Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 9, 1898.djvu/318
THE "HIGH GODS" OF AUSTRALIA.
If anyone, accustomed to Mr. Lang's usual half-serious, half-satiric vein, have come to doubt that he can ever be in earnest (save when attacking Professor Max Müller), The Making of Religion (Longmans, 1898) is calculated to undeceive him. It is a counterblast in deadly earnest to current anthropological theories, or what he describes as such; and it winds up with (for him) an impassioned appeal on behalf of the rudiments of theological orthodoxy. He thus states the current anthropological theories which he attacks:
"Man derived the conception of 'spirit' or 'soul' from his reflections on the phenomena of sleep, dreams, death, shadow, and from the experience of trance and hallucination. Worshipping first the departed souls of his kindred, man later extended the doctrine of spiritual beings in many directions. Ghosts or other spiritual existences fashioned on the same lines prospered till they became gods. Finally, as the result of a variety of processes, one of these gods became supreme, and, at last, was regarded as the only God. Meanwhile man retained his belief in the existence of his own soul surviving after the death of the body, and so reached the conception of immortality. Thus the ideas of God and of the soul are the result of early fallacious reasonings about misunderstood experiences."He combats the theories thus stated, first, by enlarging on the hallucinations, the trances, the "visions" of savages, comparing them with modern civilised spiritualistic and other phenomena, insisting on the reality of the experiences, and suggesting that, forming as they do the foundation, "at least in part," of the savage theory of the soul, they "cannot