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The Sphere of Religion

THE SPHERE OF RELIGION

CHAPTER I.

WHAT IS RELIGION ?
(First published in the North American Review, Feb., 1908.)

No one at all acquainted with the tendencies of thought at present can fail to be impressed with the greatly increased interest now being taken in the study of religion. Thinkers of every shade of opinion upon other subjects are fast coming to recognize the fact that religion has always held a vitally important place in the development of every race and individual, and, whether we like it or not, is certain to remain a most potent factor in the civilization of the future.

For a number of years the most persistent efforts have been put forth by a small army of able investigators to find out the actual facts of man's religious life in all times and countries. Not only have the sacred books and rites of the nations of the earth been subjected to the most rigid scrutiny, but the folk-lore of all lands and even the crudest superstitions and most repulsive practices of savages have been carefully studied. Every possible means has been taken to discover what ideas man has had in all conditions of his existence concerning the powers that rule over this universe, and also to determine to what extent these

ideas have affected his thought and life.

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