Superstition—the offspring of false and degrading views of religion—when opposed, as it frequently is, to science, has a powerful tendency to subserve the purposes of ignorance, by discouraging the cultivation of learning and philosophy, which last can never prove detrimental to genuine and pure religion, however inimical they may be to false views and a degrading worship. The more enlightened the mind, the more will it be disposed to render due and acceptable homage to the great Authorof all created being, and to submit with reverenceto the laws He has framed for the government of the universe. We may observe, at the outset of our inquiry, that, in the infancy of human society, as in that of the individual, the organs of sensitive perception, admiration, and reverential awe, are probably first developed in mankind, by the multitudinous phenomena presented by nature to their contemplative faculties. The secondary causes of these various phenomena being yet necessarily uninvestigated, and, consequently, unknown and unappreciated, the untutored mind, in the infancy of knowledge, was naturally induced to ascribe them to the direct and continual agency of some immediately impending power, whose being and attributes transcended the limits of mortal cognizance. In these early times, therefore, religion and science thus came to be amalgamated, as it were, by a very simple and natural process—the primitive philosophy was essentially theosophistic. The mind of man, indeed, is constitutionally predisposed to superstition and mysticism, particularly in the earher stages of its development; and being yet ignorant of the secret  influences of nature, it is apt to ascribe their effects, in each individual case, to the direct and immediate agency of supernatural causes.

 

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An History of Magic, Witchcraft, and Animal Magnetism Vol 1 and 2 - JG Colquhoin

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