Page:Psychology of Religion.djvu/9

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8

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION

od—which in the long run means merely more careful observation—to every form of human behavior. The only groan of the pessimist that is worth a moment's consideration is his plea that our conduct is no wiser or better than that of the Athenians of two thousand years ago or of the Egyptians and Babylonians of four thousand years ago. Let us, by all means, give the stars and electrons and buried fossils a spell of rest, and turn this very wonderful apparatus of science upon life. Let us have a quite candid, scientific analysis of the behavior of pivotal people like the politician and his agent, the policeman, the preacher, the storekeeper (as well as the customer), the reformer, and so on.

Anyhow, since the religious part of man's behavior is said to be the most important and most interesting of all, it ought to be the first to attract the psychologic eye. Here, however, the shadow of the great prohibitionist Moses lies across the path, and the psychologist either turns away or becomes remarkably timid and accommodating. We have had a score of works on the psychology of religion in the last twenty years, and they are all bad. You may take the most sagacious writer of them all, William James (Varieties of Religious Experience), and