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Walter Capps Origin Of Religion Notes

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Walter Capps, Religious Studies: The Making of a DisciplineChapter 2; The Origin of ReligionComte- p64--

'An underlying rationale - a law of sequential progression - makes it impossible to take up the concerns of the theological state of mind after human intelligence has come to recognize the propriety of positive science.' o 'Religion has its roots in the first stage of human mental development' o This 1st stage has been made 'obsolete' by 'a 2nd stage which has superseded it' 'once a stage in the pathway of human intelligence has been superseded by a subsequent stage it is no longer appropriate or viable' 'this interpretation refers religion to the mental childhood of the human race. Religion may have performed a useful function in its time,(p65) but that function retains no utility once that time has been passed.' P65 'the historical chronicle witnesses that religious sensitivity helped set humankind on the pathway toward a more useful comprehension of human surroundings.' o 'but one those surroundings were comprehended in more effective ...terms,
[became] obsolete.'

'the theological mode of awareness represents humankind's first way of making sense of the world.' 'theology... is both first-stage and superannuated. And the judgements against theology apply with equal force to religion. Comte understood religion and theology to be of the same cloth'

MAX MULLER- 1832- 1930, page 69 'a probing of mythology held the promise of disclosing the origins of religious awareness' Built his approach 'upon a definition of religion that roots it in natural human awareness and then, more specifically, within the dynamics of perception;-

'defined religion as 'a mental faculty which, independent of, nay, in spite of, senses and reason, enables man to apprehend the infinite under different names and under varying disguises' Muller: 'without this faculty, no religion... would be possible; and if we will but listen attentively, we can hear in all religions the groaning of the spirit, a struggle to conceive the inconceivable, to utter the unutterable, a longing after the infinite.'

However, Muller acknowledged, 'one should not expect to find either a perfect or fully developed idea of the infinite in the earliest instances of individual or collective religious experience.'... 'this was an idea that developed gradually.'


P70- 'religion begins as little with the perfect idea of the infinite as astronomy begins with the law of gravity' 'the idea is the last rather than the first step in the march of the human intellect.' 'in the development of religion, the perception of the infinite becomes extended and transformed into a concept o 'Muller's philosophy of nature held that the sun, moon, wind, thunder etc. gave the earliest humans an intuition of deity and the invisible reality beyond.' o 'development of language, these touchstones of reality were deified and the infinite was described in a personified manner'
? 'disease of language' 'he favoured 'pure religion', the simple apprehension of the infinite.' 'negative attitude toward what happens to religion in the course of its subsequent development- when the content of such intuitive insights are objectified so as to be transposed into a foreign, and thus deceptive, frame of reference.'

JAMES FRAZER- p71 'view that magic, religion and science belong to an evolutionary sequence''according to Frazer, human intelligence formed progressively''this developmental process stretches from the beginning of time to the present, unbroken. Hence the thought of the earliest humans contained germs out of which more complex ideas developed.'

'Frazer wanted to know 1) how magic came into being and 2) he wished to identify the fundamental differences between magic and religion.' 1) 'magic pertained to the attempt to manipulate or control natural forces through ritual, ceremony and incantation.. practices common among primitive peoples.' P72 'in Frazer's view, magic relies on an interpretation of mental associations that is logically suspect.'-

'the mistake lies in conceiving the natural order of things as an extension of the order in which ideas present themselves to the mind.' 'magic gives way to religion when it is discovered that 'the succession of natural events is not determined by immutable laws.'

'the belief in natural order is replaced by the religious view, which sees natural events occurring in the world because of the invisible presence and intervention of supernatural beings'

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