Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 23, 1912.djvu/173
Ideas of Unseen, Personal Beings.
In an essay on a group of Christian mystics, I have indicated four kinds of affective needs, only two of which need be mentioned here:—
(a) The needs of the heart. Affection and love seek perfect objects that they may be perfectly gratified. Under stress of this need a Nature-god or the impassable Absolute may be transformed into the Great Friendly Presence, the benevolent Father, even the Passionate Lover.
(b) The needs of conscience, (not, as in Class I., the interpretation of the facts of conscience). We crave strength in order to fulfil its imperative commands. These cravings are father to the belief in a Being who is able and willing to assist in the conflicts of the "spiritual" against the "natural" man. Here might be placed also the conviction that justice must be fulfilled, either in this life or in another. This conviction is usually connected with the belief in a Dispenser of punishment and reward, a Fulfiller of the law of justice.
The modern belief in the existence of God rests nearly entirely upon the experiences of this second class. Dreams, hallucinations, trances, personification of striking phenomena, the idea of a Maker,—these empirical data, together with the metaphysical arguments, have lost all or almost all the value they had once as prompters of the belief in God.
Subclasses Ia and Ib.—I proceed to a few remarks concerning the first four groups of the first class, and I begin with groups a and b.
Most anthropologists seem to be of the opinion that the idea of the "double" or "ghost" is the exclusive source of the original belief in souls, in invisible spirits, and consequently in gods. Very recently, however, a distinguished sociologist, E. Durkheim, has vigorously attacked