Man's Quest for Social Guidance: The Study of Social Problems

By Howard W. Odum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII
RELIGION AND SOCIETY

Religion and Conflict . In the previous chapter we enumerated at length a number of the aspects of conflict between religion and science as manifested in the general attitude of large numbers of the common folk in America. In that chapter we mentioned this conflict in connection with the larger task of education needed to bridge the distance between the advanced stage of knowledge and civilization and the majority of the people who have not had opportunity for contacts and education commensurate with their need. The most critical phase of this conflict is the deep misunderstanding between religion and various manifestations of social change. So true is this that the disharmony appears to be, for the time being, one of the major social forces of this era.

An Era Prolific in Discussion . Next to fiction and volumes on social subjects there have been published a larger number of books dealing with various phases of the conflict between religion and science than in any other field. Of the total of 9,225 volumes published in the United States in 1926, 933 dealt with religious subjects, as compared with the next largest number, 544, on sociology. In Great Britain, out of a total of 12,799 volumes, 863 were devoted to religion, with the next highest number, 848, to sociology. These are exclusive of fiction and juveniles. Indeed, as Professor Hankins points out in his comprehensive review of literature on this subject, in Social Forces for May, 1925.

One who has followed the output of literature during the past halfdozen years must have been impressed with the great interest thereby revealed in things religious. Professor Giddings has advanced the generalization that an era of peace and plenty is an era of doubt and skepticism, but an era of war and social crisis is an era of faith and mysticism. Certain it is that the war intensified certain religious controversies, opened afresh questions pertaining to the Christian way of life and the rôle of the Church, and gave a powerful impetus to Fundamentalism, Anti-Evolutionism and Anti-Intellectualism. The conflict of science

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