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Physical Religion

1888 to 1892
University of Glasgow

F. Max Müller’s second round of Gifford Lectures, delivered before the University of Glasgow in the beginning of 1890, builds on the introductory material laid out in his first course, Natural Religion, now taking as his focus Physical Religion. Müller defines physical religion as a worship of the powers of nature. He turns his attention to the Vedic religion of the Brahmans and their sacred book, the Rig-veda (a collection of hymns), for the purposes of examining the natural evolution of the concept of God as the Prime Agent of the world. He also discusses at length various natural elements, such as fire and the storm-winds, which gave rise to the religious impulse in ancient cultures, demonstrating how these elements gradually assume a certain divinity that is later slowly divested in the minds of worshippers of its physical or material character. This divine quality in nature evolves into, or is revealed as, successive manifestations of the Supreme Being, which Müller calls the Infinite, the prime object of all religion. His published work on Physical Religion includes appendices.


Physical Religion

Physical Religion
Longmans, Green and Co.
  • Brannon Hancock, University of Glasgow
  • Sara Abraham, University of Glasgow