Humanity and Deity

Humanity and Deity

Humanity and Deity

Humanity and Deity

Excerpt

It has long been the desire of the author of this book to write on the subject of religion. But strong though the desire was, the feeling against undertaking such a task was still stronger. The greatness of the theme and the 'high argument' in which such a theme alone could be developed seemed to make any approach to it almost sacrilege.

The reading of many books on religion seemed only to add to this reluctance. In contrast to the greatness of the theme the efforts of the human reason to compass it seem pitifully weak. It is, as Kant said, 'wonderful what little minds can do with great issues,' and before the problems set by religion in the modern world who is there that does not know his mind to be small indeed? If, therefore, I have finally yielded to the temptation it is surely not because I am under any illusions as to my own powers or hope to contribute anything of great moment to a subject that has long engaged greater minds. It is only because there is that in the present situation which justifies any mind, however limited, in seeking to understand it and in hoping that in such understanding something may be contributed to the solution of this greatest of all issues. If the times are out of joint, there is also, perhaps, that in the very dislocation of our beliefs and the transvaluation of all our values which will enable us to see more deeply into the problem, and with this insight find means to its eventual solution.

II

It is patent to all observant minds that the situation in religion today differs in important respects from that of previous periods of western culture. The dominant attitude of the nineteenth century -- to go no further back -- may be described as a recognition of the values enshrined in religion -- more especially of the Christian religion -- independently of any 'creed,' or the cosmic and metaphysical basis of religion. An 'irreligion of the future,' to which many confidently looked, was felt to be wholly compatible with the very values which European religion had . . .

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