chapter  9
The birth of the gods
Pages 4

A contemporary writer who has attempted to apply Durkheim’s ideas in a general study of religion1 is Guy Swanson in his book The Birth of the Gods in which he examines a range of comparative data to put the theory to empirical test. He takes up Durkheim’s basic idea that it is the experience of society which generates feelings of dependence expressed in symbolic form. He reasons that since it is experience of social life that generates religious belief, different types of social condition would give rise to different types of religious conception. It is the particular experience of people in differing social circumstances that produces their various concepts of supernatural and spiritual beings or entities.