magic and religion, in 
their crudest expression, are hardly to be distinguished. 
This is an error impossible to one who has accepted the 
conceptions offered in this book. It is true, indeed, that 
they are often used together and for a common purpose, 
but this in no way obliterates their difference. 

Perhaps enough has been said already about the nature 
of the magical power and of the relation to it of the per- 
sonality of the magician. For the sake of pointing out 
once more the distinction existing between magical and re- 
ligious behavior, however, I will venture two additional 
illustrations. In ancient Peru, when a war expedition was 
contemplated, the people used to starve some black sheep 
for several days and then slay them, uttering the incantation, 
" As the hearts of these beasts are weakened, so let our 
enemies be weakened." If this utterance is to be regarded 


as an attempt to project the operator's "will" upon the 
enemies, we are in the realm of pure magic. But if it is to 
be understood as a request addressed to a personal being, 
it is a prayer, and then we deal probably with an instance of 
the combination of magic with religion. One of the finest 
incantations of the ancient Egyptians seeks to make 
" the father of Hght " enter into a lamp. " ' Come down 
into this flame, inspire with thy holy spirit. ... O Logos 
that orderest day and night. . . . Come, show thyself to 
me, O God of gods ; enter, make manifest thyself ... in 
thy ape form enter.' This must have been an invocation 
to Thoth, the sacred ape, showing that one of the greatest 
gods was invoked to manifest himself by magic." ^ Here 
a request is made of a god to enter into a lamp. So far 
we deal with a religious attitude and behavior. But what 
seems to be expected of the god is, in part at least, a mag- 
ical activity, z. e. the use of a mysterious power in his 

In an ingenious essay, already mentioned,^ Marett, argu- 
ing against Frazer's " oil and water " theory of the 
relation of magic to religion, attempts to show that a pro- 
gressive personification and deification of the magical 
instrument often takes place, and, at the same time, " the 
spell evolves into a prayer." Magic, he urges, is not in 
origin a mechanical " natural science," capable only of 
yielding to religion as a substitute and never of joining 
forces with it as ally or blood-relation. " Magic proper is 
all along an occult process, and, as such, part and parcel 
of the * god-stuff ' out of which religion fashions itself." 
And he provides illustrations which, he thinks, " show 
how artificial must ever be the distinction we draw, purely 

^ Petrie, Flinders, Aspects of Egyptian jVtf/?]^/o«, Transactions of the Third In- 
ternalional Congress of the History of Religions, Vol. I, p. 192. 
'■^ Marett, R. R., From Spell to Prayer, pp. 76 ff. 


for our own classificatory purposes, between magic and 

I have no wish whatsoever to deny that the spell often 
passes into prayer and that the magical instrument may 
be deified ; and I quite agree that magic and religion fre- 
quently join forces. But the term " blood-relation " means 
a closer relation than that obtaining between them, and the 
accusation that the distinction between these two forms of 
behavior is artificial does not seem to me warranted. The 
feeling-attitude of magic is always distinct from the 
feeling-attitude properly called religion, because the Powers 
to which magic and religion respectively address themselves 
are of a different nature. There is nothing in Marett's 
instances that would give one the right to gainsay what I 
have insisted regarding the definiteness of the distinction. 
Magic and religion are frequently allies because they often 
have the same end, but an alliance prompted by a common 
purpose is not a blood relationship. And if one chooses 
to speak of magic as " evolving " into religion, one should 
not understand by that expression that, because of an essen- 
tial identity of nature, the one becomes the other. That 
which happens is merely that, having two instruments at 
his service for producing one and the same result, the sav- 
age uses them simultaneously or in succession. 

Will-Magic in all its phases belongs to magic and never 
to religion. For the Power that is sent forth in Will- 
Magic is indeed despatched by a person, but is not itself 
a person ; it is a non-personal Power, detachable in various 
quantities from a person. Between a person dealing, as a 
person, with another, and a person using upon another a 
coercitive Power, there is a chasm, — a chasm equally great 
whether the coercitive Power seems to proceed from the 
very centre of the personality, as in Will-Magic, or whether 
it is entirely external, as in other varieties of the art. Hav- 


ing said so much, I must add that, although Marett regards 
magic and religion as " overlapping," he holds, neverthe- 
less, that these terms embody " a distinction of first-rate 
importance," He merely wishes "to mitigate the contrast 
by proposing what, in effect, amounts to a separation iti 
lieu of a divorce." ^ 

5. Religion is social and beneficent; magic is dominantly 
individual and often evil. — The individualistic, private, and 
evil character of magic has been emphasized by certain 
students of primitive life and contrasted with the social, 
public, and benevolent character of religion. That these 
epithets express a relative difference between these two 
forms of behavior is undeniable. One must agree in the 
main with King, when he writes : " There is, we believe, 
no generalization concerning savage practices which may 
be made with greater assurance than this, that magic is 
relatively individualistic and secret in its methods and in- 
terests, and is thus opposed fundamentally to the methods 
and interests of religion, which are social and public. This 
individualistic and secret character of magic makes it easy 
for it to become the instrument of secret vengeance, as we 
have seen above. There is no primitive society, as far as 
our accounts have gone, which does not dread the sor- 
cerer." ^ But it would be an error to regard these dif- 
ferences as essential and to try to use them for the 
differentiation of magic from religion. There is nothing 
in the nature of magic to make it necessarily personal, se- 
cret, or evil. The facts speak clearly. On the one hand, 
there is an abundance of magic performed not for an in- 
dividual only, but for a group, or for the whole tribe, — a 
magic, the technique of which is public and the intention 

1 Marett, R. R., op. cil., pp. 31, 34. 
* King, Irving, op. cil., p. 195. 


benevolent. One need only refer to Egyptian magic in 
confirmation of this statement. And, on the other hand, 
there are stages in the later life of nations, during which 
religion is predominantly a personal matter. Christian 
mysticism, for instance, which is for many the highest 
expression of Christianity, is eminently individualistic. 

The fact that religion is used for social ends more 
widely than is magic is a consequence of their fundamental 
differences in origin and in nature. Since early gods are re- 
garded as tribal ancestors, creators, or nature beings, they 
are intimately related, not with isolated individuals, but 
with the social group as a whole. The natural tendency 
would therefore be for the tribe as a whole to maintain 
relations with these beings. On the other hand, no obvi- 
ous reason exists for the non-personal magical Power to 
be considered as belonging to, or as acting for, the entire 
community. It is at the service of any individual who 
chances to get hold of it. This same fundamental dif- 
ference explains why, when the separation between the 
offices of magician and of priest has taken place, the ma- 
gician is more loosely connected with the tribe than is the 

The frequently evil character of magic is also readily 
explained. The blood-relationship involved between gods 
and the tribe in the conception of ancestral and creator 
gods necessarily implies a general attitude of benevolence 
toward the tribe. The gods are, therefore, in theory at 
least, inaccessible to the enemy of the common weal. 
The worship, by a community, of personal powers recog- 
nized as evil, would lead speedily to the destruction of the 
community ; for it would result in a systematic strength- 
ening of antisocial forces. 

Thus it comes to pass that magic is much used for the 
gratification of individual and evil purposes. But to say, 


as King does, that when the ends of magic are more or 
less socialized, they begin to partake of the nature of re- 
ligion, while " when religion becomes subservient to anti- 
social or to merely private ends, it is scarcely to be 
distinguished from sorcery," ^ is to fail in the recognition 
of the fundamental difference existing between these two 
types of behavior. 

6. Magic is of shorter duration than religion. — Opinions 
conflict regarding the ultimate fate of religion, but it can- 
not be denied that it is still among us, widespread and 
influential, while magic has long since fallen into disrepute 
and is probably doomed to disappear altogether. Why 
this difference in the historical course of these two modes 
of behavior ? 

If the reader will turn to the first chapter, Religiofi as 
a Type of Rational Behavior^ he will see that all but two 
of the reasons assigned there for the continuance of re- 
ligion, even though gods should have merely a subjective 
existence, apply also to magic. The two exceptions are 
these : since the Power with which magic deals is not per- 
sonal, it cannot provide the comfort found in communion 
with a loving All-Father, and it cannot serve as a stay and 
inspiration of the moral life. Now, it is because religion 
admits of these moral relations with an ideal Being that 
it has endured. Were it, hke magic, able to serve men 
only in the other respects listed in the chapter referred to, 
it would certainly have long since lost most of the potency 
it still retains ; for its inefficiency as a means of controUing 
physical nature has by this time become evident. 

Another circumstance has accelerated the fall of magic. 
Its failure to " make good " in certain directions might 
have been sufficiently overbalanced by successes in other 

1 King, op. cii., p. 195. 


directions which would have delayed longer its fall, were not 
the fundamental principles of science directly opposed to it. 
Science is built on the principle that a quantitative relation 
exists between cause and effect. As soon as this notion 
found lodgement in the human mind, magic became on log- 
ical grounds radically inacceptable. The conflict of religion 
with science could not be so direct and deadly, for as the 
alleged effects of religious practices are ascribed to per- 
sonal agents, science could attack religion only by showing 
that it was inefficient or by proving directly that the gods 
were merely mental creations. Now, the inefficiency of 
religion in matters physical can be proved with relative 
ease ; but not its inefficiency in matters spiritual. And as 
to a metaphysical disproof of the existence of gods, the 
student of the history of philosophy knows what difficul- 
ties stand in its way. 

7. Magic and the origin of science. — The reader will 
remember that after having discriminated roughly, in the 
introduction, three modes of behavior observable in man, 
I added that while the anthropopathic behavior becomes 
religion when it is directed to gods, the mechanical be- 
havior becomes science when the principle of quantitative 
proportion implicit in that behavior is definitively recog- 
nized. The common opinion is, however, that magic is 
the precursor of science. Frazer, who may stand as the 
representative of that theory, writes, for instance : " Magic 
is next of kin to science, for science assumes that in nature 
one event follows another necessarily and invariably with- 
out the intervention of any special spiritual or personal 
agency. Thus its fundamental conception is identical with 
that of modern science ; underlying the whole system is a 
faith, implicit, but real and firm, in the order and uniform- 
ity of nature ... his power [the magician's], great as he 


believes it to be, is by no means arbitrary and unlimited. 
He can wield it only so long as he strictly conforms to the 
rules of his art, or to what may be called the laws of nature 
as conceived by him. . . . Thus the analogy between the 
magical and the scientific conception of the world is close. 
In both of them the succession of events is perfectly regu- 
lar and certain, being determined by immutable laws, the 
operation of which can be foreseen and calculated pre- 
cisely." ^ 

Regarding this opinion, I observe that the acknowl- 
edgment of a fixed relation between actions or beliefs and 
their results is not peculiar to magic ; it is implied also to 
a considerable degree in religion and, more perfectly, in 
mechanical behavior. Salvation is by the right practice, 
or by the right faith, or by both. The gods cannot be 
approached and conciliated in any way ; worshipper, no 
less than magician, has to conform to a definite ritual. 
In certain communities not entirely barbarous, salvation 
is held to depend upon a belief in no fewer than thirty- 
nine articles ! Frazer finds it convenient to disregard the 
considerable share of the personal, i.e. of the capricious, the 
incalculable, in magic. Yet the personality of the magician 
introduces an indeterminable factor, one particularly con- 
siderable in Will-Magic. Nothing could be more directly 
antagonistic to the scientific attitude than the influence 
accorded to the personality of the magician. It appears to 
me truer to the facts to say that the fundamental concep- 
tion of science, far from being identical with that of magic, 
is absent from it. For the essential presupposition of 
science — that which differentiates it alike from magic 
and from religion — is the acknowledgment of definite 

1 Frazer, J. G., op. cit., pp. 61-62. In the third edition (pp. 458-461) a 
change seems to have taken place in the author's opinion. What this change 
amounts to, I cannot exactly make out. 


and constant guajititative relations between causes and 
effects, relations which completely exclude the personal 

That which magic shares with science is not the belief in 
the fundamental principle we have named, but the desire 
to gain the mastery over the powers of nature, and, 
perhaps, the practice of the experimental method. The 
experimentation of magic is, however, so limited and so 
unconscious that it can hardly be assimilated to the modern 
scientific method. 

If any one should turn to history for an argument in 
support of Frazer's thesis, and should point out that 
the alchemist is the lineal ancestor of the scientist, the 
sufficient answer would be as follows: (i) Historical 
succession does not imply continuity of principle. Al- 
though magic, alchemy, and science form an historical 
sequence, the fundamental principle of the last is not to 
be found in the others. (2) The clear recognition of the 
principle of fixed quantitative relations means, whenever 
and wherever it appears, the birth of science and the death 
of both magic and alchemy. This last fact demonstrates 
clearly the fundamental opposition of these arts to scientific 

Magic does not, any more than religion, encourage the 
exact observation of external facts, but rather promotes 
self-deception with regard to them. So the discovery of 
the scientific principle was probably almost as much hin- 
dered by the false notions and the pernicious habits of 
mind encouraged by magic, as it was furthered by the gain 
in general mental activity and knowledge which it brought 

If the quantitative presupposition of science is absent 
from magic and religion, it is implicitly present in mechani- 
cal behavior. The savage is nearer the scientific spirit, and 


its methods when he constructs a weapon to fit a particular 
purpose, or when he adjusts his bow and arrow to the 
direction and the strength of the wind, than when he exor- 
cises diseases, burns an enemy in effigy, or abstains from 
sexual intercourse to promote success in the hunt. 

8. Summary of the forms assumed by magic and religion. 
— In the preceding pages I have taken pains to discrimi- 
nate and classify to an extent perhaps wearisome, but he 
who would understand human nature cannot rest satisfied 
with the loose class-terms that are current. He must 
strive after a finer differentiation of its confusingly rich 

Three types of behavior have been separated as charac- 
teristic of the life of man, even in the most primitive tribes 
now extant : the mechanical, the coercitive, and the an- 
thropopathic types. At the root of the two latter types 
are found the conceptions of an indeterminate Potency, 
of visible beings (men and animals), and of unseen, 
personal agents (ghosts, spirits, nature-beings, gods). 

1. Mechanical behavior is the ordinary, commonplace 
behavior of men when dealing with inanimate things. 
It contains the germ of the recognition of a principle 
which, when explicitly formulated, becomes the corner- 
stone of science : the principle of quantitative relation. 

2. Coercitive behavior, or magic, has been found to 
fall into three groups : (i) no idea of power is present; 
(2) the Power does not belong to the magician, but he 
secures it from outside himself; (3) the Power is regarded 
as identical with the will of the operator. Another classi- 
fication brings magic back to three principles : Repetition, 
Transmission of effects, and Efficiency of will-effort. 

Three classes of wonderful men exist in primitive 
societies. I have called them, Magicians, men able tq 


secure and make use of the non-personal Potency ; Magic- 
Gods, men possessing in their own right the wonderful 
Potency ; Incarnate Gods, men in whom a god has taken 
his abode. 

3. The anthropopathic behavior includes the willing 
and feeling relations of men and animals with one an- 
other, and those of men with unseen beings. It includes, 
therefore, religion. I have called Passive Religiosity the 
relations maintained by most primitive tribes with the 
highest god in whom they believe, usually a creator-god, 
by whom they are influenced, but whom they cannot 
be said to worship. Passive, unorganized religiosity must 
be, it seems, the necessary precursor of organized religion ; 
it is its larval stage. But it does not by any means dis- 
appear from society when a system of definite relations 
with gods, or with impersonal sources of religious inspira- 
tion has been developed. In all societies there is always 
a large number of people who live in the limbo of organ- 
ized religion. They are open to the influence of religious 
agents, in whom they believe more or less cold-heartedly, 
without ever entering into definite and fixed relations with 
them. The belief in a Supreme Being who keeps aloof 
from the universe permits only Passive Religiosity. 

If one wishes to single out the peculiar relations into 
which men enter with evil spirits, one may speak of them 
as constituting a Negative Form of Active Religion. 




The extent of the literature on the relation of morality 
to religion is amazing. Almost every conceivable kind of 
relation has been attributed to them. It has been main- 
tained, for instance, that morality has no existence out- 
side of religion ; that it is one of the fruits of religion ; 
that purified rehgion is morality; and that no connection 
whatever exists between morality and religion. But if one 
accepts the conception of rehgion offered in this book, the 
relation to rehgion of ethical appreciations and needs does 
not present a particular problem. It is merely a part of the 
general problem of the relation to religion of the human 
impulses, tendencies, and cravings. 

There can be no agreement as to the relation of morality 
to religion until there is agreement regarding the origin and 
the nature of each. In so far as the opinion that the social 
life is the matrix of moral sentiments has become generally 
accepted, progress has been made towards unanimity. 
This view does not necessarily imply a naturalistic philoso- 
phy. One may posit behind the phenomenal world, as or- 
ganizer and inspirer, a conscious Power. In either case, 
provided one admits that the moral life issues out of the 
ordinary social relations, the problem remains the same : 
when the moral tendencies, needs, and cravings have ap- 
peared, why and how do they become connected with the 
religious life .? 



The grounds for the belief in the social, non-religious 
origin of morality are now so well known that I need not 
attempt an exhaustive presentation of them. In order to 
keep from disintegration, a community, however low, must 
enforce rules making for cohesion and efficiency. These 
rules are learned gradually from the lessons of life. Such 
things as treachery, steahng, and murder, among members 
of the group, will necessarily soon fall under the ban of 
tribal opinion. Moreover, the value of kindness and love 
will be felt in the family relations, and will extend thence 
to the wider tribal connections. Even among the higher 
animals, the mother cherishes and protects the young ; 
for the satisfaction of the maternal instinct, she will 
undergo privation and even death. ^ 

The existence of social virtues of considerable nobility, 
even among the lowest savages, with or without religion, is 
one of the facts which late ethnological discoveries have 
placed beyond doubt. The following quotations show in a 
surprising manner the independence of moral ideas from 
religious behefs. " Among the Central Australian natives 
there is never any idea of appealing for assistance to any 
one of these Alcheringa ancestors in any way. . . . They 
have not the vaguest idea of a personal individual other 
than an actual living member of the tribe who approves or 
disapproves of their conduct, so far as anything like what 
we call morality is concerned. ... It must not, however, 
be imagined that the Central Austrahan native has nothing 
in the nature of a moral code. As a matter of fact, he has 
a very strict one, and during his initiation ceremonies the 
youth is told that there are certain things which he must 

^ For a valuable, detailed account of the origin of the tender emotion from 
the maternal protective impulse, see Alexandre Sutherland's 07-igin and 
Gro-vth of the Moral Instinct. There is also an excellent briefer treatment in 
William McDougall's Social Psychology , pp. 66-8 1 . 


do and certain others which he must not do, but he quite 
understands that any punishment for the infringement of 
these rules of conduct . . . will come from the older men 
and not at all from any supreme being, of whom he hears 
nothing whatever. In fact, he then learns that the spirit 
creature, whom, up to that time, as a boy, he has regarded 
as all-powerful, is merely a myth, and that such a being 
does not really exist, and is only an invention of the men 
to frighten the women and children." ^ 

A similar invention of bugbears for the moral edification of 
the youth is found also among the Ona Indians of Tierra del 
Fuego. They " pretend that the natural features of their 
country, such as the woods and rocks, the white mists and 
running waters, are haunted by spirits of various sorts, 
' bogies in which they themselves do not believe, but which 
are a strong moral aid in dealing with refractory wives and 
wilful children.' " In order to establish the belief, men dis- 
guise themselves in appropriate costumes and frighten 
children and youth. At about fourteen they are initiated 
in these mysteries. " At a series of nocturnal meetings 
they then learn the true nature of the ' moral aid ' by which 
their green unknowing youth has been trained in the way 
it should go. . . . Any boy or man who betrays the se- 
cret is quietly put to death ; and the same fate overtakes 
any woman who is suspected of knowing more than is good 
for her." 2 

The moraHty of the Australian aborigines — the most 
primitive savages of which we have accurate knowledge — 
does not fall far short of that of large portions of our 
Christian communities. And yet many of their tribes have 

1 Spencer and Gillen, Northern Tribes of Central Australia, Macmillan, 
London, 1904, pp. 491-492. See also The Native Tribes of Central Australia, 
p. 246, footnote. 

^Frazer, J. G., The Goldeii Bough, 1st ed.. Vol. I, pp. i66, 167. 


no religion at all, if by religion one means offering formal 
petitions for the assistance of the gods. " The natives of 
Queensland were said to be generally honest in their deal- 
ings with one another. ... If a native made a find of any 
kind, as a honey tree, and marked it, it was thereafter safe 
for him, as far as his own tribesmen were concerned, no mat- 
ter for how long he left it. 

" Under the influence of the food rule, a certain gener- 
osity of character is fostered. He was accustomed to share 
his food and possessions. A man of the Kurnai tribe must 
give a certain part of his ' catch ' of game, and that the best 
part, to his wife's father. Each able-bodied man is under 
definite obligation to supply certain others with food. . . . 
Howitt says of these food rules and other similar customs 
that they give us an entirely different and more favorable 
impression of the aboriginal character than that usually 

" Among the Central Australians, chastity is a term to be 
applied to the relation of one group to another, rather than 
to the relation of individuals. Men of one group have more 
or less free access to all the women of a certain other group. 
Within the rules prescribed by customs, breaches of mari- 
tal relations were severely punished. Among the natives 
of North Central Queensland, the camp as a body punished 
incest and promiscuity. 

"Much affection was usually shown to children, and 
this in spite of the fact that abortion and infanticide 
were practised in many localities. Howitt says, ' . . . 
they [the mining tribes] are very fond of their offspring 
and very indulgent to those they keep, rarely striking 

" Lumholtz says that the Queenslanders were very con- 
siderate of all who were sick, old, or infirm. In northern 
parts of Australia there were many blind, and they were 


always well cared for by the tribe, being often the best fed 
and nourished."^ 

The morality of the native Australians before they suf- 
fered from contact with the whites was sufficiently high to 
lead Andrew Lang to compare their " commandments " 
with the Decalogue. The following rules are apparently 
taught and fairly well practised among them : — 

"To listen to old people and to obey them. 

"To share everything with their friends. 

"To live in peace with their friends. 

" Not to have relations with young girls and with mar- 
ried women." ^ 

The struggle for existence imposes upon primitive tribes 
two different codes ; one regulating the behavior of the 
members of the tribe towards one another, the other gov- 
erning their relations with other tribes. Herbert Spencer 
aptly characterized these codes when he named them the 
ethics of amity and the ethics of enmity. ^ Killing a brother 

^ King, Irving, The Development of Religion, Macmillan and Co., 1910, 
Chap. XI, pp. 287-305, freely quoted with many omissions. King draws 
his information from the most reliable sources. 

2 Here are two baby songs reported by Mrs. E. Langloh Parker, The 
Euahlayi Tribe; A Study of Aboriginal Life in Australia, London, Archi- 
bald Constable and Co. (1905), pp. 52, 54. If they do not conform to the 
best pedagogical principles, they mark, at any rate, an earnest ethical purpose. 

" Give to me, Baby, 

Give to her. Baby, 

Give to him, Baby, 

Give to one. Baby, 

Give to all. Baby." 

"Kind be. 
Do not steal. 

Do not touch what to another belongs. 
Leave all such alone. 
Kind be." 
' Spencer, Herbert, The Principles of Ethics, Appleton and Co., 1893, 
Vol. I, p. 316. (See the whole chapter, pp. 307-324.) 


tribesman is a crime ; killing a member of a hostile tribe is 
a good deed. The necessity for these two irreconcilable 
standards is evident ; they are the forms in which the pri- 
mordial impulses of survival and aggrandizement manifest 
themselves. As these two codes exist simultaneously, 
there are developed two sets of ideas and sentiments. 

These incongruous codes still survive among Christian 
nations : the god of love (ethics of amity) becomes at times 
a fighting god (ethics of enmity), supplicated for help, and 
thanked for assistance in the slaughter of enemies. Chris- 
tian nations have not yet been able to accept as universally 
valid the code of love, which was the only one admitted by 
the founder of their religion. 

With the accumulation of experience, national and indi- 
vidual, a reflective morality is born, and an effort is made 
to formulate ethical rules for an ideal social order from 
which no man is excluded. But both in the imperfect mo- 
rality of barbarous tribes and in rules aiming at the ideal 
state desired by the developed moral conscience, we have 
the natural outcome of social experience. 

Although the appearance and development of conscience 
is by no means necessarily dependent upon religion, re- 
ligion has been from the first closely connected with the 
maintenance of tribal customs, and later with the support 
of the principles of higher ethics. It has been, therefore, 
an important factor in ethical progress. Where the earli- 
est gods are great ancestors or tribal heroes, should they 
not naturally be expected to do for their tribe that which 
the living chiefs are trying to do, — to enforce the sacred 
customs ? These gods must, it seems to me, come to be 
y regarded as the guardians of all the values established 
within the tribal life. Nature-gods or creator-gods need 
not be so directly interested in the morality of the tribe as 
would be ancestor or hero-gods ; yet in their friendly deal- 


ing with the tribe the former will, on the whole, " stand 
for" the recognized virtues, even though they should not 
practise them themselves. The natural tendency will be 
to expect them to behave towards men according to the 
double code of amity and enmity. 

A new phase in the socio-religious development appears 
when the gods not only assist in enforcing the customs 
and regulations which the tribe has come to regard as 
essential, but also maintain moral relations with the indi- 
viduals. This is the level of so-called ethical religions. 
The individual has become morally self-conscious ; a sense 
of personal righteousness has developed ; the voice of con- 
science proclaims the moral law and condemns its trans- 
gressions. Then, in the stress of his moral need, man 
learns to look upon his god as the personification of his 
ideal, and as purveyor of moral energy. In God he sees 
realized that after which he yearns, the perfect, v/hich is 
not to be found on earth. 

The history of the development of gods is a magnificent 
testimony to the strength of man's craving for power and 
perfection, and to his ingenuity in gratifying his wants. 
He has endowed his gods according to his needs ; and he 
has believed in them and communed with them, because 
in these ways he has been brought nearer to the realiza- 
tion of his desires. The psychological study of contem- 
porary religious experience makes it evident that the God 
of Christianity continues to be an object of worship, not 
because his existence is rationally established, but because 
he affords ethical support and affective comfort. 

With regard to their function in the moral life, gods are 
cither unconscious or conscious devices for the speedier 
attainment of ideals arising in the social hfe. Therefore, 
although religion has always been a guardian of morality 
and an aid to moral progress, it may not be called the 


original source of moral inspiration. It is not true that 
" the beginnings of all social customs and legal ordinances 
are directly derived from rehgious notions," nor that "re- 
ligious motifs lay at the basis of morals and morality from 
the beginning of civilization." Rather must we say, with 
Harold Hoffding : "Values must be discovered and pro- 
duced in a world of experience before they can be con- 
ceived or assumed to exist in a higher world. The other 
world must always be derived from this world ; it can 
never be a primary concept. . . , Discussion is always led 
back by implacable logic to the conceptual priority of 
ethics over religion." " He who is just because the god in 
whom he believes is just, must attribute value to justice 
itself. Here religion has its logical premise in an inde- 
pendent ethics, whether or no it consciously posits it." ^ 

Because religion exists among peoples whose customs 
do not all agree with modern Christian ideas of right and 
wrong, and fulfils there its essential purpose, — that is, 
assists in the enforcement of these customs, — it has been 
said that early religions are opposed to morality. But this 
judgment arises from a misunderstanding of the nature of 
religion and its relation to morality. The religion of these 
people bears to their life exactly the same relation that our 
rehgion bears to our life : it supports the accepted rules or 
convictions, be they moral or immoral. There is no dif- 
ference in the functions discharged by the religion of 
these primitive people and by our religion ; but there are 
differences between our ideas of morality and theirs. 

The question of the relation of morality to religion is, 
therefore, merely a part of the general problem of the re- 
lation to it of man's impulses, cravings, desires, and ideals. 
Morality and religion do not need each other in order to 

1 Hoffding, Harold, The Philosophy of Religion, Macmillan, 1906, pp. 330, 
329. Sec the whole section, pp. 322-331. 


come into existence, but, when they have appeared, reli- 
gious beliefs are speedily called upon for the gratification 
of moral needs. 


In his Lectures on the Science of Language, Max Miiller 
complains that the religion and the mythology of the 
ancient nations are usually confounded, and he attempts 
to differentiate them. Mythology, he tells us, consists 
of the "fables" about the gods; while religion is "trust 
in an all-wise, all-powerful, eternal Being, the Ruler of 
the world, whom we approach in prayer and meditation."^ 
He would consign to the realm of mythology all the ir- 
relevant, foolish, and immoral stories related of the gods. 
This distinction is accepted by Andrew Lang : " Where 
relatively high moral attributes are assigned to a Being, 
I have called the result * Religion.' Where the same 
Being acts like Zeus in Greek fables, plays silly or obscene 
tricks, is lustful or false, I have spoken of * Myths.' " ^ 

1 Miiller, Max, Lectures on the Science of Language, Second Series, Scribner, 
1884, p. 433. 

" Mythology has encroached on ancient religion, it has at some times well 
nigh choked its very life ; yet through the rank and poisonous vegetation 
of mythic phraseology we may always catch a glimpse of that original stem 
round which it creeps and winds itself, and without which it could not enjoy 
even that parasitical existence which has been mistaken for independent 
vitality." {Lhid.) See also First Series, p. 21. 

2 Lang, Andrew, The Making of Religion, 2d ed., 1900, Preface, p. xiii. 
The following passage from W. Robertson Smith is of interest in this 

connection : — 

" But strictly speaking, this mythology was no essential part of ancient 
religion, for it had no sacred sanction and no binding force on the worship- 
per. . . . Belief in a certain series of myths was neither obligatory as a 
part of true religion, nor was it supposed that, by believing, a man acquired 
merit and conciliated the favor of the gods. What was obligatory or meri- 
torious was the exact performance of certain sacred acts prescribed by religious 
•tradition. This being so, it follows that mythology ought not to take the 


This seems like making the modern EngHshman's notion 
of what is moral and sensible the test of religion in con- 
tradistinction to myth. Morality and rationahty, however, 
can hardly be regarded as essential characteristics of 
religion. Lang is better inspired when he argues that 
religion and mythology arose from two separate human 
moods; one earnest and serious, the other humorous and 
fanciful. " The humorous savage fancy ran away with 
the idea of Power, and attributed to a potent being just 
such tricks as a waggish and libidinous savage would 
like to play if he could." 

The conception of the nature and function of religion 
I have presented leads directly to the following differ- 
entiation. When man is concerned with his practical 
relation to psychic, superhuman powers, any ideas — im- 
moral or otherwise — that he may hold regarding these 
powers belong to religion. According to the mood we are 
in, the same name may designate different objects ; what 
is said or thought of gods outside the temple need not be 
just what is said or thought of them within. To the child, 
the word " doll " means at one time a living person, who is 
capable of ideas and affection, and of whom she takes 
tender care ; at another time, it signifies merely so much 
rags and color, and is treated accordingly. So it is with 
man and the invisible personages in whom he believes. 
Their nature and attributes vary with his moods. If the 
aesthetic mood is upon him, he may find delight in repre- 
senting these beings in their fairest form in clay or marble ; 
at that moment he is an artist. If, in a fanciful mood, he 

prominent place that is too often assigned to it in the scientific study of 
ancient faiths. So far as myths consist of explanations of ritual, their value 
is altogether secondary . . . the ritual was fixed and the myth was variable, 
the ritual was obligatory, and faith in the myth was at the discretion of the 
worshipper." (^The Religion of the Semites, p. 19.) 


lets his imagination weave stories about them, not seriously, 
but playfully, as the child romances about her doll, he then 
becomes a maker of myths. If at another time he is dis- 
interestedly concerned about understanding the origin and 
nature of these beings, he regards them for the time being 
as objects of philosophic thought. But if, in a serious 
mood, he feels himself in vital relation with them, they are 
for him at that moment religious objects. Zeus may thus 
be in turn to the same person an object of artistic, mytho- 
poeic, philosophic, or religious activity. Whatever charac- 
teristics are attached to Zeus in the mind of the worshipper 
either when he actually worships or when he thinks of 
Zeus as an object of worship, and only these characteristics, 
belong to Zeus as a god. 

These various moods may of course overlap. The 
creative fancy, for instance, may combine with the spirit 
of inquiry. As a matter of fact, most myths betray a 
wish to understand ; they are both mythological and phil- 

The less seriously the gods are taken, the more luxuri- 
antly does mythology flourish. A race like the Greeks, 
fonder of the beautiful than of the awful, of pleasure than 
of righteousness, yields readily to the promptings of the 
fancy. If there is little mythology in the Hebrew scrip- 
tures, it is because the Hebrew took his God in grim earnest. 
Even the story of creation, in Genesis, is more a bit of 
crude nature philosophy than a myth. There is hardly a 
myth connected with the Christian God or with Christ. 
Whatever in Christianity might be called myth clusters 
around the lesser personages of the pantheon, — the Virgin 
Mary, the disciples, and especially the saints. The essen- 
tial traits of the Divine Father and of His Incarnate Son 
have always been such as to make it utterly impossible for 
one to assume towards them the detached, playful attitude 


out of which myths are born. On the other hand, the 
Christian God and Christ have given rise to endless philo- 
sophical disputations. This is exactly what one might 
expect ; for these beings, too august and too vitally impor- 
tant to the believer to be the subjects of playful romance, 
make a strong appeal to the understanding. 


As this topic has been touched upon in the criticism of 
intellectuaUstic definitions, and is to be taken up again in 
the next chapter, I shall simply restate here the partial 
conclusion already reached. 

The search for explanations and the wish to understand 
induce a frame of mind and a behavior very different from 
the attitude and behavior of a person who endeavors to 
conform his life to an accepted solution, or to make use 
of it for himself or his fellows. To seek an answer to the 
question, Does God exist, and what is he ? is to philoso- 
phize ; to seek in God the fulfilment of hopes and desires, 
is to be religious. In his philosophical moments man 
wants to know ; in his religious moments he wants to be. 



I. The Situation ; the Propositions of Empirical Theology ; 
the Documental Evidence 

"Le conflit entre le christianisme et la science a 6da.t6 d'abord 
sur le terrain cosmplogique ; la lutte s'est transportee ensuite 
sur le terrain de la biologie ; elle se trouve maintenant sur 
celui de la psychologie." 

Theodore Flournoy, unpublished lecture. 

One of the results of the scientific and philosophical 
activity of the past century has been to convince the best 
informed among the theologians who have remained Chris- 
tians in the traditional sense of the word, that science and 
metaphysics are not the allies but the enemies of their be- 
liefs.^ This conviction has resulted in an energetic effort 
to render theology independent of science and metaphysics. 
Should this endeavor succeed, it would be a matter of in- 
difference to religion that historical criticism contests the 
authenticity of portions of the Bible, that physical science 
denies miracles, and that psychology explains by natural 
means revelation and conversion. 

Ritschhanism, the only recent system of theology that 

1 The metaphysicians have themselves compelled this recognition, even 
those of the English school of Hegelians. See on this an instructive and de- 
lightfully written chapter in Schiller's Studies in Humanism, on " Absolutism 
and Religion," especially pages 283-288 ; and note his reference to McTag- 
gart's Some Dogmas of Religion. 



has given evidence of vitality, marks the culmination of 
this effort. To save religion, Ritschl ^ took the bold step 
of claiming a radical separation between Christian theology 
and what he called " theoretical " knowledge. He alleges 
in justification a specific difference between religious and 
non-religious knowledge. 

" It is incompetent for it [theology] to enter upon either a direct or 
an indirect proof of the Christian Revelation by seeking to show that 
it agrees with some philosophy or some judicial view of the world ; for to 
such, Christianity simply stands opposed." ^ This is the opinion of 
the entire Ritschlian school. W. Herrmann affirms, for example, that 
"Whether philosophy be deistic, pantheistic, theistic, or whatever it is, 
is a matter of indifference to theologians. ... He who imagines he 
will solve or even advance the problem of religion with the assistance 
of that metaphysic of the much-longed-for theistic philosophy, either 
divests himself in theology of his Christianity, or is directly asking for 
another religion."' 

An English disciple makes the following confession : " From philos- 
ophy, the efforts of which have resulted in disappointment, it cannot 
expect any effective assistance as an ally ; from science, which has been 
made confident by its successes, it may anticipate serious attack ; its 
own capacity for independence on the one hand, and for resistance on 
the other, appears greatly lessened by the activity of historical criticism. 
It must depend more and more exclusively on the inherent vitality and 
the inexhaustible vigour of religion." * 

1 Albrecht Ritschl. His chief work is Die Christliche Lehre von der Recht- 
fertigung und Versoehnung, 3 vols. (1870-1S74). A third edition, revised 
and modified in at least one important particular, appeared in 1888. The 
first volume was put into English in 1872 and the third in 1900, under the title 
The Christian Doctrine of Jtistification and Reconciliation, H. R. Mackin- 
tosh and A. B. Macaulay (T. & T. Clark). This third volume contains 
Ritschl's own theological system. For a good bibliography of Ritschlian 
literature, with comments, see Alfred Garvie's The Ritschlian Theology^ also 
pp. 27-30 and 32-38. 

2 A. Ritschl, Justification and Reconciliation, p. 24. 

8 Quoted by O. Pfleiderer, Philosophy of Religion,Vo\. II, p. 190, from Die 
Metaphysik in der Theologie (1876). 

* Garvie, A., Ritschlian Theology, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1899, p. 16. 


Three of the fundamental propositions of the theology 
of Ritschl are as follows : — 

1. The facts on which theology rests are to be found in 
religious consciousness, and nowhere else. They form a 
group of facts apart. 

2. Theology is independent of metaphysics. It cannot, 
for example, make use of the arguments for speculative 

3. Christian dogmas are an illegitimate mixture of the- 
ology and metaphysics. They must be purged of the 
metaphysical elements. 

This theology, modified in diverse fashions, has spread 
widely and has influenced many who do not accept it en- 
tirely. It is scarcely necessary to add that neither Ritschl 
nor any of his followers has been able to hold strictly to 
these principles, so that this theology is just as remarkable 
for its lack of consistency as for its radicalness. Could the 
Ritschlians have been consistent, they would have gained 
independence from metaphysics, but at the cost of mak- 
ing of theology a natural science, that is, a branch of 

It should not be imagined that in separating theology 
from science and metaphysics Ritschl made a new de- 
parture. The German movement merely makes a more 
thorough and systematic use of an old conviction. The 
opinion that what is deepest or most essential in religion 
is a matter of revelation, of intuition, of heart, and not a 
matter of reflection or of philosophy, is as old as the ethical 
religions. It is presupposed in the saying of Tcrtullian, 
" I believe because it is irrational," as well as in that of 
Anselm, " I do not seek to understand in order that I may 
believe, but I believe in order that I may understand." 
Pascal has given to this conviction its classic form, "The 
heart has reasons which reason does not know." Ac- 


cording to him, upon these " reasons of the heart " rests 
the belief in the gods of rehgions. He says, " The meta- 
physical proofs of God are so remote from the reasoning 
of man and so involved, that they make little impression ; 
and when some persons find them sufficient, it is only dur- 
ing the moment they actually see the demonstration. But 
an hour afterwards they believe they have been deceived." ^ 
Even Pascal, that magnificent intelligence, convinced him- 
self of the existence of God much more by what passed in 
his heart than by metaphysical arguments. At the time 
of his conversion he saw, he tells us, that the God who 
saves is not the " God of philosophers," but the " God of 
Abraham and of Jacob." 

Pascal's saying is commonly taken to mean that the 
"heart "is an organ of knowledge comparable with the 
senses and the intellect ; it teaches religious truth inacces- 
sible to the reason. The same conviction is expressed to- 
day by the Ritschlians, as well as by others, thus : " There 
is a moral insight and spiritual discernment of supersensu- 
ous eternal reality, which is as certain a means of knowl- 
edge as is observation or experiment with regard to sensible 
objects. . . . The point most to be insisted upon is that 
in religious knowledge there is a perception of reality as 
well as an appreciation of worth." ^ 

But what, according to this teaching, are the data 
upon which theology is to build .-' The unanimous re- 
sponse of pious souls who no longer have illusions as to 
what they can hope from science and metaphysics is that 
"religious experience," "inner experience," or "spiritual 
experience" — three expressions used synonymously — 
manifests the truth of religion and, in particular, the reahty 

^ Pascal, B., Pensees, Sec. IV, p. 277, ed. by Leon Brunschvieg. 
2 Garvie, A., Expositor, Vol. VIII, 1903, p. 304. Comp. Max Miiller's 
affirmations in Chap. II of this book. 


of the God in whom they believe. The unanimity of opin- 
ion goes no further. Some affirm that in this experience 
God is directly "apprehended" or "perceived"; that he 
reveals himself directly in consciousness. This is the mys- 
tic point of view. Others hold that spiritual experiences 
are only the data from which the action of God is inferred. 

The belief in the direct revelation of God in conscious- 
ness signifies necessarily, it seems, that religious experi- 
ence ^ does not belong entirely to the realm of psychology, 
that it includes something superhumanly determined. As 
a matter of fact, this is what its defenders unceasingly 
maintain. Psychology, on its side, claims the right to 
submit every content of consciousness to scientific study, 
whether it be dubbed "inner," "spiritual," or otherwise; 
moreover, it has begun to make good that claim. Thus 
the conflict between religion and science, which broke out 
first in the field of cosmology, then of biology and the his- 
torical sciences, is now carried into the field of psychology. 
The Roman Catholics, belated in matters of science, remain 
almost indifferent to this new phase of the conflict. They 
still rely upon the metaphysical proofs of the existence of 
God and upon biblical evidence. With the Protestants the 
situation is different. They have bowed to the insuffi- 
ciency of the metaphysical arguments and the weakness of 
the historical proofs. This is why they depend more and 
more exclusively upon religious experience, in the hope of 
finding there a direct, unassailable proof of the divine 
nature of their religion. 

The publications of Protestant theological schools show 
unmistakably that Protestantism is struggling against the 
new evidence which would incorporate the entire religious 

^ I use here the current expression religious experience in the sense or- 
dinarily given to it, i.e. that of which a person is conscious in his rehgious 


life within the natural order. The danger from historical 
and literary criticism is forgotten in the presence of psy- 
chological questions : Are communion with God, conver- 
sion, mystic revelation, etc., to be explained entirely 
according to natural psychological laws ? If the answer be 
yes, how then legitimatize belief in a personal God sup- 
posed to produce these results in answer to petitions or to 
desires ? If, on the other hand, there remains an unex- 
plained residue after science has completed its work, what 
is the nature of this, and what can be drawn therefrom in 
behalf of faith > 

My task in this chapter will be to show : — 

1. That belief in the gods of religion and, indirectly, 
certain other fundamental doctrines, rest, as a matter of 
fact, upon inductions drawn from the " inner " life. 

2. That religious experience ("inner experience") be- 
longs entirely to psychology — "entirely" being used in 
the same sense as when it is claimed that the non-religious 
portions of conscious life belong entirely to science. 

3. That since the gods of religion are empirical gods 
they belong to science. 

The documental evidence. — I shall let representatives of 
different schools, especially ministers of religion and pro- 
fessors of theology, speak for themselves ; for it is evi- 
dently they whom we should hear. Even if some of the 
documents submitted are very crude, they express the 
opinions of those who truly represent the beliefs with which 
we are concerned. What we must avoid is mistaking the 
opinions of philosophers or theologians for the facts of re- 
ligious life. The number and length of the quotations may 
seem excessive, but I wish to avoid the defect of most dis- 
cussions of religion, t.c. an exaggerated reliance upon tra- 


ditional opinion and a priori reasoning, instead of upon a 
painstaking consideration of the facts. 

Document I. — I do not know of any place in Christian 
writings where the arguments for the Christian faith are 
more definitely expressed than in the following fragments 
of a sermon by a distinguished Buddhist priest. I place 
them first in order to emphasize the agreement between 
contemporary Buddhism and Christianity regarding the 
principles upon which both would erect an unassailable 
theology. The substantiation of these principles would 
thus prove the validity of the two religions. But do not 
principles which establish the tenets of two religions prove 
too much ? 

" I believe that that which makes religion what it is, in 
contradistinction to philosophy or ethics, consists in the 
truth that it is essentially foimdcd on facts of ones own 
spiritual experience, which is beyojid intellectual denionstra- 
hility, and which opens a finite mind to the light of uni- 
versal effulgence. In short, spiritual enlightenment is indis- 
pensable in religion, while philosophy is mere intellection. 

" By spiritual enlightenment, I mean a man's becoming 
conscious through personal experience of the ultimate na- 
ture of his inner being. This insight breaks, as it were, 
the wall of intellectual limitation and brings us to a region 
which has hitherto been concealed from our view. The 
horizon is now so widened as to enable our spiritual visions 
to survey the totality of existence. So long as we groped 
in the darkness of ignorance, we could not go beyond the 
threshold of individuation. 

" TJie enlightemnent whicJi thus constitutes the basis of 
religious life is altogether spiritual and not intellectual. . . . 
Philosophy and science have done a great deal for the 
advancement of our knowledge of the universe, and there 
is a fair prospect of their future service to this end. 


But they are constitutionally incapable of giving rest, bliss, 
Joy, and faith to a troubled spirit. . . . The faculty seems 
to have all the essential characteristics of the feeling. It is 
intuitive and does not analyze ; it is direct and refuses a 
medium of any form. It allows no argument, it merely 
states, and its statement is absolute. When it says 'yes,' 
the affirmation has such a convincing force that it removes 
all doubts, and even sceptically disposed intellectual minds 
have to admit it as a fact and not as a whim. It speaks as 
one with authority. True, it has only a subjective value, 
which, however, is just as tiltitnate and actual as sense-per- 
ception. Since it is immediate, there is no other way to 
test its validity than that each experiences it personally, 
individually, and inwardly. The inner sense which I have 
called religious faculty makes us feel the inmost life that 
is running through every vein and artery of nature ; and 
we are completely free from scepticism, unrest, dissatisfac- 
tion, and vexation of spirit. 

" Mere talking about or mere believing in the existence 
of God and his intimate love is nonsense as far as religion 
is concerned. Talking and arguing belong to philosophy, 
and believing, in its ordinary sense, is a sort of hypothesis, 
not necessarily supported by facts. Religion, however^ 
wants above everything else solid facts a7id actual persotial 
experience. If God exists, he must be felt. If he is love, it 
must be experienced. . . . Without the awakening of the 
religious sense or faculty, God is a shadow. ... In Bud- 
dhism this faculty is known as Prajna." 

" The dictates of the Prajna are iinal, and there is no 
higher faculty in our consciousness to annul them. Faith 
is absolute within its own limits, and the office of the intel- 
lect is to explain or interpret it objectively. . . . But as 
long as there is some unutterable yearning in the human 
heart for something more real, more vital, more tangible, 


than mere abstraction, mere knowing and mere ' proving,' 
we must conclude that our consciousness, however frac- 
tional, is capable of coming in touch with the inmost life of 
things in another way than intellection." ^ 

That which this writer understands by spiritual experience 
exceeding the possibility of an intellectual demonstration is, 
on his own statement, merely a part of the affective life, — 
the peace, happiness, joy, which accompany in his case a 
certain conception of the universe. His God proves his 
objective existence and his attributes by action on the soul : 
" If God exist. He must be felt " ; " if He is love, it must 
be experienced." The metaphysical arguments concerning 
the existence of the object of religion can, according to 
him, enter into consideration only secondarily. They are, in 
fact, entirely superfluous. 

Document 2. — Similar convictions are voiced in the fol- 
lowing passages from the writings of a former president of 
one of the foremost theological schools in America : — 

" Many times, in the experiences of those whose senses 
are trained by use to discern good and evil, the still, small 
Voice sounds in the soul's ear in tones of mystery. Inti- 
mations of duty assert themselves so subtly that we cannot 
put them into words, v/hile of their divine authority we 
have no doubt; warnings against courses of conduct that 
to our prejudiced minds seem expedient, yet upon which 
the unformulated verdict of conscience sets its prohibition. 
There is but one adequate explanation of these phenomena. 
They are the Witness of God in the Soul.'' 

" Through the subconscious depths of our being, where 
our life and Infinite Life become one. His influence finds 
entrance to all the avenues of consciousness. His very 

1 Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot, Soyen Shaqu, Lord Abbot of Engaku-ji and 
Kencho-ji, Kamakura, Japan, Open Court Publishing Co., Chicago, 1906. I 
have italicized in this and the other documents the most significant statements. 


spirit, life-making, reasonable, holy, witnesses with our 
spirits that we are the children of God. From this source 
come our holy desires, appreciation of goodness^ recurrent 
advances in spiritual knowledge, vigorous control of nnrnly 
instincts and passions, moral courage, calmness in suffering, 
self-restraint ifi sorrozv. " 

" How can we know that anything spoken in Scripture is 
truth ? By the witness of God in the Soul that zvhat is 
spoken is the thing that is. . . . This is the simple truth, 
verified by the deepest facts in the realm of life, to which 
this truth refers. Antiquity, usage, or autJiority fnight 
declare against this, but the witness of God in the soul con- 
firms the sure word of prophecy. Again a Scripture says 
concerning prayer : * In everything by prayer and suppli- 
cation with thanksgiving let your request be known unto 
God, and the peace of God which passeth all understand- 
ing shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ 
Jesus.' How do I know that this is true? Not from 
usage, nor antiquity ; although from each of these sources 
comes a powerful corroboration. But I know it for truth 
by the Witness of God in my soul confirming the sure word 
of prophecy. Confused with doubt, beset by temptation, 
oppressed with grief, * weary of earth and laden with sin,' 
I approach in perfect confidence of spirit the Divine Ground 
and Source of my existence. As a troubled child confiding 
in a trusted Father, I pour my personal confidences into 
the ear of that Invisible Being with whom I am myste- 
riously connected ; and from the depths of my subconscious 
life wells up into consciousness a calmness of spirit, a 
restored equilibrium, a deliverance from oppression, a 
peace of God of which one may truly affirm : ' it passeth 
understanding.' " ^ 

1 Hall, Charles Cuthbert, The Barrows Lectures for igob-igoy, Christ and 
the Eastern Soul, University of Chicago Press, 1909, pp. 88-S9 ; 93-94 ; loo. 


Document 3. — A professor at the school of Protestant 
theology in Paris writes : " God is not a phenomenon that 
we may observe apart from ourselves, or a truth demon- 
strable by logical reasoning. He zvJio does not feel Him in 
his heart will never feel him from witJiout. The object of 
religious knowledge reveals itself only in the subject, by means 
of the religious phenomena themselves. . . . We never be- 
come conscious of our piety externally, we feel religiously 
moved, perceiving, more or less obscurely, in that very emo- 
tion the object and the cause of religion, i.e. God. Observe 
the natural and spontaneous movement of piety ; a soul 
feels an inner peace and light ; is it strong, humble, resigned, 
obedient .-' It immediately attributes its strength, its faith, 
its humility, its obedience, to the action of the divine spirit 
within itself. Anne Doubourg, dying at the stake, prayed : 
' Oh, God do not abandon me lest I should fall off from thee ' 
. . . to feel thus in our personal and empirical activity the 
action and the presence of the spirit of God within our own 
spirit, is a mystery, as it is also the source of religion.'' 

" Truths of the religious and of the moral order are known 
by subjective action of what Pascal calls the heart. Science 
can know nothing about them, for they are not in its order," ^ 

Document 4. — A leader of the liberal movement in the 
United States expresses similar views. " God is not an 
hypothesis which the minister has invented to account for 
the phenomena of creation. He knows that there is a 
* power not ourselves that makes for righteousness,' because 
when he has been weak that power has strengtJiened him, 
when he has been a coward that power has made him strong, 
when he has been in sorrow that power has comforted him, 
when he has been in perplexity that power has counselled 

^ Sabatier, A., Outlines of a Philosophy of Religion, James Pott and Co., 
New York, 1902, pp. 30S-309, 311. 


him, and he has walked a different path and lived a differ- 
ent life and has been a different man because there is that 
power, impalpable, invisible, unknown, and yet best and 
most truly known." ^ 

Docimicnt 5. — The religious belief of Digamma, prob- 
ably a fellow in a College of Oxford University, rests upon 
an induction made from a special class of facts. At twenty- 
two he found himself involved in circumstances that seemed 
as if they must lead to the ruin of his career. " The cir- 
cumstances of which I have spoken tended to produce ex- 
treme mental depression. A cloud had, as it were, descended 
on my life. Btct I noticed that after earnest prayer this de- 
pressiofi was greatly relieved, and at times completely vanished. 
That which struck me most in the phenomenon was its ir- 
rationality. What I mean is that the relief was experienced 
again and again without any consciousness of its cause. 
I could not attribute it to a feehng of satisfaction at having 
performed a religious duty, for I noticed that the relief came 
in many cases when no such feeling of satisfaction was or 
had been present in my mind. The importance of the 
phenomenon in respect to one's life was such as to lead 
me to further observation of it ; and this process of induc- 
tion has with me extended over a period of more than 
twenty years. ... In watching this phenomenon, there- 
fore, I have carefully checked my observation and have 
excluded all instances in which some intermediary cause 
intervened between prayer and the mental happiness re- 
sulting from it. In the thousands of instances which have 
come under my observation, for the phenomenon is at least 
of daily occurrence, I Jiave tiever observed any case i?i ivJiich 
earliest prayer has not becji ^answered' (to use the ordinary 

1 Abbott, Lyman, Address before the Alumni of Bangor Theological Semi- 
nary, The Outlook, June 25, 1898. 


word) by an increase of mental happiness. I have spoken 
of this as * irrational ' because it does not arise from any- 
physical or external cause, nor indeed from any of those 
internal causes to which such feeUng can be ascribed. Its 
irrationality consists in the fact that, if my induction be 
valid and correct, it is connected with the phenomenon of 
earnest prayer by a chain of causation which may be ex- 
plicable by conjecture, but is not determinable by reason. 

" I do not wish it to be supposed that my observation leads 
me to believe that a high level of mental happiness must 
always result from prayer. There are other factors, of 
course, in the calculation, and, above all, the factor of bodily 
condition. Still I imagine, though I cannot say that I have 
ever realized, that this factor may be to a great extent eUm- 
inated by the action of that factor which we call prayer. 
* The prayer of the righteous man availeth much ' is after 
all a saying which must be true if the power of prayer is 
in any sense admitted. 

" But, nevertheless, even to one who, like myself, is but 
ordinary in respect to righteousness, the conviction has 
come after long years of observation, that prayer does 171- 
variably raise the level of mental happiness. 

" No one has yet succeeded in defining any universal 
cause of happiness, but I take it that many would admit 
that we can best attain it when our individual natures are 
acting in accord with the great world of nature around us. 
In the physical world, at any rate, it is by such action that 
we seek the means to this end. I take it that the case is 
the same with regard to the spiritual world. We are con- 
scious that we are environed by it, and the more we adapt 
ourselves to that environment, the happier will be our life. 
The all-pervading power in that spiritual world is what we 
know as God. . . . Consequently my faith rests npon an 
empirical basis. But time forbids my speaking of the de- 


ductions from this major premise. This at any rate I know, 
that God can be approached along those paths along which 
I was led in childhood." * 

Thus in the case of Digamma the empirical basis of 
religious belief is the raising of the affective level through 
prayer. Is not his argument admirably simple .-' — Prayer 
relieves depression, increases happiness ; this does not arise 
from any external physical cause, nor from any bodily 
cause ; it is therefore the effect of getting into harmony 
with the all-pervading power of the spiritual world, — 
namely, God. 

One could not easily find a more striking example of the 
offhand, amateurish manner in which these problems are 
disposed of. In matters religious every one assumes the 
right to interpret as best he can what takes place in his 
consciousness. A physical phenomenon would be sub- 
mitted to a physicist or a chemist. Why not submit these 
psychological facts to a psychologist } Digavwia might 
have remembered, it seems, that other means besides prayer 
produce the effects he has observed. And does he not 
know that the mere idea of a power "that we call God" 
may, entirely irrespective of its objective existence, produce 
the comforts he finds in prayer .? Is the sweet and benefi- 
cent emotion of one who beheves himself loved a sufficient 
proof that he is loved ? But Digamma was probably too 
desirous of preserving at any cost this means of blessed- 
ness to deserve consideration as an interpreter of his own 
experiences, even supposing him to have had the required 

Document 6. — The following document throws some light 
on the manner in which these questions are understood 

1 Digamma, An Aspect of Prayer, an address before a "society in a certain 
college in Oxford," Oxford, B. H. BlackwcU. 


by the students of theology in Protestant schools. ** Our 
teachers have told us that a Christian student should never 
forget certain positive facts verified by every Christian 
during his life, facts that have revealed to him the existence 
of a supernatural power ; they have told us of ' experi- 
ences ' having an absolute value and giving faith an un- 
shakable foundation." 

What are these experiences ? " In conversion more than 
anywhere else we can say, * I know.' . . . We know that 
this transformation has not come about of itself ; in mo- 
ments of inquiry, of troubles of conscience, of confused 
and unhappy aspirations, we were already experiencing a 
mysterious activity. ... It is a definite assurance that if 
we should cease to abandon ourselves to the all-powerful 
influence creating our new self, the work already com- 
menced would be undone. These are the revalations of 
prayer, that profound sentiment that a Being hears us, 
that he himself inspires the words which without effort of 
thought spring from our heart. ... To be sure, we may 
be forbidden to speak of ' experiencing God ' ; it is quite 
true that I can experience only myself and the modifica- 
tions of this self. But, similarly, if I cannot say that I 
have experienced my fellow-men, still there are certain 
states of consciousness as to the nature and the significance 
of which I am not deceived ; I know when I have the 
right to say that I know my fellow-being, I know when 
my feelings are in harmony with his, when our hearts are 
as one, — and I also know when my soul communes with 
the Father. Likewise, when I have once met Christ, I 
recognize him in my hours of pure and lofty meditation. 
. . . I know of a certainty that my right is absolute to aflfirm 
before all — for myself — the work of the Spirit in me, God 
intimately known to my heart, Christ always the same." 

Yet, despite appearances, this young enthusiast is not 


without some information on suggestion, subconsciousness, 
and automatism. He has, in particular, read TJie Varieties 
of Religions Experience. So, notwithstanding the lightness 
of his psychological baggage, he feels deeply, at times at 
least, the force of certain psychological arguments. " The 
second objection," he tells us, "is much more formidable, 
every one knows it ; in a word, it is autosuggestion. Yes 
or no, in the life of piety, in prayer particularly, is there 
only illusion .-' " His answer deserves quoting, for it ex- 
presses the typical attitude of most intelligent and culti- 
vated Christians. Their intense need of believing, and 
their insufficient understanding of the scientific explanation 
of psychic automatism permits them to set it aside when 
they cannot invalidate it. 

'* After long reflection, we do not believe it possible to 
remove the difficulty by reasoning. Our attitude at present 
is this. . . . We understand perfectly the state of mind of 
a loyal adversary who believes that he can explain prayer 
by a sort of division of the personality, . . . and we 
also understand this explanation to be seducingly simple. 
But when endeavoring to ' realize ' the meaning of the 
contradiction ... it becomes evident to us that it will 
be very difficult to bring about an agreement and that 
the objections of our adversary cannot reach us. We 
stand on two different grounds, and so we doubt if he will 
ever understand us, but he cannot shake in 7is the affirma- 
tions of experience ; namely, that we feel within us a beiiig 
that is not ourselves ; we see born within us new ideas and 
perceptions, real revelations that do not come from ourselves ; 
we verify each day, and for years have been able to verify in 
our life, a progressive and continuoiis guidance which permits 
us to assert that we do not proceed alone along life's path- 
way, that our Christian faith is not an illusion." ^ 

1 Paradon, Emile, De P Experience Chretienne, Thesis presented at the 
School of Protestant Theology at Montauban, 1902. 


There is probably not a religious work, whether artless 
and naive like Paradon's or subtle like Pascal's, from which 
one could not take similar passages. How could these 
writers understand and appreciate the scientific explana- 
tion, since they lack the psychological knowledge which 
alone makes such an explanation compelling ? 

Dociimejit 7. — Numberless impassioned souls know 
from experience the conviction voiced in this instance, 
thus : " I say to you that I have known God within me, 
and it was not a dream, an hallucination ; never had my 
reason been more master of itself ; and I say to you that 
there was within me, speaking to me, drawing me close, 
uniting itself to me, one who was not of myself, who 
proceeded not from me, who had penetrated within me 
and who filled the depths of my being with I do not 
know what light which was not of this world, causing me 
to tremble with I know not what emotion, that nothing 
human will ever give birth to. And this strange and 
mysterious guest had no need to tell me His name. I say 
to you that I recognized Him the Invisible, Him the Power, 
Him Love, Him Health, Him the Reason of all being. 
Him the Supreme Explanation, Him the Alpha and 
Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the 
End. He was there, making His abode in my astonished 
and trembling soul, and causing feelings to spring up in it 
that it could no longer recognize for its own." ^ 

I cite as a curiosity the following passage from the 
Larger Catechism of Luther. He is commenting on the 
first commandment. " What is it to have a God, or what 

1 Minault, Paul, Discours Religieux, La Solitude, p. 64. Quoted by E. Pon- 
soye in Experience et Acte de Foi, Thesis, Montauban, 1905, p. 43. 


is God ? A God denotes that something by means of 
which man shall be aware of all good things and wherein 
he shall have a refuge in every necessity. Therefore to 
have a God is nothing other than to trust and to believe 
him from the heart, as I have often said that the trust 
and confidence of the heart alone create both God and 

Docume7it 8. — Of recent defences of the belief in God 
and his action in the soul, probably the most elaborate 
is that of Henri Bois, professor at the School of Theology 
at Montauban. I may perhaps be permitted to add the 
substance thereof at some length, even though it is ex- 
ceedingly involved and apparently contradictory. I am 
not writing a history of philosophical thought, but am 
providing illustrations of the experiences and arguments 
upon which contemporary Christianity rests. The form 
these take for one who is intrusted with the education 
of future clergymen is therefore highly pertinent to my 
purpose. Professor Bois begins by admitting that re- 
ligious experience falls entirely within the domain of 
psychology, even of psycho-physics. The difficulties that 
confront the psychology of religion are enormous, but 
" it is the business of savants to find expedients, and, if 
I may say it, shifts for overcoming obstacles." He regrets 
the mystic affirmation, " God is given immediately in con- 
sciousness," and he holds, on the contrary, that one attains 
to God by an induction. But, let us give heed, there is 
induction and induction. The kind of induction he means 
he calls " metaphysical " ; " it is an induction that exceeds 
observable phenomena," although " based on experience." 
It is in fact an induction that necessitates faith ! " I prefer 
to say that the true religious experience in the proper 
sense, just as scientific experience, makes no pretension 


to an absolute objectivity, that it too furnishes us with 
facts without lending them other significance than that 
of phenomena that are renewed every time their equally 
phenomenal conditions appear. I prefer to say that ob- 
jectivity, here just as in the sciences, is nothing else than 
the possibility for every man to prove in himself or in 
others, while conforming to certain conditions, the same 
connections of phenomena, by virtue of the universality 
and constancy of the laws of the spirit, which are just as 
constant and universal as those of nature. Finally, I 
prefer to say that unquestionably if the religious man 
claims an entirely different significance for his religious 
experience, it is not experience in its own capacity that 
raises these demands in him, it is faith." Metaphysical 
induction is then an act of faith by which the religious 
soul is assured of the transcendent reality of God. He 
repeats this in various places : " Yes, experience attests 
for us the strong conviction of the religious soul that he 
is in communication with a transcendent being, the evi- 
dence of whose existence cannot be proved. For if 
repentance, or love, the feehng of downfall, or moral 
resurrection is a fact, God is not a fact, and his reality 
and his activity cannot be considered immediately and 
surely as data merely because of the feeling that we have 
in regard to them. There is indeed a science of psy- 
chology that quite rightly studies religious experiences, 
and seeks to show their connections, conditions, and laws, 
without departing from the order of observable phenom- 
ena. But this psychology does not snffi.ce the religious 
man who wishes to be and to remain religious. For him 
it is necessary to transcend and interpret his religious ex- 
perience by 7neans of faith.'' 

A little farther on the reader is surprised to find that 
what was called metaphysical induction has now become 


a perception : " Besides the false mysticism and its ex- 
travagances, there exists among a great number of men 
a strong feeling of union with God, which is calm, health- 
ful, and benefcent, which has the effect of creating within 
the sold a new cetttre of activity and of force, of their in- 
troducing peace, joy., freedom, love, and light. . . . When 
that something appears more responsive the more one 
asks of it, when it transcends irreducibly every seizure 
that one attempts upon it, when it is a source that we 
cannot exhaust, a presence that we cannot avoid, should 
it not be adjudged real ? 

" There is then in the realm of religion, a perception of 
a reality existing independently of us, a reality which we 
do not create, and which can be known alike by different 
consciousnesses. There is a perception that is not that 
of the senses, of wJiich the senses are not capable, and wJiich 
is given not to the intelligence, as the ^intellectual intuition * 
of the philosophers, but to the affective and volitional be- 
ing, the spiritual and moral being. . . . By such a per- 
ception we know directly the Being which truly is, in 
opposition to the immediate objects of our sensible per- 
ceptions that are but appearances and symbols behind 
which we have to place a true reality entirely opposed to 

The terms "metaphysical intuition," "faith," "per- 
ception," are used here in a confusing manner. We 
have nevertheless discovered the author's fundamental 
argument. It is this: the experiences which he men- 
tions, and which, in accord with the other authors we have 
quoted, he considers to be the characteristic experiences 
of the Christian religious life, are so excellent and so com- 
pletely inexplicable by natural means that transcendence 
alone accounts for them. It seems to him that if all 
the treasures by which he is enriched come from his 


subconsciousness, they must have been placed there by 

Professor Bois tells us that the Christian believes because 
he cannot do otherwise. "The Christian feels that he 
believes. Yes, he feels it, and he feels also that whatever 
effort he may attempt to the contrary he will not succeed 
in not believing it. He is unable not to believe it. . . . 
The Christian may likewise feel authorized to say : I can- 
not prevent myself believing in the intervention of God. 
TJie irresistibility of my belief is the criterion I have of its 

truth r 1 

From end to end of the Protestant world this is appar- 
ently the only argument confidently relied upon for justi- 
fying the belief in an objective God in direct relation with 
man: There are experiences of another order than those 
belonging to science. In them God reveals himself. The 
pious soul " perceives " God in the emotion which seizes 
it ; it " feels " God within itself. 

The entire self-sufficiency of the experiential basis of 
faith in God has nowhere been more boldly proclaimed 
than among the society of Friends. "The fundamental 
significant thing which stands out in early Quakerism was 
the conviction which these founders of it felt, that they had 
actually discovered the living God and that He was in them. 
They all have one thing to say — ' I have experienced 
God.' " 

" It [Quakerism] was first of all the proclamation of an 
experience. The movement came to birth, and received 
its original power, through persons who were no less pro- 
foundly conscious of a divine presence than they were of a 
world in space." ^ 

^ Bois, Henri, La Valeur de U Experience Eeligieuse, Emile Nourry, Paris, 

2 Jones, Rufus, Social Law in the Spiritual World, p. l6l. 


Document 9. — - The so-called modern, positive movement 
in German theology calls for a short exposition ; ^ with this 
I shall bring to a close the presentation of data regarding 
the grounds of the present faith in Christianity. This 
movement may be regarded as an adaptation of Ritschlian- 
ism to the preservation of the old faith. The aim of Pro- 
fessor Reinhold Seeberg, one of the leading spirits of this 
movement, like that of Kaftan and Herrmann, is to save 
the old faith by giving it a new theological vestment. By 
" old faith " they mean a supernatural revelation and 
a supernatural redemption. Their theology finds the 
original ground for faith in individual experiences; 
in which is also found the necessary justification for 
accepting as historical facts the records of redemption 
in the New Testament. These records, therefore, be- 
come independent of literary and historical criticism. See- 
berg, for instance, relates how a miracle took place in his 
own life. "I came into the presence of the traditions of 
the church. These seemed strange. They belonged to a 
past age. I found a protest arising within myself at the 
very thought of believing this supernatural account of things. 
Then something happened. The words that had been 
said to me were transformed into living power ; their com- 
plexity was changed to simplicity. I did not bring this 
about myself, and no man was the cause of it. The will of 
God in his omnipotence penetrated into my heart. The 
complexity of tradition gained power and unity by be- 
coming means for the activity of God."^ 

^ For an account of this movement, see Martin Schian, Zur Beurtheilung 
der modernen positiven Theologie, Topelmann, Giessen, 1907, 121 pages. 
See also Gerald Boiney Smith, The Modern Positive Move^nent in Theology, 
Amer. Jr. of Theol., January, 1909, pp. 92-99. From the latter I draw much 
of my information on this movement. 

2 Seeberg, Reinhold, Zur systematischen Theologie, Deichert, Leipzig, 1909, 
p. 140. See also by the same author, The Fundamental Truths of the Chris- 


The ground of his faith is thus the peculiar kind of ex- 
periences commonly known as " conversion." Without 
taking the trouble to analyze them psychologically, he 
declares his conviction that they transcend human nature 
and justify him in accepting the Christian interpretation. 
' Principal Forsythe, a vigorous expositor, in English, of 
the German movement, adopts the main positions of the 
/ conservative Ritschlians. In his Lyman Beecher Lecture, 
he writes : " The man, the church that is in living inter- 
course with the risen Christ, is in possession of a fact of 
experience as real as any mere historic fact, or any expe- 
rience or reality, that the critic has to found on and make 
a standard. And, with that experience, a man is bound 
to approach the critical evidence of Christ's resurrection 
in a different frame of mind from the merely scientific 
man who has no such experience." ^ 

There is nothing new in the main argument offered by 
these most recent theologians. The reasons of the Chris- 
tians for their belief in God the Father and Jesus his Son ; 
of the Mohammedans for belief in Allah and his Prophet ; 
of the Australians for belief in Baiami, the Creator and 
Ruler, — are in substance the same. Experiences demand 
in each instance the existence and intervention of the par- 
ticular God in question. The " irresistibility " of religious 
belief is everywhere the criterion of its truth.^ 

No facts of consciousness have seemed so conclusive of 

imn Religion, Putnam, New York, 1908, 331 pages. Comp. W. Herrmann, 
Offenbarimg tmd IVunder, Topelmann, Giessen, 1908, 71 pages. 

1 Forsythe, P. F., Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind, Armstrong, 
New York, 1907, p. 276. 

- The marvellous Mana of the Melanesians is often found in stones. " A 
man comes by chance upon a stone which takes his fancy ; its shape is singu- 
lar, it is like something, it is certainly not a common stone, there must be mana 
in it. So he argues with himself, and he puts it to the proof ; he lays it at the 
root of a tree to the fruit of which it has a certain resemblance, or he buries it 


the intervention of an external personal power and of the 
consequent independence of religion from science as the 
facts of conscience. We have found them directly men- 
tioned by the Rev. C. C. Hall, and at least implied in all 
the other documents. The peculiar characteristics to which 
these phenomena owe their place in apologetics are their 
obligatoriness and universality. The authority with which 
conscience is invested is one that man feels compelled to 
admit even when he resists it. And he cannot avoid 
ascribing to that authority a transindividual origin. 

In addition, certain effects following upon a particularly 
vivid realization of the moral law bear what seems to many 
the unmistakable mark of a superhuman origin. During 
the conversion crisis, for instance, certain inferior cravings 
which have formerly gained the mastery are found to be 
displaced by new desires, presenting themselves as having 
not only the right but also the power to triumph. The 
manner in which the triumph of previously impotent higher 
tendencies is achieved usually makes the person feel as if 
he had been little more than a spectator in the struggle ; 
so that he readily accepts the belief that the reorganiza- 
tion of the forces of his inner being under the dominance 
of impulses of supreme value is the work of the Grace of 

These and similar experiences point, no doubt, to an ori- 
gin reaching beyond the person ; but is this origin neces- 
sarily superhuman ; that is, outside of sociological causality .'' 
This is not the place for an explanation of the phenomena 
of conscience, but I shall venture the statement that the 
objective character and the obligatoriness of moral obliga- 
tion is a problem that falls within the fields of social and 

in the ground when he plants his garden ; an abundant crop on the tree or 
in the garden shows that he is right, the stone is mana, has that power in it." 
(Codrington, R. H., The Melanesians, pp. 1 18-120. ) 


individual psychology. The origin of these experiences is 
superindividual, but not superhuman. 

Moreover, if divine intervention should be made mani- 
fest in man only by the sense of moral obligation and its 
results, it would follow that only a part of the religious 
life would depend upon superhuman influence and tran- 
scend science. The lower, non-moral religions as well as 
much of the religious life of the ethically minded would be 
purely human. The preceding quotations have made clear 
that the facts of conscience constitute only one of the classes 
of experience in which the followers of Christianity and other 
religions find their gods. 

I must finally mention the peculiar twist given to the argu- 
ment by a number of theologians, who are apparently not sat- 
isfied with the strategic position gained by claiming peace, 
joy, moral strength, and the particular circumstances of the 
appearance of these experiences, as a sufficient proof of the 
divine afflatus. They set it down that a certain class — or 
classes — of judgments of value constitutes religious knowl- 
edge, and that these judgments are the products of a function 
of the mind radically different from those yielding " theo- 
retical," that is, scientific or metaphysical, knowledge. And 
they affirm of these two kinds of knowledge, that even when 
they concern the same object they nowhere coincide. For 
Ritschl, who may be regarded as a representative of this 
trend of thought, "judgment of value " is synonymous with 
" feeling experience and meaning." The specifically reli- 
gious function of the mind is, according to him, the forma- 
tion of certain judgments or " perceptions " of value. These 
judgments proceed from the action that certain ideas have 
upon man when he accepts them as true. For example, 
the idea of Jesus conceived of as the only Son of God pro- 
duces in man experiences having a peculiar affective quality 


and significance. And Garvie interprets W. Herrmann as 
saying : " For science and philosophy . . . the real means 
the explicable. In religious knowledge the real is that 
which can be enjoyed by self-consciousness, that which can 
be experienced as valuable for the ends of self." ^ This is 
a restatement in more technical terms of the familiar say- 
ing, " The heart has reasons which reason does not know." 
The knowledge of reason becomes, in this phraseology, 
"theoretical knowledge," and the "reasons" of the heart 
"judgments of value." 

I think that no one — certainly no psychologist — would 
contest that the formation of judgments of value is a par- 
ticular function. But that religious life is tJie specific ex- 
pression of that function, or that theology deals only with 
a certain class of judgments of value, is a statement so 
obviously false that it should not need consideration. The 
preceding chapters should have convinced us that no par- 
ticular class of judgments of value can be said to constitute 
religion or to belong exclusively to religion. Judgments of 
all sorts enter into it. 

But, in any case, the psychologist will declare without 
hesitation that judgments of value are part of the data 
which it is the task of the psychologist to describe, analyze, 
compare, and classify, and of which he must determine 
the conditions and the consequences. Judgments of value 
belong to psychology as much as any other fact of con- 
sciousness. With regard to sensory feelings, science dis- 
covers their partial dependence upon sensations and specific 
organs, the objective conditions of their appearance, their 
effects upon volition, etc. A similar statement is true of 
the higher feelings ; they also are dependent upon psycho- 
physiological factors ; they also belong to a vast network 
of causal connections which it is the task of science to 

1 Garvie, A,, Expositor, 1903, Vol. VIII, p. 148. 



bring to light. Identifying religion with a particular class 
of judgments of value can, therefore, in no way lead to 
the separation of religion from science. 

The insufficiency of this Ritschlian theory of knowledge 
is so evident that some have beheved that Ritschl had no 
intention of affirming more than the subjective existence 
of God. Professor Denney says, for example, that for 
Ritschl, "though Jesus Christ has for the religious con- 
sciousness the religious value of God, he has for the scien- 
tific consciousness only the common real value of man." ^ 

The foregoing documents will be held sufficient, I hope, 
to bear out the statement with which I began ; namely, 
that belief in the Christian God rests no longer upon the 
wonders of the physical universe, nor upon metaphysical 
arguments, but upon certain inner experiences. The al- 
most complete absence of reference to physical miracles 
and to the argument from design, which only recently were 
made to bear the brunt of the assaults upon revealed re- 
ligion, is indeed striking, and physical science may well 
regard this silence as a flattering recognition of its tri- 

It should also have become clear that these inner expe- 
riences are looked upon either (i) as being the material for 
what is called an "induction" of the existence of a divine 
power — apparently a scientific procedure; or (2) as bear- 
ing in themselves the mark of transhuman origin, that is 
they are taken as " immediate " revelations of God. This 
second alternative is the one embraced by the mystics. I 
shall call it the mystical claim. 

1 Quoted by Garvie, Ritschlian Theology, p. 188. 


II. Religious Knowledge as immediately given in Specific 


It is an interesting problem to determine what influences 
have led theologians to anchor their beliefs upon the prop- 
osition that religious experience differs from other forms 
of consciousness in that it gives one an immediate knowl- 
edge of the external existence of certain objects of be- 
lief, although they do not fall under the senses, and an 
immediate knowledge of the truth of certain historical 

The motive for this astonishing claim is the desire to 
make reUgious values entirely independent of any factor 
which might threaten them. The conviction that the 
separation of theology from science and from metaphysics 
is necessary for the sake of religion would, of course, 
strengthen this motive. I need not dwell upon the 
potency of desire in determining conviction ; recent dis- 
cussions on the will, and on the right to believe have 
called attention to the dependence of belief upon desire. 

The acceptance of the mystical claim has been made easier 
by ignorance in matters psychological, — an ignorance 
which has resulted, among other things, in the confusion 
of truly immediate experience with immediate experience 

Ignorance of psychology is interestingly displayed by 
the author of a recent thesis offered for the degree of 
Doctor of Theology. The author thinks he has dis- 
covered in conversion operations beyond the field of 
psychology. Is he thinking of some metaphysical prob- 
lems .-* By no means ; for he says that he hopes to obtain 
some idea of their solution " by a more subjective and 
consequently less scientific study of conversion, — a study 
which will endeavor to fill, by as faithful as possible an 


analysis of inner experience, the gaps left by science." ^ 
He hopes to reach beyond psychology "by as faithful 
as possible an analysis of inner experience," by a study 
more subjective and consequently less scientific ! What 
does this mean ? Simply that unwittingly the author is 
about to try to do the work of the psychologist. 

On the distinction between bare, raw experience and 
its objective interpretation, I must dwell at some length. 
It is obviously ignored in the impatient complaints by 
which religious persons endeavor to protect themselves 
from what they deem an unwarranted encroachment of 
science and of philosophy. What have we to do, they 
say, we who have been upheld when about to stumble, 
comforted when in despair; who have experienced the 
inexpressible joy of communion with the Divine; what 
have we to do, we who knoiv the Lord, with the psychol- 
ogist and his reference to nerve-cells, brain centres, 
automatism, subconsciousness, and the rest of it ? His 
discussions and conclusions do not reach us at all. He 
deals with a mechanical world, we with desires and pur- 
poses, joys and sorrows; we live, he analyzes life. We 
move in different spheres ; let him not meddle with us. 
These imaginary but typical persons might continue thus : 
The inner life is not a mass of ideas and of feelings, 
of emotions and volitions, in the sense in which the 
psychologist looks upon them when he considers conscious 
experience to be made up of psychic elements connected 
in some way with an organism. The reality in which 
we move is a world of action, of desire, of aversion, of 
ends and purposes. 

Were these statements intended simply to affirm that 

1 Berguer, Henri, La Notion de Valeur, Geneve, Georg & Co., 1908, 
p. 228. 


one's experiences are final when they are considered 
merely as facts of consciousness, who would take excep- 
tion to them ? Surely not the psychologist. States of 
religious consciousness are what they are, irrevocably. 
They can no more be denied or explained away than any 
other state of consciousness, — than, for instance, what 
passes in the mind of a merchant or poet. They have 
happened ; that is the long and the short of it. Science has 
never attempted to deny that Saint Francis had moments of 
inexpressible joy, — joy which he held infinitely superior 
to any "earthly" pleasure; that Bunyan heard voices 
which he thought belonged to devils or to God ; or that 
George Muller prayed for help and was " lifted up with 
a sense of the presence of the Almighty within him." 
Science accepts these as facts of consciousness, and so 
there cannot be any conflict here between psychology 
and theology. 

A conflict does arise, however, when these persons 
imagine their experiences to involve the objective or the 
universal validity of certain of their ideas. When they 
say, for instance, that their experiences attest the present 
existence of Jesus of Nazareth, or that the belief in 
certain doctrines is a necessary condition of these experi- 
ences. Isaac Pennington, for example, describes thus 
what happened to him at a meeting at Swamington : " I 
felt the presence and power of the Most High. . . . Yea, 
I did not only feel words and demonstrations from with- 
out, but I felt the dead quickened, the seed raised, inso- 
much that my heart said, ' This is He, there is no other : 
this is He whom I have waited for and sought after from 
my childhood.' . . . I have met with my God ; I have met 
with my Saviour. ... I have met with the true knowl- 
edge, the knowledge of life."* 

^ Pennington, Isaac, Works, i86r, Vol. I, pp. 37, 38. Quoted l)y R. Jones 
in Social La-u in the Spiritual World, p. 162. 


Such claims as this pass out of the incontrovertible, 
subjective sphere into the sphere of science since the 
afifirmation that certain ideas mean an objective existence 
or are universally valid raises the question of the inter- 
pretation of experience. 

The validity of the religious states of consciousness is 
precisely of the same sort as that of any other state of con- 
sciousness ; they are absolute, undeniable, only so long as 
they are considered merely as the experience of a subject, 
and no longer. Before the theologians who claim to find 
in inner experience the data of theology, and on that 
ground to remove it from all contact with science, may be 
looked upon as intellectually worthy of consideration, they 
must explain how they secure objective and universal 
knowledge. The mystical claim can exist only because of 
the failure to separate the subjective significance of con- 
sciousness from the transsubjective meaning which is 
attributed to some parts of it. The difficulty in the way 
of making this distinction may be exemplified from the 
writings of William James. 

In TJie Varieties of Religious Experience, William James 
endeavors to show that mystic states — these states in- 
clude for him drunkenness and not merely religious states 
of mysticism — unveil at times realities that exceed what 
ordinary consciousness is able to apprehend. "As a mat- 
ter of psychological fact," he tells us, " mystical states of 
a well-pronounced and emphatic sort are usually authori- 
tative over those who have them. They have been ' there ' 
and know. ... It mocks our utmost efforts, as a matter 
of fact, and in point of logic it absolutely escapes our ju- 
risdiction. Our own more ' rational ' beliefs are based on 
evidence exactly similar in nature to that which mystics 
quote for theirs. Our senses, namely, have assured us of 
certain states of fact ; but mystical experiences are as 


direct perceptions of fact for those who have them as any 
sensations ever were for us. The records show that even 
though the five senses be in abeyance in them, they are 
absolutely sensational in their epistemological quality, — 
that is, they are face-to-face presentations of what seems 
immediately to exist. The mystic is, in short, invulner- 
able." 1 

" They have been ' there ' and know " ; " mystical expe- 
riences are as direct perceptions of fact for those who have 
them as any sensations ever were for us " ; " the mystic is 
in short invulnerable," — these affirmations involve the 
confusion we have just considered, unless mystical "intui- 
tions " exclude all extra-subjective references. In that case 
the mystic "revelations" would, of course, be unassailable. 
But pious souls mean more than that when they speak of 
the validity of their experiences. They claim the objective 
reality of the religious objects, and the universal validity of 
the dogmas which chance to be regarded by them as a 
necessary condition of their experience. And it is also 
undoubtedly more than the bare subjective fact for which 
William James claims invulnerability. "They [the mys- 
tics] offer us," he writes, "hypotheses, hypotheses which 
we may voluntarily ignore, but which as thinkers we cannot 
possibly upset." Thus, that which he regards as invulner- 
able are hypotheses, i.e. intellectual constructions. The 
great American psychologist seems to have been blinded 
by a too great desire to discover a new world. 

Should one of the great mystics be asked to formulate 
his "intuitions," he would mention in substance those 
Christian doctrines in which his mystic experiences are set. 
He would say, for example, that he has " felt " the infinite 
goodness of God, has become aware of His incarnation in 

1 James, William, Thi Varieties of Religious Experience, Longmans, Green 
and Co., 1904, p. 423. 


Jesus Christ ; perhaps he would even affirm that the mys- 
tery of the Trinity had been unveiled to him. He would, 
it is true, hasten to add that words are insufficient to 
express these unutterable things. William James, more 
cautious, does not accept all these " revelations " as invul- 
nerable hypotheses. But this restraint is at the expense of 
consistency. Why does he content himself with the fol- 
lowing meagre characterization of the " invulnerable " 
essence of the mystical deliverances .-' " They speak to us 
of the supremacy of the Ideal ; they speak to us of union 
with the infinite, of security, of repose."-^ 

In a very sympathetic account of the pages from which 
I have quoted. Professor Boutroux makes use of the follow- 
ing similar phrases to express the essence of religious 
experience : " It is the feeling that all goes well, outside 
us and within us. ... It is the consciousness of partici- 
pating in a power greater than our own, and the desire of co- 
operating with that power in works of love, of peace, and 
of joy. It is on the whole an exaltation of life as creative 
force, as harmonization, and as joy." But he also begins 
by saying that this feeling " cannot be described," that 
these descriptions are good only so far " as one can sug- 
gest the idea with words." ^ 

William James does not say, as do more naTve persons, 
" These experiences speak to us of union with God or with 
his incarnate Son," but only, "They speak to us of union 
with the infinite." Even this truncated formula, however, 
implies a passage from the subject to an object beyond. 
For the phrase " union with the infinite " has meaning only 
in so far as the terms between which the union exists are 
apprehended. The phraseology of James and Boutroux 

^ James, op. cit., pp. 428, 362. 

2 Boutroux, Einile, Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale, 190S, Vol. XVI, 


indicates, it seems, a desire to reduce as much as possible 
the alleged transcendent implications uf mystical experi- 
ences, without altogether giving them up. Their failure 
to say in what consists the objective validity of the mystical 
experience confirms the opinion that the only invulnerable 
thing in " union with the infinite," whether it be induced 
by " divine love," by wine, or by the contemplation of sub- 
lime nature, is the affective consciousness — a conscious- 
ness that does not reach beyond itself. 

The manner in which God acts in the souL — This should 
be a question of prime interest to those who beheve in the 
action of God upon man. Yet the religious person is usu- 
ally so much engrossed in results and pays so little criti- 
cal attention to means and methods that he has little of 
consequence to say on this topic. As to the psychologist, 
he cannot be expected to apply himself to the solution of 
this problem until the alleged intervention has been sub- 
stantiated. I shall, however, in order to gratify a possible 
curiosity on the part of some readers, report two sugges- 
tions that have been made as to the manner in which God 
works upon the soul. The one at present in wider favor 
is derived from the speculations of F. W. Meyers. This 
is the view to which William James has given currency in 
the conclusion to T/ie Varieties of Religions Experiejice. 
According to this hypothesis, God, or other extra-human 
agents, acts upon the subliminal consciousness, — a very 
obscure term which seems to have captured the popular 
imagination. It has also won the approbation of a goodly 
number of theologians. The most ignorant or the least 
prudent among those who make use of this hypothesis even 
identify, it seems, all subconsciousness with the divine.^ It 

^ "I feel oblijjed, nevertheless, to recognize that it has several times hap- 
pened that my lamented friend Frommel and M. Fulliquet [Professors of The- 


is an hypothesis which unfortunately entices even men of 
science to renounce their task, — the investigation of phe- 
nomena, — by deceiving them into thinking that reference 
to the subconscious is a final explanation. That which 
Kant said of transcendental hypotheses, in the Discipline 
of Pure Reason, is true of the subliminal hypothesis: they 
" do not advance reason, but rather stop it in its progress ; 
. . . they render fruitless all its exertions in its own proper 
sphere, which is that of experience. For, when the ex- 
planation of natural phenomena happens to be difficult, we 
have constantly at hand a transcendental ground of ex- 
planation which lifts us above the necessity of investigating 

In the second class of hypotheses, God is conceived of 
as acting directly upon consciousness and no longer in- 
directly through subconsciousness. One can here main- 
tain that divine action is exercised upon the duration and 
the energy of the attention given to certain objects. For, 
in order to transform an individual, it would evidently suf- 
fice to be able to prolong in him the duration of right and 
noble ideas. It is true that if divine intervention were 
limited in this fashion it could not serve as an explanation 
of all that its believers love to attribute to it. Besides, 
many would prefer a theory that leaves a greater freedom 
to the Divinity; for example, a theory conceiving of God 
as acting upon the feelings, and through them upon all the 
conscious processes. " God can excite new centres of asso- 
ciation of ideas, can arrest old associations ; all intellectual 
activity being subservient to feeling. He can produce what- 
ever doctrines and ideas He wishes." ^ 

ology at the School of Theology at Geneva] have expressed themselves as if 
they identitied all subconsciousness with God or with the result or the seat of 
divine action." (H. Bois, Foi et Vie, September 16, 1909, p. 565.) 

1 Bois, H,, Inspiration et Revelation, legons inedite, 1902- 1 903, quoted by 
E. Ponsoye, Experience et Acte de Foi, Thesis, Valence, 1905, pp. 63-64. 


Should God act in this manner, nothing ought to be 
easier for the psychologist than to show in the life of feel- 
ing and of thought disturbances not depending upon known 
natural causes. The student of religious life would be in 
the position of the astronomer who knows that certain 
stars are affected by forces of which he does not yet under- 
stand the source. The fact is that, in proportion as psy- 
chology advances, the apparent anomalies of the religious 
life are more and more completely explained according to 
known laws. 

This section has come to its logical conclusion : the claim 
that "inner experience" is independent of psychological 
science remains unsubstantiated. I trust it has become 
clear that the hope to lift a theology based on inner ex- 
perience out of the sphere of science is preposterous ; 
since whatever appears in consciousness is material for 
psychology. Religious knowledge may be said to be im- 
mediate and independent of science only in the sense in 
which this can be stated of any experience. Any bit of 
conscious life is in itself, as a fact of consciousness, unas- 
sailable. But a theology that should remain within the 
domain inaccessible to science would be limited to a mere 
description of man's religious consciousness, and would 
be deprived of the right to any opinion on the objective 
reality of its objects and on the universal validity of its 

If superhuman factors are at work within human experi- 
ence, there are no ways of discovering them except the 
ways of science. 

The authority of Kant has not infrequently been claimed by those 
holding the views I have criticised. Some, in their eagerness to put 
him on their side, have said, in effect, " Did he not sharply separate 
the world of sense from the intelligible' world, the empirical realm 


from the realm of reason ? And did he not teach that beyond science 
there was a higher world, the world of freedom into which one pene- 
trates only by faith ? After all, we are merely restating, in our own 
way, one of the fundamental propositions laid down by the illustrious 
author of the Critique of Practical Reason P 

The truth of the matter is that " their own way " of stating Kant de- 
nies his most fundamental propositions. No support whatsoever can be 
found in his writings for attempting to establish either that in certain 
experiences God is immediately revealed to the soul (this mystical 
claim has never been imputed to Kant by any one entitled to being 
heard), or that certain portions of " experience " could not be explained 
by natural means, — that is, according to the causal principle, — just as 
satisfactorily as any other psychic experience. 

If Kant made an absolute separation between the " sensible " and the 
" intelligible " world, it was not because he found some portions of sensi- 
ble experience scientifically explainable and others showing empirical 
evidence of a transcendent origin. To seek empirical ground for the 
action of God in" man's soul is to place oneself completely outside of the 
Kantian philosophy. Yet this is precisely what the contemporary em- 
pirical theologians do. Kant's belief in God, Freedom, and Immortality 
is a corollary of the Moral Law itself. The categorical command im- 
plies, in Kant's mind, the possibility of the realization of the Moral Law, 
which is not satisfied in this world hence we must, he thinks, have a 
right to postulate the immortality of the soul and the existence of God, 
i.e. a transcendent Moral World in which the Moral Law is com- 
pletely realized. 

Very different is the argumentation of the theologians. Digamma 
observes, as we have seen, that earnest prayer has been " answered " 
by an increase of mental happiness ; therefore he believes in God. 
Bois, similarly, as a basis of his faith in a reality existing independently 
of us, points to a " strong feeling of union with God, calm and healthful, 
which produces peace, joy, and strength." Seeberg tells us how, when 
his mind was protesting against the belief in the supernatural account 
of the religious life, something happened within him : an inexplicable 
transformation, a miracle, took place ; words he had not understood 
were transformed into living power, and he found himself in living in- 
tercourse with the risen Christ. William James attempts to single out 
within the phenomenal life, experiences from which one may infer the 
existence of a transcendent agent in dynamic relation to man. 

On the other hand, " religion " according to Kant's statement can be 



neither proved nor disproved by science, though dogma (in his sense 
of the term) can be. But his God and his religion are not the God and 
the reHgion the theologians are defending. Kant's conception of God 
implies a denial of what they account necessary : a personal God in 
dynamic relation with man, either directly or through the Son of Man 
and the Saints. " The conception of a supernatural intervention in our 
often defective moral faculty, and even in our uncertain or weak dis- 
position to fulfil our whole duty, is a transcendental conception and a 
mere idea, of the reality of which no experience can assure us." Prayer, 
the instrument par excellence of Christian life, was for him a super- 
stitious delusion, although useful and respectable under certain con- 
ditions. i 

The facts are so clear that common fairness and a little knowledge 
should sufiice completely to disconnect the name of Kant from the 
present empirical Christian apologetics. 

There remains for us to consider the opinion that re- 
ligious knowledge is the product of an induction. Is this 
conception valid, and if so what becomes of the relation of 
theology to science .-' 

III. Theology as a Body of Induced Propositions 

Empirical apologetics occupies a curious position ; it 
stands on two mutually exclusive propositions. On the 
one hand, it would protect religion against metaphysics by 
setting up inner experiences as containing the proof of the 
existence and of the nature of the Christian God, and as 
the only source of religious knowledge. On the other 
hand, it would defend religion against science by invoking 
the principle of transcendence according to which science 
is incompetent to deal with religious knowledge and, in 

^ " Prayer, considered as an inner formal worship of God and therefore re- 
garded as a means of grace, is a superstitious delusion (a fetichism) ; for it is 
merely a wish expressed to a being who requires no explanation of the inner 
disposition of the suppliant, by which means therefore nothing is accomplished." 
(Kant, Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blosen Vernunft, general 
remarks, Hartenstein edition, Vol. VI, pp. 290-294.) 


particular, with the question of God. Let us begin with 
the consideration of the second of these propositions. 


In an excellent lecture on the Principles of Religions 
Psychology, Professor Flournoy defines the attitude which 
he thinks the psychologist should take towards religious 
beliefs. "Psychology neither rejects nor affirms the tran- 
scendent existence of the religious objects ; it simply ig- 
nores that problem as being outside of its field." He 
quotes approvingly Ribot, " The religious feeling is a fact 
which psychology simply analyzes and follows in its trans- 
formations, but it is incom.petent in the matter of its 
objective value,'' and adds : " The words I have italicized 
express exactly what I mean by the exclusion of the tran- 
scendent. . . . Religious Psychology can be estabHshed 
and can progress only by resolutely avoiding and referring 
to philosophy the insidious questions in which she stands 
in danger of becoming entangled from the start." ^ Im- 
agine the relief felt by those who have watched with dread 
the advance of psychology in the sphere of religion, when 
they hear an eminent psychologist say: "And finally, 
never be afraid of science. ... In particular do not fear 
its influence upon your faith, for science and faith are not 
of the same order. Science is neutral, silent, 'agnostic,' 
regarding the foundation of things and the final meaning 
of life. It is an unfair use of it which makes it proclaim 
any dogma whatsoever, whether materialistic or spiritualis- 
tic. And so, never ask of it arguments favoring your con- 
victions ; the support it might seem to lend you would be 

1 Flournoy, Th., Les Principes de la Psychologie Religieuse, Archives de 
Psychologic, Vol, II, 1903, pp. 37-41. 


but a reed which, should you lean upon it, would pierce 
your hand. But be equally certain that it does not speak 
in favor of antagonistic doctrines." ^ 

Professor Flournoy is right, if the God of religion is 
really the Metaphysical God, Absolute, Infinite, Imper- 
sonal. In that case science is certainly incompetent. But 
if, on the contrary, the object necessary to the religion of 
Professor Flournoy's auditors, and to rehgion generally, 
manifests himself directly to human consciousness, if he 
reveals himself in inner experiences, and if faith in him is 
based upon these facts, — then he is an empirical God and 
belongs to science. The fundamental problem confronting 
us is, then, whether the God of the religions is the Impas- 
sible Absolute, whose existence is established by metaphys- 
ical arguments, or whether he is a Being whose objective 
reality is demonstrated by the production of peace, joy, 
strength, righteousness, and other results of that order, in 
those who commune with him. 

One of the chief outcomes of the preceding chapters 
has been the demonstration of the empirical origin of the 
gods and of the empirical nature of the grounds for the 
present behef in them. This conclusion will receive ad- 
ditional support if it is shown that when the exclusion of 
science from the transcendent world is supposed to divorce 
science from the fundamental current religious beliefs, it is 
because of a failure to keep separate two God-ideas that 
are as distinct in content as they are in origin : a metaphys- 
ical idea, which has nought to do with religion ; and an 
empirical idea, which belongs to religion. Had these two 
God-ideas been kept distinct, much of the muddle in which 
theology and the philosophy of rehgion are now flounder- 
ing would have been avoided. 

1 Flournoy, Th., Le Ghtie Religieux, a lecture to the Swiss Students' 
Christian Association, Sainte-Croix, 1904, p. 34. 


Before proceeding further we must consider briefly at 
least one of the metaphysical arguments, so that we may 
compare the attributes of the Being to which it would lead 
with the attributes demanded of the God of the historical 
religions.^ I choose the " cosmological " proof, because it 
has enjoyed preeminence and because it still retains a little 
of its old vitality. It arises from the logical necessity, in 
order to understand the universe, of stopping somewhere 
in the regression by which science passes from one phe- 
nomenon to another one regarded as its cause : an effect 
has a cause ; that cause is itself the effect of another cause, 
and so on. But if there were no limit to this causal chain, 
a complete explanation of any term of the series could 
never be obtained. In other words, in order that there 
may be causes at all, there must be a First Mover, itself 
uncaused or its own cause. The criticism destructive of 
this argument, culminating in the form given it by Kant, 
remains unanswered. We are not, however, concerned 
with the validity of the proof, but only with the nature of 
the Being which it would demonstrate. 

The Being of the cosmological argument proceeds from 
the need of a causal understanding of the universe, — a 
need quite different from that which urges, for instance, the 
Christian mystics to a behef in an All-Father. Now a 
Being can legitimately possess only the attributes required 
in order that he may gratify the need from which he arose. 
Thus the Cosmological Being may properly be spoken of 
as the First Cause, the Absolute, the " eternally complete 

^ For a recent discussion between orthodox Roman Catholics and Roman 
Catholic Modernists upon the metaphysical arguments for the existence of God, 
see the Revue de Mi-taphysique et de Morale, Vol. XV, 1907, pp. 129-170 ; 
470-513; z.T\A. Reznie de /"^zV., Vol. XIII, 1908, pp. 5-25, 123-142. In the 
former, Le Roy offers a critical review of the classical proofs and shows in 
what respects they are insufficient. In the latter, Abbe Gayraud answers him 
in approved scholastic fashion. 


consciousness," or even as "the principle of unification," 
but he should not receive names denoting personality. To 
conceive of the First Cause as personal would be to add 
elements foreign to those demanded by the logical necessity 
of stopping the regression of secondary causes, so that to 
designate it by symbols drawn from relations between per- 
sons — King, Lord, Father — is to make an illegitimate use 
of these symbols. Hence the Cosmological God cannot be 
the God of any of the historical religions. An Absolute 
God manifesting himself through immutable secondary 
causes would leave man indifferent, since the causes with 
which he is concerned are those acting upon him and on 
which he can react.^ 

Philosophers with religious bent have felt the antagonism 
of the God of the understanding to the God of the heart. 
But that they have not always clearly reahzed it, and that 
they have rarely been able to rid their minds of it, is abun- 
dantly indicated in their writings. St. Augustine, — to 
speak of a Christian philosopher, — recognized that the 
expression " mercy " could not properly be applied to the 
Absolute God, since the word implies suffering through 
the suffering of others. Nevertheless, he thought himself 

1 In the article " Atheisme et Materialisme," in the Questions de philosophic 
morale et sociale, Durand de Gros denounces " the mess produced by the de- 
testable mixing of two orders of disparate ideas, which have been put together 
by an accident into a hybrid, monstrous whole." He endeavors to show that 
the religious question must be clearly separated from the ontological question. 

Comp. G. Belot in A Note on the Triple Origin of the Idea of God. " By 
what right do we give the same name, God, to an abstract principle, a simple 
affirmation of Unity, the Necessary, the Conclusion or the basis of a purely 
intellectual dialectic, and to the object of a social cult in a traditional and 
popular religion ?" {Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale, Vol. XVI, 1908, 
p. 718.) See also F. C. S. Schiller, Studies in Humanism, Macmillan and 
Co., 1907, pp. 285; 285-289. 

The reader will find an interesting discussion of the attributes of the meta- 
physical gods in Chaps. VI and VII of John McTaggart's Some Dogmas of 
Religion, Edward Arnold, London, 1906. 


justified in using the term to save the ignorant from 
stumbling.^ The ignorant ! And he himself, the learned 
doctor, the tender and compassionate soul, has he found it 
possible to believe only in the impassible, infinite God ? 
The Confessions show that, like less powerful intellects, 
St. Augustine maintained tender sentimental relations 
with his God, relations more dignified, to be sure, but of 
the same character as those described by the great love-sick 
Spanish mystic. It is a significant chapter of philosophy 
where the scholastic doctors tax their ingenuity to adapt 
the philosophical conception of God to a God serviceable 
to religion. If the Christian mystics have escaped the 
difficulty, they owe it to their utter disregard of logical 
relations. Most of them apparently do not even suspect 
the flagrant contradiction that exists between the concep- 
tion of a being of whom nothing can be predicated, one 
who is to be defined only by negations, and a God with 
whom it is possible to maintain the intimate relations 
described in their autobiographies. They come into the 
presence of their God and he vivifies their souls ; they 
address him and his answers illuminate their intelligence ; 
they love him and in return are made to tremble by a sense 
of his unutterable love. That such a God cannot at the 
same time be Unity, Perfect Identity, Nothing, Infinite, 
never appears to them clearly enough to disturb their men- 
tal quietude. And this is, in truth, the condition of the 
great majority of deeply religious souls, in no matter what 
environment, who rise at times to philosophical meditation : 
they fail to see the contradiction, thanks to that admirable il- 
logicalness without which life would be, after all, impossible. 

^ Augustinus, De Moribus Ecclesi(E Catholicce, Chap. XXVII, quoted by 
Hoffding, The Philosophy of Religion, p. 78. Schleiermacher says likewise, "To 
attribute mercy to God were more appropriate to an homiletic or poetic man- 
ner of speaking than to the dogmatic." {^Der Chrisiliche Glaube, § 85.) 


In the course of several investigations I have collected a 
number of biographies that show in a striking manner these 
two conceptions of God alternating or existing side by side 
in the same person. Several examples have already been 
given in the chapters on the origin and nature of gods. 
Here are three others, given in answer to the question, 
" Do you think of God as personal or impersonal ? " The 
first comes from a high school teacher, the others from 
college students. " When I am in the states of mind in 
which I need a personality for help, or for response to an 
inner tide of joy or enthusiasm, then God is for me a per- 
sonality. At such moments He seems to be as far away 
as heaven and yet also in my very soul at the same mo- 
ment. In everyday or matter-of-fact moods, the thought 
of God is in the background of my mind as an Impersonal 
Idea of Force. ... In more intellectual conditions of 
mind, the Fatherhood conception of God is in the back- 
ground as one I believe in and must have, while in the 
foreground the improbability of such an anthropomorphic 
conception is dominant. I seem able to entertain both the 
personal and impersonal conceptions at once without con- 
fusion and with real comfort, but if one is in the foreground 
the other is withdrawn to the back somewhere." 

One of the college students writes : " In an agitated or 
excited state of mind, I think of God as a Personal Father 
who is ready to reward or punish. But generally I think 
of God as a mass of forces having certain effects follow 
from certain causes ; the force that causes us to do good 
will bring with it its own reward and vice versa." 

Another student says : " I think of God sometimes as a 
personal being and at times as an impersonal one. The 
conception differs according to the state of my feelings. 
For instance, when I am perplexed by some distressing 
occurrence and feel the need of some kind of counsel, my 


conception of God and my appeal to Him is as to a per- 
sonal being. On the other hand, when I am out in the 
woods and see a beautiful landscape or an unusual sunset, 
my conception of God is impersonal. I think of God then 
as a great power, of no definite shape or size, with none of 
the attributes of a being." 

Cardinal Newman, when about thirty years of age, 
wrote, " I loved to act as feeling myself in my Bishop's 
sight, as if it were the sight of God." ^ So do millions of 
other people. Is it in the presence of the One, Unchange- 
able, Eternal Being, that they stand " as in the presence 
of their Bishop " ? 

Although the Infinite Being of the metaphysician should 
not be called personal in the ordinary sense of the word, 
philosophers have not infrequently used that term. Lotze, 
for instance, understands by " Perfect Personality " an in- 
finite being possessing the following metaphysical attri- 
butes : oneness, unchangeableness, omnipresence, eternity. 
If these predicates are to be vahd for the Highest Being, 
then that Being must have in addition, he claims, perfect 
personal existence.^ This use of the term " personal " is the 
opposite of the customary one ; it is therefore to be used 
only for the production of confusion. Certain of our con- 
temporaries have unfortunately followed Lotze's example. 
Some do this the more willingly because the equivocation 
in this use of the word " person " protects them from the 
opprobrium of those to whom the denial of a personal God 
is the great immorality. 

The following frank remarks of Bradley deserve to be 
quoted : " And if by personality we are to understand the 
highest form of finite spiritual development, then certainly 

1 Apologia, 1888, p. 50. 

2 Lotze, H., Outlines of the Philosophy of Religion, it. by G. T. Ladd, Ginn, 
Heath and Co., Boston, 1885, Chaps. Ill and IV. 


in an eminent degree the Absolute is personal. For the 
higher (we may repeat) is always the more real." But he 
regrets this use of the term "personal" mainly " because it 
is misleading and directly serves the cause of dishonesty." 
" For most of those who insist on what they call ' the per- 
sonality of God ' are intellectually dishonest. They desire 
one conclusion, and, to reach it, they argue for another. . . . 
They desire a person in the sense of a self, amongst and 
over against other selves, moved by personal relations and 
feelings toward these others — feelings and relations which 
are altered by the conduct of others. And, for their pur- 
pose, what is not this, is really nothing. ... Of course, for 
us to ask seriously, if the Absolute can be personal in such 
a way, would be quite absurd. And my business for the 
moment is not with truth, but with intellectual honesty." ^ 

When consciousness is attributed to the Absolute, as in 
the Hegelian metaphysics, it should be added, in order 
to preclude deception, that the Eternal and the human 
consciousness "cannot be comprehended in a single con- 
ception." ^ So that "consciousness" in the Absolute 
and " consciousness " in man is not a point of agreement, 
but one of divergence ; for the term is used in two differ- 
ent senses according as it is applied to one or to the other. 

1 Bradley, F. H., Appearance and Reality, Chap. XXVII, pp. 531-532. 

2 Green, T. H. Prolegomena io Ethics, § 68. 

" The philosophical theists like C. H. Weisse and II. Lotze affirm, it is true, 
that only an infinite being can possess personality, and that a limited and con- 
sequently dependent being is not worthy of this title; only a being absolutely 
active can be a person. But in speaking thus, it is admitted that the word 
" personality " can be taken in two entirely different senses according as it is ap- 
plied to God or man. Hence, strictly speaking, these philosophers agree in 
the conclusion at which Spinoza and Kant have arrived : after having elimi- 
nated everything that is valid of finite beings only, nothing remains of our 
fundamental psychological concept but the name." (Hoffding, H., op. cit., 
p. 80 of French edition ; p. 86 of English edition.) 

Feuerbach was not deceived by the ambiguous use of the term "per- 



The conflict arising from this twofold idea of God has 
been regarded as an anomaly of the religious life. Hoff- 
ding calls it the "religious paradox." The religious con- 
sciousness has need of a finite object; nevertheless, he 
says, "it tends to conceive of its object as quite superior 
to all finite relations. But in yielding without reserve to 
this tendency, it defeats its purpose, for intimate and vital 
relations between it and its object become thenceforth im- 
possible. . . . When these tendencies are present in their 
extreme forms, we have the religious paradox : God is im- 
mutable, yet changeable; he is eternal, yet becoming; he 
is victor, yet vanquished ; blessed, yet suffering." ^ The 
source of this opposition is not in the religious life itself ; 
for it is philosophical speculation, not the religious life, that 
tends to conceive of its object as infinite. Since men have 
been able neither to harmonize the several ontological con- 
ceptions nor to single out one of them as sufficient, they 
have had to get along as best they could with several God- 
ideas, and these they have sadly confused. If the great 
founders of religions, like Gautama and Jesus, did not fall 
into this error, it is because they ignored metaphysical 

son," nor was he willing that the confusion should continue. " The denial 
of determinate, positive predicates concerning the divine nature is noth- 
ing else than a denial of religion with, however, an appearance of re- 
ligion in its favor, so that it is not recognized as a denial ; it is simply 
a subtle, disguised atheism. The alleged religious horror of limiting God 
by positive predicates is only the irreligious wish to know nothing more 
of God, to banish God from the mind. Dread of limitation is dread of exist- 
ence. All real existence, i.e. all existence which is truly such, is qualitative, de- 
terminative existence. He who earnestly believes in the divine existence is not 
shocked at the attributing of gross, sensuous qualities to God. He who . . . 
shrinks from the grossness of a positive predicate, may as well renounce exist- 
ence altogether. . . . An existence in general, an existence without qualities is 
an insipidity, an absurdity." (Ludwig Feuerbach, Werke, Vol. VH, Chap. 2, 
Das Wesen des Ckristenthiims, p. 42 ; tr. by Marian Evans, p. 15.) 

1 Hoffding, H., op. cit., pp. 83-84 of French edition ; p. 91 of English 


arguments. With them the need of logical understand- 
ing was completely subordinated to the passion for con- 
crete living, I have elsewhere quoted Gautama on this 

May I not now claim to have unravelled a tangle at the 
root of empirical apologetics .'' On one side it would de- 
fend religion against science by invoking the principle of 
transcendence, according to which science is incompetent 
to deal with the question of God and with religious knowl- 
edge generally. On the other, it would protect religion 
against philosophy by insisting on inner experience as the 
only sufficient proof of the existence and nature of the 
Christian God. Now, the fact is that it is only the God of 
metaphysics that is inaccessible to science, a Being for 
whom the historical rehgions have no use ; whereas the 
gods of the religions are empirical beings. Their exist- 
ence is made evident in consciousness ; they are therefore 
within the sphere of science. TJie empirical theolugiajis 
employ the term. ^' God" in tivo different senses ; hence the 

I have had occasion to remark that the metaphysical 
proofs have fallen into disrepute. The dubious way in 
which theologians nowadays bring them in (when they do 
not leave them out entirely), however much they may feel 
the need of buttressing their faith, should not be ascribed 
altogether to the recognition of the logical weakness of 
these proofs. There are good reasons for thinking that 
this change is due to some dim recognition that the kind 
of God these arguments would support is not the one they 
want. The sooner it is definitely admitted that, "from the 
point of view of practical religion the metaphysical monster 
which they [the old systems of dogmatic theology] offer 
to our worship is an absolutely worthless invention of the 


scholarly mind," ^ the better for the human race. If popu- 
lar religions are to continue in existence, the facts upon 
which they are to stand must be patent to every believer. 
Voltaire was inspired by his consummate good sense when 
he wrote : " It always seems to me absurd to make the ex- 
istence of God depend upon a plus b divided by z. Where 
would human kind be if it was necessary to study dynamics 
and astronomy in order to know the Supreme Being } " ^ 

The real controversy, as far as religions of the present 
type are concerned, hangs, as Principal Lodge well says, 
upon the question : " Is the world controlled by a living 
Person, accessible to prayer, influenced by love, able and 
willing to foresee, to intervene, to guide, and wistfully to 
lead without compulsion spirits in some sort akin to Him- 
self .''... The whole controversy hinges, in one sense, on 
a practical pivot — the efficacy of prayer." 


The gods of religion being in reality inductions from 
observations of inner phenomena, it follows that the prop- 
ositions of theology regarding them are to be justified in 
the same way as science justifies its hypotheses, that is to 
say, by reference to experience. We have seen that this 
is just what religious people have always done. They 
say, "We know that our beliefs are true, because when 
put to the proof they have succeeded for us " ; or, " Inner 
experience furnished us with the undeniable proof that, 
after all, whatever may be said to the contrary, God exists, 
for he works within us." We have seen also that the- 
ologians have embraced as a last recourse this popular pro- 
cedure. Max Reischle speaks for the Ritschlian School 
when he declares : " Although theoretical reason cannot 

1 James, op. cii., p. 447. 

2 Voltaire, Letter to A. M. Koenig, Frankfort, June, 1753. 


prove either the truth or the falsehood of the propositions 
of faith, yet a proof of their truth may be drawn from the 
practical consideration that the only sufficient help in 
man's moral conflict is found in Christianity, and that the 
faith which accepts Christ as divine revelation finds its 
own justification." 

From the time Jesus bade men try his doctrine to the 
present day, the popular and the only really effective proof 
of the truth of Christianity has been its success in provid- 
ing at least a part of the blessedness it promises. The ex- 
istence of every one of the gods in whom men have ever 
put their faith has been held to be proved by the test of 
experience. Fetiches are trusted because their efficiency 
has been proved. Yahve showed himself to be the true 
God by helping his worshippers to defeat the hosts of 
Chemosh. The Virgin Mary demonstrates daily her powers 
of intercession by serving those who address their petitions 
to her. 

Now the scientific method of ascertaining truth is obser- 
vation of the facts, made, whenever possible, under definite, 
controllable conditions, i.e. experimentation. The funda- 
mental epistemological principle of empirical theology and 
the popular method of verifying religious propositions 
seem, therefore, in essential agreement with the principle 
and method of scientific procedure. Why is it, then, that 
theology and science are so far from each other in their 
conclusions that theology, for fear of destruction, would 
divorce itself from science } The truth is that empirical 
theologians have never intended K.o adopt scientific methods ; 
incredible as it may seem, they have apparently never real- 
ized that to make " inner experience " the only source of 
religious knowledge means a surrender to psychological 
science. Their respect for experience and their use of it 
is of a kind with that of the ignorant empiric in medicine. 


The test of the truth of a behef by means of experience 
involves a procedure incomparably more difficult and pains- 
taking than religious people imagine. Let me illustrate 
the difficulty. Some one on observing that a nail in water 
has rusted concludes that the water is the cause of the 
rust. Another person noticing that a bright steel blade 
rusts in air decides that the air is the cause. A third finds 
that the more a steel object is handled, the more it rusts, 
and forthwith he believes that the hands are the efficient 
agent. Each one of these conclusions is in a fashion veri- 
fied by a practical test, and in a fashion each is "true." 
But the deeper truth does not appear until the chemist, 
having observed the behavior of steel under different con- 
ditions, and having studied likewise that of other metals, 
is led by the method of elimination to the conclusion that 
oxygen is the one thing necessary for the formation of rust, 
and that moisture assists the chemical operation. Having 
the wider knowledge, the chemist finds the deeper truth. 
Some years ago the most divergent opinions existed as to 
the manner of obtaining hypnotic sleep. Those who said 
it was necessary to make "passes " based this opinion on 
what they had seen "with their own eyes." Those who 
thought the subject must fix his eyes upon something 
brilliant, expressed likewise the result of their experi- 
ence. And those who employed verbal suggestions used 
again an empirical argument. All had success as proof, 
not only of the validity of their method, but also, as they 
thought, of the conclusions they drew therefrom ; for in- 
stance, that hypnotic sleep is produced by the magnetic 
fluid projected by the hands making the passes. And so 
these people incorporated in the experience they called 
immediate and unassailable, inductions open to scientific 
criticism just as is commonly done in the field of religious 
experience. The psychologist, on the other hand, putting 


together all that he has learned about hypnotism and simi- 
lar topics, comes to the conclusion that a method succeeds 
in proportion as it arrests mental activity and induces the 
expectation of sleep. 

Not only have theologians failed carefully to scrutinize 
their facts and to bring them into comparative relation with 
similar facts either in other religions or in secular life, 
according to the way of science, but they have even 
declared, as we know, that this cannot be done. Ritschl, 
for instance, states that " the Christian religion presents 
an element which transcends all merely secular knowl- 
edge ; namely, the end and the means of the blessedness 
of man. Whatever content may have been ascribed to 
this word 'blessedness,' it expressly denotes a goal, the 
knowledge of which is unattainable by Philosophy and the 
realization of which cannot be secured by the natural means 
at the command of men, but depends upon the positive 
character of Christianity." ^ 

In justification of their failure to make exact, comprehen- 
sive investigations, they have alleged that religious expe- 
rience is something siii generis, incomparable with the rest 
of life, and also that it is a whole and therefore not subject 
to analysis.^ " It is not a further development of the nat- 

1 Ritschl, A., /ustijica/ion and Reconciliation, p. 193. 

2 The only answer to make to the doirmatic assertion that religious experi- 
ences are unanalyzable wholes is actually to analyze them. That the products 
of a psychological analysis are not identical with the object analyzed is just as 
much a truism in psychology as in the physical sciences. No compound is 
identical with the elements of which it is composed. Analyzing a substance 
means breaking it up. Is that an argument against the use of the analytical 
method in chemistry ? Is it any more an argument against the analysis of psy- 
chic processes ? Are not the recent results of psychological investigation in 
the fields of perception, feeling, imagination, hallucination, association, speech, 
emotion, aesthetics, etc., sufficient to convert sceptics into enthusiastic support- 
ers of the scientific study of psychic experiences ? The day is past for talking 
of the inscrutable, incomparable, unanalyzable, religious experiences. 



ural man, but a new departure ; it is a living process, com- 
ing to us as a whole." ^ To this obscurantist declaration, 
they have frequently added an almost neccessary comple- 
ment, to wit, that the apprehension of religious truth requires 
a special "sense" or "faculty." Garvie, in the passage 
already quoted, expresses this opinion in its common form. 
Whoever has this " sense " for the " discernment of super- 
sensuous eternal reality," may "confidently reject the crit- 
icism of the objects of faith which is offered to him by the 
irreligious man who lacks it." " Over against the suspi- 
cions and surmises of criticism, we can put the certainties 
of our experience of Christ's saving power." ^ 

In similar language did all men speak of practically 
every phase of mental life, before the birth of modern 
psychological science. Attention, memory, imagination, 
reason, etc., were looked upon as so many unanalyzable, 
distinct "faculties," each somehow independent of the 
others. Theology has not yet learned the lesson writ 
large in the history of psychology. It continues to bear 
to psychology a relation similar to that of alchemy to 
chemistry. The former took things as a whole, was little 
concerned with observation, analysis, comparison. It pre- 
ferred to gloat over the wonderful properties of this or 
that mysterious substance. Its most characteristic trait 
was a splendid faith in the existence of some miraculous 
matter which would transmute base metal into gold. At 
a later period, it held to an equally nafve conviction that 
there was to be found an elixir that would infallibly re- 
store men to health. The science of chemistry was born 
when the childish faith in the existence of a philosopher's 

^ See, for instance, Eucken's uncritical philosophy of religion in Haupt- 
probleme der Religions-philosophie der Gegenwart (three lectures), 1907, 
Reuter and Reichard, Berlin. He is, apparently, one of those who see no 
escape from intellectualism except in affectivism. 

2 Garvie, A., op. cii. (1903), VIII, pp. 369, 370. 


stone or in the elixir of life was renounced, or, at least, 
when it was admitted that the only way to find these 
things was by careful observation and analysis, aided by 
the experimental method. With this new procedure, 
chemistry has discovered a hundred different substances 
capable of changing the color of base metals, and has 
actually learned how to transform charcoal into diamond. 

Simple religious souls, as well as most theologians, 
continue, alchemist-like, to believe in the existence of 
a religious panacea, and, therefore, neglect, nay, often 
despise, the careful, persistent, scientific study of man's 
spiritual nature, of its defects and remedies. In what 
practical way, for instance, is the present soteriology in 
advance of that of St. Augustine .-* What has Chris- 
tian theology done in the course of two thousand years 
to increase our knowledge of " sin," its central problem .'' 
What has been gained by the endless discussions of the 
relation of evil to an Omnipotent and Righteous God, 
of free will, of the respective shares of man and of the 
Divine Grace in overcoming evil ? Need any one be told 
to-day that the question of predestination is chiefly a prob- 
lem of heredity and breeding, and that our teachers on 
this subject ought to be, not Christian Fathers, but con- 
temporary scientists and educators .-' The eradication of 
moral evil is a problem demanding for its solution a 
knowledge far more difficult of attainment than that 
which has already enabled us to master many bodily 
diseases : nothing will suffice short of an exhaustive 
knowledge of general psychology, individual and social ; 
in particular a knowledge of psychology in its relation to 

The indifference of those who are supposed to be the 
custodians of religious knowledge to the only ways by 
which knowledge on the cardinal problems of practical 


religion can be increased, excusable a hundred years ago, 
has become a scandal and a public danger, — a scandal 
and a danger which will continue as long as the Christian 
Church seeks its information on sin and the means to 
righteousness only in its own sacred Scriptures and in 
unanalyzed experience.^ 


If the fundamental truths of religion are either imme- 
diately given in inner experiences or induced from them, 
one does not see why something additional called " faith " 
should be a necessary condition of religious belief. Yet 
this is what both classes of empirical theologians maintain. 
What does this mean ? If God manifests himself imme- 
diately and clearly in consciousness, as the mystical em- 
piricists so insistently aver, why should a conscious process 
additional to those in which the truths of rehgion are re- 

1 The craven advice offered by one of Germany's most prominent theolo- 
gians may serve in estimating the difficulty there is for any one brought up 
in the traditional theological schools to make a clean departure from the 
old ideas. " The reconciliation of our present knowledge of nature and 
history with the religious faith handed down in the Church, and imparted 
to us in our education, will remain in the future the perpetual problem of 
Theology. It is evident that its formula, from the very fact of their having 
this practical object, cannot claim to be scientific propositions, valid univer- 
sally for all times. A sound tact giving prominence to what is for us re- 
ligiously essential, and putting into the background what is antiquated will, 
perhaps, be better able to solve the problem than a rigorously systematic 
method." (O. Pfleiderer, The Development of Theology since Kant, p. 205.) 
When men of the highest influence affirm that theology can hardly do better 
than perpetually strive to reconcile that which is acknowledged to be false, 
or at least deficient (the religious faith handed down in the Church), with 
our present knowledge, and that "sound tact" is the essential quality of 
a successful theologian, we must hold it well for the manhood of our young 
men that they should prefer to that sublime vocation almost any other — 
even, perhaps, that of the American " practical " politician, whose chief 
business seems to be the reconciliation of the irreconcilable: dishonesty and 


vealed intervene, and what may be the function of this 
process ? To say that it is by faith that these experiences 
are laid hold of and accepted seems a denial of the quali- 
ties of immediacy and unimpeachableness claimed for 

But perhaps "faith " is intended to designate the particu- 
lar attitude, i.e. the volitional and feeling setting resulting 
from the immediate revelation. This meaning seems to me 
the only one the mystical empiricists can logically assign 
to that word. Faith would then be a will-attitude accom- 
panied by a definite mood and generated by religious ex- 
periences. But in this case one could not speak of believing 
by faith that these experiences are from above, since the 
faith-state would not be a cause, but a consequence of be- 
lief. Usually, however, faith is spoken of as producing 
belief or as an " organ " of knowledge. 

For those who regard religious propositions as inferences 
from inner experiences, and who admit, as we have seen, 
that a natural explanation of them is possible, the word 
" faith " is susceptible of another meaning. These people 
reject a logically satisfactory human account of certain 
experiences in favor of a superhuman one ; this they call 
making an act of faitJi. But why should an act of faith 
be made in favor of a proposition different from one rec- 
ognized as logically valid } Because of the conviction that 
only thus can certain vital advantages, certain essential 
values, be secured. Practical needs determine the act of 

This second meaning is clearly the one implied in the 
quotations made earlier from Professor Bois. It appears 
also plainly in the following passage by a young theolo- 
gian : " Even when he theoretically separates these from 
the metaphysical belief that conditions it, the experience 
with its priceless value remains. . . . Relying upon this 


fact which gives him strength, joy, inner unspeakable ra- 
diance whenever he presents himself before the living per- 
son of Christ, relying furthermore upon rational, historical, 
and moral motives, he freely maintains the Christian in- 
terpretation, and keeps by an act of faith and of love his 
living assurance." ^ We find this meaning of faith again 
in Professor Boutroux: "The essential phenomenon is here 
the act of faith by which, experiencing certain emotions, 
consciousness pronounces that these emotions come to it 
from God. Religious experience is not of itself objective. 
But the subject gives it an objective significance by means 
of the belief it inserts there." ^ 

If now we compare these two meanings of faith, we find 
them not antagonistic. In the second meaning,/"^?//// names 
the will-act by which an interpretation of apparently vital 
importance is embraced ; in the first meaning, the word 
denotes the particular blessed condition of mind and heart 
which is generated by the whole-hearted acceptance of 
certain propositions. These two meanings are comple- 
mentary; taken together they cover the will-act and its 
psychological consequences. 

Understood in this inclusive sense, faith is anything but 
a rare phenomenon. Its sphere is not limited to religious 

1 Ponsoye, E., op. cit., p. 8. 

2 Boutroux, E., Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale^ 1908, Vol. XVI, p. 25, 
Elsewhere he has said: "And thus in religious experience, considered as 

such, I find again faith, and with it, confidence and submission to an authority. 
It is because by faith I attribute an infinite value to religious phenomena, that 
I refuse to see there a simple case of natural suggestion or autosuggestion. 
{Esprit et Autorite, Revue Chretienne, August, 1904, p. I02.) Here the act 
of faith is not the will to believe moved by the wish to retain certain precious 
" realities," but faith is now something by which an " infinite " value is attrib- 
uted to religious phenomena. Can this have the same meaning as the quota- 
tion in the text ? I confess that I do not see how it can, nor yet what else it 
could mean. 


life. Strange it is, indeed, that all the praises lavished 
upon faith should have been prompted by its role in reli- 
gion ; for it is met with in every phase of human existence. 

The pragmatists have recently reminded us that it is by 
faith we live. If we could or would not act until we had 
obtained the kind and degree of certitude we require in 
our analytical moments, life would at once come to a stop. 
Faith is as essential to the progress of commerce, industry, 
science, as to the progress of religion ; for it is in making 
faith-ventures that commerce and industry are established 
and that new scientific hypotheses are afforded a chance to 
prove themselves true. The faith-act is a commonplace of 
life, because it is a corollary of imperfect knowledge, and a 
condition of the acquisition of the knowledge necessary to 
life. It is only when faith involves tragic issues, or when 
it leads to convictions regarded as preposterous by most 
people, or yet when it involves a quasi-ecstatic mood that 
it attracts attention. It is because these circumstances are 
often existent in religion, that religious faith has always 
been conspicuous. But it should be frankly acknowledged 
that the propositions of theology and of science, in so far 
as they are faith-propositions, are marks of incomplete 
knowledge, and that, therefore, the duty of theology as well 
as of science is to press forward towards fuller light. 

Unfortunately, faith, which is normally the ally of science 
and of religion, often becomes their enemy. This happens 
whenever particular faith-propositions become so firmly 
rooted in tradition as to prevent recognition of new facts 
and the formulation of new beliefs from which better re- 
sults would be secured. Our official creeds are in the 
main stupendous instances of such deterrent beliefs. 

The motive of the act of religious faith is then not the 
need of explaining causatively 7'eligious experiences, but the 
"fe/t " impossibility of otherwise s^r.nring certain valuable 


ends. The numerous quotations placed at the beginning 
of this chapter have made clear what it is that Christian re- 
ligious faith is intent upon preserving or securing. Peace, 
joy, inner radiance, strength, moral energy, — these are the 
words with which we have become familiar. William 
James uses the terms " reconciliation," " union." " Mysti- 
cal states," he says, " tell of the supremacy of the ideal, of 
vastness, of union, of safety, and of rest." The only im- 
provement Professor Boutroux would make upon this is, 
apparently, to prefix the megalomanic adjective " infinite" 
to some of these nouns. All would probably agree upon 
this formulation : religious faith secures things to which is 
attached high value, and, if one had in mind exalted forms 
of religion, one would have to say " supreme value." ^ 

Whatever vitality remains in the belief in the Christian 
God proceeds from the gratification it provides for affective 
and moral needs. There are millions who say, " It seems 
to me undeniable that that notion [a personal God], although 
altogether too human to be properly attributed to God, has 
a deep meaning, a moral significance, a religious value, that 
no other term possesses" ; ^ and consequently they choose 
to think of God as a person. It is precisely because no 

1 It should be observed here that a certain argument often thought to sup- 
port the Christian religion offers in reality not the slightest motive for belief 
in the Christian God, but only for belief in a moral order, in a spiritual universe. 
In this argument it is asserted that it is impossible for him who feels moral val- 
ues to admit that they are only an accident in the development of mankind. 
It is claimed that these supreme values must express at least one of the funda- 
mental characteristics of ultimate reality. 

This argument falls outside our discussion; for it is satisfied with the ad- 
mission of the existence of a moral principle belonging to the essence of the 
universe. The philosophers who insist most strongly upon this argument are 
precisely those who reject the Christian conception of God the Father and 
Comforter, and it is partly in order to supply the place of that rejected belief 
that they have taken pains to find reasons for believing in a moral order. 

2 Leo, Albert, Atude Psychologique sur la Friere, Thesis, Faculty of Theol- 
ogy, Montauban, 1905, p. 43. 


other form of available belief satisfies so easily and so com- 
pletely certain urgent needs of the human heart that the 
idea of God the Father remains among us. 

The following illustration shows again, in a striking 
manner, these needs, their energy, and just how potent 
they are in defeating reason. Thirty years ago, a woman 
a little over forty was teacher of botany in one of our 
colleges. One Sunday she drifted into a church to hear 
the old hymns of her childhood, and then continued to 
attend its services, although she was fully conscious of her 
dissent from the faith of its members. Her motives are 
clearly stated : " The quiet, restful place, the singing of the 
old hymns, and the friendly greetings which assured me of 
my welcome, all helped to attract me to a custom to which 
I had long been a stranger." The young clergyman inter- 
ested and attracted her also. During a trying moment in 
her career she took him into her confidence. " This gave 
me the relief that comes from the feeling that one unpre- 
judiced knows and understands our case." On several 
occasions when the gap between her beliefs and those of 
the minister and his congregation was made evident, she 
considered breaking her informal relations with the church ; 
but she could not bring herself to give up the comfort and 
strength she found there. Several years passed in this 
fashion, the bonds connecting her with the pastor and the 
church growing stronger, but her beliefs remaining unal- 
tered. The death of a dear and intimate friend with whom 
she had been associated in her work brought her to a crisis. 
"One Sunday morning I went to church feeling so bur- 
dened and troubled that it seemed to me I could no longer 
endure it. Some change must come; the work was more 
than I could carry through alone. Almost the first sen- 
tence of the sermon was, * It is of no use, we cannot get 
through this world and accomplish what we are placed 


here to do unless we let some one besides ourselves carry 
the heavy end of the burden.' The whole sermon was 
after this strain, and how I blessed God for sending me 
that comforting message which I needed so much ! " At 
the close of the service, as she endeavored to slip out un- 
observed through the crowd, a lady greeted her kindly 
with the words, " I think you are a stranger here." 
"'Stranger' — so I was! But I did not want the fact to 
stare me in the face just then ! I was trying to climb into 
the fold in some other way than through the open door, 
and my theology repudiated my need of a fold or a pastor ! " 
She decides that since she cannot join the church honestly, 
the only thing to do is to sever her relations with it, and 
she sits down to write a letter to the pastor in explanation 
of the intended step. Almost against her wish, her pen 
writes : " I must confess I would like that old faith that you 
preach and that I have so long rejected. I have sought 
long and faithfully for something to take its place, and I 
have never yet been able to find it." This confession 
made, various biblical passages fill her mind, for instance, 
" Except ye become as little children, ye can in no wise 
enter the Kingdom of Heaven." " This means you must 
be wiUing to be led ; you must resign entirely all thought 
or wish to enter the Kingdom by any other means than the 
way devised by God himself ; to do this, you must lay 
aside all trust in your own intellectual powers ; you never 
will be able to understand before you come, come as a child 
comes, with loving trust in the hand that leads. . . . To 
this I answered silently, but firmly, that I was willing to 
come in any way ; I would give up forever my plan of 
understanding first, and coming afterward. I wanted this 
faith earnestly enough to comply with the conditions. 
Then came the text, * Peace which passeth understanding.' 
There was no explanation of this in words, but simply 


the presence of God's Spirit. . . . God's very presence 
in my heart, filKng it with a peace which I had never felt 
before. ... I did not ask or wish to understand it, only 
to experience it was enough." 

She accepted her experience of peace and joy as coming 
from God himself for two reasons : " first, the strong sense 
of God's presence ; secondly, the clearness of spiritual vis- 
ion which enabled me to see and understand how different 
God's way for me to come into the Kingdom was from the 
way I had chosen for myself," — namely, intellectual con- 

IV. The Task of Psychology in the Study of Religious 


If we are right in holding that religion consists, in its 
individual aspect, of the relations maintained by man with 
superhuman powers of psychic order, and if these relations, 
quite like those of a subject with his sovereign, or of a 
lover with his loved one, take the form of sensations, im- 
ages, conceptions, sentiments, emotions, etc., issuing in 
action, immediate or deferred, overt or not, — if, that is to 
say, these relations assume forms common to the whole of 
psychic life, — then the task of psychology with regard to 
religion is of the same character as its task in other parts 
of conscious life. 

It is, of course, theoretically possible for one to affirm 
the presence in religious experience of special psychic ele- 
ments and special forms of consciousness. But I am not 
aware that any competent person has seriously attempted 
this. Neither has the logic built upon the principles of 
identity, excluded middle, and contradiction been replaced by 
another logic valid in the construction of religious knowl- 

1 From A Scientist'' s Confession of Faith ^ Amer. Baptist Pub. Soc, Phila- 
delphia, 1898, 


edge. Until proof of the contrary is produced, we may set 
it down that religious experience is made up of the same 
elements as the rest of conscious life, and that these ele- 
ments are connected and elaborated according to laws hold- 
ing for mental life generally. It follows that religious life 
is a province of science just as is any other portion of con- 
scious life. 

Expressed in general terms, the task of psychology in 
respect to the group of facts constituting rehgious life is 
to observe, compare, analyze, and to determine the conditions 
and consequences of the appearance of these facts. Its 
chief problems, outside of the genetic one, may be classi- 
fied under four heads : (i) the impulses, motives, and aims ; 
(2) the means employed to reach the ends — ceremonial, 
prayer, communion, etc. ; (3) the results secured ; (4) the 
means and the results considered in the relation of cause 
and effect.^ 

The control, for man's profit, of the physical forces is 
the ultimate goal of physical science. The control of the 
psychical forces is the practical aim of psychology, — of the 
psychology of religious life as well as of any other branch 
of the science. 

It is conceivable that in accomplishing this task the 
psychologist may encounter phenomena transcending what 
he can explain by the causes already known. So-called 
premonitions, clairvoyance, telepathy, sudden moral conver- 
sions, and mystic illuminations might, for instance, baffle 
his efforts at explanation. And it might be claimed that 
the course of historical events testifies to a divine action. 
Dr. Reinhold Seeberg, Professor of Theology at the Uni- 
versity of Berlin, maintains that certain facts of history 
"certify to man the operative presence of God"; "these 
facts are distinct from the common or regular connection 

^ I hope to be able to follow this outline in two volumes to follow this one. 


of events. They are in themselves characteristically mar- 
vellous, or they are so constituted that man is through them 
made aware of the presence of God, and in them feels the 
power of God," The same author speaks also of "the 
influence of God upon the human mind, an influence ap- 
parent under different forms, but directed to arouse recog- 
nition and appreciation of God, submission to His will, and 
a desire to serve Him. This cause and its effects are 
always miraculous in their nature." ^ 

These are possibilities ; but let this be clearly seen : it is 
for science to show that any one of these possibihties has 
become at a particular time a reality. The facts must first 
be analyzed, compared, classified, and an effort made to 
trace them back to familiar causes. Who is qualified to 
attempt this work .'' Who has a right to make the distinc- 
tion between the human and the superhuman ? Is any 
pious person who has passed through alleged superhuman 
experiences qualified for this ? It was formerly the ten- 
dency to see the work of God or of devils in a great num- 
ber of psychic phenomena to-day "naturahzed." If any 
one has the right to attempt this discrimination, it is the 
psychologist. He it is who can — if any one can — mark 
the points at which unknown factors interfere in the psy- 
cho-physiological system. For the rest, it is clear that 
from the presence of inexplicable perturbances one cannot 
posit the inadequacy of the known forces unless one may 
claim a complete knowledge of them. 

It would require a large volume to present fully the 
recent knowledge concerning the phenomena alleged by 
reputable religions or disreputable "cults" to be super- 
human. Only a few general remarks upon two points are 
called for here. 

1 Seeberg, Reinhold, Revelation and Inspiration, Harper Brothers, 1909, 
pp.40, 51. 


I. What does psychology think of those phenomena, 
which, although they may not exceed what we know to be 
possible to man, seem to many to demand a transcendent 
explanation because of the unusual conditions of their ap- 
pearance ? I refer to the great majority of visions and so- 
called revelations; to the imperative feeling of obligation, 
and the sense of passivity which often accompany thoughts 
and actions, thus giving the impression that some one other 
than ourselves thinks or acts for us. Not long ago science 
was seriously embarrassed by these sensory and motor 
automatisms. To-day facts of this kind are incorporated 
in the domain of nature. 

William James, whose authority has been used illegiti- 
mately in certain circles, has not separated himself from 
his fellow-psychologists on this point. In the first part of 
The Varieties of Religions Experience, he explains in an 
orthodox fashion the phenomena he studies ; that is, with- 
out making use of extra-human causes. If, after having 
made that demonstration, he declares that he prefers in 
certain cases another explanation, this is not at all because 
the natural explanation does not account for the facts in 
question just as well as it does for other experiences ; it is 
for reasons of another order, which I have already had 
occasion to mention. 

It has become so evident that a natural explanation is 
just as adequate to these remarkable rehgious experiences 
as to the other manifestations of psychic life, that this 
view has forced itself even upon those who are by educa- 
tion and temperament least disposed to accept it. We 
have seen several examples of this. Here is one more, 
taken from a recent thesis of a bachelor in theology pre- 
sented at the theological school at Montauban. After hav- 
ing compared cures accomplished by non-religious means 
with those which, according to him, depend upon divine 


operation, he is obliged to admit that there is no difference 
in the manner in which the cure takes place. " For us," 
he says, " everything takes place as if it were nothing more 
than a natural action. This does not prevent its being a 
divine action." And later on he adds, " It must be recog- 
nized with good grace that the special intervention of God 
is never susceptible of positive proof." ^ It is in what he 
calls ultimate personal experience that he finds the proof 
for divine healings. We have seen what this may signify. 

2. What are the conclusions of psychology concerning 
experiences apparently transcending what man can of him- 
self do or know ? On this point I must content myself 
with the following reflections. If there were extra-human 
sources of knowledge and superhuman sources of human 
power, their existence should, it seems, have become in- 
creasingly evident. Yet the converse is apparently true ; 
the supernatural world of the savage has become a natural 
world to civilized man ; the miraculous of yesterday is the 
explicable of to-day. In religious lives accessible to psy- 
chological investigation, nothing requiring the admission of 
superhuman influences has been found. There is nothing, 
for example, in the life of the great Spanish mystic whose 
celebrity is being renewed by contemporary psychologists, 
— not a desire, not a feeling, not a thought, not a vision, not 
an illumination, — that can seriously make us look to tran- 
scendent causes.^ 

As proof of this I might give the failure of William James 
to find in rehgion anything not amenable to natural laws. 
T/te Varieties of Religious Experience does not purport to 

1 Lavaud, Charles, La Gucrison par la Foi, 1906, pp. 110-118. 

2 See on this subject the excellent book of Henri Delacroix, Etudes d'flis- 
toire et de Psychologic du Mysticisme : Les Grands Mystiques Chretiens, Felix 
Alcan, 1908, and my articles on the same subject in the Revue Philosophique, 
Vol. LIV, 1902, pp. 1-36, 441-4S7. 


be a systematic study of religion. It owes its existence to 
the desire of finding in religious life facts which may serve 
as arguments for the transcendent hypothesis developed in 
the conclusion of the book. What has the author discov- 
ered ? In my opinion, nothing that can serve him ; and it 
is difficult to believe that such is not his own opinion. Af- 
ter having shown that instantaneous conversions can be 
explained by the theory of the subliminal, he says : " But 
if you, being orthodox Christians, ask me as a psychologist 
whether the reference of the phenomenon to a subliminal self 
does not exclude the notion of the direct presence of Deity 
altogether, I have to say frankly that as a psychologist I 
do not see why it necessarily should. The lower manifes- 
tations of the SubUminal, indeed, fall within the resources 
of the personal subject : his ordinary sense material, in- 
attentively taken in and subconsciously remembered and 
combined will account for all his usual automatisms. But 
just as our primary wide-awake consciousness throws open 
our senses to the touch of things material, so it is logically 
conceivable that if there be higher spiritual agencies that 
can directly touch us, the psychological condition of their 
doing so might be our possession of a subconscious region 
which alone should yield access to them." ^ 

Observe that the author assumes in this passage neither 
the attitude of the mystic nor that of the metaphysician, 
but that of the scientist, inasmuch as he seeks for a 
factual difference (he speaks of "lower" and "higher" 
manifestations) which may justify belief in superhuman 
causes.^ If there were higher experiences that could not 

^ James, op. cil., p. 242. The italics are mine. 

2 William James's avowed position throughout The Varieties of Religious 
Experience is that of the empiricist. He writes, for instance, of theology, 
" She must abandon metaphysics and deduction for criticism and induction." 
(Pages 455-456.) If he relinquishes this standpoint anywhere, it must be 
due, it seems, to an inadvertence. 


be satisfactorily explained by natural causes, it would be 
scientific procedure to try other hypotheses. The author's 
task is thus clear : it is to indicate the manifestations which 
he regards as having a superhuman origin and to state the 
grounds on which he makes the differentiation. 

After examining those phenomena among which one 
might expect to meet superhuman manifestations, he ar- 
rives at the conclusion I have commented upon, — that the 
mystic states seem to point towards a reconciliation, a 
union ; they speak of the supremacy of the ideal, of security, 
of repose. Now I, for one, am somewhat amazed that this 
should have seemed to William James sufficient to warrant 
the making of so pregnant a differentiation. Because cer- 
tain experiences speak of reconciUation and of union, of 
security and of repose, we are asked to put them on one side 
of the line separating the humanly conditioned from the 
divinely conditioned ! Such states of consciousness should 
not be explicable by natural means, and all others should! 
William James's effort to find in religious experiences 
phenomena warranting the hypothesis of divine action is a 
fiasco which, despite his own preference announced in the 
conclusions, should be felt as a severe blow by the super- 
naturally inclined. 

But you forget, some one may say, the phenomena in 
which the Society for Psychical Research is interested, 
phenomena which seem to indicate the action of extra-hu- 
man agents : the divining rod, premonitions, clairvoyance, 
and communications of spirits. I do not forget them. 
But one has a right, before introducing spiritistic theories, 
to wait until they have undergone the experimental proof 
to which they arc now being submitted. 

The arguments that are sometimes used to invalidate studies of re- 
ligion by men of science on the pretext that these men have not in 
themselves known the experiences they are studying, deserve perhaps a 


moment's attention. It is contended that one must have had these ex- 
periences in order to comprehend them, just as one must see in order 
to know Hght. The analogy frequently used between the absence of 
visual perceptions and the absence of religious experiences is defective ; 
for the forms of consciousness in which religious experiences are cast, 
are the same as those that enter into the composition of psychic life in 
general. The feelings and emotions of religion are peace, confidence 
self-surrender, hope, faith, love, moral obligation, etc. ; that is, states the 
nature of which is known by all people who Uve in the moral world. If 
every one knows from personal experience the forms in which the re- 
ligious life manifests itself, it follows that just as it is not necessary to 
be a soldier in order to understand military life, nor mad in order to 
make researches in mental alienation, nor a painter in order to be an 
art critic, — the psychology of religious life may be understood and the 
quality of religious life appreciated to a certain extent by all. 

Devotion to a religion is much more likely to make one hopelessly 
biassed and blind. A lover would not be asked for an impartial criticism 
of the one he loves. The ideal condition for the student of religion 
would be to have lived naively through religious experiences and then to 
have gained freedom from traditional convictions. If the psychologist has 
passed through the experiences he discusses, so much the better for him. 
If he has not, he is no more disqualified for religious studies than for 
the psychological analyses of non-religious experiences which have 
never been his, — a crime of passion, the mental state of a captain of 
industry struggling with his rivals, or any form whatever of mental 


Contemporary Protestant Christianity grounds its beliefs 
solely upon so-called "inner experience," which, it is 
claimed, leads directly or through "faith" to a knowledge 
of God, without the mediation of science and of meta- 
physics. From these Protestant Christianity would divorce 
itself, for the metaphysical arguments no longer seem reli- 

1 The author was brought up in a religious atmosphere. During adoles- 
cence and several subsequent years, he was deeply stirred by religion 
and passed through conversion. And although now he finds little acceptable 
in the Roman Catholic and the Protestant dogmas, he has retained a sympa- 
thetic appreciation and understanding of religious life. 


able, and science undermines rather than supports the 
central beliefs of the historical religions. 

But to say that religion is based solely upon " inner," 
" immediate " experience, really means that theology is a 
branch of psychological science. So that the claim that 
religious experience is inaccessible to science rests upon a 
misunderstanding and a confusion : the nature of religious 
experience is misunderstood, and the God of metaphysics 
is confused with the God of the religions. 

The immediacy of religious kiioivledge is illusory. The 
expression " immediate experience " can be applied only to 
mere sensation (sensory impressions not referred to an ob- 
ject), and to mere feeling. Every transsubjective refer- 
ence falls under the criticism of the intellect. 

If the claim that certain religious experiences are condi- 
tioned by superhuman action can be established, it is the 
psychologist who stands the best chance of doing this suc- 

The insistent affirmation of the new theology that it finds 
its warrant in " inner experience " turns out to mean some- 
thing quite different from that which the proposition would 
mean to a man of science. The final grounding of the 
whole religious structure upon an act of faith is sufficient 
to correct the misunderstanding into which he might fall. 
In the language of these theologians, dependence upon 
experience is not intended to mean that religious knowledge 
is to proceed from an analysis of a certain class of facts of 
consciousness, a comparison of them with other similar 
facts, and a study of the conditions under which these facts 
come into existence. The scientific treatment of religious 
experiences is the very thing that empirical theology would 
preclude. Indeed, the theologians of this school are deter- 


mined to face no longer any attempt at scientific or philo- 
sophical examination of the truths of their dogmas. They 
have turned their faces resolutely away from metaphysics 
and from psychology. Henceforth, the only question they 
are willing to acknowledge as relevant is, " Does this or 
that belief produce the results we want ? " If it does, they 
think themselves justified in holding to it by an act of 
faith, even against science and philosophy. 

The superficial way in which the new theology uses the 
pragmatic conception of truth makes that conception appear 
ridiculous. A theology intelligently pragmatic, interested 
in the value of religion to humanity, rather than in the pres- 
ervation of a particular form of religion, would realize 
that the practical problems with which it is confronted can- 
not be solved offhand, by an appeal to the immediacy of 
religious experience or by acts of faith. There are many — 
and they deserve serious consideration — who hold, for in- 
stance, that a balance sheet of what the civilized world 
would lose in renouncing the ideal of a God-Providence and 
of what it would gain by fixing its attention upon human 
society in the process of formation, would not be in favor 
of the traditional opinion. 

If theology is ever to find out what beliefs work best 
towards self-realization and happiness, it will have to deal 
with inner experience according to the best scientific meth- 
ods. Until it does so, it cannot make any claim to serious 
consideration. And when it does so, it will have become 
a branch of psychology. 




An author audacious enough to write on the future of 
religion — as I shall do in the final chapter of this book — 
is perhaps less likely to be ridiculous if as a preparation 
he adds to an investigation of the origin and functions of 
religion a study of the trend of contemporary religious life. 
In the past and present may be read a prophecy of the 

The present time abounds in religious movements pos- 
sessing the value of experiments. Let us learn from them 
what we can. Perhaps we shall discover what conceptions 
and practices the average man, dissatisfied with traditional 
Christianity, is ready to accept, and what may be their value 
to him. As we take up the new doctrines, let us keep in 
mind their relation both to the generalizations of science 
and to the behef in the anthropopathic Christian God. 

I shall consider successively the influence of pantheistic 
conceptions upon theistic religion, the psychotherapic cults, 
the Religion of Humanity of Auguste Comte, and the Eth- 
ical Culture Society. But first I shall introduce a few 
pages on original Buddhism, because this earliest attempt 
to establish a religion independent of supernatural per- 
sonal powers is too instructive to be omitted. 

I. Original Buddhism. ^ — Buddhism, unlike the more 
primitive religions, is largely the creation of one man, the 

^ The substance of these pages was first published in the second part of 
Religion, its Impulses and Ends, Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. LVIII, 1901, 
pp. 763-773- 



Buddha Gautama. This fact simplifies considerably our 
task, because in the experiences which launched the founder 
upon his career, and in the doctrines he formulated, can 
be readily discerned the motives and purposes of original 

Would that we had a full record of the inner life of the 
young man in whom the new religion was germinating. 
His disgust and his yearning, his disappointments and his 
hopes, his sorrows and his loves, would make a precious 
contribution to the psychology of religion. Unfortunately 
history offers only meagre information on these points. 
Yet the little we know of Gautama's early life, taken to- 
gether with his subsequent activity, and particularly his 
teaching, is sufficient to make clear his motives. At the 
age of about twenty-nine, Siddharta, the son of an Indian 
prince, abandoned his father's palace and his own family 
to search for the peace of Nirvana. He thought to find 
it in a life of isolation and rigid penance. There is com- 
plete unanimity of opinion as to the cause of this conduct : 
Siddharta had tasted all the joys of life and had found 
them insufficient, delusive, or loathsome. 

From the rapid growth of Buddhism, we may conjecture 
that this Indian prince was not alone in his moral nausea. 
The views of human life entertained by the more serious 
Indians of the period were extremely gloomy. Kern writes : 
"What strikes us most is the emphatically pronounced dread 
of the miseries of life, of old age and death ; a dread inten- 
sified by the belief in perpetual rebirth, and consequently 
of repeated misery. All sects — barring the Sadducees of 
the epoch — agree in the persuasion that life is a burden, 
and unmixed evil. All accordingly strive to get liberated 
from worldly existence, from rebirth, from Samsara." ^ 

^ Kern, H., Manual of Indian Buddhism, Grundriss der Indo-Arischen 
Philologie und Altertumskunde, ed. by G. Buhler, III Band, 8 Ileft, p. il. 


When the famous Brahman, Kassapa of Urvela, had left 
all to join the new Teacher, and the astonished people 
asked him : — 

" What hast thou seen, O thou of Urvela, 
That thou, for penances so far renowned, 
Forsakest thus thy sacrificial fire ? 
I ask thee, Kassapa, the meaning of this thing : 
How comes it that thine altar lies deserted ? " 

he answers : — 

" 'Tis of such things as sights, and sounds, and tastes, 
Of women, and of lusts, the ritual speaks. 
When these I saw to be the dregs of life, 
I felt no charm in offerings small or great." ^ 

But this pessimism was not all-embracing, or else it 
would not have given birth to a religion. The conviction 
that life is not worth living, deadening by itself, leads 
to irresistible activity when associated with the persuasion 
that there is a way of escape leading to the peace that 
"passeth understanding," a way not beyond the power 
of man to discover. This hopeful belief was shared by 
the seriously minded Indians of the time. Kern writes 
of the general state of religion in India at the advent of 
Gautama : " All [sects] are convinced that there are means 
to escape rebirth, that there is a path of salvation, a path 
consisting in conquering innate ignorance and in obtaining 
the highest truth." 

The successive steps of Gautama in the search for the 
path of salvation need not be given in detail here. His 
departure from home, his seclusion, his penances and 
fasting (he probably went through the technical Yoga 
practices), and, finally, the attainment of the Buddhahood, 

iThe first Khandhaka, Chap. XXII, 5, quoted by Rhys Davids in his 
Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, Hibbert Lectures for 1881, 

P- 159- 


have of late become almost as well known to the reading 
public as the chief events of the life of Christ. 

Our inquiry may be limited to an examination of the 
meaning of the term " Nirvana " and of the means used 
to attain that blessed state. " Nirvana " denotes the goal 
of the Buddhist's religious activity. The complete con- 
notation of the word is open to discussion ; but it is now 
generally granted that its meaning is not purely negative, 
as some formerly held ; it does not mean simply anni- 
hilation, suppression of life. A quotation from the Bud- 
dhist Birth Stories will bring out its positive side : " When 
the fire of lust is gone out, then peace is gained ; when 
the fires of hatred and delusion are gone out, then peace 
is gained ; when the troubles of mind, arising from pride, 
credulity, and all the other sins, have ceased, then peace 
is gained ! Sweet is the lesson the singer makes me hear, 
for the Nirvana of Peace is that which I have been trying 
to find out. This very day I will break away from house- 
hold cares ! I will renounce the world ! I will follow 
only after Nirvana itself." ^ Whatever may have been the 
exact belief of the Buddhists concerning the end of their 
religious efforts, this at least may be regarded as estab- 
lished on the authority of Burnouf, Oldenberg, Barth, 
Kern, La Vallee Poussin, and others : Arahatship, the 
Immediate Nirvana, is a bliss to be enjoyed on this earth, 
free from the disappointments of the senses and of the 
fear of death itself; the Absolute Nirvana, the ultimate 
end, which can only be reached after death, is a " state " 
void for all eternity of the sufferings of the flesh and 
mind. The Absolute Nirvana impHes a cessation of con- 
sciousness ; the doctrine of the Skandhas and that of 
Karma, both admitted by Gautama, lead unquestionably 

^ Davids, Rhys, Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, Hibbert 
Lectures for 1881, pp. 160, 161, 159. 


to annihilation of personality.^ But the Master never 
expressed himself definitely on this point. He is reported 
to have said that it is one of the questions which must 
be set aside as useless. 

Practically Nirvana means for the believer deliverance 
from suffering, — salvation, final and forever. We may 
well believe that few took the trouble to form a clear 
representation of the condition of the saved individual. 
It was enough for Hfe's purpose to define it as the highest 
happiness. Does the modern Christian have a more dis- 
tinct idea of his future state ? 

The thoroughly pragmatic and non-rituahstic nature 
of Buddhism cannot fail to be noticed. One cannot ap- 
proach the rehgion of Gautama from the point of view 
of traditional Christianity without being struck with two 
characteristics : the absence of ritualism, and a deeply 
grounded aversion to speculation. " Buddha does not deny 
the existence of certain beings called Indra, Agni, Varuna ; 
but he thinks that he owes nothing to them. . . . He 
does not busy himself with the origin of things ; he takes 
them just as they are, or as they appear to him to be; 
and the problem to which he incessantly returns in his 
conversations is not that of being itself, but that of exist- 
ence. Still more than in the Vedanta of the Upanishads, 
his doctrine is confined to the doctrine of salvation." ^ If 
the disciple must learn and understand the real nature 
of man and the conditions of his existence, it is only in 
order to escape from the " fetter of delusion," and to be 
prepared to follow the path of salvation. Knowledge is 
the revealer of the path ; it is a means, not an end. The 
exclusively utilitarian purpose of primitive Buddhism is 

^Kern, H., op. cit., pp. 46-54; Poussin, Louis de La Vallee, Atudes et 
Materiaux, pp. 43-46, 83-84. 

2Barth, The Religions of India (tr. by the Rev. J. Wood), pp. 109-110. 


unquestionable ; the way leading to freedom from suffering 
was Siddharta's quest, and the announcement of the 
"way" constitutes the burden of his preaching. The 
Dhaviniacakkappavattana formulates the gospel of the 
Hindu sage thus : — 

1. " Birth is sorrow ; clinging to earthly things is sorrow. 

2. " Birth and rebirth, the chain of reincarnations, 
result from the thirst for life together with passion and 

3. " The only escape from this thirst is in the annihila- 
tion of desire. 

4. " The only way of escape from this thirst is by follow- 
ing the eightfold path : right belief, right resolve, right 
word, right act, right life, right effort, right thinking, 
right meditation." ^ 

That Buddha refused to enter upon metaphysical discus- 
sions concerning the soul, and that he held it irrelevant to 
reason upon the origin, nature,, and existence of spiritual 
beings, is now a fact recognized by every authority. It is 
written in the Stittas : — 

" It is by his consideration of those things which ought 
not to be considered [the gods and future existence] and 
by his non-consideration of those things which ought to be 
considered, that wrong leanings of the mind arise within 
him [the disciple]. 

^ Dhammacakkappavattana, Hopkins, pp. 305-306. 

The eight fold path is thus interpreted by Rhys Davids: " I. Right views; 
free from superstition or delusion. 2. Right aims ; high, and worthy of the 
intelligent, earnest man. 3. Right speech; kindly, open, truthful. 4. Right 
conduct; peaceful, honest, pure. 5. Right livelihood; bringing hurt or dan- 
ger to no living thing. 6. Right effort; in self-training and in self-control. 
7. Right mindfulness; the active, watchful mind. 8. Right contemplation; 
earnest thought on the deep mysteries of life." — Davids, Rhys, Sacred Books 
of the East, Vol. XI, p. 144, introduction to Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, 


"Unwisely doth he consider thus: 'Have I existed 
during the ages that are past, or have I not ? What was I 
doing during the ages that are past ? How was I dur- 
ing the ages that are past ? Having been what, what 
did I become in the ages that are past? Shall I ex- 
ist during the ages of the future, or shall I not? What 
shall I be during the ages of the future ? How shall I be 
during the ages of the future ? '. . . Or he debates within 
himself as to the present : ' Do I after all exist, or am I 
not? How am I ? ' 

" In him thus unwisely considering, there springs up one 
or other of the six absurd notions [all of which are about 
the soul]. This, brethren, is called the walking in delusion, 
the jungle, the wilderness, the puppet-show, the writhing, 
the fetter of delusion ! " ^ 

Another peculiar and pregnant fact must be dwelt on an 
instant. If original Buddhism is a non-speculative religion, 
if it has no theology, it is because its salvation is to be se- 
cured by the individual's efforts, and not by the grace of any 
God. Let the Brahman discourse upon the origin, the na- 
ture, and the attributes of the gods, let him bow down to 
them in adoration, let him offer them sacrifices in the hope 
of securing their assistance ; the disciple of Buddha is to 
gain salvation for himself by himself In one of his 
last conversations with Ananda, his beloved disciple, the 
Buddha, speaking of the future of the Brotherhood and of 
Ananda's desire that he would leave instructions touch- 
ing the Order, said : " The Tathagata [Gautama] thinks 
not that it is he who should lead the brotherhood. . . . 
Why then should he leave instructions in any matter con- 
cerning the order ? " He then adverts to his approaching 
passing away, and continues : — 

^ Davids, Rhys, Lectures on the Origin atid Growth of Religion, p. 88. For 
a similar passage, see Buddhism in Translations, H. C. Warren, pp. 1 17-128. 


"Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. 
Be ye a refuge to yourselves. Betake yourselves to no 
external refuge. Hold fast to the truth as a lamp. Hold 
fast as a refuge to the truth. Look not for refuge to any 
one besides vourselves. 

"And whosoever, Ananda, either now or after I am 
dead, shall be a lamp unto themselves, and a refuge unto 
themselves, . . . and holding fast to the truth as their 
lamp . . . shall look not for refuge to any one besides 
themselves, it is they, Ananda, among the Blikkhus (the 
members of my society) who shall reach the very topmost 
height [Nirvana Arahatship] — but they must be willing 
to learn." ^ 

This proud individuaHsm with regard to the means of 
salvation leaves no room for worship in original Buddhism. 
The Founder is merely the revealer of the Truth ; he is 
the Enlightener ; and only thus is he the Saviour. That is, 
the orthodox belief authorizes only a commemoration of the 
saints and of the symbols of their mission. If, never- 
theless, one finds among later Buddhists two methods by 
which the assistance of the gods is sought, — the Tantric 
and the Adoration methods,^ — they should be ascribed to 
the transformations of Buddhism which followed the death 
of Gautama. 

Shall we class this original Buddhism with religion, 
or shall we agree with Tiele that " Primitive Buddhism 
ignored reHgion"?^ With this opinion we shall have to 

^ Davids, Rhys, op. cit., pp. 182, 183. 

2 For a description of these methods, see La Vallee Poussin, op. cit., pp. 
107, 108. 

* Tiele, C. P., Outline 0/ a History of Religion, p. 137. "Buddhism, in 
fact, rejected . . . the whole dogmatic system of the Brahmans, their worship, 
penance, and hierarchy, and simply substituted for them a higher moral 
teaching." {Ibid., p. 136,) 


agree unless we can show that although original Buddhism 
disregarded gods, it made use, in its efforts to escape from 
the chain of reincarnation, of a psychic power transcend- 
ing man. On this point I can only say that certain 
methods adopted by Gautama and his early disciples sug- 
gest that they objectified Thought and Resolve somewhat 
as the psychotherapist objectifies Thought and Love, and 
the magician Will-Magic. This Power stood for the Bud- 
dhist as the deepest reality, the very essence of things. 
Little opportunity was provided for developing that concep- 
tion or the means of entering in relation with that Power, 
since Buddhism soon took unto itself much of what its 
founder had rejected, — in particular, a belief in personal 

In the Pali Pitakas and in certain Suttas, as well as else- 
where, there appears a belief in wonderful powers acquired 
by performing various rites. The adept may expect, for 
instance, " to hear with clear and heavenly ear, surpassing 
that of men, sounds both human and celestial ; to compre- 
hend by his own heart the hearts of other beings and of 
men [telepathy], to be able to call to mind his various 
temporary states in days gone by." ^ But here we are 
evidently in the sphere of magic and not of religion. 

The chief lesson that primitive Buddhism teaches the 
inquirer into the future of religion is the difificulty for men 
of the Hindu temperament, and at the intellectual level 
of the contemporaries of Gautama, to produce a religion 
based upon a belief in a non-personal psychic power. 

2. Pantheism and immanence in theology. — Among the 
most significant aspects of the higher religions are the 
persistency with which pantheism crops out in theistic 

1 Sacred Books of the East, edited by Max Miiller, Vol. XI, Akankheyya 



religions, and the ease with which theism keeps in check 
pantheistic intrusions. 

Brahmanism rests upon pantheism, but it has never been 
free from theistic doctrines. Behind the all-including imper- 
sonal One, remained the pre-Brahmanic gods, Indra, Agni, 
Vishnu, etc. Brahma itself soon became personified. Sim- 
ilarly, Buddhism began as a godless religion, but the dis- 
ciples soon turned to gods for assistance.^ 

If pantheistic religions have not kept themselves free 
from gods, the theistic religions have failed to keep them- 
selves free from pantheistic conceptions. The rich Hel- 
lenic Pantheon had its pantheistic background. The 
Christian religion, also, has always included undercurrents 
of a pantheistic nature. The powerful mystical trend in 
the Christian Church is pantheistic ; and the recent move- 
ments we shall presently study are expressions of the same 

The vigor with which pantheism is pushing its way into 
modern religious life is not surprising ; for it is the expres- 
sion in religion of a type of conception which has triumphed 
in philosophy because of its greater logical consistency. 
In a world such as ours, a personal God, all-powerful and 
all-good, is a conception bristling with contradictions. The 

^ " The mystical piety of India, when strictly pantheistic, knows nothing of 
the gratitude for Divine mercy and the trust in Divine righteousness which 
characterize evangelical piety. . . . When feelings like love, gratitude, 
and trust are expressed in the hymns and prayers of Hindu worship, 
it is in consequence of a virtual denial of the principle of pantheism. . . . 
Hinduism holds it to be a fundamental truth that the absolute Being can 
have no personal attributes, and yet it has not only to allow but to en- 
courage its adherents to invest that Being with these attributes in order that 
by thus temporarily deluding themselves they may evoke in their hearts at 
least a feeble and transient glow of devotion. ... It is the personal gods of 
Hindu polytheism, and not the impersonal principle of Hindu pantheism, 
that the Hindu people worship." {Anti-iheistic Theories, Robert Flint, 
6th ed., pp. 388-389.) 


fact that the development of modern philosophy has been 
away from theism is shown by the " God " of Spinoza and 
that of Shelling, the " regulative idea" of Kant, the " abso- 
lute ego" of Fichte, the "absolute idea" of Hegel, 
and the various forms of present-day " absolute ideal- 
ism." The surprising thing is rather the tenacity of 
religious theism in the face of its rejection by philoso- 
phy. When, however, religion is understood to be a 
pursuit of practical ends, it is clear why this theory 
discarded by philosophy has lagged behind in religion. 
For, from the practical point of view, neither of these two 
conceptions is entirely satisfactory ; hence there is a ten- 
dency to use both, without much regard for logical consist- 

The failure of pantheism entirely to displace theism 
indicates not so much a logical weakness of the former, as 
its insufficiency for the gratification of certain of the reli- 
gious needs of modern society. On the other hand, the rela- 
tive success of Christian theism in keeping its ground 
against pantheism is not a sign of the philosophical ade- 
quacy of theism, but rather an indication of its success in 
providing some of the things that man seeks in religion. 

The efforts at theological restatement now going on un- 
der the name Immaticnce disclose with striking clearness 
the need of religion for both pantheism and theism, and 
the indifference of pious souls to stringent consistency, 
provided the coveted values are secured. 

To set forth the leading features of this tendency, I can- 
not probably do better than draw from The New Theology, 
by Rev. R. J. Campbell. It is regarded, I beUeve, as ex- 
pressing very well the leading principles of the immanent 
movement as understood by the clergy. If we were con- 
cerned with a history of contemporary theology, I should 


find it necessary to define certain terms more explicitly 
and to make distinctions that are quite beside the purpose 
of this book, I shall have accomplished my purpose if I 
make clear how deeply the Immanentists feel the insuffi- 
ciency of a theism that does not make possible the essen- 
tial oneness of man and God. Whether or not this oneness 
is consistent with Christian theism and with human person- 
ality is one of the questions by which they refuse to be 

The universe is God's thought about Himself, writes 
Campbell.^ God is the power which is finding expression 
in the universe and which is present in every tiniest atom 
of the wondrous whole. This power is the one reality we 
cannot get away from, for whatever else it may be, it is 
ourselves. Campbell affirms the essential oneness of God 
and man. There is no dividing line between our being 
and God's " except from our side." There is no substance 
but consciousness; mankind is of one substance with the 
Father. And so, when our finite consciousness ceases to 
be infinite, there will be no distinction whatever between 
our consciousness and God's. The distinction between 
finite and infinite is not eternal. "The being of God is a 
complex unity containing within itself and harmonizing 
every form of self-consciousness that can possibly exist." 
In spite of these statements, he maintains the distinctive- 
ness of man's personality, perhaps on the theory that the 
soul and the spirit are sharply separated: the soul we 
make, while "the spirit we can neither make nor mar, for 
it is at once our being and God's." 

He rejects the accusation that his doctrine is pantheistic 
in the sense of standing for a blind force, " a fate-God, 

^ In the following statements, taken from The New Theology, Macmillan, 
New York, 1907, I have preserved as far as practicable the words of the 


... a God Who does not even know what He is about." 
He adds : " My God is my deepest Self and yours too ; He 
is the Self of the Universe and knows all about it. , . . 
With Tennyson you can call this doctrine the Higher Pan- 
theism, if you like ; but it is the very antithesis of the 
Pantheism which has played such a part in the history 
of thought." And when people turn upon him, saying, 
" This view of the relationship of God to man, which you 
preach, hails not from Palestine but from Oxford," he does 
not deny its kinship to the Neo-Hegelianism of T. H. 
Green, but remarks that it is much older, and refers the 
critics to the mystic gospel of John. Whether it is older 
or not, it cannot but be clear to any one able to assume a 
critical attitude that Absolute Idealism is not consistent 
with the kind of personal God with whom one can main- 
tain the social relation expressed in the Christian worship, 
both Roman Catholic and Protestant.^ Campbell finds it 

^ Campbell has recognized only one logical difficulty as standing immov- 
ably in his way. But as he is preeminently a mystical moralist, and not a 
philosopher, he does not allow himself to be swerved from his course by this 
obstacle. "The only telling criticism that can be directed against it [his con- 
ception] is that which proceeds from the side of scientific Monism. A thor- 
oughgoing monist might reasonably contend that, up to a certain point, I have 
been arguing for a monistic view of the world, in company with practically 
the whole of the scientific world, and have then given the case away by ad- 
mitting a certain amount of individual freedom. I confess it looks like it ; I 
have had to face the antinomy. I see that there is no escape from the asser- 
tion of the fundamental unity of all existence ; and yet, by the very constitu- 
tion of the human mind, we are compelled to take for granted a certain amount 
to individual initiative and self-direction." {The Nezu Theology, p. 41.) 

On the " true notion of the spiritual relation in which we stand to God," 
T. H. Green writes : " He is not merely a Being who has made us, in the 
sense that we exist as objects of divine consciousness in the same way in 
which we suppose the system of nature to exist, but that He is a Being in 
whom we exist ; with whom we are in principle one ; with whom the human 
spirit is identical, in the sense that He is all which the human spirit is cap- 
able of becoming." {Prolegomena to Ethics.) 

Campbell is one of the theologians who have used the writings of William 


possible, nevertheless, to deal with his pantheistic God like 
a loyal Christian theist, and thus he reaps the advantages of 
both pantheism and theism. This is no more than the 
Christian Mystics have always done. 

Many of the writings of the Society of Friends show 
the same combination of pantheism and theism that is 
typical of modern immanence theology. They set forth 
God as an external Power, which can filter into the human 
soul, and also as a Being who is the human spirit. One 
of the leaders of the progressive Friends writes, for in- 
stance, " We have ... a God ' in whom we live and move 
and are,' whose Being opens into ours and ours into His, 
Who is the very Life of our lives, the matrix of our per- 
sonality ; and there is no separation between us unless we 
make it ourselves."^ He insists upon the "unity of con- 
sciousness": "Even the budding personality betrays an 
infinite background and suggests an infinite foreground. 
What we really have, when the person appears, is the 
self-consciousness of the world, manifest at a focus point 
— a tiniqiie expression of the eternal self — set free to 
make Jus individual contribntioti to the world of spiritual 
Being.'' ^ 

A clean-cut theism, making what seems an impassable 
gulf between God and man, is intolerable to such men as 
these; they would have both oneness of God and man, 

James to bolster up their theology. In order to explain the oneness of God 
and man he has recourse to the " subconscious mind " and draws from it the 
following propositions: i. We have a higher self and our limited conscious- 
ness does not involve a separate individuality. 2. The whole human race is 
fundamentally one — " Ultimately your being and mine are one and we shall 
come to know it." 3. The highest of ourselves, the ultimate Self of the Uni- 
verse, is God. 

1 Jones, Rufus, The Double Search, John C. Winston Co., Philadelphia, 
p. 100. 

2 Jones, Rufus, Social Law in the Spiritual World, John C. Winston Co., 
Philadelphia, p. 85. 


and the independent reality of each. " The true view, the 
proper formulation must hold that God is the inward prin- 
ciple and ground of the personal life — the indwelhng life 
and light of the soul, permeating all its activities." " The 
Inner Light, the true Seed, is no foreign substance added 
to an undivine human life. It is neither human nor divine. 
It is the actual inner self formed by the union of a divine 
and a human element in a single undivided life." ^ This 
doctrine is in substance that set forth by Sabatier,^ and, in 
fact, by the majority of those who to-day take a share in 
attempting to reform religious doctrines " from the in- 
side." 3 

3. Psychotherapic Cults : Christian Science ; Mind-Cure; 
New Thought. — The most noteworthy religious event since 
the Reformation is perhaps the appearance in the United 
States of a number of religious movements which may be 
grouped together under the designation of psychotherapic 
cults. The foremost of them is " Christian Science," 
founded by Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy. 

1 hasten to add that the value of these cults does not, 
in my mind, belong to their " metaphysics," considered as 
a philosophical system. It is the product of ignorant and 
ill-trained minds. Much of it defies logic and offends com- 
mon sense. But the defects which in the eyes of many 
wholly damn these movements might conceivably be re- 

^ Jones, Rufus, op. cit., p. 1 76. The italics are mine. 

2 Sabatier, A., Religions of Authority, p. 307. 

2 Oliver Lodge, a recognized scientist, writes in the same spirit : — 
"We are rising to the conviction that we are a part of nature, and so a 
part of God ; that the whole creation — the One and the Many and All-One 
— is travailing together toward some great end ; and that now, after ages of 
development, we have at length become conscious portions of the great 
scheme, and can cooperate in it with knowledge and joy." (^Sugges/io7is to- 
ward the Re-interpretation of Christian Doctrine, The Hibbert Journal, April, 
1904, Vol. II, p. 475.) 


moved, and there would remain important elements of a 
new religious faith acceptable to the modern world. 

In this chapter I shall try to show that the psychother- 
apic movements in their essential teaching are popularized 
and distorted formulations, on the one hand, of important 
truths regarding the " power of thought " over body to 
which psychology has recently given added significance, 
and, on the other, of a non-theistic philosophy allied to 
the absolute idealism of modern metaphysics. Although 
they distort contemporary thought, they do not intend to 
oppose it. They wish rather to build upon it. 

These new cults are forcible reminders of the fact that 
belief in a Saving Power is a condition of the existence of 
religion, and also that the desire for deliverance from moral 
and physical miseries and for the realization of ideals con- 
tinues to be the motive of religious life, just as it was in the 
days of Gautama, the Enlightener, and of Jesus, the Healer. 

The mind-cure books announce "the discovery of the 
might of Truth in the treatment of disease as well as of 
sin,"^ "the vital law of true life, true greatness, power, and 
happiness." They claim to be " systems of transcendental 
medicine," or of " psychic therapeutics." They purpose to 
minister to those who " would exchange impotence for 
power, weakness and suffering for health and strength, pain 
and unrest for peace, poverty for fulness and plenty." 
They proclaim " the birthright of every man born into the 
world to be physically whole and mentally happy." Their 
claims have an extravagant sound, but no more so than 
those made for " faith " by the New Testament writers who 
declared it would remove mountains and secure eternal 
blessedness after death. Nothing but vital personal expe- 
riences could have inspired the enthusiasm and the assur- 

1 Eddy, Mary G. Baker, Science and Health, 1908, Preface. 


ance with which these modern zealots proclaim the abound- 
ing efificacy of their "truth." 

If they call themselves Christians, it is not in the tradi- 
tional sense. Of traditional Christianity they speak re- 
spectfully, but they want a new dogmatics. They say, 
" The time for thinkers has come. Truth, independent of 
doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the portal 
of humanity." ^ In another of their aggressive little books 
one reads : " Unrest is universal. The old landmarks are 
disappearing. . . . Creed and dogma are things of the 
past ; religious ceremonial and form no longer interest the 
masses." ^ 

The impression these cults have produced on thoughtful religious 
people is well expressed in this passage : — 

"Renan with his usual intuition declared that if it [the religion of 
the future] were already in our midst, few of us would know it. 

" The prediction has proved true. The new religious movement, 
Christain Science, has spoken a language so foreign to cultivated ears, 
its interpretation of the Bible is so false, it is so obviously committed 
to errors, illusions, and aberrations of every sort, that the intelligent 
have been disposed to shrug their shoulders in contempt and to ignore 
it. And yet they have not been able to ignore it altogether. Every 
once in a while this curious superstition proves its existence with un- 
expected power. We see a hard-headed business man totally devoid of 
religious sentiment undergo a new kind of conversion which leaves him 
as devout and ardent as a Christian of the first century. An ailing wife 
or daughter whom no physician has been able to help, through some 
mysterious means is restored to health and happiness. The victim of an 
enslaving habit, apparently with very little effort and without physical 
means, sufferings, or relapse, finds himself free. We enter a home 
where the new belief reigns and we find there a peace to which we are 

"All over the country solid and enduring temples are reared by 
grateful hands and consecrated to the ideal and name of Mrs. Eddy. 
And this strange phenomenon has occurred in the full light of day, at 

1 Eddy, Mary G. Baker, Science and Health, 1908, Preface. 

2 Patterson, Charles B., A New Heaven and a New Earth, Preface. 


the end of the nineteeth and at the beginning of the twentieth century, 
and these extraordinary doctrines have propagated themselves not in 
obscure corners of the earth, among an illiterate and fanatical popula- 
tion, but in the chief centres of American civilization. Such facts may 
well cause the philosophical student of religion to reflect." ^ 

In these movements is restored the alHance between 
the art of heahng the body and the art of heaUng the soul, 
which was always a leading characteristic of the higher 
religions during their period of greatest vitality. To the 
masses the most impressive aspect of religions has always 
been their power to heal the body. It was so in the early 
ministry of Christ and during the first Christian centuries. 
It is so now with these psychotherapists. And this re- 
vival acquires great significance from the fact that it can 
now be grounded upon the deeper understanding of the 
interrelation of mind and body which we owe to modern 

My chief effort will be to get from the writings of the 
leaders of these therapeutic schools a clear idea of the 
power which they expect to regenerate humanity, and then 
to consider its adequacy. Whatever their affiliations, these 
writers practically agree on the points that most interest us. 

1 Worcester, Elwood ; McComb, Samuel ; Coriat, Isador H., Religion and 
Medicine, New York, 1908, pp. 8-10. 

2 Speaking of the four Satyani of Gautama \i.e. the four axioms of certain- 
ties: suffering, cause, suppression, the path], Kern says: " It is not difficult 
to see that these four Satyas are nothing else but the four cardinal articles 
of Indian medical science, applied to the spiritual healing of mankind, exactly 
as in the Yoga doctrine. This connection of the Aryasatyas with medical 
science was apparently not unknown to the Buddhists themselves." And 
concerning the twelvefold causal root of the evil world, the twelve Nidanas 
(causes), he declares that they stand to the four Satyas " in the same relation 
as pathology to the whole system of medical science." Now the four truths 
and the twelve causes are fundamental facts upon which Gautama's scheme 
of deliverance is built. (Kern, Manual of /hiddhisttt, Grundriss der Indo- 
Arichcn Philologie und Altertumskunde, III Band, 8 Ilcft, pp. 46-47.) 


I do not shrink from beginning with brief quotations from 
two of the most extravagant and crude of them ; for even 
they find followers among people who prove themselves 
intelligent and sensible in the affairs of life. 

T. Troward, a leader of Mental Science (not a disciple 
of Mrs. Eddy), late divisional judge in Punjab, and Edin- 
burgh Lecturer on Mental Science, teaches the existence of 
an unlimited, impersonal, though intelligent Power, which 
man may press into service, or appropriate to himself. 
His view of man's relation to that Power is curious. The 
individual can call it into action and give it direction, " be- 
cause it is in itself impersonal though intelligent." "'' It 
will receive the impress of his personality, and can there- 
fore make its influence felt far beyond the limits which 
bound the individual's objective perception of the circum- 
stances with which he has to deal. It is for this reason that 
I lay so much stress on the combination of two apparent op- 
posites in the Universal Mind, the union of intelligence with 
impersonality. . . . How do we know what the intention 
of the Universal Mind may be ? Here comes in the ele- 
ment of impersonality. It has no intention, because it is 
impersonal. . . . Combining, then, these two aspects of 
the Universal Mind, ... we find precisely the sort of nat- 
ural force we are in want of, something which will undertake 
whatever we put into its hands without asking questions or 
bargaining for terms, and which, having undertaken our 
business, will bring to bear on it an intelHgence to which 
the united knowledge of the whole human race is as noth- 
ing, and a power equal to this intelligence. " ^ 

I find it difficult to conceive of an unlimited impersonal 
intelligence which has no intention and which individual 
intelligence may direct. But in fairness to the abstruse 

1 Troward, T., The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, The Arcane 
Book Concern, 1909, Chicago, pp. 66-68. 


Judge, I must add that this difficulty is no greater than 
that presented by Hegel's conception of the Absolute 

In the work of W. F. Evans we meet a consistent pan- 
theism. He strives to give to his opinions an impressive 
background compounded of modern science, antique pan- 
theism, and modern idealism. How vast and accurate is 
his knowledge appears in the following passage. " The 
soul of man is a part of the anima vumdi, the soul of the 
world." The power of the healing thought " issues from the 
spiritual world of which our minds are apart, for all ideas 
belong to that boundless realm of life." " It is stored up 
in exhaustless and overflowing abundance in the bosom of 
nature ... it can be controlled in its lower degrees of 
manifestation by the intelligent will of man, which is the 
highest form of its development and expression." "This 
grand whole . . . the universal world of spiritual intelli- 
gence is called in Sanscrit, Addi-Budda. In the writings 
of Paul it is called The Christ. ... It is identical with 
what is called magnetism, and it is also that which the 
philosophers have called the divine noiisr ^ 

One of the ablest and sanest writers of New Thought, 
Ralph Waldo Trine, in a book which has passed its seventy- 
fifth thousand, also announces a pantheistic gospel of an 
infinite power at the service of man. " The great central 
fact of the universe is that spirit of Infinite Life and 
Power that is back of all, that animates all, that manifests 
itself in and through all ; that self-existent principle of life 
from which all has come, and not only from which all has 
come, but from which all is continually coming." 

" This Infinite Power is creating, working, ruling through 
the agency of great immutable laws and forces that run 

1 Evans, W. F., The Primitive Mind-Cure : Elementary Lessons in Chris- 
tian Philosophy and Transcendental Medicine. 


through all the universe, that surround us on every side. 
Every act of our every day Hves is governed by these 
same great laws and forces." 

" In a sense there is nothing in all the great universe 
but law." But the presence of laws indicates a force back 
of them. " This Spirit of Infinite Life and Power that is 
back of all is what I call God." 

" God, then, is this Infinite Spirit which fills all the uni- 
verse with Himself alone, so that all is from Him and in 
Him, and there is nothing that is outside. . . . He is . . . 
our very life itself." " In essence the life of God and the 
life of man are identically the same, and so are one. They 
differ not in essence, in quality ; they differ in degree." 

"... if the God-powers are without limit, does it not 
then follow that the only limitations man has are the limi- 
tations he sets to himself, by virtue of not knowing 
himself ? " 

" The great central fact in human life, in your life and 
in mine, is the coming into a conscious, vital realization of 
our oneness with this Infinite Life, and the opening of our- 
selves to this divine overflow.'' This means simply " that 
we are recognizing our true identity, that we are bringing 
our lives into harmony with the same great laws and forces, 
and so opening ourselves to the same great inspirations as 
have all the prophets, seers, sages, and saviours in the 
world's history, all men of truly great and mighty power." ^ 
He does not hesitate to use the term " God-man." 

Christian Science. — It seems almost incredible that one 
professing to be a Christian should teach the impersonality 
of the divine nature. And yet this is undoubtedly what 
Mrs. Eddy does, and in this respect she agrees with those 

1 Trine, Ralph Waldo, In Tune unth ike Infinite or Fulness of Peace, 
Power, attd Plenty, Thomas Y. Crowell and Co., New York, pp. 11-20. 


from whom I have just quoted. The term that she prefers 
as a name for the Divine Power is Principle. As syno- 
nyms she uses Life, Truth, Love, God. In the earlier edi- 
tions of Science and Health, it is written that God " is not 
a person, God is Principle." ^ This is undoubtedly the 
standpoint of her later writings also. But in them, prob- 
ably because of the pressure of adverse public opinion, 
she insists less than at the beginning of her career upon 
the impersonality of Principle, and the word " person " 
appears more frequently. "Once in 1898, Mrs. Eddy 
hints that God may be personal * if the term personality, 
as applied to God, means infinite personality,' and Mr. 
Farlow in 1907 assures the Rev. Edgar P. Hill that Mrs. 
Eddy does believe that ' God is person in the infinite 
sense.' "^ Yet in the seventy-third edition of No and Yes, 

1 Eddy, Mary G. Baker, op. ciL, 3d ed., 1881, I, 67; II, 97. 

2 Powell, Lyman P., Chrisdati Science, the Faith and its Founder, pp. 

I take the following passages from the same book. " Principle in her 
theology gathers up into itself all the concepts we habitually associate with 
God, except the most important — personality. Before her book appeared in 
1875, she was telling her pupils, as two of them informed me, that they could 
make no progress till they had banished from their minds the thought of God 
as a person. She instructed Richard Kennedy ' to lay special stress ' in heal- 
ing patients on the impersonality of God. This is the commanding thought 
that rings through the first chapter of the first edition of Science and Health." 

" Mrs. Eddy's pantheism is unnecessary, and yet its origin was inevitable 
in a mind as literal as hers. Quimby often spoke of God as Principle. In 
the Quimby manuscript from which, for several years, Mrs. Eddy taught, no 
sentence is more startling than the sentence, ' God is Principle.' " 

" For more than thirty years Mrs. Eddy has been solemnly asserting that in 
1866 she received a ' final revelation.' Now this ' final revelation,' which 
was finally as well as first expressed in 1875, in Science and Health, is satu- 
rated with thought that God is not a person. In the very first chapter we are 
informed that ' God is Principle, not person ' [I do not find that expression 
in the first chapter of the 1908 edition, but it is in No and Yes, published in 
1909], that Jesus preached the impersonality of God, that the error ofhehev- 
ing in the personality of God that crucified Jesus, that the trouble with con- 


published in 1909, a pamphlet intended "to correct invol- 
untary as well as voluntary error," we read : " Is there a 
personal Deity? God is Infinite. He is neither a limited 
mind nor a limited body. God is Love ; and Love is Prin- 
ciple, not person. What the person of the Infinite is, we 
know not ; but we are gratefully and lovingly conscious of 
the fatherliness of this Supreme Being. God is individual, 
and man is his individualized idea. . . . Limitless person- 
ality is inconceivable. ... Of God as person, human 
reason, imagination, and revelation give us no knowledge. 

" When the term divine Principle is used to signify Deity 
it may seem distant and cold, until better apprehended. 
This Principle is Mind, Substance, Life, Truth, Love. 
When understood. Principle is found to be the only term 
that fully conveys the ideas of God, — one Mind, a perfect 
Man, and divine Science." ^ This Principle, though not a 
person, " is intelligence." 

Although she wrote, " God is All in all," and "All in all 
is God," 2 she will not be called a pantheist. In the edition 
of No and Yes already quoted, she claims that " Christian 
Science refutes pantheism, finds Spirit neither in matter 
nor in the modes of mortal mind. It shows that matter 
and mortal mind have neither origin nor existence in the 
eternal Mind. . . . For God to know, is to be ; that is, 
what He knows must truly and eternally exist. If He 
knows matter, and matter cannot exist in Mind, then mor- 
tality and discord must be eternal." ^ 

Her pantheism is in any case not materialistic, since she 
holds matter to be unreal, a deception of mortal Mind. 
Hers is an idealistic pantheism, such as an ignorant person 

ventional Christianity to-day is that it makes God a person. ..." (Pages 
137-140.) 1 Eddy, No and Yes, 1909, pp. 19, 20. 

2 Eddy, Science and Health, 1S98, p. 7. 

3 Eddy, No and Yes, pp. 15, 16. 


of a thoroughly optimistic temperament might evolve on the 
basis of imperfect knowledge of Absolute Idealism and 
from observations of the mastery of mind over body. 

The writings of Mrs. Eddy's disciples reflect the uncriti- 
cal, pantheistic idealism of their leader. Their favorite 
phrases are such as these : " God's presence is the presence 
of love " ; " God is life everywhere present " ; " One life 
fills all, it is the Perfect Life." 

The similarity of the essential aspects of New Thought 
and Christian Science to the mystical element in Christianity 
is evident. Both give clear expression to the anti-isolation 
motive, to a dynamic belief in oneness-with-the-whole, and 
both feel the essence of the cosmic plasma to be love. 
Man is steeped in all-embracing Love. He need only 
place himself in unison with the everlasting, all-compre- 
hending life-force and the fulness of life will be his. How 
love can be an attribute of an impersonal power does not 
seem to give Mrs. Eddy one moment of uneasiness. 

In their curative practices, the psychotherapic cults have 
the benefit of the recent discoveries concerning the effects 
of suggestion. Regarding their methods, I may say here 
merely that they tend to place the person, as do the prac- 
tices of the other ethical religions, in a state of increased 
suggestibility, a state described in part by the words re- 
laxedness, collectedness, monoideism, meditation, commun- 
ion. This condition of the subject aids greatly in the 
realization of the expected benefits. The efficacy of these 
curative methods is sufficiently demonstrated by the won- 
derful extension of the movements. In every walk of life 
people bear witness to the saving grace that is in Christian 
Science or in New Thought. The forces of a new life 
have welled up within them ; the burdens of existence 
have lightened, nay, have disappeared ; and now they 


walk through life contented, hopeful, and aggressively 

Unnecessary importance is attached by the critical 
public to the vagaries of Christian Science and of New 
Thought ; for instance, to the meaning and consequence 
they ascribe to their denial of the reality of matter as 
they appear in certain aspects of their treatment of disease ; 
and in the wild hopes of some of their prophets that "the 
time will certainly come when the highly developed man 
will have the power to lay down or take up his life through 
a conscious knowledge of the laws of eternal being and the 
direct application of these laws to his own life." ^ But the 

^ The following is an example of what people find in Christian Science 
apart from the cure of disease : — 

" I accepted Science and Health without expecting it to offer more than a 
human theory about life, — even the name did not lead me to expect it to 
be religious; in fact, the chief incentive to my reading it at that time was the 
great kindness and sincere sympathy evinced by my friend, who placed a 
copy at my disposal. ... I started timidly at first, and prayerfully, lest it 
should be misleading, but before I had gone very far I experienced that won- 
derful spiritual quickening which is so often spoken of in our meetings. I 
wish I could tell exactly what that experience meant to me, the wonderful 
awakening I had; how old things vanished and all things became new. It 
seemed as if the burdens, perplexities, doubts, and fears had all suddenly 
rolled away; as if the sun had emerged from behind the clouds, and every- 
thing was again bright and beautiful. 

"And what a feeling of strength, hope, and courage came! Those old 
troublesome questions, especially the question of death, were explained, and 
I felt a wonderful release to know that death was not of God. I read and 
reread the latter part of the chapter on Christian Science Practice, where 
that glorious truth is explained; it was so beautiful, so natural, and so true. 
There was such perfect joy to me in that freedom, that I used to declare over 
and over again, of those who had just passed from us (the members of our 
home circle), 'They are not dead'; and so free was I made from the old 
bondage, that never since then has the thought of that change affected me as 
it did before." {Christian Science Sentinel, December 3, 1901.) 

2 Patterson, Charles B., op. cit., Preface. 

When I say " wild hopes," I speak as the prosaic man that I am. No less 


denial of the reality of matter, when understood as a denial 
of the existence of a substance essentially different from 
spirit and having separate existence, so far from being 
sheer nonsense, is the very doctrine maintained by the 
dominant philosophical school, namely idealism. This 
philosophy holds that independent matter is an illegitimate 
inference from sensation and feeling, and that the only 
reality for which ** matter " can stand is of a nature one 
with spirit. Much of the jeering leveled at the Christian 
Scientist's denial of the reality of matter is made possible 
only by ignorance of that teaching. 

An apologist of the psychotherapic sects would be 
justified in making the following claims : — 

(i) The salvation they promise is, first of all, for this 

(2) The soul is not saved independently of the body. 
The nefarious asceticism of older faiths is impossible on the 
principles of Christian Science. 

(3) Their ideal involves efficiency in the conduct of this 

(4) Their conception of salvation is free from anything 
miraculous. They dispense with the wonders of the Fall, 
of the self-sacrifice of a divine personage, and of salvation 
by his atonement. 

(5) They divert attention from the sense of guilt and 
suffering, and direct it to an immediately accessible healing 
and invigorating power. 

(6) Although they usually define the aim of life in terms 
of power, happiness, and love, they cannot fairly be charged 
either with insensitiveness to moral values, or with indif- 
ference to the ethical advancement of mankind. 

a philosopher than Berpson has expressed that same hope of overcoming 
death, in a passage which I quote later on. 


(7) Despite its extravagance, their " metaphysics " may 
be regarded as a crude and distorted formulation of a 

Weltanschattung made unavoidable by modern knowledge, 
— a Weltanschauung opposed in several important respects 
to the traditional, but no longer acceptable, Christian phi- 

(8) These cults have proved their value by their results. 

In estimating the chances of continued life of religious 
movements, one should bear in mind that vitally beneficial 
beliefs may carry a heavy load of error and even of ab- 
surdity. The Christian reUgion was not destroyed by the 
expectation of the second coming of the Lord and of the 
end of the world, by extravagant notions of the power of 
faith, by absurd or incomprehensible doctrines regarding the 
means of salvation, the resurrection of the body, and the 
like. There is enough substantial, practical truth in Chris- 
tianity to bear the enormous doctrinal dead-weight it carries 
even to this day. It may be possible for the psychotherapic 
doctrines to be purified in a reformation which would 
either remove entirely or drive into side currents most of 
the offensive tenets. 

4. The religion of humanity. — The expression " religion 
of democracy" is heard with increasing frequency. It 
usually means merely devotion to the principles of demo- 
cratic government. In this sense the " religion of democ- 
racy " does not concern us. But it is used at times in a 
sense inclusive of the leading ideas of the Religion of 
Humanity of Auguste Comte. 

The founder of Positivism acknowledges at the root of 
every ethical religion two essential needs for which rehgion 
must provide. They find expression in two common be- 
liefs : {a) the belief in a great universal Being, with 


whom the human soul may communicate, and from whom 
it may receive strength to overcome egoism and to work 
for the common good ; {b) the belief in personal immor- 
tality, which is the ordinary form of the conviction of the 
indestructibility of the good, or, as Professor Hoffding 
would say, of the " beHef in the persistency of value." 

In the religion by which Comte sought to complete his 
philosophical work, God is replaced by the Grand Etre, 
Humanity. This conception has for him the advantage 
of being based upon facts and not upon imagination, as is 
the theological idea of God. 

But does the idea of Humanity really satisfy the two 
requirements of an adequate religion } Yes, thinks Comte, 
provided the Grand Etre is properly understood. Humanity 
thought of as merely the collection of the men actually 
living could not replace the idea of God. But Humanity 
is to be conceived as " a continuity ; a solidarity in time 
composed of all the good and generous feelings, thoughts, 
and deeds of men. It is the supraspatial Being in which 
the tutelary influences and the groping and transitory 
individual efforts are purified and organized, and thus, 
becoming fixed and permanent, acquire immortal life." 
" Humanity so understood is the God whom men seek : a 
real, immense, and eternal existent with whom they are in 
relation and in whom they live and have their being. Out 
of the reservoir of moral forces accumulated in that Being 
throughout the centuries, great thoughts and noble feelings 
flow out to man. Humanity is the Great Being who lifts 
us up above ourselves and communicates to us the com- 
plements of strength we require in order to overcome our 
egotistic leanings." 

" In humanity the individuals see the realization of their 
desire for immortality, for it gathers up, preserves, and in- 
corporates into itself whatever belongs to its essence, what- 


ever makes it greater, more beautiful, and more powerful.^ 
It is made up entirely of the thoughts and feelings of real 
men, and it is composed much more of the dead than of 
the living. The dead live in the tender and efficacious 
memories of the present generations. . . ." ^ 

This Great Being, who is to perform towards humanity 
the essential services of the Christian God, clearly differs 
from the latter in not being omnipotent and superhuman. 
" The idea of an omnipotent and superhuman deity," writes 
Frederic Harrison, for many years the leader of the Eng- 
lish Positivists, " cannot be compared with the idea of a 
collective human civilization." " Humanity is an ideal as- 
semblage of human beings, living, dead, and unborn, and 
(presumably) without any collective personality or con- 
sciousness."^ Its limitations, errors, and disabilities are 
recognized ; yet its possibilities are indefinitely great and 

Comte, then, wanted to organize a new religion around 
the unifying conception of a dynamic, spiritual power, ac- 
tualized at any moment in living humanity, — a power con- 
taining in itself whatever of the past achievements of men 
are incorporated in the present civilization ; a power, 
furthermore, growing with the growth of every individual 
and pointing forward towards a future in which man's 
dearest aspirations will be realized in the social life. 

1 The form of immortality which Comte offers in the Religion of Humanity 
will not seem to Christian believers a satisfactory substitute for the belief in the 
immortality of the individual soul. But if that belief is one that science can- 
not admit, man will have to reconcile himself to its loss. What most needs 
to be repeated is that reconciliation costs man, on the whole, very little. 
Belief in individual immortality is not as necessary to man as the small minority 
who talk about it would make it appear. Man gets along perfectly well 
without it. Our behavior shows that we are very well organized to live an 
individually finite life on this temporary planet. 

2 Boutroux, Emile, Science and Religion, Flammarion, Paris, 1909, p. 54. 
• Harrison, Frederic, Annual Address, 1902. 


The philosophical critic may say that in this, the culmi- 
nating part of his work, Comte has departed from the 
positivistic principles he laid down at the beginning. But 
the logical consistency of Comte's philosophical and reli- 
gious construction does not concern us. The questions we 
have to consider refer to the possibility of man's accepting 
and laying hold of this idea of Humanity so as to find in it 
the essential values men seek in religion. 

The assumption of the existence of the power implied 
in this notion of Humanity is certainly not in opposition 
either to science or to logic. We do in a very real sense 
live upon the material and spiritual inheritance which rep- 
resents strivings and achievements of past generations, and 
to our descendants we shall pass on this inheritance, to- 
gether with that which we shall have been able to add to 
it. And the thought of the great men of the past arouses 
in us a stimulating anticipation of still greater men to 

But can this idea of a power made manifest in society 
and leading to social consolidation and happiness take 
hold of the mind and heart of the masses of men ; can it 
inspire them with hope, trust, courage ; can it wake up in 
them dormant possibilities ? Comte believed that his Su- 
preme Being was " more readily accessible to our feelings, 
as well as to our thinking " than the " chimerical beings of 
the existing religions." ^ Yet the history of the Religion of 
Humanity seems to a give negative answer to my query. 
The Religion of Humanity has had and still has a number 
of ardent disciples, but it has not spread beyond very small 
circles, in Paris, London, and in some of the South Ameri- 
can countries. Christian Science, on the other hand, 
though loaded with delusions, gives signs of irrepressible 
vitality. The Religion of Humanity, even if it were 

1 Comte, Auguste, Ca/ec/iisme Posilivisie (1891), pp. 53, 55. 


heavily handicapped with absurd notions, would thrive, pro- 
vided its central idea got hold of men. So long as humanity 
remains divided in antagonistic nations, and these nations 
are so far from a fully organized brotherhood, can it be 
hoped that the idea of the Great Being will seem a reaHty 
to the ordinary man ? Will he not rather gather from his 
experiences that antagonistic selfish forces contend for 
mastery ? Just as the physical world appears to the un- 
civilized to be ruled by a multitude of gods, so must the 
present social life appear to its semimoralized members, 
not the expression of one great power, but rather of a mul- 
tiplicity of warring forces. 

Yet the power that is in the ideas of family, of social 
and business "set," of country, cannot be doubted. The 
deplorable habit of referring to religion instead of to the 
common relations of life as the source of ethical enlighten- 
ment and stimulus makes us blind to the fact that to-day 
most men and woman derive whatever strength they may 
have to maintain their integrity and to devote themselves 
to the public good from their respect and love for their 
family, their friends, their business associates, and the 
state, and from their desire for the respect and love of 
men, much more than from any religious conviction. It is 
no longer the consciousness of God, but the consciousness 
of Man that is the power making for righteousness. What 
the sense of human fellowship can do when circumstances 
awaken it is a matter of history. Students of the future 
of religion, and especially critics of the Religion of Human- 
ity, should not forget the great patriots, who were just as 
powerfully moved to action by the thought of the fragment 
of humanity to which they belonged as were Loyola, 
Luther, and John Wesley by the thought of their relation 
with God. Nor should they forget the testimony which 
nations have frequently borne to the power of the idea of 


the brotherhood of man ; for instance, the splendid out- 
burst of generous enthusiasm of the early days of the 
French Revolution, together with the sadly misdirected 
devotion to the public good which followed, and, to-day, the 
heroism of thousands in Russia who are ready to make the 
last sacrifice in order that their fellow-countrymen may 

In the establishment of a new religion, a most important 
consideration is that of the means available to provide a 
cult in which all may participate. A way must be found 
for keeping before men's minds the ideal Power and for 
entering into relation with it. The failure of Comtism is 
to be ascribed partly to the difficulty of providing satisfac- 
tory means for collective devotion. Comte was fully awake 
to the necessity of providing a cult, and he was willing to 
draw freely upon the resources of sentiment and imagina- 
tion, for he did not fear that his disciples might mistake 
symbols for realities. Love, the cement of society, was to 
be symbolized by woman. In woman the beauty and the 
power of love was to be objectified and celebrated. He 
would, further, poetically personify Humanity under the 
name Grand Eire, the earth as the Great Fetich, and space 
as the Grand Milieu. The usefulness of these symbols 
may well be questioned. The Comtist cult as practised 
now consists mainly of a commemoration of great men and 
of great social events. Some of the Positivist societies 
have instituted sacraments : the sacrament of presentation 
of new members, the sacrament of initiation, and others. 

It is incontestable that this Godless religion accomplishes 
for the few who practise it essentially that which Christi- 
anity does for its adherents. The following paragraphs, 
with which I bring this chapter to a close, will convey the 
temper of the Positivist services : — 


" We meet here to-day to celebrate the festival of Human- 
ity. By thought and by feeling we seek to enter into the 
presence of that assemblage of noble lives who, from the 
earliest ages until now, have labored for the benefit of 
men, and have left a store of material and of spiritual good 
from which all the blessings of our present life have issued. 
Before the resistless power of this unseen host we bow in 
thankful submission ; knowing well that of ourselves we are 
insufficient, either to see or to do what is right. Whatever 
wider thoughts or generous impulses prompt us to rise above 
ourselves, and to live jinselfishly, come to us from the higher 
source. They are the free gift of humanity." In the course 
of the first address, which begins with the preceding hnes, 
the speaker makes his point still clearer. " Each one of us has 
now to ask himself how far the faith which he professes is in 
any true sense a religion to him ; how far it enables him to 
pray. I use that old word because there is absolutely no 
other that expresses the facts of the case so simply. After 
every wish that the laws of nature may be suspended for 
our individual benefit has been unflinchingly set aside, the 
final meaning of the word remains ; rather, it appears for 
the first time in all its purity. To pray is to form the ideal 
of our life, by entering into communion with the Highest." 

"With this loftier and purer conception of prayer, it is 
very evident that Positivists are in complete sympathy. 
Nay, it is clear that so far as such a conception is formed, 
it is not merely in sympathy with Positivism, but is itself 
wholly and entirely Positivist." ^ 

But do we not detect here something more than the idea 
of Humanity as Comte framed it ? Has not atranshuman 
power been smuggled in } We shall presently, in a criticism 
of Comte's religion, return to this query. 

1 Bridges, J. H., M. B., Discourses on Positive Religion, First Address. 
The italics are mine. 



The statement that religion is a thing of the past, or 
that it may do for women and children but not for men, does 
not mean that there are no longer any human needs which 
religion might gratify, but merely that modern knowledge 
has made the traditional religions, beUefs, and practices in- 
acceptable. As a matter of fact, human needs have not 
grown fewer nor less urgent. Civilization has not done 
away with the struggle for life, although food and shelter 
have become assured to most people. Relief from anxiety 
for the immediate necessities of physical existence has sim- 
ply removed the struggle to a higher level; higher cravings 
have become more pressing. Never before, perhaps, 
have so many persons in quest of a nobler, richer life, 
suffered so keenly from the resistance of their in- 
herited animal instincts and from the hindering customs 
of a crudely organized society. In larger numbers than 
ever before, and, I believe, with greater earnestness, also, 
men aspire to the fulness of life which can come only 
through the freedom born of moral integrity and of right 
and sympathetic relations with one's fellow-men. So that 
the benefits, material and spiritual, which it has been the 
function of religion to confer, are desired now as much as 
ever ; but the number of those who can derive these bene- 
fits from the existing religions is greatly diminished. 

For help in the pursuit of their moral ideals, men are 
as ready as ever to turn to any available agent or agency. 



The willingness of our contemporaries to make use of reli- 
gious means of assistance is strikingly demonstrated by the 
pathetic efforts of thousands to continue in the service of 
rehgions in which they no longer have a rational belief, 
and by the persistent gropings of those who have severed 
their connection with the churches to recover their loss by 
some new faith and practice. Reckless and debasing 
compromises with intellectual truth in a short-sighted 
effort to secure moral good, and a restless search after 
rationally tenable beliefs mark this age of religious disso- 
lution. The question before the student of religion is not 
whether religion is still needed, but what sort of religion 
can be accepted by the present generation. 

The one essential respect in which the rehgious situation 
is changed is the general absence of a botia fide belief in 
personal divinities. The leaders in philosophy, science, 
literature, and even in religion, as well as increasing numbers 
of the rank and file, reject openly or secretly the traditional 
Christian belief in a Divine Father in direct communica- 
tion with man. Their occasional attempts to harmonize 
traditional practices with their disbelief make the dis- 
crepancy appear only the more clearly. 

In the golden age of Christian faith, "God was present 
even physically, and at each breath of wind He was felt as 
if behind a curtain. They believed then in God in a con- 
tinual practical way, and as if He were present in the 
smallest occurrences of life. Everywhere was the invisible 
Protector. The heavens above were open, peopled with 
living figures, with patrons manifest and attentive. The 
bravest soldier walked in an habitual mingling of fear and 
trust, like a little child." 1 " ' If God hates you, you are done 

1 Sainte-Beuve, quoted by Leon Gautier in La Chevalerie, p. 34, abbre- 


for,' says Gueri le Sor to Comte de Cambrai, as he was 
reproaching him for having just burned a monastery to- 
gether with the nuns." ^ " Roland, in the CJianson de Ro- 
land, dying on the rocks of Roncevaux, reaches out his glove 
to God with a gesture which signifies the homage of the 
vassal to his lord. God was as real to him as his own 
feudal lord." 

Contrast this simple belief and behavior with the impli- 
cations of the following advice offered by a prominent 
educator. He conceives of God as " an infinite power, 
immanent in all life and all nature, but working through 
law, not under the action of human-like motives and pur- 
poses." Nevertheless, he finds it possible to write : " It 
seems, therefore, clear to me that, in the sense that I have 
used the words, all serious men, whatever their intellectual 
training, must pray, not perhaps for material help, not in 
expectation that the laws of the universe shall be changed 
at their request, not even primarily for strength to live 
rightly and justly, but as the supreme effort of the human 
soul to know God. . . . And whether that which we call 
prayer be a direct communication with Him as our Heav- 
enly Father, or whether it be a communion with our 
higher consciousness, which is in touch with Him, in either 
case the time can never come when a human soul will not 
rise from such a communion purified and strengthened, 
with new hope and new patience, and with a more serene 
view of his own duty and his own future." ^ To pray to 
an infinite Power who cannot be expected at the request 
of man to change the laws of nature, is not the old child- 
like prayer ! Prayer is recommended here, even though 
no God is known who can answer it, because, somehow, 
it "works." The student of rehgion cannot, of course, 

^ Gautier, Leon, La Chevalerie, p. 51. 

2 Pritchett. Henry S., What is Religion ? pp. 86, 93. 


rest satisfied with this empirical solution of the problem of 

2. pantheism: pros and cons 

The attempts to formulate strictly pantheistic religions 
have resulted in failure. The newest pantheism, that of 
Mrs. Eddy, was stillborn. Her followers have not been 
able to deal with ** Principle " as she intended ; they have 
identified it with the Christian Father. 

The shortcomings of pantheism have been repeatedly 
formulated under three heads : pantheism does not satisfy 
the heart's demand for sympathetic relations with a Great 
Personal Being ; it cannot be an ally in moral struggles ; it 
involves a denial of individual freedom. 

The argument in support of the first objection runs as 
follows : strict pantheism denies to God " fatherly love, 
providential care, redeeming mercy." " Instead of love and 
communion in love, it can only commend to us the contem- 
plation of an object which is incomprehensible, devoid of 
all affections. . . . When feelings like love, gratitude, and 
trust are expressed in the hymns and prayers of Hindu 
worship, it is in consequence of a virtual denial of the prin- 
ciples of pantheism." ^ 

That pantheistic religions cannot provide the support 
craved by the ethical nature of man is the strongest argu- 
ment that can be brought against them. There can be no 
morality in a pantheism, " since the worst passions and 
vilest actions of humanity are states and operations of the 
One Absolute Being." When stoicism is offered as an in- 
stance of sublime moral doctrine rooted in a pantheistic 
interpretation of life, the retort is at hand that " Stoicism 

1 Flint, Robert, Anti-Theistic Theories, William Blackwood and Sons, 
1899, p. 388. 


escaped the moral consequences of its pantheism only by 
disregarding speculative consistency, and asserting the most 
manifest contradictions." ^ 

Frederic Harrison, writing in the Nineteenth Century, 
put forcibly, if somewhat rhetorically, both this and the 
former argument. " There Hes this original blot on every 
form of philosophical Pantheism, when tried as a basis of 
religion, or as the root idea of our lives, that it jumbles up 
the moral and the immoral, the non-human and the ante- 
human in the world . . . virtue and vice, suffering and 
victory, etc. 

" Go then, with the Gospel of Pantheism to the father- 
less and the widow, and console them by talking of sunsets, 
or the universal order ; tell the heartbroken about the per- 
mutations of energy ; ask the rich tyrant to remember the 
sum of all things and to listen to the teaching of the Anhna 
Mundi ; explain to the debauchee and the glutton and the 
cheat, the Divine essence permeating all things and causing 
all things — including his particular vice, his passions, his 
tastes, his greed, and his lust. ... In agony, struggle, 
rage of passion and interest, the suffering look of a child, 
the sympathetic voice of a friend, the remonstrance of a 
teacher, the loving touch of a wife, is stronger than the 
Force of the solar system, more beautiful and soothing 
than a sunset on the pinnacles of the Alps." ^ 

If the only argument against pantheism were the one 
I have named in third order ; namely, that it denies indi- 
vidual freedom, its rehgious usefulness would hardly be 
endangered ; for life is not materially affected by specu- 
lations as obscure as those regarding Determinism and 
Free Will. In such matters man walks by faith. 

Because of these three weaknesses of pantheism it is 

^ Flint, op. ciL, p. 398. * 

2 Harrison, Frederic, Nineteenth Century, Vol. X, 1 88 1, pp. 289-290. 


held that " from the point of view of practical needs and 
interests pantheism is far less satisfactory than theism ; 
we cannot conceive of a personal, moral, or religious rela- 
tion to the universe or an aspect of it, except in a very- 
confused and fanciful way." This opinion, which may be 
found in nearly every treatise on philosophy, must be 
accepted on the whole as valid. 

But we have not done justice to pantheism, considered 
as a basis for religion, until we have recognized its supe- 
riority over theism in one important respect. The con- 
sciousness of the identity of the self with the Whole is for 
people of a certain temperament an experience so exquisite 
and of so great practical value that, had they to choose be- 
tween theism and pantheism, they would prefer the latter. 
As a matter of fact, they do not choose, they make use of 
both conceptions. Poets as well as religious mystics have 
made us familiar with this experience : — 

« And I have felt 
A presence that disturbs me with joy 
Of elevated thoughts : a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, 
And the round ocean and the Hving air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man : 
A motion and a spirit, that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 
And rolls through all things." ^ 

For St. Francis of Assisi, the odors and lights of nature 
always had an intimate message. He loved the earth and 
its creatures as he loved God and man. When on leaving 
Verna not long before his death, he arrived at the gap 
from which one gets the last sight of the Verna, " he 
aUghted from his horse and, leaning upon the earth, his 
face turned toward the mountain, 'Adieu,' he said, ' moun- 

1 Wordsworth, William, Tiniern Abbey. 


tain of God, sacred mountain, 'tnons coagulatns^ mons pin- 
giiis, mons ifi quo bene placituni est Deo habitare ; adieu 
Monte-Verna, may God bless thee, the Father, the Son 
and the Holy Spirit ; abide in peace ; we shall never see 
one another more.' " ^ 

Even that valiant champion of theism. Professor Robert 
Flint, admits that " by inculcating its doctrine of the im- 
manence of God in all human thought and action, while at 
the same time especially insisting on the achievements of 
power and genius as the manifestations of the divine agency, 
it has gained for itself a sympathy and exerted an influence 
which are far from inconsiderable. The conqueror, the phi- 
losopher, the poet, feels himself borne upwards, as it were, 
and along a path of glory and success, by the force of an 
indwelling God. The hours of highest achievement and 
joy are those in which man is frequently least conscious of 
his weaknesses and limitations as a man, and most prone 
to identify himself with God. Pantheism may give strength 
both for endurance and action, although it is more closely 
connected with the pride of power than with power it- 
self." 2 

The attraction of a pantheistic conception depends greatly 
upon the qualities with which the Whole, of which man 
makes himself a part, is invested. When he conceives of 
gods, he makes them ideals; he does likewise — within 
the limits set by the form of the conception — when he 
evolves a pantheism for religious use. Not merely to be a 
part of the Great All, but to be a part of the Great All 
conceived as the Good brings repose, confidence, and self- 
respect. I have already had occasion to draw attention to 
the invaluable habit of assuming the existence outside of 
oneself of the values one craves, and then of appropriating 

1 Sabatier, Paul, Life of Francis of Assist, p. 298. 

2 Flint, o/>, cit., p. 400. 


them by identifying oneself with the bearer of these qual- 
ities. This tendency is so strong that, as we know, the 
Absolute is frequently endowed with attributes belonging 
properly only to a personal Being. 

Because of the great value of pantheism, Christians have 
at times transformed their God into Nature ; and despite 
this value, the pantheists have constantly drifted into be- 
liefs in personal gods, for it is easier to hold converse with 
gods, saints, and devils, than with nature. The God to 
whom a glove can be handed has a hold upon the imagi- 
nation incomparably stronger than the God who can be wor- 
shipped only in the aspects of the physical world. 


Theism having become logically impossible and panthe- 
ism being practically insufficient, where shall we look for a 
religion of the future.'' In our survey of contemporary 
religious movements, we have considered Comte's attempt 
to use the idea of Humanity, and we have observed the 
increasing strength which this idea is gaining as a regula- 
tive power in social intercourse. 

In the conception of Humanity as a growing, self-per- 
fecting organism composed of moral units, there is certainly 
nothing that runs counter to the fundamental principles 
of science nor to its important conclusions. But does a 
religion of Humanity escape the objections that have 
proved fatal to pantheism, and does it possess the positive 
qualifications required of a source of religious life } 

The greatest weakness of Comte's religion lies not in 
the very real difficulties of weaning man from ancient 
habits of worship and of introducing new religious forms 
and symbols, but in its lack of a philosophical background 
favorable to religion. The common opinion is that, in 



order to live with dignity and contentment, man must 
believe that his life possesses an absolute and eternal 
significance, and that devotion to an ideal must be more than 
a pedagogical device for the conduct of Hfe. If he is to put 
forth his best energies, man must believe that the individ- 
ual and society are parts of a whole moving towards a 
blessed consummation. And it is also commonly supposed 
that only in such beliefs can a rehgion in the true sense 
of the word find root. 

Now, the religion of Comte is wedded, in theory at least, 
to a Naturalism which makes these beliefs impossible. 
The Naturalism of Positivism not only affirms that the 
whole of experience — physical and psychical — can be 
accounted for without reference to a personal God ; but it 
rejects all forms of idealism. It teaches that mechanical 
principles are adequate to explain all things. Spiritual 
existence such as appears in man is determined altogether 
by mechanical forces ; it is a mere accompaniment of ma- 
terial action. Such a philosophy as this involves, of course, 
the rejection of personal immortality. It cannot even 
replace personal immortality by social immortality ; for 
science points clearly to the ultimate disappearance of the 
race of man from the face of the earth. The ethics of 
NaturaUsm is purely utilitarian. It holds that goodness 
has no value in itself; it is not an end, but only a means 
to happiness or to the fulness of life. Ethical perfection 
cannot be a true ideal, but merely a means to happiness. 

If the moral law is not a kind of higher divinity in the 
presence of which we must bow, but simply "a recipe 
which we, or society, may use in the search for happiness 
or natural good " ; Mf humanity is a transient manifestation 
of a blind, unfeeling Force, and is soon to disappear with- 

^ Christie, R., Humanism as a i'i't'/i^/i)«, The Contemporary Review, 1905, 
LXXXVIII, p. 696. 


out leaving a trace behind ; if, in short, man has not an 
absolute value, — then, it is asked, what can a religion of 
Humanity amount to ? It is no more than a rather clumsy- 
device for inducing men to sacrifice themselves for the 
happiness of others. If any one should find an heroic 
satisfaction, a noble delight, in accepting existence under 
these conditions, and in practising virtue for its own sake, 
well and good, but he would be an exception. 


Let us consider somewhat more closely the opinion 
that an idealistic faith is necessary to morality. It is the 
problem of the basis of moral judgments. I shall here do 
little more than state the position which, in my opinion, 
obvious facts compel us to take, and which has long since 
ceased to be novel. 

Independently of a belief in God or in a Moral Order, 
the love of the true, the beautiful, and the good is bred in 
man in the course of his social experience. Psychologists 
agree that moral feelings do not belong to a different order 
from the other feelings, and that they are all equally the 
natural outcome of human interrelations. The human 
individual unavoidably finds satisfaction in dignity, right- 
eousness, and love, for reasons similar to those which make 
certain kinds of food desirable. 

Pleasure is on the whole connected with efificiency and 
pain with inefificiency ; that is physically pleasurable which 
in general makes for continuation and growth. If the re- 
verse connection existed, humanity would long since have 
disappeared from the earth.^ Similarly, in the ethical sphere; 

1 For a carefully formulated biological theory of pleasure and pain, see 
Henry Rutgers Marshall, Pain, Pleasure, and Esthetics, Macmillan, 1894, 
pp. 202-205. 


if those actions which conduce to the preservation, ex- 
tension, and strength of the social organism were not felt 
as good, human society would disintegrate. The interre- 
lations of individuals living in groups have produced, and 
continue to produce, the moral Ukes and dislikes ; that is, 
likes and dislikes tending to the continuation and increased 
happiness of the whole. 

When an individual or a society has yielded too much to 
morally bad tendencies, either it mends its ways, or, not 
mending them, is destroyed. The vices of the Greco- 
Roman world led to its perdition. But these vices did not 
fasten upon the Greeks and Romans, because they had 
lost the vision of the ideal. It is the reverse : the love of 
vice having been bred in them, they lost the ideal. Na- 
tions and individuals take warning from the dreadful fate 
that has overtaken other peoples and persons and are 
driven to desire that which leads to the opposite outcome. 
A nation defeated in war learns to hate the defects to 
which it owes its defeat. The conscience of the ward poli- 
tician does not become the ideal of the community, because 
his methods point to social dissolution. I despise his 
practices, not because I have a transcendent philosophy, 
but because of likes and dislikes that have been bred in 
me in my home experiences and in the larger world outside. 
No will of mine can change this, any more than it can 
change my physical tastes. It is only affirming what is 
obvious to declare that the instincts and tendencies, the 
likes and the dislikes, developed in man by his social life, 
constitute the true foundation of morality. 
( Apprehension of the good is necessarily anterior to the 
establishment of moral relations with a superhuman world. 
" Whoso loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how 
can he love God whom he hath not seen .-'" If, believing 
in God, I accept his will as mine, my act is not ethical be- 


cause of my voluntary subjection to a greater power. It is 
the quality of my purpose that makes my action good or 
bad : if I recognize that Power as good, my will to sub- 
ordinate myself to it is a good will ; if I think of the 
Power as bad, to accept its law as mine is morally bad. 
The attributes of the ideal can be only those the value 
of which has been discovered in social intercourse. 

The question we have just considered is not whether a 
Moral Purpose is really of the essence of the universe, but 
only whether that belief is a necessary condition of moral 
feelings and judgments. It would not, therefore, be to 
the point to argue the existence of a Moral Architect from 
the fact that man's nature is such as to make the appear- 
ance and the development of the moral life unavoidable. 
The granting of this contention would leave my argument 
untouched: as far as human consciousness is concerned, 
the Moral Order is a product of human society. 

In the independence of moral appreciation from tran- 
scendental beliefs lies the very assurance needed to tide over 
this " unbelieving generation." The best that is in man is 
generated in the homely experiences of daily life, and 
faith in God and in immortality are the outcome and not 
the basis of the discovery of human worth. Anchored in 
this assurance and fortified by a sense of human fellow- 
ship, man is prepared to surrender if need be the assist- 
ance which cruder generations have found in superhuman 

But the recognition of the independence of morality 
from superhuman beliefs does not involve the jiselessncss 
of these beliefs. And upon this second truth one has the 
right to insist as much as upon the first. 

It would be idle to pretend that a naturalistic conception 
of life is all that man asks for and that, for instance, be- 


lief in a Divine Father and in the absolute value of the 
person is not comforting and elevating. As a matter of fact, 
getting rid of the delusion that moral progress is inseparable 
from idealism does not necessarily commit one to the type 
of naturalistic philosophy we have considered. For the 
bare acceptance of the facts we have touched upon leaves 
them without final explanation. Why is the world so con- 
stituted as to produce the moral experiences ? What na- 
ture, what attributes, are to be ascribed to the power or 
powers manifested in Humanity? To recognize the legiti- 
macy of these questions is to admit implicitly the theoretical 
possibility of an idealistic complement to the scientific nat- 
uralistic theory of the origin in man of moral values. 

Whether logically possible or not, an idealistic formula- 
tion is, as I have already said, desirable. To the man 
physically healthy and morally good there is nought at- 
tractive in the thought that he and his fellow-men are but 
chance bubbles, glistening for an instant before the final 
disappearance. One may be convinced, as I am, that 
this assurance would not prevent the formation of admi- 
rable characters, compounded of noble self-sufficiency and 
active benevolence, chastened by a sense of cosmic in- 
significance. But that this origin and this destiny are all 
that the heart of man desires is belied by every page of 
history, ancient and modern. 



A naturalistic philosophy is so far from satisfying the 
aspirations of the human heart that most of those who have 
embraced Naturalism have, unknown to themselves, re- 
tained idealistic elements. Examine the discourses of the 
disciples of Comte, even those of Comte himself, and you 
will discover smuggled in under the names Grand Eire and 


Humanity the very concepts they condemn as illegitimate. 
The cult of the present-day Positivists is permeated with 
the assumptions and the moods of idealism. These men 
have fallen into the inconsistency we have noticed in the 
case of St. Augustine and of other Christians who deal 
with their God as if he were swayed by human feelings, 
although their philosophy declares him the Impassive 
Absolute. It is even affirmed — and not without good 
show of evidence — that whatever foothold the Positivist 
and other related movements have gained, they owe to the 
introduction into their naturalistic philosophy of the 
idealism present in every human heart. 

In socialistic writings one meets with ringing declara- 
tions of idealism : — 

" It needs but a cursory view of history to realize — 
though all history confirms the generalization — that this 
arena is not a confused and aimless conflict of individuals. 
Looked at too closely, it may seem to be that, a formless 
web of individual hates and loves ; but detach oneself 
but a little, and the broader forms appear. One perceives 
something that goes on, that is constantly working to 
make order out of casualty, beauty out of confusion, 
justice, kindliness, mercy, out of cruelty and inconsiderate 
pressure. For our present purpose it will be sufficient 
to speak of this force that struggles and tends to make 
and do, as Good Will. ... In spite of all the confusions 
and thwartings of life, the halts and resiliencies and the 
counter-strokes of fate, it is manifest that in the long run 
human life becomes broader than it was, gentler than it 
was, finer and deeper. On the whole — and nowadays 
almost steadily — things get better. There is a secular 
amelioration of life, and it is brought about by Good Will 
working through the efforts of men."^ 

1 Wells, H. G., New Worlds for Old, Macmillan, 1908, pp. 4-5. 


The great mass of enlightened men can get along with- 
out the personal God and immortality, but they agree with 
the following utterance : " These three ideas, the idea of 
righteousness, the idea that justice will gain the ascendant, 
and that there is a sublime purpose in things — three 
aspects of one idea — these I would not give up."i If, 
on the one hand, man refuses to have anything more to do 
with certain traditional beliefs, on the other hand he is ap- 
parently unwiUing to do without beliefs that will perform the 
essential function of those he has discarded. Under these 
circumstances, we may put aside as a purely academic 
question whether a form of religion, truly so-called, could 
arise upon a consistently naturalistic view of the world. 
We may do so the more readily since, after all, no system 
of philosophy is less firmly established than Naturalism. 
The problem to which our attention should rather be 
directed is the possibility of a religion in which the idea 
of Humanity would play a role similar to the one given 
it in Comtism, but in which Humanity would be regarded 
as an expression of a transhuman Power realizing itself in 
Humanity. In this direction, at any rate, points the Zeit- 


Among the most noteworthy signs of the times, I count 
the Ethical Culture Societies. They may embody the first 
stage of a religion in which a divine power objectified in 
Humanity replaces the traditional God. They began as a 
protest against the place given in religion to dogma and 
the supernatural, — a protest inspired by the conviction of 
the independence and the supremacy of the moral ideal. 
In this conviction they have remained steadfast. The first 
principle of the West London Ethical Society is that " the 
good life has supreme claim upon us, and this claim rests 

^Adler, Felix, The Religion of Duty ^ p. 57. 



upon no external authority, and upon no system of super- 
natural rewards and punishments, but has its origin in the 
nature of man as a social and rational beings 

Officially these societies are no more than their name 
implies, ethical societies, i.e. associations aiming " to in- 
crease among men the knowledge, the love, and the prac- 
tice of the right." And the only means they sanction for 
the realization of their purpose are human means, — keep- 
ing the moral ideal above all else before men, formulating 
ethical principles workable in our social life, and applying 
them in theory and in practice to the individual and to 
the social life. To call them religious societies, therefore, 
would be to misapply the term ; for religion is not synony- 
mous with devotion to an ethical purpose. Yet with re- 
gard to the individual beliefs of their leaders, the matter 
stands differently. An organization for ethical purposes 
resting upon a naturalistic foundation, does not fulfil the 
sum total of their wishes, although in the present state of 
heterogenous opinions they are content to keep to them- 
selves whatever convictions they may have pointing reli- 
gionward, or at least to keep them out of the official 
statements of the society. The more penetrating and 
philosophical among these men have wanted an interpreta- 
tion of the facts of moral experience that would both jus- 
tify their faith in the absolute value of the moral ideal and 
vitally relate Humanity to the Universe. They, no more 
than any other thinking men, can help seeking beyond the 
individual some underlying power which would account 
for man's presence on this earth, for his moral cravings, 
and which would point out his destiny. 

As a matter of fact, the writings of all the leaders of this 
movement reveal beliefs in a power underlying — I avoid 
the word " transcending " — humanity. They write in 
strains such as this : " Be that so or not so, the fact remains 


that the very essence of our human nature, which accounts 
for its having moved steadily ' upward, working out the 
beast,' and forward into juster laws and kindlier customs, 
is the pull and strain of something in our make-up, ' the 
procreant urge ' of the world-spirit in us, our capacity for 
conceiving ideals and insisting upon realizing them in the 
face of all the odds which Time and Fate have marshalled 
against us. In this, with all its implications, lies the glory 
of manhood. . . . The logical conclusion to be drawn for 
our present purpose from this change in our way of think- 
ing about the Power ' behind the veil ' is that man is at 
once human and divine. Man, in the light of this idea of 
immanence, is the expression at once of a divine principle 
of reason, affection, and will (no mere blind life-force, the 
characterless nondescript Vitalism of Bernard Shaw, et al.) 
and of a natural and sub-human principle (inseparable 
from it) of appetite and passion — strange mixture is he of 
' dust and deity,' of animal and angel, of saint and satyr ! " ^ 
In an address entitled First Steps tozvard a Religion, 
Felix Adler, the founder of the movement, finds warrant 
for the existence of a transhuman reality, which, for want 
of a better name, he calls Spirit. This Spirit urges 
humanity onward towards a goal already dimly discern- 
ible ; a perfectly organized society, each member of which 
shall find the means of his own self-realization in further- 
ing the social end ; that is, in discharging the duties of his 
social position. 2 

1 Chubb, Percival, The Reinterpretation of Thanksgivings Ethical Ad- 
dresses, November, 191 1, Vol. XIX, pp. 74-75. 

2 Adler, Felix, op. cit., pp. 3-25. See also this author's papers, The Moral 
Ideal, International Journal of Ethics, Vol. XX, 1910, pp. 387-394; The Re- 
lation of the Moral Ideal to Reality, International Journal of Ethics, October, 
1911, Vol. XXII, pp. 1-18. In these papers Professor Adler argues for the 
replacement of the ideal of individual perfection of Christian Ethics by a 
social ideal. The individual's perfection is relative to the place he fills in the 


A belief in a transhuman Power of the kind thus roughly 
outlined, together with a belief in the supremacy of the 
ethical ideal conceived as a social goal, would constitute a 
basis upon which a cult could hardly fail to develop, a 

social organism. " Instead of uniformity of action in the pursuit of common 
ends, functional differences in reciprocal adjustment supply the index of what 
is moral." 

The English Ethical Societies have just set forth their understanding of the 
principles and aims of the Movement in a small book, The Ethical Move- 
file nt ; its Principles and Aims, edited by Horace J. Bridges, Ethical So- 
cieties, 19, Buckingham St., W.C, London. 

The following books and pamphlets will also be found interesting with 
regard to the religious aspirations of the Ethical Societies: The Essentials of 
Spirituality, Felix Adler; Ethical Religion, William Salter ; The Conserva- 
tive and Liberal Aspects af Ethical Religion, an address by Percival Chubb; 
National Idealism and a State Church, 1907, Stanton Coit; National Ideal- 
ism and the Book of Common Prayer, 1908, Stanton Coit. The two books by 
Stanton Coit are published by Williams and Norgate, London; the others by 
the American Ethical Union, 1415 Locust St., Philadelphia. 

Transhuman beliefs have been sedulously kept out of the official state- 
ments of the Ethical Societies, probably because they could not be formulated 
so as to command unanimous approval within the Society and might keep 
out men who would like to cooperate with the members on a merely practical 
ethical basis. There is, further, the enormous difficulty of formulating these 
beliefs so as to satisfy the requirements of those made fastidious by a knowl- 
edge of philosophy and of the general conclusions of science. 

The probability of a religion issuing directly or indirectly from these So- 
cieties seems to me considerable. One may be hopeful of a movement spring- 
ing from keenly felt moral needs, a movement maintained throughout thirty-five 
years with unswerving earnestness and indifference to showy success, by men 
respectful of science, and convinced that whatever be the fate of religion, one 
cannot dispense with intellectual honesty. One may be the more hopeful of 
such a movement when, in addition, it manifests an irrepressible yearning to 
transform itself into a religion, and when the first steps towards an idealistic 
foundation have already been taken individually by the leaders. 

In becoming a religion of Humanity the Ethical Societies would find their 
avowed purpose widened, for a religion which limited itself to the purpose 
they have officially announced would leave out much that the human heart 
demands and that all ethical religions have included. In religion men seek 
the realization not only of ethical ideals, but also of affective and aesthetic 
cravings. Life, fulness and perfection of life, is the aim of religion. 


cult similar to Comtism in that the divine would not be 
personified in a transcendent personal God, but would be 
progressively realized in Humanity. It would be superior 
to Comtism in that it would be free from the life-inhibiting 
propositions of naturalistic philosophy, 


There are, of course, appalling difficulties in the way of 
a formulation of a metaphysical conception adequate for 
present use in religion. How shall we conceive the trans- 
human Force of which humanity is an expression .-* What 
sort of existence does it have outside of human conscious- 
ness .'' What relation does this Power sustain to the ma- 
terial universe and to man, to good and to evil ? If it is 
thought of as Purposive Intelligence, we are back in theism. 
The hoary puzzles all rise up and clamor for solution. 

In attempting to forecast the course of religious de- 
velopment, one must guard against the common misap- 
prehension of the relation of religion to philosophy. The 
traditional view of the matter is that a religion includes 
necessarily a complete philosophical system. But the 
union of religion with philosophy is the outcome of the 
absence of specialization at the beginning of social life. 
Magic, religion, poetry, philosophy, grew together in- 
separably. It was only as different aims were distinctly 
conceived, and different means and methods of realizing 
them appeared, that the original plenum broke into parts. 
Magic became clearly separated from religion ; religious 
dogmas from myths and legends ; poetry acquired an 
existence independent of both religion and myth ; and 
philosophy was seen to have its own particular purpose 
and another content than religion. 

The reader who has followed me so far has, I trust, 
admitted that the purpose of religion and that of phi- 


losophy are not identical. Their difference was set forth 
in the second chapter of this book ; it should have become 
more and more evident in the succeeding chapters. And 
in the discussion of the relation of theology to psychology 
there came to light the vigorous, if reckless, effort made 
by contemporary theologians to free themselves altogether 
from general metaphysics and from science. This effort 
is ill conceived, no doubt, but it indicates that the day 
is past for the identification of a metaphysical system 
in its entirety with the fundamental propositions necessary 
to religion. Since the purposes of religion and of meta- 
physics are not identical, their theoretical basis need not 
be the same. This certainly does not mean that religion 
is not dependent upon certain parts of metaphysics for 
its intellectual foundation. It means only that religion 
need load itself with philosophical burdens no further 
than is necessary for its practical purpose. A religion 
which could accept and utilize in its intellectual foundation 
a complete system of metaphysics would have by so much 
the advantage. But it should be definitely admitted that 
this is not necessary : avowed agnosticism with regard to 
many questions to which traditional religions give solutions 
is not inconsistent with a workable religion. 

But if the religion of the future, conscious of its dis- 
tinctive purpose, must keep itself free from metaphysical 
entanglements, it ought also not to run counter to well- 
established scientific or philosophical conclusions ; it must 
be free from the dishonest shifts to which traditional 
Christianity is now driven. 

How inconsiderable may be the sufficient philosophical 
understructure of an efficient religion, and in what unfin- 
ished form it may be left, is an important matter upon which 
a final word must be said. Let the reader remember the 



gross inconsistencies and contradictions which appear on 
every hand when one compares religious practices with the- 
oretical beliefs. Much of this we have encountered in this 
study, particularly in the chapter on " Theology and Psy- 
chology." Let him also think of the indefiniteness, or rather 
fluidity, of the God-idea of educated persons, and he will 
realize to some extent the resourcefulness of man when his 
happiness is at stake. These facts must be kept in mind 
by one attempting to estimate the religious possibilities 
residing in vague philosophical conceptions. 

The religion of the future will have to rest content appar- 
ently with the idea of a non-purposive Creative Force, 
making of the universe neither an accidental creation nor 
one shaped in accordance with some preconceived plan. 
Would man find what he wants in a Power describable 
as an impetus coursing through matter, and drawing from 
it what it can, a Power appearing in man in the form 
of striving consciousness ? " God, thus defined, has noth- 
ing of the already made ; He is unceasing life, action, free- 
dom. Creation, so conceived, is not a mystery ; we experi- 
ence it in ourselves when we act freely." ^ Such at least is 
the doctrine of one of the most remarkable of contempo- 
rary philosophers. It is not, he holds, a doctrine of value 
only in speculation ; " it gives us also more power to act 
and to live. For, with it, we feel ourselves no longer iso- 
lated in humanity ; humanity no longer seems isolated in 
the nature that it dominates. As the smallest grain of 
dust is bound up with our entire solar system, drawn along 
with it in that undivided movement of descent which is 
materiality itself, so all organized beings, from the humblest 
to the highest, from the first origins of life to the time in 
which we are, and in all places as in all times, do but evi- 

1 Bergson, Henri, Creative Evolutiotiy Holt, New York, 191 1, pp. 248, 265. 
See also pp. 251, 261, 265. 


dence a single impulsion, the inverse of the movement of 
matter, and in itself indivisible. All the living hold to- 
gether, and all yield to the same tremendous push. The 
animal takes its stand on the plant, man bestrides animality, 
and the whole of humanity, in space and in time, is one 
immense army galloping beside and before and behind 
each of us in an overwhelming charge able to beat down 
every resistance and clear the most formidable obstacles, 
perhaps even death." ^ 

There is no question but that Humanity idealized and 
conceived as a manifestation of Creative Energy possesses 
surpassing qualifications for a source of religious inspira- 
tion. Human relationships have always given rise to the 
noblest activities of man ; they have been and remain the 
very fountain of life. In a religion of Humanity, man's 
attention would be directed not to a remote, intangible 
Perfection, but to a concrete reality of which he is a part 
and the perfection of which depends upon his own 
perfection. In Humanity each person can regard himself 
as a link in the chain connecting the hosts of the past with 
the hosts that are to come. The recognition of this vast 
relationship would give a sense of fellowship and unity, 
a feeling of responsibility and dignity; it would make a 
world worthy of one's best efforts. 

A religion of Humanity need not be lacking in the forms 
and symbols necessary to a practical religion. Without vio- 
lence to reason, and with little demand upon the imagina- 
tion, it could provide those human embodiments of power 
and virtue which man seeks for moral inspiration and up- 
lift. Man has always been a hero-worshipper. Expres- 
sions of admiration and gratitude, of joy and sorrow, would 

1 Ibid, pp. 270-271. 


find easily an appropriate place in a religion of Humanity.^ 
The sense of weakness and imperfection, the need of com- 
fort and encouragement, the desire for the final triumph 
of good, are sentiments which might readily enough be 
collectively expressed in declarations addressed to the 
religious brotherhood, or even perhaps to the Ideal Society. 
And I see no sufficient reason why a religion of Human- 
ity should not incorporate in a modified form elements 
of the therapeutic cults which have been found effec- 
tive in the healing of mind and body. 

A religion in agreement with the accepted body of 
scientific knowledge, and centred about Humanity con- 
ceived as the manifestation of a Force tending to the 
creation of an ideal society, would occupy in the social life 
the place that a religion should normally hold, — even 
the place that the Christian religion lost when its cardinal 
beliefs ceased to be in harmony with secular beliefs. 

1 " I want to win fair recognition of that hitherto slighted human provi- 
dence which has been and actually is operative in our world, nearer to us and 
more humanly appealing to us than the august cosmic providence I have 
spoken of. It is a providence which has not only increased the fruitfulness 
of the earth and provided our material necessities, but gained by man's patient 
and heroic effort knowledge and truth, justice and kindness. . . . We are 
to include in our conception of our human providence not only the few great 
men who are held in renown for the more splendid conquests of our humanity, 
but also the vast multitude of the unknown in all lands and through all ages : 
the slaves and serfs harnessed to the merciless Juggernaut of the oppressor; 
the unremembered artists and craftsmen who have adorned life with beauty; 
the singers, sages, inventors, and discoverers, all the forgotten folk who have 
added their unremembered increments of value to our vast human inheritance. 
. . . Strange that no such note should sound in our Thanksgiving proclama- 
tions ! " (Percival Chubb, The Reinterpretation of Thanksgiving, Ethical 
Addresses, November, 191 1, Vol. XIX, No. 2.) 



Contents : — 


1. Intellectualistic Point of View . . • 339 

2. Affectivistic Point of View .... 346 

3. voluntaristic or practical point of view . 352 



In this appendix will be found a large number of definitions not given in 
chapter ii, " Constructive Criticism of Current Conceptions of Religion " 
and also a fuller exposition and criticism of a few of those discussed in 
that chapter. I have divided these definitions roughly into three groups, — 
intellectualistic, affectivistic, and voluntaristic — and I have added at the end 
Wundt's classification, together with his criticism of the three types of con- 
ceptions represented in his classification. It need hardly be said that no at- 
tempt has been made to provide an exhaustive list of definitions. 

I trust that the perusal of these forty-eight definitions will not bewilder the 
reader, but that he will see in them a splendid illustration both of the versa- 
tility and the one-sidedness of the human mind in the description of a very 
complex yet unitary manifestation of life. 


Max MiJLLER. (See p. 25 of this book.) — In the Intro- 
duction to the Science of Religion, Miiller wrote : " ReHgion is a 
mental faculty or disposition, which, independent of, nay in spite 
of, sense and reason, enables man to apprehend the Infinite under 
different names, and under varying disguises. Without that faculty 
no religion, not even the lowest worship of idols and fetiches, 
would be possible ; and if we will but listen attentively, we can hear 
in all religions a groaning of the spirit, a struggle to conceive the 
inconceivable, to utter the unutterable, a longing after the In- 
finite, a love of God." (Pp. 13-14.) This ''mental faculty" he 
calls " faith." 

This use of the term " faculty " was vigorously attacked. 
Miiller, yielding in a measure to the objections, declared, in the 



Origin of Religion, that he did not mean to say that there is a 
separate religious consciousness. " When we speak of faith as a re- 
hgious faculty, in man, all that we can mean is our ordinary conscious- 
ness so developed and modified as to enable us to take cognizance 
of religious objects. . . . This is not meant in a new sense ... it 
is simply the old consciousness applied to new objects." If 
" faculty " is an ambiguous or dangerous word, he is ready to re- 
place it by " potential energy," and to define the subjective side 
of religion as " the potential energy which enables man to appre- 
hend the Infinite." (P. 23.) That "faculty" or "potential 
energy," also called "faith," is, like reason, a development of 
sensuous perceptions, but a development of a different kind. The 
human mind, according to Miiller, is made up of three " faculties " 
or " potential energies " : sense, reason, faith. The last two are 
different developments of sensuous perception. " Our apprehen- 
sion of the Infinite takes place independently of, nay in spite of, 
sense and reason." The facts of Religion, subjective and objec- 
tive, can be explained only by an appeal to that third " potential 
energy," "We have in that perception of the Infinite the root of 
the whole historical development of the human faith." He admits, 
however, that this perception is at first obscure.^ 

To make religion proceed from a special faculty or potential 
energy is to open a chasm between secular and religious life, with- 
out any sufficient reason for so doing. One clear result of the 
psychological investigations of religion has been to show that no 
particular faculty is needed to account for religious life. 

Max Mtiller's use of the words "perception" and "infinite" is 
also open to serious criticism. At times perception seems to be 

1 Tide cannot agree with Max Miiller that " the perception or apprehension 
of the Infinite, the yearning of the soul after God, is the source of all religion." 
The point he will not admit is that primitive man " perceives " the Infinite 
" because such perception requires a considerable measure of self-knowledge 
and reflection, which is only attainable long after religion has come into 
existence, long after the religious spirit has revealed itself. The origin of re- 
ligion consists in the fact that man has the Infinite within him, even before 
he is himself conscious of it, whether he recognizes it or not.' ' 

" It is man's original, unconscious innate sense of infinity that gives rise to 
his first stammering utterances of that sense, and to all his beautiful dreams 
of the past and the future." (^Elements of the Science of Religion, Vol. II, 
Lecture IX, pp. 230, 233.) 


synonymous with feeling, and at other times with apprehension. 
In the Origin of Religion, he writes, for instance, " With every 
finite perception there is a concomitant perception, or, if that 
word should seem too strong, a concomitant sentiment or presen- 
timent of the Infinite." (P. 43-) As to the word " infinite," I am 
of the opinion that the chief service it renders in a definition of 
religion is to betray man's ineradicable megalomania. What other 
function it fulfils in Max Muller's writings, I do not know. 

Has any one ever mistaken the principles of physiology for 
therapeutics or the sense of beauty for art ? Max Muller has to 
admit that throughout a whole volume he confused dogma with 
religion ! In his Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion, he refers 
to the critcisms directed against his conception of rehgion and says : 
" The fact was that in my former writings I was chiefly concerned 
with dogmatic Religion. . . . Still I plead guilty to not having 
laid sufficient emphasis on the practical side of religion ; I admit 
that mere theories about the Infinite, unless they influence human 
conduct, have no right to the name of Religion." But although he 
thus formally recognized this truth, it never acquired in his mind 
its full meaning. He continued to write as if a particular " per- 
ception " or " apprehension " constituted rehgion. 

Herbert Spencer. (See p. 26 of this book.) — Religion has 
from the beginning dimly discerned the ultimate verity and has 
never ceased to insist upon this truth, — " that all things are mani- 
festations of a Power that transcends our knowledge." "The 
consciousness of a mystery is traceable to the rudest fetichism. 
Each higher religious creed, rejecting those definite and simple 
interpretations of Nature previously given, has become more re- 
ligious by doing this. As the quite concrete and conceivable 
agencies alleged as the causes of things have been replaced by 
agencies less concrete and conceivable, the element of mystery 
has of necessity become more predominant. . . . And so Re- 
ligion has ever been approximating towards that complete rec- 
ognition of this mystery which is its goal. . . . No exposure 
of the logical inconsistency of its conclusions . . . has been able 
to weaken its allegiance to that ultimate verity for which it 
stands. . . . there still remained the consciousness of a truth 


which, however faulty the mode in which it had been expressed, 
was yet a truth beyond cavil." {First Principles, pp. 99, 100.) 

The views of Miiller and Spencer are not so different as they 
might seem at first glance. The two men might have reached the 
same conclusion if one of them had not remained entangled by 
the way. Max Miiller affirms nothing that cannot be brought into 
agreement with Spencer's opinion, provided the words " percep- 
tion " " apprehension," " sentiment," used interchangeably by 
Miiller, be replaced by " recognition " ; and, provided that " In- 
finite " be interpreted as meaning the ultimate mystery of things. 
This liberal interpretation of Max Miiller will not appear far-fetched 
if the fact is recalled that he names the faculty by which we appre- 
hend the infinite " faith," and also that he sees no objection to 
regarding the infinite as an object of " sentiment " rather than 
as an object of " perception." 

What place is occupied by feeling in Spencer's intellectual in- 
terpretation is not altogether clear. But this at least is evident : 
the feelings which " respond " to religious ideas — the religious 
feelings — are not the " vital elements " of religion. 

Eduard von Hartmann. — Hartmann's utterances on religion 
leave one with the impression that he had not reached complete 
clearness. According to him religion, although it is an " affair of 
the feelings," has for its foundation metaphysical conceptions. A 
system of metaphysics must arouse feelings of a certain kind be- 
fore it becomes rehgion. 

" The man who carries within himself metaphysical conceptions 
of such a nature that his emotions are positively affected by them 
possesses religion . . . every man has need of metaphysical ideas 
in order to satisfy his need of religion ... it must be a system of 
metaphysics which will serve to satisfy, even in those persons who 
are strangers to science, directly, the need of metaphysics, and, in- 
directly, the religious need. 

"This metaphysics, which we might call popular metaphysics, 
is religion. However, religion consists of something more than 
the metaphysical ideas of the masses ; it contains the capability of 
discerning the means and directions for arousing in a strong and 
lasting form the religious sentiment with this metaphysics for its 
foundation, — that is to say, religious cultus ; and secondly, reli- 


gion contains the deductions drawn from this metaphysics for the 
practical conduct of men ; in other words, religious ethics. . . . 

"Thus we see that religion constitutes the whole of the phi- 
losophy of the masses. ... In fine, religion comprises all the 
idealism of the masses, art not being accessible to them, except 
under a form too coarse to elevate them to artistic idealism. . . . 

" The masses do not know metaphysics by name, but they do 
know what they require of religion ; namely, that it should give 
them ' the truth ' ; not all the truths as they lie scattered in the 
various special sciences, but the truth which the universal science, 
philosophy, strives to attain, the one and eternal truth able to 
satisfy their unconscious need of metaphysics." {The Religiofi of 
the Ftihire, pp. 73, 74, 75.) 

In another passage he describes the nature of the " metaphys- 
ical " ideas which lie at the foundation of religion. Although 
religion " needs ideas as a foundation for the feelings, yet these 
ideas must be as little abstract as possible, and the reverse of 
distinct and definite. Indeed, an idea which is intended to rouse 
the religious feelings should be intuitive, figurative, fantastic, and 
confused to the last degree." {The Religion of the Future^ 
p. 28.) 

Other passages in Hartmann's work suggest a view of religion 
very like that which I have discussed under the third class, — 
that religion is "a consciousness of our practical relation to an 
invisible spiritual order." He writes, for instance : " Moreover, 
all tabooes do not belong to religion proper, that is, they are not 
always rules of conduct for the regulation of man's contact with 
deities that, when taken in the right way, may be counted on 
as friendly. . . ." And again he says that religion in the true 
sense begins " with a loving reverence for known gods, who are 
knit to their worshippers by strong bonds of kinship." 

James Martineau. — Martineau understands by religion "the 
belief in an ever living God, that is, in a Divine Mind and Will 
ruling the Universe and holding moral relations with mankind." 
{A Study of Religion, p. i.) 

G. J. Romanes. — " The distinguishing feature of any theory 
which can properly be termed a religion is that it should refer 


to the ultimate source or sources of things ; that it should suppose 
this source to be an objective, intelligent, and personal nature. . . . 
To speak of the Religion of the Unknowable, the Religion of 
Cosmism, the Religion of Humanity, and so forth, where the 
personality of the First Cause is not recognized, is as unmeaning 
as it would be to speak of the love of a triangle, or the rationality 
of the equator. . . . 

" Religion is a department of thought having for its object a 
self-conscious and intelligent Being." {Thoughts on Religion, 
p. 41.) 

Hegel. — Hegel defines religion as " the knowledge possessed 
by the finite mind of its nature as absolute mind." 

In the opening pages of the Philosophy of Religion, he de- 
scribes religion in an eloquent passage : " It is the realm where all 
enigmatical problems of the world are solved ; where all contra- 
dictions of deep musing thoughts are unveiled and all pangs of 
feeling soothed. . . . The whole manifold of human relations, 
activities, joys, everything that man values and esteems, wherein 
he seeks his happiness, his glory, and his pride — all find their 
final middle point in religion, in the thought, consciousness, and 
feeling of God. God is therefore the beginning and the end of 
everything. ... By means of religion man is placed in relation to 
this centre, in which all his other relations converge, and is elevated 
to the realm of highest freedom, which is its own end and aim. 
This relation of freedom on the side of feeling is joy which we call 
beatitude ; ... on the side of activity its sole office is to man- 
ifest the honor and to reveal the glory of God, so that man in this 
relation is no longer chiefly concerned with himself, his own in- 
terests and vanity, but rather with the absolute end and aim." 
(Quoted from Sterrett's Studies in HegeVs Philosophy of Religion, 

PP- 38-39-) 

F. B, Jevons. — " Religion as a form of thought is the percep- 
tion of ' the invisible things of Him through the things that are 
made.' " {History of Religion^ pp. 9-10.) 

Ladd, George T. — In the following, Ladd identifies religion 
with a theory of reality. " For religion is, as a matter of histori- 


cal and psychological fact, always metaphysical. It is always a 
naive or a reasoned theory of reality. It is an attempt to explain 
human experience by relating it to invisible existences that belong, 
nevertheless, to the real world. Indeed, monotheism finds in its 
One and Alone God the Ultimate Reality, the Being from whom 
all finite beings proceed, on whom they all depend, and to whom 
they all owe the devotion of their lives in a faithful allegiance. 
This, however, is ontological doctrine — somehow postulated ra- 
tionally, or reasoned out, or superstitiously and vainly imagined." 
{Jr. of Fhil., Fsy., and Scientific Methods, 1904, Vol. I, No. i, 
p. 9.) 

Hugo Munsterberg. — " Thus we claim that religion and phi- 
losophy have the same task. Both aim to apprehend the worlds 
of values as ultimately identical with each other, and therefore the 
world — totality — as absolutely valuable. Both philosophy and 
religion must transcend the life-experience for that end. . . . But 
the supplementation of all possible experience in religion and phi- 
losophy takes opposite directions. . . . We may say that religion 
transcends experience, but that philosophy goes back to the pre- 
suppositions of experience. Religion constructs a superstructure 
which overarches the experienced world ; philosophy builds a sub- 
structure which supports the experienced world. For that reason 
religion creates God, who gives the value of holiness to the world ; 
philosophy seeks the ultimate foundation in the external act, 
which gives to the world the value of absoluteness." And further : 
" Religion is accordingly also a form of apprehension through the 
overpersonal consciousness. ... It is the form in which this com- 
bined content must be thought in order to become a common self- 
asserting world at all. But religion is the form of forms ; it is the 
absolutely valid form for the connection of that which is itself 
found in various forms." {The Eternal Values, p. 358.) 

In the above passage Professor Miinsterburg speaks of religion 
as " constructing," " creating " gods, as a " form " in which the 
various contents of consciousness must be thought. The term 
" religion " as he uses it there denotes, it is clear, the system of 
ideas, of conceptions, within which religious life moves, and the 
mental activities by which it is built up. Religion and philosophy 


thus understood have, of course, the same task ; but, in this sense, 
" religion " means the philosophy of religious life, not religious hfe 

A more discriminating use of the term "religion" appears in 
the following passage : — 

" Religion is the completion \^JSrgafizupig] of experience. It 
does not complete merely actual experience ; that is the task of 
science, and faith would do more than simply fill up the gaps in 
science. Such gaps can be filled only by means of possible experi- 
ence, while faith, not only with transcendent but also with immanent 
conceptions of God, goes beyond all that is given. The given 
universe and the given individual powers are not sufficient to enable 
us to experience the totality of the ideal. The individual who 
feels values completes the universe through revelation and his own 
powers through prayer." {Grundzi/ge, y>- i66.) 

That Professor Miinsterberg is dealing here with religion itself 
and no longer with the concepts of religion is made clear by the 
sense given to the word Erganzung : it is made to include the 
making of oneself whole. 



F. ScHLEiERMACHER. (See p. 33 of this book.) — Schleier- 
macher does not believe that feeling can exist independently of the 
other mental processes. He says explicidy of perception, feeling, 
and activity, that " they are not identical and yet are insep- 

For him religion consists in certain feelings holding a definite 
relation to the life of action (morality), and to the life of thought 
(science, philosophy). Religion is passivity, contemplation. By 
itself it does not urge men to activity. " If you could imagine it 
implanted in man quite alone, it would produce neither these nor 
any other deeds. The man . . . would not act, he would only 
feel." {Speeches on Religion p. 5 7.) But if religion does not belong 
to the world of action, no more does it belong to the world of 
thought: "Religion cannot and will not originate in the pure 
impulse to know. What we feel and are conscious of in religious 
emotions is not the nature of things, but their operation upon us. 


What you may know or believe about the nature of things is far 
beneath the sphere of ReHgion." {Ibid., p. 48.) He makes, legiti- 
mately, a sharp distinction between the feelings themselves and the 
ideas which arise when the feelings are made the objects of reflection : 
"If you call these ideas," says he, " religious principles and ideas, 
you are not in error. But do not forget that this is scientific treat- 
ment of religion, knowledge about it, and not religion itself." 
{Ibid., pp. 46, 47.) 

These two points — namely, that religion is not morality, and 
that it is not knowledge — are persistently emphasized in Schlei- 
ermacher's writings. It is not clearly explained how the feelings 
which constitute religion are generated and how they differ from 
the non-religious feehngs. "Your feeling," he says, "is piety 
[a word for him synonymous with religion], in so far as it expresses 
. . . the being and life common to you and to the All." {Ibid., 
p. 45.) Religion is the feehng produced upon us by any particular 
object, i.e. by any part of the universe, when it is received, felt as 
a part of the whole, " not as limited and in opposition to other 
things, but as an exhibition of the Infinite in our life. Anything 
beyond this, any effort to penetrate into the nature and the sub- 
tance of things, is no longer religion, but seeks to be a science of 
some sort." {Ibid., p. 49.) Further on, he tries again to describe 
the kind of apprehension which determines the religious feeling : 
" The sum total of Religion is to feel that, in its highest unity, 
everything that stirs our emotions is one in feeling ; to feel that 
aught single and particular is only possible by means of this unity ; 
to feel, that is to say, that our being and living is a being and liv- 
ing in and through God." He adds, " But it is not necessary that 
the Deity should be presented as also one distinct object." {Ibid., 
p. 50.) Within the limits set in the preceding quotations, i.e. 
provided the feeling aroused by the particular object reveals the 
unity of the whole, every feeling is religion. This, then, is clearly 
affirmed in the discourse on the Nature of Religion, that it is the 
action of particular things upon us that underlies all religious 
emotions ; we cannot " have " religion except through the influence 
exercised upon us by concrete, particular things. 

In the Christliche Glaubenslehre, Schleiermacher gives a defini- 
tion of religion which differs in its wording from that found in the 
Reden. It is in this later work that he reaches the oft-quoted 


formula : " The essence of religion consists in the feeling of an ab- 
solute dependence." To render fully his thought, the words 
"upon the Universe," or " upon God," should be added. This 
formula attempts to complete, not to correct, the earlier statement. 
He had said, " Religion is feeling," it is the feeling generated in 
us by single experiences when these are viewed as intimations of 
the whole of which they are parts. But he had not said what kind 
of feeling would be produced under these circumstances. In the 
Glaubenslehre he adds that the intuition of the whole through the 
presentation of a particular object produces a feeling of dependence. 
It will be a feeling of dependence, because in these experiences 
man realizes that the reaction called forth by the particular object 
is utterly insufficient, since at bottom it is a reaction by which he 
tries to meet, not the particular thing which has called it forth, but 
the whole which it represents. 

In his earher writings Schleiermacher avoided the word " God " 
and was satisfied to use impersonal terms : the All, the Whole, the 
Universe, the Infinite. Later on the word " God " appears, and we 
find him making a distinction between the Universe and God which 
he does not seem to have had in mind previously. He distin- 
guishes between the Whole as an aggregate of mutually conditioned 
parts of which we ourselves are one, and the Unity underneath 
this coherence which conditions all things and conditions our re- 
lations to the other parts of the Whole. 

No criticism need be made here other than that which the 
reader has found in Chapter II. 

C. P. TiELE. (See p. 33.) — "I am satisfied that a careful 
analysis of religious phenomena compels us to conclude that they 
are all traceable to the emotions — traceable to them, I say, but not 
originating in them. Their origin lies deeper." {Science of Religion^ 
Vol. II, p. 15.) He means that in the emotion we have the 
"beginning of religion, which is merely the awakening of religious 
consciousness," not its origin. {Ibid., p. 25.) 

" In the sphere of religion the emotion consists in the conscious- 
ness that we are in the power of a Being whom we revere as the 
highest, and to whom we feel attracted and related ; it consists in 
the adoration which impels us to dedicate ourselves entirely to the 



adored object, yet also to possess it and to be in union with it." 
{Ibid., p. 19.) 

" We mean . . . that religion is, in truth, that pure and reveren- 
tial disposition or frame of mind which we fall piety. . . . Now, 
whenever I discover piety ... I maintain that its essence, and 
therefore the essence of religion itself, is adoration. In adoration 
are united those two phases of rehgion which are termed by the 
schools ' transcendent ' and ' immanent ' respectively, or which, in 
religious language, represent the believer as ' looking up to God as 
the Most High ' and as ' feeling himself akin to God as his Father. ' 
For adoration necessarily involves the elements of holy awe, 
humble reverence, grateful acknowledgment of every token of 
love, hopeful confidence, lowly self-abasement, a deep sense of 
one's own unworthiness and shortcomings, total self-abnegation, 
and unconditional conservation of one's whole life and one's whole 
faculties. . . . But at the same time — and herein consists its 
other phase — adoration includes a desire to possess the adored 
object, to call it entirely one's own." {Ibid., pp. 198, 199.) 

Concerning the origin of rehgion, Tiele writes that it " begins 
with conceptions awakened by emotions and experiences, and 
these conceptions awakened produce definite sentiments, which 
were already present in germ in the first religious emotions, but 
which can only be aroused to consciousness by these conceptions ; 
and these sentiments manifest themselves in actions." {Ibid., 
p. 67.) 

John McTaggart. — " Religion is clearly a state of mind. It 
is also clear that it is not exclusively the acceptance of certain 
propositions as true. It seems to me that it may best be de- 
scribed as an emotion resting on a conviction of a harmony be- 
tween ourselves and the universe at large." This presupposes, 
in the author's mind, belief in the ultimate goodness of the uni- 
verse ; otherwise there would be, according to him, no religion 
possible. He holds that this definition is wide enough to include 
among religious men Plato, Spinoza, and Hegel, who did not 
accept any of the historical religions. {Some Dogmas of Religion, 
London, 1906, p. 3.) 

G. SiMMEL. — " The religious life means the whole existence 
pitched in a certain key \Totiarf\ . The rehgious feeling \Tonari\ 



arises in the relation of man to external nature, to fate, to human- 
ity. At times certain sociological conditions and relations pos- 
sess, as such, the rehgious coloring. The relation of the pious 
child to his parents, of the enthusiastic patriot to his country, or 
of the humanitarian cosmopolitan to mankind, the relation of the 
workman to his fellow-laborers, or of the proud feudal lord to 
his class, the relation of the subject to the master under whose 
command he stands, or of the faithful soldier to the army — all 
these relations have, regarded from the psychological standpoint, 
a common ' tone/ which we must call religious." {Die Religion, 
Frankfurt a. M., Rutten u. Loening, p. 79.) 

O. Pfleiderer. — " In the religious consciousness all sides of 
the whole personality participate. Of course we must recognize 
that knowing and willing are here not ends in themselves as in 
science and morality, but rather subordinated to feeling as the 
real centre of religious consciousness. . . . This is not a simple 
feeling, but a combination of feelings of freedom and independ- 
ence." {The Notion and Problem of the Philosophy of Religion, 
Phil. Rev., Vol. II, 1893, pp. 1-23.) 

Th. Ribot. — " In every religious belief, two things are neces- 
sarily included : an intellectual element, i.e. an item of knowledge 
constituting the object 6f the belief ; an effective state, i.e. a 
feehng which accompanies the former and expresses itself in acts. 
Whoever does not possess this second element knows not the 
religious feeling, but only abstract and metaphysical conceptions." 
{La Psychologie des Sentiments, pp. 297-298.) 

George M. Stratton. — Religion is the appreciation of an 
unseen world, usually an unseen company ; and religion is also 
whatever seems clearly to be moving toward such an appreciation 
or to be returning from it. Or perhaps it might better be de- 
scribed as man's whole bearing toward what seems to him the 
" Best or Greatest." " Religion is the gradual awakening to 
the weight and import of a particular order of objects." {The 
Psychology of the Religious Life, pp. 343, 345.) 

A. RiTSCHL. — " In all religion the endeavor is made, with 
the help of the exalted spiritual power which man adores, to 


solve the contradiction in which man finds himself as a part of 
the natural world, and as a spiritual personality, which makes 
the claim to rule nature." 

In another place : " All religion is interpretation of the course 
of the world, in whatever compass it is recognized, in the sense 
that the exalted spiritual powers (or the spiritual power), which 
rule in or over it, maintain or confirm for the personal spirit its 
claims or its independence against limitation by nature or the 
natural operations of human society." (Ritschl, A., Rechtferti- 
gung und Versohnung, Vol. Ill, pp. 189, 17, as quoted by Garvie, 
The Ritschlian Theology, pp. 162, 163.) 

W. Herrmann. — " The religious view is an answer to the 
question, ' How must the world be judged, if the highest good 
is to be real?' while metaphysics deals with facts. In it 
we inquire in what universal forms all being and happening 
can be represented without contradiction. For the correctness 
of these representations it does not in any way matter in what 
relation to the aims of our wills, to our weal or woe, things 

" For theology to seek a basis in metaphysics and not in the 
certainties of the religious experience, would be to lean on an arm 
of flesh and to distrust ' the spirit of the living God.' " 

"The concern of Religion is to regard the multiplicity of the 
world as the orderly whole of means by which the highest value of 
the pious man, which is expressed in feeling, is realized." (Herr- 
mann, W., Die Meiaphysik in der Theologie, as reported by Garvie, 
The Ritschlian Theology, pp. 64, 65, 174.) 

Daniel Greenleaf Thompson. — " Religion is the aggregate 
of those sentiments in the human mind arising in connection with 
the relations assumed to subsist between the order of nature (in- 
clusive of the observer) and a postulated supernatural." {The Re- 
ligious Sentitnent of the Humati Mind.) 

J. A. CoMENius. — " By religion we understand that inner ven- 
eration by which the mind of man attaches and binds itself to the 
supreme Godhead." {Great Didactic, Keatinge tr., p. 190.) 




WiLLUM James. (See p. 39.) — Professor James starts with a 
very broad definition, which he gradually narrows until he brings 
into agreement with the common use of the word " religion. " " In 
the broadest and most general terms possible one might say that 
rehgious life consists of the belief that there is an unseen order and 
that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves 
thereto. This belief and this adjustment are the religious attitude 
of the soul." (The Varieties of Religious Experience, p. 53.) 

But however justifiable this conception may be, it is too inclu- 
sive to agree with the meaning generally given to religion. No 
attitude is accounted religious unless it is grave and serious ; the 
trifling, sneering attitude of a Voltaire must be excluded if we 
would not strain too much the ordinary use of the word. But if 
religion does not include light irony, neither does it include 
grumbling and complaint. The mood of a Schopenhauer or of a 
Nietsche, though often relieved by an ennobling sadness, is almost 
as often mere peevishness running away with the bit between its 
teeth. The sallies of such men " lack the purgatorial note which 
religious sadness gives forth. . . . There must be something 
solemn, serious, and tender about any attitude which we denominate 
religious. If glad, it must not grin or snicker ; if sad, it must not 
scream or curse." 

But still further elimination is needed ; for the conception as it 
now stands would include the chilling reflections of Marcus Aure- 
lius on the eternal reason, as well as the passionate outcry of Job. 
It would encompass what we are tempted to call philosophical or 
ethical rather than religious attitudes ; the grave, austere submis- 
son of the stoic, as well as the " enthusiastic temper of espousal " 
characteristic of the mood commonly called rehgious. {Ibid., 
p. 38. See the whole of Lecture II.) 

A. Reville. — " Religion rests above all upon the need of man 
to realize an harmonious synthesis between his destiny and the op- 
posing influences he meets in the world." (Z« Religion des peuples 
non-civilises, Vol. I, p. 120.) 


H. BosANQUET. — "A man's religion, it may be said, is that set 
of objects, habits, and convictions, whatever it might prove to be, 
which he would die for rather than abandon, or at least would 
feel himself excommunicated from humanity if he did abandon. 
It would follow from this that his actual religion may differ in any 
degree from his nominal creed. On the other hand, it might be 
contended by students of the philosophy of religion that only 
those convictions which are called religious par excellence in the 
normal sense are capable of affording in the fullest degree that 
support, and that sense of triumphant unity, which seem to be the 
central facts of religious experience." (Baldwin's Dictionary, art. 
Religion, Philosophy of.) 

G. Sergi. — Religion, according to Sergi, is "a pathological 
manifestation of the protective function, a sort of deviation of 
the normal function . . . , a deviation caused by ignorance of nat- 
ural causes and of their effects." (^Les Emotions, p. 404.) 

Hiram M. Stanley. — " We take it then that religion must be 
biologically defined as a specific mode of reaction to high supe- 
riorities of environment, or psychologically as a perception of a 
highly superior being, leading to a peculiar mode of emotion and 
will toward that being, and thus securing the most advantageous 
action. The reverential and worshipful emotion spent is the 
essence of religion, and whenever this is found among the lowest 
animals, or the highest specimens of mankind, there is religion." 
{On the Psychology of Religion^ Psychol. Rev., 1898, Vol. V, p. 25S.) 

J. G. Frazer. — " By religion, then, I understand a propitiation 
or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to 
direct and control the course of Nature and of human life." (^The 
Golden Bough, 2d. ed.. Vol. I, p. (>i.) 

Goblet d'Alviella. — " These three elements, common to all 
organized religions, may be classed as follows : — 

"i. The belief in the existence of superhuman beings who inter- 
vene in a mysterious manner in the destinies of man and the course 
of nature. 



" 2. Attempts to draw near to these beings or to escape them, to 
forecast the object of their intervention and the form it will take, 
or to modify their action by conciliation or compulsion. 

" 3. Recourse to the mediation of certain individuals supposed 
to have special qualifications for success in such attempts. 

"4. The placing of certain customs under the sanction of the 
superhuman powers." (The Hibbert Lectures for 1891, p. 4.) 

Henry Rutgers Marshall. — Considering religion objectively, 
Marshall concludes that it consists in those special activities which 
imply restraint of individualism, and that these activities, or at 
least the general tendencies from which they spring, are instinc- 
tive. " The restraint of individualistic impulses to racial ones (the 
suppression of our will to a higher will) seems to me to be of the 
very essence of religion: the behef in the Deity, as usually found, 
being from the psychological point of view an attachment to, rather 
than of the essence of, the religious feeling." {Instinct and Reason, 
Macmillan, 1898, p. 329. See, for comparison, Benjamin Kidd's 
Social Evolution, p. 103, and Hiram M. Stanley's paper On the 
Psychology of Religion, Psychol. Rev., 1898, Vol. V, p. 258.) 

Marshall's argument in support of the instinctiveness of religion 
runs somewhat as follows. Religion is not, on the whole, advan- 
tageous to the individual ; on the contrary, it is in most cases 
clearly detrimental and would therefore not have remained a fac- 
tor in human societies unless it was advantageous to the race. 
That religious activities are detrimental to the individual and 
advantageous to the race, is Marshall's thesis. Practices of this 
kind remain in existence through the survival of the fittest race. 
This implies the establishment of the practices, or at least of the 
tendencies leading to them, as instincts. 

It appears in what precedes that Marshall includes under " in- 
stinct " not only congenital activities relatively definite, but also 
others. In instincts, " the definiteness and the fixity of the actions 
is of very secondary moment, that which is important being the 
fact that there exists a biological end which determines the trend 
of these organized activities." In this wider sense religion 
may well be called an instinct, but in this sense the " instinctive 
nature " of religion ceases to have any particular significance. For 


if only " the tendencies to the main drift " of religion are instinctive, 
then what is true of religion in this respect is true also of every 
other human activity. 

That religious activities are of value to the race, no one vi^ill 
doubt, but the opinion that they are on the whole detrimental to 
the individual seems to me the result of an insufficient investiga- 
tion of religious life. The facts upon which Marshall places 
emphasis — seclusion, vision, fasting, one aspect of prayer, one 
aspect of sacrifice — do not at all represent the whole of religious 

F. ToNNiES. — Religion " is essentially social and ... of a 
twofold nature, apparently contradictory, and indeed very often 
actually conflicting. For its function is first to validate and fortify 
authority, consequently to make the strong and powerful more 
strong and powerful . . . ; but second, it goes very far in protect- 
ing and supporting the weak, notably women and children, old age, 
widows and orphans. , . . The influence of the first function is 
evmx\tn\\y political, while the second may be called ethical. {The 
Origin and Function of Religion, a discussion, by A. E. Crawley 
and others, in Sociological Papers, 1906, Macmillan, Vol. Ill, 
p. 267.) 

Benjamin Kidd. — "A religion is a form of belief providing an 
ultra-rational sanction for that large class of conduct in the indi- 
vidual where his interests and the interests of the social organism 
are antagonistic and by which the former are rendered subordinate 
to the latter in the general interests of the evolution which the 
race is undergoing." {Social Evolution, -p. 103.) 

A. CoMTE. — " Religion, then, consists in regulating each one's 
individual nature, and forms the rallying point for all the separate 

" To constitute a complete and durable harmony what is wanted 
is really to bind together man's inner nature by love and then to 
bind the man to the outer world by faith. Such, generally stated, 
is the necessary participation of the heart to the synthetical state, 
or unity, of the individual or the society." {Catechism 0/ Positive 
Religion, pp. 46, 5i-) 


Thomas Davidson. — "A religion is that which places us in 
such harmony with our environment that we attain the highest 
possible development in knowledge, love, and will. But surely no 
institution was ever better calculated for this than our republic." 

" I think, then, we may conclude, not only that Americanism is 
a religion, but that it is the noblest of all religions, that which best 
insures the realization of the highest manhood and womanhood, 
and points them to the highest goal, — a goal which it is their 
task throughout eternity to approach without reaching. It is a 
rehgion, too, that unifies our present Hfe with eternal life, and 
identifies our civil with our religious life. It is a religion that can 
be taught to every human being, and that, when taught, will make 
all men brothers. It can be made the principle of ethical 
life in all its phases, — domestic, social, and poUtical. Re- 
ligion need no longer be banished from our public schools, as a 
mere matter of individual opinion, when it is really the mainspring 
of social life. In teaching children to lead the life of true Ameri- 
cans, we shall be leading them in the paths of eternal life." 
(American Democracy as a Religion, Internal. Jr. of Ethics, 
Vol. X, pp. 37, 38, 39.) 

Renan. — " My religion is now as ever the progress of reason ; 
in other words, the progress of science." {The Future of Science, 

Edward Cairo. — " Without as yet attempting to define reli- 
gion, ... we may go as far as to say that a man's religion is the 
expression of his ultimate attitude to the universe, the summed-up 
meaning and purport of his whole consciousness of things." 

"... it is always the consciousness, in some more or less ade- 
quate form, of a divine power as the principle of unity in a world 
of which we are not only spectators, but parts. Indeed, the 
presence of this unity as an element or presupposition of our con- 
sciousness is the only reason of man's being religious at all." 
{^Evolution of Religion, Vol. I, pp. 30, 235.) 

William Ralph Inge. — " Our consciousness of the beyond is, 
I say, the raw material of all religion." {Christian Mysticism, 
Bampton Lectures for 1899, p. 5.) 



Felix Adler. — " Religion is that which brings man into touch 
with the infinite : this is its mission. If we put aside the mate- 
riahstic explanations of morality, and see the majesty, the 
inexplicable augustness of it, we shall find that, in the moral life 
itself, the moral experience itself, we possess religion. Religion 
is at the core of it, for religion is the connection of man's life with 
the absolute, and the moral law is an absolute law." {The Reli- 
gion of Duty, p. 94.) 

A. Sabatier. — Religion " is a commerce, a conscious and 
willed relation into which the soul in distress enters with the 
mysterious power on which it feels that it and its destiny depend." 
{Outlines of a Philosophy of Religion, p. 27.) 

" What we call the religious consciousness in a man is the feel- 
ing of the relation in which he stands, and wills to stand, to the 
universal principle on which he knows himself to depend, and 
with the universe in which he sees himself to be a part of one 
great whole." 

"This feeling, filial in regard to God, fraternal in regard to 
man, is that which makes a Christian." {Ibid., pp. 147, 149.) 

J. RovcE. — "Religion is the consciousness of our practical 
relation to an invisible, spiritual order." 

Upton. — " It is the felt relationship in which the finite self- 
consciousness stands to the immanent and universal ground of all 
being, which constitutes religion." {The Basis of Religious Belief, 
Hibbert Lectures for 1893.) 

R. J. Campbell. — " All religion begins in cosmic emotion. 
It is the recognition of an essential relationship between the human 
soul and the great whole of things of which it is the outcome and 
expression. The mysterious universe is always calling, and, in 
some form or other, we are always answering. . . . But religion, 
properly so-called, begins when the soul consciously enters into 
communion with this higher-than-self as with an all-comprehend- 
ing intelligence ; it is the soul instinctively turning towards that 
from whence it came ... it is the soul reaching forth to the 
great mysterious whole of things, the higher-than-self, and seeking 


for closer and ever closer communion therewith." (77z«f New 
Theology, p. i6.) 

E, Kant. — "Religion is (considered subjectively) the recogni- 
tion of all our duties as divine commands." {Die Religion inner- 
halb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft, Viertes Stuck, erster 

Prince Kropotkin. — This leader of the Anarchist movement 
stresses the social aspect of religion. For him, " a passionate de- 
sire for working out a new, better form of society" is a religious 
impulse. {The Ethical Need of the Present Day, The Nineteenth 
Century, August, 1904, Vol. LVI, pp. 207-226.) 

F. W. H. Myers. — Religion is " the sane and normal re- 
sponse of the human spirit to all that we know of cosmic law ; that 
is, to the known phenomena of the universe, regarded as an intel- 
ligible whole. . . . For, from my point of view, man cannot be 
too religious. I desire that the environing, the interpenetrating 
universe, — its energy, its life, its love, — should illumine in us, 
in our low degree, that which we ascribe to the World-Soul, say- 
ing, ' God is Love,' ' God is Light.' The World-Soul's infinite 
energy of omniscient benevolence should become in us an en- 
thusiasm of adoring cooperation, — an eager obedience to what- 
soever with our best pains we can discern as the justly ruling prin- 
ciple — TO rjyeiJLovLKov — without US and within." (Human Per- 
sonality, Vol. II, pp. 284-285.) 

Daniel G. Brinton. — " There is no one belief or set of beliefs 
which constitutes a religion. We are apt to suppose that every 
creed must teach a belief in a god or gods, in an immortal soul, 
and in a divine government of the world. . . . No mistake could 
be greater. The religion which to-day counts the largest number 
of adherents, Buddhism, rejects every one of these items." (Reli- 
gions 0/ Primitive Peoples, American Lectures on the History of 
Religions for 1896-1897, p. 28.) 

After reviewing the principal theories of the origin of religion, 
he expresses his own opinion as follows : " The real explanation 
of the origin of religion is simple and universal. . . . It makes 
no difference whether we analyze the superstitions of the rudest 


savages, or the lofty utterances of John the Evangelist, or of 
Spinoza the 'god-intoxicated philosopher' ; we shall find one and 
the same postulate to the faith of all. 

"This universal postulate, the psychic origin of all rehgious 
thought, is the recognition, or, if you please, the assumption, that 
conscious volition is the ultimate source of all Force. It is the 
belief that behind the sensuous, phenomenal world, distinct from it, 
giving it form, existence, and activity, lies the ultimate, invisible, 
immeasurable power of Mind, of conscious Will, of Intelligence, 
analogous in some way to our own : and, — mark this essential 
corollary, — • that man is in communication with it. 

" What the highest religions thus assume was likewise the founda- 
tion of the earliest and most primitive cults. The one universal 
trait amid their endless forms of expression was the unalterable 
faith in Mind, in the supersensuous, as the ultimate source of all 
force, all life, all being." {Religions of Primitive Peoples, Ameri- 
can Lectures on the History of Religions for 1896-189 7, pp. 47, 

In an earlier book {The Religious Sentiment, p. 79) Brinton 
gave the following definition : " Expectant attention directed 
toward an event not under known control, with a concomitant idea 
of Cause and Power." 

The authors of the three following quotations are concerned 
with the origin of religion. 

Thomas Hobbes. — "And in these four things, Opinions of 
Ghosts, Ignorance of second causes. Devotion towards what men 
fear, and Taking of things Casuall for Prognostiques, consisteth 
the Naturall seed of Religion." {Leviathan, Cambridge, 1904, 

P- 73-) 

David Hume. — "We may conclude, therefore, that in all na- 
tions . . . the first ideas of religion arose not from a contemplation 
of the works of nature, but from a concern with regard to the 
events of life, and from the incessant hopes and fears, which actu- 
ate the human mind." {Essays, Vol. II, 1889, The Natural His- 
tory of Religions, p. 315.) 

R. R. Marrett — "Though open to conviction, therefore, I still 
incline to regard awe as the bottom fact in religion, and to suppose 
wonder-working to have become distinctly religious just in so far as 


it came to be regarded with awe, namely, as something supranor- 
mal. My counter-hypothesis, in short, is this, that the essence of 
rehgion is miracle, and that the 'miracle of grace ' is but one form 
of miracle and therefore of religion." ( The Origin and Function of 
Religion, a discussion, by A. E. Crawley and others, in Sociologi- 
cal Papers, 1906, Macmillan, Vol. Ill, p. 267.) 

W. WuNDT. — "In my opinion, the question can only be 
answered in one way : all ideas and feelings are religious which 
refer to an ideal existence, an existence that fully corresponds 
to the wishes and requirements of the human mind." "The 
endeavor after an existence that shall satisfy the wishes and 
requirements of the human mind" is "the original source of 
religious feeling." {Ethics, Vol. I, The Facts of the Moral Life, tr. 
by Gulliver and Titchener, Macmillan, 1S97, pp. 59, 60.) This 
ideal he characterizes as changeable, — crude or refined according 
to the intellectual and aesthetic culture of the people concerned. 
It is " a product of human feehng and imagination." 

Wundt's Classification — Wundt finds three fundamentally 
different hypotheses in the field. " We may term them the auton- 
omous, the metaphysical, and the ethical theories of religion, 

" (i) The autonomous theory, plainly foreshadowed in the views 
of Hamann and Jacobi, became explicit in the work of Schleier- 
macher. It maintains that religion is an independent domain, 
above and beyond those of metaphysics and ethics. While the 
subject of metaphysics is theoretical knowledge of finite things, 
and that of ethics the relations of empirical conduct, religion is an 
* immediate consciousness of the universal existence of all finitude 
in infinity, of all temporal things in things eternal,' or, as Schleier- 
macher expressed it later, 'a feeling of absolute dependence.' 

"(2) The metaphysical theory identifies religion with specula- 
tive knowledge of the universe. This may either be regarded as 
a knowledge to which human thought attains by the mediation of 
ideas (the older rationalism), or made a phase of the dialectical 
development of the absolute mind (modern speculative idealism). 
Hegel's definition of religion fits both conceptions equally well. 
It runs as follows : ' Religion is the knowledge possessed by the 
finite mind of its nature as absolute mind.' Here there is an 


express intention to abolish the difference between religion and 
philosophy, or at least to make it appear unessential and merely 
external. . . . 

"(3) Finally, the ethical theory sees in religion the realization 
of moral postulates. This mode of thinking had its roots in the 
* illuminated ' deism of the eighteenth century ; but its most in- 
fluential representative was Kant, whose doctrines are still widely 
current in philosophical and theological circles. Kant calls re- 
ligion * a knowledge of all our duties as divine commands,' and so 
makes it the sum-total of all the hypotheses that we are compelled 
to set up, whether to explain the existence of the moral law or to 
assure its realization. As these presuppositions lead to transcen- 
dental ideas, empty of experiential contents, they are objects of 
faith and not of knowledge. . . ." {^Ethics, Vol. I, The Facts of 
the Moral Life, tr. by Gulliver and Titchener, Macmilian, 1897, pp. 


Wundt criticises these three theories as follows : 

"(i) The explanation proposed by the autonomous theory is too 
indefinite. While it makes religion an immediate knowledge of 
God, or a feeling of absolute dependence, it leaves the object of 
this knowledge or feeling entirely undefined. (2) The answer 
given by the ethical theory is too narrow. Even if we incline to 
see the principal value of religion in its ethical effect, or believe 
that religion is completely contained in morality, we cannot avoid 
the conclusion that, as things are now, ethos and religion are 
really not identical in the human consciousness, and that religion 
is not to be regarded as a special ethical attitude. (3) Finally, the 
fault of the metaphysical theory, in both its forms, is that it con- 
founds rehgious ideas with intellectual problems." {Ibid., pp. 


^ I . Studies in the Psychology of Religious Phenomena [on conver- 
sion], Amer. Jr. of Psy., 1896, Vol. VII, pp. 309-385. 
2. The Psycho-Physiology of the Categorical Imperative ; a chapter 
in the psycho-physiology of ethics, Amer. Jr. of Psy., 1897, 
Vol. VIII, pp. 528-559. 


- 3. Introduction to a Psychological Study of Religio7i^ Monist, 1901, 

Vol. XI, pp. 195-225. 

- 4. The Contents of Religious Consciousness, Monist, 1901, Vol. XI, 

PP- 536-573- 

5. Religion, its Itnpulses and its Ends, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1901, 

Vol. 58, pp. 751-773- 

6. Les Tendances Religieiise chez les Mystiques Chretiens, Revue 

Philosophique, 1902, Vol. 54, pp. 1-36, 441-487. 

7. The State of Mystical Death ; an instance of internal adapta- 

tion, Amer. Jr. of Psy., Commemorative number, 1903, Vol. 
14, pp. 133-146. 

8. E7npirical Data on hnmortality, Internat. Jr. of Ethics, 1903, 

Vol. 14, pp. 90-105. 

- 9. Professor William fa?nes''s Interpretation of Religioics Expe- 

rience, Internat. Jr. of Ethics, 1904, Vol. 14, pp. 323-339. 
ID. Faith, Amer. Jr. of Relig. Psy. and Educ, 1904, Vol. I, pp. 

1 1 . The Field atid the Probletns of the Psychology of Religion, Amer. 

Jr. of Relig. Psy. and Educ, 1904, Vol. I, pp. 155-167. 

12. The Psychology of the Christian Mystics, Mind, N. S., Vol. 14, 

pp. 15-27. 

13. Fear, Awe, and the Sublime, Amer. Jr. of Relig. Psy. and Educ, 

1906, Vol. 2, pp. 1-23. 

14. Revue Generate de Psychologic Religieuse, Annde Psychologique, 

1905, Vol. XI, pp. 482-493. 

15. Revue Ghierale de Psychologic Religieiise, Annde Psychologique, 

1906, Vol. 12, pp. 550-569. 

16. Religion as a Factor iji the Struggle for Life, Amer. Jr. of Relig. 

Psy. and Educ, 1907, Vol. 2, pp. 307-343. 

- 17. The Psychological Origin of Religion, Monist, 1909, Vol. 19, pp. 


18. Magic and Religion, Sociological Review, January, 1909, pp. 


19. The Psychological Nattire of Religion, Amer. Jr. of Theol., Jan- 

uary, 1909, pp. 77-85. 

20. Three Types of Behavior, Amer. Jr. of Psy., 1909, Vol. 20, pp. 


21. La Religion con(;ue comtne fonction biologique, Sixicme Congrcs 

International de Psychologic, Geneve, Rapports et Comptes 
Rendus, pp. 1 18-125. 

22. Les Relatiotis de la Religion avec la Science et la Philosophie, 

ibid., pp. 125-137. 

23. The Psychological Origin and the Nature of Religion, Archibald 

Constable and Co., London, 1909, p. 95. 


If questions of priority were to arise regarding views ad- 
vanced in this book, they should be settled by reference to 
the papers listed above in which have appeared much of 
the substance of this volume. 

The topics treated in these publications cover, in a provisional 
manner, a much wider field than the present book. I hope to be able 
to complete, at a not too distant date, the task I have set myself. 



Abbott, Lyman, 218. 

Adler, Felix, 328, 330, 33i. 357- 

Ames, E. S., 51, 53, 54- 

Anselm, 209. 

Aristotle, 43. 

Arreat, L., 30. 

Augustine, Saint, 32, 248-249. 

Avebury, Lord (Sir John Lubbock), 

Bancroft, H. H., 21. 

Earth, 285. 

Barton, George, 175. 

Belot, G., 248. 

Bentley, I. M., 67. 

Bergson, Henri, 334-335- 

Berguer, Henri, 235. 

Binet, A., 141. 

Biran, Maine de, 32. 

Bois, Henri, 224-227, 241, 243. 

Bosanquet, H., 353. 

Boutroux, Emile, 239, 263, 265, 309. 

Bradley, F. H., 39. 251-252. 

Bridges, Horace J., 331. 

Bridges, J. H., 313. 

Brinton, D. G., 24, 72-73, 3S8-3SQ- 

Budde, Karl, 175. 

Caird, Edward, 356. 

Campbell, R. J., 291, 292-294, 357- 

Chamberlain, Alexandre, 78. 

Christie, R., 322. 

Chubb, Percival, 330, 331, 336. 

Clodd, Edward, 91. 

Codrington, R. H., 4, 6, 12, 76, loi 

115, 117, 119, 174. 230. 
Coit, Stanton, 331. 
Comenius, J. A., 351. 
Comte, A., 38, 65, 307-310, 321 

326, 355- 
Coriat, Isador, 298. 
Crawley, A. E., 47-48, 51. 
Curr, E. M., 12. 

D'Alviella, Goblet, 353-354- 
Darwin, Charles, 58, 67, 167. 





Davenport, F. M., 11, 135. i4i- 
Davids, Rhys, 283, 284, 286-288. 
Davis, H. B., 59. 
Delacroix, Henri, 272. 
Denney, Professor, 233. 
Dewey, John, 43. 
Digamma, 220-222, 243. 
Dorsay, G. Owen, 16. 
Durkheim, E., 51, 89-90, 93. 

Eddy, Mary Baker, 295, 297, 301-304. 
Edwards, Jonathan, 135. 
Eucken, Rudolph, 259. 
Evans, W. F., 300. 

Feuerbach, L., 32, 38-39, 252-253. 
Fletcher, Alice C, 82-83, 162. 
Fletcher, Horace, 143. 
Flint, Robert, 290, 317, 318, 320. 
Floumoy, Theodore, 140, 207, 245- 

Forsythe, P. F., 229. 
Foucart, P., 21, 152. 
Francis of Assisi, Saint, 319. 
Eraser, A. C, 29, 32. 
Frazer, J. G., 6, 76-77. 108, 119-122, 

152. 153-159, 163-164, i66, 170-171, 

177-180, 188-189, 197, 353- 
Fryer, A. T., 136. 

Garvie, A., 208, 210, 232, 233, 259. 

Gautier, L6on., 316. 
Gayraud, Abb6, 247. 
Green, T. H., 252, 293. 
Gros, Durand de, 248. 
Guyau, M. J., 41. 
Guyon, Madame, 36. 

Hall, Charies Cuthbert, 216. 
Hall, G. Stanley, 68, 139. i43- 
Harrison, Frederic, 309, 318. 
Hartland, E. S., 109, no. 
Hartmann, Eduard von, 22, 342-343. 
Hebert, Marcel, 54. 
Hegel, 344. 




Herbart, J. F., 32-33- 

Herrmann, W., 229, 232, 351. 

Hobbes, Thomas, 71, 359. 

Hogding, H., 33, 46-47, 107, 202, 252, 

Howitt, A. W., 12, 76, 108-109, no, 173, 

Hume, David, 359. 
Huxley, Thomas, 24. 

Inge, William Ralph, 256. 

James, William, 31, 32, 39-4°- 44, 103, 
148, 2^2, 240, 243, 255, 271, 272-274, 

Jastrow, Joseph, 81. 

Jevons, F. B., 52, 163, 172, 344. 

Jones, Rufus, 227, 294-295. 

Kant, E., 242-244, 358. 

Kern, H., 282, 283, 285, 298. 

Kidd, Benjamin, 355. 

King, Irving, 48-52, 7S> i57. 167, 175, 

184-186, 198-199. 
Kingsley, Mary H., 93, loo-ioi, 106- 

Kropotkin, Prince, 358. 
Kuhn, Adelbert, 96. 

Ladd, George T., 344. 

Lang, Andrew, 102-103, no. I7Q. I99, 

Lavaud, Charles, 272. 
Leo, Albert, 265. 
LeRoy, Mgr., loi, 247. 
Leuba, J. H., 88, 95, 126, 140. 
Lichtenstein, M. H. K., 154. 
Lodge, Oliver, 295. 
Lotze, H., 251. 

Lovejoy, Arthur O., 74-75, 84. 
Lubbock, Sir John (Lord Avebury), 129. 
Luther, Martin, 32. 

McComb, Samuel, 398. 
McDougall, Wm., 145, 196. 
McTaggart, John, 207, 248, 349. 
Marett, R. R., 72, 73-74, 75, 84, 93, 

129, 163, 171, 182-184, 359-360. 
Marshall, Henry Rutgers, 323, 354-355- 
Martineau, Harriet, 139. 
Martineau, James, 23, 25, 343. 
Maspero, G. C., 151-152. 
Matthews, Dr. Washington, 19, 20. 
Minault, Paul, 223. 

Mommsen, A., 21. 

Morgan, C. Lloyd, 64, 66, 68. 

Morris, M., 3. 

Miiller, Max, 25-26, 41, 85, 96, 203, 

Miinsterberg, Hugo, 44, 345-346. 
Myers, F. W. H., 358. 

Newman, Cardinal, 251. 

Paradon, Emile, 222. 
Parker, Mrs. E. L., loi, 199. 
Pascal, Blaise, 209-210. 
Patterson, Charles B., 297, 305. 
Paulsen, Friedrich, 16. 
Pennington, Isaac, 236. 
Perez, Emile, 78. 
Petrie, Flinders, 6, 182. 
Pfleiderer, O., 41, 208, 261, 350. 
Ponsoye, E., 263. 
Powell, Lyman P., 302. 
Preyer, W., 92. 
Pritchett, Henry S., 316. 

Reischle, Max, 255. 

Renan, Ernst, 356. 

ReviUe, A., 38, 352. 

Ribot, Th., 128, 145, 350- 

Ritschl, Albrecht, 208-209, 231, 233, 

258, 350-351- 
Rivers, W. H. R., 174- 
Romanes, G. J., 23, 24, 25, 68, 343-344- 
Royce, J., 357. 

Sabatier, A., 38, 4°. 217, 295, 357- 
Sainte-Beuve, 133, 315- 
Salter, William M., 331. 
Schian, Martin, 228. 
Schiller, F. C. S., 207, 248. 
Schleiermacher, F., 33-34. 35. 249, 346- 

Schmidt, Father Wilhelm, 102, 104, no. 
Schopenhauer, 38. 

Seeberg, Reinhold, 228, 243, 269-270. 
Seeley, J. R., S3- 
Sergi, G., 24, 353. 
Siebeck, Hermann, 40. 
Simmel, G., 349-350- 
Smith, Gerald Boiney, 228. 
Smith, W. Robertson, 20, 130-131, 203. 
Soyen Shaqu, 215. 
Spencer, Herbert, 24, 26-28, 65-66, 199, 

Spencer and Gillen, loi, 165, 166, 197. 




Stanley, Hiram M., 353. 
Starbuck, E. D., 139. 
Stout, G. F., 81, 82. 
Stratton, George M., 38, 350. 
Sully, James, 78, 80, 92, 94, 170. 
Sutherland, Alexandre, 196. 

Tertullian, 209. 

Theal, G. M'CaU, 109. 

Thompson, Daniel Greenleaf, 351. 

Thum, Sir Everard im, 90. 

Tiele, C. P., 15, 33. 288, 340, 348-349- 

Tonnies, F., 355. 

Tracy, Frederic, 78. 

Trine, Ralph Waldo, 300. 

Troward, T., 299. 

Tylor, Edward B., 70-72, 85. 

Upton, 3S7- 

Van Gennep, A., no. 
Voltaire, 255. 

Warren, H. C, 158. 

Washburn, M. F., 67. 

Wells, H. G., 327- 

Wilson, George R., 144. 

Worcester, Elwood, 298. 

Wordsworth, W., 319. 

Wundt, W., 24, 43, 167, 360-361. 


Abstract ideas, 60-61. 

Alcheringa, loi. 

Animals, beha\aor of, 57-6g; actions 

impossible to, 62 ; difference between 

men and, 62-65; worship of, 116-117. 
Animism, Tylorian, 70-72 ; and belief in 

non-personal powers, 76-77. 
Apparitions, 89. 
Australians, 12, 76-77, loi, 108-109, 

no, 165, 166, 173, 178, 197- 
Awe, 118, 145-149. 
Awfulness, 117. 

Behavior, three types of, 4-7, 190; 

mechanical, 5 ; coercitive, 5-7 ; an- 

thropopathic, 5; animal, 57-69; 

origins of magical, 164-172; of 

religious practices, 172-175. 
Benevolence of gods, 117. 
Brahmanism, 290. 
Brooke, Sir James, 3; 121. 
Buddhism, 281-298. 

Cats, behavior of, 59. 

Cause, child's conception of, 96-97. 

Ceremonies, magical, 12-13, 62; of 

Catholicism, 21; religious, 172-175. 
Child, explanatory concepts of the, 78- 

81 ; 96-97- 
Chimpanzee, behavior of, 58. 
Christian Science, 295-296, 301-307. 
Classification, of wonderful beings, 122- 

123; of magic, 153-164, 190-191. 
Comtism, 307-313. 321-323. 326-328. 
Conscience, facts of, 87. 
Conscious life, unit of, 35 ; place of 

thought and feeling in, 42-45. 
Contagious Magic, 153-154. 
Creation, problem of, 96-98. 
Creative force, 334-335- 
Creator, conception of, 87, 96-98. 

Dakota Indians, 72. 
Dancing, 62, 155-158, 168. 

Definitions of religion, intellectualistic, 
25-32, 339-346; affectivistic, 32-38, 
346-351; voluntaristic, 38-42, 352- 
360; Wundt's classification of, 360- 

Deification of men, 1 19-124. 

Dieri, 152. 

Disease, cure of, 11. 

Documental evidence, inner experiences, 

Dogs, behavior of, 58, 66, 67, 68. 

Dreams, 89-92. 

Ducks, behavior of, 64. 

Dyaks, of Borneo, 3; of Sarawak, 121. 

Dynamism, 84., 

Edwardian revivals, 141. 

Emotions, in primitive religion, 126-131; 

in later forms of religion, 132-148. 
Empirical God, 246-254, 272-274. 
Empirical religion, documents, 212-229. 
Empirical theology, 207-212. 
Ethical Culture Societies, 328-332. 

Faith, 261-268. 

Fear, in religion, 128-131, 133-14S; 
causes for decline of, 140-145 ; in 
Roman Church, 150; in secular Ufe, 

Feeling, place of, in religion, 35-38; in 
conscious Ufe, 42-45; "feehng of 
value," 45-52; of effort, 181-183. 

Friends, Society of, 294-295. 

Ghosts, 14, 86; origin of belief in, 89-93. 

God, proofs for existence of, 87-88, 247- 
249; as creator, loo-i 10; the manner 
in which God is supposed to act in the 
soul, 240-242 ; failure of Wm. James' 
attempt to prove the action of, 272- 
274; empirical and metaphysical 
conceptions of, 246-254. 

God-incarnate, 123 ; magic-god, 123. 

Gods, subjective existence of, 10 ; advan- 





tages of belief in non-existent, 11-15; 
dynamic value of belief in, 14 ; origin 
of idea of, 85-110; making of, m- 
113, 124-125; essential characteris- 
tics of, 113-118; function of, in moral 
life, 201-202. 
Gratitude, 128. 

Hebrew worship, 20. 

Hero-ancestors, 14. 

High Gods, 102-110. 

Homoeopathic Magic, 153. 

Humanity, religion of, 307-313; 321- 

323, 326-328, 335-336. 
Hysteria, 87. 

Ideas, free, 64; in animals, 65-67; of 

impersonal powers, 70-84; of unseen, 

personal powers, 85-110. 
Images, 67. 

Imitation, in animal life, 60. 
Imitative Magic, 153. 
Immanence in theology, 291-295. 
Immediacy of religious knowledge, 234- 

240; 276; documental evidence, 212- 

Inductive method in theology, 255-261. 
Inner experience, 233, 242, 275-277 ; 

documental evidence of the existence 

of God, 212-229; and divine action, 

Invisibility of gods, 116-117. 

Law, of Contact or Contagion, 153 ; of 
Similarity, 153, 156. 

Magic, 5-7, 62 ; origin of, 77 ; varieties 
and classification of, 151-164; rela- 
tion of , to religion, 177-180; prior to 
religion, 180-181 ; associated with 
religion, 1 81-184; duration of, 186- 
187 ; relation to science, 187-190. 

Magic-gods, 123. 

Magical behavior, origins of, 164-172. 

Magicians, iig, 122. 

Mana, definition of, 76, 122, 123, 163. 

Manitouism, 84. 

Melanesians, 63, 101-102, 115, 1 19-120. 

Metaphysics, relation of, to religion, 25- 
32, 206, 207-211. 

Mind-cure, 296, 301-304. 

Monotheism 109; see also under Theism. 

Moody, D. L., 135. 

Morality, relation of, to religion, 195- 
203 ; social origin of, 196 ; of primitive 
man, 196-200; independent of reli- 
gion, 323-326. 

Mysteriousness of gods, 117. 

Mythology, relation of, to religion, 203- 

Navajo Great Mountain Chant, 19. 

Needs, afi^ective and moral, 88-89. 

Negative religion, 131. 

New Thought, 304-307. 

Non-personal powers, origin of belief in, 
70-84 ; prior to animism, 76-77 ; 
children's conception of, 79-81. 

North American Indians, religious prac- 
tices of, 19. 

Origin, of idea of impersonal powers, 70- 
84 ; of ideas of unseen personal beings, 
85-110; of gods, 110-113; of magical 
practices, 164-172; of religious prac- 
tices, 172-175. 

Pantheism, 289-295; 317-321. 

Passive religiosity, 191. 

Personal beings, 85-110. 

Personal God, 125. 

Personality, of God, 250-254; 315-31? ; 

of gods, 113-114. 
Personification of natural phenomena, 

Philosophy, dififerentiated from religion, 

29-32; and theology, 207-212. 
Positive religion, 131. 
Positivism, 307-313; insufficiency of, 

321-323, 327- 
Prayer, varieties of, 16. 
Principle of Repetition in magic, 159. 
Psychology, animal, 57 ; relation of, to 

theology, metaphysics, and science, 

207-212; to religion, 42-45, 220, 245- 

246, 257-258, 268-275- 
Psychotherapic cults, 295-307. 

Religion, nature and function of, 3-22 ; 
characteristic impulses of, 7 ; as an 
instinct, 9 ; biological value of, 14-15. 
16-18; as gratification of human needs, 
16; current conceptions of, 23-54; 
variety of definitions of, 23-25 ; defined 
from intellectual point of view, 25-32 ; 
Miiller's definition of, 25-26 ; Spencer's 
definition of, 26-28; differentiated 



from philosophy, 28-32; defined as 
emotion, 32-35 ; Schleiermacher's defi- 
nition of, 33-34; place of feeling in, 
35-38 ; defined from practical point of 
view, 38-42 ; Feuerbach's definition 
of, 38-39 ; James's definition of, 39-40 ; 
Sabatier's definition of, 40; Siebeck's 
definition of, 40; thought and feeUng 
in, 40-41; defined as "feeling of 
value," 45-52 ; HoSding's definition 
of, 46-47 ; Crawley's definition of, 47- 
48; King's definition of, 48-52; 
differentiated from the rest of life, 52- 
54; fear in, 128-131, 133-14S; rever- 
ence in, 130-131 ; emotions in later 
forms of, 132-148; awe and the sub- 
lime in, 145-149 ; relation of magic to, 
176-191 ; social and beneficient nature 
of, 184-186; latest forms of, 281-313; 
future of, 314-336; present situation 
in, 314-317 ; independent of morality, 
323-326; philosophical basis of, 332- 
335 ; definitions of, 33Q-360. See also 
under ceremonies, definitions, docu- 
mental evidence, empirical, origin, psy- 

Religion of Humanity, 307-313, 321-323 ; 
326-328, 335-336. 

Religious, needs, 8; emotions, 9; prac- 
tices, 18-22, 172-175; consciousness, 
30-31 ; knowledge, immediately given 
in specific experiences, 234-240. 

Reverence, 131. 

Ritschlian theology, 208-210, 231-233, 

Roberts, Evan, 136. 

Sacredness, 10; as characteristic of reli- 
gion, 45-49; of gods, 1 17-118. 

Science, relation of, to religion, 208, 209, 
211, 220, 242-244, 245-246,. 

Sioux Indians, 82-83. 

Sublime, sense of, 146-149. 

Suggestion, 11, 18. 

Supematurahsm, 84. 

Sympathetic Magic, 155, 160, 169. 

Tender emotion, 127. 

Teratism, 84. 

Theism, insufiiciency of, for religion, 289- 

291, 319-321. 
Theology, empirical, 207-212 ; as a body 

of induced propositions, 244-245, 255- 

261 ; immanence in, 291-295. 
Thought, place of, in conscious life, 42-45. 
Trances, 86, 89. 
Transcendental belief, 323-326; the 

transcendental and science, 207-212. 
Trial-and-error method of learning, 60- 

Tuppa, 3. 

Unseen agents, 1 10. 

Value, feeling of, 45-52 ; judgment of, 

Varieties of magic, 151-164. 

Wakan, 72. 

Wa-zhin-dhe-dhe, 82-83. 
Welsh revival, 135-136. 
Wesley, John, 134-135. 
Will-eSort, 81-83, 160. 
Will-Magic, 158-159, 162-163, 183. 

npHE following pages contain advertisements of a 
few of the Macmillan books on kindred subjects 


Author of " Christianity and the Social Crisis " 

Christianizing the Social Order 

Cloth, j2tno, $1.^0 net 

Dr. Rauschenbusch's former book " Christianity and the Social Crisis " 
called for a social awakening of the moral and religious forces; his 
new book shows that this awakening is now taking place, and to that 
extent is full of hopefulness. Dr. Kauschenbusch examines the 
present social order to determine what portions have already been 
Christianized and what portions have not yet suljmitted to the revolu- 
tionizing influence of the Christian law and spirit. The process by 
which these unredeemed sections of modern life can be Christianized 
are discussed and the Christian Social Order in the process of making 
is exhibited. 


Author of " The Quest of Happiness," 
"The Influence of Christ in Modern Life," etc. 

Success Through Self-Help 

Cloth, i2mo, $ net 

For more than ten years Dr. Hillis has been pastor of one of the 
largest churches in Brooklyn, and though his duties to his parish are 
by no means light he has still found time to extend through writing 
his already great influence upon religious thought. Dr. Hillis is as 
practical in his writing as he is in his preaching, and his book " Success 
Through Self-Help" will be found to contain many valuable thoughts 
clothed in vigorous, inspiring language. 


President of Bowdoin College 

The Five Great Philosophies of Life 

Cloth, i2tno, $1.^0 net 

The five centuries from the birth of Socrates to the death of Christ 
produced five principles: The Epicurean pursuit of pleasure; the 
Stoic law of self-control; the Platonic Plan of Subordination; the 
Aristotelian Sense of Proportion, and the Christian Spirit of Love. 
The purpose of this book, which is a revised and considerably en- 
larged edition of " From Epicurus to Christ," is to let the masters of 
these sane and wholesome principles of personality talk to us in their 
own words. 


Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 

The One-Volume Bible Commentary 


Rev. J. R. DUMMELOW, Editor 

Should be in the hands of every student of the Bible. Other 
works may prove useful to extend special lines of study ; the 
foundation vi'ill be broad and deep if after the Bible itself the 
student bases his study on this volume. 


$2.j;o net ; by mail, $2.82 

"'The One-Volume Bible Commentary' breaks a new path in exegetical 
literature. It is a marvel of condensed scholarship. I know of no book that 
compresses so much solid information into the same number of pages. While 
up-to-date in every respect, I rejoice to note its prevalent conservatism and its 
reverent tone." — Henry E. Jacobs, Lutheran Theological Semmary, Mount 
Airy, Philadelphia. 

"This book is no bigger than a good sized Bible, but in it the whole Bible 
is expounded. This is what families and Sunday-school teachers have long 
been waiting for. The other commentaries are in too many volumes and cost 
too much to get into the ordinary domestic library. But this fits any shelf. 
The explanations clear away the difficulties and illuminate the text. They 
make it possible for anybody to read even the prophets with understanding. 
The critical expositions are uniformly conservative, but the best scholarship 
is brought to them. This is what devout and careful scholars believe. To 
bring all this into moderate compass and under a reasonable price is a notable 
accomplishment."' — Dr. George Hodges, Dean of the Episcopal Theological 
School, Cambridge, Mass. 

" An astonishing amount of information has been compressed into these 
pages, and it will be difficult to find another book anything near this in size 
which will be as helpful to the general reader as this. Sunday-school teachers, 
Bible students. Christian Endeavorers, and all that are interested in the study 
of the Word of God will find here a store of helpful suggestions." — Christian 
Endeavor World. 


Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 


These lectures are designed primarily to give students preparing for the 
foreign missionary field a good knowledge of the religious history, beliefs, and 
customs of the peoples among whom they expect to labor. 

Volumes in the Series now Ready 


Principal of Bishop Hatfield's Hall, Durham University, Durham, England 

An Introduction to the Study of 
Comparative Religion ^, ,, . 

1 D Cloth, i2mo, net 

" It is intended as a defence of Christianity and also as a help to the Christian mission- 
ary, by indicating the relation of Christianity to other religions. It is an admirable intro- 
duction to the subject, clear in style, sound in method, and with a comprehensive grasp of 
facts. Of especial value is the emphasis placed on the social power of religion and of the 
way in which, in Christianity, society and the individual are mutually ends and means to 
each other. The book may be cordially commended, especially to those who are begin- 
ners or those who wish a treatment that is free from technical difficulties." 

— A'ew York Times. 

By Dr. J. J. M. DE GROOT 

The Chinese Religion 

O Cloth, i2mo, $0,00 

A scholarly and detailed account of the intricate religions of the Chinese — which up 
to late years have been impenetrable puzzles to the Occidental mind. The author is one 
of the best authorities on the subject which the world possesses. 


Sometime Scholar and Fellow of the University of Glasgow; Professor of Semitic 
Languages in Hartford Theological Seminary 

Aspects of Islam 

Cloth, i2mo, $/.jo net 

This valuable contribution to the study of comparative religion is the third in the series 
of Hattford-Lamson Lectures, following the publication of Principal Jevons' " Introduction 
to the Study of Comparative Religion," and Dr. De Groot's " The Religion of the Chinese." 
Dr. MacDonald has written a book which will appeal especially perhaps to the beginner 
and the general reader, for he has dealt in broad outlines and statements, and not in 
details and qualifications. At the same time he is absolutely accurate as to conditions, 
despite the fact that in all probability some " Arabists " will be surprised at many of the 
things he has set down. 


Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 

Religion in the Making 

A Study in Biblical Sociology 

Cloth, i2mo, $1.2 J net; by mail, $f.jj \ 

"The earnest seeker after truth will discover in Dr. Smith's 
word a fine tribute to the people of Israel to whom the Christian 
world is indebted for some of the best things of life. The author 
uses the results of tradition, higher criticism, evolution, and 
scientific research in the making of a book that is readable and 
well worth while. It deals with the development of the idea of 
God, and treats of sacred persons, sacred places, sacred services, 
sacred objects, sacred days, in a way that is satisfactory to the 
student, and in language not too technical for the wayside 
reader." — Universalist Leader. 

Studies in Judaism 

The author is President of the Jewish Theological Seminary 
of America since 1902; formerly Reader in Talmudic, Cam- 
bridge University, and Professor of Hebrew, University 
College of London, 1898-1902. 

Cloth, i2mo, ^bb pages, $1.7^ net 

"The book is, to our mind, the best on this subject ever 
written. The author condenses a literature of several thousand 
pages into 564 pages, and presents to us his history in a splen- 
did English and splendid order. This work deserves the highest 
appreciation, and without the slightest hesitation do we recom- 
mend it to the public at large, and more especially to our 
co-religionists in this country." — Jewish Tribune. 


Publiahera 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York 


The Religion of Israel 

$/.oo net ; by mail, $1.76 

A Short History of the Hebrews 

$i.2j net; by mail, $1.41 

The Early History of the Hebrews 

$2.2^ 7iet ; by mail, $2.41 

Lectures on the Religion of the Semites 

$2.2^ net ; by mail, $2.41 

The Old Testament in the Jewish Church 

$S.SO net; by mail, $3.66 

The Prophets of Israel and 
Their Place in History 


The Old Testament in the Light of the 
Religion of Babylonia and Assyria 

$1.40 net; by mail, $1,66 


Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New Tork 









Do not ^ 


re move // 

0) Ti 

the card 



CD iH 

<j) O 

from this \ 



Pocket. \.- 



Acme Library Card Pocket 



Under Pat. " Ref . Index File." 




UJIllUlilllUllf ' 'UUUi