A Philosophical Scrutiny of Religion

A Philosophical Scrutiny of Religion

A Philosophical Scrutiny of Religion

A Philosophical Scrutiny of Religion

Excerpt

Theism and secularism are each vigorously on the aggressive today. The first urges "return to God" as the only and the sure remedy for all the ills of the time. The other sees no hope of doing away with these except through advance and application of scientific knowledge. Secularism points to all the stupidities, cruelties, and futilities which throughout recorded history have been perpetrated in the name of religion; and the protagonists of theism point, on the other side, to the all too patent fact that science has not given man either wisdom or virtue, but has only put into his hands unprecedented powers; and that, armed with them, he now seems in imminent danger of destroying all he values or even his own species altogether.

For many reasons, the author of this book finds it impossible to align himself with either of these contenders. For one thing, the tacit identification of theism, commonly with Christian monotheism, or even, a little more broadly, with monotheism in general, seems to him highly arbitrary, whether monotheism be conceived personalistically or as impersonal pantheism; for polytheism appears to be a more plausible and more defensible form of theistic belief than monotheism. Moreover, and notwithstanding the again common tacit assumption to the contrary, polytheism is not necessarily a lower form of religion than monotheism--even granting that some monotheistic conceptions may justly be ranked as morally higher than some--though not than all--polytheistic ones.

But further, the also widespread tacit identification of religion with theism in some form, seems historically quite indefensible, since there have been and there still are religions in which worship of a God or gods has no part. Again, the fact . . .

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