Historical Reprints Religion Religion and Sex

Religion and Sex

Religion and Sex
Catalog # SKU3324
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Chapman Cohen
ISBN 10: 1610336887
ISBN 13: 9781610336888


Religion and Sex

Studies in the Pathology
Religious Development

Chapman Cohen

In spite of all that has been done in the way of applying scientific principles to religious ideas, there is much that yet remains to be accomplished. Generally speaking science has only dealt with the subject of religion in its more normal and more regularised forms.

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The last half-century has produced many elaborate and fruitful studies of the origin of religious ideas, while comparative mythology has shown a close and suggestive relationship between creeds and symbols that were once believed to have nothing in common. But beyond these fields of research there is at least one other that has hitherto been denied the attention it richly deserves. When the anthropologist has described those conditions of primitive culture amid which he believes religious ideas took their origin, and the comparative mythologist has shown us the similarities and inter-relations of widely separated creeds, religious beliefs have yet to submit to the test of a scientific psychology, the function of which is to determine how far the same principles apply to all phases of mental life whether religious or non-religious. Moreover, in addition to the normal psychical life of man, there is that vast borderland in which the normal merges into the abnormal, and the healthy state into a pathologic one. That there is a physiology of religion is now generally admitted; but that there is also a pathology of religion is not so generally recognised.

The present work seeks to emphasise this last aspect. It does not claim to be more than an outline of the subject-a sketch map of a territory that others may fill in more completely.

From another point of view the following pages may be regarded as an attempt more completely to apply scientific principles to religious beliefs. And it would be idle to hope that such an attempt could be made without incurring much hostile criticism. In connection with most other subjects the help of science is welcomed; in connection with religion science is still regarded as more or less of an intruder, profaning a sacred subject with vulgar tests and impertinent enquiries. This must almost inevitably follow when one has to face the opposition of thousands of men who have been trained to regard themselves as the authorised exponents of all that pertains to religion, but whose training fails to supply them with a genuine scientific equipment.

It should, however, be clear that an attitude of hostility to science, veiled or open, cannot be maintained. Mere authority has fallen on evil days, and in all directions is being freely challenged. There is increasing dislike to systems of thought that shrink from examination, and to conclusions that cannot withstand the most rigorous investigation. And if science really has anything of value to say on this question it cannot be held to silence for ever. Sooner or later the need for its assistance will be felt, and the self-elected authority of an order must give way. It is, moreover, impossible for science with its claim, sometimes avowed, but always implied, to cover the whole of life, to forego so large a territory as that of religion. For there can be no reasonable question that religion has played, and still plays a large part in the life of the race.

Whatever be the nature of religion, science is bound either to deal with it or confess its main task to be hopeless. Whether or not it is possible to apply known scientific principles to the whole of religion will be a matter of opinion; but the attempt is at least worth making. So much that appeared to be beyond the reach of science has been ultimately brought within its ken, so many things that seemed to stand in a class by themselves have been finally brought under some more comprehensive generalisation, and so become part of the 'cosmic machine,' that one is impelled to believe that given time and industry the same will result here. And it should never be forgotten that one aspect of scientific progress has been the taking over of large tracts of territory that religion once regarded as peculiarly its own; and just as psychology and pathology were found to hold the key to an understanding of such a phenomenon as witchcraft, so we may yet realise that a true explanation of religious phenomena is to be found, not in some supernatural world, but in the workings of natural forces imperfectly understood.

The defences set up by theologians against the scientific advance may be summarised under two heads. It is claimed that the 'facts' of the religious life belong to a world of inner experience, to a state of spiritual development which brings the subject into touch with a super-sensuous world not open to the normal human being, and with which science, as ordinarily understood, is incompetent to deal. In essence this is a very old position, and contains the kernel of 'mysticism' in all ages, from the savage state onward. This position involves a very obvious begging of the question at issue. It assumes that all attempts to correlate religious phenomena with phenomena in general have failed, and that all future attempts are similarly doomed to failure.

Of course nothing of the kind has been shown. On the contrary, the aim of the present work is to show that no dividing line can be drawn between those states of mind that have been and are classed as religious, and those that are admittedly non-religious. For various reasons I have dealt almost entirely with those conditions that are admittedly pathological, but I believe it would be possible to prove the same of all normal frames of mind and emotional states. Any human quality may be enlisted in the service of religion, but there are none that are specifically religious. It is a pure assumption that the religious visionary possesses qualities that are either absent or rudimentary in other persons. Human faculty is everywhere identical although the form in which it is expressed differs according to education, the presence of certain dominating ideas, and the general influence of one's environment.

To admit the claim of the mystic is to surrender all hope of a scientific co-ordination of life. It is quite fatal to the scientific ideal and involves the re-introduction into nature of a dualism the removal of which has been one of the most marked advantages of scientific thinking.

372 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover
ISBN-10: 1610336887
ISBN-13: 9781610336888

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