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Finally, the animistic theory implies a consequence which is perhaps its best refutation.

If it were true, it would be necessary to admit that religious beliefs are so many hallucinatory representations, without any objective foundation whatsoever. It is supposed that they are all derived from the idea of the soul because one sees only a

magnified soul in the spirits and gods. But according to Tyior and his disciples, the idea of the soul is itself constructed entirely out of the vague and inconsistent images which occupy our attention during sleep : for the soul is the double, and the double is merely a man as he appears to himself while he sleeps. From this point of view, then, sacred beings are only the imaginary conceptions which men have produced during a sort of delirium which regularly overtakes them every day, though it is quite impossible to see to what useful ends these conceptions serve, nor what they answer to in reality. If a man prays, if he makes sacrifices and offerings, if he submits to the multiple privations which the ritual prescribes, it is because a sort of constitutional eccentricity has made him take his dreams for perceptions, death for a prolonged sleep, and dead bodies for living and thinking beings. Thus not only is it true, as many have held, that the forms under which religious powers have been repre­sented to the mind do not express them exactly, and that the symbols with the aid of which they have been thought of partially hide their real nature, but more than that, behind these images and figures there exists nothing but the nightmares of primitive minds. In fine, religion is nothing but a dream, systematized and lived, but without any foundation in reality.1 Thence it comes about that the theorists of animism, when looking for the origins of religious thought, content themselves with a small outlay of energy. When they think that they have ex­plained how men have been induced to imagine beings of a strange, vaporous form, such as those they see in their dreams, they think the problem is resolved.

In reality, it is not even approached. It is inadmissible that systems of ideas like religions, which have held so considerable a place in history, and to which, in all times, men have come to receive the energy which they must have to live, should be made up of a tissue of illusions. To-day we are beginning to

realize that law, morals and even scientific thought itself were born of religion, were for a long time confounded with it, and have remained penetrated with its spirit. How could a vain fantasy have been able to fashion the human consciousness so strongly and so durably ? Surely it ought to be a principle of the science of religions that religion expresses nothing which does not exist in nature ; for there are sciences only of natural phenomena. The only question is to learn from what part of nature these realities come and what has been able to make men represent them under this singular form which is peculiar to religious thought. But if this question is to be raised, it is necessary to commence by admitting that they are real things which are thus represented. When the philosophers of the eighteenth century made religion a vast error imagined by the priests, they could at least explain its persistence by the interest which the sacerdotal class had in deceiving the people. But if the people themselves have been the artisans of these systems of erroneous ideas at the same time that they were its dupes, how has this extraordinary dupery been able to perpetuate itself all through the course of history ?

One might even demand if under these conditions the words of science of religions can be employed without impropriety. A science is a discipline which, in whatever manner it is conceived, is always applied to some real data. Physics and chemistry are sciences because physico-chemical phenomena are real, and of a reality which does not depend upon the truths which these sciences show. There is a psychological science because there are really consciousnesses which do not hold their right of existence from the psychologist. But on the contrary, religion could not survive the animistic theory and the day when its truth was recognized by men, for they could not fail to renounce the errors whose nature and origin would thus be revealed to them. What sort of a science is it whose principal discovery is that the subject of which it treats does not exist ?