The Making of Religion eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 426 pages of information about The Making of Religion.

It may be retorted that this makes no real difference.  If savages did not invent gods in consequence of a fallacious belief in spirit and soul, still, in some other equally illogical way they came to indulge the hypothesis that they had a Judge and Father in heaven.  But, if the ghost theory of the high Gods is wrong, as it is conspicuously superfluous, that does make some difference.  It proves that a widely preached scientific conclusion may be as spectral as Bathybius.  On other more important points, therefore, we may differ from the newest scientific opinion without too much diffident apprehensiveness.

[Footnote 1:  Principles of Sociology, i. 417, 421.  ’The medicine men are treated as gods....  The medicine man becomes a god after death.’]

[Footnote 2:  I have published a chapter on Myths on the Origin of Death in Modern Mythology.]

[Footnote 3:  Prim.  Cult. ii. 311-316.]

[Footnote 4:  Jevons, Introduction, p. 197.]

[Footnote 5:  Robertson Smith. The Prophets of Israel, p. 61.]

[Footnote 6:  Evolution of the Idea of God, p. 170.]



It is among ‘the lowest savages’ that the Supreme Beings are most regarded as eternal, moral (as the morality of the tribe goes, or above its habitual practice), and powerful.  I have elsewhere described the Bushman god Cagn, as he was portrayed to Mr. Orpen by Qing, who ’had never before seen a white man except fighting.’  Mr. Orpen got the facts from Qing by inducing him to explain the natives’ pictures on the walls of caves.  ‘Cagn made all things, and we pray to him,’ thus:  ’O Cagn, O Cagn, are we not thy children?  Do you not see us hunger?  Give us food.’  As to ethics, ’At first Cagn was very good, but he got spoilt through fighting so many things.’  ‘How came he into the world?’ ’Perhaps with those who brought the Sun:  only the initiated know these things.’  It appears that Qing was not yet initiated in the dance (answering to a high rite of the Australian Bora) in which the most esoteric myths were unfolded.[1]

In Mr. Spencer’s ‘Descriptive Sociology’ the religion of the Bushmen is thus disposed of.  ’Pray to an insect of the caterpillar kind for success in the chase.’  That is rather meagre.  They make arrow-poison out of caterpillars,[2] though Dr. Bleek, perhaps correctly, identifies Cagn with i-kaggen, the insect.

The case of the Andaman Islanders may be especially recommended to believers in the anthropological science of religion.  For long these natives were the joy of emancipated inquirers as the ‘godless Andamanese.’  They only supply Mr. Spencer’s ‘Ecclesiastical Institutions’ with a few instances of the ghost-belief.[3] Yet when the Andamanese are scientifically studied in situ by an educated Englishman, Mr. Man, who knows their language, has

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The Making of Religion from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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