The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37
The Prejudice Against Religion
The Prejudice Against Religion.
In the study of religion, however, one great cause of mistake and injustice should be scrupulously eliminated,—I mean, the preconception or prejudice which pronounces beforehand that religion is pure superstition. Whoever enters on this study with a bias so unscientific as this will arrive at no results. Religion must be studied as one of the greatest facts of human history, if not the very greatest. It must be studied with the previous conviction that every fact of history, even the most trivial, has its proper place and deserves to be studied with scientific impartiality. The blind fury of the partisan, whether turned in this way or that, is a complete stoppage of ear and eye, disqualifying for all valuable research. The anti-religion rage which makes the very name a red rag to be rushed at with all the violence of a mad bull, and which is by no means an uncommon phenomenon of the day, should be as carefully guarded against as the most submissive superstition. Criticise without scruple the mischievous perversions and abuses of religion; acknowledge without palliation all the evil it has done; but avoid the mental obfuscation of confounding a permanent force with a transient form. This the adherents of the various religions do, conceiving the favored form of religion to be religion itself, and therefore condemning all other forms as false and abominable; but this the scientific student can never do, who sees that the evils done by religion in the world's history are page 5 due to the misapplication of a force whose intelligent direction must be most beneficial.