Lecture Three

Origins of Religion

Primary Source - Bradley, David G., A Guide to the World’s Religions, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1963, Library of Congress # 63-7991

I. Sir Edward Tylor - The Ghost Theory

Primitive Culture - 1866 “Dreams about persons who had died and the belief in ghosts, led to ancestor worship and finally to more developed concepts: important departed ancestors became actual gods.

II. Max Muller - Animism (...beginning of the modern study of religion.)

1875 - “Primitive (people) personified , or ascribed life and human characteristics to the forces of nature as the sun, the moon storms, and the sky.”

III. Sir James G. Frazer - Magic

The Golden Bough “The origin of religion is found in the attempt by primitive people to control the world of nature and the unseen world as well, by magic. “Magic” = an organized attempt to coerce nature’s forces to do man’s bidding.”

Problem - Sliding scale between science and religion.

Major problem - Use of Jesus and the idea of the scape goat.

Dr. Star’s view in the seventh grade science class. As science increases, religion decreases. No religion by the year 2000.

IV. Andrew Lang (Scot) & Father Wilhelm Schmidt (Austrian) - Primitive Monotheism

Excellent research - The orthodox biblical notion that all humankind at one time practiced a primitive monotheism.

V Bishop Robert Henry Codrington (1830-1922) - Mana

The Melanesians: Studies of Their Anthropology and Folk-Lore, 1891 - Mana = The supernatural power which resides in all things and motivates all life activity. (Popularized by anthropologists P.R. Marett)

VI. Sigmund Freud - Three views - Wish fulfillment, projection of the father image, and the expression of neuroses, based on the guilt inherent in repression of infantile sexual fantasies.

A. Wish fulfillment - The good are rewarded and the evil are punished.

B. Projection of the father image. The child think that the father is omnipotent, omnipresent, and all knowing. As a teen ager you learn that the old man is not so smart. You may even think that he is stupid. There is a vacuum in the mind and the child, now a teen agers , has to put God in this place.

Followers of Freud, (Randolph Crump Miller - Projection of the Mother image.

C. Example... boy while on the potty plays with his penis, It feel very good. Mother runs in and slaps his hand and says stop that you pervert. You will go bald and insane. I was told that in grade school in a physical education class. They used the word “masturbate,” and I didn’t know what the word meant, so I didn’t worry too much. When I learned the word later in Junior High, I knew I looked at my father, who was very bald in a different light - the pervert.” Anyway, the boy goes on to become a celibate Catholic priest., and a girl with a similar experience become a nun, and most Catholics just believe in the virgin birth.

It is important to note that Freud though that this illusion was better than a psychosis. For most weak people.

VII. Carl Jung - Racial archetypes

The unconscious racial history of humans, these represent the method humankind has developed to live with those fears and frustrations which have been built into our subconscious. Scientific objection centers on the charge that this involves the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Hindu scholars have used this view to support the doctrine of reincarnation.

VIII. Rudolf Otto - The Idea of the Holy

German theologian - Man’s religious experience proves the existence of an unseen force the numinous before which men stand in awe, and with which we have real interaction. Based on Kant’s revolution.

IX. Paul Tillich The Confrontation with Non-being and the resulting Courage to Be,

The Courage To Be

Type of Confrontation

Relative Form

Absolute Form



Death (Tillich himself said that determinism was worse than death. In that case you had never lived at all.)







Two types of courage.

1. Courage to be a part of.

The church, The political party, The family, The nation. The sexual liaison.

2. Courage to be apart from

Jesus walked this lonesome valley. He had to walk it by himself. Nobody else could walk it for him , he had to walk it by himself. You must walk this lonesome valley, you must walk it by yourself ; Nobody else can walk it for you. You have to walk it by yourself.”

X. Martin Buber

I and Thou

When my thou meets your thou the Eternal Thou is there.





An interpersonal dialogue


Treating a person as an object




An interpersonal dialogue. Example The Aggie football game. The 12th man tradition.

A Donkey pulling a cart up the hill. Join the donkey and pull

The submariner and the destroyer captain in Th Enemy Below.


Concentrating on your feelings.

The Aggie football game. I get so excited. I yell, I cry, I pound the person in front of me.

Sympathy for the donkey. Poor donkey

The submariner and the destroyer captain with respect , hatred and understanding.


Treat the person as an object

The Aggie football game. Knowing all the statistics. That run put him number thirteen on the all time Aggie rushing list. I saw Tony Franklin kick what was at that time the longest field goal ever kicked in college football... 63 yards.

The donkey is lifting exactly 1,794 pounds up an incline plane of 36.8749 degrees.

The destroyer knows that the sub is at a depth of 736.2 feet moving n - NW at 7.63 knots per hour.

Can have this relationship with and object, an animal, a human, or with God.

XI. Karl Marx and Lenin - Communism

Religion is the opiate of the people. A means of economic control exercised by the capitalists on the proletariat.

Example.. Liston Pope Mill-hands and preachers.