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- The Making of Religion - 3/68 -


(literally, "he lives in heaven").' This is inconsiderate in the Fangs. A set of native cannibals have no business with a creative Father who is in heaven. I say 'creative' because 'he made all things,' and (as the bowler said about a 'Yorker') 'what else can you call him?' In all such cases, where 'creator' and 'creative' are used by me, readers will allow for the imperfections of the English language. As anthropologists say, the savages simply cannot have the corresponding ideas; and I must throw the blame on people who, knowing the savages and their language, assure us that they _have_. This Fang Father or _Tata_ 'is considered indifferent to the wants and sufferings of men, women, and children.' Offerings and prayers are therefore made, not to him, but to the ghosts of parents, who are more accessible. This additional information precisely illustrates my general theory, that the chief Being was not evolved out of ghosts, but came to be neglected as ghost-worship arose. I am not aware that Dr. Bennett is a missionary. Anthropologists distrust missionaries, and most of my evidence is from laymen. If the anthropological study of religion is to advance, the high and usually indolent chief Beings of savage religions must be carefully examined, not consigned to a casual page or paragraph. I have found them most potent, and most moral, where ghost-worship has not been evolved; least potent, or at all events most indifferent, where ghost-worship is most in vogue. The inferences (granting the facts) are fatal to the current anthropological theory.

The phrases 'Creator,' 'creative,' as applied to Anyambi, or Baiame, have been described, by critics, as rhetorical, covertly introducing conceptions of which savages are incapable. I have already shown that I only follow my authorities, and their translations of phrases in various savage tongues. But the phrase 'eternal,' applied to Anyambi or Baiame, may be misleading. I do not wish to assert that, if you talked to a savage about 'eternity,' he would understand what you intend. I merely mean what Mariner says that the Tongans mean as to the god Ta-li-y Tooboo. 'Of his origin they had no idea, rather supposing him to be eternal.' The savage theologians assert no beginning for such beings (as a rule), and no end, except where Unkulunkulu is by some Zulus thought to be dead, and where the Wiraijuris declare that their Darumulun (_not_ supreme) was 'destroyed' by Baiame. I do not wish to credit savages with thoughts more abstract than they possess. But that their thought can be abstract is proved, even in the case of the absolutely 'primitive Arunta,' by their myth of the _Ungambikula_, 'a word which means "out of nothing," or "self-existing,"' say Messrs. Spencer and Gillen.[6] Once more, I find that I have spoken of some savage Beings as 'omnipresent' and 'omnipotent.' But I have pointed out that this is only a modern metaphysical rendering of the actual words attributed to the savage: 'He can go everywhere, and do everything.' As to the phrase, also used, that Baiame, for example, 'makes for righteousness,' I mean that he sanctions the morality of his people; for instance, sanctions veracity and unselfishness, as Mr. Howitt distinctly avers. These are examples of 'righteousness' in conduct. I do not mean that these virtues were impressed on savages in some supernatural way, as a critic has daringly averred that I do. The strong reaction of some early men against the cosmical process by which 'the weakest goes to the wall,' is, indeed, a curious moral phenomenon, and deserves the attention of moralists. But I never dreamed of supposing that this reaction (which extends beyond the limit of the tribe or group) had a 'supernatural' origin! It has been argued that 'tribal morality' is only a set of regulations based on the convenience of the elders of the tribe: is, in fact, as the Platonic Thrasymachus says, 'the interest of the strongest.' That does not appear to me to be demonstrated; but this is no place for a discussion of the origin of morals. 'The interest of the strongest,' and of the nomadic group, would be to knock elderly invalids on the head. But Dampier says, of the Australians, in 1688, 'Be it little, or be it much they get, every one has his part, as well the young and tender, and the old and feeble, who are not able to go abroad, as the strong and lusty.' The origin of this fair and generous dealing may be obscure, but it is precisely the kind of dealing on which, according to Mr. Howitt, the religion of the Kurnai insists (chapter x.). Thus the Being concerned does 'make for righteousness.'

With these explanations I trust that my rhetorical use of such phrases as 'eternal,' 'creative,' 'omniscient,' 'omnipotent,' 'omnipresent,' and 'moral,' may not be found to mislead, or covertly to import modern or Christian ideas into my account of the religious conceptions of savages.

As to the evidence throughout, a learned historian has informed me that 'no anthropological evidence is of any value.' If so, there can be no anthropology (in the realm of institutions). But the evidence that I adduce is from such sources as anthropologists, at least, accept, and employ in the construction of theories from which, in some points, I venture to dissent.

A.L.

[Footnote 1: Macmillans, 1899.]

[Footnote 2: Op. cit. p. 246, note.]

[Footnote 3: See the new edition of _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_, especially the new Introduction.]

[Footnote 4: See Introductions to my _Homeric Hymns_. Allen. 1899.]

[Footnote 5: _Journal S.P.R._, December 1890, p. 147.]

[Footnote 6: _Native Tribes of Central Australia_, p. 388.]

PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION

'The only begetter' of this work is Monsieur Lefebure, author of 'Les Yeux d'Horus,' and other studies in Egyptology. He suggested the writing of the book, but is in no way responsible for the opinions expressed.

The author cannot omit the opportunity of thanking Mr. Frederic Myers for his kindness in reading the proof sheets of the earlier chapters and suggesting some corrections of statement. Mr. Myers, however, is probably not in agreement with the author on certain points; for example, in the chapter on 'Possession.' As the second part of the book differs considerably from the opinions which have recommended themselves to most anthropological writers on early Religion, the author must say here, as he says later, that no harm can come of trying how facts look from a new point of view, and that he certainly did not expect them to fall into the shape which he now presents for criticism.

ST. ANDREWS: _April 3, 1898._

CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER II. SCIENCE AND 'MIRACLES'

III. ANTHROPOLOGY AND RELIGION IV. 'OPENING THE GATES OF DISTANCE' V. CRYSTAL VISIONS, SAVAGE AND CIVILISED VI. ANTHROPOLOGY AND HALLUCINATIONS VII. DEMONIACAL POSSESSION VIII. FETISHISM AND SPIRITUALISM IX. EVOLUTION OF THE IDEA OF GOD X. HIGH GODS OF LOW RACES XI. SUPREME GODS NOT NECESSARILY DEVELOPED OUT OF 'SPIRITS' XII. SAVAGE SUPREME BEINGS XIII. MORE SAVAGE SUPREME BEINGS XIV. AHONE. TI-RA-WA. NA-PI. PACHACAMAC. TUI LAGA. TAA-ROA XV. THE OLD DEGENERATION THEORY XVI. THEORIES OF JEHOVAH XVII. CONCLUSION

APPENDICES.

A. OPPOSITIONS OF SCIENCE B. THE POLTERGEIST AND HIS EXPLAINERS C. CRYSTAL-GAZING D. CHIEFS IN AUSTRALIA

INDEX

* * * * *

THE MAKING OF RELIGION

I

_INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER_

The modern Science of the History of Religion has attained conclusions which already possess an air of being firmly established. These conclusions may be briefly stated thus: Man derived the conception of 'spirit' or 'soul' from his reflections on the phenomena of sleep, dreams, death, shadow, and from the experiences of trance and hallucination. Worshipping first the departed souls of his kindred, man later extended the doctrine of spiritual beings in many directions. Ghosts, or other spiritual existences fashioned on the same lines, prospered till they became gods. Finally, as the result of a variety of processes, one of these gods became supreme, and, at last, was regarded as the one only God. Meanwhile man retained his belief in the existence of his own soul, surviving after the death of the body, and so reached the conception of immortality. Thus the ideas of God and of the soul are the result of early fallacious reasonings about misunderstood experiences.

It may seem almost wanton to suggest the desirableness of revising a system at once so simple, so logical, and apparently so well bottomed on facts. But there can never be any real harm in studying masses of evidence from fresh points of view. At worst, the failure of adverse criticism must help to establish the doctrines assailed. Now, as we shall show, there are two points of view from which the evidence as to religion in its early stages has not been steadily contemplated. Therefore we intend to ask, first, what, if anything, can be ascertained as to the nature of the 'visions' and hallucinations which, according to Mr. Tylor in his celebrated work 'Primitive Culture,' lent their aid to the formation of the idea of 'spirit.' Secondly, we shall collect and compare the accounts which we possess of the High Gods and creative beings worshipped or believed in, by the most backward races. We shall then ask whether these relatively Supreme Beings, so conceived of by men in very rudimentary social conditions, can be, as anthropology declares, mere developments from the belief in ghosts of the dead.

We shall end by venturing to suggest that the savage theory of the soul may be based, at least in part, on experiences which cannot, at present, be made to fit into any purely materialistic system of the universe. We shall also bring evidence tending to prove that the idea of God, in its earliest known shape, need not logically be derived from the idea of spirit, however that idea itself may have been attained or evolved. The conception of God, then, need not be evolved out of reflections on dreams and 'ghosts.'

If these two positions can be defended with any success, it is obvious


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