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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

RELIGION AS AN OBJECTIVE PROBLEM
The collapse of supernaturalist theology has been accompanied by
the collapse, first of supernatural moral sanctions, and then of any
absolute basis for morals. This too must be regarded as a process
which, in the event of the continuance of civilization, is irreversible.
We can, however, go further. We have seen that the breakdown
of traditional religion has been brought about by the growth of man's
knowledge and control over his environment. But biologists distin-
guish between the external and the internal environment. Our blood
provides our tissues with an internal environment regulated to a
nicety both as regards its temperature and its chemical constitution,
whereas the blood of a sea-urchin affords no such constancy. The
organization of an ants' nest provides for the species an internal en-
vironment of a social nature. And in contrast with the rapid increase
of man's knowledge of and control over his external environment,
there has been little or no corresponding progress as regards the in-
ternal environment of his species. This is equally true in regard to the
structure of society which provides the social environment for the
individual and the race, and for the complex of feelings and ideas
which provide the psychological environment in which the personal
life of the individual is bathed.
These two aspects of man's internal environment of course interact
and at points indeed unite—witness the field of social psychology: but
for the most part they can be best considered from two very different
angles—on the one side from the angle of economics, politics, law and
sociology, on the other from the angle of psychological science. Not
only have we as yet no adequate scientific knowledge or control over
these phenomena, but our absence of control is causing widespread
bewilderment. The common man to-day is distressed not only over
his own sufferings, but at the spectacle of the helplessness of those in
responsible positions in face of the maladjustments of the world's
economic and political machinery.
In this field the fear of the uncomprehended, banished elsewhere,
has once more entered human life. The fear is all the more deadly
because the forces feared are of man's own making. No longer can
we blame the gods. The modern Prometheus has chained himself to
the rock, and himself fostered the vulture which now gnaws his vitals:
his last satisfaction, of defying the Olympian tyrant, is gone.
The distress and the bewilderment are experienced as yet mainly in
the more tangible realm of social and economic organization: the
mental stresses and distortions arising from the social maladjust-
ment remain for the time being in the background of public
consciousness.
K                                      I37