National Religion

Drake, Durant. Problems of Religion. Houghton, $2.

THE position of a philosopher who aspires to place religion upon a purely rational basis is not an altogether enviable one; for he is sure to antagonize the greater portion of his readers. Those who base their religion upon good oldfashioned faith and spiritual experience (as genuinely religions people are likely to do) can scarcely regard with favor the coldly scientific attitude of the higher critic who treats all religious beliefs impartially. On the other hand, those who profess no religious belief are sure to regard the higher critic as a sophist, busying himself with preposterous and inconsequential ideas. Dr. Drake would seem, at first glance, to have placed himself in some such position. But we believe that a careful reading of his work would go far toward reconciling what are generally considered irreconcilable differences of opinion.

It is true that Dr. Drake is no dogmatist. He neither attacks nor defends creeds; he merely examines all the evidence at his command with the avowed purpose of finding and cherishing that irreducible body of truth in religion which is concealed in dogma as corn in the husk. To use his own words, his attitude toward religion is at once “warm, sympathetic, reverent and critical, openeyed, resolute to follow the truth wherever it lead.”

His introductory chapter serves to demonstrate the importance of religion to those who may have arrived at the conclusion that they are far too “advanced” for religion; and it also makes plain, for those who are disposed to defend irrational religions views, why a reluctance to criticize and reconsider beliefs in the light of observation and experience serves to make religion vulnerable.

The main body of the book is divided into three parts. The first deals in general with the origin and history of religions; the second, with the psychological aspects of religious experience; the third is concerned with a philosophical inquiry into theological systems.

As a concession to his very remarkable work, Dr. Drake urges the importance of a “platform or covenant upon which men of good will the world over can unite for the age long war with sin and suffering, which it is the great mission of religion to wage.”

If criticism is to be made, it might be suggested that the book is “too human” in its reasoning and not based largely on the clear utterances of Jesus Christ.