Book: Pagan And Christian Creeds Their Origin And Meaning by Edward CarpenterThis book provides a systematic and logical approach to the origins of religion. Many common themes are shown to exist between Christianity and earlier Pagan religions that go back in time centuries before Christianity itself. Carpenter makes an effort to get to the very roots of religion in this book. He's trying to uncover where our religious concepts first originated, and reveals an evolutionary sequence which starts with phallic and procreative cults as having the earliest known impact. Following this came a cult of magic, much along the lines of Frazier's The Golden Bough, where spirits and earth divinities were worshipped. Lastly, came the belief in actual God-figures that came down from heaven. A big part of early religion also concerns the Consciousness of man, which Carpenter divides into three stages. Simple consciousness was when man's mind was instinctive and similar to that of the animal, followed by self consciousness which is generally found today. Lastly, and most importantly, Carpenter mentions a third type of consciousness found in many of the rites and beliefs of ancient religions, but which we seem to have lost today. He considers this form of consciousness "unnamed," but provides an Appendix on the doctrines of the Upanishads which, he says, at least gives us an idea Concerning this third stage of consciousness and the mental attitude required. Only here, in this higher stage that we've been striving for, are the real facts of the inner life found.
Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was a well-regarded English poet and scholar. He studied at Brighton College and then entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Carpenter was close friend to E. M. Forster and Laurence Houseman and was a member of The Fabian Society.
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