In the nineteenth century academic world a stormy debate took shape over the origin of religion. Scholars explored the ancient languages of mythology and then considered evolutionary anthropology. A dominant view emerged that religion began with animism -- the reverent honoring of spirits -- and from there evolved into higher forms, from polytheism on to monotheism.
However, scholars Andrew Lang and Wilhem Schmidt contended there were cultures throughout the world -- pygmy people in Africa and Asia, certain Australian Aboriginal groups and Native American tribes -- that originated as monotheistic, acknowledging the existence of one supreme God who created the world and holds people accountable for living morally upright lives.
The debate wore on, and Schmidt, a member of the Catholic order and a priest, was accused (without evidence) of letting his faith interpret the facts. By the mid-twentieth century a silent consensus formed among scholars not to discuss the origin and evolution of religion any further. The discoveries of Lang and Schmidt have since been largely ignored.
However, the evidence on which these scholars based their conclusion of monotheism is still out there. In the Beginning God attempts to educate Christians about the debate on this topic, the facts that were accepted and those that were ignored, and the use to which Christians can put all of this material in making a case for the truth of Christianity.
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About the Author
Winfried Corduan (Ph.D., Rice University) is professor emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Origins and Beginnings: Confusion in the Making 1
Chapter 2 Max Müller: Mythology as a Disease of Language 11
Chapter 3 E. B. Tylor: Religion from a Darwinian Perspective 35
Chapter 4 Andrew Lang: Turnabout Is Fair Play 63
Chapter 5 Andrew Lang: Interactions and Totemism 93
Chapter 6 Wilhelm Schmidt and Culture Circles 137
Chapter 7 Wilhelm Schmidt: The Results 181
Chapter 8 Wilhelm Schmidt: Reactions and Critiques 225
Chapter 9 Eliade, Otto, and Durkheim: Escape into the Irrational 267
Chapter 10 Monotheism Around the Globe 301
Chapter 11 Original Monotheism and Christian Apologetics 337
Appendix A 355
Appendix B 357
Name Index 359
Subject Index 363