Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/243

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



unity is still stronger, so much so that it may seem wrong to class, as we have done, Judaism and Christianity among religions of humanity rather than religions of God. They are, in fact, both at once, and the former at least is primarily a religion of God, and only secondarily a religion of humanity. It is because the worship of humanity in them, rather than the worship of Deity, determines their specific character, because they conceive Deity itself as a transcendent humanity, or as united with humanity; it is not because Deity plays a less, but because humanity plays a more prominent part in them, that I have chosen to name them rather from humanity than from Deity.

When, therefore, modern systematizers, in endeavoring to organize a religion which should exclude the supernatural, have extracted out of Christianity a religion of humanity, and have rejected as obsolete whatever in it had relation to Deity, they have not been wrong in taking what they have taken, though wrong in leaving what they have left. Deity is found in other religions besides Christianity, and in some religions, e. g., in Islamism, is not a whit less prominent than in Christianity; what is characteristic of the Christian system is its worship of humanity. How great a mistake, nevertheless, is made when it is supposed that Deity ought to be removed out of our religious systems, or that the rejection of supernaturalism in any way involves the dethronement of Deity or the transference to any other object of the unique devotion due to him, I shall show immediately; but what I have said about those inferior forms of religion which have not God for their object suggests another observation before we pass to consider the religion of God.


JOHN WILLIAM DAWSON was born at Pictou, Nova Scotia, in 1820. He received his early academic training in the College of Pictou. Here, in addition to the regular course of study, he investigated with great success the natural history of his native province, thus early manifesting a taste for original scientific inquiry.

Having finished his course at Pictou, he entered the University of Edinburgh. After a winter's study he returned to Nova Scotia, and devoted himself with ardor to geological research. He was the companion of Sir Charles Lyell during his tour in Nova Scotia, in 1842.

In the autumn of 1846 he returned to the University of Edinburgh, his special objects of study being now practical chemistry and other subjects, of which he had found the necessity in the original work in which he was engaged.

In 1850 he was appointed Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia. This office he held for three years, and rendered valuable ser-