from (9/6/2004): The Psychology of Religion, Joseph McCabe [1867 - 1955], Little Blue Book No. 446, edited by E. Haldeman-Julius, Haldeman-Julius Publications, Girard, Kansas, n.d.



'A nun's love of Jesus, for instance, or a young monk's love of Mary may very well have a strong subconscious sexual coloring. In the overwhelming majority of believers the emotions are normal and have no specific religious or sexual meaning. What requires explanation, in other words, is the belief. Given the belief, the emotions follow as naturally as anger follows an injury, or gratitude follows a generous act, or hope and enthusiasm follow the acceptance of an economic creed.

          And the factors of the belief are really only two in the mass of believers—

TRADITION and reasoning—and in the case of the overwhelming majority only one, TRADITION. Parents, priests, and "THE HERD" [see 2648] make each new citizen of the world religious according to the pattern of the region in which he is born. I have in very ignorant parts of Europe, where everybody belonged to the Greek Church and most of the people never heard of any other, tried the effect of introducing the idea of skepticism. I do not mean that I tried to argue against religion, but merely to ascertain what would be the reaction of these people if I said that I was a skeptic and that half the people of my city were skeptics. The only effect was a dumb, almost pained, stupefaction. They were not really interested. It was a sort of outrage on their respect for tradition. They regarded me as a group of beavers or ants might regard an individual that by some freak did not follow the traditional ways. Such people—and they are at least four-fifths of the religious believers of the world—inherit their religion just as automatically as they inherit their code of etiquette or cooking or music. The authority of tradition explains entirely the fact that they believe—the emotional religious life then follows of itself—and back of tradition and its enforcement are the priesthoods.

          Personal experiences count in the psychology of their religion only because they already believe. For ages man believed that the summer's crop, the rain supply, the fertility of the cattle, depended upon the gods, and this gave him a bias toward religion; but obviously, the belief is the primary thing. Personal reasoning, on the other hand, has very little to do with religion in this largest class of worshipers. The world seems to them, in such dull gleams of reflection as they have, to be quite in harmony with their religion. The prosperity of the wicked and suffering of the good will be put right in the next world, and so on. Doubt never occurs to the overwhelming majority, and reason is not invoked to allay it. The stream of religious tradition flows placidly on....


when the worshiper begins to reason, you get an increasing amount of personal element in the religion. Most people must know, however, that the great majority even of white believers in an educated country never reason, never need to reason, about religion. Today the "proofs" are provided with religion itself. The preacher adopts an apologetic tone occasionally, and slays Atheists, Modernists, Protestants, Catholics, or any type of opponent, and not one in five hundred of his audience will take the trouble to check his words. Reflect on the Fundamentalist's veneration for the Word of God. It is just a blind acceptance of tradition and priestly authority in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred.

          In short, it is only a very small minority of religious worshipers whose religion offers any material for psychological study. In the overwhelming majority of cases a set of statements are planted in the young mind, and, as they are accepted by the whole community, they remain unchallenged. They are beliefs, or statements, accepted on authority. Where there is a variety of religions or sects, the diversity may provoke the believer to reflect, but as a rule his own sect has a literature so unblushingly mendacious that he never carries the inquiry beyond his own church. His religion as belief requires no analysis; and in so far as it is emotional, it has no special elements. Love of Jehovah, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, or the Bab is the same emotion as was once love of Ishtar or Tammuz or Zeus, and is now the love of friend or parent.' [55-56] [End of Chapter V.].


[Traditions incorporate emotions and/or reasonings].

[See: The God Gene How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes, Dean Hamer, 2004. Spiritual ['"Spirituality" is the modern, politically correct term for superstition.' (Secular Nation, Fourth Quarter, 2004, page 5, Richard S. Russell)] beliefs may have genetic components].

[See: Addition 42, 2334-2336 (Edmund Law)].