Meaning, the birth of religion, from “this believing world” by Lewis Browne.

In the beginning there was fear; and fear was in the heart of man; and fear  controlled man. At every turn it whelmed over him, leaving him no moment of ease. With the wild soughing of the wind it swept through him; with the crashing of the thunder and the growling of lurking beasts. All the days of man were gray with fear, because all his universe seemed charged with danger. Earth and sea and sky were set against him; with relentless enmity, with inexplicable hate, they were bent on his destruction… Boulders toppled and broke his bones; diseases ate his flesh; death seemed ever ready to lay him low. And he, poor gibbering half-ape nursing his wound in some draughty cave, could only tremble with fear…

In the world he saw about him all objects were animate; sticks, stones, storms, and all else. He shied at each of them suspiciously, much as a horse shies suspiciously at bits of paper by the roadside. And not merely were all things animate to the savage, but they were seething with emotions, too. Things could be angry, and they could feel pleased; they could destroy him if they so willed, or they could let him alone…

Instinctively he wanted to thrash whatever seemed to bring him evil. Only he was afraid. From experience he knew that fighting was useless, that the enemy- objects, the falling boulders that maimed him, and the flooding streams that wrecked his hut, were in some uncanny way proof against his spears and arrows. That was why he was finally forced to more subtle methods of attack. Since blows could not subdue the more hostile rocks or streams, our ancestor tried to subdue them with magic. He though words might avail: strange syllables uttered in groans, or meaningless shouts accompanied by beating tom-toms. Or he tried wild dances. Or luck charms. Of one thing he seemed most stubbornly convinced: that some spell would work. Somehow the hostile things around him could be appeased or controlled, he believed; somehow death could be averted. Why he should have been so certain, no one can tell. It must have been his instinctive adjustment to the conditions of a world that was too much for him. Self- preservation must have forced him to that certainty, for without it self-preservation would have been impossible…

So he had faith- and developed religion.


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