The Psychology of Religion
The Human Origin of Morals
Our Age Of Psychology
Some years ago I wrote a work, The Evolution of Mind, in which I used almost the entire teaching of four or five branches of science to throw light on one single issue: whether mind is a function of the nervous system and how, as such, it came into being. I then held the eccentric opinion that the first object of any science was to tell us the nature of the reality or realities it studied; that the first question which thoughtful people would put to a science of mind is, in view of the world-wide interest in the subject, whether the mind is a spiritual intruder in a material universe or merely a function of the steadily developing nervous system. And the only men who failed to appreciate my work were the psychologists. "That," said a St. Louis professor, fraternally but firmly, to me, "is not psychology."
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.
Then psychology ceased to concern itself about the nature of the mind or consciousness, and declared that its aim was to study states of consciousness. How there could be "states" of something without something of which they were states was left to philosophers, but thirty or forty years ago the common phrase was that all that we had to study was a stream of states of consciousness. Now, in the current joke, psychology has even "lost consciousness," and the unfortunate person who wants really to know what mind is -- a question the answer to which is supposed to affect the very foundation of human life -- finds no guidance or assistance in any branch of science or even in modern philosophy.
And thus there came about the paradox of modern psychology, that it spreads itself over a field of vast extent and steadily refuses to consider the chief question that occurs to the mind about itself. We have a psychology of everything, from education to salesmanship, from the heroine of the novel or the film to the art of advertising, from the baby to the bishop, from the criminal to the saint. In another ten years we shall have psychologies of wallpapers, soft drinks (I have heard an expert divide humanity into white coffee and black coffee people), tooth-brushes, cigarettes, neckwear, and griddle cakes. About a million people in America make a good living out of the other hundred and fifteen millions by psychologizing about them. The store, the studio, and the school reek with psychology. It explains everything, from the commission and detection of crime to the baby's love of mud and its grandpa's weakness for erotic films.
How much more we know about human nature than Abraham Lincoln or Oliver Wendell Holmes did I am not quite sure, but, setting aside all the humorous exaggerations and commercial exploitations of the word, the ideal is excellent. We are to apply scientific method -- which in the long run means merely more careful observation -- to every form of human behavior. The only groan of the pessimist that is worth a moment's consideration is his plea that our conduct is no wiser or better than that of the Athenians of two thousand years ago or of the Egyptians and Babylonians of four thousand years ago. Let us, by all means, give the stars and electrons and buried fossils a spell of rest, and turn this very wonderful apparatus of science upon life. Let us have a quite candid, scientific analysis of the behavior of pivotal people like the politician and his agent, the policeman, the preacher, the storekeeper (as well as the customer), the reformer, and so on.
Anyhow, since the religious part of man's behavior is said to be the most important and most interesting of all, it ought to be the first to attract the psychologic eye. Here, however, the shadow of the great prohibitionist Moses lies across the path, and the psychologist either turns away or becomes remarkably timid and accommodating. We have had a score of works on the psychology -- of religion in the last twenty years, and they are all bad. You may take the most sagacious writer of them all, William James (Varieties of Religious Experience), and if you care to make a real study of any one of the religious characters that he reviews -- say St. Augustine -- you will realize that his "Psychology" is a very different thing from accurate biography. Other professors write thousands of pages on the subject, carefully premising that what they say must not be regarded as a criticism of the value of religion, but you do not feel much clearer in the end as to why your neighbor holds religious views, or why your wife or daughter should be distressed to the marrow of her dear little soul because you won't go to church.
The best recent book on the subject, and a comparatively small book, is An Introduction to the Psychology of Religion (1923) by R. H. Thouless, lecturer on psychology in a British university. He hits the nail on the head. Unfortunately, he also hammers the boards a good deal in the usual style, but he does give a sensible analysis of ordinary religious belief. He correctly says that the task is to "express the workings of the mind when it is religious in terms of the mental processes we have discovered in secular psychology." He avoids the question of the origin of religion, which really, though it fascinates the professors as a rule, throws little or no light on religious belief today. We wore clothes originally to keep ourselves warm: we now wear them to keep other people cold. And Mr. Thouless will have none of these fantastic theories which "create a new and mystifying psychology for religion alone." We form religious beliefs, and have corresponding emotions, as we form political beliefs.
And here we find in this in many ways excellent book the same defect as in all the others. They almost entirely ignore -- generally do ignore entirely -- the most important element of all: priestcraft, by which I mean here simply the trade of the priest. He is no villain because he wants people to appreciate his wares, but the fact is that if he did not push them in the way he does, all the other "psychological" factors would amount to very little. Interest in politics would be feeble if there were no political orators, although political conduct is certainly concerned with grave realities of life. How much real interest in religion would there be if a hundred thousand clergymen did not make it their proper and very earnest business to keep that interest alive?
Most people have only to reflect, say, on all the people in their own block to realize this, but I will give here one historical illustration. The American population is especially composed of religious, and often fanatical, contingents from nations of the old world who had suffered persecution; and even in the last hundred years the main streams of immigration (Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish, etc.) have predominantly brought religious fanatics, because they naturally came from the poorest, least educated, and most overcrowded countries, which means the most religious.
Now consider the fortunes of the most fanatical of them all, the Roman Catholics, when the great expansion of the American people toward the Pacific took place in the nineteenth century. It is true that there were not priests enough to found chapels wherever a few hundred Catholics settled -- a difficulty which Rome can always overcome by consecrating German or Belgian peasants and drafting them abroad -- but the main point was that priests were generally disinclined to leave Boston and Philadelphia and rough it with the western pioneers. The result was that in a few decades literally millions of these fanatical Catholics lost all interest in religion. In 1836 Bishop England (Catholic bishop of Charlestown) was requested by Rome to draw up, in Rome, a careful statement of the facts. He estimated that between 1815 and 1836 the Church had lost 3,750,000 people. It was worse afterwards during the western expansion and the big Irish, Italian, and Polish invasions. I may deal with the matter in a later Little Blue Book, and will say here only that in 1891 a group of American Catholics addressed a memorial (the Lucerne Memorial) to the Pope bewailing that 16,000,000 had apostatized. The Vérité of Quebec made the same estimate, independently, in 1898. The New York Freeman's Journal in the same year put the loss at twenty millions, and I have shown from immigration analyses that the loss was at least fourteen or fifteen millions.
In other words, the most fanatical of all religious adherents fell away in masses when there were no priests to bother them, and, although priests came along as soon as there was money enough in any town to give a middle-class income to an ordained peasant, they never recovered the apostates or (in most cases) their children. I could fill a large volume with these concrete and overwhelming illustrations of the supreme importance of the priest or minister, yet he is scarcely ever mentioned In discussions of the psychology of religion. It would be "superficial" to explain religious belief in that way.... Anyhow, it would not be prudent.
You do not look for prudence, but plain English, in Haldeman-Julius publications, and we shall see here what amount of truth there is in the various psychologies of religion. We are going, together, to examine the religious beliefs of the men and women you actually know. Academic writers are very apt to construct their own "religious man," and too often they construct him to fit a preconceived theory of what he ought to be. Other writers take eccentric and exceptional types of believers and make general theories of religion out of their analysis of these. Let us try, as far as possible, to ascertain the actual attitudes of a very great variety of religious men and women -- there is, of course, no such thing as a religious type -- and see what influences give them the different shades of religious belief or emotion which most of us lack.
The Religion of Woman
And the first popular fallacy about the psychology of religion which we have to expose is the idea that women are in a very large proportion more religious than men. Here even the reader who finds me generally cautious about my facts and reasonable about my deductions will begin to protest. Surely, he will say, it is notorious in every land, has been notorious in all ages and literature, that woman is more religious than man. The clergy themselves almost universally believe it, and they ought to know.
Let me remind you that a great many things which are not true have been believed in all countries and ages, and many of these beliefs relate to woman. It has been universally believed that woman is more sensitive than man, yet it has been proved repeatedly in the psychological laboratories of America that she is not. It has been held widely in all literatures, and is widely held today, that a woman knows things by "intuition," and one need know little psychology to see that this is a miserable fallacy: that the "intuition" (which exists more abundantly in fiction than in life) is simply a hasty deduction, unconscious of its own premises. When I worked in the Feminist movement, ten to twenty years ago, I found it the quite general and dogmatic belief of my lady friends that woman is innately, or on principle more virtuous than man; and it was to them quite a new, though obvious, idea when I pointed out that if, in sexual intercourse, the male ran the risk of pregnancy, all the coyness and virtue would be on his side, and that familiarity with the use of preventives is already altering this distribution of virtue.
But let fact precede argument. In the last chapter I gave from American experience a set of facts which abundantly prove my thesis, that the chief influence in religious belief is the activity of the priest. Now let me give a set of facts from British life which are worth more than a volume of argument or psychology about the religion of woman.
In the years 1902-1903 there was an accurate and scientific enumeration of the people who go to church in the city of London. There had been a similar, though less systematic, enumeration in 1886, and religious people, encouraged by the optimistic assurances of their clergy, desired a fresh enumeration, which should make an end of this wicked cry that religion was in decay. An important metropolitan journal, under religious control, organized the census. It was spread over a year, so as to give a balance of good and bad weather, and it was conducted by religious, but broad-minded men. Every man, woman, and child of the six million people of London who went to church during that period was individually counted, and a liberal estimate of "twicers" (people who went twice on one Sunday) was deducted so as to give, approximately, the actual number of people who go to church more or less regularly in the largest city of the world.
To the general lessons of this census I return in another Little Blue Book, No. 365, Myths of Religious Statistics. Here I will say only that it showed a very marked decline of church-going between 1886 and 1903 -- the Church of England alone had lost 140,000 worshipers, although the population had very greatly increased -- that of 6,240,336 inhabitants of London only 1,252,433 went to church, and that there were less than 100,000 Roman Catholics in the six million people.
Most interesting of all was the division of the sexes: for the enumerators counted every man, woman, and child separately. I analyzed the figures, which are published in minute detail in the official report (The Religious Life of London, edited by R. Mudie Smith, 1904), in my Religion of Woman (1905). Omitting the Jews and taking the gross figures for Greater London (six million people), we have 372,264 men worshipers and 607,257 women worshipers. Most people are under the impression that the women outnumber the male worshipers by three or four to one. They are not even two to one. The above is an exact analysis of their proportions in a typical large city of an advanced modern civilization. And we must not forget that at the time women outnumbered men in the general population by about a million and a half. When we make allowance for that fact, we see that the greater religiosity of women merely means, at the outside, that three women go to church for every two men.
To get a little nearer to the truth we must examine this disproportion in different sects. There is no such thing as a typical religious psychology. The influences are quite different in different individuals, and we see this at once in these London figures. In the Church of Rome the women are more than twice as numerous as the men: in the Church of England less than twice as numerous: in the other churches much less than three to two. And where the local church is in a wealthy district -- where the men are generally college-educated and the services are more attractive esthetically -- the proportion of women worshipers reaches four to one. Taking four churches in the wealthier part of London, two Roman Catholic and two that call themselves English Catholic, the figures are:
• Brompton Oratory: 267 men and 1,105 women.
• Carmelite Church: 276 men and 807 women.
• Holy Trinity: 160 men and 880 women.
• Christ's Church: 249 men and 1,034 women.
The first of these was at the time the most ornate and wealthy Catholic church in England: the third was a ritualist Protestant church in the same wealthy district, and the Bishop of London was preaching there on the occasion of the census. In educated districts the Roman Catholic Church has habitually two to four times as many female worshipers as male.
The Nonconformist (Baptist, Wesleyan and Congregationalist) churches, on the other hand, have a disproportion of the sexes which is only slightly greater than their disproportion in the general population. In fact, we may say generally that Protestant or Evangelical churches in working class districts show (allowing for the larger number of females) little disproportion of the sexes. Here are the gross Protestant figures for three very large working class suburbs:
• East Ham: 4,996 men and 7,048 women.
• West Ham: 11,130 men and 16,230 women,
• Ilford: 4,585 men and 6,309 women.
In these districts, moreover, where the churches are not rich, where the music and "art" are poor and the men not well educated, even the Catholic women are not nearly twice as numerous in church as the men.
There is no reason whatever to think that London differs from American cities in this respect. In the large cities of what are called Catholic countries -- there are scarcely any such -- it is different. In Paris there are four women in church to one man. But in Protestant cities the proportion is likely to be about the same as in London. Susan B. Anthony once wrote that women form "from two-thirds to three-fourths of the membership of the Churches of America." She had no statistics to support that opinion, and we must be guided rather by the exact London statistics. Except where there is a special artistic attractiveness about the services, women-worshipers are not nearly twice as numerous as men-worshipers.
As the figures are loaded by this heavy disproportion of the sexes in ritualist places of worship, let us consider these first. It is quite a mistake to suppose that you explain it all by saying that woman is more emotional than man. Experimental psychology has shown, as I said, that she has not got a finer sensibility, a greater acuteness of sense-perception, than man, but it is clearly true that she is more emotional. Her functions and her sympathetic nervous system imply that. But there are several other things to be considered.
One is that priests make far greater efforts to secure female worshipers in wealthier than in poorer districts. The women are daintier and have ample leisure and more attractive homes. Visiting rich women is a delight to the priest: visiting poor women is -- I have, remember, lived in the clerical world -- a drudgery. Moreover, the visiting priest sees the women four times as much as he sees the men, and even the more pious women have their sense of his high sacerdotal character enhanced by sex-consciousness. The man is busy, he has lived in a skeptical atmosphere from college onward, he has no particular urge toward a priest of his own sex (he commonly distrusts him on account of his afternoon visits), and he has, as a rule, to leave his money to his family. The woman is the opposite in every respect. In other words, the fact that she is far more exposed to suggestion is the first thing to take into account.
Moreover, when we are explaining this heavy disproportion of the sexes in artistic ritualist churches, we have to consider another very important circumstance. Boys are nowadays rarely sent to sectarian schools, but girls are sent in very large numbers to be taught by nuns. From their teens onward the brother and sister are apt to come under quite different influences. The boy talks to other boys of every religion or none. The girl in a much higher proportion is expressly put in an environment which will promote and harden the habit of church-going. I do not mean that this great difference in the use of authority or suggestion explains the whole disproportion of sexes in ritualistic churches. The woman is more emotional than the man, and the express aim of these churches is to gratify her emotions. Yet, clearly, there are very many things to be taken into account besides her emotions. Priestcraft does not merely influence her more than it influences man. It is used against her far more than against the man. Considering that her education also is defective, she has far less chance of escaping. Already, as we are altering the college education of girls, we are rapidly lessening the disproportion of women in ritualistic churches.
These women, however, are a small minority. What concerns us more is the fact that generally, allowing for the fact that women far outnumber men, three women are religious to two men. What do we make of this? The exact figures I have given make the problem much smaller than most writers on the psychology of religion suppose it to be, and we need point only to a few influences or impulses to explain it.
That astute and fearless student of sex-matters, Mr. Havelock Ellis, has considered this situation (in his Man and Woman), but he started with the usual exaggerated idea of the religious disproportion of the sexes -- though he incidentally reminds us that of six hundred sects described in a dictionary of religions only seven were founded by women -- and I think this has colored his theory. He looks principally to the innate conservatism which the division of labor in family lite, especially in pre-civilized days, has given to woman. This and her greater emotionality and suggestibility, he thinks, explain the psychology of religion in this respect.
I distrust this theory of conservatism when I notice that the new sects (Theosophy, Christian Science, etc.) overwhelmingly attract women to their ranks. At all events, let us try first a less theoretical explanation.
We shall surely not be pushing an idea to extremes, but regarding the plain facts of life, if we say that the interest of the minister of religion makes him depend far more on the woman than on the man. He wants the children. From the fourth century onward it has been a tradition in the Christian Church that, if you have a mother or grown-up daughter zealous in a home, you have the best chance of securing the others. Priests will even (in broad language) urge wives to use their sex-attraction (by refusing or grudging it) in inducing a husband to go to church; and, in any case, hers is the chief influence on the children. It is, surely, an indisputable fact of life that she is exposed far more than the man is to priestly pressure.
Moreover, quite apart from wealth and education, the sex-instinct counts. The priest prefers women to men: women are drawn to priests far more than men are. Further differences arise from occupation and education. The man's business does not promote the frame of mind which church-going requires, while the monotonous work of the woman rather disposes her in favor of church-going. The man listens all his life to very free remarks about clergymen, religion, and sex, and such conversation rarely occurs in the presence of women. The man has had a more practical and realistic education, in school and in business, while the woman has much less occasion to develop the critical side of judgment. Quite a number of such contrasts could be enumerated.
In fine, there is strong confirmation of all this in the fact that, in proportion as we reduce the difference in education and environment between the sexes, we are reducing the disproportion of the sexes in religion. This generation is very apt to forget that the present comparative freedom of women Is a new thing. Two generations ago woman had, as a rule, from babyhood to old age, an entirely different experience from man. Now she gets the same education. She sports, smokes, drinks (since prohibition was adopted), swears, hears funny stories, has a club, works in an office, jazzes.... Ancient custom, lasting almost until this generation, explains more than psychology. It still lingers to a great extent. Many a man still regards the church mainly as an Insurance Society for the integrity of his property -- the faithfulness of his wife and chastity of his daughter -- and urges them to attend, while he goes to the club. It is a very complex question, yet simple in the sense that all the factors are very familiar matters. Woman goes to church far less than is generally supposed, and there is no need to seek mystic impulses in her nature to explain the slight disproportion of the sexes at worship.
Religion and Psycho-Analysis
This prosy analysis of the impulses at work in the mind and lite of a religious woman will give the reader some idea of my general attitude toward the subject of this Little Blue Book. If it seems, in comparison with some of the learned-looking essays you have read, superficial and materialistic, let me say that I learned it from the profound and spiritual authorities of my clerical years. "Things are not to be multiplied without necessity" is an axiom of Scholastic Theology: it means that, when you set out to explain a thing, you must try what known factors will explain before you drag in unknown. I want the reader to see for himself if, in his own sphere of observation, these many quite familiar agencies which I have enumerated do not suffice to explain the simple fact that there are three women worshipers to two male.
Thus since, like Professor Thouless, I find fanciful psychological explanations superfluous, I approach the Psycho-Analytic school on this subject in a critical mood. For reasons which cannot be discussed here the scientific world of our time suffers a perfect plague of new theories, most of which are the very truth for a few years and are then abandoned in out-of-date editions of encyclopedias. Indeed it is not merely the scientific world, but the general world of thought. Poets rage about new types of poetry, musicians about the "new music," sculptors about Rodin and Epstein, painters about Futurism and Cubism, and even economists and Socialists run on through a series of Marxian Socialism, Guild Socialism, Unionism, Direct Action, Credit Control, Anarchy, Soviet Socialism, etc., etc. It is not so much a new "psychology" in our generation as an expression of a new freedom and, particularly, a vast new literature, always itching for novelties, which broadcasts or megaphones every new idea and gives it a fictitious importance.
Having for thirty years observed philosophers, scientists, and economists hug their new theory for five or ten years and then discard it for another which was equally certain (and generally quite contradictory of the preceding), I have become in my mental attitude what I might describe as a conservative anarchist. I have no more respect for the authority of the hour than I have for the authority of Jesus Christ, Anthony Comstock, or the British or American Constitution....
Which means, in other words, that Psycho-Analysis may in the course of time shrink to the present size of Dergsonism, Futurism, Einsteinism, Mendelism, Modernism, Planetesimalism, etc. That, like most of these, it brings a permanent contribution to thought it seems safe to admit. But, quite apart from the commercial exploitation of it and the usual desperate applications of its principles to everything under the sun, it plainly has two of the familiar defects of new theories: it ignores or distorts many facts, and it has a great love of verbiage.
In its more familiar form, the Freud system, it seems to me, and now to most people, an extreme exaggeration of what is certainly a very large fact in life, sex; and when it is applied to religion it is quite untrue to experience. On this side there was a strong disposition on the part of thoughtful people to receive the Freudian explanation. As I have explained, the usual idea of the religiousness of women is very exaggerated, and the view was commonly taken that the repression of sex-feelings in unmarried girls and women was largely responsible. There is even now more sex-repression in young women than young men, though the situation is changing, but no one has ever clearly explained why the sort of poisoning or jaundicing of the psychic system by sex-repression should lead to greater religiousness.
I have read a new theory of something or other by a distinguished Psycho-Analyst which was, as he admitted, based upon "about a dozen" diagnoses. My own experience as a father-confessor (who is a kind of Psycho-Analyst) thirty years ago, in the course of which I heard thousands of confessions of young ladies, was that the bulk of them were no different in their attitude to religion than the men: that the really morbid amongst them were, though not married, by no means chaste; and that disorders of menstruation bad far more influence on them than suppressed sex-desire. At all events, the very plain influences I indicated in the last chapter do not leave much in the religious psychology of woman to be explained by sex, when we get the correct figures of disproportion of the sexes.
I have had the opportunity during recent years of making some study of the "psychology," in regard to religion, of young women between twenty and thirty. In few cases was there any serious religious feeling, though most of them belonged to one or other Church, and it seemed that, if anything, their sex-situation disposed them to rebel against religion. The clergy, as everybody knows, regard sexual feeling as the greatest cause of abandonment of religion; and I wonder if any would be so bold as to say that when young women in their twenties put an end to their sex-saturation by marriage they become less religious. It is, surely, rather the reverse. On the other hand, a very large acquaintance with Rationalist families convinces me that, when their daughters reach the stage of sex-development and repression they very rarely feel any new disposition toward religion. If they do begin to attend a church, as they sometimes do, the reason is confessedly social, recreational, or matrimonial.
Hence, while I have not space here to discuss the general truth of Freud's theory, I think that his application of it to religion is very theoretical, and it is certainly contrary to all my experience. That sex has nothing to do with the early evolution of religion itself I have explained in another volume, Little Blue Book No. 1008, The Origin of Religion. Religion is far older than phallic religion. Sex appears in connection with religion at a relatively high savage level, and what we call the religion of Melanesians, Australians, and still lower peoples is an attitude toward the spirits of the dead and the surrounding world in which there is not the slightest reason to suspect even a subconscious bias of sex. Its roots and causes are perfectly plain. It is entirely a matter of primitive reasoning on phenomena, tradition, and sentiments caused by these very definite and conscious beliefs.
It is said, in particular, that the very wide spread of a cult of a mother-goddess in old religions is due to the famous "Oedipus complex." Dr. E. Jones shortly defines this as "the impulse, gratified in primordial times, toward parricide and incest." Oedipus was the ancient Greek gentleman who, quite ignorant that they were his parents, having been reared in exile, slew his father and married his mother; and they were both so horrified when they learned their true relationship that Oedipus blinded himself, that he might never look his fellow mortals in the face again, and the mother killed herself. It is rather hard on the virtuous ancient Greeks that their Sunday School legend should be used to give a name to a supposed tendency of every male to hate his father and desire his mother. Oedipus never knew his parents. Moreover, it is a mere theory of certain fanciful sociologists (lightly adopted by H. G. Wells) that in "primordial times," the son, when he came to maturity, clubbed his father and mated with his mother. What about his sister, and the next man's daughter, who would be far more desirable? The facts even of lower savage life are entirely against the theory. As to ourselves and our Oedipus complex, I leave it to the reader, who knows just as much about it as Freud, to say if he thinks any large proportion of youths have an even subconscious desire of sexual intercourse with their mothers and are disposed on that account to hate their fathers. Life has a disconcerting way of being much less picturesque than our theories.
At all events, the mother-goddess has nothing to do with the Oedipus complex, because there is invariably a father god (generally the sky or sun) as well. The Cretan religion is the only one with a single female deity, and it is not primitive, but highly civilized. The mother-goddess is simply mother-earth fertilized by father-sky. It is a quite normal and healthy application to primitive religion (which existed long before this stage) of the ordinary sex-idea, not a taint from a subconscious poison.
Wherever this wonderful Oedipus complex, which seems to me totally false to the facts of life, is applied to religion, it is just as fantastical. One Psycho-Analyst writer uses it to explain Christ's love of his mother and indifference to his father. The facts are exactly the opposite. Taking the gospels for the moment as historical, but excluding John, which is notoriously a second-century romance, Jesus detested his mother, and was disliked by her, while his father seems to have died before the time described. Every word of Christ to or about his mother is harsh, and she joined his brothers in wanting to have the enthusiast put under restraint. He simply had the monastic (Essene) aversion from women.
In his Essays in Applied Psychology (1923) Dr. E. Jones tries several further applications of the new ideas to religion. The Oedipus practice of prehistoric men, we are told, is the root of the doctrine of original sin, and consequently of the Atonement. When the stage of morality was reached, men reacted with loathing upon the earlier practice of incest and called it the great sin or original sin. But the very few savage tribes which ever admitted incest with mothers -- we know hardly any -- are far below the level of ideas of original sin, and, when this legend appears, at the Babylonian and Egyptian level, there cannot possibly have been any knowledge of remote and obscure savages who practiced Oedipism. Moreover, the legend is as far removed from it as is the story of Jack the Giant-Killer.
Dr. Jones says that the characteristically Christian idea is surrender or subjection to the Father, not defiance of him. There, he says, you have the ethical reaction on Oedipism. Not in the least. The idea is not characteristically Christian, but is common to the whole group of pre-Christian religions with slain gods, and Frazer has plainly traced the whole evolution. The deity to be placated may be father or mother -- it is father in several religions besides Christianity -- but the primitive idea is that a god or representative of a god shall be slain lest he grow old and the fertility of the earth and men be reduced. (See Little Blue Book No. 1104., The Myth of the Resurrection.)
We are further told that the Holy Ghost was originally the mother goddess and was dislodged by reaction against Oedipism. The actual story of the evolution of the belief, which may be read in any history of dogma, is quite different. The Holy Ghost is an artificial creation out of words by the early Christian theologians, not a goddess turned male. The exclusion of Ishtar from Judea had nothing to do with a supposed Oedipus complex. It was due on the one hand to the Monotheism or monopoly imposed in their economic interest by the priests of Jahveh, and on the other to the ordinary Semitic contempt for women. Instead of showing any trace of an Oedipus complex, the Jews had a profound veneration for their fathers and precious little regard for their mothers.
In other words, the pressure of sex in the subconscious depths seems to have no more to do with the creation of specific religious beliefs than, as a rule, with the general religious attitude. In lands where there is no sex-repression in youth -- lndia, for instance -- people are far more religious than in a modern American city. Colored girls, who are not much tainted with sex-repression, are scarcely less religious than white college-girls. In poorer districts and countries (Ireland, for instance), where marriage is early, the girls are far more religious than in late-marriage circles. A hundred sets of facts of real life are against the theory. Sex-starvation or perversion is apt to make young women unhealthy, and in a few cases this may have a religious expression. Facts do not justify us in saying more than that.
Psycho-Analysis of the Jung and Adler type, which keeps the sex-impulse in its place and speaks rather of a general surge upward from the subconscious of old vital impulses, throws no light on religion. There is no reason why suppressed impulses should find a religious expression. But the chief weakness of writers of both schools who discuss religion -- and I am not concerned otherwise with the theories -- is that they assume that there is something in the religious mood or attitude which has not yet been explained by more familiar and conscious impulses. We shall see that there is not. The roots of religion are in the conscious mind.
The Religious Instinct
The next fallacy that we have to dismiss is the very common idea of writers on religion that there is a special urge or instinct or sense in the human breast which compels men and women to be religious. So frivolous are some of these serious and profound writers on religion that they only invented or discovered this religious instinct at a time when the general experience of the world entirely refuted it. No one heard of the religious instinct in the days when everybody was religious. It was invented when tens of millions of people in every advanced civilization abandoned all religion.
It was invented for the plain reason that the old type of argument for religion was being increasingly discredited. Deism shot to pieces the old arguments for Christianity in particular, which are based upon totally false historical statements. Then science and Agnosticism shattered the arguments for God and immortality. Apologists were reduced to the use of ancient "demonstrations" which had lost all intellectual respectability. Very well, they said, we will leave the material universe to science and the Bible to the Higher Critic. We will urge people to rely upon their own feelings about religion, and we will assure them that these are the pronouncements of a faculty, the religious sense, which is in its way as normal and authoritative as reason itself.
This idea grew out of the older psychology which is now entirely discarded. Instinct was supposed to be a "faculty" in the animal, and more feebly in man, just as reason, memory, will, etc., were "faculties." The word never meant more than a capability. If we can remember, desire, and reason, we obviously have, in a sense, the "faculties" to do these things. But the older philosophers and psychologists tended to take the abstract word in a more or less substantial sense. The "soul" was a spiritual substance, and its "faculties" were as real and distinct as the five senses. Today the soul and its faculties are regarded as relics of pre-scientific thought, and the idea that man has a special "faculty" for seeing religious truth has no meaning. The only real differences we can assign, are different regions of the brain for separate mental acts. Even Mrs. Besant has not ventured to find a brain-center for this religious faculty.
The word "instinct" was just as unfortunate. Half a century ago, when anthropology was imperfect, it was possible to hold that every branch of the human race believed in a God or gods. We have seen that this is quite false, but, while the belief lasted, the explanation of it was supposed to be that there was an instinct in human nature itself which impelled all men to believe in gods just as an instinct impelled all birds to mate and to build nests. The whole theory was miserably superficial even half a century ago. Since a crude reasoning power and a docility to tradition are actually common elements in all savages, the proper thing to do was to see if these would not explain the common religious beliefs. Savage belief is almost entirely a matter of blind acquiescence in tradition. Some writers -- Newman and others -- of the last generation even said that if children were brought up without either religious or anti-religious education, this "instinct" gave them religious sentiments and beliefs. You could test that today in the experience of millions of families. There is not a shred of truth in it.
Meantime science has made an end, not only of the supposed universality of belief in gods, but of the word instinct itself. We still, it is true, speak of an animal's habitual actions as instinctive, but we mean only that there is a certain structure or mechanism of nerve and muscle in an animal which acts automatically when it is stimulated. No matter how complex this mechanism may become by special evolution, it is always a mechanism. Of instinct as a "faculty" we know nothing.
The name is, therefore, altered, and we now generally read about a "religious sense." But the change of name is not of the slightest advantage to this antiquated and superficial theory. We know no "senses" except the special receptiveness or perceptiveness associated with differently constructed bodily organs, such as the eye and ear. Even what we call the internal sense is only a matter of the irritation of internal nerves. There is not the slightest analogy between what the physiologist or the psychologist calls our "senses" and what apologists call "the religious sense." You might just as well call it the religious diaphragm or selenium cell.
It is necessary to say this because religious writers blandly suppose that there are quite definite and recognizable meanings to their words when they talk about these things. There is no more definite meaning than there is in the mind of the pious but unphilosophical lady who says that God speaks "in her heart." And the more closely we examine what these writers mean, or can mean, the more clearly we see that this religious sense is manufactured, not as a theory to explain certain facts, but as a practical expedient to induce the faithful not to listen to skeptics. No psychologists will hear of it. Clerical writers alone are the "scientific" authorities for it. The idea of it is simply this: If you have a conviction that, let us say, there is a God, regard it as the authoritative declaration of some power in you which has as much right to a say in the matter as your reason.
But you have no right whatever to regard it as such if there is a plainer explanation of the presence of this conviction in you. In the long run the procedure is really humorous. A clergyman -- whether acting through the government in the school, or through parents in the home, or through clerical influence on the press, or directly in church -- plants in you from your earliest and most impressible days a conviction that there is a God. In children, obviously, such a conviction is a matter of authority. Most people remain children in that respect and never reflect on the ground of their conviction. Some may reflect on it, ask the reasons for belief, and consider them sound, but this "religious sense" is generally invoked in cases where there is some doubt about the soundness of the reasons. What it amounts to, therefore, is that the clergyman has implanted in you, directly or indirectly, a conviction that God exists, and he is now asking you to recognize this conviction itself as a proof of the existence of God! There is no other possible meaning in his appeal to your "inner voice" or "the whispers of your heart" or anything of that sort.
I once met a pompous ass of a believer who had this religious-sense theory in an exaggerated degree. It is not at all my custom to obtrude the question of religion in conversation, but somebody maliciously tried to draw the man into debate about God with me. He would say nothing but, with comic solemnity: "I know there is a God." He would not explain further, but his meaning was clear. He felt it. He sensed it. And there is but one possible form in which he could have given precise expression to his actual experience. He was visibly annoyed, but still silent, when I put it. It is: "I have a strong conviction that God exists."
A desperate apologist might say that, just as it is possible that such a man's conviction was due to education, it is also possible that it is due to a personal sense. You remember how Descartes, trying to bring his beliefs down to something which was absolutely certain, and might therefore be used as a safe foundation upon which to build, said: "I think, therefore I am." It is -- I should agree with Descartes anyway -- a plain declaration of the mind and is authoritative. Well, why may not some other voice or power or sense -- "Don't press me for exact definitions," this type of apologist implores -- say with equal authority within me: "God exists." The answer is simple. Things are not to be multiplied without necessity. You have a mind which is quite capable of saying to you, "God exists," and if you say that you have in addition this mystic voice, you must prove it. You can't. Your conviction may tell you a good deal about religion, but it can tell you nothing about itself.
In another volume (Little Blue Book No. 1060, The Futility of Belief in God) I have considered this religious sense or instinct from another point of view, and I gave there certain considerations which really dispense us from dealing further with it. The first is that it decreases as knowledge and intellectual development increase. The research which Professor Leuba (The Belief in God and Immortality), made into the proportion of believers and unbelievers amongst freshmen, sophomores, ordinary professors, and more distinguished professors affords very striking statistical evidence of this. As you rise in the scale of age and culture, the believers shrink from eighty to ten percent, the unbelievers grow from twenty to nearly ninety percent. Apart from this, it cannot be questioned that if you take five hundred farmers in Kentucky and compare them with five hundred university teachers, religious belief will be fairly solid amongst the farmers and absent from at least half the professors. It would be strange if a mental power grew feebler in proportion as we train and refine the mind. The real meaning is obvious. Religion is just an ordinary conviction in the mind and it is enfeebled when we accumulate knowledge, because it is essentially based upon ignorance. We see this on a very much broader scale in the collective experience of our time. There never was less religion in the world before, and there never was so much knowledge.
I further pointed out how this supposed religious sense gives entirely contradictory sentiments about religion, and even about God, in each different creed, sect, sub-sect, or phase of belief. The best educated religious believers of our time (Millikan, Lodge, Calkins, Adler, Pupin, etc.) are precisely the men different from each other as to the nature of God: and they all agree that the religious convictions of the crowd of pious believers are quite false. So belief has varied from age to age and country to country. Practically all educated men in China have had no religious sense whatever since the days of Kung-fu-tse and in Japan since Confucianism was introduced into that country. The thinkers of Greece, who meditated on religion as deeply as any body of men that ever existed, held every variety of opinion about it that can be conceived. Plato believed in a personal God and personal immortality: Aristotle believed in an impersonal and totally different God and denied immortality. The Pythagoreans and Eleatics believed that everything was spiritual: the Stoics held that even the gods, if there are any, are material: the Epicureans and Skeptics said that all religion was superstition. Roman thinkers and Moorish thinkers were just as divided, and the modern philosophic world is as far as ever from agreement.
In face of these masses of historical and contemporary facts it is futile to ask us to believe in a religious sense or instinct. Why should a million cultivated men like myself be totally devoid of it, and a million small store-keepers or Mexicans or Rumanian peasants have it in as robust a condition as their limbs? Why is it so constantly associated with stupidity and coarseness and so constantly dissociated from developed intellect and refinement? There is quite obviously no such thing as a special religious sense. We must take religious convictions and sentiments as we take any other beliefs and sentiments, and see if there is anything left which requires a special psychological explanation.
The Herd-Instinct and Religion
There is yet another theory of the psychology of religion that we must consider. There are, in fact, almost as many theories as there are religious thinkers, or thinkers about religion, but my readers will scarcely expect me here to discuss all the philosophic subtleties and novelties of Eucken, Bergson, Fouillée, Tagore, Royce, Croce, Seth, Ward, and every other modern religious thinker who invents some variation on the ancient theme and gathers a group of followers. If a single one of these gentlemen is correct, if a believer of any type is right, the essential truth for man, the real drama of life, in comparison with which the secular story of the race, is a puppet-show and the unfolding of the universe is a triviality, is the dialogue of the immortal soul and the eternal God. Yet it seems that there is nothing in the world so hard to discover as this. The theory refutes itself.
Let us turn rather to those more familiar aspects of our subject which are of general interest. You get here a further illustration of the evil to which I have drawn attention throughout these Little Blue Books. Even writers who regard themselves as profound are so really superficial that they very frequently do not even conceive exactly the subject they are discussing. Hundreds of writers of books and essays have in the last twenty years referred to or enlarged upon "the psychology of religion." It stands for something modern, profound, and precise. Well, what exactly do they mean by it?
Half these writers seem to mean the psychological conditions in which religion first appeared, and they speculate on these with a glorious indifference to the fact that the life of the lower savages today shows us how primitive man thought, felt, and reacted. When they do quote a few savages, they pay little or no attention to the cultural level of the people they quote; and they generally select a few instances which confirm their theory and ignore the rest. But I have devoted another volume (Little Blue Book No. 1008) to the origin of religion. It is a totally different question from the one we now confront. An idea or institution may arise for one reason and be maintained for quite a different reason.
I once noticed in a Queensland forest an interesting case of a parasite-tree. A wild fig grows parasitically up the trunk of a eucalypt, sucking its sap out of the eucalypt. After a time, the fig sends roots of its own into the soil, so that, by the time the eucalypt is sucked dry and killed, the fig is a sturdy tree living by its own roots and clasping in its arms the skeleton of the original eucalypt. I saw in this at once a figure of ecclesiastical Christianity growing upon the person and teachings of Jesus and then striking roots of its own in the soil of the Middle Ages. But it will serve as a figure of the growth of religion generally. Priestcraft, for instance, fastened upon religion parasitically when it became sappy enough to support a parasite and later struck its own roots in the soil.
But let us first attach a precise meaning to "the psychology of religion." It is a clumsy phrase. I use it only because it is familiar, but psychology is the whole science of mental behavior, not an interpretation of a particular thing. And what do we mean by "religion"? The objective body of doctrines, rituals, and priesthoods, or the subjective acceptance of them? I have, in any case, dealt in other Little Blue Books with the evolution of religion in the objective sense. We mean here religion as an attitude of belief and emotion. And again we have to ask, whose? There is almost nothing in common between the mental attitude of a liberal professor of theology at Chicago and of a peasant in southern Mexico, of a Theistic scientist and a Roman Catholic laundry woman or housemaid. All that we can do here is to take two broad classes, the ordinary and the intense or fanatical believer, with a few variations within each class, and analyze the mental attitude.
For the first class, the great mass of religious people throughout the world, there is a good deal of truth in the new theory to which I referred. Ten years ago a book entitled Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War (1916), by W. Trotter, was widely discussed. That period of intense collective emotion very naturally suggested a theory that human beings have a good deal of the herd-instinct which keeps together buffaloes or baboons and causes them to act in certain standard ways. Mr. Trotter, like all pioneers or discoverers of ideas, exaggerated, but in claiming that the herd-instinct is the principal cause of religious belief he had at least considerable facts in his favor. As I have already explained, I dislike the word instinct, but of the great mass of religious believers scattered over the earth it may justly be said that they believe and worship because the herd does.
Of eighteen hundred million worshipers far more than fifteen hundred millions -- say Chinese, Hindus, Latin Americans, the more backward races, and the mass of the peasantry everywhere -- e no "psychology of religion." They inherit religious beliefs as they inherit beliefs about cattle and babies. There is more "psychology," more variety of psychic elements, in their political than in their religious life. By the age of ten they are completely equipped with a set of religious beliefs, and for the rest of their lives their beliefs are based entirely upon authority, their practices follow almost automatically upon their beliefs or are guided by universal custom, and their emotions are not different in character from their political or domestic emotions. They have the same awe and reverence for God as for the king, and the great festivals of the year give them the same joy and excitement as secular rejoicings of political crises do.
There Is very little variation in this great body of worshipers beyond the variation of individual temperaments. Some are, notoriously, "more religious" than others: which means that they are more emotional generally or that they brood over the religious ideas more than the others do. You have just the same variations of emotional intensity in the political world, and it is therefore needless to ask for any special psychological explanation of the "piety" of many of these mass-believers. The Hindu is more fanatical about politics than about religion. Indeed, even in the domestic sphere you find analogous variations in wives and mothers, while in any body of, say, a thousand Democrats you will find the same variations in intensity of belief and emotion as in a body of a thousand Baptists.
Professor Thouless, whose book I have previously recommended because it avoids the meretricious practice of creating "a new and mystifying psychology for religion alone," identifies the psychological factors of the religious attitude as (1) the influence of tradition, (2) personal experience (consciousness of moral conflict and emotional life), and (3) processes of reasoning. There is another recent work, Religion and the New Psychology (1924), by a surgeon, N. B. Harman, but the title is rather misleading. It is a small collection of essays, and only the first deals with religion and psychology. The author, however, as far as he goes, is sound. The new psychology, he says, throws no special light on religion.
I agree entirely with Thouless, and I think that the reader will on reflection, merely adding that the consciousness of moral conflict seems to me only a rare and occasional ingredient in religion, and that these emotional experiences generally follow the religious attitude rather than help to engender it. In the religious life at least the emotions do not seem to any great extent to be influenced by the subconscious. They are provoked and sustained by definite conceptions of gods and goddesses, definite beliefs about life and the future, or by the images, ritual, music, hymns, etc., used in the cult. There is nothing specific in the emotions. They are the ordinary human emotions of joy, sorrow, hope, fear, reverence, love, etc., and, in proportion to the intensity or vividness with which the believer realizes or visualizes his beliefs, they arise as spontaneously as do the emotions of a young mother in regard to her first child.
Hence, although there is a very common practice of regarding this emotional life of the believer as his "religious life" in a special sense, you have only to consider it to see that it contains nothing specifically religious except the ideas or objects to which the emotions refer. It is only in the exceptional cases, which I study in the next chapter, that psychological analysis may discover points of special interest. A nun's love of Jesus, for instance, or a young monk's love of Mary may very well have a strong subconscious sexual coloring. In the overwhelming majority of believers the emotions are normal and have no specific religious or sexual meaning. What requires explanation, in other words, is the belief. Given the belief, the emotions follow as naturally as anger follows an injury, or gratitude follows a generous act, or hope and enthusiasm follow the acceptance of an economic creed.
And the factors of the belief are really only two in the mass of believers -- tradition and reasoning -- and in the case of the overwhelming majority only one, tradition. Parents, priests, and "the herd" make each new citizen of the world religious according to the pattern of the region in which he is born. I have in very ignorant parts of Europe, where everybody belonged to the Greek Church and most of the people never heard of any other, tried the effect of introducing the idea of skepticism. I do not mean that I tried to argue against religion, but merely to ascertain what would be the reaction of these people if I said that I was a skeptic and that half the people of my city were skeptics. The only effect was a dumb, almost pained, stupefaction. They were not really interested. It was a sort of outrage on their respect for tradition. They regarded me as a group of beavers or ants might regard an individual that by some freak did not follow the traditional ways. Such people -- and they are at least four-fifths of the religious believers of the world -- inherit their religion just as automatically as they inherit their code of etiquette or cooking or music. The authority of tradition explains entirely the fact that they believe -- the emotional religious life then follows of itself -- and back of tradition and its enforcement are the priesthoods.
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.
From that point, when the worshiper begins to reason, you get an increasing amount of personal element in the religion. Most people must know, however, that the great majority even of white believers in an educated country never reason, never need to reason, about religion. Today the "proofs" are provided with religion itself. The preacher adopts an apologetic tone occasionally, and slays Atheists, Modernists, Protestants, Catholics, or any type of opponent, and not one in five hundred of his audience will take the trouble to check his words. Reflect on the Fundamentalist's veneration for the Word of God. It is just a blind acceptance of tradition and priestly authority in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred.
In short, it is only a very small minority of religious worshipers whose religion offers any material for psychological study. In the overwhelming majority of cases a set of statements are planted in the young mind, and, as they are accepted by the whole community, they remain unchallenged. They are beliefs, or statements, accepted on authority. Where there is a variety of religions or sects, the diversity may provoke the believer to reflect, but as a rule his own sect has a literature so unblushingly mendacious that he never carries the inquiry beyond his own church. His religion as belief requires no analysis; and in so far as it is emotional, it has no special elements. Love of Jehovah, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, or the Bab is the same emotion as was once love of Ishtar or Tammuz or Zeus, and is now the love of friend or parent.
The Psychology Of The Fanatic
In this analysis, or this claim that there is in religion nothing of a special nature to analyze, I am rigorously confining my attention to living men and women. It is the love of theory and of novelty that inspires most of these fanciful psychologies of religion. Let us stick to human facts. The difference between me now and what I was thirty-five years ago, when I was a devout believer, is not in the least psychological. I then, mainly on authority and partly for a time on personal conviction, accepted certain tremendous statements of fact: that an Infinite being read and was interested in my every thought, that I was presently going for eternity to a spiritual world, and so on. Naturally these statements and the dramatic ritual in which they were embodied, engendered very intense emotions in me. Scholars make a mistake when they take these emotions to be "religion." I have exactly the same emotions today, but they are not wasted on illusions. That is the only difference.
The only sense in which one can claim a psychological interest is by suggesting that, seeing that my friend of thirty-five years ago still worships in the same way, while I have now not an atom of religion, there may be some psychological element in him that is lacking in me. People say, in fact, that I have not "the religious temperament."
A little clear thinking will show any person that this is really the reverse of the truth. There is not some emotional element in my friend which I lack, but there is an intellectual element in me which he lacks. It is a question of the greater or less development of the critical quality, one might almost say, of suspicion. At the age of sixteen I began to press for "proof" of the large statements made to me by religion. Of ten companions (in a monastery) of about the same age not one felt the same critical urge, yet I was certainly the most emotional of them all. For ten years I felt that urge. Some of my companions in time felt the prick of it, but either suppressed it or affected to be easily satisfied. From the build of my mind I was unable to do either, and, from sheer intellectual urge, without any alteration of character or emotional temperament, I came to discard all religion. A "fanatic," as I really was, became logically one of the most irreligious of men.
Let us note in passing that many of the "fanatics" upon whom professors waste their psychological ingenuities have far less religion of an emotional sort than the professors believe. I have had opportunities of studying ministers of religion of various denominations who were regarded as men of great religious intensity, and their reputation was totally false. The day before I write this my eye falls on the name of a Catholic colleague thirty to forty years ago. He lives in his Church to an honored old age, much decorated with clerical dignities, esteemed all his life for piety. I knew him well. Whether he really believed the stuff or no I cannot tell, but he had far more hypocrisy than piety. Another priest-colleague I have known from boyhood as a most austere fanatic; and when I came to live in the same monastery with him I learned that he was a secret dipsomaniac, the scorn of his fellows. Another -- several others -- were vibrant with piety in the pulpit, and had mistresses in private. Bossuet, the famous Bishop of Meaux, who wrote works of classic piety, is now known to have had a secret wife or mistress. And the Catholic Church has no monopoly of this hypocrisy. I have found Protestant leaders and preachers of very unctuous exterior to have an extremely human scent for dollars and drinks. There is, in fact, no other caste of professional men that so often figures in the press in connection with women as ministers of religion; though most of their "scandals" are suppressed.
My point may be farther illustrated by a totally different set of facts. It is now extremely common to read that some man held his convictions with a "religious fervor," although this might refer to political, economic, humanitarian, or any other convictions. I have shown elsewhere that the leaders of the American Feminist movement, Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Miss Susan B. Anthony, were Agnostics, but it is always said that their cause was a religion to them. The majority of the most earnest idealists in the reform movements of Europe in the nineteenth century were Agnostics or Atheists.
In fact, the psychology of the idealist is so identical with that of the believer that he now often claims that his idealism is a "religion," and often (as in my own case) the word is thrust upon him in spite of his protests. In the Ethical Culture movement, for instance, and many of the Unitarian churches of America you have thousands of people claiming to be religious, yet totally rejecting the beliefs, in any shape, in God and immortality. You have professors constantly counting Confucianism, Stoicism, and Buddhism as religions, though Confucianism never had a God, Stoicism ignored gods and (clearly not believing in them) cut man quite away from them, and pure Buddhists are Agnostics. Yet the psychology of all these people on its emotional side is exactly the same as that of Theists and Christians.
In other words, there is no specific psychology, no religious psychology, at all. The emotions are the same in the fanatical or intense Prohibitionist, Puritan, Pacifist, Humanitarian, Agnostic, member of an Ethical Culture Society, and Christian. The same human heart responds in each case to an intensely felt stimulus. The readiness of modern writers to grant a "religious fervor" to all kinds of idealists shows that there is no religious fervor. Zealous people are sometimes zealous about religion, and sometimes about other matters. The zeal is the same.
Two or three small special classes alone call for any particular psychological treatment, but to build a "psychology of religion" on these very small groups is like building a psychology of human nature on a few hundred gunmen or drug-takers. One very select class is that studied by Professor W. James in his Varieties of Religious Experience. Realist as James generally was, he had in that work to cover such a vast world of biography that he has the facts wrong over and over again. He takes stories of famous "conversions" at their current value in religious literature and finds in them mystic factors which are totally unnecessary when one has the facts correctly. To take two of the most famous cases, I have shown in my St. Augustine and His Age that his conversion was a quite normal progress, innocently misrepresented by himself in later years, and in my Candid History of the Jesuits I have shown the same in regard to the "conversion" of St. Ignatius Loyola. In all these cases there is no specific emotion, but a rare intensity of ordinary religious emotions; that is to say, ordinary emotions directed to religious ideas.
A second rare class are what is called "mystics." Writers on religion often forget that what the mystic, like the occultist, claims is a special intellectual, not emotional, outfit. A mystic is not a man or woman of exceptional ability, but a man or woman who claims to acquire religious knowledge by other than ordinary ways: by intuition, for instance. Their emotions are the same as those of other pietists. What is needed to explain their peculiarities is, not a psychology of religion, but a psychological explanation of a certain intellectual error or illusion. Advanced Theosophists, Spiritualist automatic writers, even certain meta physicians, have the same psychology. In large measure it is an indifference to the distinction between things imagined and things known, or a kind of affection for words whether or no they express realities. In many of these cases -- the St. Theresa, St. Clare, St. Catherine of Siena, etc. type-there is a legitimate field for the psycho-analyst. Their love of Jesus is largely suffused by subconscious sex-feeling, and in many cases they attached themselves to male saints in a very interesting manner. Such types, of smaller stature, are common in the Roman Catholic convent-world, but in the entire religious world they are an insignificant group.
A very different type is the girl who is really tainted by a kind of nerve-poison from sex-suppression. Religious abnormality is one of the forms in which this may find expression, but in my experience it is not very common. In the Catholic Church such girls often fasten upon the confessional as an outlet and simply gloat over their remorse for their sins. In some the condition easily lets them be persuaded that they may legitimately have sex-satisfaction with a minister of religion. In the Middle Ages it led to self-scourging and other fantastic tricks (even dancing) which became epidemic. Some sects (particularly Russian) have been known even in recent times in which an orgy of religious fervor ended in an orgy of sex-pleasure. All these abnormalities belong to very small minorities and cannot be treated in so small a work as this.
More widespread is the emotional craving which disposes many to dismiss the evidences for religion very leniently or even to dispense entirely with such. In another volume I told how so sane a thinker as Henry James believed in personal immortality because, he said, he wished to believe in it. More recently a well-known British Materialist, Robert Blatchford, became a Spiritualist, and told me that he did so at first entirely from emotional craving (for a belief that he would again see a dead wife). Spiritualism and Roman Catholicism no doubt make many converts, and bold large bodies of people, in this way. They wish to believe. They like to profess the beliefs or to share the ritualistic presentment of them.
The consciousness of sin or of moral struggle which some writers give as an important element of the psychology of religion seems to me an effect rather than a cause, or even an ingredient. There is no consciousness of "sin" until you believe in God. The "painful sense of moral struggle" is very largely a creation of moralists and spiritual writers. They create the feeling in a few people and then boast that religion meets it. Religion makes it far worse. The ordinary healthy man or woman is not conscious of legions of devils urging him or her to be unfaithful or to get drunk. One has to be firm sometimes, to decline an attraction, to refuse to lie or cheat, but one doesn't on that account groan and froth at the mouth. The "'moral struggle" is an accompaniment or effect of belief rather than an element of religion.
On the other hand, social and recreational considerations are world-wide factors in the "psychology of religion."' That is why, as I said in the first chapter, if the church and priest are not at hand, the religion soon disappears. In modern religion these considerations have a most important part. The church is a club. The minister caters to every interest, from dancing to matrimony, from vanity to sheer gregariousness and one's commercial interests. It pays a doctor to go to church, a lawyer to be a Catholic, a grocer to be religious, a professor to be on the side of the angels, a politician to rebuke infidelity.... The Almighty alone knows today how many of his worshipers believe in him. He could give us an entertaining volume on the psychology of religion.
The Human Origin of Morals
Theories of Moral Law
There are few subjects on which so much solemn nonsense has been written as on the nature of conscience and moral law; and there is no other phenomenon of the human mind of which it is possible to give so simple and natural an explanation.
There are few facts of human life which have been so deeply woven into the web of religious thought as what are called a man's moral and immoral actions; and there are none which have so little real connection with religion.
There is no other element of our decaying religions which has been so reverently clothed by modern philosophers with a mantle of mysticism; and there is none which evolutionary science explains more clearly.
There is nothing which so readily brings together our modern oracles, inside and outside of the Churches, our preachers and essayists and editorial writers, as zeal for the august and eternal authority of moral sentiment; and there is nothing that has been more persistently assailed and more caustically ridiculed by a large number of the most brilliant literary men of our time.
There is no institution of the past that so universally commands the lip-homage of our skeptical and rebellious generation as well as of believers; and there is nothing in human history which has caused, and causes today, as much hypocrisy.
Clearly, we need a discussion of the nature of morality. We have seen what religion is, and how it evolved. We have examined the fundamental doctrines of God and immortality. Let us now, in the same plain and candid way, examine what seems to be the common ground of all idealism, the moral sentiment.
I begin, as usual, with facts. No one will question the universal, never-ending concern about morals in our press and literature as well as our churches; and few are likely to question the enormously widespread hypocrisy in practice. No one will question that a number of brilliant writers are anti-moralists, while most writers represent moral law as the supreme reality, the foundation of social life; the starry heavens above our head, as Kant said, the granite substratum under the soil of our cities, as Emerson said. And if any do not know the mysticism with which philosophers veil the moral law, or the ease with which science explains it, he will soon be informed.
This extraordinary confusion of thought is not so surprising as the reader may be inclined to imagine. It will, in fact, be most useful to understand the confusion itself before we go further.
Think of the evolution of man's ideas in regard to thunder and lightning. To the blurred mind of primitive man, as in the blurred mind of a dog, these are simply facts. They occur. When man began to see that events have causes, and to believe that the causes in nature were spirits, he very promptly made a god of thunder and lightning. And it was a very great god: the sky-god, mountain-god, thunder-god of the nature-religions.
When the higher religions made God spiritual, they still maintained that thunder was his voice, in a special way, and lightning his weapon. Even the simple explanation given by Franklin did not destroy the belief. In the law of civilized nations today it is an "act of God" when lightning shatters a building: even if it kills innocent children.
Moral law was another kind of thunder, and, being "spiritual," it remained a sort of supernatural phenomenon even when man became fully civilized. Until modern times it was quite unintelligible. There was the law, no one knew why, no one knew whence. It was written in every man's conscience. A strange thing, this, and philosophers set to work on it.
Philosophers never believe in revelation, and they do not love science. They were quite pleased when science began to explain the order of the heavens, the beauty of the rose or of the sunset, and the adaptations of organs. But science must not touch "spiritual" things, they said. That was their business. So the confusion goes on; and the way in which theology is still allowed to dominate our education, our law-courts, our press, and a large part of our lives, maintains the confusion in the general mind.
You will see this clearly if I very briefly sketch the history of speculation on the nature of morality.
We have so little literature of the older civilizations that we cannot say much about, the ideas of their thinkers, as far as they have had any thinkers, but we have found a little Egyptian moral treatise (The Maxims of Ptah-Hotep), of more than four thousand years ago, which seems to show that even then educated men who were not priests understood that moral law was, simply a human and social law of conduct. I explain in The Myth of Immortality (Little Blue Book No. 1059) that that was the conviction of the two great moralists, Buddha and Confucius.
However, real speculation began with the Greeks. Most of the people who talk about "brilliant Greece" and "meteoric Athens" know very little about the subject. Earnest thinking about nature and man began amongst the Greeks, not of Athens or the homeland, but of Asia Minor.
We understand this today. The refugees of the splendid old civilization of Crete, which was destroyed by the early barbaric Greeks about 1450 B. C., went in part to Palestine, where they helped to civilize the Hebrews (who came later), and in large part to Asia Minor, where they civilized the, Greek immigrants. As these Greeks of Asia Minor were independent of the religious bigotry of the home-land, they speculated with great freedom and wonderful success. They were really scientists, not philosophers. They guessed the vastness of the universe, believed in atoms and evolution, and made very little pretense of believing in gods.
As the history of thought is usually written, it is said that, fortunately, these "mere Materialists" were soon thrust aside, and the great thinkers of Athens turned away from nature and studied man.
In point of fact, it was a great misfortune; for it meant the strangling of science in its cradle. Moreover, these Greek thinkers of the homeland, while they rejected current religion, as all philosophers do, were much influenced by fear of the pious democracy; and the philosophical ideas which they gave the world instead of theology are now quite discredited.
First of them was the mystic Pythagoras. He is said to have been influenced by Buddhism. We can only say that it is a great pity that he did not introduce into Europe the Agnostic and purely humanitarian ethic of Buddha. Instead of that he discovered -- I am quoting a high authority on him -- that "the essence of justice is a square number." Nice motto to put up in church or a law-court! Or is that why we speak of a "square deal?"
Socrates next searched the matter, and we are told that he did not form any "theory of morals." He merely cleared up men's ideas as to what is just, and insisted that the moral sentiment depended upon knowledge.
Plato, who was the first sociologist as well as a great philosopher, lost his balance between his two interests. It is clear that, as a student of social life, he saw that moral law is "utilitarian," as we now say. It is social law, enforced for the good of society. But Plato also had a theory that a merely material world can produce nothing, and all truth, goodness, and beauty must come from a spiritual world or, as he said, a world of "ideas": not ideas in the mind of man, but self-existing realities. The "good" was one of these ideas, and conscience was its voice and interpreter.
Aristotle, the most learned and logical of the Greek thinkers, did not believe in Plato's ideas. No one does today. But, although Aristotle wrote the first treatise on Ethics (the science of morality) he did not succeed in understanding the nature of moral law, and he has left us no theory of it.
By this time all Greece was speculating -- and there has never been any country like it for speculation -- on moral law, and there were three main opinions. There was the Platonic theory; and Christian writers followed it later, saying that the "ideas" were in the mind of God. Then there was the theory of the Stoics, and some others. Although the Stoics talked politely about the gods, it is fairly clear that they did not believe in them. For them moral law was just "the Law of Nature." It existed. It was part of the scheme of things. A man was at discord with nature if he did not observe it.
The third theory was really our modern theory, or the correct theory. Probably the great early scientist and evolutionist Democritus first discovered the truth. At all events, there were soon several schools in Greece maintaining that the object and origin of moral law was simply concern for human welfare. Some, whom we call Hedonists, said that the test of a moral act was whether it promoted happiness (the, Greek of which is hedone). Some made happiness consist mainly in pleasure. Others, like Epicurus, the last and sanest of the Greeks, though his views are nearly always misrepresented and slandered, said that moral acts were those which promoted a passionless tranquillity of life. Epicurus built on science, not philosophy, and tried to bring the world back to science.
But Greece fell, and the whole tradition of independent thinking perished. The Romans were poor thinkers, and most of them, being Agnostics, followed the Stoics or the Epicureans. Their humanitarian ideas did magnificent work for the world.
During the next thirteen or fourteen centuries moral law was simply held to be a divine command. When at last independent thinking began again, when the great Deistic, movement attacked revelation, all the old ideas were revived. Some followed the Stoic theory, that moral law is the Law of Nature. Some connected it with the divine will, as revealed, not in a Bible but in man's conscience. But some (Hobbes and Locke) more or less brought out its human significance; and already some (like Mandeville) satirized it as a superstition.
At the end of the eighteenth century German philosophy began, and from that day to this some weird theories of morality have been formulated. A vast library of the subject exists, and there is neither space nor reason even to mention all the theories here.
There are two main views. One is the old, idea that moral law is a sort of eternal and august reality, either in "nature" or in God or in a mystic world which nobody can understand. It is "intued" (seen directly) by the mind, and so these theories are known as Intuitionalism. Against this a number of British thinkers (Hume, Bentham, Spencer, Mill, etc.) held that moral law is a human law regulating the welfare or "utility" of social life. These are called Utilitarians; and we shall now see how science stepped in amongst the philosophers, scattering them right and left, and proving that the Utilitarians were right.
Evolution and Morals
The reader who is inclined to smile at the philosophers, or to wonder how the deepest thinkers of the race could wander so far astray, must face the problem as it confronted them.
Unquestionably there was in the mind of practically all men an imperious sense of moral law. Men might defy it, but they did not deny it. And it did not come from revelation, since it was just as strong amongst civilized peoples beyond the range of Christianity, or before the Christian Era. It was a great reality, and it had to be explained.
But until the idea of evolution arose again, there was no possibility of explaining it, at least fully. Some of the Greeks and the Deists could see how closely this law was related to the social interests of man. Justice, truthfulness, and self-control are obviously desirable social qualities. But there were parts of the law, like sexual purity, that seemed to have no social significance; and it was not at all clear how even the law of justice, however useful it was, came into existence. So the law was taken as a great fact, existing in the scheme of things apart from man, and "intued" by him through a special faculty which he called his "conscience."
The entire situation was changed when the truth of evolution was proved. Some writers are fond of saying that evolution describes processes, but does not explain anything. You have here a good illustration of the foolishness of that gibe at science.
Evolution said that the human race had been evolving, from the savage to the civilized level, during at least some hundreds of thousands of years. This meant two things, as far as the great problem of the origin of moral law was concerned. It meant, first, that the law may have arisen amongst, or been formulated by, human beings themselves long before the historic civilizations arose. This would explain how the ancient civilizations simply found themselves in possession of the moral code, and could therefore not suppose that it was drawn up by men. If they themselves had not formulated it, who had?
We quite understand their difficulty. But the difficulty would have disappeared ages ago if the theory of evolution sketched by the first Greek scientists had been retained and developed. Then the Greeks might have learned how all their religious and moral and political ideals had been gradually forged in the workshop of experience, by a long line of developing ancestors. Evolution lit up the whole problem, and nearly every other problem.
Secondly, evolution said that the lower races of men in the world today represent the, various phases of evolution through which the race has passed. Take a simple illustration from the roses on a bush. The rose in full bloom or decay certainly passed through the stages of bud and half-opened flower which you see on the bush. So the race passed at one time through the successive stages represented by the Veddah, the Australian, the Bantu, the Polynesian, and so on. Circumstances drove one branch of the race onward and kept other branches behind, at various stages of development.
If this is true, we ought to find every stage in the evolution of moral ideas and conscience in the innumerable "savage" tribes scattered over the earth.
Here again, you see, the philosophers were at a great disadvantage. They had not the slightest reason to suppose that savages could throw any light on the difficult problem they were examining. Not even the wisest of them could be expected to look in that direction. In fact, very little was known about savage tribes, still less about their ideas. Books were in circulation among the learned Greeks describing how the entrance, to the lower regions was about the Rhine valley of today, and how dog-headed men and all sorts of monstrosities lived where we now find tribes whose ideas are of the greatest value to us.
So we do not smile at the older philosophers and their "theories of morality." We may be pardoned, however, for smiling at some of their modern successors, who repeat the old mysticism as if science had not altered the whole situation.
Take Professor Eucken, of Jena University, whose works on morality and religion have a large circulation in England and America. Professor Osborn in one of his works mentions Eucken as one of the German scientists who have returned to a religious view of life! Eucken knows nothing whatever about science. He is a professor of philosophy. He is one of the most popular writers of the advanced or Modernist religious school.
Now, Eucken's teachings about morality -- I translated two of his books, and so I am familiar with his views -- show very clearly why many philosophers and their religious readers cling to the old mystic theory, and reject the evolutionary theory, of morality.
Let us first glance at two earlier thinkers, both so famous as moralists that we can hardly omit them from a book on morality. One was the eighteenth-century German philosopher Kant. He was tremendously impressed with the imperiousness of conscience. It does not, he says, tell you to do this or avoid that if certain consequences follow your act. It dictates absolutely or "categorically." He therefore, invented the famous phrase "the categorical imperative." God must be behind it, Kant said. And the answer is that there are no "ifs" about the moral impulse simply because men had, largely under the influence of religion, actually forgotten that it was their own race which laid down the law, and why it laid down the law! It had become a peremptory command, enforced by education.
The second moralist is Emerson who, though he does not see a personal God behind the moral law -- these "inner senses" never tell two men the same thing -- thinks it quite as categorical as Kant did. It is an eternal and commanding law, and so on. That is the chief weakness of Emerson's fine writings. Carlyle has the same weakness. There is no such categorical and eternal law. There are simply rules of conduct, obviously of a social significance, which society impresses upon every child, man, and woman; and there is a good deal of uncertainty about them.
Rudolph Euchen makes the same mistake. He starts, he says, from "the facts of the moral life." You soon see that he means only the facts of his own very strict moral life and delicate conscience. Of the phenomena of moral consciousness in the race at large he knows nothing. Of the revolt of sincere modern thinkers against moral codes he can give no sensible explanation. He lives in a hot-house, and then thinks he can tell us the normal temperature in which the rest of us live. And this applies to the Felix Adlers and other ethical philosophers who tell America what to think about moral law. I ought to add that the English philosopher, Professor Carveth Read, has written a much more sensible book (Natural and Social Morals) on the lines of Evolution.
Evolution has made all this mysticism superfluous; and it is the only explanation of moral law in which you can put any confidence, because it is the only theory which takes into account all the facts of the moral life.
Since the days of John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer our knowledge of savage ideas has grown enormously. In such a work as Professor E.A. Westermarck's Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas (2 vols.), which is the greatest recent scientific study of ethics, you have the moral ideas and practices of all the, backward fragments of the human race. I am going to differ a little from Professor Westermarck's theory, as I told him, but the way in which he brings together all the facts about men's moral ideas is the only way to get a sound theory of morality.
All the fine theories of the philosophers break down before this vast collection of facts. There is no intuition whatever of an august and eternal law; and the less God is brought into connection with these pitiful blunders and often monstrous perversions of the moral sense the better. What we see is just man's mind in possession of the idea that his conduct must be regulated by law, and clumsily working out the correct application of that idea as his intelligence grows and his social life becomes more complex. It is not a question of the mind of the savage imperfectly seeing the law. It is a plain case of the ideas of the savage reflecting and changing with his environment and the interests of his priests.
The philosophers do not even explain, or candidly confront, all the facts of the moral life of civilized people. One of the most striking features of normal moral ideas is that the approval or censure of an act is overwhelmingly proportionate to the social value or social injury of the act. Wherever religion or superstition has perverted the conscience, you get very extraordinary notions of sin: amongst the different castes of Hindus, for instance, and amongst savages. You get mortally serious rules about washing, sneezing, coughing, excreting, wearing hats, and so on. But in proportion as men rise toward a rational order -- an order prescribed by rational consideration only, not by blind subservience to tradition -- the ideas of the moral and immoral come to coincide more and more with human and social interests.
Why is justice the fundamental and essential moral law? It is a vital regulation of social life. Why is murder the greatest crime? It is the gravest social delinquency. And so on. It would be a remarkable coincidence if this mystic law of the philosophers and the theologians, existing before man existed, and surviving when he disappears, just happened to agree so well with the social interests of the observers of the law themselves!
We shall see this more fully later, but I may give here an interesting and little known illustration. Dante's famous poem The Divine Comedy is always described as the most intensely Christian work ever written. In point of fact, the first (and technically best) part of it, "Hell," is frightfully pagan and heterodox. I do not mean that any pagan ever dreamed of lakes of burning sulphur and drafts of molten lead; but the classification of sinners, or of the respective gravities of their sins, was largely borrowed by Dante from pagan moralists like Cicero.
People who imagine that Rationalism is just a passing phase of our time are strangely ignorant. It arose in every civilization, when the height of mental development wag reached; and it was bludgeoned into silence by new priesthoods when the reaction came. It began again early in the Middle Ages. Dante was at first one of a large group of Rationalists at Florence, and in the first part of his Comedy he has not quite shaken off their beneficent influence. He ignores the church-classification of sins. Sex-sinners and proud men have not the worst torments in his horrible charnel-house. Sinners against the social body are the most unfortunate.
But all this will become clearer. For the moment I am only pressing the social nature of moral law because it is essential to the evolutionary theory of it.
Strange human groups have arisen throughout the ages. 'There is almost no conceivable vagary that has pot at some time broken upon the imagination of man and been carried out in his life. We shall not at all expect the steady evolution of social law in harmony with social interests as we know them today. Moreover, superstitions, tabus, fetishisms, religions, and all kinds of uncouth ideas of what is sacred have naturally invaded and perverted man's conceptions of moral law. But through the whole confusion, chronicled in literature or embodied in the backward tribes of today, we plainly trace the faltering rise of that human rule of conduct which philosophers, never looking back upon its humble origins, have mistaken for an eternal and superhuman reality.
The Dawn of Conscience
The scientific method of studying an idea or an institution is to examine earlier phases of it which are available; just as the scientific method of studying a star is to examine the earlier stages in the formation of a star which we find in the heavens. If you want to know how a man grows up, you do not guess. You study the babe, the boy, the adolescent. In the same way we understand the grown race, the adult civilization.
The earlier stages are, as I have said, seen in the ideas and institutions of savage and barbaric peoples. No educated person now supposes that their lowly character means that they have degenerated from a higher level: that some primitive curse laid on the race blighted its early promise and powers, and these fragments of it have not risen once more. These lower people are companies or regiments thrown off the human army, at one or other stage, as it marched through the ages toward the ideal civilization.
I fully explain this in The Origin of Religion (Little Blue Book No. 1008), and these booklets are so easily obtained, and the space in each so limited, that I desire to avoid overlapping and to assume that the other volumes of the series have been, or will be, read. Briefly, we look to the lowest peoples -- they are not yet tribes -- for the earliest phase of moral ideas. We next take tribes at a slightly higher level of culture (using every test of culture), then tribes at a still higher level, and so on.
I would almost claim a modest merit as a pioneer in this obvious scientific procedure, as I first systematically applied it in my Growth of Religion: the main conclusions of which are given in The Origin of Religion (Little Blue Book No. 1008). The general practice had been to string together a long list of "savage tribes" and their peculiar ways without paying attention to their great differences in culture. I at once reached a conclusion as to the origin of religion which differed entirely from the accepted view at the moment; but that view was founded only on speculation, helped out by references to tribes without noticing their stage of culture. I here apply the same indisputable method to the origin and growth of moral ideas.
On an earlier page I said that the great work of my friend Professor Westermarck -- a Finn by origin, but one of the most learned sociologists in England -- was the classic authority on the subject. It is the first large attempt to trace the origin of morality by studying savage peoples. But I differ to some extent from the conclusions of Professor Westermarck, and I am emboldened to oppose my opinion to that of so high an authority because he has followed the customary and erroneous practice which I have just noted. He makes no discrimination between the savage tribes he quotes according to their culture. It is quite easy to do so, and my friend Professor Haddon, one of our first ethnographers, confirmed me in my attempt.
The first sentence of Professor Westermarck's book is: "That the moral concepts are ultimately based on emotions either of indignation or approval is a fact which certain thinkers have in vain attempted to deny." This is a challenge, not merely to the philosophers and theologians, but to the Utilitarians. Morality is founded on emotions, not on a perception of utility, he says. Acts are deemed "good" or "bad" for the same reason that the sunshine is said to be hot and ice, cold. They excite certain emotions. Our moral ideas are therefore "generalizations of tendencies in certain phenomena (human acts) to call forth moral emotions." Fundamentally, it is sympathy and resentment that express themselves in these emotions.
But a moment's reflection will show that it is only a question of laying stress on a different syllable. Professor Westermarck says that it shows "confusion" on the part of Utilitarians that they look for the reasons why acts cause sympathy or resentment. Surely not. We want to know why an act causes resentment, and so is deemed bad. That seems to be of the very essence of the problem of the origin of morality. And Professor Westermarck, when he answers that question, does not differ in the least from me. He repeatedly says that the resentment of the savage who calls an act "bad" is a reaction "toward a cause of inflicted pain." From the first therefore the moral sentiment approves acts which give pleasure or service, and resents those which inflict pain or injury; and it is a truism to say that the fact of the action rendering service or inflicting pain must be perceived before the emotion can arise. When Professor Westermarck says that the recognition of different degrees (or "quantities") of badness by a savage proves his emotional theory, one is surprised. It shows only that the savage perceives some acts to be more injurious than others.
But we may to some extent reconcile the theories by admitting that in the mind of the lowest peoples there is no conscious recognition that certain classes of acts are good or bad. That is, in fact, a material part of my theory. Man is moral before he has morality. He resents an individual "bad" act before he has moral rules. He does not generalize. He does not make rules.
One would naturally expect this low and primitive type of mind in primitive peoples, but I am not merely speculating as to what probably took place. In the lowest peoples of today that is precisely what we find. These are, as I say in The Origin of Religion, the Yahgans of Tierra del Fuego -- not simply "the Fuegians," as is generally quoted, for there are three tribes on the island -- the wild Veddahs (nearly extinct as a pure race), the Tasmanians (extinct), the Andamanese, the Bushmen (the highest of the group), the Aetas of the Philippine Islands, and a few less known fragments of the human family.
In estimating the significance of these I have, fortunately, the invaluable support of Professor Haddon, who says, in his genial way, of the whole group: "They do not recognize virtue, but they do not practice vice." They have no moral laws or codes, but their social conduct is generally excellent. They are almost entirely strict monogamists, yet know nothing of "chastity." A Khond chief from. the hills of India was taken to Ceylon and asked to admire how a Veddah was faithful to his one wife. "Pooh," he said, in disgust, "that is how the monkeys live." In point of fact, most of the apes are monogamous, and -- in spite of a constant statement to the contrary of sociologists (except Westermarck) -- it is highly probable that monogamy was man's first "institution," except that it was not instituted, but grew up at the animal level as a mere custom.
As to the Yahgans, I have, in The Origin of Religion (Little Blue Book No. 1008), quoted the missionary Bridges saying that they know "neither God nor good nor evil." A more scientific student, Yhades, is quoted by Professor Westermarck, and I may translate the passage:
Of abstract ideas they have scarcely a trace. It is difficult to define exactly what they call a good or a wicked man; but certainly they have no notion what is good or bad, apart from the individual or object to which they apply one or the other of these attributes.
The Tasmanians are said by Professor Westermarck to have been "without any moral views. or impressions," and the Aetas and other peoples of this group had none. A writer on the Andamanese says of them:
"Certain traits which have been noticeable in their dealings with us would give color to the belief that they are not altogether lacking in the sense of honor, and have some faint idea of the meaning of justice.
Considering that Andaman Islands are on the way of the ships in the Indian Ocean, and have long been in contact with higher races, this is feeble enough. But when the same writer attributes to them a belief in a supreme being, who will judge them after death, we see clearly that he has not allowed for the influence of missionaries.
In short, these peoples at the lowest level have no moral rules or ideas, yet they rarely steal, lie, or murder. They are kindly to the widow and aged. They live peacefully. They observe the decalogue better than more advanced tribes, but they have no decalogue.
It may be difficult for the reader to imagine such a state of things, but he must remember that we are dealing here with men at the mental level of the early Old Stone Age. In most cases they are incapable of abstract ideas, and therefore they cannot draw up rules. They have good customs, as many species of social animals have, but they are incapable of saying to themselves: "That is the custom" or "That is a good custom." They think only of individual acts.
My theory of their condition, which the reader may or may not accept, is that their good habits or social ways of behavior were, as amongst social animals (beavers, apes, baboons, etc.), developed by natural selection, just like good teeth. At all events, these men no more reflect on their ways and the utility of them than apes do. They are unconsciously moral, if you like; but moral law is a conscious law. They have no consciences: no consciousness of law.
And the next step in man's onward march would obviously be for him to perceive, as his mind developed, that his customs were good, and set them up as standards of conduct. "Morals" is from the Roman words for customs or ways. "Ethics" is from the Greek word for the same. It is a clue; and the next higher peoples in the human scale correspond to it.
The Australian tribes are at the next level. But there are many different tribes in that vast continent, and many of them have been for a long time influenced by the ideas of white settlers and missionaries. Some travelers will tell you how a tribe believes in a supreme being who punishes and rewards after death. Benjil, the "All-Father" of one tribe, "very frequently sent his sons to destroy bad men and bad women," they said. Daramulum, the "Father" of another tribe, was said to be "very angry when they do things they ought not to do." Boorala, another name for him, had a very drastic hell and a very nice heaven.
Westermarck and all others rightly see in these statements a confused repetition of the sermons of missionaries. Eyre, who knew the Australians well, said that they had "no moral sense of what is just and equitable in the abstract." Spencer and Gillen, the highest living authorities on them, say (Northern Tribes of Central Australia, p. 491) that they "have not the vaguest idea of a personal individual other than an actual living member of the tribe who approves or disapproves of their conduct, so far as anything like what we call morality is concerned." Yet the same authorities say of other tribes of Central Australia that they have a "code" and their conduct is "governed" by it. These are comparatively untainted" tribes.
Now all this is not confusing. It is instructive. The Australians generally behave well, and they have a code. During one of my visits to Australia a policeman was conveying a black murderer across country to be tried. A swollen river washed the policeman off his horse, and the black could have escaped. Instead, he took the policeman's clothing in his teeth -- he was swimming with hands tied -- and saved him.
Compare the story in Westermarck of an Australian youth, forbidden to eat certain meat during his initiation period, and asked if he would eat it if nobody saw him. "I could not do that," he said, "it would not be right." By "right" he meant, he said, against the custom.
That is the root of the matter. The bad act is against custom. Westermarck goes on to show that custom is the lawgiver, the tyrant, of primitive peoples. I do not follow him altogether, because his quotations confuse tribes at all levels: Bantu, Eskimo, Bedouins, Indians, and Maoris. But the quotations from lower tribes are consistent. "How can I tell?" says a Kafir asked why he behaves in a certain way: "It has always been done." "The old Inuits did it," says the Eskimo. "The Alcheringa [legendary ancestors] order it," says the Australian.
It is the dawn of conscience: of an inner voice, put into the individual by education, by the social group. Man has perceived the utility of his customs. They are now rules; though the idea is still so vague that many observers deny that they have morality. That is just what we expect. The sun is not up, but the light has dawned. There is no "morality" in one sense, and there is in another. Is it day or night at dawn? It is neither. It is transition: and evolution means transitions.
Religion and Morals
For a hundred years, ever since men of science began to take an interest in the curious tales of travelers, it has been disputed whether such and such tribes have any moral or religious ideas. The uncertainty was due in part to unskilfulness in the observer. Very often he made no allowance for possible influences of missionaries, who are apt to put their creed in the black man's childish language and he reproduces bits of it in his legends. Often, again, the observer of the tribes, especially if he is a missionary, asks the natives if they are conscious of "sin" and "duty" and "remorse" and "God"; and, since they have not even words for such things, he bluntly says that they have no religion and no morals.
The whole literature upon which we draw for our knowledge of the religious and moral ideas of lower races is full of these contradictions. We saw it of the Veddahs, Adamanese, Australians, and others. A very long list could be added. Lord Avebury (Origin of Civilization -- one of the first works on these lines) concluded generally that savages have "no moral feeling"; and his "savages" were, as usual, a medley of tribes at all levels of culture. One writer says: "The Reashin has no moral sense whatever; whereas it is well known that the Indian's code was high. The Hottentots in particular, and blacks in general, are said to have "no, moral sense"; but a high authority tells us that "the strictness and celerity of Hottentot justice are things in which they outshine all Christians," and another says that "one of the most marked characteristics of black people is their keen perception of justice."
One authority says that the Tonga Islanders (a high race) have "no words essentially expressive of ... vice, injustice, and cruelty"; and another says that they "firmly believe that the gods approve of virtue and are displeased with vice." I could extend the list indefinitely.
But the man who studies morality in the light of evolution is not troubled by these verbal contradictions. They are just what he expects to find. Ask three travelers to a certain region whether the natives have government, shops, churches, or art. One will say "no," one "yes," and the third "a sort of government," etc. We more advanced peoples attach meanings to our words which do not apply to the corresponding culture of the natives. It is entirely in harmony with evolution. In Australia the highest authorities on the natives have assured me that they have "no religion and no morals"; and they have then assured me that the natives have an elaborate belief in spirits, especially the spirits of certain remote and very powerful ancestors, and a relatively high code of character.
It is religion and morals in the making. It is from first to last, a massive testimony to evolution. Everything in the world testifies to it. Everything in the world is illumined by it.
Hence we cannot expect to put our finger on a point in the history of the race and say: Here religion begins, there morality begins. They rise gradually, with a long dawn. Peoples who do not even believe in spirits -- and there are some -- clearly have no religion; but at what precise point the belief in the shadow becomes religion no sensible man will try to say.
It is the same with morality. The lowest peoples have nothing corresponding to conscience or a conscious code of conduct, but they more or less automatically follow a code. At a higher level of intelligence they are conscious of a code, but it is merely "custom." At a still higher level the spirits of the dead are said to be just as interested as the living community in the observance of this code. Religion and morality enter into combination.
That they arose independently, from quite different roots, we have now abundantly shown. No modern authority questions it. And they remained independent for some time. Of the Bambala of the Congo an authority says: "There is no belief that the gods or spirits punish wrong-doing." Sir E.F. Im Thurn, the great authority on the Indians of Guiana, says that they have an "admirable" code of conduct and an elaborate Animistic religion, but there is "absolutely no connection" between the two. An authority says of the Comanche Indians: "No individual action is considered a crime, but every man acts for himself according to his own judgment, unless some superior power should exercise authority over him." Another says of the American Indian generally: "In his conception of a god the idea of moral good has no part."
Such quotations will be found by the score in Westermarck's book, from which (unless a reference is given) I borrow them. But if we are equipped with the evolutionary theory, we shall look carefully for the germ of the higher growth even at the lower level; and we shall always find it. Morality and religion gradually, and in large part naturally, blend.
It is seen even in Australia. The boy is taught a code, as we saw, and he holds strongly to it. The elders have told him of powerful spirits (or what corresponds to our spirits) who are interested in that code; just as they frighten the women away from their secret ceremonies by talk of these spirits. But when the boy is initiated to the tribe, he is laughingly told that it was all a fiction, like the "bogy" or the policeman-round-the-corner with which silly nurses frighten naughty children. Nevertheless these Australians do believe intensely in spirits, and they have a profound reverence for certain great mythical ancestors.
Take, again, the natives of the Slave and Gold Coasts in Africa, from which so many of the American negroes were brought. We have an exceptionally fine series of monographs on these natives, by Major Ellis, and they give us an admirable illustration of the separate evolution of religion and morals. Major Ellis says: "Religion at the stage of growth at which we find it among these three groups of tribes has no connection with morals and the relations of men to one another." Murder and theft are offenses against a man. The gods are not interested. At the same time these natives firmly believe that all evil comes from the invisible spirits, and so they are well on the way to a belief in avenging gods.
In other cases we get the usual contradictions, for the usual reason. Amongst the hill-tribes of India, we are told, there is no connection of religion and morals. One authority says even that the idea of a God demanding righteous conduct of men is beyond the capacity of the fully civilized Hindu of the plains! His gods, like those of Greece and Rome, like amorous adventures themselves. It is clear that this writer is thinking only of one line of the moral code, chastity. Another authority says that the hill-tribes, which are pre-Aryan, have no ideas of "moral qualities" originally, but they have words for them derived from the Hindu.
All this apparent tangle of testimonies is, as I said, what we should expect. Writers who take strict account of borrowed ideas (from missionaries or travelers) and who do not look for advanced ideas like "sin" and "virtue" and "God," tell a consistent story. The particular circumstances of tribes in all their utterly different environments give their ideas different shades and shapes, but the general evolution is the same. Custom is at first followed automatically. Custom then enters the consciousness of the tribe and becomes its tyrant. But "custom" is the English word for mos (the Latin root of "morals") and ethos (the Greek root of "ethics"). Morality is evolving.
And, as it evolves, it approaches religion quite naturally. Custom is, after all, something set up by ancestors. As the savage rises in intelligence, he sees this. But he believes that these ancestors still live, and in very many, if not most, parts of the earth he believes that they are exacting, malicious, and vindictive. All his evils and misfortunes come from them. It is an obvious development that he will come to think that the spirits punish him for violating "custom": the "god" will punish his "sins."
Westermarck quotes this stage amongst the Maoris, Tahitians, Fijians, American Indians, Eskimo, and Hindu. All these are much higher peoples than the Australians and Africans. It is a later stage.
Further, all these peoples have priests or rudimentary priests. These begin to interpret the will of the gods or spirits to ordinary mortals. And for various reasons, some of which I have given earlier, they soon represent the gods as interested in a man's conduct. For instance, rain or health very frequently does not follow their sacrifices. They have to invent reasons. A good reason is that the man has offended the spirits by his conduct, or has been "immoral." I would not call this the "dawn" of the sense of sin. It is the beginning of its manufacture.
All this, again, comes gradually. Amongst the natives of the Society Islands, for instance, and many others, "the only crimes that were visited by the displeasure of their deities were the neglect of some rite or ceremony." That was the main thing from the priests' point of view. In fact, old custom is (or was) almost the one thing in the world that could beat even priests and kings. Scores of quotations could be given to show this; but the way in which even Christianity had to yield over and over again to local custom is well known. So priests had to go cautiously in encroaching upon the field of customs, which included morals.
The second element of the evolution of religion, the deification of the more striking parts of nature, which gave religion its great gods, was much slower in blending with morality. These big spirits did wonderful things, and were admired at a distance. But there was always a tendency in some of them to become moral deities, because they could do so much harm or withhold so much good. The moon, a very popular early god or goddess, did no particular good or harm. But the sun was a terrible tyrant in the tropics. The sky might cause a drought by refusing rain or might send thunder and lightning. The water-god might cause floods. The fire-god burned houses. The wind-god sent destructive hurricanes. And so on.
Chiefly, however, it was the deified ancestors, not the nature-gods, who were concerned with the observance of custom. They had made the customs. They took an interest in them. And, although Herbert Spencer and Grant Allen were wrong in thinking that ancestor-worship was almost the only source of the making of gods, very many were made that way. Even great gods of the historic religion, like the Osiris of the Egyptians, are believed to have been ancestors. The Romans deified their Emperors. The Christians deified Christ, and the later Buddhists made a god of Buddha.
Now in the blending of tribes into kingdoms, when it was necessary for the rival priesthoods to adjust their deities, ancestor-gods were often fused with old nature-gods. Osiris was blended with an old sun-god. These wise deified old ancestors were particularly interested in proper conduct, and Osiris became in time the judge of the dead. The wicked were seen to flourish in this life. Very well, said the priests, they will get it in the next: which happens to be a good deal longer. So we find nature-gods turning ethical. Even Jupiter and Zeus were guardians of justice. They were the sky-gods, the dispensers of rain and sunshine, the fathers of all men.
Yet Zeus-Jupiter-Dyans-Thor (the old sky-god of the Aryans) was believed to have had not the slightest regard for sex-rules; and there we come to a new and interesting chapter in the evolution of morals. Many of the nature-gods had, as I said, a natural tendency to become ethical. They sent rain or sunshine or fertility: they caused drought, fires, storms, and floods. One had to gratify them by observing the rules. And one of the most important of all, when men learned agriculture, was the goddess (in a few places god) of fertility. The spirit of mother-earth was even more important than that of father-sky.
But, quite naturally, the fertility of the earth became closely connected with a woman's fertility. At first human beings copulated like cattle, not even knowing -- the Australians did not know it -- that the man begot the child. In time love and fertility became one of the mightiest facts of life in the mind of men. The most tremendous force, the most beneficent thing, in the world was the spirit of sex-pleasure. This gave a twist to the primitive moral rules; and, as the spirit of war just as naturally became deified at the same time, another grave perversion of the humanitarian code of conduct, as we understand it, occurred in moral evolution. These and other eccentricities we will now show to. be a normal part of the evolution of conscience,
Preachers still shudderingly refer to one of the "abominations" of ancient Babylon. They tell how the women had to go to the temple and have commerce with a man before they could marry; how little crowds of the less pretty women might be seen at the door soliciting the interest of casual sailors and other men of little taste and much feeling. As Frazer strangely repeats this in his Golden Bough, there is some excuse for the preacher. But, as we see in Morals in Ancient Babylon (No. 1076) we now know that it is an entire falsification of life in the city of Babylon. There were, however, temples (and probably an old one in Babylonia) where this was done, and where there were sacred prostitutes.
From the last part of the last chapter the reader will now begin to have an idea of the meaning of this strange perversion of religion and ethics. These were relies of the middle stage of man's religious evolution. The spirit of generation, in man and in nature, was just as likely to he deified as the sun and moon. The act of generation then became in a sense a religious act. The god or goddess was interested in its happening, not in its prohibition.
Moreover, it was socially a very desirable thing. The army wanted men: the men wanted wives and slaves. Disease and war wrought terrible havoc, and population was urgently needed. The development of polygamy, which is not a primitive institution, was scarcely enough. Concubines were allowed. It suited the masculine nature.
On the other hand, it came to be believed that human copulation could influence the fertility of the earth, by a sort of sympathetic magic. When scientific men find drawings of deer in a prehistoric cavern, they tell the whole world. It was magic. The artist believed he could bring the animals nearer and have a profitable hunt. When the same scientific men find a drawing of a male organ, or a woman with an exaggerated pubic part carved out of a bit of mammoth's tusk, they say, "How naughty," and shut it away. Why not the same magic?
At all events it is certain -- the belief and practices based upon it lingered in Europe in the Middle Ages -- that men came to believe that by human generation they prompted the fertility of mother earth. This easily led to what we call license or promiscuity. The great nature-festivals were marked by orgies of sex-pleasure; especially as there was prodigious eating and drinking. Priests of the goddess discovered, to their advantage, that it was particularly fortunate for women to have commerce with them. Priestesses were not likely to avoid the act of which their goddess was the presiding genius. Large carvings of the sex-organs stood unblushingly in the temples: until Englishmen and Americans came along in the nineteenth century.
All this is a very long and fascinating story -- so much so that it has been given a special Little Blue Book, Phallic Elements in Religion (Little Blue Book No. 1079) -- and we shall find startling traces of it even in the Old Testament. Here I can only show in a general way that the eccentricities of conscience in this connection are part of a quite natural development.
Just as natural and intelligible-that is to say, from the evolutionary point of view, and no other -- is another very large category of perversions of conscience which, perhaps, are the greatest causes of people's contempt of their lowly relatives. In science "savage" means a being at a low stage of intellect and culture. To the general public it means a blood-thirsty, cruel, scalp-seeking or head-hunting monster.
Savagery in this sense is not a primitive quality of man. Those lowest fragments of the human race to which I have often referred are not at all "savage." The Tasmanians, it is true, were so wicked as to fight for their land when Europeans wanted it. The Maoris, Red Indians, and others were equally wicked. But at the most primitive level man is peaceful and honest. We saw that.
At that level man is neither a hunter (except in a very small way) nor an agriculturist. He has no "tribes." And, to cut a long story short -- a process to which I am becoming sadly resigned in these little books -- (I wish they were three times as long) -- the development of hunting gave man a taste for blood, and the crystallizing of human groups into distinct tribes, with rival hunting grounds, gave men a great taste for each other's blood. The peaceful Yahgan type was succeeded by the less peaceful (but not bad) Australian type, and this by the fierce South American Indian, the Dyak head-hunter, the Fiji cannibal, the terrible Zulu, and so on.
Under this heading I must not quote. The list would be endless. But you see the principle. Tribal organization and hunting involve conflicts about encroachments on each other's grounds or areas. Conflicts lead to wars. "Savagery" becomes a social quality. The tribe, in self-defense, wants fierce and ruthless warriors. Spies and prisoners must be tortured and killed. The world begins to run with blood. And since conscience is the interpreter of custom, of the interests of the tribe, it sanctions everything.
The growth of society while man is still so imperfect helps this. Men accumulate "property," and other men steal it. A prettily carved stick or a deadly spear tempts a neighbor. With the growth of Animism, these things are believed to have "medicine" or "manu" or some supernatural force. A man can't make that. He steals it. And, as justice is still slow and imperfect, the victim retaliates. Murder is more common, and murder leads to blood-feuds, all over the earth. Revenge becomes a terrible and legitimate passion (as there is no electric chair).
Here religion or superstition enters, and makes things worse. One great root of these moral eccentricities is that the spirit of the murdered man has to be appeased. It may, otherwise, make itself very unpleasant. The murderer must die, if he can be found; if not, somebody belonging to him must die. In fact, the Loucheux Indians used to lacerate themselves after a funeral, to appease the spirit of the dead man. Some of the California Indians would kill the murderer's best friend, not the murderer, on the idea that it inflicted more pain. The Maoris, Aetas, and others would, after a murder, go out and kill the first man they met. Others would kill the first animal they met. Thousands of such aberrations of conscience are easily understood.
But graver evil is done, and worse eccentricities arise, by the transfer of the care of law from living society to the spirits. I do not envy the man who some day will try to answer the question: Has religion done more good or harm to the race? Believe me, it will require a ledger as large as the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Let me give here one illustration out of hundreds.
The spirits or gods, who are gradually credited with concern for conduct, are the counterparts of living men. Heaven is always a feeble reflection of earth: of the hunting grounds of the Indian, the harem of the Asiatic, or the dull intellectual world of the Christian philosopher. In the early stages the active, spirits or demi-gods are even worse than men. They are generally devils. At the best, they follow the character of living humanity, and we saw how this develops. Man smites the offender or, if he cannot find him, smites his wife, children, and relatives. Then he smites the family and relatives as well as the man. He visits the sins of the father on the children and on all his kin.
He comes to believe that this is just; and the priests approve it everywhere. In early Chinese law all male relatives of an offender were responsible. The Catholic Inquisition wrought terrible harm to the families of heretics: and for sordid reasons, as we see in another book. Mexican law enslaved the children of a traitor to the fourth generation. Athenian law -- law generally, in fact -- banished the family with the father. Plato and Confucius were the first to condemn this principle.
It was a ghastly stage in the evolution of thought when this was transferred to the gods. Very early it led to human sacrifices. "Off with his head" was the refrain constantly on the lips of kings; and the spiritual kings were believed to be just as bloodthirsty. Somebody had to die to appease them. The larger the number of victims, the more the gods would smile. Thousands of victims in a day were sometimes ripped open in Mexico. In ancient Europe and nearly all over the earth the gods' altars stank with human blood.
The advance of humanity -- the reform never came from the priests -- led to some curious modifications of this. In Peru, where the priests wanted the blood of children for the sacrament, they were in the end only permitted to punch the children's noses. In ancient Rome dolls were strung on little trees at mid-winter instead of the old human sacrifices. In China paper images of men were burned. Generally, animals were substituted for men; but there was a peculiar development in the "scapegoat."
Sin began to be treated as a sort of unpleasant commodity that you could unload on some other person; Just as an Arab will bend down when you are cursing him and let the curse fly over his head. That was in part the meaning of the human sacrifice. And as the gods wanted something good, not any shabby old thing, kings and king's sons and daughters had to die. This, in conjunction with another idea which we see elsewhere, led to "sons of God" taking the sins of the world upon themselves.
But every variety of scapegoat is known. The Hebrews (Leviticus, xvi) had the childish idea that they could unload the sins of the people upon a goat, which was driven into the wilderness. The "inspiration" was quite common. The Maoris transferred their annual accumulation of sins to a fern, which floated on the river out to sea. The Badagas of India prefer a calf, which is driven into the jungle (and is probably happy ever afterwards). The Egyptians chose a bull. The Iroquois Indians transferred all the sins of the tribe once a year to a white dog, which they (more prudently) burned. The Peruvians washed their sins off in the river, as the Hindus do in the Ganges today, and the spiritual animalculae were supposed to float out to sea.
Much less amusing was the development in the direction with which we are more familiar. Where there was only a very dim idea about the future life, the prosperity of the wicked was always a terrible problem. Why Shamash, or Jupiter', or Zeus, or Jahveh, permitted so much injustice, no one could say; for the Babylonians, Romans, Greeks, and Hebrews had no definite ideas of the life beyond the grave. Other peoples had no problem. They invented hell. Their gods would pass the record of the most ferocious torturing kings that had ever been. They would keep their victims alive for all eternity and torture them all the time.
I am not concerned here with the agony that this awful belief has caused, or with the religious persecutions, witch-burnings, and Inquisitions it inspired. I am noting it as one of the most awful aberrations of man's moral instinct under the influence of religion. It so got into the blood of men that people who considered themselves highly intellectual and refined in modern times could see no harm in it. Gladstone and Roosevelt believed in hell! (I tried hard to think of two other eminent men not politicians or theologians, but could not.)
And another aberration of the moral sense under the influence of superstition was cannibalism. No doubt it was sometimes due to primitive lack of humanity, sometimes to economic pressure (as the killing of the aged often is), but it was very largely "sacramental." You got the strength or virtue of the eaten man. This led, in mystic ways, to the rather common religious practice of eating the god, or communion; though there is another root to this, as we shall see. Head-hunting was another perversion inspired by religious beliefs.
Probably the largest and most eccentric moral aberrations were due to religion in precisely the field where it claims its highest service.
One great human tendency which we have seen made for sex license. There were others, however, which made for the restriction of sex. The menstrual trouble of women was one. They were periodically "unclean." In childbirth, the superior male thought, they were again unclean. All sorts of tabus grew up, and the sex act began, over large areas, to be regarded with suspicion. Priests and priestesses were forbidden it. Sacred seasons were not to be contaminated with it. Men and women began to believe that one became wonderfully wise and enlightened if one avoided copulation; and others became wonderfully holy. Out of it all arose, also', the contempt of woman, of which Egypt and Babylon knew nothing.
But about these and scores of other eccentricities of conscience a very large and absorbing volume could be written. I can only here give a few general ideas which may enable the reader to understand hundreds of the weird ideas and practices about which he reads in works on savage (if not civilized) peoples. We talk about "the human comedy" today. What about the last hundred thousand years, so vividly represented to us by the savage tribes which linger in the various phases through which the whole race has passed during that period? It is no mystery to us from the evolutionary point of view. You see how easily we introduce order into the chaos of facts. But what about it from the point of view of the philosopher who thinks moral law an august and eternal reality, or the theologian who thinks moral law the supreme concern of a God who complacently looked down upon this long wandering of the spirit of man?
The Christian Ethic
It is difficult to see how any man or woman, knowing even the few facts which it is possible to give here, can doubt the modern theory of moral evolution. We are not taking a few bones of prehistoric man and guessing how he lived. It is there, all over the earth, today. Religion and morals, and the combination of the two or ethical religion, are actually in the human workshop, being made. We more advanced workers have finished the job and are watching the apprentices.
Yes, you may say (with a sigh), it was a natural evolution: unguided, wasteful, replete with the folly of childhood, dark with the awful impulses of the real savage. We do not understand that. But the time came. Revelation of a holier law broke gradually upon this turbid world. God made himself known to one or two peoples -- why to one or two, or so late, we don't know -- and bade them purify the conscience of the world. Stumbling man was taken by the hand and led -- at last.
Well, it takes several volumes of this series to show that this is as false as your idea that God created man and watched over him. Five or six volumes show you, from the facts, that nothing new or original appeared in Judea, Monotheism was already known. An ethic higher than that of the Hebrew prophets already existed. You do not know the truth about the ancient world.
You do not realize the truth about Judea. Even while I am writing this, in the heart of London, the papers tell that an English clergyman is in terrible difficulties with his flock, because he declines to read certain Psalms in church. You can guess which Psalms -- those about dashing the heads of little children on the stones, and so on; and these Psalms were written quite late in the history of Judea! And the English congregation rises in wrath, and says that, in the year 1926, these things shall be regarded as the Word of God!
Other volumes of this series study Christianity in every conceivable respect; every great phase of its history, every aspect of its doctrines and ethic, every claim of beneficent influence. Nothing is omitted. But it is necessary here to show, as I show in The Origin of Religion (Little Blue Book No. 1008), that nothing miraculous or new or puzzling happened when Christ appeared. The stream of natural moral evolution just flowed on.
I do not say "stood still," remember. It was flowing all the time. In the year 1 A.D. it ought to be much further than in the year 1000 B.C. There would be no great miracle if the world were more enlightened in 500 A.D. than in 500 B.C. It was a thousand years older, and three great civilizations had meantime added to man's heritage. (As a matter of fact, the world was not more enlightened in 500 A.D. than in 500 B.C.)
The only point here is to complete my story by inquiring if the new religion fits naturally into it. And instead of making a number of general statements for which the evidence cannot appear here, let us take two or three of what are commonly said to be the greatest moral innovations of Christ and Christianity.
The first is, of course, the Golden Rule. Let us take it humanly. Nobody is ever going to love his neighbor as he loves himself. It can't be done. The human emotions are not made that way. An ideal ought to be something that can be realized. But we need not worry about this. You are, of course, aware that the Golden Rule of life in this sense -- "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" -- is a quotation from the Old Testament. It is not a Christian contribution to the pretty sentiments of moralists. It was centuries old when Christ quoted it.
And as the Old Testament, as we have it, was written only late in the fifth century B.C., its doctrine of brotherly love is more than a century later than that of Buddha. Moreover, Buddha meant universal love. Every man was not the Jew's brother, or his neighbor. I presume you know enough about the ancient Jews to know that. The Jews never even professed to love anybody but Jews; and they hated quite a lot of those. A quarrel between Jews is something to see. But Buddha, as any work on him will tell you, demanded that every man should love his fellows as a mother -- these were his words -- loves her children.
Let us take the Golden Rule in its proper and more or less practical form: Act toward others as you would have them act toward you. It is a most admirable principle. It puts the Utilitarian theory of morality in a nutshell. It is so obvious a rule of social life that one is not surprised that few ever said it. It is not profound. It is common sense. If you do not want lies told you, don't tell them. If you want just, honorable, kindly, brotherly treatment from Cyrus P. Shorthouse or James F. Longshanks, try to get it by reciprocity.
Rather a good word, is it not, reciprocity? Well the famous and Agnostic Chinese moralist Confucius gave that as the Golden Rule six hundred years before Christ was born, and nearly two hundred years before the Old Testament, as we have it, was written!
You may shake your head, and say that you have heard that Rationalist story before. Confucius, you may say, only taught the Golden Rule in a negative form: Do not unto others what you do not want them to do to you. That statement is found in the whole of Christian literature. Christ went much farther than Confucius.
Well, presuming that you do not read Chinese, and that the translation of the Chinese classics is not available, open that most accessible of books, the Encyclopaedia Britannica at the article "Confucius." It is written by a Christian missionary and fine Chinese scholar, Dr. Legge, and it has been available to every Christian writer for years. Dr. Legge says, quoting the expression Golden Rule: "Several times he [Confucius] gave that rule in express words: What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others."
At last a disciple asked him if he could put it in a word. He gave the composite Chinese word "reciprocity." Dr. Legge tells us that it consists of the two characters "as heart": let the impulses of your heart be the same as those you want in your neighbor's. And lest you should still insist that perhaps it was only negative, Dr. Legge goes on: "It has been said [it is said by nearly every other Christian writer] that he only gave the rule in a negative form, but he understood it in its positive and most comprehensive form." No Chinese scholar differs from that; and Professor Westermarck gives other sayings of Confucius to prove it.
Yet, but, you say, there is the counsel to love even one's enemies. Did any moralist in the world ever urge such a refinement of virtue before Christ?
Alas, yes. (Pardon the sigh, but I never love my enemies. I think it would be bad social policy to do so. It rather encourages the mean and unjust.) The Old Testament says: "Thou shalt not hate thy brother." Perhaps that is not conclusive, but it does not matter, as the counsel had been given quite explicitly long before.
The great Chinese sage, Lao-tse, a contemporary of Confucius and nearly as Rationalistic as Confucius, said: "Recompense injury with kindness." That is near enough; and the doctrine seems to have been common in the humanitarian ethic of China. Later, in the fourth century B.C., we find the chief disciple of Confucius, the great moralist Mencius, who seems to have been the first in the world to condemn war, saying: "A benevolent man does not lay up anger' nor cherish resentment against his brother, but only regards him with affection and love."
There in the heart of Agnostic China, three hundred years before the Sermon on the Mount was delivered, you have the complete doctrine of loving your enemies as a commonplace of humanitarian morality.
Buddha in India taught the same doctrine. Love was to be universal, he insisted; and in the Dhammapada we read: "Hatred ceases by love: this is an old rule." It seems, in fact, to have been as common in India centuries before Christ as it was in China. In the "laws of Manu," compiled early in the Christian Era, but consisting of ancient Hindu writings, it is said: "Against an angry man let him not in return show anger: let him bless when he is cursed."
Non-Christian European moralists -- Socrates and Plato, Seneca, Pliny, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius -- all had the same sentiment. "We ought not to retaliate, or render evil for evil to anyone," said Socrate, quoted approvingly by Plato. Seneca wrote a whole treatise on "Anger"' condemning it in every form. It is therefore not in the least surprising that, when Greek influence began to be felt in Judea, as we see in Ecclesiasticus and Proverbs, the same sentiment is reproduced. "Thou shalt not hate thy brother," was already written in Leviticus; but, as I said before, the Jew's "brother" always meant a Jew. The sentiment, however, was now so common in every school of moralists that the finer Hebrews naturally adopted it, and, through the school of the Rabbi Hillel, it passed on to the Christians.
Here, then, is a sentiment, which thousands of Christian writers have claimed to be entirely original in Christ, actually found to be a commonplace of moralists for hundreds of years before Christ and in the "pagan" world. I trust the Christian reader will see in this a striking illustration of the way in which he is misled; but I will carry the argument just one step farther.
It occurred to no Christian, not even to Christ, that, if this moral sentiment is lofty, it ought pre-eminently to apply to man's conception of God. On what principle must Christ as man love his enemies, and Christ as God devise for them an eternity of fiendish torment? Let your Dr. Rileys answer that. And, since God, the ideal, was held to punish transgressors of his law, human and ecclesiastical society everywhere continued without scruple to do so.
We realize today that this is immoral. We inflict penalties to deter would-be transgressors, not as punishment. Who introduced this idea into the world? Plato and Aristotle. They taught the Greeks that the "punishment" of a criminal was "a moral medicine" and a deterrent. Then came Christianity, and the sentiment was lost. Punishment, as such, was more abominable than ever. At last a group of humanitarians, won the reform. Who were they? Grotius (a liberal Christian or semi-Rationalist, and the least effective), and then Hobbes, Montesquieu, Beecaria, Filangiere, Feuerbach, Schopenhauer, and (above all) Bentham -- all Rationalists, most of the Agnostics.
We see this in detail elsewhere; and we also in another book make a full story of the moral sentiments of the Gospels. There is no sentiment put into the mouth of Christ which was not well known amongst the pagan moralists: not even the idea of giving the thief your trousers also (I am not sure of the particular garments) when he has taken your coat. The stream of moral evolution just runs on. The world at that time, from Rome to Alexandria, was full of sentimental moralizers. How their sentiments came to be put forth into the mouth of Christ is a question which. we must answer by an historical study of the times.
Moral Law Is Social Law
Let us clear our minds of cant. That is now an old and threadbare saying, but it ought to be put at the beginning of every essay and book on morality. I dare not suggest that it ought to be the text of every sermon, or the sermons would be too short. We talk and write the most solemn, and often the most hypocritical, nonsense about morals. This series of books is for people who want facts, sane thinking, and fearless utterance. We have now seen the facts. Let us draw and express plain conclusions.
Moral-law is social law. We have the whole story of its evolution before us. We have studied tribes without moral ideas, tribes with a dull glimmer of moral sentiment, and tribes with a moral code in every stage of development. We have put these tribes in the strict order of their degree of culture -- as is, unfortunately, very rarely done -- and this corresponds to the various chronological stages in the evolution of the race. We have seen how even the eccentricities and distortions of the moral sentiment can be shown to be part of a normal and continuous development.
If this work were to run to a thousand pages, instead of less than one hundred, I could tell the whole wonderful story in fascinating detail. But we have seen enough here to convince any person; and other books develop the more important points. Moral law slowly dawns in the mind of the human race as a regulation of a man's relations with his fellows in the interest of social life. It is quite independent of religion, since it has entirely different roots in human psychology. It later partly by natural development and partly owing to the increasing ambition of priests, blends with religion. But it is still overwhelmingly human and utilitarian. Justice, honor, truthfulness, honesty, fidelity, and hospitality are its main lines. It is only at a late stage that it begins to include "virtues" and "vices" the utilitarian character of which can be disputed; and this development is plainly due in part to the -- to the primitive mind -- mysterious "uncleanness" of a woman's sexual physiology and to priestly calculations. Consecrated men and women find this an effective way of standing out from and above the common crowd. Virginity becomes the most shining of virtues.
We now see plainly how superfluous is the work of moral philosophers. This, they will say, is a "superficial" sketch, and they are "Profound." It is wholly untrue. What I have given the reader is a compilation of the most essential facts about the evolution of morals (never noticed by these theorists) and a series of the most rigorous and logical deductions from them. What they give their readers is an analysis of the "conscience" of a highly cultivated and refined modern man, in whose mind the influences of Christianity and a dozen other religions are confused with plain moral law.
It may be said that I explain the conscience of the savage and they explain the conscience of civilized man. They will themselves say -- I know the rhetoric well -- that it is quite natural that the more obtuse and coarser mind of the savage should first perceive the less refined and more utilitarian aspects of moral law, but as the mind of man becomes more sensitive and receptive, it perceives the finer shades of this august reality which has been slowly breaking through the mists. We now, they say, recognize "self-regarding" virtues, as well as rules of social value; and these, they insist, are completely inexplicable on the social or utilitarian theory of morals, yet are the most precious elements of character.
In this series of works I am not concerned with philosophers, as such. Not one of them is an orthodox Christian, and very few of them believe in any kind of God whom the plain man can understand. But the mysticism of philosophy in this respect encourages those who believe in God to suppose that in conscience we really have a reality, a fact, which science cannot explain, and which points, as Eucken says, to a spiritual and supernatural order. So let us work out the matter candidly.
At the time when I was a professor of philosophy (moral as well as mental) and a priest, it was my duty to know every detail of this controversy about ethics; and the controversy was then at its height, on account of the recent rise and rapid spread of Agnosticism. You cannot, on Agnostic principles, maintain the fine "self-regarding virtues," it was said to Rationalists. Since a self-regarding virtue obviously means one that does not affect our fellows, for good or evil, how could we urge it on social principles?
In the first place, we could not enforce it, we should have little force even in urging it upon the mass of mankind, but we could maintain it without the least inconsistency. It is possible for any group of men and women to set up a standard of character which they think admirable, and maintain it because they think it admirable. They may, as members of Ethical Culture Societies do, say that they will cultivate "the good life for its own sake." They think a chaste and obstemious man or woman far superior to one who is not chaste or one who drinks beer and smokes. There is no reason in the world why they should not maintain and practice their ideal; and they are, in general, admirable (if somewhat narrow-minded) bodies of men and women, of higher than the average Christian character.
But as I have pointed out to them for years, having lectured for them for three decades, there is not the slightest use in appealing to large bodies of people to "cultivate the good life for its own sake." Only those who share their taste, their standard of character, will join. They make no progress.
That proves the failure of Rationalists to sustain character, says the moral philosopher. In point of fact, one of the leading British philosophers, Professor Bosanquet, who used to lecture in the Ethical Movement, quitted it a few years before his death, making precisely this statement. Religion was necessary, he said. What, then, did he offer the world instead as a basis of conduct? Hegelian Absolutism -- the most incomprehensible of all the metaphysical webs that were ever spun by the great spiders!
Let us be practical. What are these self-regarding virtues which cannot be sustained or enforced on social principles, and the command of which in the human conscience today disproves the social theory of morality?
First, of course, chastity: in fact, one may as well say, first and second and third and last -- chastity. The great struggle is about chastity or purity. I am going to face that very candidly and fully, and I devote the next and last chapter to it. Let us be quite sure that it is the only point.
As a rule it is said that the three great vices are impurity, drinking and gambling. Impurity, as I said, we take up in the next chapter. Gambling on a small scale is so little connected with morality that I have known parsons and bishops to indulge in it, with a laugh. Practically everybody will admit that it becomes a "vice" only when it is liable to have consequences for others, for your wife and children. In fact, the girl who gambles in a club at New York or London, or even Cincinnati or Kansas City, often runs the risk of very serious consequences, as everybody knows. In other words, when gambling is a vice, it is because of its consequences.
As for drunkenness, I have never been drunk except once (in Prohibitionist Chicago) when a man whose character I did not at the time know secretly drugged my innocent wine with alcohol. Most of us have not the least temptation to get drunk. It means illness, incapacity for work, hours of misery for an hour's pleasure. In grave cases of habitual drunkenness injury is done to dependents, and the social principle at once enters. In cases of occasional drunkenness there is no need to invoke the moralist. The next morning will preach its own sermon. The idea that we shall all get drunk more frequently when we cease to believe in God is one of the funniest of propositions. In point of statistical fact, drunkenness during the last hundred years has decayed in almost the same proportion as religion.
In respect of all three "major vices" we shall prove that the world has grown steadily better while ethical philosophers and preachers were proving to demonstration that it must be growing steadily worse.
Well, what are the other self-regarding virtues? Truthfulness? Theologians have always dealt with veracity as a utilitarian quality. The little lie, the "white lie," was only a venial sin. The lie that injured others was proportionately grave. In fact, truthfulness is so obviously a desirable social quality that it is absurd, to mention it in this controversy.
What about unseen acts? Either they have consequences to others (and therefore fall under the social code) or consequences to the man himself (in which case he is a fool rather than immoral) or no consequences at all. The only serious case is that of sexual behavior, and we discuss it presently.
But can we maintain a fine sense of honor, generosity, loyalty, and unselfishness? You have only to reflect on the human consequences if we could not, the human advantages if we could, to answer yourself. No system of morals or religion ever did maintain such a standard generally. The task still lies before the race. We are steadily getting nearer to it. Take the word "utility" in its broadest (but quite legitimate) sense, and ask yourself whether it would be of any "utility" to the race to have all men, or even the minority, strictly honorable, chivalrous, loyal, generous, kindly and good-natured. The human value to each and all of us would be incalculable.
Finally, remember that there is such a thing as a momentum of character. I mean that a fine character once formed (a splendid human asset) expresses itself in every act. The honorableness and generosity extend to things where, on strict calculation, the man might act otherwise. I have known thousands of such characters, Christian and Agnostic. They are not tempted to betray a confidence, as another man would be. They are not tempted to steal or cheat when nobody looks on. Rhetoric apart, we want a better society composed of such men and women; and the intrinsic human value of such an ideal, the happiness and comfort and welfare it would bring, make it an essential part of our code of social morals. Some day right conduct will be automatic,
The Revolt Against Morality
Evolution throws a wonderful light on all the struggles, eccentricities, tortuous developments of the human conscience in the past. It is the only theory of morals that does. And evolution throws just as much light on the ethical and social struggle today; and it is the only theory that does. What a strange age ours is from the religious point of view! What a hopeless age from the philosopher's point of view! Yet it is a very good age, the best that ever was. No evolutionist is a pessimist.
I may assume that even my Fundamentalist readers have heard of one philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. You heard of him first during the war. You may not know that he loathed bloodshed and brawling, and, like Haeckel, heavily criticized the beer-drinking and dueling of German students; but you were convinced that he was responsible for that shocking demoralization of Germany of which you heard so much.
Next you heard of him from William Jennings Bryan and Dr. Riley and whatever preacher you sit under wherever you may be. An appalling murder (with awful details which were never published) was committed by two abnormal boys in Chicago. To save them, Clarence Darrow put the blame on their reading of Nietzsche: not on Nietzsche, as you were assured that this "great scientist" (he was not a scientist at all, but a literary man) and "German" (really of Polish blood) and "Darwinian" (he knew next to nothing about Darwinism), proved that evolution made an end of all morals.
Probably you heard that a Briton named George Bernard Shaw said the same thing; but as he happens to be a fierce anti-Darwinist, he may not have been mentioned. At all events, you will have heard that there was a terrible man in America named Wiggam, who "gave the show away" in the same manner. I could give you a dozen other names.
I have an esteemed friend in England whom I avoid as much as possible. Throughout a long life he has never played cards, never smoked, never tasted beer or wine, never entered a theatre.... How he comes to possess two children is a mystery to me. But he is one of the most ardent Nietzscheans in England.
Strange, isn't it? He is one of the gentlest of men. To tell you the truth, so was Nietzsche. He loathed bloodshed, cruelty, meanness, injustice, hypocrisy, and lies. The sight of all this in the world drove him mad. But he was not mad when he wrote his great works. For the grown man, who can understand them, they are a splendid tonic and inspiration. But he wrote, however, in paradoxes and fiery exaggerations, as high-strung prophets do. And he did make very serious mistakes, as most men did in the infancy of science.
Nietzsche, though not a scientist, heard about Darwin, and misunderstood him. He supposed that Darwin really said what Fundamentalist writers make him say: that all progress depends on a bloody struggle for life, so there must be no mercy or philanthropy. What Darwin said was that in animal evolution, in the remote past, the law (or fact) had been bloody struggle. Darwin never dealt with the laws of human progress, now and in the future. In fact, he expressly defended humanitarianism.
You see the simple mistake of Nietzsche, and of others who do not understand science. He thought that modern society was running counter to the essential laws of life. He thought -- this was another great mistake -- that Christianity had brought into the world the moral principles which made us help the weak. He thought all this would ruin the race, and so in pure humanitarian zeal he fought morals and he fought Christianity. It is not strictly true that he rejected all moral principle. He was one of the most moral of men. He rejected the current morality as a "slave-morality," and wanted it changed to a higher.
However, you need not worry about Nietzsche. Very few follow him, or ever will follow him, in his errors. You need not worry about your Wiggams. They are, not "advanced," but forty years out of date. You need not worry about G.B. Shaw. He is the only real Shavian, as far as his essential ideas are concerned, in England.
But there is one respect in which these anti-moral writers have the support of a very large number of the most brilliant authors (chiefly novelists and dramatists) of modern times, and it has to be seriously considered. They attack morality. Do not shudder: it does not promote understanding. I know many of these men well. They are men of higher character than you and I. Let us understand it.
When you say "morals," most people think of the generally accepted code as regards sex. That is why they attack morals. They do not admit those sex rules. In other words, instead of the whole educated and refined world being agreed upon the contents of the moral law, as philosophers and theologians say, half the most influential writers and artists of modern times reject what these philosophers and theologians regard as its essential contents: sex-regulations. And, as half or more of the educated and refined people of the modern world prefer these writers to all others, you have a plain indication that moral law in regard to sex is very widely and seriously disputed in some respects.
It is a simple and natural situation. I have described how religion and morals have been blended for tens of thousands of years. We have also seen how, under the influence of religion, ideas got into the moral code which were not original parts of it. Now, in the twentieth century, the world is discarding religion, and it is therefore re-examining its moral code. Are there any elements of it which are purely ecclesiastical in origin? If so, they do not concern us. Are we to follow blindly the code of the Middle Ages?
Nobody does; not even Catholics. We have altered line after line of the moral ideal. Pride is no longer the greatest sin. Asceticism is no longer the greatest virtue. Priestly celibacy will probably be abandoned in the Roman Church. Birth-control is practiced generally by educated clergymen. The serious question is whether "chastity," as such, is another of these ancient errors.
Before you throw up your arms, reflect. It never was observed by the bulk of the community. Rupert Hughes has lately shown that even in the Puritan days in America "vice" was rampant. So do not begin to paint a frightful coming degeneration.
Or, rather, do paint this coming degeneration. Work out the consequences. But do not begin by saying that women and children will not dare to venture out, etc. The police will see to that. The world gets safer for them every decade. Well then. ... You see, when you try to work out the consequences, you come to this conclusion: Many things will be done in violation of Christian law, but those who are not Christians can hardly be expected to observe a purely Christian law. As to any possible social consequences, our principles cover all that. There will still be law.
It is no use your squirming. Social consequences will be attended to by society. Any act which involves injustice or does an injury is, and will remain, immoral. It is as much a part of our law as yours; and we, apparently, get it better observed by pointing out that it is a human and social law. The man who brings trouble upon a woman is guilty of a crime. The husband or wife who stealthily breaks the marriage contract, and expects the other spouse to keep it, flagrantly violates the law of justice.... Yes, I know; many will do it. They always did.
So the evolutionary or social or what is broadly called Utilitarian theory of morals smiles at all these supposed difficulties. Some things will be no longer considered "immoral" which once were thought immoral! as has happened repeatedly. An act that injures no one in any way will be regarded as a man's or woman's own business. Hypocrisy, secret violations of contract, lies -- all the things that have accompanied the universal "immorality" of the past -- will slowly disappear. It will take time, a very long time. We have inherited a dreadful past. But we are gradually getting more frankness, courage, honorableness, and consideration for others. Out of that dark, abhorrent chaos which we have surveyed a new order is rising: the finer and happier order of Shelley's Prometheus:
None wrought his lips in truth-entangling lines
Which smiled the lie his tongue disdained to speak;
None, with firm sneer, trod out in his heart
The sparks of love and hope till there remained
Those bitter ashes, a soul self-consumed.
* * * * *
None talked that common, false, cold, hollow talk
Which makes the heart deny the yes it breathes,
Yet question that unmeant hypocrisy
With such a self-mistrust as has no name.
And women, too, frank, beautiful, and kind
As the free heaven which rains fresh light and dew
On the wide earth, past; gentle, radiant forms,
From custom's evil taint exempt and pure,
Speaking the wisdom once they could not think,
Looking emotions once they feared to feel,
And, changed to all which once they dared not be,
Yet, being now, made earth like heaven; nor pride
Nor jealousy, nor envy, nor ill shame,
The bitterest of those drops of treasured gall,
Spoiled the sweet taste of the nepenthe, love.