Historical Reprints Religion Psychology of Religion: Human Origin of Morals

Psychology of Religion: Human Origin of Morals

Psychology of Religion: Human Origin of Morals
Catalog # SKU1004
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Joseph McCabe


The Psychology
of Religion
The Human Origin
of Morals


Joseph McCabe

Two great essays in one volume.
The evolution of psychology is a proof that science has not yet completely emancipated itself from its serfdom to religious beliefs. It was originally a branch of philosophy, and its chief purpose was to serve religion by furnishing convincing proofs that the soul is spiritual and immortal. In proportion as the methods of science were adopted in it, and arguments of a philosophical character were eliminated, the aim of the science was changed. Half a century ago it abandoned the word "soul," and it threw out the question of immortality as a minor irrelevance to be wrangled over by Materialists, Christians, Spiritualists, and Theosophists.


Personal experiences count in the psychology of their religion only because they already believe. For ages man believed that the summer's crop, the rain supply, the fertility of the cattle, depended upon the gods, and this gave him a bias toward religion; but, obviously, the belief is the primary thing. Personal reasoning, on the other hand, has very little to do with religion in this largest class of worshipers. The world seems to them, in such dull gleams of reflection as they have, to be quite in harmony with their religion. The prosperity of the wicked and suffering of the good will be put right in the next world, and so on. Doubt never occurs to the overwhelming majority, and reason is not invoked to allay it. The stream of religious tradition flows placidly on.

The general truth of this, and the points at which variations begin to appear, can be seen best in America by studying the colored people. I have seen a body of colored worshipers in chapel, and have seen just the same frenzy at a political meeting for the abolition of the color-line and even in moving picture theaters, when Tom Mix or Duck Jones or Rin Tin Tin dashed upon the screen at the critical moment to save the heroine. I have listened for an hour to those chants or hymns which the colored folk of the south compose, and which give the finest expression of colored piety.

The emotions are just the same as in courtship or politics. The objects of the emotions differ, and are provided solely by tradition, maintained chiefly in their own interest by preachers. And in the same colored population you see where the religion based solely on tradition passes into a religion based partly on personal experience. In the towns the colored folk hear skepticism, and the preachers buttress their faith for them with naive versions of the usual "Proofs." Once, at a colored meeting in Chicago, where my friend, Bishop Brown poured into his audience some scathing shots at orthodox Christianity, I noticed that large numbers even of the women shrieked with the same joy that they had once felt in chapel.

Paperback, 5 x 8, 110+ pages


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