The Religions of Mankind

By Edmund Davison Soper | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF RELIGION

THE ORIGIN OF RELIGION

ABOUT a half century ago Sir John Lubbock, in his volume Prehistoric Times, attempted to show that religion was not universal, that there were tribes of men scattered fairly widely over the earth which had no religion, no worship, no belief in higher powers with whom they were related. Professor Robert Flint felt it necessary in his Baird Lecture for 1877, Anti-Theistic Theories, to answer Sir John Lubbock at length. The interesting thing is that the answer followed the same method as the argument it was answering. In each case reports from travelers and others were studied and criticized to determine as nearly as possible what the actual condition of the tribes under scrutiny indicated. The conclusion reached by Professor Flint was this: "An impartial examination of the relevant facts, is appears to me, shows that religion is virtually universal."1

Such a claim as that of Sir John Lubbock is no longer made. Not only has the more careful study of savages led to a deeper understanding of their life, but psychology has been developing as a science by leaps and bounds, and has made almost unnecessary any further investigation among savages themselves to determine the fundamental question of the essential religious nature of man. But even before this development had not more than begun, Professor Flint had sensed the conclusions reached by psychology in a more recent time and declared that 'the world has been so framed, and the mind so constituted, that man, even in his lowest estate, and all over the world, gives evidence of possessing religious perceptions and emotions."2 This could scarcely be better expressed by the most modern of our psychologists, even though the technical terms might be a little

____________________
1
Page 288.
2
Anti-Theistic Theories, p. 288.

-35-

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The Religions of Mankind
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface to Revised Edition 11
  • Preface to First Edition 13
  • Chapter I - The Study of Religion 15
  • Chapter II - The Origin and Growth of Religion 35
  • Chapter III - Animistic Religion 55
  • Chapter IV - Egypt and Mesopotamia 91
  • Chapter V - Greece and Rome 117
  • Chapter VI - The Religion of Zoroaster 145
  • Chapter VII - Hinduism 163
  • Chapter VIII - Buddhism 192
  • Chapter IX - The Religion of the Chinese 224
  • Chapter X - The Religions of Japan 246
  • Chapter XI - Judaism 267
  • Chapter XII Mohammedanism 286
  • Chapter XIII - Christianity 318
  • Index 351
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