Progress in Religion to the Christian Era

Progress in Religion to the Christian Era

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Progress in Religion to the Christian Era

Progress in Religion to the Christian Era

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Excerpt

FASCINATING as the course of research has been among the religious ideas of primitive peoples--and those who caught the gleam of the Golden Bough a quarter of a century since will not readily forget its appeal--the history of Religion includes many races who are not at all primitive. The time comes now and then when it is less urgent to ask how religion began than why it continues and what changes it has undergone. In some quarters, one guesses, the view has prevailed that, if the origins are lowly, the developed product is discredited--that if religion began in the grossest superstition or in close connection with it, and was for long almost indistinguishable from magic, so much the worse for religion. There has been an air of polemic about the work of certain researchers, which at least suggests this line of reflection. But another line seems equally possible. If, in spite of these unhappy early associations, religion has maintained itself in the respect of the peoples of the highest cultures --if with every advance in thought, in powers of seeing and feeling, in social culture and in morals, religion has kept pace--then it may at least be argued that religion is not a regrettable survival from a bad past, a weakness of the feebler spirits of the race--an accident at best-- but something inseparable from the rational life of man . . .

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