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fully excluded all theories which ascribe the origin of religion either to innate ideas or to supernatural revelation. I had placed myself completely on what is called the positivist platform. We are told, I said !, 'that all knowledge, in order to be knowledge, must pass through two gates and two gates only, the gate of the senses, and the gate of reason. Religious knowledge also, whether true or false, must have passed through these two gates. At these two gates therefore we take our stand. Whatever claims to have entered in by any other gate, whether that gate be called primeval revelation or religious instinct, must be rejected as contraband of thought; and whatever claims to have entered in by the gate of reason, without having first passed through the gate of the senses, must equally be rejected, as without sufficient warrant, or. ordered at least to go back to the first gate, in order to produce there its full credentials 2.'
Religion a Psychological Necessity ? Of course, if the psychological analysis of the earliest religious concepts as I had given it is correct, —and no one, I believe, has denied the simple facts on which it rests—it follows that religion is a psychological necessity, and not, as positivist philosophers maintain, a mere hallucination or a priestly fraud. This, I believe, is the real reason why my own explanation of religion, though admitted to be im
1 Hibbert Lectures, 226; Gruppe, p. 218.
2 Das ist das berühmte Müller'sche System, welches eine beson. ders eingehende Würdigung erfordert, nicht allein wegen der persönlichen Bedeutung seines Urhebers, sondern mehr noch weil es der beredteste und systematischeste Ausdruck einer Auffassung ist. von welcher aus eine ganze Reihe hervorragender religionsgeschicht: licher Werke anderer Forscher geschrieben sind.' Gruppe, p. 220.
pregnable, has been so fiercely condemned by the positivists themselves. But it is one thing to condemn, another to refute. I should have thought that my critics would have welcomed my admission, Nihil est in fide quod non antea fuerit in sensu, with open arms. But no, they will hear of no psychological, of no historical explanation of one of the greatest psychological and historical facts in the world, namely religion. If anything, however, is absurd, it is surely to imagine that by shutting our eyes, we can annihilate facts. Is not religion as solid a fact as language, law, art, science, and all the rest ? We may, if we like, disapprove of every one of these achievements of the human mind; but even then we cannot get rid of the problem as to how they came to exist. Unless, therefore, some intelligible arguments can be advanced against what I have put forward as the conditio sine quâ non of all religion, I shall for the present consider the following points as firmly established :
1. That, like all other experience, our religious experience begins with the senses ;
2. That though the senses seem to deliver to us finite experiences only, many, if not all, of them can be shown to involve something beyond the known, something unknown, something which I claim the liberty to call infinite;
3. That in this way the human mind was led to the recognition of undefined, infinite agents or agencies beyond, behind, and within our finite experience; and
4. That the feelings of fear, awe, reverence and love excited by the manifestations of some of these agents or powers began to react on the human mind,
and thus produced what we call Natural Religion in its lowest and simplest form--fear, awe, reverence, and love of the gods 1,
History v. Theory. After we have once established these premisses, there are two ways open for the study of Natural Religion. We may try to find out by means of abstract reasoning what ideas would naturally spring from these simple premisses, how the perception of the Infinite could be realised in language, and what could or could not be predicated of those undefined
1 I doubt whether the writer of an interesting article in the Scots Magazine, Feb. 1889, can have attended all my lectures at Glasgow. He says that my definition of religion seemed to him to labour under four objections:
1. "That it is not traced back to the promiscuum (read proximum) genus, just as much and just as little as the definition modus cognoscendi, etc.' But my definition traces religion back to one proximum genus only, and not to two. It traces it back to experience, and nothing else, not to both cognoscere and colere.
2. That it is expressed in terms which require definition.' I say no, unless I have laboured in vain in trying to show that the ex. perience of the infinite is as palpable as that of the finite. The infinite in this its simplest and most primitive sense seems to me to require no further definition, nay to admit of none, whereas the concept of Deus is so full of historical ingredients that it almost defies definition.
3. He doubts 'whether my definition of religion, though it may include Buddhism, would include Fetishism.' Fetishism is, as I believe to have shown, the very last corruption of religion; but even in that corrupt form religion is based on the perception of something beyond the actual in the actual. And even if the fetish is coerced by blows instead of being importuned by prayers, the moral element is still present in the act of the worshipper.
4. My critic says that there are some religions which do not affect moral character, but only move the individual to the mechanical performance of certain external acts. Yes, but these are again corruptions of religion, and perfectly intelligible in their downward movement. Would any one say that a Megatherion ought not to be defined as a living animal, because we know it in its petrified form only ?
agents or agencies that had been discovered behind, or above, or within nature.
Theory. It might be asked, for instance, whether the human mind could be satisfied with an indefinite number of such beings, or whether after a time the mere love of simplicity would lead on to the admission of one supreme being only.
Again, it might be asked whether anything beyond mere existence could be predicated of the infinite, or whether, after the existence of supernatural powers has been admitted and their number fixed, any further qualities could be ascribed to them.
We know that the answer, which was given, quite regardless as yet of historical facts, has been that it could be done in three ways, and in three ways only.
Causalitas. First, these beings might be looked upon, not as identical with nature, but as behind nature; not as what is, but as the cause of what is; or, in the earliest stages of human thought and language, as makers, shapers, fathers, and rulers of the world. This is the conception of the divine per viam causalitatis.
Secondly, as they were conceived as powerful and perfect, whatever qualities seemed most excellent in human nature, might be safely ascribed to them in a supreme degree. This is the conception of the divine per viam eminentiae.
Negatio. Thirdly, whatever seemed imperfect in human nature, or at all events, weak and limited, could
safely be negatived of divine beings, per viam negationis.
Cosmological, Teleological, Ontological Arguments. Again, the so-called proofs of the existence of divine beings or in the end of one Supreme God, the Cosmological, Teleological, and Ontological, might be examined and reasoned out, without any reference to the history of religious thought.
All this might be done, and has been done and well done, and I have little doubt that some of the lecturers on Lord Gifford's foundation will do full credit to this side of our subject, to what is generally called the Philosophy of Religion.
Historical Method. I myself, however, am not going to follow this course, and this for various reasons. First of all, the philosophy of religion has such eminent representatives in Scotland, and more particularly in this University, that I should feel it presumptuous on my part to treat a subject which has been much better treated in this place than I could hope to do.
Secondly, all my own special studies have been devoted to the history of religion, and I can hardly be mistaken in supposing that it was for this reason that I was chosen to fill this lectureship.
Thirdly, I must openly confess that I have great faith in history, as showing to us, if not the best possible, at all events the only real arguments in support of the tenets of Natural Religion. To the philosopher the existence of God may seem to rest on à syllogism ; in the eyes of the historian it rests on the whole evolution of human thought.