The Making of Religion eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 351 pages of information about The Making of Religion.

[Footnote 16:  J.  Anthrop.  Inst. 1886, p. 310.]

[Footnote 17:  J.  Anthrop.  Inst. 1885, p. 313.]

[Footnote 18:  J.  Anthrop.  Inst. xiii. p. 459.]

[Footnote 19:  Ecclesiastical Institutions, p. 674.]

[Footnote 20:  Prim.  Cult. ii. 450.]

[Footnote 21:  Cranz, pp. 198, 199.]

[Footnote 22:  Journal Anthrop.  Inst. xiii. 348-356.]

[Footnote 23:  Rom. i. 19.  Cranz, i. 199.]

[Footnote 24:  In Mr. Carr’s work, The Australian Race, reports of ‘godless’ natives are given, for instance, in the Mary River country and in Gippsland.  These reports are usually the result of the ignorance or contempt of white observers, cf.  Tylor, i. 419.  The reader is referred to the Introduction for additional information about Australian beliefs, and for replies to objections.]

XI

SUPREME GODS NOT NECESSARILY DEVELOPED OUT OF ‘SPIRITS’

Before going on to examine the high gods of other low savages, I must here again insist on and develop the theory, not easily conceived by us, that the Supreme Being of savages belongs to another branch of faith than ghosts, or ghost-gods, or fetishes, or Totems, and need not be—­probably is not—­essentially derived from these.  We must try to get rid of our theory that a powerful, moral, eternal Being was, from the first, ex officio, conceived as ‘spirit;’ and so was necessarily derived from a ghost.

First, what was the process of development?

We have examined Mr. Tylor’s theory.  But, to take a practical case:  Here are the Australians, roaming in small bands, without more formal rulers than ‘headmen’ at most; not ancestor worshippers; not polytheists; with no departmental deities to select and aggrandise; not apt to speculate on the Anima Mundi.  How, then, did they bridge the gulf between the ghost of a soon-forgotten fighting man, and that conception of a Father above, ‘all-seeing,’ moral, which, under various names, is found all over a huge continent?  I cannot see that this problem has been solved or frankly faced.

The distinction between the Australian deity, at his highest power, unpropitiated by sacrifice, and the ordinary, waning, easily forgotten, cheaply propitiated ghost of a tribesman, is essential.  It is not easy to show how, in ‘the dark backward’ of Australian life, the notion of Mungan-ngaur grew from the idea of the ghost of a warrior.  But there is no logical necessity for the belief in the evolution of this god out of that ghost.  These two factors in religion—­ghost and god—­seem to have perfectly different sources, and it appears extraordinary that anthropologists have not (as far as I am aware) observed this circumstance before.

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The Making of Religion from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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