chapter  1
20 Pages

Introduction

The human capacity for belief is virtually limitless. It is this capacity, and the striking diversity, indeed strangeness, of the beliefs and associated practices it has generated in human society and history which have captured the attention and stimulated the curiosity of many writers on religion including sociologists. There are those, some sociologists among them, who might agree with Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon reproduced opposite, at least as far as certain fundamentals are concerned, but even if they were correct, Charlie Brown’s answer, despite the dubious authenticity of the reference to Melanesian frog worship, makes it plain that if they are all alike they are also very different. Even if frogs are not worshipped anywhere, there are many other beliefs which seem equally odd, even bizarre, to the outsider.