ANIMISM - Prehuman-Elements-in-Religion

In an article on " Democracy and Rehuman action," in the Nineteenth Century of  April, 1905, Mr. John Morley remarks that if we want platitude, there is nothing like a definition. Perhaps most definitions hang between platitude and paradox.
There are said to be ten thousand definitions of Religion." One of these is supplied by Parson Thwackum in Tom Jones.
" When I mention religion, I mean the Christian religion, and not only the Christian religion, but the Protestant religion, and not only the Protestant religion, but the Church of England."
That easy-going cleric expressed what is in the minds of the majority of people when the word "religion" is used. He lived before the birth of the science of comparative theology; those who have applied its methods and profited


by its results can pass in larger sympathy from specific creeds to partake of the universal spirit which every creed strives to embody.

To have done this is to have grasped the distinction between Religion and Theology, between what is fundamental and what is accidental, between that which is one in essence and abiding, and that which is manifold and fleeting.
For religion was before all theologies, which are but concrete and partial aspects of it.
It is before them all, being born of the emotions; and unaffected by them all, being independent of readjustments of creeds and dogmas. In that storehouse of fact and suggestion, Primitive Culture, Dr. Tylor remarks that "no religion hes in utter isolation from the rest, and the thoughts and principles of modem Christianity are attached to intellectual clues which run back through far pre-Christian ages to the very origin of human civilization, perhaps even of human existence."
One object of the present brief treatise is to pursue those clues still farther back, even beyond the human to the pre-human in the hfe-history of our globe. For nearly every book on the Origin of Religion assumes a non-religious stage
1 Vol. i. p. 421.

Animism - The Seed of Religion

Main Library