Historical Reprints Religion Idea of God in Early Religions, The

Idea of God in Early Religions, The

Idea of God in Early Religions, The
Catalog # SKU1875
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name F. B. Jevons


The Idea of God
in Early Religions

F. B. Jevons

'The religious phenomenon, studied as an inner fact, and apart from ecclesiastical or theological complications, has shown itself to consist everywhere, and at all its stages, in the consciousness which individuals have of an intercourse between themselves and higher powers with which they feel themselves to be related.



1 Introduction

2 The Idea Of God In Mythology

3 The Idea Of God In Worship

4 The Idea Of God In Prayer

5 The Idea And Being Of God



This intercourse is realised at the time as being both active and mutual.' The book now before the reader deals with the religious phenomenon, studied as an inner fact, in the earlier stages of religion. By 'the Idea of God' may be meant either the consciousness which individuals have of higher powers, with which they feel themselves to be related, or the words in which they, or others, seek to express that consciousness.

Those words may be an expression, that is to say an interpretation or a misinterpretation, of that consciousness. But the words are not the consciousness: the feeling, without which the consciousness does not exist, may be absent when the words are spoken or heard. It is however through the words that we have to approach the feeling and the consciousness of others, and to determine whether and how far the feeling and the consciousness so approached are similar in all individuals everywhere and at all stages.

Every child that is born is born of a community and into a community, which existed before his birth and will continue to exist after his death. He learns to speak the language which the community spoke before he was born, and which the community will continue to speak after he has gone. In learning the language he acquires not only words but ideas; and the words and ideas he acquires, the thoughts he thinks and the words in which he utters them, are those of the community from which he learnt them, which taught them before he was born and will go on teaching them after he is dead. He not only learns to speak the words and think the ideas, to reproduce the mode of thought, as he does the form of speech, of the circumambient community: he is taught and learns to act as those around him do-as the community has done and will tend to do. The community-the narrower community of the family, first, and, afterwards, the wider community to which the family belongs-teaches him how he ought to speak, what he ought to think, and how he ought to act. The consciousness of the child reproduces the consciousness of the community to which he belongs-the common consciousness, which existed before him and will continue to exist after him.

The common consciousness is not only the source from which the individual gets his mode of speech, thought and action, but the court of appeal which decides what is fact. If a question is raised whether the result of a scientific experiment is what it is alleged by the original maker of the experiment to be, the appeal is to the common consciousness: any one who chooses to make the experiment in the way described will find the result to be of the kind alleged; if everyone else, on experiment, finds it to be so, it is established as a fact of common consciousness; if no one else finds it to be so, the alleged discovery is not a fact but an erroneous inference.

Now, it is not merely with regard to external facts or facts apprehended through the senses, that the common consciousness is accepted as the court of appeal. The allegation may be that an emotion, of a specified kind-alarm or fear, wonder or awe-is, in specified circumstances, experienced as a fact of the common consciousness. Or a body of men may have a common purpose, or a common idea, as well as an emotion of, say, common alarm. If the purpose, idea or emotion, be common to them and experienced by all of them, it is a fact of their common consciousness. In this case, as in the case of any alleged but disputed discovery in science, the common consciousness is the court of appeal which decides the facts, and determines whether what an individual thinks he has discovered in his consciousness is really a fact of the common consciousness. The idea of powers superior to man, the emotion of awe or reverence, which goes with the idea, and the purpose of communicating with the power in question are facts, not peculiar to this or that individual consciousness, but facts of the common consciousness of all mankind.

Softcover, 8¼" x 5¼, 130+ pages

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