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We next have to ask ourselves what is the result of our other typo of
analysis of the nature of religion. In the most general terms, it is that
religion is the product of a certain type of interaction between man
and his environment. It always involves an emotional component—
the sense of sacrcdness. It always involves a more than intellectual
belief—a sense of compulsive rightncss. It is always concerned with
human destiny, and with a way of life. It always brings the human
being into some sort of felt relation with powers or agencies outside
his personal self. It always involves some sort of escape from inner
conflict. These different components may be very unequally devel-
oped, but they are always present.
Pushing the analysis a stage further, religion is seen as an attempt
to come to terms with the irrational forces that affect man—some
cosmic, some social, some personal. These terms may be terms of
capitulation or of victory, of compromise or of escape. Here once
more there is immense variety.
A very important further point is this—that there is no single
function of religion. We may class religious functions by their ex-
ternal points of reference or by their internal origins. Externally, the
first religious function is to place man in a satisfactory emotional
relation with his non-human environment, regarded as outer destiny
or fate. The second is to do the same for his social environment; the
third, to do the same for his personal actions.
Looked at from the point of view of internal origin, the matter is
much more complicated. One very important religious function is
that of rationalization—giving coherent explanations in rational terms
for acts and feelings which arise from instinctive and therefore irra-
tional sources. Another is that which we have already mentioned,
the desire for unity. These two between them provide the theological
side of religions.
More fundamental—since they provide the raw materials on which
the rationalizing and unifying urges act—are the purely emotional
components. These fall under two main heads—the functions arising
from conflict or reaction between the self and the outer world, and
those arising from conflict or reaction between parts of the self.
Among the former we may mention the need to escape from frustra-
tion and limitations; and the need for enhancement of the actual, the
gilding of the imperfect. At length we come to relations between
parts of the self, which are the most potent of all in generating religious
reactions. Here we must take account of several basic facts of human
mind. First there is the inevitability of conflict—a necessary conse-
quence of man's mental make-up. Then there is the illimitable nature